Four ways financial marketing will evolve over the next 10 years

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. 

2. Gamification 

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 

Microcontent: what it is and how it can help your marketing

Microcontent hasn’t really found its legs in the financial services industry. We think that’s going to change.

Microcontent is primarily visual content distributed on media such as a blog, Facebook or LinkedIn to bolster your content efforts and draw your audience’s attention toward a more robust piece of content. These may include in-depth whitepapers, infographics or a new video on your website.

What sets microcontent apart from other types of content? It’s short, “snackable” and relatively cheap to produce.

What’s microcontent?

While this isn’t a complete list, the key types of microcontent include:

  • Charts
  • Diagrams
  • Facts and figures
  • GIFs
  • Graphics
  • Illustrations
  • Images
  • Quotes
  • Tips

What’s best for financial services?

Financial services marketers tend to use charts, graphs and tables in their materials. But these tools are used a lot, and your content may lose its impact among the vast amount of charts, graphs and tables that are already out there.

It’s good to look beyond these forms of microcontent when you can. Some types of microcontent that we think are ideal for the financial services industry include:

  • Images are a great way to capture your audience’s attention (think about taking elements from larger, more detailed infographics)
  • Quotes are always eye-catching. If you use quotes, don’t forget to use compelling and complementary images or graphic designs to draw more attention to them
  • Tips that help people excel at their job and life will always be near the top of the sharable content list

From a production standpoint, the best thing about microcontent is that it’s relatively quick to produce, so you can experiment a little more than you would with lengthier or more costly content. This can be a huge benefit for content teams that are stretched to the limit.

If you want to boost your marketing efforts, this is the perfect time to start producing microcontent. Contact us today at 1.844.243.1830 or to learn how.

Four quick tips for creating great client personas

We recently updated our client personas. Not that the old ones were bad, they just weren’t entirely accurate. Some vital concepts were missing. The personas weren’t … well … alive enough for us.

We don’t think we’re the only ones in the financial services industry who’ve dealt (or are dealing) with this issue. Firms across our industry are uncovering more and more meaningful insights about their clients and prospects.

In a sentence, our industry is changing and our clients are changing. If you haven’t revisited your client personas recently, we think now is the time. Changes demand it.

“Our industry is changing and our clients are changing. If you haven’t revisited your personas recently, we think now is the time.”

During our persona exercises, these tips helped guide our work. We believe they’ll apply to your work as well.

1. Hear “straight from the horse’s mouth”

Interview actual clients and prospects. You’ll be amazed at all the little things you pick up. These subtle details are often very important.

2. Create more than one … but not too many

It’d be easy to say that three is the perfect number. But two or four might be just right. Maybe one really is all you need. Just make sure you’ve clearly identified your primary targets. And in the age of micro-targeting, don’t be afraid to go a little deeper too, if your audience warrants.

3. Think hard about needs

What drives your persona to do what they do? Try and dig as deep as you can into their psyche. What makes them tick? Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts? Hopefully, you solve one or more of their needs and challenges. If you don’t, they may not be an ideal client/prospect.

4. Always include info about content

Try to uncover where your persona finds the content they need … and what format they like it in. Your content team will be forever grateful if they can tailor their work to the right audience.

“Your content team will be forever grateful if they can tailor their work to the right audience.”

Bonus: Create a persona for your firm

Who are you? What are you all about? You might surprise yourself and find that all these honest answers reveal something you didn’t know was there.

There’s more to say, but we think this is a good start to get you thinking about whether your personas are as robust and up to date as they need to be.

Creating personas can take a lot of time. But what we have found, and what we know you’ll find as well, is that the up-front investment always pays off.

Let us help you segment your client base, create your firm’s personas and strengthen your brand. Contact us at 1.844.243.1830 or

Hedge funds need great websites to connect with investors

We’re well into a promising new era of hedge fund marketing that began when the SEC ended an 80-year-old ban in 2013 that prevented private funds from broadly advertising their services.

Hedge funds used to be limited in how they promoted themselves online. But if you’re running a hedge fund or in the process of launching one, you now have the internet at your disposal to better communicate your message and connect with investors.

If you think your current digital strategy and your hedge fund’s website design could use some work, or if you’re on the fence about having a website at all, here are some important points to consider.

Build credibility and trust

If you’re focused on institutional investors, allocators or other well-informed groups, they’re no doubt researching funds online before meeting with you. In fact, 61% of B2B customers start their analysis with a general web search and 56% start directly on specific company websites.1

Having a professional website is your opportunity to immediately express who and what is behind your fund and, in turn, build a level of trust that’s essential with sophisticated audiences.

Be noticed and stay above the fray

If your peers have tapped into the power of search engine optimization (“SEO”), then you need a well-constructed site that can be found too.

This can mean the difference between being noticed or buried by a host of other competing fund messages. Case in point, 75% of users don’t bother clicking the second page of search results, so staying above the fray with a compelling, searchable site is critical.2

Enhance your brand and sales efforts

Hedge fund branding remains a pivotal part of the industry. Aside from pitches, a great website may be the most important way to tell your story. A well-designed website will help you distinguish your value proposition, team expertise and the strength of your investment process. It will set you up for better conversations with investors and help you explain the benefits of your fund.

