It is no fault of anybody’s, however, a lot of the asset managers we work with represent investment strategies that are extremely complex. This translates into a long-winded story that is more often than not hard to sit through. For much of the industry, this is the core reason why so many are unsuccessful in their efforts to raise capital.
This gets to the root of the matter. How do you tell a gripping story about something that can’t be fully understood without a lengthy explanation?
Step one, you need to arm your audience with very light soundbites that are both intriguing and easily repeatable. What are the one or two components of your story interesting enough to be talked about during the ten second “office drop by.”
How often have you heard, “Did you know that [insert the name of a person with a hugely impressive resume here] is starting a fund?” This is a great example. The real lesson, however, is being strategic with this at the outset. Mention the name in email subject lines, over beers, in elevators, etc. Details on what exactly the person is doing can come later.
If you don’t have a big name to whisper, what then?
Every strategy or team has one or two attributes that you innately understand to be different, interesting, or of a higher caliber. It is here you need to stop thinking logically and let the emotion rise to the surface. I will lose 90% of you here, but you need to “feel,” the story. In short, if you take away all the pretense, nerves, and desire to be “institutional, what do you actually and simply want to tell people. Believe it or not this is the DNA of your story, and the real reason why people will invest with you.
Side note, if you don’t know what the truly interesting parts of your story are, best re-evaluate whether you want to be out telling it.
For those of you that have an innate, gut understanding of why investors should care about you; distill this down to the its bare elements; find words that aren’t big; and come up with a couple lines that you can envision someone mentioning standing in the door of an office.
“Jim, are we looking for emerging market managers? I know a few people that can access India better than anyone else.”
“Kim, have you heard about the quant team just jumped from Two Sigma.”
“Dave, you were talking about downside protection… this is the team.”
“This PE team’s relationship with Walmart is interesting.”
You get the point.
Ok, people are talking about you. You are getting meetings. How do you keep the momentum?
If you are running a complex strategy, very few people will be able to fully comprehend or recall the intricacies after a first meeting, or a third meeting for that matter. Don’t overwhelm people with the details. Go into every meeting (or call) with a set plan on the two or three things you want people to remember. And I am not naïve, you will obviously need to fill airtime. Don’t hesitate to expand on each core story line, however, always circle back to the one or two bullets you want people to recall when they leave the meeting.
Remember the conversation our friend had with Jim. This is the conversation that happens after the meeting, “Jim, remember those guys investing in India, the 10th President of India sits on their advisory board. They are plugged in politically. That’s what allows them to do XYZ.”
Do you follow the progression?
People don’t make investment decisions after one meeting. In reality perceptions are nothing but a crude patchwork of information stitched together from a variety of meetings, telephone calls and research. If you dive into the details too quickly, you have no control of what storylines will be stitched together. Even worse, the story will be so bogged down in uninteresting stuff, no one will want to talk about it, which is a death sentence when raising capital.