Hedge Funds & PE Funds: Create Some Tension

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kd-marketing-tension-pic

 

 

There is a huge swath of people within the alternative investment community that will look at the design of the page above and have an aneurysm.  And it is for that very reason that most of the marketing within our industry is lackluster at best.

 

This is how the conversation between a manager and a creative director typically goes:

 

“But the writing encroaches on the border.”

“Yeah, I know. We did that on purpose.”

“But the writing encroaches on the border.”

“Yeah… it makes you a little uncomfortable, and that’s the point.”

“But the writing encroaches on the border.”

“It draws people into the material, and makes your deck memorable.”

“But the writing encroaches on the border.”

 

At that point, the creative director will kick some sand and go make the page look like every other page.

 

This is the inherent problem with marketing in the alternative investment industry. There is very little tension. Nothing stands out: the blues, the greys, the bios, the fonts, the headers, the footers, the language, etc.

 

Think back on all the great marketing you have encountered. It doesn’t matter what industry. The thing that made that piece of marketing great… Tension – be it the language, the shock value, the innovation, the image, it doesn’t matter- the creator worked damn hard to make it uncomfortable in some way.

 

And recognize uncomfortable doesn’t have to be distasteful or unsophisticated. You can accomplish all of that and still build tension. You simply need to try.

 

And the industry is trying.  Take Bridgewater as an example. They have the following language on their home page, “Bridgewater is a community of people who are driven to achieve excellence in their work and relationships through radical truth and radical transparency.”

 

“Radical truth,” (What the hell is that? But I am intrigued), doesn’t feel like something a “Bridgewater” would say… Tension.  Ten years ago, five years ago for that matter, there is no way they would have used the world “radical.”  Yet the industry is matured and they are now trying to build brand and create some tension. Carlyle’s strong adoption of video is another example. Firms like Bridgewater and Carlyle don’t adopt new language and new mediums because they want to, they adopt such things in their effort to “feel” different, which is the inherent pursuit of marketing tension.

 

Take the page design at the beginning of this post. If you understand the concept of tension the brilliance starts to take shape. It rubs at you, it’s not balanced, something isn’t right, which is the basis of great marketing.  Additionally, it is neither unsophisticated nor offensive, at the end of the day it is just different. And admittedly some people won’t like it, but I am OK with that.  Good marketing will never please everyone.

 

The next time you take a run at your marketing, think about creating some “marketing tension.”  If nothing else, it is an objective way of thinking about how to be different. You never know, you may get stronger results.

 

 

By Kyle Dunn

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