Investor education done right

Investor education should be top of mind for all financial services marketers. Why? Because we think teaching your clients about investing will help you build trust.

But what kind of education should you offer? What do your clients want? Here are three tips to improve your investor education efforts.

1. Start at the beginning

Where are you going to start? Even before explaining a mutual fund, examine the importance of saving.

“Why is saving so important?” is an important question that many current and would-be investors don’t have a clear answer to. An added bonus is that you can speak about this subject without getting into technical language.

Lay a strong foundation in “Saving 101” and then build your way up to mutual funds.

Suggestion: Create a microsite with videos and accompanying one-page brochures.

2. Engage them

How are you going to engage your clients and prospects? Try gamification.

Doesn’t it seem like we learned a lot more and a lot faster when we were children? That was actually the case and it’s because we were learning in a much more interactive manner.

Gamification is all about offering interactive learning that is fun, challenging and goals-based. Sites like use design elements and the mechanics of games to improve learning, helping people retain more information and offering a better user experience.

Suggestion: Create quizzes built around a story – and make sure you reward people with points and certificates.

3. Stick with them

How are you going to do this? By planning for the long term.

Investor education isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. A three-month education campaign just isn’t enough because if people see that you are light on content, they may question the value of getting involved.

Educating your clients will take time and cost money, but we believe it is an unmatched opportunity for financial services firms to build trust and get their clients engaged in their businesses.

Suggestion: Create a detailed editorial calendar, and be prepared to produce comprehensive briefs and find data to back up your requests.

Getting investor education right means providing top-notch investor education to your clients and prospects, creating truly informative material, delivering it in interesting and engaging ways, and then sticking by their sides for the long haul.

We can help you strategize and execute on your firm’s investor education initiatives. Contact us at 416.925.1700, 844.243.1830 or

But can you make a PowerPoint?

But can you make a PowerPoint? We’re asked this question all the time.

It’s no surprise. “Financial services marketing and investment commentaries” covers a broad range of possibilities. To find out more about investment commentaries, click here. To find out more about financial services marketing, read on.

Services at Ext. Marketing Inc.

Yes, we make PowerPoint presentations – and we can do much, much more for you. Here are just some of the ways that we can help you and your firm achieve your marketing goals while alleviating many of your concerns and challenges around resourcing:

  • Copy and design for PowerPoint presentations
  • Copy and design for newsletters
  • Digital newsletters and eBlasts
  • Copy and design for brochures, infographics, sales tools and fund sheets
  • Copy and design for websites and microsites
  • Strategize and execute custom content campaigns
  • Write blog posts for content marketing and other usages
  • Help you brand and get the word out about a new product or services
  • Conduct marketing materials audits
  • Copy for executive speeches
  • Copy for press releases
  • Lead brainstorming sessions
  • Enhance your social media activity and presence
  • Script, storyboard, shoot and edit videos
  • We even offer print production and translation services!

You get the picture – we’re a full-service marketing and communications partner for financial services firms.

If you have a marketing challenge, we can help you work through it. Contact us at 416.925.1700, 844.243.1830 or

Let’s explore the value of custom content

To connect with your existing clients – and to reinforce your brand, communicate your value as an investment management firm and create new opportunities – it’s high time that you craft tailored content specifically for them. We’re talking about custom content.

A lot of your custom content will focus on answers to your clients’ questions – that’s what makes it useful. Producing content like this sets your firm apart as a helpful, authoritative resource. Even better, custom content has a direct impact on fund sales and conversion rates. Let’s explore.

Your clients are looking for content

A study from AOL & Neilson captured how people spend their time on the web. It breaks down like this:

  • 53% reading published content
  • 23% on social media
  • 7% checking email

But here’s the stat we really want to share: 23% of all social media messages included links to published content. How much does that add-up to? Well, people share 27 million pieces of content every day on social media.

People share 27 million pieces of content each day on social media.

Content levels

Your firm is probably sharing content in one form or another. So, where does custom content fit into your broader content initiatives? This is how we break down content:

  • Curated, published content from reputable sources. For us financial services marketers, large North American news outlets, such as The Globe and Mail or The Wall Street Journal, are prime sources.
  • Firm-based content. This often includes product information, campaigns (e.g., RRSPs and RESPs) and portfolio manager perspectives.
  • Custom content. This is all about sharing your insights and expertise to a specific target audience (e.g., through infographics, videos, articles and blog posts).