Simply be there for investors

Simply being accessible and making it easy to contact you with questions and concerns is important. Having a website that highlights key team members and their contact information provides transparency and legitimacy.

If you’re looking to distinguish your hedge fund, build trust or capture more attention with a strong website, we can help. Contact us at 1.844.243.1830 or


1 Demandbase, Demand Gen Report’s 7th Annual B2B Buyer’s Survey, 2017

2 ImFORZA, 8 SEO Stats That Are Hard to Ignore

Top tips for delivering your portfolio manager commentaries faster

Having worked on tens of thousands of portfolio manager commentaries over the past decade, our firm has developed a number of best practices for producing commentaries better and faster than anyone else.

Here are some great tips we recommend you try before your next commentary run (and there’s always a commentary run around the corner).

Have all the info you need handy

A spreadsheet with full fund & portfolio manager/sub-advisor names, up-to-date benchmark(s), attribution info, etc. should be maintained throughout the year. Having all this information is key to producing commentaries faster.

Ensure you have a complete understanding of commentary needs

Knowing details like the number of commentaries, the word count for each and the audience (i.e., retail, advisor, institutional) will help you get prepared for the next run, including your staffing and training needs.

Speaking of staffing

It’s a good idea to know exactly how many people you’re going to need to help get things done. This can include internal and external writers, editors and project managers, as well as anyone you’ll need for reviews and approvals.

Prepare a well-thought-out and achievable workback schedule

This is a key component to ensuring requests go out, due dates are maintained and required approvals can be managed. 

Notify the portfolio manager or sub-advisor of dates/needs

They may have a vacation coming up and/or manage a number of different mandates. Let them know exactly what you’ll need from them and when, as early as possible so they can manage all their deliverables.

Keep a running style guide that includes grammatical & wording preferences

Make sure the entire team has access to this style guide so they can refer back to it often. This ensures that no matter how many people are working on your commentaries, everyone is singing from the same song sheet.

Know what compliance is looking for

This knowledge will help you avoid having to spend lots of time adding required content and/or removing offending language. Any feedback or direction you receive can be added into your running style guide.

Find common ground

When allowable, it can help to recycle information within different fund commentaries. A good example is reusing some macroeconomic information for similar geographic regions, asset classes, etc. You can save time and money by not having five different writers say that the Fed raised interest rates during the period.

Ext. Marketing Inc. is the global leader in the production of portfolio manager commentaries. In fact, the ext. team produced over 1,500 unique monthly, quarterly, semi-annual and annual portfolio manager commentaries for our global clients in the financials space in July 2018 alone.

Need help producing better, faster commentaries? Contact us today at

Monday morning briefing – November 26. 2018

The names you need to know in fintech. Activist investors in Europe keying in on the U.K. industrials sector. Why states around the world should consider issuing cryptocurrencies supported by their central bank. And much more in this week’s briefing.

Economic/industry news 

International Economic Data Snapshot – includes aggregated data of the worldwide economy: Snapshot: International economic data

Canada’s inflation rate rises again:Canada inflation ticks up, central bank seen keeping rates steady

Japan’s economy contracts in the third quarter: Japan GDP: Natural disasters hit economic growth

Could there be changes to the BoC’s mandate to keep prices stable?: Bank of Canada plans thorough review of inflation targeting

Protecting your portfolio against the next recession: The next recession is coming: Here’s how to protect your portfolio

A look at the currency market: How currency differs from other asset classes

Canadian ETF assets fell in October: Canadian ETF assets lower in October

The number of distinct indexes rose by 12% in 2018: Number of indexes on the rise, led by fixed income: report

Sir Ronald Cohen on the importance and outlook for impact investing: Impact investing: A multitrillion-dollar market in the making

Businesses should focus on the new, “circular economy”: ING Portfolio focuses on financing for sustainable economy


On the pulse – New frontiers in fintech

Fully transitioning to digital is much more than just a mobile app: Are you really ‘doing digital’?

Customer centricity vital for the banks of the future: It pays to be personalised

How to manage your cloud infrastructure: Managing cloud infrastructure post-migration – a CTO guide

The names you need to know in fintech: Fintech finance’s power players

Technology could help private bankers become more productive: Making private bankers more productive

Open banking not well known or understood by end consumers: Open banking slow burn means just 22% of consumers have heard of the concept

Starling Bank launches Client Money Accounts, helping professional practices that hold money on behalf of their clients: Starling Bank launches CASS-compliant accounts helping firms manage third-party funds

Regtech will be an important component for the future success of financial institutions: Saxo Bank on why regtech is key to scalability in financial services

How to be innovative in the insurance industry: How to become an innovator in insurtech

Capital One purchases WikiBuy: Capital One buys online shopping comparison startup

Many firms don’t believe that they are resilient enough to combat cyberattacks: Cyber security implementation: firms want it, but less do it, finds survey

BitSpread launches BitSpread Financial Solutions, designed for investing in blockchain assets: BitSpread launches new financial solutions division

Why states around the world should consider issuing cryptocurrencies supported by their central bank: IMF: Nations need to consider a central bank backed cryptocurrency

Cryptocurrencies may not be banned in India: A ray of hope for cryptocurrencies as India readies draft regulations


News and notes (U.S.)

