May 19, 2023

10 Mistakes Platform Managers Make When Developing Marketing Strategies And What To Do Instead

Congratulations! You're among the elite group of marketers who understand the value of having a marketing strategy before jumping into the overwhelming world of business development, sales cycles, buyer's journey, social media, etc.

But just because you appreciate the value of a marketing plan doesn't necessarily mean you've got a solid plan for your specific needs. Everyone and their mother believes their marketing methodology is the secret to growth hacking success. They encourage you to copy or steal their secret formula. Please don't.

As head of platform, the right marketing strategy plays a critical role in shaping the success of your firm's business development activities... but I must insist - it needs to be the right marketing strategy.

A poorly conceived marketing strategy can lead to wasted resources, missed opportunities, and even tarnished reputation for your firm. And while I'm beating this dead horse to the ground, it's worth emphasizing that this isn't just about your fund's marketing plan. It's also about the marketing ideas and strategies you help your startups develop.

When you're head of platform, providing formalized post investment support to founders is the heart of your daily duties. Often that includes providing resources that help a startup increase brand awareness, attract potential customers, promote customer success and other services that drive new business. All these initiatives require a solid game plan to be impactful.

The wrong marketing approach can lead to hindered growth and a diminished competitive edge in this dynamic marketplace, not to mention some pretty unhappy founders. No one wants that!

To ensure the platform team in your VC fund thrives and that you always show up as your best when advising your portfolio companies on their marketing approach, let's explore these common marketing mistakes that even the best marketers can trip over.

Why are we creating this resource for you? Are we marketers? Certainly not. Here at Proven, we're a small team that works with platform managers day in and day out. We may not be in the marketing business, but we are in the business of helping platform leaders thrive. So if that means researching and sharing best practices and mistakes to avoid in marketing, so be it! 

10 of the common mistakes to avoid when developing a marketing strategy for your fund or portcos.

1) Lack of Target Market Analysis:

One of the more common mistakes is failing to conduct thorough research and analysis of the target market. It's essential to understand the target audience's needs, preferences, and behavior before designing marketing strategies. Without this understanding, the marketing efforts may not effectively reach the right audience or resonate with their needs.

Do this instead:
  1. Conduct comprehensive market research by analyzing industry trends, competitors, and target audience preferences.
  2. Define clear objectives for the research to align with strategic goals.
  3. Utilize data analytics to derive meaningful insights from available data.
  4. Develop detailed personas to understand the target audience.
  5. Conduct regular competitive analysis to identify strengths, weaknesses, and differentiation opportunities.
  6. Continuously monitor and update market research to stay informed about industry trends and emerging technologies.

2) Ignoring Branding and Differentiation:

Sometimes, even the best heads of platform overlook the importance of branding and differentiation. Investing in identifying and communicating what makes your VC firm unique may not seem important because you're more concerned about your portfolio companies and lead generation.

Still, research shows branding gives a business that competitive edge that ultimately drives long-term growth. Neglecting these aspects can result in a lack of market visibility and make attracting promising startups and investors difficult.

Do this instead:
  1. Define a unique value proposition that sets the firm apart.
  2. Create a consistent and compelling brand identity.
  3. Develop a compelling brand story to engage the target audience.
  4. Build thought leadership to establish industry expertise.
  5. Implement a multi-channel marketing strategy.
  6. Monitor and evaluate brand perception regularly.

3) Overlooking Digital Marketing Opportunities:

In today's digital age, online activities are just as important as attending the right events. Neglecting digital marketing opportunities, such as social media, content marketing, and search engine optimization, can limit the reach and impact of marketing strategies.

Don't make the mistake of undermining the value of these digital platforms for driving business to your fund and for your startups.

Do this instead:
  1. Establish a strong online presence.
  2. Utilize social media to engage with the target audience.
  3. Implement content marketing to establish thought leadership.
  4. Optimize your website for search engines to increase visibility.
  5. Leverage email marketing to nurture relationships.
  6. Consider paid advertising to reach a wider audience.
  7. Track and analyze results to make data-driven decisions.

4) Failure to Track and Measure Results:

Without proper tracking and measurement mechanisms in place, evaluating the success of marketing strategies becomes challenging. The big issue occurs when we set out to launch a campaign without real targets.

Most marketers only emphasize vanity metrics such as likes and follower count, which have no bearing on business results. As director of platform you must ensure you're tracking and measuring the right KPIs based on real business targets. This data-driven approach allows for course correction and optimization over time.

Do this instead:
  1. Set clear goals aligned with business objectives.
  2. Identify key performance indicators (KPIs) to track.
  3. Implement tracking tools and analytics platforms.
  4. Regularly monitor and analyze data for insights.
  5. Make data-driven decisions and optimize strategies.
  6. Conduct A/B testing to identify effective approaches.
  7. Report results to stakeholders and communicate findings.

