The cardinal rule of business is to know your audience, a task that can seem relatively straightforward but is, in fact, quite complicated.  

Take, for example, an asset manager that operates within the confines of a single country. Its pool of client could include myriad institutional investors, wealth managers, charities, family offices, high net worth individuals, investment trusts etc. Each with its own set of needs, wants and responsibilities.  

Then think of the additional complexities facing an asset manager operating across multiple countries and regions, having to take into account a variety of languages, regulatory regimes and local cultures. 

One of the steps we at White Marble strongly recommend to our clients is to build personas. The purpose is not to pigeonhole people or whittle down a list of prospects to its bare bones. Personas are intended to create an overarching description of the individuals who make up the target market.  

Don’t think of it in terms of simplifying the complex needs of an individual or small group. Rather, it is about building a framework of multiple touchpoints where there are high levels of engagement across a particular demographic.  

You can maximise your marketing budget and efforts by focusing on avenues that will deliver genuine engagement. It makes little sense to reach out to consultants via a financial services B2B trade publication, but that is exactly where you will find intermediaries. 

The flaw with the ‘see a need, fill a need’ approach 

Consider the number of asset managers competing for business from, for example, pension funds. Then think about those fund selectors and the volume of overtures they receive. It is little wonder that many try to closely guard their contact information.  

The traditional approach taken by asset and wealth managers is ‘see a need, fill a need’. Salespeople believe an investor could benefit from a fund their company runs and they pitch it. We know, however, that the last thing any investor wants is to feel that product is being pushed at them.  

This is where it helps to tweak the approach to ‘understand a need, fill a need’.  

Only through engagement and dialogue will the fund selector have confidence that the salesperson has grasped the breadth of their particular challenge and can come up with a solution – ideally, in collaboration.  

Herein lies the conundrum, a veritable ‘chicken and egg’ scenario. How can you build a relationship with prospective clients when you can’t seem to engage with them?  

Personas are a good place to start.   

What can companies do? 

Getting your brand and solutions in front of the right audience starts with being crystal clear about who that audience is. To reiterate, this isn’t about profiling. Personas are about understanding the specific needs and wants of a group of individuals and how best to structure your engagement efforts and position your offering.  

In the UK, the majority of people in senior level positions in financial services are white men in their mid-40s and older. This is a statement, not a criticism. I am not suggesting that all white British men of a similar age are the same, but that data point creates a ballpark from which to draw generalised conclusions about where best to engage with them.  

Examples of questions to ask include: 

  • What is the typical seniority level of the key decision maker(s)?  
  • What types of job title could they have? 
  • Is there a traditional career path they would have followed to get to this level? 
  • Are there any helpful conclusions that can be drawn from their education level or background? 
  • Are they likely to attend industry events? 
  • Where do they consume their information?  
  • How tech savvy are they? 

From there it is about mapping where your messaging can intersect with that overarching profile, taking into account physical and digital touchpoints.  

No prospect will engage with every touchpoint. It is about creating a range of engagement opportunities.  

Making the journey in lockstep 

Whether your marketing parlance be funnels or stages, each client goes through a similar engagement and onboarding process. At White Marble, we refer to these steps as Awareness, Consideration, Conversion, Service and Loyalty.  

It is important to remember that each part of the journey will have its own touchpoints. A client at the conversion stage has very different information needs than someone whose level of awareness of your company and its offering is still growing.  

All of these data points and insights help build a complete picture – firstly of the broader target market, and then the specific individual needs.  

It is important to update these personas to ensure they are a true reflection of the present. Efforts are being made to improve diversity at senior levels across financial services. What was a traditionally male-dominated department may now have a higher proportion of female leaders.  

Building a persona takes time but pays dividends. If you know who your audience is, can engage with them on their terms and authentically convey that you understand their particular needs and wants… that is a marketing success story.  


Interested in defining your markets’ and target audiences’ personas? We’d love to have a conversation – send us a note.