By Diane Harrison
2016 will not offer an easy path to follow on the way to asset gathering. Effective marketing can lead to new prospects, which in turn can lead to new assets, so it is vital to focus on the impact marketing can make. If you rely solely on your pitch book and monthly or quarterly investor letters to do the yeoman’s work of marketing, then you’re not alone. The majority of managers remain inside this ‘marketing box’ while bemoaning the fact that attracting new prospects is getting harder and harder. Incorporating some of the suggestions below can help managers move out of their “box”and jump start stronger marketing programs in 2016.
OUTREACH WITH SOMETHING TO TEACH
Besides the elevator pitch and the fund presentation pitch most managers have learned to deliver reasonably well, consider creating a brief— 15 minutes or so— presentation on some aspect of the market approach embodied by your style. For instance, if your strategy is event-driven, frame this short summary with an outline that follows these points: Why Event-driven? Why Now? How does this Work? Describing an investment example that identifies a company with an imminent catalyst that will impact its valuation significantly helps bring the approach to life for investors in ways a dry definition of the strategy never can.
There are two major advantages of having such a carve-out presentation in the marketing toolkit. One, if it focuses on the strategy approach and its value to an investor but does not reference a specific offering, it is an educational piece and can be used more broadly in marketing tactics. Two, such a ready-made deck provides a manager with the ability to be included in external industry events (more on this tactic later) as an expert, and allows either the portfolio manager or a designated executive in the firm to deliver the presentation effectively at such venues.
CREATING AN ONGOING DIALOGUE WITH DYNAMICS
Being able to converse with prospects regularly is a difficult goal to achieve for many managers. Only the most successful managers are in perpetual demand by both investors and industry professionals to speak about their businesses within a variety of formats. How then can emerging and smaller managers compete on this uneven playing field and express their own viewpoints? And how can this be affordable for smaller players?
One way is through blogging. Most managers have established a website presence, even if it’s basically a landing page with a password-protected portal for their existing investors. Creating a blog page on the site, and keeping it public, not private, allows both direct and indirect access for prospects to hear from the manager on a variety of their views. This audience includes those the manager is engaged with as well as those that are doing their own research on managers and find the websites on their own. Make the content on this blog about the manager’s vision, the perspective on today’s market, and the nuances of the strategy approach. Essentially this brings to conversational life the why me? why now? why this? classic elements of every marketing pitch but does it with dynamically updated views on a weekly or bi-weekly basis.
This requires a dedicated commitment to keeping the blog stream going, ensuring each post is high quality and relevant and pushing out the updated posts via email blasts or some other automated process to keep prospects engaged in the dialogue. Managers who enjoy writing can create these blog posts on their own or have others create them, but consistency is vital to their success.
RAMP UP EXPOSURE WITH EVENT PARTICIPATION
As alluded to earlier, establishing a reputation as an industry expert by being included in external industry events as a panelist, moderator, or roundtable participant can add luster to any smaller manager’s business in an outsize way. For those managers who have a solid background at leading edge firms and plan to emphasize this success in their fledging business, being seen at a variety of quality venues as a speaker can provide the gravitas to this effort much more quickly than in one-on-one meetings.
In addition to participating at external events, managers can also plan to create their own bespoke events to showcase their knowledge and market perspective. Again, this is not a sales pitch, it’s an educational forum to give context and individual focus to prospects as they seek to learn more about how the market strategy and investment approach works for their needs. Hosting a breakfast meeting or after work forum at a private venue for 10-25 targeted attendees where the topic to be covered is of great interest and is timely in today’s market allows for a vetting of participants to be sure attendance is weighted toward likely investors.
These don’t have to be lavish affairs or costly; in most cases, hosting a quarterly series of these types of events can cost less than attending one or two industry conferences. The impact of creating personalized events can be far greater than conference attendance as well.
LEAD BY EXAMPLE WITH SELECTED PUBLISHED AUTHORSHIP
Saying something meaningful and unique is one goal to aspire to in a thought leadership campaign. Having that communication vetted through appearing on third party financial channels respected by the target audience of investors and peers within the alternatives industry makes that thought leadership part of the larger investment community. While creating and maintaining an internal blog is one element of being a respected voice in the community, contributing authored pieces to independent publications raises the bar on key messages and expands the readership exponentially to introduce managers to investors as yet unknown to them. This thought leadership can take the form of articles, white papers, guest blog posts to other blog sites, interviews, expert opinions contributed by managers to outside articles, published speeches and presentations distributed as reprints after an event, and other forums.
TARGET A COMMUNICATIONS NETWORK IN THE RIGHT PLACES
Foster a few key relationships within the investment information/news channels that can help showcase your skills and knowledge to a targeted audience. Offer yourself as an ‘expert witness’ to comment on market activity or industry developments on a regular basis and begin to create this reputation as an industry expert in demand by these information channels. Third party exposure offers managers another level of credibility for targeted prospects by appearing in the venues where these individuals are getting their industry information.
Diane Harrison is principal and owner of Panegyric Marketing, a strategic marketing communications firm founded in 2002 specializing in alternative assets. She has over 25 years’ of expertise in hedge fund and private equity marketing, investor relations, articles, white papers, blog posts, and other thought leadership deliverables. In 2016, Panegyric Marketing has been shortlisted for Family Wealth Report’s Outstanding Contribution to Wealth Management Thought Leadership and received AI Hedge Fund’s Outstanding Contribution to Wealth Management Thought Leadership. A published author and speaker, Ms. Harrison’s work has appeared in many industry publications, both in print and on-line. To read more of her published work in alternatives, please visit www.scribd.com/dahhome. Contact: email@example.com or visit www.panegyricmarketing.com.