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As the most important audience for many companies, it’s important that investors are enthusiastic about the company’s marketing activities. Given that different investors have varying levels of marketing acumen and beliefs about effective marketing, your marketing team must customize how it collaborates with investors on an individualized basis.
That said, there are several tactics that are frequently effective in ensuring investor confidence in your marketing program.
Research your markets and build marketing around the results
An intelligent marketing program begins with market intelligence. To demonstrate to investors the strategies and execution your marketing team has put together will provide optimal results, quantitative and qualitative research creates a strong foundation.
In addition to formal market research, the marketing team should also talk informally with target customers, technology and distribution partners, media, industry analysts and market influencers to build and continuously update its understanding of dynamics such as new activities, trends and potential new competitors.
Involve your investors in marketing
Investors often have significant followings of their own on social media and are often regarded as thought leaders and industry experts in the venture capital and tech communities. These links can often provide significant benefits to your company as you look to enter new markets, attract talent, ink partnerships and pursue similar goals. An easy way to involve investors and tap into their networks is to include them in the company’s social media program to explore cross-promotion, especially on LinkedIn.
One approach that can be effective is to ask investors to post on their social channels when the company announces or closes a funding round, senior executive appointment, product or related announcement. We often draft the posts for investors in advance to minimize their time commitment and to ensure the posting takes place.
Many investors, especially VC and PE firms, have created marketing programs to highlight the companies in which they have invested. Your marketing team should aggressively pursue these opportunities as they both serve as free publicity and deepen your ties to the investor.
Study competitors and identify best practices
To demonstrate to investors that your marketing team is exploring all avenues to support the company’s growth, it should periodically undertake a thorough analysis of competitors’ marketing activities as well as general best practices. This review should include digging in to learn as many details as possible about competitors’ products, future product strategy, market expansion plans, et al — all by ethical means, of course.
The team should also study marketing approaches at companies in other industries and consider applying relevant activities to your company. Companies in certain industries, such as food and beverage products, tend to be very sophisticated marketers since they have fierce competition and are trying to influence consumers who are often fickle. Marketers in a wide range of industries can learn valuable lessons from their peers at consumer product companies and then report back findings to their investors.
Measure ROI of all marketing activities
Setting key performance indicators (KPIs) and managing metrics on an ongoing basis provides a quantitative way to show investors both the effectiveness and the ROI of the marketing program. Of course, some marketing elements, such as advertising and digital marketing, are much easier to quantify than activities like media relations.
But even for activities that are less measurable in terms of driving lead generation and sales, marketers should get creative and develop some type of metrics. For example, while it’s nearly impossible to prove that media coverage has driven sales, it is possible to tie media coverage to increases in website and social media activity and demonstrate a correlation.
Tie marketing to lead generation and not just brand awareness
Many investors think of marketing as more of a function to build brand awareness than to generate leads and sales — but it does both. The level of contribution to business development depends on the product or service being sold. If a consumer is planning to buy a printer for their home, seeing an online ad with a discount coupon or reading a positive review in reputable media can very possibly generate that sale. If a CIO is researching intrusion detection software for their cybersecurity stack to protect her company’s critical data assets, marketing may attract her interest and encourage her to contact the company, but it’s definitely not going to end in a sale.
As with so many activities within a business, demonstrating the effectiveness of your marketing program to investors will be much easier if your marketing team plans ahead, gets the foundational research in place, measures their results and anticipates questions investors are likely to ask. Anticipating and addressing investor queries will facilitate working with them when difficult marketing situations arise.