5) Neglecting Relationship Building:

Building and nurturing relationships with startups, investors, and industry stakeholders is part of a strong marketing strategy. Successful VC firms invest time and resources in networking events, conferences, and personal interactions to establish trust and credibility within the ecosystem.

However, focusing solely on marketing campaigns and overlooking relationship-building efforts can be detrimental.
Do this instead:
  1. Focus on cultivating personal connections and attend industry events.
  2. Foster open communication and transparency.
  3. Ensure the firm invests in investor relations and provide regular updates.
  4. Utilize technology for efficient relationship management.
  5. Engage in community building within the VC ecosystem.
  6. Encourage the platform team to continually nurture relationships for long-term partnerships.

6) Neglecting the Power of Thought Leadership:

Establishing thought leadership is essential for VC operations managers because it positions the firm as an industry authority and influencer. By sharing valuable insights, analysis, and expertise, operations managers can demonstrate their deep understanding of the market and build credibility within the VC ecosystem.

Thought leadership content can take various forms, including blog posts, industry reports, podcasts, or speaking engagements at conferences. Failing to prioritize thought leadership can result in missed opportunities to build credibility and attract potential partners and investors.

Do this instead:
  1. Identify areas of expertise.
  2. Publish valuable content and industry insights.
  3. Seek speaking opportunities at conferences and events.
  4. Contribute to industry publications and guest blog posts.
  5. Utilize social media to share thoughts and engage with the community.
  6. Foster collaborations with other thought leaders and influencers.
  7. Make sure your platform serves as a value add to support founders and provide resources in the form of content.

7) Inconsistent Messaging and Branding:

Consistency in messaging and branding is crucial for creating a strong and recognizable brand identity. When marketing strategies lack consistency, it becomes difficult for the target audience to understand and connect with the firm's values, offerings, and unique value proposition.

Inconsistencies in messaging and communications can also lead to confusion and mistrust among potential customers, partners and investors. Developing brand guidelines and regularly reviewing marketing materials can help maintain a cohesive and compelling brand image.

Do this instead:
  1. Develop brand guidelines for your VC firm.
  2. Train and educate staff on branding standards.
  3. Centralize brand assets.
  4. Create messaging frameworks.
  5. Establish review and approval processes.
  6. Conduct regular audits.
  7. Maintain clear communications.
  8. Monitor external communications.

8) Neglecting Investor Relations:

While marketing efforts often focus on attracting startups, VC operations managers should not underestimate the importance of investor relations. Building and nurturing relationships with existing and potential investors is vital for the sustainability and growth of the firm.

Ignoring investor relations can hinder fundraising efforts and limit access to capital. Cultivating relationships with existing and potential investors is critical for the firm's long-term success. Ensure your team has a communication plan in place that keeps those connections alive and healthy.

Do this instead:
  1. Maintain regular and transparent communication.
  2. Personalize messages to individual investors.
  3. Provide comprehensive investor reporting and updates on the portfolio companies.
  4. Organize investor events so they can network.
  5. Share co-investment opportunities.

9) Failure to Adapt and Innovate:

The VC industry is highly dynamic, influenced by technological advancements, changing market conditions, and emerging trends. A common mistake made by VC operations managers is sticking to traditional marketing methods and failing to adapt to new opportunities and channels.

Do this instead:
  1. Stay agile and open-minded.
  2. Monitor industry trends.
  3. Embrace innovation and be open to experimentation so you can have a more effective platform strategy. That will impact everything the platform team does including marketing.
  4. Encourage all platform roles to stay informed about emerging marketing strategies, technologies, and channels that can enhance their reach and engagement
  5. Engage with the startup ecosystem.
  6. Embrace feedback and learn from failures.

10) Lack of Alignment with Investment Strategy:

Marketing strategies should align with the firm's investment strategy. As head of platform, that means you need to understand the types of portfolio companies your VC firm is interested in and develop campaigns that resonate with those specific sectors or businesses.

Failure to align marketing efforts with the investment strategy can result in attracting irrelevant startups or missing out on opportunities within the targeted segments.

Do this instead:
  1. Get a clear understanding of your investment strategy.
  2. Regularly evaluate and reassess its effectiveness.
  3. Align your platform strategy and investment strategy with your marketing plan.
  4. Get laser focused on activities that are a value add and that enable your VC firm to hit set objectives.

As a platform director, what marketing strategy mistakes have you witnessed that could be sabotaging a firms ability to attract venture capital? or deal flow?

Read this next: 5 creative ways to empower startup founders during an economic decline

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