Marketers: Focus on building strategic relationships with account-based marketing

Wednesday, September 19, 2018 | By Julia Binder

Marketers: Focus on building strategic relationships with account-based marketing

As home office relationships become more powerful, national account teams at many asset management firms are naturally becoming more important as well. Yet at most firms, initiatives to work with these national (also known as key or strategic) accounts are poorly coordinated.

National account managers still primarily focus on fostering relationships with advisors at wirehouses and larger broker-dealers because they generate the largest asset flows, regardless of asset manager support. Sales covers a great swath of advisors segmented by AUM, channel and geography, instead of focusing on opportunities where they can actually influence business development. Marketing then tends to launch broad-based campaigns to generate leads without accounting for advisors’ investment preferences and transaction patterns.

The challenge for firms is putting aside traditional models for national account management and shifting the emphasis from accounts that yield flows today despite a lack of dedicated marketing and sales support. Very few firms have priority accounts that include a wirehouse, where sustained marketing campaigns and sales initiatives can be developed collaboratively with distributor counterparts. For most firms, however, their inability to influence business development at wirehouses suggests that their strategic priorities will need to shift. These firms will want to concentrate on accounts where data-driven analysis shows that investing in marketing and sales resources will yield tangible long-term rewards.

Flip from lead-based to account-based marketing

Our latest report, Prioritizing Strategic Relationships with Account-Based Marketing, shows marketers how to flip the funnel. The report recommends focusing on strategic accounts where national account managers can partner with marketing and sales managers to best influence business development for growth. Currently, only 1 in 4 firms have national accounts and marketing jointly prioritize target accounts to develop customized programs to support their most strategic relationships.

With an account-based marketing (ABM) approach, national accounts managers and marketers identify and prioritize a small number of Strategic distributors. Strategic distributors meet the criteria for long-term partnership, and merit developing customized programs for marketing events, content modules and campaigns. The decision to invest in costly data packs has to be supported by commitments for jointly developed initiatives to educate advisors and influence adoption of the firm’s products.

Marketing then repurposes and adapts these highly customized programs for a second, slightly larger tier of similar Segmented distributors with common needs and business challenges.

The third tier includes an even greater number of Programmatic relationships that receive a largely digital, but personalized, approach that repurposes marketing programs developed for the top two tiers. Marketing automation platforms leverage behavioral insights to underpin customer experiences that advance the decision to do business.

Apply data-driven assessment to distributor relationships

In our report, we provide seven steps for how marketers can work with national accounts and sales to leverage analytics to identify distributors that are profitable and have potential for growth. We provide a RADR framework which provides a rigorous, objective process for analyzing alignment, demand and profitability for assessing distributor relationships. The results enable firms to prioritize Strategic accounts that represent the best long-term relationship opportunities, where marketing can collaborate effectively to develop and implement customized high-impact marketing programs. The next tier consists of look-alike Segmented accounts where marketing programs can have business impact by addressing their similar business challenges and needs. Promising growth prospects are clustered in the Programmatic tier where digital marketing can be scaled. Business plans are developed jointly with mutual accountability for Strategic accounts. Most importantly, don’t forget to measure, monitor and meet regularly on all accounts to share progress and next steps.

Asset Management, Research, Analytics, and Consulting, Wealth Management