The Barclay CTA Index fell in October: Barclay CTA Index loses 1.29 per cent in October

Hedge fund assets fell to $3.06 trillion in September: Hedge funds redemptions surge to $39.1 billion in September, highest in more than 5 years

Management expenses no longer a tax break for hedge fund investors: Hedge fund investors lose key tax break for management expenses

Activist investors in Europe keying in on the U.K. industrials sector: Industrials are No1 target sector for activist investors in Europe

Secondaries still generating a lot of interest: Why secondaries fundraising is surging

Morgan Stanley launches new advisory platform, WealthDesk: Morgan Stanley unveils new advisory platform

AllianceBernstein to purchase Autonomous Research: AllianceBernstein announces offer to acquire Autonomous Research 

Further trade tensions between the U.S. and China could hurt the stock market: Expect more stock market losses if US-China trade war worsens 

Long-term funds experienced $29.1 billion of outflows in October: Morningstar: Passive equity funds gain, actives lose big

An interview with Abigail Johnson and Kathleen Murphy of Fidelity: The most powerful woman in fund management gives a rare interview


High-net-worth topics

High-net-worth investors expect further equity market declines: The equity party’s ending, say wealthy investors

How Tiger 21 helps the ultra-rich: Tiger 21 philosophy: Learn from your (very wealthy) peers

Life insurance can help reduce estate taxes, but not eliminate taxes entirely: Can HNW clients still use life insurance as a tax and financial tool?


Polls & surveys – What financials are saying

Canadian investors have trouble understanding the concept of risk and return (Natixis): Investors may have an unrealistic understanding of risk and return: survey

Over the next 25 years, $68 trillion of wealth will be passed on to younger generations (Cerulli): Generational wealth transfer to hit $68 trillion over 25 years: Cerulli

Correlating share value with ESG ratings (MSCI): Are ESG ratings the new credit rating for stock prices?


For financial marketing and investment commentary help, contact us at 1.844.243.1830 or

Uh oh! You’ve got an idea problem.

As a marketer, there’s one thing you don’t want: an idea problem.

A shortage of ideas is brutal, especially when you’re in the idea and creativity business. But what happens if you do run out of ideas?

There are three things you can do: rebuild, reorganize or outsource immediately.

“A shortage of ideas is brutal, especially when you’re in the idea and creativity business.”


Rebuilding is not fun. There’s no guarantee that it’ll work. And you’re going to lose intellectual capital. Also, if you don’t handle the rebuild well you may damage your relationships and reputation in the industry. Word spreads fast in financial services.


  • Build the team of your dreams
  • Effectively restructure roles and responsibilities


  • The team of your dreams may be a pipe dream
  • Assembling the right team may take a long time to implement


This will also take time. Years, really, as you reorganize teams, reorganize relationships and change the way you do everything, from taking vacations to having meetings.

If you take this approach, you need to make creativity the core of everything you do. Do whatever it takes to get the ideas flowing, like brainstorming sessions in the lobby before people get to their desks. If you commit to creativity, the ideas will come.

“If you commit to creativity, the ideas will come.”


  • Keep your talent
  • Test and adapt your team to the new/evolving approach


  • People may not like their new roles
  • If you work at a larger firm, you may face a lot of bureaucracy while making changes

Outsource immediately

We think that bringing in an outside team is the best approach. An overworked team can be refreshed when they work with an marketing agency that’s firing on all cylinders.

And as a third party, the agency may uncover the root cause of the team’s issues, and get them revved up again. This approach can be a good ideas catalyst and, more importantly, the beginning of a truly great partnership.


  • It’s quick and cost effective
  • You can gain insights into what’s happening industry wide


  • Some team members may wonder why you’ve brought in outside help (that’s an easy concern to address – let your agency and team meet and work with one another)

“An overworked team can be refreshed when they work with an agency that’s firing on all cylinders.”

Read this article for more reasons to work with a financial marketing agency.

Contact us today to find out how we can help you with your marketing and investment commentary challenges at 1.844.243.1830 or

5 reasons why investment commentaries aren’t so bad

Here’s a widely held belief: investment commentaries get in the way of the more high-profile initiatives that first attracted you to marketing.

In many respects, that’s true. But we think there’s more to the story. While working on investment commentaries won’t likely lead to any awards, it’s a great way to learn about the industry and become a better marketer.

1. Learn more about the industry

Working on investment commentaries is a crash course on the investment industry.

For people newer to the industry, you’ll learn about management styles, benchmarks, how the markets work, the impact of macroeconomics and much, much more.

For more experienced industry professionals, involvement in investment commentaries makes regulatory changes a part of your day-to-day work. Admittedly, not the most exciting proposition. This regulatory awareness, however, helps you think about broader industry trends and how they may impact your profession in the future.

