What’s all the Bark About? Us! We’re in the News and in the Know.

We are frequently asked to comment on industry news and trends. Following are some of our recent quotes in industry press. Subscribers to noted publications can view the full articles by clicking on the link below the article publication date.


Ignites: Tight Marketing Budget? Pick One Thing, Do It Well (SwanDog's Purple Report)

February 22, 2017

“The biggest mistake a firm can make is they try to do a little of everything, and it doesn’t even make a dent,” says Dave Swanson, president and CEO of SwanDog, a marketing consulting firm.

“My advice is to focus on one or two fields and really be a leader in that.”

“What we heard in our calls and interviews was a lot of frustration from small firms,” Swanson says.

Until that changes [data availability and acumen], marketing will not get more strategic, Lesser says. But the clock is ticking, especially for active managers seeking to get their messages heard by advisors and their clients.

“Marketing is at an inflection point,” says Lesser.


Ignites: Invesco Tweaks ETF Brand to 'Unleash' Value

December 8, 2016

“ETF businesses are the most brandable and most brand-sensitive offerings managers have,” says Dave Swanson, managing partner of SwanDog Strategic Marketing, which is why firms continue to invest in burnishing the subbrands.

Traditionally firms have placed the more important or prominent brand first in their names, SwanDog Marketing’s Swanson notes. Changing the branding around sends more of a message that the PowerShares business is an increasingly important part of Invesco’s strategy than anything else, he adds.


Ignites: Ex-Ivy Star PM Bulks Up Staff at New Shop

October 13, 2016

“It’s very difficult to just throw something out there and expect people to find it,” says Dave Swanson, founder of SwanDog Strategic Marketing, outside of Chicago. Building up a sales force is critical to gaining name recognition. But it can pay off for small shops. “Most believe when active comes back, it will do so in more niche-y categories,” says Swanson.


Ignites: Asset Managers Rush to Relieve Advisor Anxiety

October 6, 2016

Of course, even if they have helpful tools and resources, asset managers still must get advisors to pay attention to these programs. In hopes of turning support into sales, says Dave Swanson, managing partner of SwanDog, a marketing consultancy that focuses on asset and wealth management based outside of Chicago.

“The challenge on the asset manager side is increasing their abilities to influence advisors’ choice of their products,” he says.


Ignites: Heads Up: Our PM Is Leaving...Eventually

July 7, 2016

Such moves can raise broader questions about the organization, says Dave Swanson, founder of SwanDog Strategic Marketing. “[It] begs the ‘why’ and ‘what’s wrong with the old place’ questions,” he says.


Ignites: Deloitte Boosts Asset Management Consulting With Casey Quirk Buy

June 20, 2016

“Financial services is a very specialized business that demands an intimate knowledge of complex products and complex distribution channels,” writes Dave Swanson, managing partner of SwanDog Strategic Marketing, in an e-mail response to questions. “In my experience, the large consulting firms weren’t as well equipped and positioned for this vertical as they needed to be. Bringing that expertise (and relationships) in-house makes abundant sense.”

In addition, the decline in revenue at many asset manager clients is having a knock-on effect on the consulting firms that cater to those shops, he notes.

“As their margins float considerably lower in coming years, the consulting network that supports asset managers is going to get squeezed. Being a part of a more diverse practice that represents other verticals (industries) is not a bad idea,” according to Swanson.

At the same time, consultants may benefit from increased asset manager consolidation driven by declining margins, he says. And as they navigate these changes, firms will need not only ideas about how to synchronize systems and processes, but hands-on help actually doing the tech and other work required.

“An anticipated increase in the pace of [asset manager] consolidation will drive the need for consultants who can see the path forward and rationalize what combinations make the most sense and what economic levers can be pulled,” says Swanson.


Ignites: Fido Broadens 401(k) Access to Low-Cost Line, Strips 'Spartan' Name

May 16, 2016

The name “Fidelity” will likely resonate more than “Spartan” with the individual participants that select investments from 401(k) plan menus, says Dave Swanson, managing partner of SwanDog Strategic Marketing.


Ignites: TIAA Taps Former Oppy CMO to Drive Brand Remake

April 25, 2016

TIAA has already completed the "identity" aspects of the rebrand - name, logo, color scheme - "there is a tremendous amount of work left to be done to bring the brand to life," says Dave Swanson, managing partner of SwanDog Strategic Marketing.

Willis used traditional tactics, such as print, broadcast and online advertising, to increase Oppenheimer's presence, and help drive the firm's marketing strategy forward, Swanson says.

