The importance of brand communication.
By Max Hilton.
A handful of the top alternative investment firms have realiSed the importance of brand communications. Unsurprisingly, they are among the industry’s most successful firms. What do they know that others are missing?
For a start, they have acted to manage and build their brand communications. The rewards have been immediate and tangible as asset allocators have increasingly invested in alternatives.
Allocators need to be able to identify the investment benefits of what an alternatives manager is offering. Yet they also want to know more about the intricate workings of the alternative investment firm.
Communicating is vital
This is particularly true for US-based alternative fund managers. Under the Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive, US managers are now under severe communications restrictions which limit them to receiving ‘reverse inquiries’. The ability of a US alternative fund to raise assets in Europe is now intimately linked to brand awareness, effective communication and the ability to educate investors.
Indeed, major developments in the US mutual fund space, notably the proliferation of the alternatives ’40 Act, are making managers realize the imperative of structuring communications in the ways that help to meet the unique demands of different types of investors.
Brand building facilitates communication
What needs to go hand-in-hand with structuring communications is an effective brand building strategy. A number of successful alternatives managers have embraced investor education as a way to get recognition in an increasingly crowded fund landscape. The growth in demand for liquid alternatives products is rewarding those managers who have managed to differentiate themselves by successfully building a brand. Indeed, in a report into launching a ’40 Act fund, SEI Investments observed: “No manager hoping to break into the market will succeed without a strong brand strategy.”
An integral part of such a strategy is controlling risk. Put simply, uncontrolled communications are unacceptably high risk. Therefore, a systematic and controlled content strategy is critical.
Becoming a communicator
The first step for an alternative fund manager is to formulate its key performance, compliance and communicative differentiators. The medium for this is on-message placed content, which bypasses the traditional media process and allows for tighter control of the outcome. Excitingly, the availability of digital channels to deliver this content to the marketplace has grown exponentially in recent years.
A single piece of expertly defined educational content is amplified across all key communication channels. Further distribution can go through key online channels with the potential to be supported by a related event, manager video and a highly-targeted digital advertising campaign.
The amplification engages and calls to action far more target investors than one sole communications channel.This placed content should be based on the firm’s best original thinking that demonstrates its thought leadership. The aim is to position an alternative investment manager as a ‘solutions provider’ rather than a ‘product pusher’.
Getting the right communications partner
A skilled agency is capable of creating highly messaged, impactful and relevant content that engages a manager’s target audience. Equally crucial is the communication partner’s ability to push this content across every available channel.
To be among the elite group of alternative investment managers it’s now vital to have an effective integrated marketing communications strategy.
Communicating really is no longer an option.
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