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BtoB's Best Marketers: Martha Willis, OppenheimerFunds Inc.

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Asset management company OppenheimerFunds Inc. gained a lot of attention over the past 18 months with its campaign “Globalize Your Thinking,” overseen by Exec VP-CMO Martha Willis. Strong awareness and favorability ratings have come the company's way during a difficult investment period and within a sales-oriented industry wedded to traditional methods. The keys to the company's recent strides, Willis said, have been its integrated approach to marketing, building brand awareness through multiple channels, and supplying educational and business tools to financial advisers, the company's prime reseller channel. “Financial advisers are under increasing pressure because of time constraints and new regulatory requirements,” said Willis, who not only oversees all the company's marketing but also its product development. “These advisers can sell other people's products. We want to help them become more efficient in running their businesses and embracing more technology.” “Globalize Your Thinking”—developed with agency Euro RSCG, New York, and now in its third phase—identifies global investment opportunities. To get the word out, OppenheimerFunds has placed print ads in publications that target financial advisers as well as in such general business publications as Bloomberg Businessweek and The Economist. On the digital side, Flash ads have appeared on Bloomberg terminals and on mobile sites used by financial advisers. The campaign also supplies financial advisers with “snackable” pieces of content that not only boost their knowledge about alternate investment vehicles but can be shared with clients, Willis said. Video and mobile play big roles, augmented by pervasive use of QR codes on most of the company's print ads. Earlier this year OppenheimerFunds launched its free Global Tracker app for both tablet and desktop computers, giving financial advisers even greater access to global investment data. “Historically the asset-management business has been a very sales-focused industry, but I think that marketing is now playing a bigger role in influencing how firms are differentiated,” Willis said.
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