With Initial Public Offerings (IPOs) growing scarcer and heightened financial market volatility becoming the norm, startups must today explore innovative ways to secure capital and build momentum. One effective strategy is conducting a series of Regulation A+ (Reg A+) raises in advance of an IPO. Reg A+ enables issuers to raise capital through equity crowdfunding and is a game changer for startups looking to secure capital and build their investor community.
From a marketing perspective, investor audiences are notoriously difficult to reach and convert. However, Reg A+ provides a unique opportunity for companies to build a strong community that will ultimately help engage potential investors. Building a strong investor community is a great way to show institutional markets that you have already successfully attracted interest from retail investors.
“A strong investor community is the bedrock of raising capital. An engaged community is one of the most important factors we consider when deciding which issuers we take on as clients; it is the strongest indicator of whether an offering will be successful.” – DealMaker
We sat down with our key strategic partner, DealMaker, to discuss 4 reasons why building a community is critical to the success of a capital raise:
1. Shows proof of concept.
A strong community sets the stage for a compelling proof of concept, signaling a genuine interest and belief in your company’s mission. This traction also validates your company’s business model and enhances credibility and attractiveness to external stakeholders, including public and family offices.
2.Creates an active shareholder base.
An active shareholder base goes a long way in creating a solid foundation for your company, bolstering credibility, and facilitating long-term growth. An active shareholder base can make your company more attractive to institutional investors and others who might be interested in being a part of your future IPO. This proves your company has a track record of effectively communicating with investors.
3. Conversion of customers to shareholders.
An interconnected relationship between customers and shareholders will strengthen your company’s position and potential for long-term growth. Reg A+ allows companies to convert customers into shareholders and vice versa, fostering a dedicated community of supporters. Customers-turned-investors have a strong interest in seeing the company thrive and grow, leading to increased loyalty and advocacy on behalf of the brand.
4. Make the most of less restrictive marketing regulations.
Reg A+ comes with the ability to use general solicitation for marketing and communication. This is an excellent opportunity to utilize modern marketing strategies, including social media and email marketing. Investors are known to research a company’s level of social community by looking at the number and engagement of real followers, as well as the company’s media coverage, including press releases, videos and other publicly available content. Leveraging appropriate marketing strategies will strengthen your company’s online presence and generate a wider interest in your future offerings.
Ext. Marketing understands the power of community building and has worked on many successful Reg A+ raises. Let us help you make your next raise a success. Contact us today for a complimentary consultation at email@example.com.
Private equity (PE) firms are increasingly using a secret weapon to enhance the value of their portfolio companies and generate growth: marketing. PE firms excel at deal flow and restructuring, yet once they’ve acquired a company their toolkit should include strategies that improve brand identity and communications. Operational improvement, of which marketing plays an integral role, is a growing share of the value add provided by PE investors. Strong marketing strategies are proven to create value and attract higher exit premiums.
1. Increase market relevance.
Revisiting a company’s story and key messaging framework can help identify valuable attributes a portfolio company might have that align with current market demands. Identifying emerging or unmet needs in the industry and curating brand messaging that highlights these relevant attributes can be a game-changer in attracting investors, increasing value and capturing market share.
For example, a company may have inherent Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) characteristics to bring to the forefront of their story in a way that bolsters that company’s overall value.
2. Improve competitive position in the current market.
Ensuring your portfolio companies’ brands and marketing strategies are as strong as possible will position them more favourably to investors. Uncertain markets are an essential time for stronger brands to vault over their more anemic competitors. Strong branding builds a sustainable competitive advantage that can withstand market fluctuations and make a company more resilient to external pressures.
3. Elevate digital presence.
Firms should not underestimate the power of a digital presence. With increased competition for consumer attention online, a harmonious brand presence across all relevant platforms is imperative. A well-designed website, up-to-date social media profiles and strategic content marketing all work to validate a company’s business model, enhance credibility and lead to a better consumer experience.
4. Improve internal and external communications.
Ensuring communications are aligned, both internally and externally, is vital to the strength of a brand. Internally, this can take the form of roadmaps, toolkits and dealer materials. Externally, this can involve communication with key stakeholders and customers, including whitepapers, thought leadership, educational materials and videos. Improved communication channels add value to your portfolio companies by streamlining operational practices and promoting transparency.
A marketing agency can give your portfolio companies the brand refresh they need to generate future value. A strong brand paired with a compelling digital presence, streamlined communications and other marketing materials will help position your companies advantageously, which can bode well for valuations and help promote successful exits.
Ext. Marketing recently won silver at the FCS Portfolio Awards 2023 for our Aqua Finance, Inc. rebrand campaign, and has worked with many other portfolio companies to successfully improve brand structuring and communications.
Discover how Ext. Marketing can add value to your firm. Book a call with us today at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The new consumer duty regulations in the U.K. will significantly impact how financial advisers communicate with clients. Consumer duty requires wealth management firms to articulate their value proposition in plain English and demonstrate to clients the value they provide – beyond just returns. If a client can’t understand what you are explaining, whether that be investment goals, financial planning strategies or specific investments, you may find yourself violating consumer duty regulations. Developing a compliant communications strategy is vital.
What is consumer duty?
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) established a new principle that requires your wealth management business to ‘act to deliver good outcomes for retail customers.’ The principle is supported by three rules requiring firms to:
- Act in good faith
- Avoid causing foreseeable harm
- Enable and support retail customers to pursue their financial objectives
Consumer duty will play out in four outcomes: products and services, price and value, customer understanding and customer support. This principle is setting higher standards than past regulatory measures, and has placed a major emphasis on providing evidence of value to customers that goes beyond investment returns.
Although Consumer Duty is, as of now, only a regulatory concern in the U.K., it is important to note that numerous Canadian financial regulations have been influenced by those initially introduced in the U.K., and this might be an important sign of what is to come for our Canadian readers.
How will consumer duty impact my communication strategy?
The volume of information around this new principle might be somewhat overwhelming. We’ve highlighted the key components that will likely impact your communication strategy as a financial adviser.
