March 28, 2008

Top Communications Pros Share Winning Tactics

By John C. Drachman

Every year, DALBAR, the Mutual Fund Educational Alliance and other industry trade groups rank the programs of financial services companies. Certain firms, like American Funds, OppenheimerFunds and Frank Russell consistently score above average in effectiveness.

What are they doing right?

We recently assembled the winning vehicles from a number of industry communications competitions. Reviewing this material revealed certain shared characteristics.

  • Simplicity “Getting to the point” is critical. Every minute an intermediary or investor needs to sort through literature to find a message is time lost.
  • Inviting Good marketing pieces have a welcoming effect; they invite the reader into the pages through thoughtful writing and intelligent design.
  • Needs-based themes Better material focuses on needs first, product offering second.
  • Leveraging Successful literature creates a seamless, consistent flow from your company to the intermediary to the buyer.
  • Brevity of text Careful planning of headlines, subheads, call-outs, sidebars, etc., to ensure “text scanning” is critical.
  • The importance of charts and tables Display quantitative information in charts. This will facilitate reading speed.
  • Bullets Intermediaries rely on mnemonic devices. Satisfy this need by adding bullets and bold-face to key points.
  • Type size Today’s investors require larger type treatments. Avoid colors and opacity that obscure legibility.
  • Color Bright, simple colors on white backgrounds work best. Many top-ranked fund groups employ color in a thoughtful, restrained manner.

Is your firm going through a time of transition and change? Are you undertaking a data publishing initiative? Are you adding a data-mining component to your Internet strategy? Consider the full breadth of communications vehicles when building you next program. Then, combine the best practices above. The result can be a streamlined system that is more consistent, more actionable -- and less costly.

John C. Drachman, a Series 7 Registered Representative, is a principal for The Drachman Group, Inc., a full-service marketing agency dedicated to the financial industry.

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