Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Using Content Marketing to Win Trust and Investment

Content marketing has evolved beyond a trending and nebulous buzzword to a recognized and pivotal pillar in modern marketing. Its potential to foster trust, authenticity, and authority isn't a newfound revelation, and it’s entirely possible to create content that won’t just entice customers, but will also hook those potential investors.


External Influence to Self-Controlled Narrative


Historically, journalists, PR agents, and external representatives largely dictated the media narrative. While this offers credibility, it also presents vulnerability — especially if your brand isn't currently 'in the limelight.’ 


Content marketing turns the tables, allowing brands to carve out their own narrative. By doing so, it hands the reins to internal “experts,” like me, enabling us to produce and harness owned media. This control establishes undeniable industry leadership and expertise, coming with a clear brand voice, an opinion, standards, and a narrative – just as all good content should. 

Lets' presume we already have a killer elevaror pitch, a biblical business plan, and can adequatly articulate our reasons for approaching any potential investor, and crack on... 


The Investor Audience 


Who these people are depends on your industry, and just as we would create personas for buyers, it’s a good idea to create character sheets for the folks who hold the future purse strings and to know what exactly is going to make them see your company as a solid bet.

Making content with resonance means having an understanding of the diverse motivations of potential backers. Who are these people with magical unicorn money and angel wings? Unless you know you can’t personalize content, and a scattergun is rarely as effective as a rifle when bagging these mythical birds. While we're promoting our vision to them, we need to know their unique drivers.


Far from a definitive representation, here are a few basic folks you might consider, paraphrasing personas I’ve used for this in the past. If you know your targets you can even consider boosting relevent content through some targeted social advertising. Different sizes, motivations, targets, wants, and needs:


Enthusiastic Emma

Emma (or Em2 to her friends) is deeply entrenched in our industry. Her Gen X and well-established perspective is invaluable, whether professional experience or through a genuine connection with our product. She goes to trade shows to catch up with old friends and colleagues, and is probably (at least) aware of our directorship and business players. While she might not invest directly, her expansive Filofax could usher in potential backers. Share business expertise in social channels and credit folks she probably respects already. If she’s published, how about reviewing one of her books? However, recognize that industry familiarity doesn’t always equate to embracing innovation, and be sure that any business ideas are articulated very clearly, highlighting its unique angle in the market.

Boardroom Brian

Juggling the intricacies of the investment landscape, boomer Brian meticulously manages a diverse portfolio of opportunities on behalf of various investors - or, he could work for a single investment firm looking for opertunities and gaps in their squillian dollar portfolio. With an innate ability to spot emerging trends and an eagle eye for under-the-radar prospects, he blends caution with calculated risk. Brian is an opportunity of opportunities. For Brian, every investment is not just a transaction but a proud testament to his unwavering commitment to maximizing returns and fortifying trust amongst the investors or the company he represents. Brian reads the investment press, likes seeing numbers, spends time with his grandkids, plays golf, and appreciates good Irish whisky. 

Strategic Steve

Mr. Steve is a serial investor with a decent track record of success, and the allure of tax reliefs like the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) and the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) for start-ups has got him thinking. We need to familiarize ourselves with EIS & SEIS benefits and articulate the perks they offer, while obviously underscoring our venture's inherent value and ROI. Steve believes in diversifying his portfolio. After investing in our vision, he might swiftly transition to another opportunity, preferring a hands-off approach. Regular communication is vital. While he may not always respond, our updates keep him in the loop, and we need to show him we’re out and about, touting our wares and bigging up his investment. Initially he's going to want to see growth in the market, and that we fulfil an obvious business need and plug a gap that our competitiors can't.

Mentorship Mandy

Mandy’s vast experience is a veritable rhodium mine. Her insights can be transformative - whether she's directly from our sector or possesses overarching competencies like legal or sales enablement. Maybe credibility and accountability are important to her, and she wants to see how we treat our people and know our ethics before investing or offering her support. Maybe, thanks to our transparency, she can see a gap where she could make a difference. She's going to want to get involved rather than invest money, and (if that's what you need) her value is incalculable.

Institutional Ikshula

Operating funds and meticulously scouting investment opportunities defines Ikshula. Her structured approach is matched by her expectation of entrepreneurs - it's her money, after all. Transparency is a big factor, and Ikshula wants to see the numbers and the people - or her chequebook is staying in her pocket. She knows there are plenty of other opportunities, so she wants to see the ROI and our position/movement in the market. Showcase your professionalism and don't let it slip - she'll probably take a spelling mistake personally.

Chris Crypto

Chris is new to business investment but has a chunk of capital, burning a hole in their Gen Z crypto-wallet. Just because they're new doesn’t mean they're not shrewd, and Chris wants to know if their investment is going to turn into gold. They want to see how the company is growing already and wants to know who and what they're investing in. They are tech-savvy, but show them the money. They might enjoy some of the kudos from being involved, but show them what other investors and stakeholders are getting out of their investments. Show it in a “Millennial way” and in the investment channels where they consume their news and information. 

