Why it’s important for marketeers to know their clients

Mike Richards

An increasing amount of our media planning and buying is with clients who have a direct to consumer (D2C) function within their marketing activities. These are investment trusts and also open-ended funds.

One of our roles, as media planners and buyers, is to get our clients’ ads in the right position at the lowest cost and within the right medium.

There is tremendous pressure on the client to provide a decent target audience brief and understand who their likely consumer client is.

In fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) companies, with whom I worked for the first ten years of my media planning life, very thorough research was done into where the likely customer lived and which socio-economic groups they were in.

I remember spending several days in the offices of fashion house Mary Quant analysing sales data so we could allocate spends on TV in specific areas. After several days, there was precious little I didn’t know about where budget brand make-up was being bought regionally.

In the same vein, I have a very good mate who is a senior marketing person at a large US fund management house. He began his career (pre-fund management marketing) at the UK advertising agency for Boots; his first task was to visit stores to get a feel for what their customers looked like.

Because the investment management industry has, for decades, predominantly sold its products through intermediaries, this recognition of what their customer may look like, in some firms, is not as strong as their counterparts within FMCG companies.

Given how important branding is for every aspect of marketing life and how we have seen a big leap in the number of people investing in the past few years, it’s important to know what these people look like. And they will have many faces.

There was a piece in the 14 June issue of Investment Week about ESG possibly being an extension of socially focused life. The author explained that even within ESG/SRI, there are likely to emerge several different clusters of investors.

This will be true of other asset classes too. Remember, you might think that Mrs Miggins wants your whizzo Vietnamese Smaller Companies fund, but actually what she needs is a vehicle to help fund her grandchildren’s school fees. The two might be the same. Mrs Miggins doesn’t know that, but you should. Charlie Porter, the former chief executive of Thames River Capital, for whom we were lucky to act for, always used to say if his mother didn’t understand it, you shouldn’t be marketing it.

Decent media planners will have access to all manner of published media usage research and, with media becoming increasingly fragmented, the opportunity to reach a specific target audience becomes easier and delivers less wastage than media buying did only a few years ago. Previously intransigent media – TV, out of home, Radio – can now be bought against very specific target audiences – and with the former two, you have great branding media too. Win-win.

Marketing mentality has had to change as the investing public changes: marketers have to ask what their client wants and not what you think they want or the salespeople foist on you to market.