Whether you are the CEO of a private company looking to fund your B round, or an Investor Relations (IR) professional getting your company ready to go public, there are few things less critical than building a solid equity story in the market before a capital event. The equity story of a business goes beyond the financial data – it covers how the company, products and people are perceived in the market. While there are components of a company’s equity story that are beyond their control, such as bad press, industry-wide events or other external factors, most companies have the ability to define their message and direct their story much more than they often do.
Show, Don’t Just Tell
“Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.”
― Anton Chekhov
No one wants to be stuck listening to that guy at the cocktail party that is telling you how successful he is. However, in business, especially when capital-raising, even the best of companies can spend too much time telling people how great they are instead of showing them. As a successful company looking for expansion capital, you need to show the markets what you are made of. Highlight your successes using press releases, pitch the media stories with your company leadership as sources to increase influence, and showcase innovation to build thought leadership. Apply for awards that highlight your successes, showcase what a great place your company is to work, and discuss your non-confidential R&D initiatives and new products to highlight your innovation. Apply to speak at industry events and conferences where you can connect with analysts, prospective customers and industry leaders. Plain and simple: show people your successes, innovation and expertise rather than just tell them how great you are in your investor deck.
The founder of Leverage PR started the company after serving as the director of acquisitions at an Inc5000 award-winning investment firm, where she also consulted companies in the process of raising A and B rounds. While working with growing companies she found a repeatable pattern: if you had a good business that had the ability to scale, as well as a solid team, the company achieved success 99% of the time if they did three things:
• Had clear messaging that allowed key stakeholders to understand how they fit into the puzzle now, and in the future. Sadly, many wonderful companies do not do a great job of sharing their vision in a clear manner. To have good messaging you need to not only share your vision for the future, but also paint a picture that shows how your past experience is going to get you there. Messaging is the key to building credibility.
• Let others toot your horn. The purpose of media relations is to create a digital story in the market told by influential voices. Each placement you receive is another person telling the world about your accomplishments, advancements, and/or expertise.
• Put yourself in the right places. It has been said the key to success is being at the right place at the right time. While it may seem like a mystery, being at the right place at the right time is a matter of research and application. Speaking and attending industry events is one of the most worthwhile things a company can do. Speaking at industry events places your business in a position of power in front of the people that matter most in your industry, if done correctly. It also has the added benefit of SEO, showing the world in digital form that others in your industry look to you for wisdom.