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'Little wins' key at BlackRock

News, 30 March 2015

NEW YORK: Marketers at BlackRock, the world's largest asset-management company, are using "little wins" to enhance their status in an organisation which traditionally has not relied on communications to drive growth.

Matt Van Dalsem, BlackRock's director/global media planning, discussed this subject at The Big Rethink, a conference held by The Economist magazine in New York.

"We all are trying to, first and foremost, educate internally – up, down, left, right – everyone in the organisation about the power of brand, the power of marketing, and, along the way, delivering small but impactful wins that help educate," he said. (For more, including how the firm is approaching social media, read Warc's exclusive report: Building a marketing culture at BlackRock.)

"And with each little win, with each education session, we are gathering more of an ability to try something new."

"I think supporting our own CMO with, essentially, ammunition to go into the executive boardroom to tell our own story internally is huge for us."

Given that BlackRock manages well over $4tr in assets, there are many misperceptions regarding its approach to marketing, Van Dalsem suggested.

"I think the perception of BlackRock from those who don't know it – and the majority of people don't, because that hasn't been our objective – they think that we're spending way more money than we really are," he said.

"I think that there is a perception out there that we are, from a marketing function, bigger than perhaps we really are."

One major factor shaping the company's communications strategy is that its products are sold by intermediaries like insurance providers and financial advisers, meaning large, splashy campaigns are of limited appeal.

BlackRock was founded in 1988, and approximately doubled the assets under its control by acquiring Barclays Global Investors for $13.5bn in 2009.

This is illustrative of the fact the business has typically not depended on marketing as fuel for growth. "I think it's new," Van Dalsem said. "It's just new for a lot of people in the firm that just didn't grow up doing what we do.

"We grew … not on the backs of marketing, but on the backs of [a] great product and acquisition. And talented people."

Data sourced from Warc