The words “marketing” and “private equity” are rarely mentioned in the same sentence. This corner of the investment community has an abiding image of discretion but things are changing.
Private equity (“PE”) companies are increasingly turning to content marketing (“content”) to shape their brands. Competition has become the catalyst to try to shake off a reputation for remaining under the radar. Many PE firms are evolving their thinking and strategy to stand out.
In the past, marketing meant paying for content at AGMs, for reporting mainly to existing investors or fundraising. Other activities were considered unimportant and secondary. In some cases, the corporate website was not considered a worthwhile investment.
To date, the PE sector has heavily relied on networks and relationships. These of course continue to matter, but as new generations of business owners and investors appear, they are looking for successful and contemporary businesses that resonate with their own identity, values and ways of working.
Opportunities in the market are higher in volume and more fragmented, which means positioning brand and reputation alongside potential returns is increasingly important. Whether it is videos, infographics, white papers or reports, by investing in content, PE houses are investing in their future. This is something that helps them in every respect:
Winning Investments: Convincing successful businesses that you are a partner that reflects and understands their way of doing business and can take them where they want to go.
Fundraising: Creating a comprehensive framework to increase awareness, expand contact networks and engage new Limited Partners (LPs) such as pension funds. Investors will want to work with the houses that can win competitive selection processes - processes where the brand experience and themes such as the ethical impact of investing (Environmental, Social and Governance - ESG) in a business can be the deciding factor.
Coverage: Keeping in touch with the advisory market with relevant, timely and insightful content.
PR & Communications: Developing your public, employee or media reputation.
The material being produced now covers many topics:
Transactions: Showcasing an entry or exit of a business.
Strategy: Presenting your management style or approach to an investment.
Sectors: Highlighting experience, expertise and track record within industries.
Case studies: Presenting the lifecycle of a flagship investment.
Brand: Emphasising your brand’s key attributes.
Thematic: Displaying key themes such as sustainability or innovation.
There are many examples where these types of content are used and deployed, including company websites, social networks, email campaigns and content publishers. The difference today is that the power of content can be used precisely and can in turn be measured and monitored effectively online. This provides powerful insights into the returns that companies get from their campaigns. Using seeding and search techniques you can push your content to the right people and pull them towards your business.
Seeding: Content can be sent directly to target audiences through LinkedIn (i.e. marketing content that presents your industry credentials to Chairmen, CEOs and CFOs of sector-specific companies with the right market cap and geography). Targeting new investors and LPs can be done through Twitter or LinkedIn to increase awareness and generate enquiries. Contacting other private equity businesses offering debt facilities or other vehicles.
Search: Content can be optimised to position your business well for industry-specific searches or ethical ESG-related topics (e.g. Healthcare Private Equity).
Digital: PE houses are setting themselves up online correctly so they can capture the right data from their daily traffic and build custom audiences around their investor, intermediary, talent, target senior management teams and investment networks.
All this suggests that the content marketing trend will continue to increase in a way that will add much more colour and insight into an important sector, which underpins many global economic benchmarks and indicators.