Written by WebTrax team member Daniel Quinn
One of the challenges of writing website content and marketing materials for asset management firms is that, deep down, they all want to sound the same: the same dispassionate jargon, the same monotone, the same over-reliance on long, compound-sentence laden paragraphs replete with numbers, figures, and graphs.
They write long, beautifully-structured pieces that any finance professor would swoon over. Unfortunately, in doing so, they make the common mistake of confusing transferring information with actually communicating.
And it is a problem not limited to asset managers, but to most all professional services firms with a specialized language and unique subculture (law, technology, accounting, medical, personal fitness training, just to name a few). The language fosters a cliquey, wink-wink camaraderie among those in-the-know while simultaneously keeping outsiders off-balance.
Let’s face it, few people read the long letters and detailed descriptions of investment performance from investment managers. It’s boring, convoluted, and the terminology is nearly impossible to understand unless one has a MBA from the University of Chicago.
And even for those in the business, it’s an unnecessarily dense process that could be easily overcome, quite simply, with a more client-centric approach to writing. In other words, writing with the intention of actually wanting to be read.
From a marketing perspective, the prevailing approach has never made much sense to me. I always thought businesses should actively try to differentiate themselves from their competitors – not try to sound like them.
I tell my clients and prospects that one of the reasons investors love Warren Buffet and Bill Gross is because they have a wonderful ability to communicate, and they do so regularly. Not only are they great investors, but they clearly and colorfully explain why. Why few in the industry seem to have recognized this is a mystery.
My approach is simple. I want my clients to differentiate themselves from their competitors, and the most effective way to do so is to help them clearly convey their passion for investing, alongside an uncompromising vision for their firm, written in clear, unpretentious language.
What lies at the root of the recommendations and solutions I offer to my clients is differentiation, and I believe that the best way to achieve it is through more effective communication. Why is this important for asset managers, in particular?
Because there are literally thousands of asset management firms eager to invest a client’s money, yet precious few where real value exists beyond investment returns. Critically, all investment managers go through periods of underperformance, and insightful, honest communications to clients is what allows successful firms to effectively navigate those difficult periods.
Asset managers and others in the professional services arena don’t have to inundate their clients every week with updates and analyses. Rather, the key is to make every contact relevant, reassuring, and most importantly, easy to understand.