Investors who groove with your content see you as a beacon of expertise and “a safe bet.”

This perception raises your brand's credibility and can unlock decent investment opportunities. Trust me, I’ve seen this work for previous brands and companies I’ve worked with. I've just seen a previous company I worked for is being bought for $3.6B, thanks Brian, which was our overall and ongoing content marketing strategy and what's promoted this post.

It’s also basic psychology: 


Passionately Broadcast (from the diaphragm)


Like attracting clients, magnetizing investors necessitates broadcasting your expertise and zeal. Here we should be crafting content that reflects the business's leadership and fervor, appealing to investors who align with the business's aspirations. Stand out and have opinions, or fade into the background.


Disseminating our content to potential investors using digital platforms like emails or LinkedIn groups, or even publishing ghostwritten articles by leadership onto the inherent LinkedIn publishing platform, is now a must. Having active social channels for both the business and its C-suite demonstrates transparency and improves credibility – they must, however, be active and of genuine value, even if an organization's marketing team manages some of this and calls for content and expertise from across the wider org.


Investors will want to see certain documentation as part of the mix, such as success stories, appearance in any prominent awards (think Gartner, Forrester, or high-profile industry-specific), and a company ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance – including diversity and sustainability) report. They will appreciate insight into what’s going on behind the curtain and how the company supports and retains staff/expertise – knowing that any business is so oftern the sum total of its workforce experience and commitment.


Make it Personal


People invest in people. Go first-person, from one of the founders or the MD. 

Don’t rely on a team member who could take their voice with them, go direct to the horse's mouth. Even if everything they create is ghostwritten, it doesn’t matter. Even if you script video interviews and podcast opportunities for them. Personality sells and gives investors reassurance in having a face attached to the brand, in the organization's in-house expertise, in where and how the company sits in the market, and in its consistency. If they have even a glimmer of personality and/or sense of delivery, get them some media training and push them into the limelight.


Having an opinion and making statements in conjunction with news-jacking/PR activities is great here, as the individual can write or speak on topics that have real value and showcase their (the business) thought leadership credentials. From panel discussions to external fire-side chats, using that person will be a big part of raising brand awareness and adding credibility for investors.


Fluff The Narrative with Data 


Investors love numbers, so if you have numbers make them part of the PR story. 

  • “We produced 2M more bottles of chili sauce this year!”
  • “We mitigated a massive DDoS attack of 2.54 Tbps!”
  • “Our Stockholm team has doubled in size to 500 employees in Q3 2023!”
  • “We now have data centers in 40 locations worldwide.”
  • “In our first four years, we've never lost a single member of staff.”

You get the idea. While enthusiasm sparks interest, tangible facts and concrete evidence cement trust. 


Any investor-centric data content should ideally include the following: 

  • Demonstrable expertise that assures investors of our capabilities. 
  • Comprehensive research underscoring our proposition's market relevance. 
  • Highlighting what sets us apart in our specific marketplace. 

Effectively answering these will intrigue investors and (critically) convince them of a venture's viability.


Cultivating Investor Relations 


Just like clients, investors vest their faith and finance in our vision. 


Post-investment, it's good practice to engage and reassure them continually. Regularly update them about our venture's trajectory, spotlighting how their investment or support is amplifying our overarching vision. If necessary, give them their own Investors newsletter, even if it’s only going out to a handful of people, with gentle encouragement and easy links to share our other content with a wider audience.


Be Ready


Naturally, organizations should anticipate presenting investors with a comprehensive business blueprint, with all those essential financial terminologies, promotional tactics, fiscal forecasts, and market insights so beloved by those who hold the purse strings. 


More often, an ESG is now part of the content mix. Investors are canny to greenwashing and want to see a genuine effort by companies to be ethical, address outstanding ESG issues, and promote change from within. They want to know, prior to any commitment, that a business is sustainable and addressing the likes of gender equality and LGBTQ rights in the workplace. An ESG takes time and research and usually involves many stakeholders across assorted sectors of the org. so get the ball rolling ASAP. According to HCCA, 82% of workers say they’d prefer to be paid less and work for a company with ethical business practices than receive higher pay at a company with questionable ethics, so this is usually good messaging regardless. No one wants to find out they’ve invested in a company that has a sweatshop of coders in another country, pumps raw sewage into the local river, or has an MD with a history of wire fraud. 


Remember, they probably also have their own accountants to placate, and they'll want to scrutinize indicators like expenditure rate, anticipated expansion, cost of securing new customers, and profit margins, to the nth degree. This is standard content fare and will be the backbone of any engagement once the process moves forwards. I invariably get roped into this to humanize it, roll it in graphical glitter, proof copy, and liaise with any designers involved. Have it ready before you even start content marketing for investors, and make it good.


A nurtured investor relationship can amplify a brand's credibility, potentially attracting more patrons, akin to satisfied clients becoming brand advocates. 


In essence, genuine passion, complemented by a well-executed content strategy, with a backbone or relevant ready ephemera, can nurture the right investment opportunities and help to maintain long-term investor relationships. 


Content is what people see – make sure investors are seeing what they need.