“Regulatory awareness, however, helps you think about broader industry trends and how they may impact your profession in the future.”

2. Expand your network

Every company has a different group of people working on investment commentaries. Trust us, there’s no universal template.

And while that leads to some practical challenges, it presents a great opportunity – you’ll get to work with a diverse group across your company, from legal and compliance to marketing, investments and product.

There’s a little piece of irony here. Investment commentaries appear to be a low-profile task, but they’re very high profile among certain teams within your organization. So, if you want to grow your network, working on investment commentaries is a good way to go about it.

“Investment commentaries, such as MRFPs, appear to be a low-profile task, but they’re very high profile among certain teams.”

3. Work under pressure

Month after month, quarter after quarter, year after year, disparate teams all across the world pump out investment commentaries. The timelines are tight and effective communication is essential to get the job done right.

Calm, clear thinking is required from everyone on the team, as is a commitment to detail orientation.

These “soft” skills flourish under the ticking clock of an investment commentary project and they transfer over to all other marketing endeavours that you’ll take on.

4. Write for a new audience

If you’re a financial services copywriter, investment commentaries may open your work up to a completely new audience.

Whereas most marketing materials are geared toward retail investors, a significant number of institutional investors (and other distribution channels) will read about your firm’s solutions through investment commentaries.

Institutional writing is higher stakes and the writing can be snappier and more technical. It also provides you with the opportunity to include some of that jargon you try to avoid when writing for a retail audience.

“Institutional writing is higher stakes and the writing can be snappier and more technical.”

5. Focus on process

Investment commentaries are among the most process-driven financial services marketing projects.

We write, edit and project manage investment commentaries for a significant number of the world’s largest financial services firms. As such, we’re always learning about new ways to improve our clients’ processes.

Do you want to produce better investment commentaries? We can help. Contact us at 1.844.243.1830 or

Prepping for commentary season – get your facts in order

Investment commentaries involve content from a wide variety of sources including your communications, product, investments and fund accounting teams. They also need numerous reviews and approvals, and have non-negotiable timelines.

That’s why investment commentaries can be a stressful project for many people. To make the process as streamlined as possible, it helps to compile some key information in one document – and as early in the process as possible.

“Compile … key information in one document – and as early in the process as possible.”

It’s worth taking the time to create a reliable reference list that includes full and correct information for things that need to be precise, or that need to be checked often.

The Fund Info List

While this is not an exhaustive rundown, here are some essential elements of the Fund Info List:

Use exact fund names. Is it Short Term Bond Fund or Short-Term Bond Fund? Global Income Growth Fund or Global Income and Growth Fund? Be sure to update this list with any new mandates or name changes. And don’t forget that the Simplified Prospectus is often the best place to confirm full names.

Be precise with benchmark names. Index names, such as the BofA Merrill Lynch 1-3 Year Treasury Index, are very difficult to check against external sources as every company seems to apply its own style. Total return indexes, which are sometimes shortened to TR, are also notoriously inconsistent.

Keep an exact list of portfolio manager and sub-advisor names, and update it regularly, since sub-advisors do change fairly often and companies’ legal names do as well.

Again, the more exact the list of underlying funds, the easier it will be to cross-reference your information. If your company offers Funds, Classes and Pools, this becomes an even higher priority.

Track the inception date of funds. This information will help your writers know how to position the attribution information in the commentaries.

What to do with your Fund Info List

You’ve put together all correct info. Now what?

  1. Share this list with your writers, editors, reviewers – and anyone else who may need to use or check this kind of information. Be careful to allow only a few individuals at your company to update this list when necessary, as it loses its value if it’s not reliable
  2. It’s a good idea to include your Fund Info List in (or in the same folder as) your company style guide
  3. If you also produce material in another language, a version of this list with your company’s chosen terminology will be invaluable for translation

“Be careful to allow only a few individuals at your company to update this list when necessary, as it loses its value if it’s not reliable.”

And remember: it’s not just the facts but also the language you use that matters! So, if using the right language is a concern, read Using plain language in your financial writing.

We specialize in producing high-quality investment commentaries for some of the world’s largest financial services firms and we can help your company too.

Contact us today at 1.844.243.1830 or to get your investment commentary process running smoothly and efficiently.

6 best practices for creating better whitepapers

In the digital age – where marketing tools like social media and video get so much attention – we think an oft-overlooked marketing document is ripe for a comeback.

White papers have been used for many years as a form of financial content marketing. Generally speaking, white papers are designed to convey certain facts and arguments that build a case for the products or services being offered by the company that has produced the white paper.

Let’s take a look at white papers, and some best practices to help you get these valuable pieces done right.

1. Set the right tone

Your white papers should be written in conversational tone … and in the third person.

There are fewer and fewer situations that require a very formal tone. As our conversations get more casual, our writing follows. Exercising restraint is important, however, as white papers are fairly “academic,” and are often read by people who are well-versed in the topic.

2. Solve the right problem

Writing a financial white paper may be one of the most challenging marketing exercises, so make sure the problem you are solving is one that your audience truly wants solved.

Make sure the problem you are solving is one that your audience truly wants solved.

