“Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories you tell”. Seth Godin

An email hit my in-box this week from a ‘leading LinkedIn Marketing Agency’ offering to create for me ‘high-performance outbound prospecting campaigns on LinkedIn.’  It was similar to ones I receive on an almost daily basis through LinkedIn from people wanting to connect, as they have the ability to generate a significant number of leads for me that are proven to lead to increased sales.  Or so they say.

As I crafted the reply to the email sender gently letting them down that I would not be taking up their very kind offer of help, I did wonder if I was missing a trick.  Perhaps the job I do day-in, day-out of considering potential investors in the investment strategies I represent and contacting them to gauge interest could be outsourced?  This is actually a strategy I’ve used before, where I employed a firm to place calls on my behalf.  But in that case the firm used people well versed in financial matters, had many hours of me training them in the key elements of the investment strategy being promoted and contacted a targeted list of potential and pre-vetted clients.

The email made me think about the sales process and the degree to which luck drives the outcome.  I have no doubt that being in the right place at the right time makes a huge difference.  The first client I secured after starting my consultancy was certainly a result of my call happening just as they were considering their strategy and needing help in the process.  I was in the right place, right time.  But if the success was principally down to this, perhaps the ‘scatter gun’ marketing approach that I imagine the LinkedIn miners have in mind may well work after all?  It would only take a successful approach to one or two prospects to be worthwhile? 

Perhaps you can detect some scepticism in my writing?  If you do, you’d be right.  I’ve always felt that it isn’t really possible to succeed in investment management sales without credibility.  That credibility flows from understanding the mechanics of the investment strategy, the market, the requirements of the end client and how an investment would fit within their overall portfolio.  But that is my view and being only my view is biased by, well, my biases!  I choose to believe that is the way to succeed because it serves the way I do things and it is within my comfort zone.  But that does not make it right.  For example, I am often challenged on my reliance on email rather than picking up the phone.  As someone who sits on the introverted end of the personality spectrum, again that approach suits me but, again, it does not make it right. 

So what is the answer to success in this context and whether I should have entertained the marketing strategy?  In the institutional marketplace, patience has to be a large factor.  The ‘buying cycle’ is over many years as the asset allocation of the client changes, reflecting shifting maturity profiles and risk appetite.  Knowing the client is key, which can be a challenge if they don’t have the need at the time for what you are promoting.  Obviously, having an investment approach that consistently achieves what the client is looking for is also essential.

This is increasingly reading like a note-to-self justifying the non-pursuit of the LinkedIn marketing strategy, but if you’ve tried it and found success I would love to hear from you!  On a more serious note, I think the lesson for me is to keep an open mind and certainly entertain anything that challenges the status quo.

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