In our last post we looked at how investment managers and investment trust boards might think about the process of communicating with their customers.
This time, we take a look at the same question, but from the investor’s perspective.
1. Performance matters
This won’t be news to anyone who’s worked in investment marketing for more than five minutes. First off, investors don’t want to lose money. But if they can make money, then even better.
Investors also recognise that even the most successful strategy can have a bad spell. Witness Scottish Mortgage: the trust that can only go up. Until it didn’t. And then it went down. Spectacularly. Currently, investors have suffered a 54% share price fall from the peak in November 2021.
So what should you do when things aren’t so good? We wouldn’t recommend doing and saying nothing. Investors will forgive you for periods of poor performance, but they are much more likely to stick with you if you’re out there explaining what’s gone wrong and what you’re doing to fix it. The situation for Scottish Mortgage might have been a good deal worse had the marketing taps not been turned on.
That’s also a good argument for building communications channels when the times are good. Yes, the investment might be ‘selling itself’ right now, but when the chips are down do you have the email addresses you need? Or the functioning social channels you need? Again, look at the current activity by Scottish Mortgage: because action has been taken to arrest the falls, the firm is back on the offensive with a brand new website complete with branding, positioning and video formats.
2. Value Proposition
This is just marketing jargon for the benefits you promise to deliver investors. In the context of investment trusts that could relate to delivering investment performance in a specific sector, region or asset class, for a given price, level of risk or premium/discount.
At the end of the day, investors want the best return for the lowest risk which means building a diversified portfolio, and it might just be that your proposition just isn’t currently in vogue. In that environment it’s about communication of the potential future value to new investors, and doing your best to keep the ones you already have whilst you ride it out.
About two-thirds of investors say that ‘brand’ is important or very important when considering a new investment. Marketing guru and author of 101 Contrarian Ideas about Advertising, Bob Hoffman says:
“The most efficient, most effective, most durable way to build a brand is to sell someone something. Successful brands are by-products. They don’t come about by ‘branding’. They come about by … making great products; satisfying our customers; differentiating our products in advertising.”
Going back to the Scottish Mortgage example – yes, they spent money on getting their unique approach communicated through advertising (and a good deal else besides) and they also built a great product that people wanted to be a part of.
So, in conclusion, investment performance (or at least not losing money) is a critical part of what investors want. They want it to boost their retirement pots, but they also want to be in the right value proposition for their portfolio, and also be a part of a successful brand.
At the end of the day having good performance on its own is not enough. You have to go out there and tell people about it too.
Author, Simon Longfellow, is an expert in investment marketing with over 25 years of experience working within the financial services industry. He is the Independent Director of Electric & General Investment Fund, and a non-executive Director of Columbia Threadneedle Global Managed Portfolio Trust – an investment trust investing in other investment trusts to provide shareholders with either growth or a regular income.