Many organizations subscribe to a “just the facts” structure for their investor presentation. They spout statistic after statistic, bullet point after bullet point. Unfortunately, investors see hundreds of pitches a year, with the majority following the same format as the one you just spent weeks working on.
The first thing to remember when developing your investor story is to make sure it is authentic, open and honest. Central to every good story is a powerful ‘why’ that reflects the purpose, the reason for your company’s existence, your company’s values. It is not just the goals or the ROI sought, but it’s also the reasons that matter on a more human level.
When change is a constant
Many companies struggle with their investor story due to a very simple reason: how to explain change. When a company is young, it often has a compelling story. Huddled over a bare light bulb in the basement, the founders built the company on a dream and a shoestring. Once a company has experienced success, it's often difficult to find that one clear light that once drove the business and spark it into the next phase.
For over forty years, Accord Financial has thrived through a pattern of evolution. The company has continually adapted to the marketplace, enhanced their range of solutions, and uncovered opportunities for growth. There have been several business acquisitions, management succession, and a rather dramatic change turning from a narrowly focused finance company into a broad-based lender to many different types of clients. With this never-ending pattern of change, the brand and investor story also needed to evolve.
But according to Simon Hitzig, Accord Financial President and CEO, throughout all of these changes, the central purpose of the company has never wavered. “We love helping companies reach their potential. In fact, it’s our core purpose,” stated Simon. “We simplify access to capital so that our clients can thrive.”
With Accord, change is a positive. Change is what makes the company thrive. This focus, this passion for change, is what has formed the basis for the investor story, from the past to the present, regardless of what form the company takes. “Our goal is to be a leading expert in our field, and at the same time, embrace change and successfully adapt over time,” remarked Simon. “Evolution is in our DNA and there’s more work to do.”
Articulating your company’s brand story
The best stories are typically about overcoming adversity. When you tell a story that embodies challenges, you create an experience that resonates. When you have conflict, you have drama. Drama creates attention. Unfortunately, most businesses try to hide any adversity or conflict they’ve faced. The more upfront you are about your company’s flaws, challenges, and obstacles, the more an investor can relate to your brand. The more someone can relate to you, the greater the emotional attachment, and the more someone will want to partner with you to help you succeed.
Here’s a simple list of questions to ask yourself before you craft your story:
•Describe what your organization does—not just what it manufacturers or provides, but what benefit does it give to your customers, society, now and in the future?
•What about your business doesn’t show up on a balance sheet? Who are your customers? What are the trends in their businesses and how might that affect you?
•What obstacles have you had/will you have? What happened and why? What did you learn? How can these obstacles be avoided in the future? Don’t hide your dirty laundry, and don’t tell a bland, “vanilla” story.
•Why do you need funds and how do these funds relate to the operation of the business? Be specific about how the funds are to be used and your overall plan for success. Articulate the vision…and the planned results.
For investors that don’t really know your company, your presentation will likely be one of their first impressions. Data by itself may make you credible, but numbers alone can’t rise to the occasion as do an emotional journey. A compelling presentation is only as compelling as your story. Showcase your vision, your drive, and your plans for success by telling the story that lives at the heart of it all.