Investment Firm Discovers Path for Growth
After 15 years of steady growth, a New York investment firm hit a plateau at $500 million of assets under management. While the firm had delivered solid returns for their clients, they weren’t attracting new clients to the firm. The CEO hired Rocket Market Development (RMD) to tackle this problem and achieve profitable, revenue growth.
The CEO - a brilliant and successful money manager - started the investment management firm in 2001. Previously, he managed a billion dollar investment portfolio at a prestigious Wall Street firm, but he disliked the politics and bureaucracy of a large organization. The CEO’s reputation for intelligence and integrity attracted several other successful money managers to join his firm. Clients appreciated being able to talk to this small team about investment decisions, which often seemed contrary to conventional money managers.
The CEO was frustrated that his firm had stopped growing. He felt the issue was the firm’s brand and marketing, as it had done little to attract new investors. The firm did publish monthly newsletters to clients and prospects, but there was little traffic to their website. Their public relations manager noted there was little to differentiate the firm from the over 10,000 investment managers competing for assets from high-net-worth individuals, foundations, and institutional investors.
We met with the CEO and his team to discuss the Firm’s goals, opportunities, and obstacles. From this meeting, we agreed on three objectives:
1. Create differentiation and set itself apart from the competition
2. Promote recognition and familiarity of the brand and the individuals
3. Defend the investment firm from losing clients to competitors
Also, we agreed to set up a system to monitor the Firm’s progress against these objectives. A benchmark and numeric goals were set with milestones metrics for the next three years.
Step 1: Market Intelligence
As with virtually all RMD projects, our first step was to conduct market intelligence before developing strategic recommendations. This intelligence data gets input into our proprietary Market Opportunity Map, which provides a comprehensive view of the customers, competitors, external factors, and internal factors for any industry.
We began to collect data and intelligence by interviewing the internal staff including the:
· Money managers (three)
· Sales lead
· Research analysts (two)
We then conducted 45-minute interviews with:
· Current clients (six)
· Prospective clients (five)
· Former client
Simultaneously, we gathered data on fifteen competitors from the interviews and researching their websites and published literature. In addition, we investigated recent news and secondary research about external factors and trends in the investment industry.
Step 2: Identifying Opportunities
The data was filtered into a Market Opportunity Map, which provides a structural representation of the market environment. Patterns and gaps emerged from the map.
We particularly focused on the brand messaging for competitive investment firms. We found that 42% of competitors’ communication was focused on performance, however only 5% of the communication was on values and integrity of the firms.
Next we identified several attributes that high-net-worth investors require from all investment firms. These “Table Stakes” attributes had to be communicated by the Firm in their website and marketing materials. However, these shouldn’t be the featured attributes. Rather, the Firm needed to communicate attributes that are both rare and highly desirable. We identify these as “Differentiators.”
Step 3: Branding and Communication
Armed with the map of the market and competitors’ brand messages, we developed a strategy for the Firm’s brand’s personality and articulation. This was captured in a Brand Pyramid, which was then used to drive the communication and marketing strategies.
We then created a formal creative strategy document, which was delivered to the investment firm's agency for developing a new website and company brochure.
Step 4: Go-To-Market Strategy
Driven by our findings from our research and Market Opportunity Map, we then created strategies for the firm to achieve its growth objectives. This Go-to-Market strategy included:
· Target audiences
· Channel strategy
· Selling strategy
· Public Relations
· Events and promotions
In less than 10 weeks, RMD provided the market intelligence and Go-to-Market strategies for the Firm to move forward on a new website, marketing communication, and public relations. We identified the service features that matter most to high-net-worth investors and the features that would clearly differentiate the Firm. With those insights, RMD was able to assemble the brand building blocks to best position the Firm and communicate its unique value proposition.
It is too early to measure actual revenue growth, but the Firm is clearly on the path to reach its objectives for attracting new clients and retaining clients for longer period.