As I write this I am listening to a panel discussion about insurance-related challenges for fund managers. This is probably one of the most boring presentations I have ever attended.

This post is about how to avoid the marketing disaster I am now experiencing.

I am sure that deep down inside, these people have something interesting to say but the 'left brain styled' presentation is simply not resonating with my 'right brained nature'. It is putting me to sleep and I am not the only one who is bored here because a third of the audience has already managed to sneak out of the room.

Do you know what I mean with 'left brain' and 'right brain'? I'm sure you do, but in case you don't, here's a simple overview:

  • Left brain: Language, Logic, Critical thinking, Numbers, Reasoning
  • Right brain: Recognizing faces, Expressing emotions, Music, Reading emotions, Color, Images, Intuition, Creativity

I guess if the presentation resonated with me I wouldn't be using this time as an opportunity to write a blog post. But then again, never let a good failure go to waste...

I think the main objective of the event is to give fund managers more perspective on the risks and dangers they may face and provide advice about taking on the right kind of insurance policies.

Up until they started the panel discussion, the organizer did everything right. They chose a fantastic venue that overlooks the entire City of London. The choice of topic was ideal as it is not very well understood withing the industry. They even came up with an event title that is hard to resist. I won't name it because it is against my policy to publicly criticize companies or individuals, but I really wish I could disclose it because this is the kind of title that really makes you want to risk missing that last train home.

I'll give you a hint: it eluded to danger, and that word always manages to arouse our primal instincts and our curiosity.

Sadly, the panel discussion was as exciting as 2 engineers publicly discussing the flaws of a valve.

Isn't this the ideal setting for case studies? Think about it, essentially this is a discussion about how fund managers get into trouble. They could make the subject matter come alive with real examples, preferably the kind of horror stories we will never forget.

It is yet another clear example that's it is not the intellectual content but rather the emotional engagement that makes an audience pay attention. You've heard it so many times before:

"it is not what you say, but how you say it"

Think about the movie business. All the big hits have the same story line: in the beginning everything is fine, then there is a problem, then the hero becomes the underdog, the best friend dies, boy meets girl, there is an attraction but it is complicated, eventually everything turns out to be fine and the boy and the girl finally get to be together...

Most movie productions follow this format. Some become blockbusters and others just bomb. Why? Its not about the story but all about how it is delivered. Do you see it now?

Had they named the event 'Trends in Fund Management Insurance' most of the people would have probably not even bothered to show up. Well, maybe it could have attracted a few 'left-brainers' like those few in the audience who are taking notes (or writing blogs, just like me).

What we are witnessing here is a failure to live up to the expectations of the event title and it is awfully destructive.

They could have had me by telling me the kind of stories that would really make me feel the dangers around me, maybe I might have seriously considered hiring them. I certainly would have recommended them to anyone who needs protection.

Instead they became an living example of how to fail at marketing.

What did we learn today?

When you are preparing a presentation, take a close look at your team. Keep your 'left-brained' people off the stage. Put them in the audience so they can take lots of notes and ask smart questions if needed.

Make sure those presenting are more 'right-brained' and know enough about the matter so they can explain it to anyone. You see, in the end that is what this is all about: the ability to explain it to anyone in the audience! The 'right-brained' people are usually better equipped to emotionally connect with the crowd so they stand a better chance to win up there.

Then there are the ego's. This is the hard part. This is business, but a bit more like show business. And just like in the world of entertainment, the people who are on stage or in front of the camera usually don't run the show. They are the actors. Its the writers and the producers who ae in charge.

You do presentations because you want to make a great impression, just make sure it is memorable for all the right reasons....

About the author Baldwin has been active as a business developer in the investment industry for more than 20 years. He is a partner at Silk Invest, a fund manager dedicated to the frontier markets. He was an early adapter of social media within the investment management industry. His efforts have helped position Silk Invest as one of the leading managers in the frontier space. In collaboration with Perfecta Partners, Baldwin also helps other financial services companies improve their content marketing and social media strategies.

Published by Baldwin Berges. Connect with him on Google+ Twitter Linkedin Facebook