“Avoiding the Rush Hour”—Insights from an investment marketer

If you’re an investment marketer, you’ve struggled with last-minute rush projects. That’s why I’m delighted to have Cari Cardaci share five tips for “Avoiding the Rush Hour,” which she honed working as a marketing manager for global and U.S. institutional marketing teams and processes. I like her ideas about setting priorities and procedures before your marketing team gets overwhelmed.

Cari and I connected through May 2013 PAICR RFP Symposium, where we both presented. PAICR is an organization of investment communications professionals.

Avoiding the Rush Hour

By Cari Cardaci

Every investment marketer has experienced the last-minute request, the tight turnaround time, the “drop everything and complete this by the end of the day” project. These stressful scenarios are not optimal, but often become the norm rather than the exception. So how do marketers address this challenge and “avoid the rush hour”?
Frankly, I do not believe that marketers will ever be able to eliminate all last-minute requests, as clients, consultants and prospects have a history of requiring quick turnaround times. And sometimes, our colleagues hold on to requests a wee bit too long! However, there are proactive measures Marketing can take to better handle these situations.

1. Strategize with distribution colleagues

On at least an annual basis, proactively meet with sales and consultant relations management to determine priorities for the coming six months to one year. Identify a focus product list, determine consultant database coverage, and identify in-scope and importantly, out-of-scope products and projects. Proactive planning is essential to efficiently allocate marketing resources to priorities, manage expectations, and align objectives.

2. Promote and support standardization

Standardization of content and data is essential for responding to requests in a timely manner. Avoid developing customized materials that duplicate messages and data. Know how to leverage existing materials to respond to one-off requests. Many firms utilize service level agreements for clients. Adopt a similar strategy within Marketing, based on product priority or assets/revenue minimums. Consider providing standard materials to requests that fall below stated minimums.

3. Understand firm and product data

One-off data requests are perhaps the most difficult to deliver in a timely manner. Obtaining non-standard performance, assets, and statistics can be arduous. This is often an exercise in futility.

It is important to:
•    have approved sources of data;
•    understand what data is relevant for each product, and;
•    know what data can be provided quickly, what will take time, and what data is simply not possible to obtain.
This knowledge can save a lot of time, energy, and frustration.

4. Define a workflow process

Often, a sales person or product specialist will have a favorite contact within the Marketing team, and will repeatedly ask that person for favors. This arrangement is unsustainable for obvious reasons.

The marketing manager should always be the point of contact for all marketing requests. The manager can then delegate work based on capacity and expertise and even push back on the request when necessary.

5. Obtain senior management support

Perhaps the most important factor is to proactively garner senior management support. Best-case scenario is that Marketing has a “seat at the table” and has developed a mutually beneficial and respectful relationship with their colleagues. Proactive, knowledgeable marketing professionals (rather than a reactive, rushed team) offer the most value to a firm for the long term.

Cari Cardaci has held various senior institutional and retail marketing positions, most recently with HSBC Global Asset Management, Western Asset Management, Citigroup Asset Management, BlackRock and Bankers Trust.