- Communications are relevant and appropriate based on characteristics of your clients, including their vulnerabilities.
Advisers must understand their target audience and tailor client communications accordingly. Ask yourself, are there forms of communication that can be understood by some clients and not by others? Are you providing the right services, products and recommendations based on a specific client segment? This change might further require you to segment your communications in a way that factors in characteristics such as stage of life and net worth. The FCA also encourages firms to think about vulnerabilities as a spectrum of risk that is driven by four factors: health, life events, resilience and capability.
2. Communications are clear, fair and not misleading.
Advisers must ensure that all communications meet the information needs of retail investor clients. Communications must provide accurate, relevant and timely information so clients have all the necessary information to make appropriate financial decisions.
Fair access to information also includes distributing communications on all channels that your clients exist on. Different client segments, such as people new to the workforce or retirees, may be looking for information on different platforms that individuals who find most of their information on social media sites.
3. Communications are consistently understood.
This component of the new consumer duty regulation involves constant testing, monitoring and adapting of communications to ensure customer understanding and support for good retail client outcomes.
There are many things to remember when complying with the FCA’s new consumer duty regulations. Aegon has recommended that financial advisers consider working with an external content provider to help with messaging, and ensuring information is provided in a clear and concise way.
As an adviser, we understand that you may not have the time to ensure that all your communications meet your consumer duty obligations. Ext. Marketing works with independent financial advisers (“IFAs”), discretionary fund managers (“DFMs”) and other wealth managers to clearly articulate their value proposition, differentiate themselves, and reach their target audiences.
Book a call with us today at email@example.com to discuss how we can help with all your client communication needs.
Lookalike audiences are an effective way to extend your brand’s reach and boost conversions. When used in digital campaigns, they allow your company to reach a targeted network of relevant potential clients and establish a strong digital presence. Lookalike audiences are extremely valuable, in that they can improve your audience targeting and ultimately increase your engagement and conversions.
What are lookalike audiences?
Facebook and LinkedIn lookalike audiences are sophisticated matchmakers between your brand and new clients. Lookalike audiences are developed by leveraging your current audience data to find other highly qualified users you previously wouldn’t have been able to reach. Instead of straining your team’s time and resources by manually searching for new audiences, these systems provide data for extended audiences that match the attributes and preferences of your current audience.
How to build lookalike audiences
- Know your audience.
You can only create valuable lookalike audiences if you already know your audience. Lookalike audiences provide an extension of data based on the audience you already have, so it is very important to properly identify your current audience and have the right persona. The more refined your current audience data is, the better your lookalike audience(s) results will be. Read more about developing a highly detailed persona here.
2. Refine your data.
Obtaining data on your audience, which you can then use to develop lookalike audiences, can be done using either first-party, second-party (business partners’) or third-party data.
Data can include information such as name, surname, gender, date of birth, country of residence, etc. You may have multiple audiences that you are looking to market your brand to, so narrowing the scope of your audience can help to create refined groups of lookalike audiences that target specific audience segments. For instance, you can specifically target wealth advisors in Toronto or business owners in New York.
3. Start reaping the benefits!
Lookalike audiences extend your brand’s reach to a curated list of relevant people who are highly likely to be interested in your product or services. As a result, lookalike audiences:
- Generate high-quality leads: Data is gold! Having data on potential clients is extremely valuable in generating new leads.
- Increase your return on investment: You can increase conversions when your content targets a wide group of relevant potential clients. Lookalike audiences extend your reach to people who are most likely to engage with your product or service.
Want to see a real-world example of how lookalike audiences can accelerate your business growth?
Ext. Marketing recently worked with a leading wealth advisor to expand client outreach strategies though a dynamic lead-generation campaign. With the help of Ext. Marketing’s audience segmentation, cohesive digital marketing strategy, and ongoing optimization and retargeting, the advisor established a strong presence and successfully connected with previously inaccessible prospects. Click here to read more about this advisor’s success story.
Looking to boost your brand reach and increase conversions? Ext. Marketing can help. Book a meeting with us today to discuss how a digital campaign can accelerate your business growth. firstname.lastname@example.org
A wealth advisor’s website is an important tool, but one that’s often overlooked. A website isn’t just a place where clients and prospects can learn more about you and your team. It is also a powerful tool advisors can use to establish their thought leadership brand and attract prospective clients.
By posting the right content, your website can appear higher in Google searches, making it easier for potential clients to find you. This increased visibility can translate into new client acquisitions.
Advisors can better attract inbound leads by following these four steps to posting search engine optimized (SEO) website content:
1. Identify your audience.
Create a target audience profile using your specific industry niche as a guide. Identify target client characteristics, including demographics, age, gender, income, etc. Read more about developing marketing personas here.
2. Determine where your audience is – both digitally and geographically.
Join digital forums where you can engage with potential clients through online groups in which they participate. Consider exploring LinkedIn and Facebook groups.
Update and maintain your offsite SEO. This will increase your credibility and legitimacy. Keep your Google My Business, Google Analytics, Google Search Console, etc. accounts updated with the latest information about your business, including address, target area and contact information. This will also make you visible to potential clients on Google Maps and Google Reviews.
Utilize geotargeting. You can reach relevant customers by including location information on your website and social profiles. Update your About Us, History and Contact information. Include location-specific keywords in your articles and posts.
3. Identify the content your audience wants.
Capture the attention of potential clients by identifying the keywords they tend to search for. Identifying keywords can take time. Prepare to test your choices to determine which ones best suit your target audience.
Take advantage of negative keywords. By adding negative keywords, you can filter out unwanted traffic to your website and increase your return on investment.
4. Develop relevant and engaging content.
Integrate your keywords. Relevant and timely content will grab the attention of both target clients and search engines. Develop content based on insights from your keyword testing insights. Match your content to what your audience is searching for.
Use a strong and specific call to action, urging readers to follow through a particular path – whether it’s signing up for a newsletter or scheduling a call.
