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Media buying and planning

The marketer's perspective: talking to John Brockelman at State Street Global Advisors

Fundamental Media speaks to John Brockelman, global head of brand marketing & communications at State Street Global Advisors, about the opportunities of digital marketing in a post-Covid world

What communication lessons have you learned in the last couple of months during Covid-19 and what impact will these have on your marketing approach going forward?

Covid-19 has confirmed that once again – especially in times of market stress and uncertainty – our clients depend on timely, relevant and clear insights from our experts. In the asset management industry we tend to favour long lead time, extensively written pieces. Don't get me wrong, those pieces have an important place, but the market was moving so rapidly that we needed to adapt and distribute our thinking much more quickly and in a variety of different formats to make our insights actionable for clients. The new approaches we developed will definitely last beyond the pandemic.

The process of financial advice has historically been very personal and face-to-face driven, from wholesalers meeting with FAs and FAs meeting with clients. That touchpoint is no longer available to us for the foreseeable future, so how are your external wholesalers overcoming that hurdle?

We conducted some research earlier this year and found that, prior to Covid-19, our in-person, face-to-face meetings were rated very highly by financial advisors and it was an advantage for us. However, that is pretty tough to scale given the fact that there are more than 300,000 advisors in the US alone. Like many other firms, we are connecting with our clients through one-on-one video conferencing as well as webinars where our experts can share what they are seeing in the market and answer questions directly. After the pandemic subsides, there is going to be far more receptivity to these types of meetings which will allow our experts to reach many more clients with a personal – albeit virtual – touch.

Have the new ways of engaging with your clients changed the way you work internally with the different stakeholders?

Absolutely. In the midst of the most serious market volatility, we came up with an idea to have our Chief Investment Officer record a video of himself at his house with his mobile phone for 2-3 minutes on a key issue in the markets that week: oil prices, policy proposals... you name it. In order to move rapidly to get these videos approved and distributed within hours, we needed to strengthen our partnership between compliance, web publishing and our social teams and speed up the process. Everyone worked hard to make it happen and it has been a great success – the first video was viewed over one million times on Twitter alone. In the past, we might have created videos like this in a studio, reviewed scripts and talking points and edited together multiple takes. It would have taken a few days at least. Now we have extended this approach to videos from multiple investment leaders on a wide variety of topics.

Digital platforms have allowed clients to have a very immediate and personal response from you. How will you build on that and what value do you place on it?

One area in particular is social media. It's a big focus for us and quite frankly, our firm was late to the game. A few years ago it was a 'nice to have', but today it is one of our most important marketing channels that helps us more effectively share our expertise with clients. The next frontier for us on social is to have individual thought leaders engaging with clients vs. just our corporate brand handles. Think about your own social media consumption habits; you probably follow way more thought leaders than you do corporate brands. Our CEO has already stepped up his presence on LinkedIn in the last year and we expect to expand this approach to even more subject matter experts later this year.

A lot of people believe that once the crisis is over, many aspects of life will no longer be as they were before the crisis. Will there be a 'new normal' in asset management marketing and what will it look like?

A lot of things will likely change. People will be more open to meeting in person via video conference. They likely will be more willing to engage with a wider variety of digital content vs. having a glossy printed brochure or report handed to them. And every asset manager will likely have stepped up their thought leadership game, so being timely, relevant and interesting with your insights will be even more important.

If you could give one piece of advice to your peers, what would that be?

Embrace the move toward more digital marketing informed by hard data. It will improve the way clients experience your brand and demonstrate marketing's overall value to the business.

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Insights Media buying and planning The marketer's perspective: talking to John Brockelman at State Street Global Advisors