This time of year, Wall Street is abuzz with opportunities to meet, greet, and hear firsthand from you and your management team about what’s happening with your company. There are requests to “go on the road” with virtually every sell-side firm, whether an analyst from the firm covers your company or not. There are also countless investor conferences, bus trips, and industry events — all of which you will be asked to participate in.
The buy side values access to the C-suite probably more than anything else. In fact, many of the major investment firms base the commission they pay brokers on how many management teams they provide access to each quarter. A great deal of money is tied up in these events, so they are important.
Yet as all management teams know, time is in short supply, and it’s impossible to accept every invitation that crosses your desk. How can you maximize your time marketing your investment story to the Street? What invitations are worth accepting, and which ones can you cordially decline? Essentially, there’s no set number of hours you need to devote to marketing your company — and telling your story — but there are some guidelines to help you figure out the right mix.
Keep your eye on the prize
First and foremost, your primary responsibility to your company and your investors is to run the company to the best of your ability. Make that your top priority, but know that the buy side does need some access to senior management teams of companies whose stocks they own or are thinking about buying.
Define your goals
Before you can figure out your marketing plan, you need to know what you want to achieve. Are you looking to add new shareholders to your investor base? Do you want to decrease the number of hedge funds that own your stock? Maybe your goal is all of the above. Whatever the case, know why you’re going on the road before you go and make sure your plan will help you achieve your goals.
Have a plan
You should develop an annual, strategic investor relations plan that defines how much marketing you will do, and where, when, and with whom. You don’t want to get caught behind the curve. Be proactive versus responding to requests as they stream in.
Keep in mind, too, that more activity doesn’t mean better results. Management teams can waste a great deal of time and money by just “going on the road” as requests come to them. Resist the urge to tell your story to every investor, and know that a more strategic approach planned in advance creates real value for your company, shareholders, and potential shareholders.
Create some aura around your company by not being everywhere at all times. Use discretion when you set up meetings, and don’t come across as always available. If you have a thoughtful plan in place, investors will value your time and know they won’t see you next week in their office with another broker.
Mind the map
Vary the geographic locations in which you target your marketing, and remember to look beyond New York, Boston, and San Francisco. It’s a big world out there, and high-quality investors who will value your company’s investment story can be found in many places.
When you do hit the road, make sure you’re ready and prepared. Update and fine-tune your investor deck so that your story and data are presented in a credible, clear, and concise way. Also consider your visual and graphic elements, and use them to advance instead of detract from your story.
As my colleague Bob East discussed in a recent blog post, your company stands to gain a lot from non-deal road shows, investor conferences, and other meetings and events. When you plan ahead of time and approach how you market your story strategically, you can maximize the bandwidth of your management team and increase your chances of strong results.
Marketing your story and company to the Street takes strategy and finesse, and a fine line exists between too much and too little. Essentially, you want to hit that line — and not land on either side of it. Need help figuring out the right approach? Contact me to start the conversation.