Crowdfunding Lawyers

Marketing: Building an Audience and Capitalizing Your Project

December 16, 2022
Marketing: Building an Audience and Capitalizing Your Project

 

Whether we’re talking about funding a business venture, an investment project, a real estate deal, or something else, building an audience is one of the most crucial steps. What we’re talking about is marketing – the process of getting the word out about your deal and inciting curiosity in potential investors.

Marketing is used in every single industry in some shape or form, but you must contend with some very specific rules and regulations that govern things like:

  • What you can say regarding your offer
  • Whom you can target with your marketing efforts
  • How you can market your offering

In this post, we’ll cover marketing your deals and the various shifts in the market. We’ll highlight how deal sponsors are reacting and marketing deals to cater to today’s market demands, which are decidedly different from even a few years ago.

How Things Have Changed

Before diving into best practices to inform your marketing and audience-building, let’s touch on something important. Marketing has changed a great deal in a very short time. Once, it was common practice to simply cold call potential investors. Today, the world has moved on.

Instead of the telephone, the Internet has become the go-to tool. That’s good news because it offers so many more ways to reach potential investors and build an interested audience. However, you’ll need to comply with different securities regulations even in the digital realm.

So, the telephone is out, and digital marketing is in. If you’re not conversant with digital marketing and all that it encompasses, it’s important to take a crash course in the most used outreach methods. We’ll cover some of the most important below.

General Solicitation

We’ll begin with general solicitation. Essentially, this is a catchall term for marketing and advertising to people that you don’t know.

If you’re marketing an investment opportunity, you may rely on Regulation D, Rule 506B or Rule 506C. If you are marketing under Reg D, 506B, this rule says that you can ONLY market your investment to anyone with whom you have a prior relationship. If you are marketing under Reg D, 506C, you can marketing to anyone including new contacts and get your marketing message in front of fresh eyes.

With that firmly understood, let’s talk about how you get your offering in front of a wider audience. Whether you intend to use webinars, email marketing, social media marketing, or a combination of different digital platforms, the game is the same: it’s all about your message.

What are you communicating to your audience? No matter what, your message must be consistent and tell a compelling story.

The point of your story is that it should provide a reason for investors to trust you. What is your selling point? This has nothing to do with your deal or offer. It’s about you – what sets you apart? What makes you trustworthy? What is it that tells an investor you’re someone that can guide them to grow their wealth?

  • Do you have a long track record of success?
  • Do you have access to opportunities unavailable anywhere else?
  • Why are you critical to a successful deal?
  • What is it that positions you as the wise guide to your clients’ role as the hero of the story?

 

In summation, you must nail down your story first. If you’re not consistent and compelling, then nothing else matters. Define what sets you apart and why investors should trust you with their hard-earned capital, and then go from there.

With your message and thesis defined, it’s time to turn our attention to other matters. Let’s talk about digital channels and what each can offer you.

General Rules for Webinars

Webinars play several different roles in your marketing. They are both a marketing channel and a tool – you can use other channels like social media to drive interested investors to sign up for a webinar, where they can learn more and decide whether to invest. As such, you need to use webinars very carefully. Below, you’ll find some codified ground rules:

  • Consistent – Message consistency is a prominent theme in this post, and it appears here, again. You must keep your messaging between your initial outreach methods and your webinar content consistent. That means your webinar content, tone, and style need to match what you communicate through social media, email, and other channels about the webinar.
  • Create a Script – Invest the time and effort upfront to create at least a loose script for your webinar. Know what you want to say and the order you want to follow. Go over the script a few times and make sure that your topics flow into one another and that they’re all geared to helping your audience understand 1) what you’re offering, 2) why it matters to them, and 3) why they should act now.
  • Keep Momentum – It’s very easy to get bogged down and lose sight of the forest for the trees. Keep your momentum and you’ll keep your audience engaged. Humor, insight, and drama; these three elements ensure your audience isn’t bored.
  • Make Your Pitch – At the end of the day, your webinar is a tool and it’s designed for one thing: to educate your audience about why they should invest with you. Don’t forget your sales pitch. Make your ask. Make it clear to your audience what you want them to do.

Social Media

If there’s one must-have channel for every deal out there, it’s social media. Facebook alone offers an incredible range of ways to customize, tweak, and hone your messaging so you’re reaching just the right people at just the right time. However, you must be savvy here. You never know who’s watching what you’re saying, so do it by the book.

You also need to pay attention to the platform in question. You might gravitate toward TikTok because you know that you’ll get thousands of views and clicks right away. However, the average TikTok user is only 13 years old. That’s not your audience.

