Does your asset management firm suffer from we-we-itis? It’s a dangerous condition that’s epidemic in the institutional management industry. Left untreated, it can sabotage new business efforts, cause lackluster client engagement and, in extreme cases, send their assets fleeing to passive funds. Here are the common symptoms and a proven diagnostic tool to help rid your firm of infected material and prevent recurrence.
A cautionary tale
You know the type: Every sentence begins with “I.” Every conversation circles back to “me.” In rare moments of inclusiveness, the words “we” or “us” may surface, but “you” will never, ever be the subject — or the object — of their monologues.
Meet the insufferable blowhard.
Every office has one. They may be bright, they may have interesting things to say, they may even have access to that one thing you really, really need to be successful. But you don’t care, because life is just too short to listen to someone talk about themselves all the time.
One other thing about the insufferable blowhard: No one thinks they are one. Which is why the next sentence might come as a shock:
Asset managers almost always come off as insufferable blowhards in their client and marketing communications and presentations.
Ouch. Of course, most managers aren’t really insufferable blowhards. It’s just that their materials and presentation styles are infected with “we-we-itis,” and one of the pernicious effects of we-we-itis is triggering the “fight or flight” response in target audiences. Once exposed, they lapse into a coma, or fidget with their smartphones and wait for the first polite opportunity to flee the conference room.
So, just what is we-we-it is and how do you know whether your firm has it?
We-we-itis: Common symptoms
This unfortunate condition most often presents as an inability to connect with clients and prospects in formal communications and presentations. It is marked by ignorance of, or disregard for, the real-world concerns of the target audience, an inability to frame discussion in terms of helping the audience solve a problem, and/or obsessive adherence to a rigid format, facts and statistics in lieu of flexible give-and-take, narrative and evidence-based benefits.
Outcomes and prognosis
The disease is most easily recognized by a marked “we-centricity” in the print, digital and audio formats of the subject firm, accompanied by a pathological avoidance of terms like “you” and “your.” Subject firms may exhibit some initial resistance to diagnosis and/or denial of their condition. Left untreated, we-we-itis can lead to loss of new business opportunities, lethargic client engagement and, in the most severe cases, client defection to a passive investment alternative. However, once a standard course of treatment is begun and maintained, the cure rate is 100%.
Standard treatment begins with awareness and acceptance of infection. The most reliable diagnostic tool is the We We Calculator, aka the Customer Focus Calculator, which evaluates a sample of the subject firm’s marketing or client communications copy according to a complex algorithm of “we-centric” versus “client-centric” keywords.
If infection is present, results will indicate excessive self-focus. Treatment follows with a comprehensive reframing of the firms’ marketing approach and materials to shift the focus toward the clients’ point of view. The most successful active managers have created a culture of “Chasing the You” throughout all client-facing areas of the firm.
Putting the We We Calculator to the test
To demonstrate the power of the We We Calculator, we typed the following copy into the program:
The Assette Report says that whether an existing client is questioning the value of your active investment style or a potential client needs a manager to fill a hole in their fund’s allocation, they are much more likely to be concerned with their needs than your bona fides. This is not to say your bona fides aren’t important — of course they are. But if you’re talking about them as “features of our process” and not “benefits to your fund,” then you may find your audience checking their smartphones during your presentation.
If this is the case, there’s a high probability that your firm has we-we-itis.
Maybe you’re not aware of it. Maybe you are, but think, “It’s a contagious industry disease. There is nothing I can do.” Maybe you and your colleagues rationalize your we-we-itis and the we-centricity of your presentations (or your website, or your quarterly letters) as necessary evils. After all, you’re nice people, and you’re there to talk about yourselves — what you do, how you do it, what happens when you do it, and why you think you can do it again in the future, right?
Wrong. Very, very wrong.
You’re there because your client or prospect has a problem they hope you can solve.
And here are the results:
Your Customer Focus Rate: 85.71% (24 customer-focused words).
Your Self-focus Rate: 14.29% (3 self-focused words, and 1 mention of the Company Name).
You speak about your customers about 6 times as often as you speak about yourself. Excellent!
Free WeWe Analysis performed on: 208 words.
Phew! A clean bill of health. This time.
Chasing the You
Does your firm suffer from we-we-itis? You can find out by testing your own content. A quarterly report letter, a section of your website or a slice of your marketing deck will do. Run it through the free calculator, then take a hard look at your score. If you get anything less than an “Excellent,” you’ve got work to do. Gather your marketing team around and start brainstorming ways to flip the focus of all your client-facing communications from “we” to “you.”
Your clients — and your bottom line — will thank you.