by Ole Rollag
I have hard evidence that proves that most asset managers struggle with making good pitch books.
I'll reveal the evidence in a moment, but first I want to tell you why managers are missing out by not being more creative with the materials that meet the eye of the potential investor.
It is important to get this right because during the selling process, the initial 'make or break' usually clings on a 10-40 page pdf document.
Before scheduling face-time with you, it is typical for investors to request for 'a peek' at what you do by asking for a pitch-book to review. Whatever send over to them does much of the initial selling for you. A good presentation can help you get that first meeting.
Large asset management groups may have armies of marketing people to focus on these kind of things (they don't always get it right though!), but the small and medium sized boutiques without these kind of resources have an ongoing challenge in communicating that core message that defines them .
As an entrepreneur, I have also always struggled with this and the more complex the fund is, the harder it is for the insider to communicate what is going on to an outsider.
One of my funds was a volatility strategy, and if I am honest with myself, it took us more than a year to craft a message that was palatable- not too complex, but hopefully interesting.
I often continue to struggle when I try to make people understand what we do with some of our ideas. This is usually because what we do hasn't existed in the industry or the industry hasn't experienced some of our methods.
For example, Perfecta Partners is a strategy consulting firm focused on the fund management industry. The only analogy the industry kind of understands is 'outsourced COO.'
Fortunately, it is a lot easier to look at other people's work than your own.
The evidence that most of the industry needs a 'presentation make-over' lies in the top drawer of my filing cabinet. This is where I keep a mountain of presentations from lots of different fund managers. Guess what, they all look to the same and they are all so boring, it looks like a championship of dullness.
Every time a new employee comes in, we dig them out and have them take a look in order to familiarize them to the industry. When they are finished, I always like to ask them which presentation did they like the most? Which was the worst? What did they remember from each one?
Although many of these employees are new, it sheds some light on what kind of impact these creatikns have on the investors. Even more so, if a presentation can make sense to the uninitiated, just imagine how amazingly well they would resonate with the pros. But unfortunately, the reality is exactly the opposite. If something doesn't resonate on an intuitive level, how can you expect it to make an easy connection on an intellectual level?
We typically divide the presentation into two areas: look and message.
Then the message is divided further into a several sub-categories: technical, content, message, etc.
I will save branding for another article and focus on the message itself.
Professional investors receive dozens of presentarions every day. The expert's eyes will probably meet your work as part of a routine. This means that, as the owner of the presentation, you are going to have to make it very clear within the first few seconds why this investor should set you apart to spend some more time on you.
You are going to have to make an instant attraction about what makes you so special. Yoy will alsobhqve make it very easy to find the other basic attributes (AUM, track record, type of vehicle, etc).
Does your presentation stick out from that mountain or is it just another building block for a pile of anonymous presentations?
I am going to finish this post with a hint. The investor will probably be using his brain to review your presentation, the habitual defenses will be up and the mind will be in critical mode.
However, if your presentation can catch the investor off-guard by arousing an emotional reaction (preferably positive), you may have something better going for you. In the end it is all about character. Investors are human, this is something I believe we forget all too often.
In our next post in this series we are going to speak more about finding the right message that defines you as a manager so stay tuned.