This will end up being the 100th article I have published. I have spent the last 10 years opining on marketing for asset managers.
Here are a few things I have learned.
The words marketing and placement are not interchangeable.The former has to do with building awareness and generating interest. The latter, selling something. Anyone reading this should be smart enough to know the difference. And for the record, most placement agents are salespeople, not marketers – as a rule they shouldn’t be called third-party marketers.
Marketing decks are representative of something beyond their set purpose. There are many parallels across history, shields, flags, tartans… anything symbolic of belonging and fellowship. “Decks” are akin to gifts offered by parties interested in forming an alliance. If you think about a deck in this way, everything changes.
There are people out there that are detail orientated. Namely because they have to be. This is a serious business. Attention to detail matters. Although it is interesting that the need to move slow and dig deep is perpetuated by the fact that the industry does a horrible job displaying information in an organized and easily absorbable manner.
Just getting the facts down is no longer sufficient. Managers are being judged on presentation as much as performance. The industry is saturated. Allocators have been forced to base decisions on a lot more than simple performance. Because of this, subtleties matter.
One of the greatest lessons I have learned… there are no short cuts for start-up managers. Raising institutional capital is a right of passage. First you have to prove to the industry that you have friends that support and trust you. Second you need to demonstrate you have staying power. Finally, you need to get that one big institution to invest. After that, things become a little more predictable.
ESG is becoming increasingly important. I don’t think this will surprise anyone, however, there is a huge gap between where GPs are and what LPs will soon demand. A lot of work is required on this front – especially in North America.
Video is no longer a novel, new thing. It is generally accepted, and a very good way to communicate. If you are not using it, you should be.
Finally, it is always going to be harder than you think it is going to be to raise money. My only advice on this front, people starting a fund should do a lot more competitive research. It amazes me how little of this occurs. As I always say, the world doesn’t need another private equity fund, venture fund, or hedge fund. If you are going to jump into this craziness, be prepared for a fight.