Digital engagement is a long process. It may take months to see any results, but is crucial for wealth advisors when maximizing the benefits of their website and boosting their brand presence to generate prospects. Partnering with a digital marketing agency like Ext. Marketing will ensure your brand regularly distributes relevant content that harnesses SEO and drives conversions so that you can spend time growing your clients’ wealth. Contact us today at email@example.com to get started.
The investment industry isn’t always easy to predict, but one thing is certain: the financial services marketing and communications landscape will constantly evolve. This was evident in our recent exploration of digital marketing trends. And there’s so much more to come! We foresee unprecedented evolution fueled by emerging technologies and shifting investor behaviours in the next five to 10 years. The future of digital content marketing presents exciting opportunities for the financial services industry.
What can we expect from financial marketing over the next five years?
1. Increased Personalization
Content will become even more personalized and tailored to individual customer needs and preferences. Advanced data analytics and AI technologies will enable financial marketers to deliver highly targeted content, personalized recommendations and customized experiences.
Financial education and engagement may incorporate gamification elements to make learning and managing finances more interactive and enjoyable. Gamified experiences can help users understand complex financial concepts, track progress, and incentivize positive financial behaviours.
3. Voice-Activated Content
Voice-search optimization and voice-activated financial advice services will become increasingly prevalent components of marketing strategies.
4. Emphasis on Visual and Video Content
Visual and video content will continue to gain prominence in financial services marketing. Infographics, short videos and visual storytelling will be used to simplify complex financial information and captivate audiences with visually appealing content. Read more about ramping up your video marketing efforts here.
What about over the next 10 years?
1. Seamless Integration of Content and Transactions
Content marketing will become seamlessly integrated with transactional experiences. Financial brands may provide educational content and personalized offers at various touchpoints throughout the customer journey, ensuring a cohesive and value-driven experience.
2. Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Content
There is likely to be an increased focus on content aimed at educating audiences on the potential benefits, risks and investment opportunities in the blockchain and cryptocurrency spaces – including an emphasis on decentralized finance (DeFi) and digital assets.
3. Hyper-Personalization through Data Insights
By leveraging growth in data collection and analysis technologies, companies will gain access to improved insights into customer behaviours, preferences and needs. Content will be delivered in real time, enabling financial brands to provide timely and relevant information to their audiences.
4. Enhanced User Experience
The focus on the user experience will intensify, with financial brands aiming to provide seamless, intuitive and user-friendly experiences across multiple devices and platforms. User-centric design, intuitive interfaces, micro-interactions and enhanced accessibility will be key considerations in content marketing strategies.
Anticipating and adapting to industry changes will allow for strategic future planning. From increased demand for personalized content to a stronger focus on user-centric experiences, including immersive and interactive experiences, as well as digital advancements, will continue to redefine financial services marketing and communications.
If you’re interested in exploring these marketing trends further, or if you want to better align your messaging with these trends in mind, contact us today at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Investor audiences can be relatively difficult to reach for those raising capital or looking for new clients. By understanding the factors that make these audiences hard to reach, however, you can develop specialized marketing strategies to overcome the challenge of reaching investors and better engage this audience. Here are the main reasons investors can be tough to reach, along with some important strategic marketing solutions to attract investors.
Eight reasons why financial audiences can be particularly hard to reach:
1. Fragmented audience: Financial audiences can be diverse and comprise individuals with varying financial goals, knowledge levels and interests. This fragmentation makes it challenging to reach the entire target audience with a single approach or platform.
2. Information overload: The financial services industry is inundated with information from various sources, making it difficult to cut through the noise and capture investor attention. Strategic distribution and compelling content is required to stand out and engage the audience effectively.
3. Trust and credibility concerns: Financial decisions often involve a significant investment amount and a number of risks. As a result, investors tend to be cautious, and also tend to value trust and credibility. Companies looking to attract investors must establish themselves as reliable and trustworthy sources of information to gain investor attention and engagement.
4. Compliance and regulatory considerations: Financial content is subject to strict compliance and regulatory requirements. These regulations can impact the distribution channels and strategies available to companies looking to attract investors, while also requiring careful navigation to ensure compliance.
5. Financial jargon and complexity: The financial industry is notorious for its complex concepts and jargon. Communicating financial information in a clear and understandable manner is crucial to engaging your target audience.
6. Security and privacy concerns: Investor audiences are understandably concerned about their personal financial data and privacy. These concerns must be addressed to provide secure channels for content distribution.
7. Niche targeting: Investor audiences, including individual investors, retirees, small business owners or high-net-worth individuals, often have specific niches or segments. Effective distribution requires identifying and targeting these specific segments with tailored content that meets these audiences’ unique needs and preferences.
8. Relationship building and trust: Financial decisions are often based on trust and long-term relationships. Investing in building and nurturing relationships with your target investor audience requires consistent and targeted distribution strategies.
There are many opportunities to reach your target audience effectively. With the right marketing strategy and a focus on building trust, delivering valuable content and utilizing digital channels, you can easily overcome barriers to successfully engage investors.
Five ways to engage hard-to-reach investor audiences:
1. Leveraging digital channels and platforms: Utilize websites, blogs, social media, email marketing and industry-specific platforms to reach investors where they spend time.
2. Thought leadership and expertise: Establishing your thought leadership and expertise through content can help build trust and credibility, which, in turn, can make it easier to reach and engage investors.
3. Personalization and targeting: Leverage data and technology to personalize content and target specific audience segments to, deliver more relevant and tailored messages.
4. Strategic partnerships and collaborations: Partner with influencers, industry experts or complementary brands to expand your reach and credibility.
5. Educational and informative content: Provide valuable educational resources and informative content that positions you as a trusted source of information.
Reaching investor audiences can be challenging. By understanding their unique characteristics and tailoring distribution strategies accordingly, financial brands can effectively engage and connect with their target investors. Partnering with an agency like Ext. Marketing can help you create specialized marketing strategies and attract investors. Contact us today to reach your ideal investor audiences at email@example.com.
