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Deadly sins of marketing – and how to avoid them

Marketing. All else being equal, it’s the element most critical to a successful fundraising. It’s also the one many funds get wrong.

That’s not to say managers aren’t dumping buckets of time and money into their marketing strategies. Everyone knows investors don’t just tie on blindfolds, then hope to pin the tail on the Perfect Fund Manager. Yet the stacks of abandoned PowerPoints, infographics and social media texts rotting in content management cemeteries (err, systems) indicate just how wrong things can – and do – go.

Effective marketing is vital for emerging managers launching a first fund, or management teams working together for the first time. After all, getting savvy investors to eschew Big Name Brands takes powerful arguments and skilled convincing.

Ah, you’re a Big Name Brand? Excellent … but please, keep reading. Your competition is aggressive and not standing idle. Have you ever wondered why it’s so difficult to replace a fund in an existing portfolio? One reason is failing to stand out from the crowd. Differentiating yourself via effective marketing is vital for you, too.

But we’ve got the numbers …
So you’ve defined your marketing strategy according to offering and ideal investor profile. Now you need to create content to help investors understand why your fund is worthy of their capital. Let’s focus on deal flow, for example, and how awesome your team is at sourcing and closing proprietary deals.

Of course there are minimum, basic requirements to proving you’re an amazing deal maker. Check. Now how do you make the shortlist?

Story time!
Allow us to illustrate. You’ve seen the dreaded deal funnels, flowcharts, pie charts and bar graphs. They’re unmemorable. Eye-glazing. And the team’s amazing ability to source and close proprietary deals? Buried by boring!

Consider this manager’s story, instead:
“A recent deal I closed was two years in the making. Finally, after countless dinners with the owner’s family … I got invited to the dog’s birthday party. That’s when it happened. We forge real relationships with local business owners. This is why when we close deals, they’re truly proprietary.”

Take another example, about professional biographies. Every manager, including those in parallel universes, talks about his or her years of experience. As they should – investors need to know their capital is in expert hands. Yet how can you differentiate your years of experience and get remembered?

Consider this manager’s story, instead:
“Ella joined us directly after getting her MBA. She has 15 years of investing experience.” (Head scratching from investors, as their eyes cut to the photo of the 25-year-old fund manager.) “Her family realized she was serious about pursuing a career in finance when she assumed management of her college fund – at age 10.”

Share the unexpected and make a lasting impression
Everyone loves a good story, especially people who look at numbers all day. Stories have power – they activate our emotions and embed themselves in our memories. Storytelling is an inherent human activity, old as dirt. Just think of Homer, spinning tales about Odysseus and the Trojan war around the 8th century BCE … and we’re still talking about them.

Surely, you have some excellent stories to tell too.

Be bold. Tell your stories. Get remembered – and get selected for investment.

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