Online strategy pays dividends

A MOVE to an online marketing model has brought rapid international expansion for Perth-based investment advisory firm Conscious Investor.

The shift online from traditional offline marketing strategies has enabled the company to reach clients in international markets at a faster and more efficient rate.

Conscious Investor now services clients in 35 countries

The company is the brainchild of CEO Margaret Baldock, who founded Conscious Investor in July 2001 with business partner and financial mathematician John Price.

Ms Baldock, who has a background in both the stock market and as a broadcaster, approached Mr Price after discovering he had developed investment methods based upon those of successful American stock investor Warren Buffett.

Both shared common ground in wanting to understand the investment strategies of Mr Buffet and to develop a system that would allow any investor to implement the strategies successfully.

Mr Buffett is the only investor on the Forbes Rich list and has achieved an average annual return of 22 per cent over the past 37 years, through bull and bear markets alike, according to Ms Baldock.

Based on these principles, Ms Baldock said Conscious Investor has developed an online investment training system and software tool of the same name.

“Conscious Investor allows investors to identify quality companies and then calculate exactly what price to pay for them in order to achieve their required profitability,” she said. “In doing so, investors can establish a ‘margin of safety’ between the economic value of the business being purchased and the price being paid for it.”

Ms Baldock said she invested $70,000 of her own money, which she raised by mortgaging her house, to run her first seminar and get the company off the ground.

While the initial investment was recouped in six weeks, she and Mr Price soon realised that a traditional offline business model would not allow Conscious Investor to reach a mass market.

The company runs its Perth operation from Ms Baldock’s home office, but also employs five full-time staff in Sydney.

“We realised that while we were doing well, we weren’t doing well enough for the effort we were putting in,” Ms Baldock said.

“We took a mini hiatus and said ‘right, how else can we sell this?’ We went online from about February 2002 and have done that ever since.

“To really succeed online you have do a lot of non-traditional type marketing activities and my background is very strong in traditional marketing, so it has meant a big change in my thinking.

“We have 1,500 clients now. Our product costs about $1,000 [for a year’s subscription], however plenty of clients have bought two, three, four-year and lifetime subscriptions.

“A lifetime subscription is about $6,000 – so that gives you an indication of where we are at.”

Ms Baldock said the initial idea for Conscious Investor arose from the desire to equip investors with the knowledge to successfully invest in the stock market, rather than to be at the mercy of stock traders.

“When I was working in the stock market I grew to realise that people were being sold a lot of ‘smoke and mirror’ type products,” she said.

“I felt that I had some unique knowledge that, if I shared, would really help people out.

“From our perspective, we really see ourselves as educators and tool providers. We were trying to broaden our market from just the professional and experienced people.

To this end, the company has developed ‘model portfolios’ designed to guide novice investors.


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