To make sure your topic engages your readers, do a little research into their needs. Survey your sales team, research online and, if you have the relationships and resources, talk to your clients directly. Remember to focus your whitepaper on your topic, and not on your product. Product-focused materials are usually considered “brochureware.”

3. Use third-party facts

Back up your points and arguments with some facts – and make sure these facts aren’t all from your in-house team.

This is where we come across one of the most significant limitations of white papers: they tend to take more time to produce than other materials. If possible, you should include some independent research to support your findings. This will enhance the credibility of your work.

4. Let your designers run wild

White paper doesn’t mean “blank paper” or “boring paper.” Luckily for you, not everyone knows this, so white paper design is a way to stand out from the crowd.

White paper doesn’t mean “blank paper” or “boring paper.” Luckily for you, not everyone knows this, so design is a way to stand out from the crowd.

Make your white paper look professional and easy to read, use a larger font, don’t crowd the copy, and experiment with design elements and themes that break up the whitespace.

5. Incorporate graphs, charts and infographics

Amid your facts and findings, well-crafted visual aids will help keep your reader’s attention.

Every data point can be backed up with an engaging chart or graph. We think white papers are begging for infographics. Since you’ll have so much data to work with, it should be fairly simple to create some easy-to-read infographics that will surely engage your audience.

6. Leverage your hard work

Remember that, once it’s created, your white paper can be leveraged for other uses. Breaking up key points and figures into individual newsletter or blog articles allows you to continue to engage your audience with your findings and to stretch out this valuable content over weeks and months.

Do you want to create more insightful and engaging white papers? Let us help. Contact us today at 416.925.1700, 1.844.243.1830 or

How to create a great workback schedule

A clear workback schedule is essential for a smooth running project. It will help map out all the tasks that are required to finish a project, as well as assign a person and due date to each task.

Why is this so important? Because it helps everyone involved know what they need to do and when they need to do it.

Don’t know what a workback schedule looks like? Here’s a sample we found after a quick search online.

Here are some tips for creating the best-possible workback schedule for your next project.

Organize by date

  • Review all deliverables and talk to (or email or phone) your team to estimate how long each deliverable will take to complete
  • Communicate with your client (internal or external) to find out their review process (e.g., compliance, sales, etc.)
  • Try to coordinate deliverables that can be delivered on the same date if they can be completed at the same time
  • Schedule delivery dates on the same days each week to maintain a regular work flow

Colour code

  • Colour code each deliverable due by a specific team/member
  • Choose a universal colour that will be used to highlight due dates so that they stand out
  • Create a legend with the colours used in the workback

Global statutory holidays and employee holidays

  • Review and take into account statutory holidays in the countries that will be involved with/impacted by the project
  • Factor in employee holidays to ensure deliverables won’t be impacted by these holidays
  • If employees are going to take holidays while the project is occurring, get a list of individuals who will be responsible for moving their part of the project forward during those dates

Key columns

The columns you choose to include in a workback schedule are at your own discretion, but remember to always include these three columns:

  • Milestones
  • Delivery dates
  • Responsibilities

Final signoff

  • After putting in the hard work to complete your workback schedule, it’s important that you have all relevant parties review it and modify as needed to ensure their buy-in
  • Once everyone has settled on deliverables and dates, it’s very important you receive final signoff on the workback schedule

There you have it – all the important factors to consider when creating a clear and effective workback schedule.

If you have project management questions, contact us at 416.925.1700, 844.243.1830 or

The marketing of Marketing: 5 tips to gain credibility and respect

If you’re of a particular vintage (or just enjoy old-time comedy), you know about Rodney Dangerfield. His act revolved around getting no respect, which is sometimes the case when it comes to marketing within the financial services sector.

While there are always people who understand the marketing function, some of your colleagues may be a little fuzzy about what the marketing function does, while others may question the effectiveness of a company’s marketing efforts.

Build the perceptions you want. Among the many things marketing professionals do well, one of the most important is our ability to champion a certain point of view and influence others to do likewise. Here are five ways you can increase your marketing department’s profile and earn the respect your team deserves:

1. Hit the road with wholesalers or get on calls with your inside sales team

When possible, you should also try to attend portfolio manager presentations or roadshow events. Visibility can lead to credibility, especially if you take the insights that you’ve gathered and apply them to your marketing efforts. The better you understand the needs and challenges of other departments (and the themes/messaging being used), the more effective your marketing materials will be.

2. Consider writing an internal blog that explains key marketing concepts, preferably using real-life company examples

Also, if there’s an opportunity at an event like a town hall meeting to showcase the essential role of marketing, go for it! This will help position your department as subject matter experts when it comes to marketing (and its value to your firm).

3. Make sure your team is knowledgeable about investing and your company’s products

It makes your team more credible if they “speak the language.” Team members could enroll in related industry courses to augment their industry knowledge.

4. If you’re part of the leadership team, have a strong presence at the cross-functional executive table

Be sure you are brought in on product launches and other initiatives as early as possible, be clear on how marketing is crucial to your company’s success, as well as standing firm regarding your share of the budget and resources for important initiatives.

