First and foremost, you need to understand the difference between investor marketing and investor relations. Often confused (even by the people offering such services). However, they are different.
IR, as it is commonly referred to, is defined by Shift Communications as “a specific sub-discipline of public relations that revolves around how a company communicates with investors, shareholders, government authorities, and the financial community”. More so they say “the purpose of investor relations is to ensure that a company’s stock is being traded fairly through disclosure of key facts that allow all investors to assess whether a company is a good investment or not”.
So investor relations is about communications, regulations, and compliance.
Investor marketing is more of a sub-discipline of advertising. Its purpose is to drive investors of all sizes and in some cases interests, to a specific stock or company for the purpose of evaluating the investment opportunity.
At the core, investor marketing is what drives the need for investor relations.
Now that we have clearly defined the differences, let’s talk about what to look for in your investor marketing. The purpose is to make sure you understand its need and more importantly, avoid making mistakes.
Follow The Rules
There are still many regulations to navigate from the FCC to the SEC. There are hundreds of marketing channels only pro investor marketers would even know exist and regular updates like Penguin and Panda that marketing teams stay on top of. Depending on your knowledge of all things marketing and financial regulation, I would consider running everything by your lawyer, your CMO, pastor, rabbi, or priest… or more succinctly; hiring a professional investor marketing firm. Once again, not an IR firm and not some new age social media “we have a foosball table in our office” group. An actual Investor Marketing firm, because at the end of the day investor marketers know investors, and they are a much different beast than your average consumer.
Follow The Leader
This one has a double meaning. First, to stay up to date on the latest trends, hashtags, channels, effective advertisers, best practices and more, you will need to find thought leaders. Most people at the top of their game are sharing information daily. Some good people or companies to follow are Seth Godin @ThisIsSethsBlog, Jay Baer Convince & Convert, Bradley Smith PR Newswire, Laura Anthony SEC Lawyer, Darrell Heaps Q4, and of course, Jason Hilton. Here’s the second thing. Be a thought leader. Build yourself up as a thought leader. Investors are more likely to invest in people over companies. Making sure people believe you can follow through with your company vision is a big part of the battle. That means you need to be sharing good information that people find valuable and want to follow you. Again, this is a lot of work and staying on top of it while running a company can be difficult. If you hire the right investor marketing firm they will help you with this. When done right it can be very powerful to attract investors, engage with them in a meaningful way and get them to follow you by becoming a shareholder.
Follow The Plan or The Path
Once there is a plan in place you have to see it through. There will be rough patches, especially in the beginning where you’re not sure if all this will pay off. You’ll second guess yourself and maybe even your team. It’s ok to analyze, test and improve, but don’t veer off the path! Stay the course! There is no short fix. As an old mentor of mine used to say “there is no magic fairy dust”. Investor marketing requires minute by minute dedication and perseverance. If you’re not up for that, find someone who is.
Being a public company or going public is asking, in some cases, good hard working people to invest in you. Take it seriously or get out of the pool. Every day we see companies with poorly conceived websites, a lack of web presence, a pitch that revolves around share structure (low float), bad marketing, no engagement, the list goes on and on. These are the same people wondering why their stock never trades or is “under valued”. They try and hire high priced “Wall St” IR firms, fly by night promoters, or Silicon Valley marketing groups to dig them out, and nobody can.
Because they aren’t investor marketers and they don’t know what to look for or how to fix it.
Now you do.