Paul Holmes 07 Jul 2001 // 11:00PM GMT
Technology and the Internet are forever changing the financial services industry landscape and the surge in individual investing has brought new clout to online investment services, representing a tremendous business opportunity. And while financial institutions, brokers and consumers are all affected by the fusion of finance and technology, it is investment management that is most dramatically altered. Technology has made investing far more accessible and investors far wiser than any financier or theorist ever imagined.
To take advantage of this opportunity, SmartLeaf invested the time and resources to develop a better, smarter, more rewarding system for managing portfolios. Its offering, SmartLeaf Advisor, is a first-of-its-kind service that gives all investors access to advanced portfolio management techniques that were once available only to very wealthy investors.
SmartLeaf looked to Greenough Communications Group (GCG) to help it launch this precedent-setting service and build a strong, distinct brand in a highly competitive marketplace in which SmartLeaf lacked the wealth of resources and celebrity clout of other industry players. GCG’s charter was to announce the offering in a way that would begin to dismantle “old world” views on investing and condition influential audiences and networks about the benefits to e-based portfolio management, establishing credibility and demand for an offering that had the potential to become lost in the dot.com bonanza as well as be viewed as a threat to the finance industry.
In order to break through a fast-moving, cluttered market, it was most critical that GCG develop a compelling narrative and brand that would position the company as a visible driving force behind the investment pattern shift. GCG was faced with the added challenge of working with a small, eight-person company lead by a relatively unknown executive team with only 1.5MM in total financing. In implementing this campaign within a very small budget, GCG developed aggressive, well-executed strategies and focused on cost-efficient, yet highly effective, core programs. Our strategies included:
Own the issues pertaining to the individual investor revolution and investing styles.
GCG extensively monitored media coverage of the online investing space and conducted aggressive issues response outreach to initiate an ongoing dialogue with key industry contacts.
Communicate SmartLeaf’s corporate and market strategies and increase the visibility of the company’s executives.
To maximize PR dollars, GCG conducted media and analyst tours in three major markets where high-profile publications and frequently quoted analyst groups were concentrated.
- Differentiate SmartLeaf from other online offerings and potential competitors by highlighting its unique offerings.
- GCG’s top line message underscored SmartLeaf’s differentiators, focusing on its unique, “best, first, only” status.
- Tie SmartLeaf to higher industry trends and societal (business and personal) dynamics that demonstrate the value of SmartLeaf’s service.
GCG identified broad market trends impacting individual investors, made the connection to SmartLeaf’s service, and regularly conducted trend outreach to extend the scope of SmartLeaf’s coverage area.
In order to gain awareness and demand for SmartLeaf’s offering, both as pure-play and B2B, GCG approached the media with an aggressive program that reflected the duality of SmartLeaf’s service. As part of the overarching strategy, GCG created a compelling narrative that generated awareness of SmartLeaf’s B2B offering, its primary market, by tapping into the media’s strong interest in the B2C story.
GCG’s program focused on two key themes:
- Dismantling of the Millionaire Club: SmartLeaf Empowers the Individual Investor and Brings Tools Formerly Reserved for the Very Wealthy, Mainstream
- SmartLeaf Brings Financial Institutions to the Cutting Edge: Offering Advice that Brings Higher Levels of Service to Clients
Conduct a soft-sounding survey with key press and industry influencers to ensure that SmartLeaf’s communications are relevant, address the market’s primary drivers and speak directly to the sea of change in online finance resulting from individual empowerment
Use aggressive issues response activity to contact coveted members of the business press and secure interviews by positioning SmartLeaf’s offering within the context of well known financial institutions
Use the “folio” concept as a means to garner additional interest from a cross-section of journalists – financial, business, personal finance and technology
Demonstrate support for the offering and assign credibility by securing endorsements from widely-recognized industry analysts and “celebrity” representatives from the financial community
Use evolution of investment management to illustrate SmartLeaf’s value proposition
Launch offering at leading finance event to provide forum for networking with media, influencers and potential partners, and conduct simultaneous press tour with key New York media contacts
SUMMARY OF RESULTS:
SmartLeaf secured 30 articles in 25 publications. Print coverage appeared in New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, WSJ.com, Chicago Tribune, Newsweek, US News & World Report, UpsideToday.com, The Boston Globe, CBS Marketwatch, Dow Jones News Wire, Fortune, Forbes, Boston Herald, BusinessWeek Online, Barron’s Online, Barron’s, Investment News, Online Investor, TheStreet.com, Bloomberg Personal Finance, Individual Investor, VentureFinance, Wall Street &Technology: E-Business Supplement, Internet World and Investment Advisor.
The launch clearly articulated SmartLeaf’s benefits to multiple audiences, both consumers and businesses. Partner leads surged and traffic to the site increased by 488% from the months of June to August.
GCG secured analyst buy-in from 8 major firms, underscoring the offering’s credibility and demonstrating widespread industry support.
The launch of SmartLeaf has been instrumental in raising overall awareness of the issues pertaining to portfolio management and has lead to numerous, post-launch feature stories on the subject.