5. Convey the benefits of marketing to other business lines

For instance, good marketing helps your sales team tell focused, compelling stories.  It can also help your product team better articulate the strengths of the products they support. Similarly, your marketing team can help portfolio managers build more engaging presentations that effectively highlight their unique investment discipline. Use metrics wherever applicable to support your case.

The bottom line is that you want other departments to recognize and appreciate the value of marketing.

Make your marketing voice heard loud and clear at your company. For more ideas, contact us at 416.925.1700, 844.243.1830 or

5 tips for creating stronger infographics

It can be difficult to communicate complex ideas or hold a reader’s interest in number and/or text-heavy documents.

This is especially true when it comes to financial services marketing, where it’s important that we clearly communicate the hard facts that support our messages.

Infographics are a great solution. They can take complex concepts like financial market trends, demographic changes or asset class performances, and make them instantly understandable through the visual shorthand of colours and shapes.

Through the use of numbers and graphics, infographics are easy-to-understand tools that quickly relay important information to your audience. Here are five key ways to make your next infographic stronger:

Stay focused

It’s important to keep your infographic streamlined and focused on a single topic. It’s not an opportunity to pack in a collection of unrelated facts and figures. Instead, try to isolate the most important point you want to make – and drive that point home through your infographic. Other important topics can be covered in future infographics.

It’s important to keep your infographic streamlined and focused on a single topic.

Simplicity is key

Infographics are beneficial because they can visually represent advanced information in simple, understandable ways. But they can easily become a complex overload of icons, graphics and fonts, which muddy and distract your reader from key messages. Simple is better, so let your main point shine through by sticking to just a few visual elements.

Know your audience

Successful infographics adopt a style and address interests specific to their intended audience. You can miss the mark by focusing on irrelevant concerns or too wide an audience. Figure out who you’re speaking to – e.g., professionals, Millennials, retirees – and craft your infographic accordingly.

Figure out who you’re speaking to – e.g., professionals, Millennials or retirees – and craft your infographic accordingly.

Size matters

Infographics may be resized a lot before being finalized. For instance, they may be designed large but compressed later for the web, which can hurt readability in the process. Make sure viewers can easily see the smallest fonts and images, no matter the format.

Pick a solid headline

Just like great articles, great infographics have strong headlines that capture attention and draw readers in.

Some key elements to remember when creating a great infographic: use an active voice over passive one, keep it short enough to understand and include a benefit to your intended audience.

Next time you have an important concept you need to share that involves complex information, try an infographic to get your message out there loud and clear.

And remember to ask us how you can make your next infographic even stronger by making it animated.

Need help crafting an interesting and easy-to-read infographic? Contact us today at 416.925.1700, 844.243.1830 or

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Provide an experience clients won’t soon forget

Three ideas for writing better speeches

Speech writing involves a highly refined set of skills – and marketing professionals who have these skills are a hot commodity in the financial services industry.

Here are three tips you can quickly implement when writing your next speech.

1. Simplify everything

There are a few ways you can simplify your speeches. First, you can simplify the topic. People who can simplify a complicated topic are the true superstars in the world of marketing and communications.

Second, you can simplify your language. Use strong verbs, removing unnecessary adjectives and avoiding jargon are three easy wins for speech writers. Third, you can simplify your structure. Too many asides will distract your audience, so stick to the topic at hand.

Simplify the topic, your language and your structure.

2. Write like you talk

The spoken word is a different kind of animal than the written word.

Whereas in the written word, you can convey a certain level of formality by avoiding contractions and using sophisticated words, the spoken word should almost always be delivered with a more casual tone of voice.

The spoken word should almost always be delivered with a more casual tone of voice.

In speeches, contractions like “we’re” are better than “we are.” And words like “commence” should always be replaced with simpler words. In this case a word like “begin” would be appropriate.

3. Finish with a bang

It’s important to wrap up your speech by reminding your audience what you’ve told them. For bonus points, some sort of flash of creativity (like a clever quote) at its conclusion will undoubtedly make your speech more memorable in the minds of your audience.

Do you want more speech writing tips? Check out these four tips to help strengthen your next speech.

Looking for more ideas about writing better speeches? Contact us at 416.925.1700, 866.243.1830 or

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Five techniques for more effective self-editing

Feedback on passing along feedback to your writers

The dance takes place every day in marketing departments throughout the financial services industry. Drafts of marketing materials are circulated to key stakeholders for comments. Updates are made, more reviews take place and then, at some point, the cycle concludes and the pieces are signed off.

How smoothly the review process runs hinges largely on how feedback is gathered and disseminated to your writers.

Full disclosure: This post takes a writer’s angle on feedback, so the perspective will be skewed for sure. If you’re a marketing manager or in another role where you pass along feedback to writers, please be sure to send along your challenges and experiences and we’ll be happy to share.

