We've written before ( https://www.mjhudson.com/newsletter/differentiating-your-fund-stand-up-if-you-dont-stand-out/) about the challenges of differentiating one's private equity fund and firm from the crowd. As marketing and communications specialists, we have a vested interest here, of course. But if private equity fund managers were actually good at differentiating themselves and their funds from their peers, the industry wouldn't have adopted the acronym JAMBO – Just Another Mid-Market Buyout fund.
When most fund managers think about how to differentiate themselves, they think about their marketing materials. Teasers. Presentations. IMs and PPMs. DDQs. And so on. And of course, these are all very important. (And often quite bad – we've written about that before (https://www.mjhudson.com/newsletter/poise-four-easy-steps/), as well.)
But what about those external-facing marketing and communications channels that are arguably the most important? How well are they working to differentiate you in the market? Are they putting across the 'story' you want to communicate? What are your investors and other stakeholders going to find when they carry out their own research?
We are talking here about your digital footprint: your website and, increasingly, your social media presence.
Why are they so important? Well, at the risk of stating the obvious, they are typically where investors start their self-directed research – before an introductory pitch has even taken place.
Most if not all of the fund managers reading this will have a website. But when was the last time you visited it? And what about your social media presence? This is increasingly the first port of call for the digitally-savvy. "That's just the youth", I hear you retort. "My investors and other counterparties are older; they will focus elsewhere." Really? News flash – digitally-savvy so-called Millennials can be approaching 40 years in age. Its highly likely a few are working for your LPs.
So, the socials? You most probably have a LinkedIn presence. Instagram may not be entirely relevant – but then again, have you thought deeply about it? Okay, you probably don't yet need to be on TikTok ... But what about Twitter? Blackstone is there and if it is good enough for them, it is maybe good enough for you.
To help shed some light on what works (and what REALLY doesn't) we have been evaluating the social media, digital communications and web presence of 100s of GPs. In fact, we've already looked at >300 GPs.
Spoiler alert. Many could be improved, to say the least.
To supplement this research and investigate some of the opinions held by GPs and LPs around transparency and communications, we are now running a short survey and we would be very grateful if you were willing to participate.
- INVESTORS: This is your opportunity to tell fund managers what
frustrates you and how you want to be communicated with
" FUND MANAGERS: Find out how you compare to your peers – and to the expectations of your investors
It does only take five minutes to complete and responses will be published anonymously, and in aggregate. Participants will be among the first to receive the full survey findings.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.