Navigating Success as a Smaller Manager

For investment managers, the challenge of growing assets and revenues has become increasingly complex, particularly in a world where virtual interactions are rapidly becoming the norm. The landscape has shifted dramatically from the days of growing defined benefit plans. Today's institutional investor portfolios are typically fully invested, and the competition for the limited opportunities that arise is fierce.

In such an environment, even firms with exceptional credentials and investment results can falter if they don't excel in sales and marketing. However, reinventing the wheel isn't necessary for success. Effective marketing follows a proven, repeatable process that targets investors and converts opportunities into assets, albeit with greater due diligence and over a longer timeframe than before.

Phase 1: Crafting a Compelling Narrative and Strategic Plan

Despite having impressive performance or a disciplined approach, your firm is one among many. Standing out requires a unique story that resonates with your audience's needs and positions your firm favorably. This narrative should be encapsulated in all your sales materials – from your website and RFP responses to thought leadership content and institutional presentations. This phase also involves a detailed plan to identify target segments, populate relevant databases, and measure the impact of your story.

Phase 2: Making an Unforgettable First Impression

With a targeted marketing strategy in place, your sales process begins. This involves reaching out to prospects and leveraging virtual interactions effectively. Avoid relying solely on published RFPs; targeting prospects early is key to earning consideration. Resilience is also crucial; persistence over time is a hallmark of successful marketing.

Phase 3: Nurturing Your Prospect Pipeline

The sales cycle within institutional investment industry now spans years. It's vital to remain active on your target's radar, continuously providing valuable content that reinforces your narrative. Building trust and familiarity with institutional investors takes time and is now more important than ever, especially given the consolidation in the pension consulting industry.

Maximizing Resources

Many investment managers fall short in growing assets due to inadequate allocation of time, energy, and resources to the sales and marketing process. If you're handling both portfolio management and sales, consider allocating these functions separately to improve efficiency. Technologies like CRM systems are invaluable for efficiently tracking and following up on opportunities.

Exploring Third-Party Marketing Partnerships

For firms lacking internal sales expertise, partnering with an external marketing firm can be a cost-effective solution. These firms bring experienced sales and marketing professionals and can offer deep insights into investor behaviors and needs. When choosing a third-party marketer, look for industry expertise, credibility, and a strong compliance culture.

Choosing the Right Partners

The variety in third-party marketing firms means finding one that aligns with your firm's focus and needs is crucial. Successful firms offer comprehensive services, from planning and material creation to database management and systematic outreach. Treat the selection of a third-party marketer as you would a senior executive hire – trust and compatibility are key.

Related: A Time-Tested Distribution Option for Emerging Investment Managers