When you put these three types of content together, you dramatically increase your chances of engaging your clients.

Custom content builds relationships

Why bother spending the extra time and money producing custom content? Because it provides a solid return on investment. Consider the following four data points when putting together your pitch for custom content:

  • 68% of consumers like custom content because it’s tailored to their interests (Source: The Content Council)
  • 55% of consumers said they would be more apt to buy another product from a company that provides them with custom content (Source: The Content Council)
  • 70% of individuals want to learn about products through content rather than traditional advertising (Source: NewsCred)
  • Clients invest and refer 2 times more often when they report feeling engaged by their advisor (Source: Vanguard)

Developing custom content

Knowing about custom content is one thing, producing it is another. Here are six ideas for launching a new custom content initiative at your firm:

  • Blogs – e.g., write a series of posts helping millennials save and invest better
  • Articles – e.g., create an advertorial highlighting the relevance of a new investment solution
  • Videos – e.g., produce videos that show how investing can make life better
  • Infographics – e.g., find an engaging way to share stats around retirement savings
  • Whitepapers – e.g., write a whitepaper explaining the shifting role of the advisor
  • Newsletters – e.g., craft print and digital newsletters focused on investor education

An interesting thing about these ideas is that they all cross-pollinate. That is, you can put videos in blogs, infographics in whitepapers, blogs in newsletters, and more. This exponentially improves your odds of engaging your clients.

Contact us at 416.925.1700, 844.243.1830 or to develop custom content and give your clients what they want.

Working with millennials

Why microsites are a big deal

Experienced financial services marketing pros are quick to respond to trends and can pull together a snazzy e-campaign at the drop of a hat.

But what if your campaign doesn’t fit the constraints of your own website? Large corporate sites can be, by necessity, tightly controlled and costly to update.

The solution lies in the nifty microsite.

Microsites 101

A microsite:

  • (Says Wikipedia) is an individual web page or group of pages built to function as an independent subset of a larger website
  • Landing page or main page may have its own address or domain and can be linked to a main site (or not)
  • Can be removed from the server completely once it has fulfilled its function
  • Has its own unique navigation and content
  • Can have a completely different design than the main site with which it is affiliated (this is the fun part)

Why microsites are a good tool

Microsites are useful for financial services marketers who want to emphasize a new product or launch a campaign, as well as for promoting special events or contests.

What’s great about a microsite is that you can create just a few web pages that mimic the exact look and feel of the campaign you are promoting, which is something marketing teams don’t always have the freedom to do on established corporate websites.

You can create just a few web pages that mimic the exact look and feel of the campaign you are promoting, which is something marketing teams don’t always have the freedom to do on established corporate websites.

Also, real estate on a corporate home page is hard to come by – your campaign might not get the space it deserves. But you can tailor your microsite to point visitors exactly where you want them to go.

Remember to think about …

Consider factoring a microsite construction project into your next campaign budget. Some things you will need to take into consideration include:

  • How long will your microsite will be live for?
  • How will visitors get to it?
  • How it will hook up with your main site?

Think carefully about navigation to avoid visitor confusion, and make sure you give people an easy exit back to the main page. A strong microsite will give your next campaign added reach, depth and interest, with the additional benefit of measuring the success of your campaign through analytics.

For help with microsite development, contact us at 416.925.1700, 1.844.243.1830 or

Read more:

When you get good press, keep the momentum going

Blogging essentials for financial services professionals

3 reasons to create a reference guide for your next sales tool

Sales tools are a great way to get information about a new product or campaign into your sales people’s hands so they can begin using them with clients.

But don’t send your sales tool out without a little support. Even the best sales tool will lose its impact if busy sales people aren’t fully aware of the key messages.

Also, language used during a sales presentation can differ from person-to-person, and the tool may end up not being used as effectively as it should be. Enter the reference guide, which can take the form of Q&As, detailed diagrams with callout boxes, or even basic microsites.

A reference guide:

1. Helps control the message

A reference guide speaks in clear voice from management, sales, product marketing, etc. about the tool’s most important messages.

Furthermore, the “internal use only” nature of reference guides provides a forum for direct and clear instruction regarding a product’s features and benefits.

The “internal use only” nature of reference guides provides a forum for direct and clear instruction regarding a product’s features and benefits.