Our CEO and Co-Founder, Jillian Bannister, recently sat on a panel at the Gramercy Institute to discuss “Content Marketing: Today’s Best Practices in Financial Marketing.” She spoke about what it takes to find success in financial marketing and communications.
Her biggest takeaways: consistency and commitment.
A strong brand identity requires consistency, not only in your visual elements, such as logo, colours and fonts, but also in your overall communication strategy. How you communicate is an extension of your brand identity that reinforces your credibility and professionalism.
It is easy for brands to lose credibility with their audience when content takes a back seat and becomes sporadic or infrequent. Whether in the form of videos, infographics or blog posts, maintaining regularity is crucial. With a digitally connected world that never sleeps, integrating an ‘always on’ strategy is imperative to establishing your brand as a reliable and trustworthy source of information. Developing an editorial calendar is a great way to achieve ‘always on’ content. Learn how to develop your editorial calendar here.
The right team and resources
Jillian emphasized the importance of having the right people and resources to ensure your content is distributed effectively. Whether you’re working with an internal or external team, commitment to content is imperative. Partnering with an agency like Ext. Marketing is the right way to ensure your content marketing strategy succeeds.
Contact us today at firstname.lastname@example.org and commit to consistent content marketing.
If recorded in 2023, Madonna would be singing about living in a digital world … rather than a material world. With so much choice and competition, getting your website to stand out to visitors and make an impression can be difficult. One way to delight users and connect with your audience is with micro-interactions. Let’s look at the different types of micro-interactions that engage and elevate the user experience.
Button Animations: meaning animations that occur when a user hovers over a button, which can include button colour or arrow shape changes. Noticeable animations can evoke interest and/or emotion in users.
Carousels: meaning slider or slideshow of images or content. Carousels can help lay out content and important information in smaller amounts of space to reduce scrolling.
Accordions: meaning a heading that expands with more relevant information. Accordions help condense information so your target investor audience doesn’t miss important information.
Hover Effects: when a user hovers over a tile, text or image, additional information pops up – before the user clicks on that tile, etc. and is taken to a new page. This is a great way to lay out content, but the downside is that search engine optimization isn’t captured this way.
Parallax: means layering the background and foreground to give space, depth and movement when a user scrolls through the site. A great example is the visual in our Careers page. Parallax keeps users engaged and on the page longer, while not overpowering content.
Shortcuts: can include quickly sharing articles on social media, providing the ability to scroll back to the top of the page or other content, among others. Shortcuts allow you to direct users to important information.
Mobile: with so many people visiting websites on their phones, micro-interactions make viewing content easier on a smaller screen. Accordions and carousels are great for the mobile experience. Learn more about optimized mobile content here.
Modest functional animations evoke engagement and enhance the overall user experience of a website. These might seem like small changes, but they make a big difference in user retention if they are sprinkled throughout a website. Micro-interactions are also measurable in Google Analytics, since you can track where users are spending their time.
Contact us today at email@example.com to ensure your website is making a lasting impression.
An interview with Cesar Lugo, Managing Director, Digital, Ext. Marketing
From the growing influence of TikTok to the emergence of AI-powered chatbots, the digital landscape has quickly evolved over the past year. To help us navigate the digital noise, we spoke with Ext. Marketing Digital Managing Director, Cesar Lugo (CL), to identify which trends demand further exploration. He shared with us why establishing a clear digital strategy can help companies easily navigate these changes and generate the best-possible business outcomes.
Q: How can a defined digital strategy help a company respond to emerging trends in technology?
CL: The digital ecosystem is vast and constantly changing. It’s easy to get swept up in the latest trends, without having a complete understanding of the problem you’re facing and the key drivers that will generate the desired outcome. Your digital strategy should include an audit of your current digital touchpoints, assets and tools; short-, medium- and long-term objectives; success measures; and a digital roadmap that can keep you on track.
A digital strategy is more than just a one-off project or a one-size-fits-all approach. It should reflect a long-term commitment to using digital tools to achieve your business objectives. Defining this foundational framework allows you to make strategic decisions about these emerging trends.
Q: What digital marketing and social media activation trends should companies be aware of heading into 2023?
CL: Here are some trends I believe will be game changers we should all be watching:
- Individuals 45 years old and younger are turning to social media platforms rather than traditional search engines to find the information they need. There’s evidence of the same growth in buying and shopping on these social media platforms.
- It is all about TikTok these days. There were nearly 1 billion active users in September 2022, which is impressive growth from 700 million users in July 2021.1 It will be important to stay up to date on U.S. regulations in the coming year, as lawmakers continue to scrutinize this platform.2
- Short-form or ”snackable” videos are still crucial for driving views and generating richer engagement on social media. However, long-form content is making a comeback with the 25-and-under crowd.
- Artificial Intelligence has grown in relevance in the tech industry, with expectations that it will grow by 23% from 2023 to 2028.3 ChatGPT is just the latest revolution worth exploring. This AI-generated natural language processing tool crossed one million users within one week of its November 30, 2022, launch.4 Spoiler alert: all these solutions will need human involvement to ensure quality and accuracy.
- The metaverse, non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and Web3 are on the horizon. Depending on your industry, these technologies might help your company grow in the future. We recommend you monitor the progress and adoption of NFTs and Web3 within your industry.
Q: How can companies capitalize on those opportunities in 2023?
CL: Most of these emerging trends could be very important to the success of your company. If your digital efforts need to catch up, now is the time to roll up your sleeves and develop a strategy. Establishing an effective digital ecosystem will provide you with the foundation to determine how these trends can benefit your business.
Whether you are increasing brand awareness, generating leads or raising capital, it is important you remember that your digital strategy should be diversified across digital platforms and mediums, and include regular A/B testing to determine whether or not you are achieving your business goals.
Q: What advice or takeaway do you want to leave companies with?
CL: It is important to be nimble and agile so you can respond to change. Digital spaces can open avenues and create a broader perspective on available opportunities, changing circumstances and even better ways to operate.
Contact us today at firstname.lastname@example.org to start developing your digital strategy and to respond to the key emerging technology trends of 2023!
