Imagine you are a prospective LP considering an allocation into your strategy bucket. Would you like what you saw when you came across your fund? Not just the first impression – but the entire experience?
Of course, it's easy to say, "yes." If you didn't believe that you had a highly compelling offering, you probably shouldn't be in business. But the question goes deeper than that – how easy are you making it for investors to quickly evaluate your value proposition and recognise why it should matter to them?
In this first article in a two-part series exploring the investor journey, we explore what the journey entails, why it matters, and how to measure it.
The idea of mapping out the route a prospect takes from having a need to, ultimately, buying a product or service is not new. The concept of the "Client Journey" is the topic of numerous publications in the worlds of B2C and, increasingly B2C marketing. It is typically segmented into stages to help visualise the process and each of the touchpoints.
Awareness -> Engagement -> Evaluation -> Purchase -> Retention -> Advocacy
While it's not a concept used much in the asset management industry, a buyer goes through all of these steps irrespective of the product or service being purchased. Even alternatives investors. Frankly, given the amount of money involved and energy expended, developing a well-thought out, deliberate strategy around the lifecycle of a client relationship probably merits greater consideration in our industry than it does in almost any other sector. Plus, despite the advances of machine learning and technological approaches to investment evaluation, investors are still people – and people have opinions and emotions.
You don't need some overly-choreographed, scripted process to improve your success with investors. But the "wing it" approach doesn't work either. Consider how the trajectory of asset momentum would improve if the same type of methodical research and effort that went into developing your investment process were put into developing your marketing process.
As with an investment strategy, it is important to keep the desired outcome in mind. Not the final outcome (a fund launch), but the outcome at each step of the "journey." To do this, start by asking yourself the following questions:
1). What do my prospective investors experience when going through our process currently?
The best way to determine that is simply by asking those that have been through it. Ideally, you would hire an independent firm (us, for example!), to undertake a Perception Study (https://www.mjhudson-meyler.com/audit-research), an exercise that is specifically designed to illuminate the pain points (and opportunities). Of course, anything is better than nothing and even if all you do is ask several important investors how their experience was, the input will be helpful. But, if you take this seriously, you will do it properly and make sure that you gather independent, comprehensive and constructive feedback.
2). How do you want the experience to be?
The experience your investors have on their journey to committing capital will stay with them as the most indelible expression of your values and brand. What do you want them to feel? How are you going to make that happen? Without a plan, success will be impossible. Map out all of the anticipated investor interactions (all of them!) along the journey and plan what you will do to create the right impression and generate the desired response.
3). What criteria, data, and tools can you use to measure progress?
There are a lot of checkpoints along the way to hitting your fundraising targets. If you only look backwards at how much money you raised, after the process is over, you will lose the ability to influence the outcome for each prospective investor. You wouldn't manage your portfolio that way, would you?
What I expect you will come to see, as you do through these questions, is that the diligence process is chock full of drudgery for investors – and few managers seem to appreciate that the experience could be a whole lot better (and successful) with just a little effort...
In part 2 of this article, we will discuss the key considerations and techniques that will aid you in shepherding prospective investors through each stage of their journey.
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.