2. Serves as a reminder on “how to”

The reference guide should go through the set-up of the sales tool and explain how to navigate it properly. For example: What needs to be highlighted? What is the goal? The reference guide should contain details that the sales team needs to know when they start using it.

3. Reduces training time for employees

Although getting everyone together and discussing a new sales tool is effective, having a reference tool can cut down on training time, meetings and emails. All the details required about the tool and how to use it should be included in the guide.

All the details required about the tool and how to use it should be included in the guide.

A reference guide can also build confidence in new employees, as they don’t have to memorize everything and will have a resource that can act as a refresher as time goes on.

For more information about creating effective reference guides, contact us today at 416.925.1700, 1.844.243.1830 or

Read more:

Strengthening the writer-editor relationship

When to use passive voice

How to communicate with investors about underperformance

Financial services marketers face challenges every day, from writing investor education articles to managing complex rebranding initiatives. There’s one marketing challenge that we all wish would never happen, even though it’s inevitable: communicating with investors about an underperforming investment solution.

So, tip #1: don’t hide from underperformance. Quite the opposite. Get in front of it, be transparent and talk about what matters most to investors. Trust and understanding will go a long way to building a strong, enduring relationship.

Identify investor concerns

Any project that tackles underperformance must start by identifying investor concerns. And when it comes to performance, investors typically have two highly important concerns:

  • Am I overpaying for my investments?
  • Will I achieve my financial goals?

Once you know investor concerns, use them to identify your key messages. Fees and the value of advice are hot-button topics in the financial services industry but for the purposes of this article, let’s move forward with the idea of reassuring your investors that they will meet their goals.

A note on the causes of underperformance

The reasons why a fixed income solution may underperform are different from those for an equity solution, and within equities, a Canadian solution may underperform for different reasons than a global solution. For example:

  • A bond fund could underperform because of unexpected interest rate moves
  • A Canadian fund may underperform because of its weighting to energy companies
  • A global fund could underperform as a result of its geographic allocation

The point here is that no one-size-fits-all strategy exists for communicating about short-term underperformance. To do it right, you need robust product and industry knowledge, and the ability to make complex issues investor friendly.


You’ve identified the primary investor concern: they’re uncertain whether they will achieve their financial goals. Could there be a more valid concern? We don’t think so. So, now it’s time to execute.

1. Create a special brochure

By crafting a special print- and web-friendly brochure, you create an opportunity to talk about the benefits of the underperforming solution. For example, you can highlight:

  • The manager’s philosophy and process – this is especially important if your firm has a strong history or if the manager has a truly unique approach
  • The solution’s role in a diversified portfolio – investors may question why a certain solution made it into their portfolio, offering you the opportunity to talk about asset allocation
  • The importance of focusing on long-term goals rather than short-term volatility – remind investors that they are on the right path

2. Build a microsite

If you want to reinforce the importance of diversification and asset allocation, you can create an interactive microsite that uses the underperforming solution to diversify investor portfolios. Microsites are a great choice since they can have a long life. Why? Because, in this example, the asset allocation story is important at all times.

For microsite tips, read Why microsites are a big deal.

3. Produce a whitepaper

We think that an investor-friendly whitepaper is equally valuable as a brochure in this situation because they naturally have a more sophisticated feel that relies on data. Talking about underperforming investment solutions isn’t about whitewashing poor returns, it’s about explaining the situation effectively and data can help you do this with clear examples.

For more on whitepapers, read Whitepaper tactics that work and Five best practices for creating better whitepapers.

4. Write an advertorial

Support your investors by supporting advisors. We recommend writing a piece specifically for a trade publication that not only references, but also builds, on the whitepaper mentioned above. Advertorials are a great way to reach a broad audience, and you can tie them into other marketing and ad campaigns.

5. Host a PM roadshow

Although portfolio manager roadshows might be falling out of favour as a result of their high costs, and while they aren’t our first recommendation, they’re still effective and beneficial if the portfolio manager believes a roadshow could help with retention efforts.

Since mutual fund underperformance is unavoidable, we think you should turn the challenge into an opportunity for you and your firm. Your honesty and transparency will help you build stronger relationships with investors. And don’t forget to equip advisors with relevant materials first, since they are the ones who communicate directly with clients and field many of the performance questions from them.

If you need help writing about an underperforming investment solution, contact us at 416.925.1700 or info