Consider the platform options carefully. Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook all have something to offer, but Facebook is probably the only one applicable to everyone and all deals. It’s also where you’ll find the highest concentration of users with wealth, so it makes sense to concentrate your efforts there.

Email

Email remains one of the most powerful digital marketing tools, despite being one of the original options. However, you must follow some specific rules and caveats when it comes to email marketing. We’ll break those down below:

  • No Spam – You can’t afford to create a reputation as a spammer. That can land you in hot legal water. To avoid it, you’ll need to take some specific steps:
  • Don’t buy cold email lists. While some lists are fine, many are filled with uninterested people who are going to reject your unsolicited email as spam. This can cause more of your emails to end up in spam by the auto-email filters and more rejections of your future marketing efforts.
  • Cold marketing can work, but warm marketing is better. That means taking extra time to create opt-in lists from your website, getting contact information for interested potential investors on Facebook, and more.
  • Don’t Market to People You Know – Again, you must remember that you’re barred from marketing your offerings to anyone with whom you have a preexisting relationship, so skip marketing to current or previous clients (personal relationships are permissible).
  • Friends of Friends and So On – Remember that you may have friends who are interested in the deal, but they may know others, so encourage them to reach out or to connect with you via email.
  • Be Consistent – Your marketing message should be consistent across all spheres of influence, although you do need to customize your messages to match the recipients. What that means is your offer should stay the same, but the way you communicate the offer can vary.
  • Simple and Easy to Understand – In addition to consistency, your messaging needs to be simple. Your recipients should have no trouble understanding what you’re offering. Your offer should be easy enough to explain that you could do it on the back of a napkin. If not, then it’s confusing and that can lead to problems.
  • Tailored to Your Recipient – We speak differently to different audiences. Chances are good you communicate differently with a coworker than with a close family member, for instance. That should come through in your email marketing. Tailor the message to match the audience in question, whether that’s a friend, a friend of a friend, someone you connected with on Facebook, etc.

Your Website

Websites are non-negotiable today. You must have one. It acts as the hub for all your digital marketing efforts, provides a place to host your opt-in for email, and so much more. Your website is your business and can be named whatever you want. However, there are some best practices that you must follow when designing, naming, and building your site.

  • Trust – Your site should evoke trust in your audience. It needs to be professional, polished, and what someone would expect from a person in your position as a deal sponsor.
  • Credibility – Your site needs to build credibility in your experience and knowledge. It’s a tool to help foster confidence in potential investors.
  • No False Claims – Never, ever make any sort of false or inflated claims on your website. Even so-called “marketing speak” can land you in hot legal water. Stick to the facts, always.
  • Skip Forward-Looking Statements or Assumptions – Don’t describe your opportunity as “the best” or anything similar. Skip promises of specific earning percentages or returns. Don’t say that the deal will go to IPO if you’re not already in the process. You get the idea.

Bringing Other Capital Raisers to the Table

Everyone benefits from expert help at some point. For your deal, you might want to bring other capital raisers to the table. You can do this, but you must know a few things first.

You can work with three types of people. These are:

  • Broker-Dealers
  • Registered Investment Advisory Firms and RIA
  • Finders
Broker-Dealers

If you’re looking to capitalize on your project and are willing to pay a commission to someone to do that for you, there’s only one option available: working with and through a FINRA-registered broker-dealer.

Investment Advisors/Advisories

One advantage of investment advisors is that they have a built-in client base that might be interested in your offer. However, your investment opportunity must meet the goals of that RIA. Some focus on private investments, while others focus on real estate, and yet others advise clients on blue chip stocks. Make sure any investment advisors are suited to your offer and that you understand their hourly rate or annual fee.

Finders

Finders differ from advisors and broker-dealers in that they locate (find) and deliver prospective investors to you. They work for you and are usually paid on a per-introduction basis. However, you cannot pay finders on a performance basis. That is, you’re not allowed to set up an arrangement in which you pay the finder based on whether someone invests. There’s also an “issuer exemption” that allows you, as the promoter and sponsor of the project, to participate in sales without having to be licensed. In essence, it allows you to be registered without having to register if you don’t accept fees for raising the capital.

In Conclusion

We’ll end our discussion of marketing here. We’ve covered important channels and some of the most critical people to involve if you want to bring in extra help. By this point, you should understand how critical it is that your message is consistent at all touchpoints and that you build trust in your audience. With the right messaging and working knowledge of social media, email, webinars, and website design, you can reach the right people with your message and raise the capital necessary.