Feedback comes in many forms

First off, reviewers of marketing materials work in different parts of the company: from product, sales and marketing to legal, compliance, investments and more. So it’s not surprising that everyone has a different way to provide feedback. We’ve seen it all over the years:

  • Tracked changes or blackline edits
  • Comment boxes in the document
  • Edits appearing in different colours
  • Copy revisions made using the “text highlight” feature
  • Handwritten changes of varying legibility
  • List of comments via email, a phone call, fax or in person
  • Sticky notes plastered onto hard copies
  • Insert your favourite method here

Needless to say, the review and feedback process can easily derail if it’s not managed effectively.

Compiling vs. consolidating

One way to provide feedback is to compile it. In this case, a marketing manager circulates drafts and then sends all edited documents to the writer.

Some marketing managers will take it a step further and compile all the feedback into one document. That’s closer to what a writer needs, and it can position the marketing manager as the true “point person” on the project. We believe that the most efficient way to move feedback to the writer is through consolidation, not compilation. Why? Sometimes reviewers provide conflicting comments.

The most efficient way to move feedback to the writer is through consolidation.

For example, someone might write, “This sentence would be great in the intro. Move it there.” Another reviewer might say, “This sentence belongs in the close. Move it there.” What’s a writer to do? The marketing manager can weigh in and decide how to direct the writer.

One more example to consider

Sometimes reviewers pose questions. There may even be a running debate as different points of view are aired. It may not productive for the writer to sift through these unanswered questions in order to figure out next steps. This is where the marketing manager can step in, meet with or call the reviewers involved, and resolve any outstanding issues before the consolidated feedback goes to the writer.

It takes and strong team and a locked-down process to produce the strongest, most compelling marketing materials possible in an efficient manner. And this is a great opportunity for marketing managers to shine. How efficient is the review/feedback cycle in your company?

Want more insights on how to master the feedback process? Contact us at 416.925.1700 or

A modern take on the marketing brochure

Depending on your demographic profile, you may or may not be too familiar with the traditional marketing brochure.

Before the onset of digital marketing and social media, the marketing brochure was king in the financial services industry. Marketers usually created brochures to promote products like mutual funds or the latest life insurance innovation.

Typically eight to 12 pages and packed with information, detailed charts and comprehensive explanations about a product or service, the weighty brochure was the centrepiece of many marketing campaigns.

That was then and this is now

Fast-forward to today and the traditional brochure is more of a curiosity or relic than a staple of marketing plans. Who has the time or interest to slog through a massive document?

The traditional brochure is more of a curiosity or relic than a staple of marketing plans.

But, before you summarily dismiss the brochure, consider a few ways it has transformed to remain relevant:

1. Digital

Most brochures are now digital, though paper still has its place at times (with or without glossy covers, premium paper stock, etc.) and won’t disappear altogether. That said, the trend towards digital (particularly mobile-friendly) content continues to gain strength.

2. Deconstruct

In the digital world, brochures are deconstructed into content that’s more easily consumed. These chunks are perfect for social media as well. Throw in a short quiz or some polling questions and the piece becomes more interactive.

Deconstruct the brochure and chunk it out into content that’s more easily consumed.

3. Diversify

Since most brochures are now shorter, marketers have found other means to deliver the information they need to tell a compelling story.

Why devote a page to copy when an audio or video clip, or even an infographic, will do the trick? Linking to relevant material allows the motivated reader to explore the topic in more depth, with less disruption to the brochure’s flow.

4. (Less) Detail

There’s logic behind less-detailed brochures. The brochure should support the sales team – not make the sale!

It’s a handy tool for the sales team when broaching an important topic, starting a conversation and reinforcing their value while building relationships. Today’s brochure doesn’t tell the whole story; it teases out key points and helps drive the sales process.

Today’s brochure doesn’t tell the whole story; it teases out key points and helps drive the sales process.

So, the marketing brochure still has a place in financial services.

It’s evolved with the times, of course, but remains an effective, targeted way to promote important products, services, people or concepts.

Need some help creating impactful brochures that can help deliver business results? Contact us at 416.925.1700, 844.243.1830 or

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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

Quality, speed, volume: Manage the variables of content creation in hectic times

Anyone who has worked in financial services marketing long enough recognizes there are times when the workload is overwhelming. One day you’re cruising at a steady pace with projects reasonably staggered, and then the perfect storm starts brewing.

An important fund launch is coming up, your website is being refreshed and a mountain of content must be created or revised, plus your sales team wants a new suite of advisor support tools – ASAP, of course. Add to that your regular work and maybe sprinkle in a batch of portfolio manager commentaries, and suddenly your days have gone from manageable to mayhem.

If you’re leading a part or all of a marketing department, when times like this hit you – and they will – your first thought is to see if you can handle the onrush. If not, options may include outsourcing some duties to an agency, hiring freelancers or prioritizing work so you can spread out the initiatives to help alleviate stress.

The lowdown on “quality, speed and volume” (QSV)

If you still can’t make any headway, then it’s time for a frank meeting with your internal partners about this challenging confluence of projects. One proven way to frame the discussion is to view all of the competing demands in the context of QSV.

When it comes to the variables of creating marketing materials, consider a triangle where the three major points represent quality, speed and volume. In a perfect world, your department could deliver on all three measures at all times.

