Marketing in The New American Century

Over the years I’ve had the privilege to work with many amazing marketing professionals who’ve inspired me and educated me. They wear many different hats and in many cases their official title sometimes has no “marketing” in it, but they are all among the movers and shakers who I call “Marketing Rock Stars”.

In this series I will post my conversations with these marketing experts – each with diverse backgrounds and experience leading brands, top agencies and in many cases, their own firms. Today I am talking with Paul Herdtner, VP of Corp. Communications at American Century Investments.

Paul Herdtner joined American Century Investments—a global asset manager—in June 2016. As the vice president of corporate communications, he has responsibility for the firm’s social media marketing efforts. He also leads the website, public/media relations and video production teams. This is Paul’s second career—the first involved spending nearly 20 years in television news an an anchor and reporter.

I’ve known Paul for five years now, and have always been impressed with his relentless pursuit of excellence and “never be satisfied” approach to his work. I recently had the chance to chat with Paul in-depth about his experience at American Century and how he has helped modernize the company’s marketing and communications efforts.

Q: Describe the marketing situation when you arrived at American Century.
A: American Century Investments had a fairly solid marketing strategy in place, but what was missing was a consistent, rigorous measurement process of its execution. Many departments were still operating in silos. In recent months, we have felt the impact of some significant changes – including new additions to leadership in Marketing and Communications, recent SaaS purchases, and an overall switch to a focus on ROI. We also had inadequate media spending vs competitors (e.g., T. Rowe Price) on traditional media.

Q: What are your core marketing goals for the next 2-3 years?
A: We’re focused on raising our profile—both nationally and globally—and aligning with our distribution (sales) needs. There were times in the past when too many one-off marketing and communications projects were askew with those goals, but we’ve solved that. We are also working on dramatically improving overall marketing efficiency. And we are working on delivering better support to our European and Asian markets where are our business is seeing growth.

Q: What are the key marketing capabilities that you need to build to achieve those goals?
A: For starters, we’re fine-tuning the thought processes of our teams – they are now realizing that everything we do should have a clear ROI attached to it, and that each project should ladder-up to company goals. So we are Installing MBOs, dashboards and other accountability components in both our tools and processes.

Q: What does the Customer Lifetime Value (LTV) approach mean for American Century?
A: Like so many other companies, we’re integrating LTV into our strategy—much to the delight of our CEO and CFO! We’ve drilled into the books to determine revenue for various segments of our client population, which gives us a “North Star” data point to guide our marketing spend.

Q: How do you see data’s role in the marketing mix?:

A:We have a fair amount of data at our disposal. We just need to start looking at it differently and do a better job at incorporating it into social media campaigns, for example. We have client and investor information, as well as data about the audiences engaging with our content on our blog and social media channels, among other data points.