Notes: From an Ext. perspective – these are trends we recommend you watch.
Does your website need a refresh? Are you dealing with lengthy load times, missing meta-tags or dated messaging? Even a few minor issues could be cluttering your website performance. Making some small tweaks can make a big difference in optimizing user experience and attracting investors. Check out our checklist to help spring clean your website:
- Define your goals: Your website is a powerful tool. If you are an issuer undergoing a capital raise, your goal might be lead generation. If you are an asset manager, you might use your website more for informational or brand awareness among advisors and retail investors. Keep your goals in mind when reviewing your website analytics.
- Leverage analytics: Review your website metrics to understand and benchmark its performance. Evaluate your website audience to see where visitors are coming from, how long they stay on it and what pages they tend to go to. Your analytics can tell if you are attracting your target investor audience, and what content is resonating most. If you don’t know where to find the analytics you need, you can start by Googling “Google Analytics.”
- Refresh your content: Apply the insights you get from your analytics to update content that speaks specifically to your target audience. This will help decrease your Readers prefer easily accessible information, so you might want to change how your content is laid out by making your website’s hero banner a conversion superhero. Take inventory of high-performing content (the stuff that is most viewed or shared) and move it to the home page to increase engagement. Having a user journey and distinct call-to-action will also increase engagement and conversion.
- Revitalize SEO: Search engine optimization (SEO) is an important step in your cleaning process. It makes it easier for your target audience to find you. Here are a few technical items that are often overlooked:
- Broken links: Remove any that go to removed pages with error messages.
- Meta descriptions and alt-text: All pages should have meta-descriptions. Alt-text shouldn’t be too long or too short. This is a great place to insert keywords to improve your overall SEO rating.
- Page speeds: Reduce page speeds to one to three seconds to increase user retention. You can eliminate any code that isn’t being used to increase your website’s speed.
- Leverage plug-ins: Tools like Imagify for image compression can free up a lot of time, enhancing your website performance.
- Maintain regularly: Websites are meant to be kept current and should be frequently updated. Find a cadence that works for you to update your website and stick to it.
Looking to improve your web metrics or create content optimized for search? Ext. Marketing can help you develop targeted web content to help boost your conversion rates. Check out our web design services or contact us today at email@example.com.
There’s no doubt the last few years have fundamentally changed how we communicate. The global pandemic, restricted mobility and the necessity of remote working environments have fuelled expanded technology applications. With fewer in-person interactions, people have become more comfortable with virtual meetings and pitching on online platforms, including Zoom or Microsoft Teams.
While more meetings are happening online, the financial services industry is still quite traditional, and so too is its preference for printed pitchbooks. The result can be challenging because pitching in person is quite different from an online pitch. You can make eye contact and detect body language in-person to gauge interest, but capturing and retaining a potential investor’s attention online is much harder.
If you are looking to elevate your pitchbooks to the next generation (NexGen), consider these five tips. And remember, a great pitchbook is important to every hedge fund manager’s success because great pitchbooks always tell great stories:
1. Tell an exceptional story
When considering a pitch, today’s investors need context – the “why,” “what” and “how” behind who you are as a fund, organization and team. Investors are looking for a solid narrative that differentiates you from the many pitchbooks that cross their desks – and screens – every day. Strong storytelling can help them see your potential more effectively, resulting in a stronger connection with you.
2. Clean and clear content
Investors don’t have time to dig around for what they need. Great pitchbook stories are tied together in ways that make sense. Designing them as intuitively as possible starts with a smart page-flow supported by a strong narrative. Cut down on copy to get right to the point and organize your hierarchy of information so your audience can more easily follow along.
3. Capture attention
Most people, including potential investors, are visual learners and will be better able to digest your content if it is illustrated creatively. So go ahead and slide some design tricks into your repertoire, allowing you to bring your pitch to life. Here are some design tips you can start with to keep investor attention on screen:
• Keep your visuals simple and clean, while tying them into the rest of your brand and marketing materials. Stick to one graph per slide.
• Use large fonts in dark colours. Avoid copy that is too small or light, as this will be too hard to read on a screen.
4. Use bold colours
Take advantage of brighter colours that you might not typically use. They might not print as well, but they can be ideal in a digital format. You can also use shades of colours to create a deeper visual experience. Shading allows for a sophisticated monochromatic approach.
5. Size matters
Most pitchbooks are 8.5×11 (the size required for printing). Instead, consider designing your pitchbook using a 16×9 aspect ratio, which is optimal for online presentations.
Creating an effective NexGen pitchbook – one that connects with your investor audience in a clear, compelling way, will always come down to how succinct, relevant and readable your message is. Telling a story that’s simple, logical and genuine is a great place to start.
Whether you are an issuer, hedge fund or private equity firm, it’s never been more important to have a great pitchbook help tell your story. Contact Ext. Marketing at firstname.lastname@example.org to get started on your NexGen pitchbook.
Although logos are generally considered the entirety of a company’s brand, they are actually really more of the tip of the iceberg. A well-designed logo is important, but a brand’s visual identity includes much more. If you are contemplating a brand redesign, consider how a more holistic approach can add value and longevity to your overall brand.
Your logo is only the beginning
Your logo and visual identity system go hand-in-hand. A strong logo makes it easier for your target audience to recognize and remember your brand. But a less cohesive visual identity system can undermine a good logo. Since a logo (even a great one) is only part of your overarching brand, it can be equated with a poorly articulated visual identity.
What is a visual identity system?
A visual identity system is a collection of graphics, colours, fonts, icons and imagery that includes your logo in your brand guideline. When used and deployed consistently, these guidelines become the visual identity associated with your brand. Your logo is the first impression your audience sees, while your visual identity system is the personality behind your brand and logo that reinforces your message. Read about the importance of creating clear brand guidelines.
Best practices for creating a resilient visual brand identity
To ensure your brand is resilient over the long term, here are a few tips from Ext. Marketing’s creative team:
- Do some upfront work
• Brainstorm with your internal team to share your company’s vision and what you are hoping to achieve by creating a strategy document.
