“My firm has a distinctive and recognisable brand and voice.”
This is a sentiment shared amongst the majority of fund managers – in fact, we did the research as part of our GP and LP online presence survey, and nearly 3 in 4 said this. Even so, we are still seeing the same fundraising clichés being used by GPs.
“We are a unique, top-quartile manager with access to proprietary deal flow.”
That’s about as cliché as you can get, according to the LPs we spoke to, and having looked over hundreds of websites and fundraising pitchbooks, this language is not alien to us either.
When it comes to messaging your proposition in a distinctive way, it’s important to consider the core value drivers of your competitors. The first step towards building a recognisable brand is being able to identify the areas where your firm is different, specifically focusing upon three elements:
1. How do your competitors describe their investment strategy?
To describe your investment strategy in a way that expresses an exclusive opportunity, first you need to understand what promises your competitors are making. If they are making the same points, or offering a similar proposition, in most cases an investor is likely to partner with the biggest firm or one they have an existing relationship with. So, in the case that you have competitors that are much bigger than your firm, you risk losing business to them if your approach sounds similar. Your investment strategy needs to explain how you provide value to an investor, but it also needs to demonstrate that only you are able to deliver this value.
2. What key differentiators do your peers focus on?
Whether a specific sector-focus, a team’s vast experience, or a large geographic reach, your competitors will focus on these types of selling points in their key messages. When considering the differentiators that your firm’s messaging should focus on, it’s worth comparing these metrics against your own to pinpoint the factors where you shine, and then positioning these in a way that only apply to you. Or perhaps there’s a unique factor unmentioned by your peers that you are able to centre upon.
3. What phrases and buzzwords are being over-used?
In the case that you do have a true unique selling point, it’s best to avoid using the word “unique” to describe it – our research shows that LPs are fed-up with hearing the term. That also goes for buzzwords such as “top-quartile” and “proprietary”. However, as well as the language that is over-used in the industry as a whole, it’s also worth researching the language used by your closest competitors. After looking at a few, you may start to notice similar language being used again and again. For your firm to have its own voice, you need to be saying different things to everyone else.
Only after understanding these elements can you begin to understand the areas where you are truly different, and build a distinctive and recognisable brand and voice.