It’s been nearly ten years since we produced our first client video. We weren’t the first service provider to offer videos in the alternative assets industry – but probably the first to incorporate it into a holistic marketing program. More importantly, we were the first to use video to tell a story.
The first video didn’t get too much attention at the time – it was a relatively low-risk manager-profile video that featured “talking heads” along with some animation. It was high quality work and accomplished what the fund managers had hoped to accomplish – but nothing particularly fancy.
Why your story should be told like a story
It wasn’t until we worked with a fund called TopTurn Capital – a firm that had the courage to do something really different – that video garnered any attention. It was launched just after the Jobs Act was ratified, so the media picked it up as the “first ever hedge fund advertisement.” The industry, on the other hand, regarded it with a mix of curiosity and skepticism.
After the novelty wore off, we received a fair amount of pushback from other managers – ranging from, “this is fine for retail, but institutional investors will never be interested in watching a video” to, “I would if I could, but we are regulated, and my compliance department would never allow it” (as if Topturn or any of our other clients weren’t regulated).
Capturing passion and conviction
As my partner, Kyle Dunn, the real brains behind the concept, commented at the time, “in the next few years, video is just another thing managers will do as part of their marketing efforts.”
How prescient he was.
Fast-forward to today. We have now produced well over 100 client videos ranging from fully animated and kinetic text videos to B-roll heavy stories and portfolio company case studies. I am not going to pretend that the entire industry has embraced the use of video, but it is certainly much more receptive to the discussion.
Conceptually, it shouldn’t really be a surprise. There are few better tools to capture the passion and conviction of a manager. Not only does it make them more relatable in a way that a PowerPoint can never do, but it also provides tremendous analytics to profile interest.
So, what’s next?
There are several areas where video can be employed to more effectively express who you are and why it matters:
Portfolio Company Highlights
It baffles me that there is not more of this happening, yet. I have no doubt it will, though. For an industry that prides itself on being “first to be second,” this is one of those times that it will payoff to be in early. At some point, LPs will be inundated with portfolio company videos – and then it will be too late.
It would be great to do an investor field trip to all your portfolio companies – but that’s just not practical. And it does nothing for prospective LPs or portfolio companies. Sure – you can talk to them about individual deals and the “operational improvements” made to enhance an “undervalued business” – but it would hardly be the first time any of them have heard that.
No… not “real” advertising like TV commercials or digital billboards. I’m talking about short, “snackable” clips for use on LinkedIn or email. An interesting market observation, a portfolio company highlight, or a humorous quip that is consistent with your culture and brand (check out our own video campaign here).
While the previous examples are best utilized for lead generation, there is a significant opportunity to use video for diligence purposes. We recommend a library of short (under a minute) videos in the data room that describe individual aspects of the business and your approach – opportunity, sourcing, team, investment philosophy, etc.
Your message will always be more impactful when the audience gets to experience it first-hand rather than reading another slide about another deal. It’s no accident that the next generation of decision makers spends hours every week on video-heavy platforms like Tik-Tok – and not thumbing through 30-page PowerPoint presentations. As a communications tool, video is simply more interesting and more memorable.