Advisory firms often focus on training their sales reps and ensuring that advertising and web campaigns target appropriate customers. Yet, many firms fall short on producing compelling collateral. Indeed, creating truly engaging content, such as flyers, white papers and other materials, can be a challenge since financial professionals tend to focus on investing and math and are often less qualified when it comes to editorial matters.
Yet, common shortcomings in creating editorial teams and producing quality collateral can be easily avoided by taking appropriate actions. Many of these actions, furthermore, can help build a culture that revolves around producing high-quality collateral while valuing the skills of seasoned writers.
One common blunder is failing to hire qualified writers. Some firms may simply assign writing projects to existing marketing team members with the belief that anyone who has graduated from college can write.
With the exception of English majors and journalism students, however, most college graduates don’t write on a professional level. Even English and journalism majors typically lack the skills of a seasoned writer or editor.
With that in mind, firms that are building marketing teams with editorial capabilities should search for experienced financial writers who have portfolios of writing samples. Firms should also require candidates to take writing and editing tests. Administering such tests helps to screen out weak writers and also sends a message to existing employees and job candidates that high-quality writing is valued.
Some firms also fail to structure their departments appropriately. In a worst case scenario, project managers or administrative workers may write a document, circulate it for review by product managers and compliance and then release it to target audiences.
Rather than take that approach, marketing teams should have an editor with a senior title who is ultimately responsible for ensuring that collateral meets high standards. The editor, of course, should have the final say in hiring writers, editing documents, and resolving style questions.
In addition to ensuring that materials are well written, having a senior employee as an editor can reinforce a firm’s message among employees that high-quality writing is essential and it can help keep writers motivated by providing a potential career path.
Another common mistake is failing to use professional proofreaders. Editing and proofreading are different skills. In many instances, skilled editors who have taken numerous stabs at editing a document may overlook embarrassing typos or other mistakes. With that in mind, firms should tap proofreaders who can lend a fresh eye when documents are being finalized.
Firms can also fail to provide favorable work environments for writers. Many firms locate writers within cubicle clusters that are riddled with distractions, such as chitchat by employees, loud printers, and noisy hole punch machines that are used when making pitch books or other presentations.
When considering the potential for mistakes in printed materials to damage a firm’s reputation, writers should be provided with quiet work spaces. Providing an individual office may not be feasible, but firms should at least try to find locations with limited distractions.
Finally, some firms fail to let writers do what they do best. Marketing has become increasingly complex with content being distributed through customized email campaigns, numerous websites, and third-party firms.
It’s tempting to have a writer handle the distribution of printed documents and other administrative functions, but as those functions have become more complex, they have also become more time consuming. As such, having writers handle distribution often requires them to spend a disproportionate amount of time on administrative functions instead of producing content.
The end result is that firms don’t fully benefit from the high-skill levels that editorial team members may possess. To that end, firms should have other marketing team members handle administrative functions so that writers can focus on producing quality content.
Firms should also have members of research teams or portfolio managers provide data and other technical expertise so that writers don’t get bogged down with those functions. This will help cut down on the number of edits required and also foster an environment of greater collaboration.