Category: Marketing Resources


Understanding The True Cost of Mutual Fund Distribution – Part Two

Join us for part two of a three part series on The True Cost of Mutual Fund Distribution. Part one focused on product placement, click here to read it first. Part two focuses on active sales and marketing. Part three focuses on tracking capabilities and will be released tomorrow. 

Active Sales and Marketing

The next phase in distribution planning are the avenues in which investment managers will seek to raise brand awareness and create sales and marketing activity.  The most common considerations are the creation of a sales team, investment in various public relations and marketing, and sales related activities. The extent of the distribution efforts are closely tied to the individual firm’s target market and budget.

Types of Sales Personnel

  • National Account Managers
  • Wholesalers
    • External Wholesaler
    • Internal Wholesaler

National Account Managers
National accounts, key accounts, and relationship managers are an extension of the business development team. They focus on interfacing and managing the overall relationship with key strategic intermediary home office relationships. Key account managers are charged with creating and managing the execution of distribution business plans through coordination with all interested constituents. They work towards forging partnerships, with an emphasis on increasing market share, through leveraging all centers of influence and “delivering the firm.” Key account managers proactively work with the investment manager to uncover product placement opportunities. They are tasked with understanding the client firm’s strategic priorities, search activity, product and marketing initiatives, and opportunities for engagement. It is the national account manager’s responsibility to develop and maintain strategic relationships with all centers of influence. This individual also positions strategies and portfolio construction ideas to home office audiences, manage all dealer agreements, participates in contract negotiations, and is the interface with the transfer agent. They also coordinate all marketing, sales, and support services, anticipate and resolve complex problems, and disseminate intelligence to the sales force and home office to improve sales execution.

Wholesalers are categorized as internal, external, or a hybrid of the two. Wholesalers are typically paid commission only or a combination of base salary plus commission. There are also third party marketing organizations that offer individuals or teams for hire. There are several key items to consider when hiring wholesalers. The wholesaler should have experience in the desired strategy and have existing relationships or proven ability to build relationships within the territory. They should be able to not only sell, but also position and utilize consultative development approaches, as well as contribute to marketing ideas and utilize CRM programs. Above all, you want to hire an individual who will blend with the company culture and be a positive addition to the sales team.

External Wholesalers – External wholesalers, often referred to as regional directors, cover specific target channels (independent broker-dealers, registered investment advisors (RIAs), broker-dealers, bank and trust, insurance and retirement intermediaries) in a specific U.S. territory. External sales representatives tend to have established relationships and focus on positioning and selling the investment manager’s strategy and funds. They have strong communication skills with the ability to convey traditional and complex products in a concise manner to both advisors and their clients. Client coverage also includes management practices that are designed to offer solutions to advisors.

Internal Wholesalers – Internal wholesalers work with external wholesalers to cover a specific target market. Much like externals, they are expected to have the skills necessary to cultivate and maintain relationships within their designated territory. They contact the advisors in their territory regularly and manage the sales process. Internals respond to daily telephone inquiries, follow up with financial consultants who establish new business, and continually educate them on current products and upcoming new products. Internals should have the ability to converse knowledgeably with financial advisors and other key personnel about investment solutions and current economic and market conditions and provide account activity and sales reports to assist the sales team.

Questions Advisors Should Consider

  1. What type of sales team does your firm currently need?
  2. What type of budget do you have for a team? Do you have/need a budget for travel, expenses, and a CRM program?
  3. What are some realistic, long-term sales goals?

Marketing Costs
Each investment manager has specific marketing goals. Some investment managers will seek the services of a third party press and advertising agency while others may hire an in-house employee. Investment managers should consider the type of marketing opportunities that make sense for their firm, budget, target market, and overall goals. Marketing channels can include items such as industry or broker-dealer conferences, email campaigns, promotional items, hosting lunch and learns, and your website.

Types of marketing costs

  • Press & Advertising Agency
  • Conferences & Industry Events
  • Marketing Materials
  • Digital Marketing

Press & Advertising Agency – Annual costs for specific negotiated items that may include but are not limited to media tours, bylines, advertising, conference panel representation, and public imaging.

Conferences & Industry Events – The financial services industry offers many national, regional, and local conferences. Conferences may be hosted by third party intermediaries, such as broker-dealers, custodial firms, service providers, associations, and research organizations. Attendees may range from savvy investors, research analysts, financial controllers, financial advisors to investment managers. Each conference will have specific costs, depending on if you would like to sponsor or simply attend. There are costs for attending or sponsoring but there may also be costs for travel, hotel rooms, entertainment, marketing, and booth materials.

Marketing Materials – Example of marketing material costs would be the cost of design, printing, and shipping of the prospectus, fact sheets, brochures, and other marketing materials.

Digital Marketing – This includes the overall cost to create, maintain, and update a website. Service may begin at basic layout or a more in-depth website including blogs and videos. Pricing is dependent on the extent of the services needed.

Questions Advisors Should Consider

  • Will you budget to attend industry events or sponsor conferences? Which ones would you like to attend?
  • What do you need for marketing materials? Will you hire a third party to create these materials?
  • What functionality does your firm need for a website?



7265 GFS-4/5/2017


Time for a Rebrand?

By Megan Boulter, Marketing Coordinator, NorthStar Financial Services, LLC

The doctor is in and it’s time for your brand’s marketing checkup! Over time, your company will evolve and change. External factors may have made an impact on your industry, or, perhaps it is just time for a refresh. It is important to ask ourselves questions to assess where we stand with our marketing. Are you still targeting the same market as you were last year? How has your company changed in the past three years? Do your marketing efforts reflect your company’s vision? You may need to revisit your marketing and branding efforts to make sure they still align with your company’s overall strategy. We have come up with some questions to help you assess where you are and where you need to be.