• Research logos and visual identity systems that you like (and why) to guide your creative team.
• Look at competitors and other creatives to see how they are being perceived compared to how you want to be seen.
- Bring ideas back to the strategy document
• The first step in creating a logo starts with a meeting between you and your designers. Before the designers can visually represent the brand; they need to understand your organization’s vision and personality.
• If you want a logo that stands the test of time, think beyond immediate timeframes, and focus instead on where you want to be in five years.
• Your logo’s value should address all key strategic elements.
- Try to avoid design fads
Some recent trends in design include “retro” concepts or gradients that might look great now, but they could quickly date your brand.
- Accessibility is key
People need to clearly see your logo. How discernible is it? Does it stand up with contrast checkers, across all mediums? Read more about the importance of accessible design.
Time for a redesign?
If you think your visual identity does not ideally encompass your brand personality, strategy, or your company has evolved and your logo is no longer an accurate representation of your company, this might be the right time for a redesign or refresh. This is especially true if your logo looks dated, or if there are technical issues and it doesn’t perform well either digitally or in print.
Although you can choose to completely redo your logo, a thorough logo or visual redesign could mean you’ll lose your hard-earned brand equity and recognition. You might want to do a refresh to elevate your logo, rather than a complete redesign. Or you might keep the logo as-is, and update the visual identity system for a brand refresh (while maintaining your brand equity).
Brilliantly designed marketing material – whether it’s a brochure, website, pitchbook or anything else – doesn’t just happen. Developing stunning visuals that truly differentiate brands requires design thinking, or a strong methodology for developing creative ideas.
Whether you are an emerging manager kickstarting your brand or an established firm ready for a redesign, Ext. Marketing is the financial services marketing and brand consultant that can help your investor-focused brand succeed long-term. Contact us today at email@example.com to get started.
A Q&A with Ext. Marketing CEO & Co-founder Jillian Bannister
How does DEI shape Ext.’s business?
The principle of DEI is central to Ext. Marketing philosophy because we believe diverse perspectives lead to better creativity and superior client solutions. On my executive team, some of the top senior leaders are women, and they help drive the organization forward every day. Their expertise and unique voices give us a competitive edge. But diversity goes beyond gender – we believe that the fabric of an organization is stronger with different voices that transcend gender, race, sexual orientation or ethnic background. Each individual has distinct life experiences that shape their perspectives in unique ways. We want to embrace and harness these viewpoints. We have always encouraged a workplace with diverse voices because we believe it promotes fresh thinking. Great ideas don’t come from any one specific area of the organization. They can originate from anywhere. Inclusivity helps ignite the creative spark that is essential to all of Ext.’s marketing projects. This approach promotes empathy – which helps us develop better solutions for our clients by encouraging us to see the world from their point of view.
Why is it so important?
Ext. Marketing operates in a diverse global financial services ecosystem that exhibits varying stages of DEI adoption. But many have realized that there is a wealth of opportunity for community building by actively engaging and speaking to audience segments and constituencies, including women, the LGBTQ+ community, people with disabilities and other underserved communities.
We work hard with our clients to help them understand that diversity and inclusivity build more resilient companies and marketing strategies. Every client is unique, so it all starts with listening and understanding client goals. Our clients tend to see the value of integrating DEI initiatives and strategies into their businesses and marketing messages. It’s important to be authentic to your company and brand if you want to develop messages and creative collateral that resonate.
How does DEI help Ext. Marketing create more engaging marketing strategies?
We work in an omni-channel digital environment. That is especially relevant, given this year’s International Women’s Day theme embraces equity by recognizing technology’s transformative nature. Technology can break down barriers, establish new opportunities for women, and give underserved communities a voice. From a marketing perspective, activating strategies across diverse channels means reaching different audiences, offering clients an opportunity to amplify their voice and deliver tailored, targeted and relevant content. Today, content encompasses everything from AI chatbots to long-form thought leadership. Therefore, clients should be granular with their messages and target specific personas. A diverse marketing toolkit helps you reach an eclectic audience, leading to a more effective and efficient spend of marketing dollars.
I’m a big believer in championing women. The glass ceiling is far from being broken. We’ve helped clients in the financials sector develop numerous campaigns focusing on women in investing – a vastly underserved segment. Interestingly, we are seeing a transition from women-focused campaigns to campaigns that aren’t so “single-note”. The idea is to avoid biases and stereotyping, and integrate more nuanced perspectives and intersectionality.1
How did it affect your decision to support Ernestine’s Women’s Shelter?
We’re passionate about giving back to our community. I’ve been involved with Ernestine’s Women’s Shelter in Toronto, since I was a child, and Ext. Marketing has supported Ernestine’s since our first day in business over 14 years ago. Combatting violence against women and helping women find a safe place is a stark necessity in our society. Post-COVID-19, we’ve seen a huge uptick in mental health issues, which has escalated cases of violence against women. Ernestine’s is playing a more important societal role than ever before. Tackling gender bias and facilitating an environment of inclusion starts with safety. This can’t happen without ensuring women have achieved security at the most basic level. That’s why Ext. Marketing’s support of Ernestine’s continues to be an important part of how we give back and facilitate the important journey toward equality.
Looking for innovative and creative ways to bring your marketing to the next level? Ext. Marketing has the expertise you need. Contact us today at 1.844.243.1830 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Marketing costs are likely to remain a focus at many firms in 2023. During leaner times like these, the ability to embrace digital transformation and the power of data could give your firm the boost it needs. Metrics help inform sound marketing decisions and make it easier to understand which channels are worth your marketing dollars.
Knowing how and where to spend your marketing dollars can be challenging because of shifting customer behaviours. Have attitudes changed based on people’s current financial situations? Are they facing a wider range of investment options? Do they seek easier ways of doing business with you? Keeping a close eye on how prospects engage with you, and what’s prompting their conversions, will help you pivot your marketing spend to where it can be most effective.
While each campaign is unique, here are some key metrics you should always track to know how efficient and practical you are being with your marketing spend.