She was a big proponent of tapping the firm's investment executives and making them more prominent in public and in communication with advisors, he notes. She was also heavily involved in linking marketing to broader corporate strategy.

Swanson says he expects some "major retooling" of the marketing function at TIAA with Willis's hire. "She's of the mind-set that marketing is a business function, not solely a market communications function," he added.


Ignites: Pro Tips to Break Into the Elite Circle of 'Thought Leaders'

April 22, 2016

"There's always an opportunity for somebody who brings something new and fresh to the marketplace," says Dave Swanson, founder and managing partner at SwanDog Strategic Marketing, outside of Chicago.

Advisors want "shorter and sweeter" materials - often delivered in formats other than the written word, Swanson says. That includes video, podcasts, interactive charts and social media messages. "The imperative is they're not looking [for] a tome any longer; you don't have to try to prove how smart you are," he says. "They're looking for a tidbit or some chunk that they can grab."

Bill Gross's monthly letters have been extremely successful because they're fun to read, says SwanDog's Swanson. Through them, Gross earned a reputation by telling great stories in addition to offering market insights, he says.

"The compliance departments of firms kind of squelch that quite a bit," he says. "In creating stuff that has a real strong voice, you run the risk of offending people."

Swanson also notes that firms embarking on a thought leadership push need to be in it for the long haul. Consistency is critical, he says. Advisors should be able to count on receiving these materials according to a set schedule, he says. The reality is it will take at least six months for a firm to start building a following, he says.

"The customers want to see that you're able to deliver before they're willing to commit to it," Swanson says. "If you're going to do it, you have to really commit to it."


Ignites: Marketing Teams Must Prep for Executives' Professional Divorces

April 11, 2016

"Firms tend to put a lot of energy into [promoting] the good stuff; they need to put some energy into thinking about, 'How do we respond to bad news and what are we going to do about that?'" says Dave Swanson, founder and managing partner at SwanDog Strategic Marketing, outside of Chicago.

Swanson recommends scrubbing all vestiges of the departing executive from the website, including market outlooks, blog posts, video interviews, investment outlooks and profiles. The purge needs to be done as quickly as possible, he says. Lingering fingerprints of former execs can get embarrassing any more than 60 days after the departure, he says.

Obviously, not all executives have a public persona. Firms should concern themselves only with those closely tied to the organization's brand or who run high-profile products, Swanson says. "There's a lot of people moving every day that aren't that relevant to the economics and the success of the businesses, and [they] kind of quietly just get swept under the rug," he says.


Ignites: Van Eck ETF Line Drops Market Vectors Brand

March 15, 2016

As the ETF market has matured, it is no longer seen as a distinct business needing separate branding from firms' active lines; in fact, it can be less efficient, says Dave Swanson, managing partner of SwanDog Strategic Marketing.

"To the extent you offer both sides, it's nice for the marketplace to know you offer both without having to look under the hood," Swanson says.


Ignites: Shops Dedicate 25% of Budgets to Stealthier Ads

February 24, 2016

"[Sponsored content is] less invasive, and people who are interested in what you have to say are self-selecting," says Dave Swanson, founder and managing partner at the consultancy SwanDog Strategic Marketing. "As a marketer, I would see that as a [more] qualified lead."

"The rub of marketing has always been that it's difficult to validate," Swanson says, but now marketers can better show the fruits of their labor.


Ignites: TIAA Drops 'Cref' to Deepen Retail Customer Base

February 23, 2016

The new logo “looks better and cleaner,” says Dave Swanson, managing partner of SwanDog Strategic Marketing.

The name change is subtle; the company’s name, after all, remains an amalgamation of letters that “doesn’t roll off of the tongue,” Swanson says. But a more substantial change, perhaps to an actual word, would have been difficult, he notes.

“You’re a little bit locked into the past. You don’t want to disenfranchise existing clients,” he says. “It could, among their legacy client base, make it feel like somehow something had changed. It would beg a lot of questions.”

Some abbreviated brand names, such as Geico, which stands for Government Employees Insurance Company, are more easily pronounceable in acronym form, he says. That ease of saying a company name could be why many in the fund industry referred to TIAA-Cref for years simply as “Cref,” he says.

“You have to know where your bread is buttered. And they’ve got so many assets that are attributable to that [institutional] category,” he says.

The name and logo change feels like a step in a more substantial process, to build the brand with a broader customer base, he says.

“I don’t know how far down the road they’ll be reflecting on this,” he says. “I feel like there is a lot more to the whole story.”


(Articles and quotes from 2015 and earlier have been archived.)