“Psst…Hey Buddy, Wanna Invest In A Hedge Fund?”

So, I used to think the best spokesman for the hedge fund industry was Elmer Fudd.

“Be vewy, vewy quiet…I’m marketing a hedge fund.”

The reality is that hedge funds promote themselves all the time – just to a sliver of the audience that invest. And seemingly, under the cover of darkness. Until the passage of the JOBS Act about a year and a half ago, that was primarily because regulations prohibited it.

The ability to solicit has since changed - although the ability to invest has not. But there has only been a handful of progressive investment managers that have been willing to try.

Surfing Hedge Funds – One Year Later

We have been fortunate to work with a few of those managers. One in particular that stands out is a hedge fund called Topturn Capital.

“Top turn,” a surfing term that describes the action made at the top of the wave to stay in the momentum of the water, is used analogously to describe the firm’s dynamic approach to investing in staying in the momentum of the market.

Together with the firm’s partners, we ended up producing a video that included a professional surfer. You can see it here:

Clearly, not your everyday, run of the mill, hedge fund material. The video resulted in national exposure with major media declaring it the first hedge fund advertisement in the U.S.

The energy of the campaign resulted in a full pipeline of new prospective investors and yes, an increase in new assets.

What Your Marketing Dollars Really Get You

But that’s not the real story. The real story is – how has the industry responded since the passage of the Jobs Act. Although there has been some activity – with a few big funds that have tested the waters, it certainly is not progressing at “hedge fund speed.”

In an industry where many strive to be “first to be second,” it really is no surprise. But with 10,000 competitors out there, the question is, can managers really afford to wait?

Topturn has a great story to tell. But so do lots of managers. The reason that Topturn received so much attention is less about the decision to have a professional athlete endorse a hedge fund as it was that they simply decided to present themselves differently than how everyone else presents themselves.

Now is the time to use marketing as a tool to differentiate and advance the conversation.

Because eventually, another wave of managers will steps out on a limb to get attention. And then another and another. And just like with absolutely every other industry, the time will come where differentiating one’s firm via marketing is just something that everyone does.

But at that point, there will be another issue to face. Because when everyone becomes different…

No one will be.

By JD David