Do Investors Think You’re Special?

Being special is not the same as having a unique selling proposition. The latter is obviously essential, but the former is what increases your AUM.

We all have those friends or colleagues that possess the x-factor, that one thing that makes them stand out. Their skills alone may not be memorable. They may not be able to execute faster, think more clearly, or do more push-ups, but there is undeniably something there. It could be their charisma, beauty, charm, energy, or aura; regardless, they stand out.

In marketing alternative investment products (in marketing anything really) this is what you are striving to achieve. Having a clinically defined competitive position is necessary; it just can’t be sterile or purely objective. Ray Dalio and Bridgewater have it; there is a vibe at Two Sigma that people can’t explain; and if you mention the name Sequoia, people start to jitter with excitement.

It is obvious when “special” exists. The real question, however… how do you become “special.”

The answer to this question is involved. It first starts with the recognition of an unusual trait or approach. At this stage, there is no magic involved. It is the conscious determination that this “thing” is something you have that not many other people have. Once you have determined what this “thing” is, you need to build unique language around it. If you use the same words as the rest of the world, no one is going to care. Next, you need to incorporate these new descriptors into a number of short story lines. How to best describe these stories, imagine a rumor swirling around a cocktail party – that kind of story line. Finally you need to genuinely commit to telling these stories in all their forms, over and over and over.

If done correctly and strategically the story lines you bring to life will be positive and provocative. The story will eventually eclipse reality, which is what you want. If you are observant you will soon hear the whispers when you walk into a room. Such whispers will build your confidence. With confidence comes swagger and swagger attached to a unique professional identifier is… well, special. And special is what drives AUM.

By Kyle Dunn

September 2019Kyle Dunn