Marketing & Public Relations Firm - Verasoni Worldwide

All posts tagged Online Marketing

At the time of the writing of this post, the stock market is near an all time high and the business media seems to be whistling aAbe Kasbo happy tune about the comeback of the American Consumer. Earlier this year, according to Macys’, Target and the Gap reported sales that topped sales estimates in January, 2013. This past February, the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan preliminary index of consumer sentiment climbed to 76.3 from 73.8 in January. Ernst & Young cited stronger global markets and calls the US markets “very positive” in its most recent forecast.

With rising property values and the job market strengthening, Americans seem poised for an uptick in wealth. In normal times, a wealth-effect makes things interesting for financial services firms. It gets more interesting when we couple it with the JOBS Act, which will provide hedge funds and other financial service firms the ability to market and in the process giving investors greater transparency. This will thrust more managers into the public and media spotlights, raising awareness of their firms and products. Public spotlight will also make it easier for investors to compare managers and options within their global investment strategies, heightening the competition for investment dollars between mutual fund families, private equity firms and hedge funds – including fund of funds.

While The JOBS Act is creating an unprecedented environment for hedge funds to market themselves, we believe there will be an indirect impact on related financial services industries like Mutual Fund Families, Wealth Advisory Firms, and perhaps even banks because the JOBS Act thrusts hedge funds into a more open market where they may have to compete with each other and other investment vehicles outside their class.  Whether you’re a hedge fund, Fund Family, or wealth management firm, you may already know that institutional, accredited and non-accredited investors remain cautious because lessons from 2008 continue to loom large in the collective psyche. Those firms who understand how to develop effective strategies, and not simply employ marketing communications tactics and ride the American consumer comeback, will surely come out ahead.

Below are six ideas to help your firm navigate the tricky intersection of the JOBS Act and the American Consumer Comeback.

1. Brand Wisely Not Quickly – Financial services firms will now be enticed and encouraged to “brand your firm.” Keep in mind that savvy marketers understand that branding is a combination of “what you do” from a marketing communications perspective, how you perform, how you treat clients and a multitude of other variables that translates into how clients feel about you…this only happens over time. So “branding your firm” is not a product that you can or should purchase as a “branding program”. Branding is a multivariate process, but only those who understand this point will truly be on the way to effectively branding their firms and separating themselves from the competition. Keep in mind that it took decades for Vanguard, Blackrock, Fidelity, TRowe Price, The Man Group and others to become a brand. So, the time is now to build your brand’s foundation through strategies rather than tactics. As for hedge fund of funds, “Niche oriented hedge fund of funds that differentiate themselves by either focusing on a specific strategy, region, fund structure or investor type [and] …those fund of funds that can clearly articulate their differential advantage will be able to not only grow their assets, but command premium fees,” said veteran hedge fund marketer Don Steinbrugge of Agecroft Partners in his January 2013’s Post on

2. Be Ready To Compete Publicly and Transparently – Work from the digital world backward and understand that your web reputation is largely your reputation. So ensuring that your website speaks to the breadth and depth of the aspirations of your clientele and that your website is mobile ready is paramount to the success of your marketing efforts. Your collateral, key marketing messages, media and conference appearances, sales presentations, your website and social media platforms must be integrated. We would argue that outperforming your competitors is no longer based upon your market returns; it’s also based on how you are perceived in the marketplace, which has a direct impact on growth and asset under management.  Certainly in the case of hedge funds, as the qualified investor pool grows, the more attention the media will pay to the industry, the more questions people will have. Consider Timothy Spangler‘s latest column on entitled The Simple Truth About Hedge Funds. The column attempts to introduce hedge funds to the general public by casting light on some of the perceptions or ideas that the public may have about the industry. It’s a natural cycle, as the media focuses more on hedge funds, hedge funds will have to provide answers – publicly in the media and in conferences – and privately as more potential investors are subjected to the same media messaging.

 3. Be a Category Creator – In Why It Pays to Be a Category Creator (Harvard Business Review, March 2013), the authors found that “category creators experience much faster growth and receive much higher valuations than companies bringing only incremental innovations to market.” Researchers found that category creators, while only 13% of the companies studied, accounted for 74% of the group’s growth. Think of Bank of America’s highly successful breakthrough “Keep the Change Program” campaign. E*Trade and Raymond James, both of which are attempting to re-categorize their market based on the new investor and consumer realities. While there are plenty of reasons to discount this approach if you are a hedge fund, private equity or wealth management firm, consider that Fidelity recently went to market with “Get More Out of Your Investment,” where the investor can earn “up to a $2,500 deposit bonus when you open up and fund a Fidelity IRA or brokerage account or add to an existing one.” So, be creative, you may surprise yourself.