It’s time to ask some of those tough questions; have we accomplished our marketing goals? Have we generated the results that we were aiming for? It’s time to take a good look at the accomplishments as well as the faults in your company’s marketing efforts.

It’s important to think about how your brand is portrayed, both internally and externally. Miscommunication may have dimmed trust in the company or turned away possible clients. Broken promises reflect poorly on the company’s values, culture, and reputation. Companies who don’t portray their core strengths well, may be hindering new clients from coming on board. You must be able to pinpoint and successfully communicate what makes your company stand out, and be able to drive effective marketing efforts highlighting those strengths. Once you have assessed your marketing efforts, you can then move onto fixing any shortcomings as well as continue with the successful marketing efforts.


When you are going through your brand’s marketing checkup, it is important to re-examine your strategic business plan as well. Has your company’s purpose, goals, or story transformed over time? Have your clients’ buying patterns or needs changed? Are you targeting a more specific market now? Do your marketing materials reflect those changes? What new materials do you require to accommodate changes and what existing materials do you need to modify?

Businesses evolve and that is the nature of the market. Product and business expansions, leadership changes, or periods of great growth or decline are just some examples of situations that may cause a marketing disconnect. Consistent marketing will build loyal customers. Sending a survey and getting feedback from clients is a great way to gauge external brand perception.


One of the most effective ways to prepare for the future is to evaluate how the industry is evolving. Where is your company in terms of trends, competition, technology, product, and service offerings? Pinpoint your competitive edge and highlight how your firm differs from the crowd. Let clients know about business and marketing changes that show you are being proactive and staying ahead of the curve.


Where is your brand today and where do you want it to be in the future? After you have completed a thorough and comprehensive marketing assessment, you will have a much better understanding of what the next steps look like. List your long-and short-term business goals and steer your marketing initiatives toward achieving those goals.  Allocate resources accordingly. Review materials and marketing initiatives. Get feedback from clients and partners to gauge the effectiveness of your marketing strategy. Set specific goals, complete with the person or team to champion each initiative and set realistic target dates. You must be clear about expectations. Finalize your new marketing plan and stick to it.




Creating Brand Loyalty

“People are looking for a connection. Tell a good enough story about your brand and people will not only be invested, they’ll want to buy it from you.”
― John Michael Morgan

We often tell our clients mutual funds are “sold and not bought.” We see evidence of this every day and are firm believers activity is a key driver for sales and distribution. However, activity is not the sole driver, marketing content plays a supporting and often a leading role in the sales process. Brand loyalty is created through multiple interactions with your audience on your product and service. The key is to always meet or exceed expectations with every client encounter. The goal is to create consistent marketing that touches on an emotional level and creates a connection.

How do you create consistent brand experiences throughout a client’s buying cycle? 

Devise a positioning statement that highlights your organization’s defining service or product characteristics. Craft a message, story that communicates personality, values and experiences in your market and connects with your target market.

Connect and Deliver
Consistency is key and delivering the same message and performance is reassuring to your target market. Brand consistency reaffirms your values as a company and gains customer trust and credibility. Consistency provides a clear distinction between you and the competitors.

Personalized Experience
Focus on building custom relationships as not all clients are the same. Of all the types of marketing touches, the personal touch is the most important. Understanding what’s important to them and how to make that connection is an art.

Marketing Through The Sales Cycle
Marketing content supports pre and post sales activity by creating brand awareness. This process may help develop a personal experience in order to create long lasting loyal relationships. Throughout the sales cycle, marketing can morph through several different stages. It creates awareness and excitement that can help you connect with an audience. Marketing can also educate and deliver consistent content which will remind the client of your core offerings.

Creating a memorable brand begins with your distinct Competitive Edge. What makes you different than your competitors? Why should a client choose and stay with you? 

Storytelling allows you to convey memorable information. Forming impressions and relating to a listener allows them to associate themselves within a product story and you. Tie in facts to paint a picture that can be easily retained and may bring an emotional reaction to your listener. Developing an emotional connection requires a little research on your end. Conduct research on your prospect and tailor your story. Draft your stories and practice your story, if relevant, repeat them to different audiences.

Content Matters
Marketing communication can be extensive or simple, no matter the form, having your message available in multiple mediums may make the difference. Consider creating the following collateral materials:

  • Print items – brochures, flyers, postcards
  • Product white papers to compliment fact sheets and provide depth to the process
  • Positioning flyer – highlighting the potential benefit of the
    strategy and process
  • Sales presentations – demonstrating the process with proof point examples
  • Web content – user friendly web navigation
  • Compliment the collateral with action plans for distributing and following up on the materials

Storytelling Fundamentals:

  1. Memorable
  2. Work facts into the story
  3. Tailor to audience
  4. Pre plan, draft the story
  5. 3-5 minutes max, practice

Digital Footprint
In a digital world, a web site may not be enough, but it’s a start. What does your website say about you, is it just the facts or does it tell your story? The website may be a personal statement to bring in a client because it inspires confidence in your ability to execute on the clients behalf.

Things to consider:

  • Choose colors that attract the eye
  • When using pictures, what story does it tell?
  • Be mindful of adding too many graphics
  • Create an “About us” section that defines your culture and history
  • Easy to navigate on portable devices

Additional footprints:

  • Blog posts
  • Quoted in industry articles or interviews
  • Industry speaking or panel participation


“Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world today.”
― Robert McKee

Next Steps

Discover – Live by your company’s core principles to establish brand loyalty
Plan – Define your company’s Competitive Edge
Prepare – Develop a marketing strategy
Act – Create additional marketing opportunities in order to become well-known to your target market

Competitive Positioning: Best Practices for Creating Brand Loyalty by Richard D. Czerniawski, Michael W. Maloney