Friday, July 20, 2007

More marketing, design and production advice from Margaret Patterson

Did you miss this blog's readers' Q&A with designer Margaret Patterson? I've copied the Q&A exchanges below.


Approval Committee. It would be helpful if you could specify the functional representatives. Who chairs the committee? Marketing typically has the lead but my experience is that sales is often neglected.
Field experience with consultants and prospects is critical. A firm's Director of Marketing chairs the approval committee. It is essential that sales executives be consulted for input throughout the process.

When do you get Compliance involved?
When the first complete text draft is accepted by the approval committee. They are consulted again if further edits are made.

Expertise Gets New Business. Do you advocate an "A" Team of presenters in a team driven process?
A well rehearsed team that enjoys working together wins business.Not sure what you mean by "A" Team. I highly recommend presentation coaching for individual and/or team presentations whenever the budget allows it. However, I believe that individual presenting styles shouldn't be "shaped" into slick pitches. Prospects appreciate meeting and conversing with real people, rather than being hit by machine-like information. I am not a presentation coach myself.Some pitching coaches dislike presentation books so much that they advise against using them. Oh so wrong! A well developed pitch book helps your meeting go smoothly and gives valuable information to leave behind.

Who should control pre-final rehearsals? Should they be mandatory for Investment Professionals?
A firm's Director of Marketing manages the entire presentation coaching process implementing advice from the coach. One cannot make rehearsals mandatory, but can urge how much better presentations results will be if investment executives have coaching.Customize.Prospective clients love to see their names early in a presentation.

Do you advocate a page that summarizes why a client should do business with the firm?

The same page at the conclusion creates a re-cap opportunity.
Repetition can be deadly. I conclude presentations with an expertise section.This brings up a good point. Assistance with content development, design and production are inseparable. By providing all three services I enable in-house marketing groups to meet deadlines with great results. Using templates and design system guidelines I provide they can take over the process very easily.

Handouts. Loose pages should be avoided. Do you recommend an Appendix in the back of the book to "store" or "have available" material that amplifies a topic/page?
I create many, many strategy fact sheets, company profiles, research papers and market commentaries every year. They are always loose, making them handy at conferences, lunch meetings, etc. The appendix you mention is not a bad idea, but firms will do a lot of editing as that page will change constantly.

Shelf Life. When should the previous quarter's updated information [performance/AUM etc.] be available? What does the Consultant Community expect today?
Last I checked, NASD recommends two weeks for mutual fund performance number reporting. My institutional clients vary a bit on these points. Generally they have performance numbers for reporting within 10 days of the end of a quarter. Their asset numbers are usually reported to the public within about 2 to 2.5 weeks. Consultants may only have the asset numbers after they have been reported to the public. Consultants want information as soon as possible.

Margaret,I am a portfolio manager in solo practice.How important is it for me to have a professionally designed pitch book? Are there free templates that I can use?
Having a pitch book, period is essential. If budgeting is an issue your own design will work just fine for now.Tips: Avoid using bullets on every page. Phrases and short paragraphs work well; long, compound-complex sentences don't. Each chart should illustrate one clear concept. Use a headline that clarifies your point.Your biography should emphasize accomplishments and experience that support the strategy you employ for your clients.If you have never written a pitch book a professional writer like Susan Weiner may be of great value. Meanwhile, think of your book as a script for conversation, not a complete "how to" manual.A designer with a lot of industry experience, like myself, brings a lot of value to a pitch book by suggesting visual and written content that best clarify your expertise.Sorry, I am not aware of any free design templates tailored for use by portfolio managers.Margaret

Margaret,Can you explain why you recommend not using bullet points on every page of a pitch book?
PowerPoint presentations work well as highlights to guide a face-to-face presentations. However, that many bullets get tedious, like studying for a test.Aim for visual and narrative variety. As for narrative (complete sentences/sans bullets)... brevity is best.

Do you have suggestions on how to target socially conscious investors without alienating traditional investors? Both are important to our firm's success.
The first several pages of your book should be dedicated to your firm's positioning in the market... your mission, investment philosophy, investment styles (of each strategy you manage) and your firm's expertise. The prospect wants to know what you do and how well you do it.They won't be alienated by a variety of strategies. Rather, they will be relieved that you respect their need for clear communication.I recommend dedicating only a page or two to each strategy, bearing in mind a 20-25 page maximum for the whole pitch book. Save the bulk of your strategy-specific details for product sheet handouts.

Is there any way to avoid the issue of your pitchbook having been created in one version of PowerPoint and the user's version is older so the formatting (and sometimes, colors) are altered?

If the user is a prospect or business associate in a different firm I recommend saving your PowerPoint pitchbook in the PDF format. Do that by printing the document as a PDF. The fonts, colors and all import files will appear as you intended, and, the document cannot be edited.Tip: Make the PDF smaller by opening it through Acrobat and resaving it with the same name to the same folder.

To solve in-house problems all workstations using PowerPoint should have the same version of the application and can acess all font and import files that were used.PowerPoint documents being passed from PCs to Macs are another can of worms. All editing should be done at the same workstation. Make things easy for the employee responsible for editing (the "editor"). Data provided by various executives is reviewed by the Director of Marketing, then all edits are implimented by the editor. When versions are created by different executives your messaging gets off track and formatting issues can be painful.Preserve the integrity of your firm's identity throughout all marketing and PR materials. I refer to how the logo is used, overall design and the text... the three components of "content."

Margaret Patterson Company
Corporate Identity & Communications Graphics for Financial Services Firms


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