Frappuccinos, birthday cards and union labels. These are a few of marketers' favorite tools.
Sure, track record, investment approach, key investment personnel and even "chemistry" are critical factors in determining whether pension fund ABC will hire money manager XYZ. But many a marketer also admits to using some gimmicks as part of the unwritten rules of the business.
Executives at Zevenbergen Capital Inc., Seattle, began a presentation to the Public School Teachers' Pension and Retirement Fund of Chicago by passing out frappuccinos to trustees. Frappuccinos were part of the product line of Starbucks, one of the firm's stock picks that quarter.
Chris Bittman, principal at Jurika & Voyles, Oakland, Calif., always uses clients products and services.
For example, his firm uses paper from pension fund client Consolidated Papers Inc. for all of its documents. And when he made a presentation to client Hawaiian Airlines, you know what airline he flew.
Rick Robert, marketing director of First Quadrant, Pasadena, Calif., said he makes sure he takes care of the "little things." That includes mailing birthday cards to trustees and knowing the restaurants they enjoy and the entertainment they like.
He would not share specific strategies, fearing they would be quickly picked up by one of his colleagues. "We are all looking for an edge," he said.
Dick Zaccaro, consultant at Boston-based H.C. Wainwright, sends special notes to trustees on the anniversary of when the client hired Wainwright, and forwards congratulatory letters to new trustees elected to public fund boards.
Mr. Zaccaro will sometimes wear an unusual tie to meetings, ensuring trustees will remember him.
One of the most important unwritten rules is to always make your loyalties known, especially when they are the same as those of the client. This is definitely a must in dealing with Taft-Hartley clients, according to consultants.
Jack Marco, president of Chicago-based Marco Consulting, said, "You're just sensitive to your audience."
It's just common sense to Mr. Marco, who drives only American cars. "When you go to visit Chrysler, you don't go into a rental place and jump into a Honda," he said.
John DeMairo, senior vice president at Segal Advisors, New York, said two-thirds of his business comes from union funds. So, when presenting to a garment workers fund, for example, all Segal attendees wore clothes made in the United States.
Other Taft-Hartley plan musts are:
* Mail all documents via United Parcel Service (which has union employees) rather than Federal Express.
* Use union bugs on all stationery and business cards.
* Use union labor such as printers and building contractors in your own business to show your union-friendliness.
Mr. DeMairo remembers distributing copies of a front-page New York Times article, including a picture of a trustee, to all of the trustees at a board meeting of a union fund.
"I think it's little things like that that are somewhat helpful," Mr. DeMairo said.