Social, geopolitical and economic uncertainties that characterized 2022 aren’t likely to abate any time soon. Prompted by those challenges, forward-thinking business leaders are adapting their marketing strategies.
If you are a business strategist looking to jumpstart your 2023 marketing campaigns, consider these five marketing trends and best practices:
1. AI starts to step up
Everyone is talking about artificial intelligence (AI) technology and automation tools (like ChatGPT and DALL-E). You may wonder what AI technology can do, how it works, and how it might help your business. Many of us have the same questions. While AI tools are mostly in beta testing, the technology matures quickly. Essentially, the tools streamline time-consuming creative and content tasks, including research and image searches, freeing up valuable time for strategic work, like branded story development. The Wall Street Journal calls this approach “post-creation.” We believe that, over the long term and with proper set-up and governance, AI can play a vital role in speeding up more basic tasks and enabling agencies to focus their resources on strategic, higher-value client work.
2. Aligning CSR & ESG with marketing strategies
Investing time in your corporate social responsibility (CSR) and contributing to causes that align with your company’s values can win favour with clients and employees. Recent surveys show that Millennials and Gen Z cohorts have high levels of climate change engagement, with 90% of Millennials actively pursuing sustainable investments.2 More regulators are taking a closer look at portfolios to ensure that stated environmental, social & governance (ESG) actions can be verified. With the critical importance of value articulation, marketers need to align their CSR and ESG messaging carefully. Recently, Ext. Marketing helped a major multi-billion-dollar global asset manager successfully benchmark and align the messaging for their ESG solutions, while also helping their messaging to better reflect their corporate CSR positioning.
3. Social media continues to skyrocket
It’s estimated that by 2026, social media, community and virtual platform engagement will influence over 68% of brand revenue.2 Firms need to become savvier than ever about leveraging their social media platforms. However, social media success starts with having a solid content pillars and editorial strategy. In 2022, Ext. Marketing led a number of social engagement strategy projects that enabled our clients to connect with their audiences on organic channels, as well as paid channels like LinkedIn, TikTok and YouTube. With our strategic guidance, clients achieved strong engagement and exceeded target expectations with social media audiences.
4. Video frames your messaging
Video is a terrific addition to your brand storytelling toolkit. Research by Cisco discovered that video accounts for 82% of all online traffic.3 Today, Cisco estimates that 84% of consumers have been influenced or convinced to purchase a product after watching a video. Visual content can help keep content fresh and deliver on performance goals. Ext. Marketing engages in video storytelling for a wide variety of firms across different mediums. We recently helped a real estate firm underscore important key messages to investors at their annual Investor Day through videos that demonstrated the lifecycle of a key property. The videos helped convey how the addition of thoughtful design and amenities delivered value to investors, tenants and the surrounding community.
5. Data drives good marketing decisions
Analytics are a marketer’s best friend. All successful marketing strategies employ a digital component – organic social posts, blogs, email, paid digital ads or a combination of channels. Each activity can track data to support your marketing plan (and your budget). Metrics give stakeholders a valuable understanding of their return on investment – and this will be more important than ever as marketers look to use their dollars wisely and more efficiently in the coming years. Ext. Marketing has deep experience applying data analytics to quickly pivot tactics and drive successful campaign results. Metrics can be a bit of an alphabet soup (think: CTR, CPC, CPM), and working with the right partner can help you sort through the data noise and use it in the right context to support your strategy.
1 Will AI Make Creative Workers Redundant
If you’re interested in exploring these trends further or just want to better align your messaging, Ext. Marketing can help! Call 1.844.243.1830 or email us to book a time with our team.
Brilliantly designed marketing material – whether it’s a brochure, website, pitchbook or anything else – doesn’t just happen. Developing stunning visuals that truly differentiate brands requires design thinking,1 or a strong methodology for developing creative ideas.
Applying a systematic approach to design is especially important when marketing financial products or services, given how dynamic and complex the industry can be. Here are some ways Ext. Marketing integrates design thinking into our creative process:
Collaborate to unearth business goals
The roots of all strong creative solutions stem from a thorough review of the goals a business would like to achieve through design. The review process involves all creative professionals instrumental to a project, including writers, editors, designers, and digital and analytical experts. This integrated, all-hands-on-deck approach to exploring key stakeholders’ needs can help address a wide range of factors that may shape or inspire design.
Blend creativity and industry awareness
Conceptualizing financial services requires a multidimensional lens. Along with creative expertise, this process needs to integrate deep industry knowledge. For instance, financial services organizations must remain aware of compliance/regulatory standards or uphold certain levels of transparency throughout the marketing process. If these requirements aren’t met, there is a risk of conveying a wrong or inappropriate message. Consulting creative professionals experienced in financial services can help manage these priorities and minimize the risks unique to this highly regulated industry.
Translate complexity in compelling ways
Financial organizations are often challenged by how to communicate technical information to clients. It takes wide-ranging perspectives from creative and analytical experts to come up with differentiated design solutions that use data visualization and other devices to illustrate the concepts in new, compelling ways without sacrificing meaning. One example of this could include creating a concise, engaging infographic that clearly captures the benefits of a complex product or illustrates the steps required for an intricate investment process.
Deliver a range of differentiating concepts
Concepting is a vital step in our design process. We try to avoid getting stuck on one or a few design samples. It’s wise to build a range of preliminary concepts and iterate to see what will resonate best with a given audience.
Traditionally, the financials sector has been relatively conservative when it comes to design (often using more subdued colours, graphics, branding). But that is changing. Our clients are no longer limited by these options. In an increasingly competitive environment, differentiating brands is crucial, and visuals are an important way to achieve that goal.
It’s okay to test the boundaries at this phase of your design thinking. Try providing various representations, perhaps through bolder, more unconventional approaches, to challenge your stakeholders and highlight your brands in different ways.
