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Increase Your Deal Flow With Inbound Marketing: A Primer For Middle Market Investment Firms


When most people think of marketing, they think of advertising a product in ways that are intrusive to everybody, regardless of their interest in the product being sold. With the rise of the internet and increasing access to information, marketing has shifted drastically both in how it approaches customers and how it sells the product.

Inbound Marketing vs. Outbound Marketing

The main difference between traditional (outbound) marketing and inbound marketing is that instead of sending out a message about your products to anybody, regardless of their interest, you entice and inform consumers, generating interest in your product through educational information via blogs, articles, e-books and promote through social media. This allows consumers who are more likely to be interested in the product to get in touch with the business or retailer to purchase. This puts less of a burden on sales teams, as they know that most of the people they contact are already potential customers. It also decreases negative perception from people who may not want your service.

Inbound marketing is extremely popular with consumers who are averse to interruptive advertising, as it puts the onus on them to do the research and identify which products or services they need and want. For instance, if a business owner realizes that his company is struggling, he can do research online and find out how to solve his problem. Through the use of content such as white papers and blogs, a middle market investment firm can get in touch with a business owner before the company is in crisis. This approach is surprisingly effective, as 89 percent of CEOs start their research and evaluation of a business or financial partner online, and 80 percent of business owners prefer to obtain information about a company through a series of articles, rather than an advertisement or a cold call.

The benefits of inbound marketing don't simply extend to making the customer happy; they apply to the business itself. Inbound campaigns have a much higher return on investment than outbound marketing campaigns, due to the extended lifespan of inbound marketing content. Inbound marketing is cheaper overall than outbound marketing campaigns, since most of the content is published on a website instead of in print or other media. Inbound marketing does require more day-to-day effort, since content has to be written and published regularly, and conversations on social media should be kept up to date.

Inbound Marketing Concepts in Middle Market Investment Firms and Private Equity Firms

Investment firm marketing tends to be rather limited in scope and target audience, and most firms don't advertise much because they are relying on an outbound sales model. Inbound marketing is an excellent way for such capital firms to reach private companies who might need their services, while educating them in the meantime.

The first step of inbound marketing is to identify and attract the target market. In the instance of investment firm marketing, the audience is the CEO of a private company who needs the firm's services. A buyer profile (persona) of this firm is drawn up from previous experiences and analysis of CEOs of private companies. The more complete a buyer profile, the more avenues are possible for content marketing that will interest and engage the target market. Content should focus on services the firm offers that are of interest to the business owner, such as debt restructuring, raising capital, and making the decision to expand or sell the business. The more quality content readers can access, the more likely they are to see the firm as a trustworthy source of information and contact the firm with a deal.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a key feature in ensuring your firm stands out from all the rest. Over 90 percent of buying cycles begin with an internet search, and having your blog and website on the first page is essential to generating leads. SEO has become much more refined as search algorithms grow more complex to weed out meaningless content. Keywords are important, but need to be picked out carefully to ensure your firm stands out from the pack while still offering premium quality content.

Every investment firm marketing plan needs to have a website evaluation. The website is your number one sales person. The website is the first thing potential customers see, and having a website that is difficult to navigate, doesn’t provide enough educational content or unsightly can negatively affect the first impression you give potential leads. Users should be able to find the content or information they are seeking with ease.

In order to secure leads, every website should have several CTAs (Call-To-Action.) This can either be in the form of an email link to contact the equity firm for a consultation, or can be an obligation-free sign-up for a newsletter. This newsletter should feature exclusive content, again tailored specifically to business owners. The call to action opens up a dialogue between the potential client and the firm, allowing for a more personalized interaction and hopefully an eventual deal.

Inbound marketing offers many advantages over traditional marketing. Inbound offers a strong ROI. It leads to clients who are willing to engage in dialogue with the firm and helps strengthen the name of the firm as well. The consequence of clients willing to engage in a dialogue is deal flow that increases. The ever-changing digital landscape offers possibilities for all sorts of marketing tactics to entice and secure potential clients.

 For more information about inbound marketing and a complimentary marketing assessment, click here.


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Vera Fischer

By Vera Fischer

The visionary of 97 Degrees West for more than thirteen years, Vera has served as the CEO and President since 2004. During Vera’s tenure, the agency has achieved steady growth while surviving both economic recessions in Austin, Texas. Vera began her advertising career at GSD&M where she worked on accounts: Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, Houston Rockets, Dollar Rent-A-Car, Pearl Vision, SeaWorld and DoubleTree Hotels. Her next stop was the nationally recognized T3 known as “The Think Tank.” While at T3, Vera spearheaded the Dell Computers launch of the Preferred Accounts Division and lead national projects for the ESL and Enterprise Divisions. Other notable accounts included Quintiles Oncology, Austin Lyric Opera and St. David’s Hospital. In 2001, Vera left the agency world to embark on the client side as Director of Marketing for Forgent Networks, the software spin-off of VTEL video conferencing. Vera managed an annual multi-million dollar marketing budget, developed online lead generation programs, managed the inside sales team and consistently delivered high-quality MQLs to the sales team. In 2004, after a company wide re-org, Vera was laid off while on maternity leave. Within the day, she founded her agency, 97 Degrees West. Vera’s weekly podcast entitled, “System Execution”, launched in mid-2016 with notable guests like Ari Weinzweig, Jeff Smith, Gary Bizzo, Dr. Alan Pitt, and other business and thought leaders. Vera is the first woman to host a podcast devoted to systems and processes of successful companies. She is quickly becoming one of the country’s leading authorities on the topic of execution Vera is a member of the Austin University Area Rotary Club, an advisory board member for the School of Journalism & Mass Communication at Texas State University and a Mentor at Capital Factory in Austin, Texas. Vera is completing her Master’s in Strategic Communications at Texas State University in May 2018.