4. Marketing Is Here To Stay – Everyone will be marketing, it’s a matter of how you define it and make it work for your firm. For hedge funds and private equity firms for example, your digital reputation must be spotless because you may or may not have a front facing advertising campaign. Though, if you appear on CNBC, Fox Business, Bloomberg or speak at a conference and happen to catch an eye of an investor, be assured that it is highly likely, if not a certainty, that they will visit your website and Google your firm and you personally to learn more; this behavior works across the board from institutional to individual investors. Capitalizing on traditional media through digital redistribution of print, video and audio is one way of doing it. So are your integrated digital strategies in order? If not, take a look at PIMCO (yes the link to PIMCO’s twitter feed is intentional) as a best practices model.

5. Reposition for ValueE*Trade is doing it, so is Raymond James. Both firms seem to have understood that even with an anticipated wealth effect looming, the individual investor, and we would argue institutional and the accredited investor, are all demanding value. In their recent advertising campaigns both firms are appealing to the value-based investor suggestion that the firms will “keep less” and so “you, the investor will keep more.” We believe that the experience of the recent downturn continues to drive investor behavior from institutions to individuals. Just because the JOBS Act has opened the door, it does not mean that investors will be lining-up at it ready to do business. Investors will ask more questions and demand more clarity. Your firm’s value statement should be at the core of your marketing strategies.

6. Media: Not Your Father’s Oldsmobile – While the traditional media still has its lure providing a valuable platforms for financial services firms, the move to digital and self-owned media creation and distribution is the way of today and the future. Investors will seek information on their time and at their pace, something television and newspapers – at least in their current form – are not able to do yet.  Also note that stories on the web, positive and negative, can go viral quickly, affecting your firm’s reputation as is the case with the New York Times most recent story about LPL Financial. In this new normal of mobile media world, firms who strategically position themselves for this reality and execute against it will outpace those who don’t.

Abe Kasbo is CEO of Verasoni Worldwide a fiercely independent marketing and public relations firm in Montclair, NJ.



Here’s an article by Mike Henry about internet video that I thought was pretty interesting. I got it today in my email subscription to The Video Insider – Pretty good stuff, if I had the link I would have posted here…the article is below: 

DURING A COCKTAIL PARTY A few weeks ago, a newly single friend of mine gulped down his third Scotch, slammed down his glass and announced, “Okay, I give up. What the heck do women want? I used to think I understood them, but these days, I’m completely stumped.”Being the supportive friend that I am, I offered him a few words of wisdom (“Beats me, but let me know when you find out”) handed him another drink and promptly changed the subject. But later that night as my thoughts turned to work, I remembered his words and realized that the business of marketing in an online video environment is going through a similar life stage. As marketers, we are starting to get to know online video viewers — what they want and how they want to be treated. Sometimes we connect well and other times we find ourselves, well, stumped.Here are three rules of the relationship I think marketers should keep in mind to ensure that their video advertising efforts win the hearts of consumers:

1) Length matters. It’s no secret that the 30-second pre-roll is both reviled and at the same time delivers more in-video weight than any other ad unit. But just how much do viewers dislike their length? At Veoh, we’ve found that viewers are 40% more likely to abandon the video experience during a 30-second pre-roll ad than a 15-second pre-roll ad. And contrary to popular opinion, we’ve found that viewers are just as turned off by 30-second pre-rolls before long-form video as they are by pre-rolls before short clips. In other words, it doesn’t matter whether it’s a 3-minute clip or a 30-minute episode: viewers have narrowed their windows of ad acceptance. 

2) Your best prospects are already engaged. When choosing video sites for your media buy, it’s important to make sure the site partners have highly loyal and engaged audiences. Why? Because viewers who are not yet familiar with or engaged in a site are much less accepting of ads during their viewing experience. We found that heavy video viewers (viewers who visit the site and watch a video at least six times per month) are 50% more likely to continue watching a video after a pre-roll than are light and new viewers. In addition, heavy viewers are more than 10 times more likely than light or new viewers to accept a pre-roll ad within the first video they watch in a session without abandoning the experience.So in an online video environment, if the majority of the viewers are already “taken,” you’ll actually have a muchbetter chance of making a strong connection.

