Company: Rydex Investments
Contact: Miyeko Keen, Director of Marketing Operations and Services
Location: Rockville, Maryland
Annual revenue: Confidential
Number of employees: Confidential
In an era of increasing federal regulation and greater competition in the mutual fund market, a financial firm found itself needing to modernize its marketing efforts. Rydex Investments, a private company that sells funds and other financial products primarily to institutional investors, decided to try some new techniques to get its sales materials quickly into the hands of prospective customers.
It ultimately invested in new software that disseminated targeted information more efficiently to its sales force, and therefore to its customers. The software helped the firm increase the amount of campaign deliverables by 25%, while relying on fewer staff.
The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (also known as the Public Company Accounting Reform and Investor Protection Act) changed the way financial products could be marketed. Additional sales disclosures and supervision are now required, and there are new guidelines for financial partnerships.
Prior to the law's passage, there were no uniform standards in selling mutual funds and other financial products. Salespeople took a personal approach in deciding which funds to sell and how to market them.
"How we market our products to financial advisers has become more challenging because these regulations impact how we partner with other companies," noted Miyeko Keen, director of marketing operations at Rydex. The new laws "really changed the way our products were sold...we've had to become more marketing-focused."
Moreover, the Internet and an ever-increasing supply of financial news have made investors—Rydex's main clients—expect more information in a timely manner.
To respond to these challenges, Rydex sought a better understanding of its customers so it could produce more targeted marketing materials. But it did not have the option of increasing its marketing staff.
Rydex opted to buy software from Marketing Central, a supplier of Web-based marketing automation tools. The marketing resource management tools are designed to provide more productivity and cost control for marketing departments.
"The software mirrors what we want to do with our marketing and helps us plan and execute," said Keen. "It allows you to change your work flow from time to time, which helps us if we are suddenly required to go through additional regulatory compliance."
Rydex's marketing and compliance teams use the software regularly. Sales metrics are usually brought into the system by a database marketing analyst.
In 2006, the first year that Rydex used the software, the company ran about 1,250 projects with multiple deliverables—a 25% increase over the prior year. The projects included product launches and educational campaigns; the deliverables ranged from email campaigns to brochures. Moreover, this increase was obtained with less staff: eight product managers versus 10 in 2005.
The larger number of projects "helped us penetrate the market more effectively, and get more relevant materials into the right hands in a more timely fashion," Keen said. This is especially important as high-speed Internet becomes more commonplace, creating "instant demand for knowledge" and an expectation of a quick response.
The software also measures the amount of time and effort spent answering those queries. "Now I can quickly pull up exactly how much time was spent on a particular campaign and what is the expected return. Before, you would have to wait for those numbers to come in," Keen explained.
- Be willing to try something new when your environment changes. Rydex Investments had successfully built up a huge asset base over decades using its well-trained sales force. But faced with new U.S. regulations in an era when information travels quickly over the Internet, the company realized it needed a new approach to its marketing.
- Get employee buy-in. Veteran employees may be resistant to change (such as using new software), but show them how the new marketing tool will help make their jobs easier.
- Keep track of your marketing time and efforts. When investing in any new marketing plan, keep a careful account of your monetary investment and the results achieved. Keen often runs spreadsheets and other tests to determine that her investment in the Marketing Central software is meeting her marketing goals.
Notes: Rydex has over $14 billion in assets under management.