OppenheimerFunds on the separation of mutual fund marketing and sales

Differentiation is a big challenge for mutual funds companies. Part of how OppenheimerFunds tackles this is through the separation of marketing and sales, said Marty Willis, chief marketing officer. She spoke on a mutual fund distribution panel at NICSA’s General Membership Meeting in Boston on Oct. 6.

Creativity, not just sales support

When sales and marketing were together, marketing’s focus was too short-term and reactive, said Willis. In other words, it focused on sales support.

Even when the company tackled larger goals, such as raising brand awareness, it didn’t go far enough. Many consumers didn’t know what the brand stood for.

Today Willis is focusing on getting OppenheimerFunds’ brand to “permeate all touch-points,” even including customer service and philanthropy. It all feeds from one vision, like Apple’s “Think Different.”

Globalization and “snackable content”

GlobalizeYourThinking.com is one example of Willis’ vision. This micro-site features what Willis called “snackable content.” “It’s easy to digest and good for you,” she said. In a nod to social media, can be shared by advisors with their clients. It’s also available as a mobile app.

The site has attracted over half a million viewers and has 5000 unique visitors per week, said Willis. Visitors have averaged 7 minutes on the site. That’s twice as long as advisors spend on the firm’s other website, Willis said.

Global Tracker initiative

Willis touched briefly on her firm’s Global Tracker project, which it is developing with The Economist. The project has two facets. One is to allow users to call up all sorts of country, industry, and investment product information online. The other is a kind of game in which advisors compete.

Willis experienced the power of games when she skied in Vail, Colorado, where your ski pass allows you to track your vertical feet. She found herself taking extra runs so she could earn icons or other acknowledgments of hitting milestones.

OppenheimerFunds part of marketing trend

Oppenheimer’s elevation of marketing reflects a broader trend, said Lee Kowarski of kasina, who moderated the panel on which Willis spoke.

Marketing is becoming more peer to sales, instead of focusing on sales support, he said.