Essentials for Effective Communications With Investors When Raising Funds

Created: Wednesday, February 27, 2019, posted by Geetesh Bajaj at 10:00 am

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By John Auckland, TribeFirst

Let’s face it, raising funding for your business can be a tough process and there’s not a lot of advice to go on. How do you create an investment deck? What’s the most appropriate language and terminology? What are investors actually looking for?

There are some rules – thankfully – when it comes to developing an investor comms strategy. Based on my experience from involvement with over 30 fundraises, I’ve created a system that’s remarkably effective.

This article covers three essential topics for effective communication with investors and funders:

  • Spotting investor hot buttons, and creating a core message that brings them on board
  • Optimising the investor journey
  • Engaging investors

Hot Buttons

Assuming that an investor is just aiming to make money is where most entrepreneurs go wrong. While investors of course want to believe that backing your business will bring them a decent ROI, their trust in you will be triggered by their hot buttons.

So, for example, an investor who makes regular money from a property investment might be interested in investing in a property development business. This means they can diversify their portfolio – in this instance their hot button – but through a business model they understand and have faith in.

There are generally two types of hot button that you can influence: emotional and rational. Hitting an emotional hot button might involve presenting an environmentally-minded investor with an innovation that protects rainforests. Pushing another hot button may involve offering an investment opportunity to a teetotaller who recognises the soaring craft beer trend. If your investment doesn’t trigger at least one hot button then you’ll have a much harder job.

To locate an investor or funder’s hot button, just have them take a look at your pitch deck and financial model and ask two questions: What stood out to them the most? And, what was their biggest barrier to investment?

Getting answers to both questions will give you a more realistic view. To ensure the answer is genuine, have someone independent ask the questions.

Investor Journey Flow Chart

Ideal Investor Journey

There are some bad practices seen in the fundraising industry when it comes to sending information to an investor. You need to ensure the investor sees the information you intend.

For instance, if you send over your Pitch Deck before you’ve had the chance to develop a relationship and tell them about your company, it probably won’t be that impactful.

You need to guide their journey and I’ve put together a handy flow diagram to illustrate the ideal investor journey.

When you connect with a potential investor or funder (whether via LinkedIn, an investment website, such as the UK Business Angels Association (UKBAA), or in-person), you’ll first send the prospective investor an executive summary.

This summary should include (on one page – two at a push):

  • Key information about your business such as the number of employees, projected or actual customer numbers, size of the space etc.
  • The full terms of the deal – the amount you’re seeking and the type (loan, equity, bond, etc.)
  • The directors and management team
  • Your point of difference (which you base on your hot button research)
  • Current traction (if you’ve achieved anything)
  • Past experience or successes
  • Any other key information that’s likely to help them make an investment decision

Your potential investor will review your exec summary and should once again ask you to send over your deck. This is a hugely positive signal and a sign you should attempt to initiate a face-to-face meeting, video conference, or failing both of those options, a call.

If you still haven’t sent them your deck, you’ll instead need to send a stripped-down version with no text to distract them. You’ll then talk them through your business model and its strengths.

It is only once you’ve had a successful live interaction with the prospective investor that you leave them with a version of your presentation. The text included should roughly mirror what you said in your meeting and should feature a full financial model in a spreadsheet. Don’t send them a lengthy text-heavy business plan, they probably won’t read it even if they ask for one!

Face-to-face Communication

There are a few key skills you can adopt when meeting with an investor face-to-face or over video conference (and to a lesser degree on the phone). They include:

  • Identify Their Hot Buttons – You’ll have already identified one or two key highlights of your pitch that are likely to trigger their hot buttons. You’ll have some flexibility with how you frame your points of difference, but it’s better to find out early on if your hot buttons don’t match. It’ll save you a lot of wasted meetings and follow-ups.
  • Active Listening – While your pitch documents will be fairly fixed by this stage, by listening to the investor you can tailor your presentation towards the areas they are interested in. Always ask them about what they like to invest in before you pitch.
  • Mirroring – This is a technique where you make someone feel more relaxed by mirroring their body language, which is why face-to-face or video meetings work best.
  • Recognising Positive Buying Signals – Closed body language such as folded arms means they’re probably not going to invest. But if you present yourself in a calm but engaging manner, they might then start to instinctively mirror you and open up. Other signals also include asking you more about the numbers, next steps, and timescales.
  • ABC (Always Be Closing) – Closing involves encouraging your prospective investor to reflect on how interested they are in your idea. Just ask them how they feel, what they like about your opportunity and whether they have any barriers to investing.

Nobody, of course, can guarantee investment, but if you follow these steps, it will certainly increase your chances of successfully raising funds for your business.

Wishing you good luck!

Essentials for Effective Communications With Investors When Raising Funds


John Auckland
    
John Auckland is a crowdfunding specialist and founder of TribeFirst, a global crowdfunding communications agency that has helped raise in excess of £5m for over 30 companies on platforms such as Crowdcube, Seedrs, Indiegogo and Kickstarter – with a greater than 85% success rate. TribeFirst is the world’s first dedicated marketing communications agency to support equity crowdfunding campaigns and the first in the UK to provide PR and Marketing campaigns on a mainly risk/reward basis.

John is also Virgin StartUp’s crowdfunding trainer and consultant, helping them to run branded workshops, webinars and programmes on crowdfunding. John is passionate about working with start-ups and sees crowdfunding as more than just raising funds – it’s an opportunity to build a loyal tribe of lifelong customers.


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