Self-Discovery Marketing... It Is A Thing. Soon It Will Be The Only Thing

What do you do when you want to validate information?

One word: Google.

This tendency has become so prevalent that it has given rise to an entirely new form of marketing, aptly titled self-discovery marketing.

This form of marketing has evolved out of the endless access people have to information.

Buying a car … online research.

Buying a house … online research.

Staying in a hotel … online research.

Investing in a hedge fund … online research. (No? Are you sure about that?)

When is the last time you made a material purchase decision without doing online research first? I bet it has been quite some time.

“Mr. Auto Dealer, that 2010 Range Rover is $65,000, sounds reasonable, I will take it."

“Mrs. Salesperson, that 40-inch flat screen is the best price I am going to get, I had better buy that right now.”

“Mr. and Mrs. Portfolio Managers, you say this is the best global macro fund in the market? Then I better write you a check today.”

My point, you can’t take information you receive at face value anymore. I am not saying that’s right or wrong, but it is reality. The harder you “sell”, the more suspicious people become and the more research they do.

This has given birth to a new kind of marketing called self-discovery marketing. Sophisticated brands aren’t trying to “sell” you anything anymore. You are way too smart for that. You're going to do your research, aren’t you?

So what do they do instead? They make you believe that you “discovered” the buying opportunity all by yourself.

You were just being you, going about your day, and found these incredibly unique running shoes with a pretty little swoosh on them. Imagine that.

If you look for it, you will begin to recognize that this is happening all around you. Product placement is an obvious example. Do you think people Google the type of car James Bond was driving? Marketers are smarter than we give them credit for. They are dropping subtle hints all the time, and we, as consumers, eat it up.

But this doesn’t relate to institutional investors does it? What do you think happens when you send an investor who you don’t know, a marketing deck? Do you not think they go online and do research? Will they find something comparable? Do you look as sophisticated as the other people they encounter? These are big questions. They deserve honest answers.

Of even greater consequence, if you have approached someone with an “opportunity” there exists the natural propensity for that individual to try to find something better. Isn’t that the point of research?

Obviously, investors aren’t making 7- and 8-figure investment decisions solely on information they find on a website. But they are very much influenced as to who gets included in their consideration set by what kind of digital presence a fund has. Your ‘online reputation’ doesn’t automatically deliver new investments – but not being visible can mean you don’t even get included in the next round of reviews.

In my opinion, you are much better off if you are the one being “discovered.” Namely because you are no longer in a defensive position, you are the “displacer” not the “displacee.” But how do you stack the odds? We all know you can’t rely on Google.

You need a self-discovery marketing plan. It isn’t complicated. You need to position yourself in front of your target audience without it appearing like you are promoting your fund or product.

Here are 10 quick ideas:

1. Produce and distribute a monthly newsletter. (Most cringe when they hear this. I have two comments: #1 Marketing is hard work, cowboy up. #2 All you need is 3 or 4 half- to full-page articles every month. It isn’t a huge endeavor.)

2. Populate all the d-bases that your industry relies on. (Preqin, Pitchbook, Bloomberg, etc.)

3. Take part in panel discussions in conferences.

4. Invest in a strong PR plan.

5. Leverage social networks like LinkedIn and Twitter.

6. Sponsor an athlete, artist, team or group.

7. Push to become a regular guest speaker on a radio, online, or TV broadcast.

8. Host webinars. (This is a big one. You can talk in generalities.)

9. Distribute your content to appropriate online portals. (If you can produce quality content there are dozens of sites that will happily post your content.)

10. Be 506c registered.

All of this unearths an even larger question: if you do have very qualified prospective clients crawling around on your website, would you even know? I can promise you the information is there. It's up to you if you want to access it.

By Kyle Dunn

MarketingKyle Dunn