(Story by John Hall originally appeared in Forbes)
Investments can be the catalyst for massive growth and a true lifesaver for a company, and that’s why it’s so important to attract the right investors at the right time under the right terms.
If you aren’t able to attract and secure the right investors, it can put your company under constant stress and prevent you from reaching your full potential. Unfortunately, I’ve seen too many companies fall into the trap of being unprepared or not making a strong enough effort to differentiate themselves from the sea of other companies surrounding them, competing for the same goals.
The teams that don’t fall into this trap, however, share some common qualities and strategies. To help you learn from them, here are four tips to successfully cut through the noise and differentiate yourself to attract the right investments:
1. Give yourself the opportunity to have those critical face-to-face meetings.
In March, I went to what I would call a “hidden gem” for entrepreneurs looking for various types of funding. The Montgomery Summit in Los Angeles was like Candy Land for both investors and entrepreneurs looking for funding, and something that I really liked about this conference was how many different types of funding options were represented. Banks, PEs, VCs — you name it: If they had a checkbook, they were there, and they were meeting with one another. In fact, more than 1,700 one-on-one meetings were held between attendees during this year’s two-day event.
Going to events and conferences like this not only opens your eyes to all the options that are available, but it also enables you to quickly and easily compare them and meet face-to-face with potential investors. That face-to-face element is a great opportunity to build personal relationships and set yourself apart. While we do live in a digital world, a face-to-face relationship can be a game changer.
2. Communicate what makes you different from the other options out there.
Whether you’re disrupting an industry or building a company that offers more common products or services, there’s something unique about you. It could be your awesome, talented team or the way your product or service is prepared to evolve or scale — or maybe it’s how you’ve structured your team and how you treat those employees.
It could be a variety of things, but whatever it is, you’ve got to communicate it to potential investors. It doesn’t matter that what you’re doing is amazing or gives you a distinct competitive advantage if no one knows you’re doing it. Make it a point to showcase what makes you different, and use it to connect with prospective investors.
3. Invest in your company leaders’ brands.
People invest in people, not products or services alone, which makes your brand as a leader and an entrepreneur even more important. At Montgomery, it was clear which companies had prioritized investing in their leaders’ brands (and which ones hadn’t). Those leaders who had invested time and resources in building their brands were attracting more attention from investors and even other participants. They weren’t just their companies or products or services; they were people with personalities — and the brands to show it.
For example, Henry Albrecht, CEO of Limeade, stood out. Not only was he a likable person, but he’d also worked consistently to position himself as a leader in the space of employee happiness and well-being. That focus on alignment and consistency seems to be paying off; he was one of the people leading the discussion in his industry and connecting with people at the event. This was a clear differentiator that I saw draw more opportunity to companies like Henry’s.
4. Stay top of mind with your dream investors.
A friend of mine who was looking for funding for his company was turned down in the early stages by everyone he tried to connect with. As easy as he thought it would be to raise funds, no one he wanted to work with wanted to work with him.
So he developed a newsletter targeted at only those people — those 10 ideal investors. He filled the newsletter with information he thought would be valuable to them, like content he’d written, updates on his product, the progress of his team, etc. At first, nobody opened his newsletters. Over time, though, each of the 10 people he’d designed this content marketing campaign around began reading his newsletter, and the list even grew to include other people those original 10 had shared the content with. My friend was able to use content to earn and keep a place at the top of these investors’ minds, and he eventually received offers from each of the 10 on his list.
Locking in investments can sometimes make or break your team’s future. It’s never easy to attract the right investor at the right time on the right terms, but you can increase your chances by cutting through the noise and setting yourself apart from competitors. All it takes is a little face time, a strong brand that communicates your expertise and what makes you different, and a strategy to stay top of mind.