Then again, in a perfect world our brainstorming sessions would always yield ground-breaking creative, click-through rates would be off the charts for all of our digital content and the translation team would never be squeezed for time at the end of projects. Right, it just doesn’t happen very often.

QSV variables in action

So, back to the triangle. Inform your internal partners (or department head) about the challenges your department (or team) is facing, and let them know you’re confident in delivering two of the three points on the triangle. They can choose whichever two they value the most for the current initiatives:

  • They can get high-quality materials fast, but not expect much of it (“Q” + “S”)
  • They can get lots of content quickly, but quality won’t be as strong as usual (“V” + “S”)
  • They can get a lot of good quality work, but it’ll take some time (“V” + “Q”)

Let’s assume that “quality” is table stakes, as you always want to produce compelling, effective materials. That leaves “speed” and “volume,” and whichever they choose will help determine next steps. For example, if they want speed then you’ll have to scale back on project components that aren’t as essential. If they want volume then they’ll need to be more generous with timelines for content development.

This discussion with internal partners likely won’t be easy and there could be pushback. They might not even choose to deviate from original plans (or maybe they can’t, for legitimate business reasons).

People typically want everything they ask for, but finding a reasonable compromise might be possible. If your partners can step back and appreciate the bigger picture, they’ll collaborate with you to devise a course of action that best meets their needs, while also maintaining the integrity of the materials without stressing out their valued team members.

Want more insights on how to handle marketing workloads when they start getting out of control? Contact us at 416.925.1700 or

Ask for the easy yes

This blog post started as some advice for calls to action. But we liked what we saw and realized that it’s equally important for your broader marketing strategy … and maybe your work life as well.

Let’s look at why it’s better to ask for the easy yes, which often results in a small step, rather than asking for something big.

Calls to action

Jumping head first into a strong product push is rarely the best option for a call to action in financial services. Why? If people aren’t expecting it, it can come off as too aggressive. And there are many other places that your clients and prospects can turn to for advice and solutions.

Helping out your clients and prospects by leading them to more information and/or a handy tool is a better option. It’s easy to say “yes.” If the next step helps them even more, it makes it even easier for them to keep saying “yes.”

Helping out your clients and prospects by leading them to more information and/or a handy tool is a better option.

Marketing strategy

While nothing feels better than hitting a home run, in today’s world of fragmented communications (across print, digital, social, etc.) it makes more sense to try and hit singles. We’re talking about short-term, micro campaigns and educating your clients and prospects on smaller-scale issues.

We’re talking about short-term, micro campaigns and educating your clients and prospects on smaller-scale issues.

For example, rather than a whole series of marketing tactics on long-term investing, why not focus on the benefits of simply increasing pre-authorized contributions from $50 to $100 per month. Plan for a brief campaign with a wide reach: just one month across all social and digital channels.

Work life

We’re stepping out of our comfort zone here, but stick with us. If you hear “no” too often, maybe you’re asking for the wrong things. As with your marketing strategy, break up your requests into the smallest units possible. Break down your requests to the point where it’s hard for people to say “no.” And then work toward your bigger goal from there.

Break down your requests to the point where it’s hard for people to say “no.”

We think that you’ll start seeing better marketing results soon after you start asking for the easy yes. Give it a try and let us know if it works for you.

If you have any questions about financial services marketing, contact us at 416.925.1700, 844.243.1830 or We’d love to help.

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5 ways to spark your marketing team’s creativity

Imagine that work has been hectic lately for your marketing team. In addition to creating some product brochures, they’ve just cranked out a portfolio manager presentation, a couple of ads and maybe an infographic.

Now they’re being asked to develop a suite of materials for a fund launch, where the expectation is to whip up something innovative that will capture the attention of advisors and investors.

Give your team a boost with the following five ideas for sparking creativity.

Work together

Tackle creative challenges as a team to build upon each other’s ideas.

Focused, facilitated brainstorm meetings can work for specific initiatives, or maybe hold general creativity sessions with guest presenters and interactive segments to get everyone engaged

Log creative ideas

For reference, maintain a running log of creative ideas, industry best practices and ideas from other industries that can apply to financial services.

When your team needs a shot of inspiration, they can scan through the log for thought-starters.

Assess external campaigns

Have your team do mini case studies of a successful external marketing campaign. They can assess what works and why, and how they can apply the learnings to their own materials.

Regular sharing and discussion of marketing insights can jump-start the imagination.

Regular sharing and discussion of marketing insights can jump-start the imagination.

Leverage collective talents

Innovation and creativity aren’t limited to marketing materials.

Leverage the collective talents of your team to improve work processes or create a more vibrant and inviting work space. The benefits of this mental exercise may carry over to their respective jobs.

Give ’em a break

Let your team catch their breath by briefly switching them to a more mundane task like reviewing and updating existing materials. The goal is to let them refresh their batteries and do a creative reset.

Creativity can be a tough nut to crack. We hope these ideas help.

For more ideas on fostering an innovative, creative environment for your marketing team, contact us at 416.925.1700 or

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[Insert catchy headline]

Delivering the right information at the right time