Our thinking Quick reads Are you marketing to the idea of an institution or the people within?
Fundraising, investor relations and marketing
February 2023
3 min read

Are you marketing to the idea of an institution or the people within?

Download Print
Text size

One of the biggest marketing mistakes hedge funds, private equity funds and venture funds make is directing their messaging towards the idea of institution and not the people within the institution. Building messaging that lacks emotion and designing decks that have no imagery are two great examples.

This all originates from the desire to be perceived as “institutional.” Managers interpret this as being extremely serious, unemotional, performance orientated, purely objective, operationally sound and professional. As such their marketing tends to be unemotional, performance oriented, objective, operationally focused and professional. This seems like a rationale and smart approach. It’s not.

If you are trying to engage a human, do you want to be unemotional? Most would agree that you don’t. Engagement is all about eliciting an emotional response. Do you want to strictly be performance orientated? When marketing alternatives, this is a hard question to avoid. Let’s dig in a bit here. Is your performance truly differentiated? In most cases, unfortunately, the answer is no. Can you guarantee performance? Again, in most cases the answer is no. Do you want to build messaging and positioning around something you can’t guarantee? Nope, you don’t. Therefore, circling back, do you want to build marketing around performance… probably not.

Onwards. In marketing do opinions matter? Why did you buy the shoes you buy, the milk you buy, the meals you buy, the cars you buy, the properties you buy, etc… If you can claim that you are purely objective in these decisions, you are lying to yourself. My point, people are not purely objective beings. To treat them as such, is a mistake. Thinking of it in a different way, can an institution itself respond to an email?

Being operationally sound is no longer a differentiator. It is the price of entry. 

Finally, there is the question of professionalism. I think we can all agree that you are dead in the water in this industry if you are not professional. Approaching this from a different angle. Does being professional mean you need to be bland, blue and grey, unfeeling, robotic, always serious, and unopinionated? Or can a professional organization be dynamic, different, relevant and exciting? Think about Porsche as an organization. I would argue that they are extremely professional, but also sexy (as a brand).

So… we have established that to be a better marketer, you should probably build in some emotion; not overtly focus on performance; recognize that people are not purely objective in making decisions; not overly emphasize an attribute that everyone just assumes you offer; and understand that being professional is not synonymous with being overtly conservative.

I don’t for a moment believe that this will knock your marketing to an entirely different place. I just hope that the logic makes sense and it pushes you into a more progressive direction.   

Download Print
Text size
Get email alerts for tailored content on your favourite topics
Sign up to email alerts

Browser Compatibility Notice

Welcome to MJ Hudson. Please note, this website will not function as intended on Internet Explorer.

For the full experience, we recommended viewing this website on a modern browser, such as Edge, Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox.

Share this page using the options below