Build Investor Event Buzz: Thematic Creative Development
Be good. Be bad. NEVER boring. After you’ve set the objectives for your investor event, the next step is the creative development of a theme that will pique interest and generate excitement. 5th Installment of Great Investor Relations Events Just "Happen" ... Right? -- How to produce awesome Investor Relations Events. White Paper excerpts with great tips and career threatening mistakes to avoid when talking to Wall Street. For a complete copy of this whitepaper just click "CONTACT" and request the full copy.
Not only will a strong creative theme improve the attendance of busy investment analysts, but it will also help you choose the right topics to include on the agenda and crystallize the message delivered in the presentations. Here are my best tips:
Use Strong Titles: Long ago, I read something I’ll always remember in a very valuable little book by Ron Hoff about presentations called, Do Not Go into Your Next Presentation Naked. When selecting your title for a presentation, consider that you are in a contest with 10 others who are presenting the exact same material. The best title wins the chance to present! The same holds true with creative event themes. Put some teeth into it. Make your audience think. Foreshadow what they may not already know with a clever hook. Remember when you saw a good movie with a minor detail in the beginning that later made you understand what it meant and ties the whole story together? The same thing holds true with theme development, and good corporate creative communications makes that job easier for the audience. A great theme creates a sense of anticipation and maybe even a touch of mystery, “What exactly do they mean by that?” Then you tell them. Believe me they’ll remember it better and longer.
Avoid Strong Vanilla: Avoid boring themes that sound too generic—“strong vanilla” is what we like to call them. A flavor of creative theme development that isn’t bad, it’s just kind of, well … vanilla. This is possibly the most difficult to discern, because what is boring to one person may be the Holy Grail to another. Case in point. Since we work with so many high technology companies at our creative agency, we often work with folks in charge of creative who are often also the architects of the very technology they market. Engineers at an oilfield services company may suggest a title like “Production Optimization.” Period. Now, to a petroleum engineer, whose life revolves around the details about how things work, this title may seem plenty dynamic. Because from their perspective, the underlying concept of “Production Optimization” brings to mind a flurry of engineering wonders that are indeed, exciting … to them. But, for the lay person who needs to have a “little knowledge about everything,” like the analyst you are presenting to, it may be come off merely as an industry buzz word that lacks charisma or only reflects your particular take on the subject. A better theme needs to provoke thinking and involve them more. Perhaps something like: “Pushing the envelope to higher productivity: Next Generation Artificial Lift” could work. A theme like this would enable the company to present an exciting story about the future of its industry sector, demonstrate its position as a technology leader, and lay out its expectations for gains in market share and profitability. It’s your hour in the spotlight—so for goodness sake make the most of it. Similarly, a company in the high tech computing sector might lead with a bland creative theme like “Update on the Future of Servers in the Cloud,” but then upgrade it to “Stratospheric Potential: Infrastructures of the Cloud.” This stronger theme could enable the company to tell its story in the context of one of the most exciting trends in IT industry.
Brainstorming Works: OK, if you are the IR Director your might think, “That sounds easy, but how do I actually DO this? I need consensus, but my department is mainly financial and our company is mainly about engineering and the marketing department isn’t tuned into my investor audience.” Well, to help develop the perfect theme there are really two choices. Go out or stay in. Both have benefits.
1. Creative Agency: You don’t have to spend big budget to outsource and get the added horsepower you need from a creative agency. Just ensure they have experience with your industry focus in general and set a clear scope of work. Also, look at some of their examples and don’t worry if the ones they show you are from older past accounts—they are merely trying to show you something applicable to your immediate needs. Trendy, or the look of NOW, doesn’t always sell. To best find someone to really help with creative theme development, you want to understand the way that they think. b2b marketing is a very different animal than b2c as we all know. So an agency primarily focused in business to consumer campaigns may not land on the right tonality with your IR audience. Other benefits of using a creative agency include the fact that you’ll get multiple choices to select from and a theme that could set your event apart from the rest—one that you may not have ever thought of—a creative theme that can make you look like a marketing wunderkind. The right creative agency relationship can eventually become an extension of your brain, your department and a secret weapon when you need to hit one out of the ballpark. Another key benefit is the fact that they are not bound by the dogma of internal politics or pre-conceived thinking in any way. They are free to wander the universe of ideas for the right creative communications vehicle.
2. Internal Brainstorming: Your 2nd choice is to set up a formalized creative brainstorming session for at least 2-3 hours with the right team. Here are a couple of key rules of engagement to the creative brainstorming process:
- Choose your team wisely. A representative from each departmental voice is best because “people support what they help create.” And, go with folks you like if possible and those with more open minds—ideally not one who is generally critical of everything. One of the best creative themes we ever saw developed came from the seed of an idea from a secretary in the office.
- Everyone needs to be equal in the session. Marketing’s ideas cannot trump IR’s or Engineering’s concepts cannot outweigh Marketing’s input. Everyone comes to the room for a given length of time to concentrate only on the best creative end result—the right theme for your Investor Event with no side agenda. I know that’s hard, but, you are the leader and you can set the rules of engagement up front
- Make it fun! This is a rule carried over from comedy improvisation. In a comedy sketches you’ll notice that no one ever says “no” … no matter how outrageous their words or the scenario becomes. This keeps the energy moving forward and the ideas flowing. Because no one should ever be “wrong” in a brainstorming session. Nothing shuts brainstorming down faster than offhanded ridicule. i.e.: “Bob, that idea came from outer space and what are you smoking?” The death of creativity in a single sentence. Give everyone in the room equal power to make a mistake and push the envelope of creatively forward.
- Support a good idea (or even a mediocre one as it may lead somewhere). But this is key, limit the amount of time you take to develop one single idea in your session so that you don’t go down a blind alley too far. Or spend too much time on a favorite idea and neglect a sleeper that you haven’t hammered out yet.
- Write them all down on a flip chart, and flip them over as you complete each one. Don’t let everyone keep looking at the one they liked the best—it will choke off the next great idea.
- Sort them out and prioritize. Wait until tomorrow to make the right choice—the excitement of creativity can blur the lines between what will work and what is just wild.
Once you’re clear on your objectives and have created an exciting theme, it’s time to choose a team of the right speakers to represent your company at the event. See you next time.