2024: Stand out to move up

Image of hands grabbing principles

By Darren Lassiter, Managing Partner and Head of Client Services at Arthur

The other day I was listening to the brilliant Uncensored CMO podcast with Salesforce’s Colin Fleming. It reminded me of that famous quote by Tom Peters: “You have to stand out if you want to move up”.

Salesforce are the third biggest tech company in the world, turning over $40 billion a year. And they’ve done it by telling their own story and standing out in a crowded marketplace. So as we look towards 2024, here are three things I believe Asset Managers can learn from Salesforce’s unique approach:

Tell the story that only you can tell

Colin Fleming speaks passionately about what great novelists have always known: you should tell the story that only you can tell. Asset Managers all have their own unique characteristics, passion and personality. And yet many brands do their best to hide that individuality, defaulting to product features, experience, expertise and lots of blue.

But why? Asset Managers sit in such an emotive and contextually relevant space. They play a vital economic and societal role as stewards of capital. Not only do they invest savings for the future, they solve real-world problems, shaping the way we live in. And yet, time and time again, the only story we hear is how many years they’ve been managing money.

Make your brand assets stand out

On their journey towards a new brand identity, Salesforce made a sobering discovery. If they took away their logo, their sales presentations and marketing comms could be any brand’s. Now, by adopting Astro & Friends, Salesforce have made themselves one of the most distinctive brands in the B2B landscape.

Try doing the same with your own marketing and sales slides. Take away the logo and would anyone recognise who you are? I believe there’s a massive opportunity in the Asset Management sector to create distinctive brand assets, and yet most have either killed them off – think Jupiter, Invesco, T. Rowe Price – or are happy to swim in the sea of blue sameness.

Remember the 95/5 rule

At any one time, only 5% of your buyers are in-market while 95% are out-of-market. Which means your brand needs to be top-of-mind when the vast majority are finally ready to buy. But as far as I can tell, this golden rule is ignored by Asset Managers. Instead, many waste an inordinate amount of budget on marketing the final step of the buyers’ journey with their product-focused comms.

This point was reinforced at the recent Future of Asset Management event in London, in a key discussion around how the sales and distribution buyer journey is changing. It was noted that – in both the U.S. and Europe – Investment Professionals are engaging Asset Managers face-to-face much, much later in the journey. I’d argue it’s been like this for some time now. Investment Professionals are like any other B2B buyers, with 80% having a set of suppliers in mind before they do ANY research.

The 95/5 rule should be a massive eye-opener for Asset Management brands. It shows the vital importance of winning hearts and minds. As Colin Fleming says, at Salesforce, his ultimate KPI is to ensure that when a buyer thinks of the type of technology they want to buy, Salesforce is the first name that comes to mind. How many Asset Management brands today could say the same?

So, lots to learn from this excellent episode of the Uncensored CMO. I’m hoping that 2024 will be a turning point for Asset Management marketing – because things aren’t going to get any easier for the squashed middle. Will 2024 see the rise of the importance of storytelling, winning hearts and minds, and standing out from the crowd? Time will tell.

Contact Darren Lassiter to talk about your asset management storytelling.

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