For today’s emerging manager, attracting the best founders and LPs to join on your quest is a critical piece of your fund journey. In order to do this successfully over the long-term, you must address the one thing so many others run from: Marketing. Yes, good old-fashioned getting the word out! While at the end of the day, word-of-mouth referrals will be the most valuable source of quality deal flow, there are some fundamental bases to be covered when it comes to raising your visibility in the venture capital ecosystem, whether through social media, creating blog content, or hosting events. Below is a quick crash course every emerging manager should take when thinking through their fund’s marketing strategy.
1. Codify your main goal(s)
The first thing to ask yourself is: What are the fund’s primary goals? Every GP has a limited amount of bandwidth, and countless marketing efforts can be made. So before you race out to start recording a podcast, it’s important to think about tying your efforts to activities that are in line with your main business goal(s). These goals can (and probably will) change every year, sometimes even every quarter, and that’s why it’s important to stop and think through them carefully first.
Examples of goals are: Closing your first fund, increasing the number of founder applications by 25%, helping your founders become visible to other investors, cultivating your founder community, and raising another fund.
2. Know your audience
For the most part, your audience is going to be founders and LPs, both current and prospective. Secondary audiences include your community-at-large, the media, and the general public. You want to keep this in mind when deciding what types of content and resources to create and where to share them. LPs and founders are already bombarded with emails and cold outreaches, so GPs need to be thoughtful and intentional about their touch points.
3. Build your audience on social media
I’m going to give away one of my biggest tips: Follow all of your portfolio companies on social media and set up news alerts for each, which will give you an endless stream of ideas to curate meaningful content. After all, isn’t it really all about the founders and highlighting their success? I recommend using Google Alerts, Feedly, Mention, or any other services that work best for you. You can find creative and thoughtful ways to connect yourself to their success story without being braggy. Also, be sure to make a Twitter list of your portfolio companies to see what they’re sharing that’s newsworthy and/or worth re-sharing.
Here’s another tip: Share a mix of your own news and content as well as top-level industry content from others. Think of social media as a cocktail party rather than a sales pitch. No one wants to hang out with that person who only talks about themselves all night. Elevating others almost certainly guarantees positive reverberations.
Some other quick social media tips:
- Share a variety of media when you can, including photos and videos, in the main part of your post to increase engagement on the algorithm.
- Links are certainly interesting and relevant, but contained media posts on platforms like LinkedIn actually perform better because they increase dwell time (meaning, LinkedIn wants people to stay on LinkedIn).
- Create public Twitter lists to engage with your portfolio companies and private Twitter lists to engage with writers and other influencers.
4. Start posting thoughtful blog content
If you’re investing in early-stage companies, one way to help boost their visibility is to write a blog post when you invest in them or when they have a newsworthy moment. This not only elevates the founder(s) and the company in a meaningful way but also serves as a topic of interest to share on your social media! As a general rule, you should be sharing your blog posts at least two to three times on both Twitter and LinkedIn. Aim to say something unique or different each time you share, such as (1) using the title of the article in the first post, (2) highlighting a great quote from the article in the second post, and (3) sharing a quick but thoughtful summary or insight in the third post.
Some solid ideas for blog posts are:
- Company profiles (this can be written by anyone on the team).
- A post about why you invested that’s written by you (obviously!).
- A founder’s background story, which requires an interview with the founder or founding team.
5. Keep people engaged
Now that you’re churning out awesome content and tracking portfolio news to share on social media, you can start recapping highlights from the past month or quarter and curating it into a quality newsletter.
Creating a newsletter is also the perfect way to let your community-at-large know what types of startups you’re looking to invest in, which in turn helps to drive referrals. If you’re able to segment your newsletter into one that’s founder-focused, one that’s LP-focused, and one for a more general audience and customize content accordingly, that’s even better! Doing so allows you to create a current and clear call to action for each segment to increase engagement.
Events are a tested and true way to further engage your community. Especially after enduring the last two years, meeting in person for things like intimate founder dinners to larger summits is more compelling than ever before. However, you can also leverage the virtual power of webinars as a way to connect with founders throughout the year. Bringing in experts who can teach about topics that matter to founders most—like fundraising, PR, sales, marketing, and people ops—is a powerful way to capture their attention while allowing them to learn and also engage with their peers.
Final note: Don’t forget about the power of internal comms.
I know I’ve talked a lot about external-facing marketing initiatives that can raise your fund’s visibility to the outside world. But keeping your own community of founders, LPs, and your employees informed and engaged through internal comms is what’s going to help your firm’s brand stand the test of time.
Never forget that helping your founders as much as possible—especially while their budget for in-house marketing talent might be tight to nonexistent—is what’s going to lead to future (valuable) referrals to other founders. And, if your founders love you and are grateful for your support, they might just mention you to the media when they have major news of their own. We all love a good shoutout, am I right? 🙂
Kayla Liederbach is the Communications & Marketing Manager at Strut, a venture capital consulting firm providing operations, marketing, and people ops expertise to funds of all shapes and sizes. If you would like help with your firm’s marketing and communications strategy, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Three ways Visible can help VCs with their Fund Marketing:
- Create a custom branded Investor Update Template for our Template Library. Get in touch with us at Matt@Visible.vc if you’re interested
- Create or update your Fund profile on our Connect Investor Database. This is an investor database used by 3,000+ founders.
- Get featured in one of our Investor Spotlight List Articles. Get in touch with us at Angelina@visible.vc if you’re interested.