By Diane Harrison, Panegyric Marketing
t some point in every business, there comes a time when you need to sit down and engage in some introspective planning to create, refresh or fine-tune the marketing message. Most people who are successful in business are willing to spend whatever time, energy and resources are required to make sure their business thrives and grows. But these same individuals are often strangely reluctant to invest even a fraction of the time they willingly commit to working the business towards shaping the messages that convey this dedication and success. Some even delegate the entire process to outsiders and rely on external vendors to come up with their personal insight and expression to reflect their business. A much more effective approach is to take the best of what you know and can share about your business and combine that with skilled resources to plan and shape your unique marketing message.
DEFINE IT. Before your business can be recognized as a compelling opportunity, be it investment approach, risk-adjusted returns, or portfolio management, it needs to offer something new or better than what already exists. Defining this value proposition is what gives your business its competitive advantage in a target market segment. Identify your difference and clarify this vision internally before you think of selling yourself to this client base. The result needs to be short and direct – the proverbial ‘elevator pitch’ that everyone in your company can understand and recognize as true.
DESCRIBE IT. Now that you’ve claimed your competitive edge, you need to show alignment between plan and execution. Regardless of whether your business is a known presence or at the beginning stages of what you believe to be a successful endeavor, outline the process for continuing on a chosen course. Have you built the infrastructure to ensure continued success? Can you describe that process to an outsider? Have you separated yourself from your competitors? Can you describe that difference and why your business offers an advantage?
COMMUNICATE IT. Once the prior steps are complete, you are ready to create your individual story. Many companies either skip the first two steps or believe that, because they know what’s better or attractive about their company, so does their client base. Not true. The market is a crowded and confusing place, and even the most attuned client needs to be addressed clearly to absorb the message. Your communication needs to be direct, concise, and articulate while incorporating some personal flavor. It is crucial to create a unique voice for your business and express it to your chosen market. Promote your advantages but be mindful of your weaknesses. Understand that, whatever tone you choose, the storyline needs to convey an honest and accurate accounting of your business. False claims not only don’t hold up under scrutiny, but undermine your actual strengths by casting doubt on overall business integrity. Better to position your strengths in the forefront and tactfully acknowledge any areas still being improved upon.
SELL IT. Once you’ve decided on the content of the story and who you’re telling it to, the third consideration is how to get the message across. The method and the medium will vary based on the intended approach to your audience. But because you have crafted the core message with its basic elements, this core message will only need tailoring to fit the chosen communication outlet. For example, if you are planning to embark on a capital-raising effort which will require a number of one-on-one pitches to investors, fiduciaries, advisors, and committees, create a pitch presentation that wraps this messaging with financial data and performance in a brief yet compelling story. Or, if you are asked to be a presenter at an industry conference or at a symposium as an expert speaker, incorporate your company description and positioning with the specific topic material in the speech.
Diane Harrison is principal and owner of Panegyric Marketing, a strategic marketing communications firm founded in 2002 and specializing in a wide range of writing services within the alternative assets sector. She has over 20 years’ of expertise in hedge fund marketing, investor relations, sales collateral, and a variety of thought leadership deliverables. In 2014, the firm was awarded IHFA’s Innovative Marketing Firm of the Year for the second year in a row. In 2013, the firm was awarded IHFA’s Innovative Marketing Firm of the Year, and AI’s Marketing Communications Firm of the Year- US. A published author and speaker, Ms. Harrison’s work has appeared in many industry publications, both in print and on-line. Contact: email@example.com or visit www.panegyricmarketing.com.
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