Test, learn and adapt design
The creative process is never static and should remain highly iterative until the best possible outcome is achieved. Once initial drafts of your design are built, you need to test them with stakeholders and adapt to feedback, sometimes across multiple rounds. The status quo, especially in financial services, is always shifting, and you might need to modify your design in real-time. There are several feedback mechanisms you can try, including A/B testing, social polls or surveys to see if you are moving in the right direction.
Ext. Marketing is on top of the trends shaping the financial services industry, and we pride ourselves on helping our clients succeed. As an integrated marketing agency, we are known for creative content, design expertise and strategic digital distribution. Our creative team loves to bring left- and right-brain ideas together to give our clients a creative edge.
Are you looking to market your message through innovative design? Ext. Marketing takes design thinking to a whole new level and can help elevate your brand.
Interested in learning more? Contact us today at 1.844.243.1830 or email@example.com.
1Nielsen Norman Group, Design Thinking 101, 2016
What a year it’s been. Did music help you get through 2022? It did for us.
So to say thank you for the high notes we shared, the Ext. Marketing team created a Spotify playlist of happy songs to help you ring in 2023. We hope you enjoy it!
On behalf of our clients and partners, Ext. Marketing made a donation to Ernestine’s Women’s Shelter. Ernestine’s plays a critical role in helping women and children break the cycle of domestic abuse, and our support has never been more crucial.
~The Ext. Marketing Team
*The inclusion of this playlist does not imply any endorsement or commercial relationship between Ext. Marketing and any of the featured artists/songwriters.
On any given night in Canada, over 6,000 women and children sleep in shelters because it isn’t safe for them to return home. It’s what makes the November 25th United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women so important. It’s also what led Ext. Marketing co-founders Jillian Bannister and Richard Heft to lend their support to Ernestine’s Women’s Shelter.
“When we launched Ext. Marketing, we had a strong focus on three things,” says Heft: “building an industry-leading team of the best people we knew in the financial industry, doing amazing work for our valued clients, and supporting those in our community who needed that help the most. We’ve been incredibly proud to support Ernestine’s since the day we started Ext. Marketing, and plan to do so for as long as women and children need us.”
As a woman in business and financial services, Bannister says she’s particularly honoured to support an organization that, in addition to being a safe haven, provides a helping hand for women to move forward with their lives.
“It takes a lot of guts for women in situations of abuse to leave their partner and, when they do, it’s often with little more than the clothes on their backs,” added Bannister. “Ernestine’s provides counselling, a food bank, transitional housing and legal support to help these brave women successfully rebuild their lives.”
Laurie Lupton, Ext. Marketing’s General Manager, a board member at Ernestine’s, as well as a leader of Ernestine’s fundraising committee, says the holidays are a particularly difficult time of year for families who depend on Ernestine’s programs and services. It’s why Ernestine’s hosts an annual Winterfest event to recognize culturally relevant festivities during the holiday season, while also delivering items that these families could not otherwise afford.
Consider supporting the Stand up for Ernestine’s campaign by visiting the SU4E page to make your donation!
Interested in learning more? Contact us today at 1.844.243.1830 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Is your language opening or closing doors?
The words you use and the way you communicate is a personal choice. Your brand voice has considerable influence on your marketing strategy. Increasingly, marketers recognize the currency of inclusive language and its power to make a positive impact on a wider range of audiences. But what is inclusive language?
At its core, inclusion is about recognizing that your potential customers comprise diverse groups of people. In content creation, inclusion respects diversity in all forms, including ethnicity, gender identity, religion/spirituality, physical/mental ability and more. If your brand doesn’t convey a sense of inclusivity, you may inadvertently exclude some audiences. Millennials and Generation Z, with their substantial spending power, have done much to accelerate the inclusive language movement.1
Why it matters
Language is powerful — it can deepen and strengthen relationships, or it can confuse or even cause avoidable harm. Inclusive language encompasses words and phrases that can spark conversations with new clients and unlock valuable doors. Deloitte, Boston Consulting Group and Harvard Business Review research shows the same truth. Is your language tapping into that relationship-building potential?
Evolve with your customers
What’s great about language is that it’s flexible, expressive and evolves over time. Ultimately, we understand the bottom-line value of keeping pace with changing demographics and preferences. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary added 370 new words in 2022 and suggested that when many people use a word in the same way over a long enough period, that word becomes eligible for inclusion.
Make it a brand practice
Everyone’s brand is unique. By considering how inclusion fits into your brand, you’ll expand your reach and visibility into the future, earning audience loyalty and trust. The key is to make inclusive content an ongoing process that adapts with your stakeholders and audiences.
Ways to make language more inclusive
You might want to start with ensuring your marketing materials, websites and all your other assets reflect the varied population and voices around us. Here are some inclusive language options to consider:
Use plain language versus jargon
- Rather than “piece of cake,” say “straightforward,” “easy” or “simple”
- A phrase like “in light of” turns more succinctly into “because of”
- We are not “in the loop” but we “are aware”
Pay attention to pronouns
- According to The Associated Press Stylebook, it’s preferable to refer to a person as “they” instead of “he” or “she”
- Rather than “man” or “woman,” use “person” or “individual”
- It’s not “his” or “her” document, but “their” document
Put everyone in the picture
- Make sure your images and emojis include a wide cross-section of people and groups
- Consider using both colours and labels in design for people who can’t distinguish hues
- On websites, use both images and text so that everyone gets the message
Adopt gender-neutral family labels
- Use “parent” or “guardian” versus “mom” and “dad”
- Replace “husband” and “wife” with “spouse” or “partner”
- “Pibling” has become popular when referring to aunts and uncles (stands for parent’s sibling)
Be mindful of accessibility-inclusive language
- Commonplace expressions like “turning a blind eye” could be perceived as insensitive
- A person is “hard of hearing” rather than “hearing impaired”
- Rather than “wheelchair bound,” a person “uses a wheelchair” to assist with mobility
It’s a good idea for companies and their brands to craft their own approach toward using inclusive language to create messages that resonate with each audience segment.
Interested in learning more? Let Ext. help you integrate inclusive language so you can connect with more people, communities and opportunities. Contact us today at 1.844.243.1830 or email@example.com.