7 Marketing Transformations To Become Investor Ready
As an angel investor I have seen far too many uninspiring business plans. The most common problem it seems to me is a lack of clarity around marketing strategy that would convince me and other would-be investors that there really is future growth potential in a given proposition. It might all be in the presentation but I suspect a lot of the gap is in the ability of the entrepreneurs to develop strong marketing strategy.
These are exciting times for SMEs as the UK economy picks up. Never has there been so much opportunity to attract investment to drive your growth. Whether it be through angel investor networks, the online equity and debt funding platforms or the venture capitalists and private equity houses through to flotation on the stock market via the AIM, the time is ripe. Similarly government incentive schemes to share some of the risk such as the EIS and the SEIS should be snapped up to make your investment opportunity hard to resist.
When it’s time to open the kimono to investors they will not just be interested in past performance but mostly in future growth potential. The key to convincing them is to have a robust marketing strategy at the core of your business. It should be crystal clear that you understand your market. It should be clear which customers or customer groups you target with which propositions and how you will invest your limited resources to drive double digit growth.
Strategy development is inherently difficult but if you master it you can get ahead of the field. There are 7 key steps you should undertake in order to get investor ready. These can be remembered by the acronym INSPIRE. Start with market INSIGHTS. What do your customers want or NEED? Are they being underserved, overserved or not served at all? Your market insights may come from your own in-market experience, through your customer facing team or from primary/secondary market research. You can think about their needs as emotional or rational and they may occur at any stage throughout the customer journey.
If you have identified unmet customer needs, are they distinct and consistent across a significant number of customers? Could you potentially access these customers and would it be profitable to target them? So called customer SEGMENTS should be need-based and the challenge is whether you can profitably serve them or better serve them than your competition?
All too often we try to do everything all at once. The key to success though is to PRIORITISE, make clear choices for which opportunities for growth we will invest in and which we will not. Consider using a SWOT analysis to order the information you have about the external opportunities for growth or potential issues to manage and the internal strengths and weaknesses you have relative to your competition. You are aiming to leverage your strengths towards the most attractive opportunities for growth and negating your weaknesses as best you can.
When you have picked market segments to invest in, you can be clear about your INTENDED POSITIONING versus competition. How will you ensure you have a compelling, differentiating and sustainable position in the minds of your target customers? What is your intended positioning and what key messages will you use to communicate this to them through which communication channels?
Now its time to get READY to implement your plan by defining your marketing tactics from PR, to internet, to advertising or trade shows and decide what price will you charge for your products or services?
When you have knocked the socks off your investors and the investments are made you can EXECUTE the plan. Who is responsible to do what, by when and what will is cost? Investors will not only require this clarity to believe in your future growth promise and to understand how you will spend the money but also to see you can deliver on your promise. You will need to be pitch perfect. Crisply summarise and present your INSPIRED strategy to them and you won’t fail to impress.