3) It’s always better with an audience. Yes, network TV shows are great, but the only way to take full advantage of Web video is by targeting audiences rather than following a traditional TV model of buying around content. The same valuable viewers who watch full-length network sitcoms are also watching independent studio productions and popular video clips – so why not reach them throughout their entire viewing experience? In addition to increasing the number of opportunities for marketers to reach consumers, ads that target audiences based on their behaviors and interests are much more relevant to and therefore well-received by online video viewers. For example, during a recent national family restaurant campaign, we saw that ads that were behaviorally targeted to the family-focused audience performed 20 times better than basic contextually targeted companion ads – and yielded a higher number of impressions than they would have received if targeting a single show. Make sure to work with your video site partners to identify viewer behavior segments that fit with your brand’s target audience – it’s the best way to start a positive conversation with a video viewer (and much cheaper than buying them a cocktail).

In any budding relationship, it’s very easy to overlook the basics when you’re trying to make a good impression.As marketers, if we listen to what our viewers want and pay more attention to their unique interests, we can build more exciting and lasting relationships in online video environments.- Pretty good eh…

By Abe Kasbo

We’ve all been there. hunkered down, coming up with names for our businesses, products, and so on. And let’s face it, some of us have come up with some good ones and other, well, not so good. But what’s the difference between the good and not so good? How do you know?

Let me give you an example. About 18 months ago, we decided to change the name of my firm from Integrity Worldwide to Verasoni Worldwide. Why? We were getting exposure to larger and more international clients and needed something to reflect that growth and international exposure. Also, we wanted a unique name, and name that stood on its own as a URL. Our old URL was long an cumbersome. The name change was a fundamental strategic decision for us. A key part of the change is communicating the name change to our clients and the market. So we developed a strategy on how, when, and what we were going to say, to whom, how often and by why media. And excuted that plan so every client was clear on the name change and new clients at the were aware of the name, for due diligence purposes.

When looking at branding and messaging issues, businesses must look at several factors, including:

1. What do you intent to convey to the market?
2. How will you do it?
3. How will you distribute the message?

The fact is, businesses like Google and Yahoo! did not spend thousands of dollars doing market research to get the perfect name. They understood the culture, technology, the space and their potential impact on the market. In fact, by all measures, they were ahead of the culture on this, committed strategy and budget to brand distribution (and delivering for their clients too)…and now Google is a verb.

Google and Yahoo!’s names are much more about their customers and the culture than about their techical businesses. Imagine if someone at Yahoo! when sitting around coming up with the name for the business said, “I got it! We’ll call it Associates Search Specialists.” After a colleague checkout the acronym, they decided against it. Meanwhile in meeting at Google before it was Google of course, someone said “I got it! Let’s call it, SirChing! And our mascot could be an English gentleman holding money…get it? Got it.

It seems like businesses worry too much about the development of logos and spend a ridiculous amount of resources mulling over logos and colors. It’s perfectly understandable that businesses want to project the right image, at the same time, this imperfect process is often injected with personal biases rather than market driven decisions. As long logos and marks and messages are appropriate for your market, provide your business with a sense of clear and distinct identity, you are on the right track. Think about it, no one drives by McDonald’s and says “boy, I really hate that logo!” And that is why, you get the biggest bang for your buck when your market messages are shaped for the market and driven by a thoughtful brand distribution plan. You can have the perfect message for the market, misplace it, and now your marketing investment is effectively wasted. And the converse is true here too.

More to come…

By: Abe Kasbo

According to a recent article from IMedia Connection, authored by Tim McHale, Interactive media and marketing are playing a critical role in extending financial service companies’ core values of trustworthiness and customer-centricity. The article encourages financial services companies to leverage two main differentiators, namely brand and customer service.

The bottom line:

1. Invest in brands that convey trustworthiness and experience

2. Invest in customer centricity and experience

3. Encourage user involvement on the web – relevant content and interactivity are a must.

4. Direct mail works well and ought to be a strong element in your brand distribution strategies

5. Customer Service is key to client retention and referral

To read the entire article go to:

By Abe Kasbo:

In a lot of ways, the web has been integrated into our lives. It is the vital tool and medium of our age. Today, it is just highly likely that we click to shop or “windown shop” for stuff like presents, cars, clothes, investments, an education or even a mate. And the data are proving it!

So with the holidays coming, the great annual debate is on…where and how will consumers spend their dollars?

A recently released report by comScore Networks said that in the third quarter of this year, online non-travel (“retail”) spending increased to $23.1 billion (up 23 percent), while travel spending, despite a slowing growth rate, reached $18.2 billion (up 9 percent). Overall, total online spending by consumers reached $41.3 billion in the third quarter, representing a 16-percent increase versus the same period in 2005.

Overall, comScore currently forecasts that total consumer online spending in 2006 should reach approximately $170 billion. Of that total, comScore estimates that non-travel e-commerce will break the $100 billion threshold for the first time.

Here’s a link to the full press release on the report: