By Michael Kim
A thoughtful investor relations strategy is vital for any company aiming for growth and success. The right strategy can help raise your company’s profile, tell your story and enhance your credibility with Wall Street. A well-designed program is also critical for targeting and building relationship with the investors most likely to back your company.
Reaching these objectives, however, requires a mix of many different elements — from a well-established corporate story to an effective IR website. Here are six of the most important elements to include in your investor relations strategy to help achieve your company’s goals.
1. A Clear, Compelling Story
Central to your investor relations efforts is your company’s story. A clear, compelling message will bolster your credibility with investors and help them better understand your business and opportunities.
As you formulate your story, aim to highlight your products or services without over-hyping the company. It’s also critical to show your company’s place within the broader industry landscape and showcase its strengths without losing investors in a flurry of detail. In simple terms, explain where the company is heading and how you plan to achieve your corporate goals.
As part of this process, create a straightforward, transparent investor deck with minimal graphics. The deck should begin with an introductory slide that summarizes your story and hits your main themes in concise bullet points. This slide should describe the business, provide basic information on your market, cite your key products, and outline crucial data on milestones, strengths and financial performance.
2. A Plan to Meet Key Players
Your investor relations strategy should include a carefully designed plan to meet with analysts and investors, including both those already engaged with your company and those who you’d like to attract.
You might consider attending conferences, conducting investor days, embarking on non-deal road shows or hosting on-site visits. However, avoid the temptation to prioritize quantity over quality when it comes to face-to-face meetings. Instead, make the most of each conference or visit by arranging to meet different types of investors at each event and geographic location. Also consider venturing outside of the most common meeting locations, such as New York City and Boston. You will find qualified investors abroad and in smaller U.S. cities away from the major financial centers.
Well before these meetings, decide who will speak for the company, and make sure they’ve rehearsed their formal presentation and elevator pitch. Make sure they are prepared to tell your story and answer questions while keeping the conversation centered on your message.
3. An Effective Website
Investors will rely on your website to learn about your company, so you should have a polished, informative, professional website with a solid investor relations section.
Like your investor deck, the IR pages should provide clear data about the company’s products and objectives. It also should display your history, executive and board profiles, financial data, stock details if you’re publicly traded, a list of analysts covering the business, and contact information.
Your website’s IR section also should include your events calendar, shareholder meeting information and materials, links to webcasts and conference presentations, and a section featuring the latest corporate news, including press releases and SEC filings.
4. A Thorough Understanding of Investor Perceptions
An independent perception audit, which allows investors and analysts to anonymously share their candid views on your company, can help you determine how best to position your company within the market.
Typically conducted by a third party, the perception audit collects impressions from analysts and former, current and potential investors. The audit might include an emailed survey with questions asking participants to rank their opinions on different company qualities, followed by phone interviews with open-ended queries.
The themes that emerge from a perception audit can help you develop, tweak or overhaul your investor relations strategy by indicating what’s resonating with investors and what needs improvement.
5. A Firm Schedule
Companies must appear well organized to maintain the market’s confidence. Even small missteps or changes in plans can stir doubts among analysts and investors. Posting and sticking to a schedule — including earnings release dates, conferences, and shareholder meetings — is one way to transmit reliability. Generating a schedule also can help you plot the upcoming year and decide which public appearances make the most sense.
If you need to postpone a conference appearance or your earnings release, or if you realize the company will miss an important milestone, get in front of investor concerns by offering transparent reasons for the delay. Follow up to keep the market updated on your progress.
6. A Plan for Bad News
Transparency is key in investor relations — especially when it comes to challenges. Even a steady, responsibly managed company can encounter disappointing financial results or a serious crisis. How you handle the situation will help shape investor attitudes toward your company.
But it’s not enough to simply deal with that type of situation when it comes up — you must have a plan for it now. For example, if you realize you’re going to miss Wall Street’s consensus earnings estimate, you should have a plan to touch base with analysts right away to discuss why the numbers diverged from expectations and reassure them about developments in your organization.
If you encounter a true crisis, your company’s future may depend on how you disclose information to investors, regulators, employees and other stakeholders, who will need to understand what has happened quickly and clearly. Develop plans for crisis management and communications before any trouble arises, including solidifying companywide procedures, organizing a crisis communications team, deciding on spokespeople, and determining what information to share and when to share it.
Whether you’re developing your first IR plan or reviewing a longstanding one, our IR experts can guide you in building a powerful strategy for engaging investors and analysts. Please get in touch to learn more.