In the wake of the financial crisis, many investors and advisors were scratching their heads: What happened to our portfolios? Did we do something wrong with asset allocation? Do the old models still hold true?

Those questions led Putnam to create a suite of four absolute return funds and then turn the conversation to hedging risk. To accomplish that, they used digital marketing coupled with traditional marketing to drive their message.

One key to their strategy? “We try to look at the intersection of what's topical in the market and what we can share that's relevant to that topic,” says McKenna.

As Putnam sought to spotlight the issues getting attention in the industry and their solutions, they took some key steps:

■ Invested in both paid and unpaid media – Putnam conducted paid search and paid advertising. They bought keywords on Google around the terms “absolute return funds,” created a blog (absolutereturnblog.com), produced videos and white papers, ran broad-based advertising in The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, and shared this all through social media, including Twitter.

■ Developed visually compelling content – Putnam relies on an in-house team and production capabilities that turn videos around quickly.

Hired a journalist to identify trending topics – Identifying topics is a daily task. That effort helps the team shape the content and thought leadership they then produce and share in the social media world.

■ Leveraged CEO Bob Reynolds – Reynolds' participation in social media helps bolster the team's efforts and create a culture of rapid response. For example, his focus on the retirement crisis through Twitter has led to more than 6,000 followers and a culture of quick turnaround. See Figure 19.2.


FIGURE 19.2 Putnam's Bob Reynolds Brings Business and Personal to Twitter

Captured analytics – By monitoring analytics, from keywords to content with the most engagement, “we can determine where to spend the next dollar,” says McKenna. Those analytics also help inform the sales group about whom to meet when they make in-person visits. “Better to meet someone who's already engaged with us online and expressed interest, than to meet someone who hasn't,” he notes.

Moved away from return on investment (ROI) – As discussed above, Putnam is focused less on the traditional “share of voice” measurement than they are on things like engagement, site visits, time on site, time on specific content, and registrations to their online tool, FundVisualizer.

Putnam's experience warrants the attention of others in the financial industry. To manage their marketing, businesses will need new tools for measuring emerging methods of engagement.

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