As a private equity firm considering building out a content marketing program to support biz dev, you may wonder, “What kind of return can I expect?”
If you’re thinking about content marketing from this perspective, you may be approaching the issue from the wrong direction. Here’s why.
The Immeasurable Power of Content Marketing
In your traditional biz dev efforts, your primary message goes something like this:
AB Capital is private equity for [insert industry here]
While helpful, this message does nothing to differentiate your firm from the hundred other firms in your industry. You have other differentiating messages to share (i.e. your core values, your investment philosophy, how you treat founders, etc.), but these messages will get lost in the noise unless repeatedly reinforced to your target audience.
As a firm, you want to rise above the noise. The ideal position to be in is not a firm that serves X industry, but the firm that serves X industry. You want the message to become:
Private equity for [industry] is AB Capital
When a founder/owner decides the time is right to raise capital or sell their business, you want to be the first firm they think of. The only way to rank #1 on their mental list is to constantly be in front of them, sharing helpful materials that set you up as the most knowledgeable, helpful, and experienced firm in the space. Content marketing is the perfect approach to do so.
What about the dollars and cents?
As a PE person, you may still want to get a sense of hard numbers—actual incremental return that comes about as a result of your investment in content marketing.
Again, most of the benefits you will see from content marketing will be in the brand you build and the effect that has on biz dev. When you implement a content marketing program, you’ll begin to notice that individuals who weren’t open to conversations now are, and prospects are much more responsive. On biz dev calls, prospects will specifically mention how they found your content helpful, setting a great tone for the discussion.
So is content marketing measurable at all?
Yes, but not based on traditional measures of ROI—the PE model just doesn’t lend itself to clean marketing attribution.
What is possible, however, is to measure the efficiency of your content marketing efforts based on how much your firm would be willing to pay to engage with a prospect vs. how much an engagement actually costs. From there, you can back into a metric to measure performance.
For example, how much would you be willing to spend for a minute of a prospect’s attention? $60? $100? In many cases, content marketing can attract a minute of a prospect’s attention for $20-40 dollars, significantly lower than what the average firm would be willing to pay and much lower than what most firms pay to have their biz dev people reach out to prospects.
While getting on a call with a prospect will certainly be more impactful than having the prospect engage with content, those one-on-one calls can only happen so often and each one is expensive. With content marketing, you can layer on engagement after engagement in an endless stream of low-cost content interactions that build your brand and position you as the firm in your industry.
How quickly will I see an impact?
The beauty of content marketing for private equity is that it’s highly account-based, meaning you promote your content directly to firms you know you want to do business with. As such, you’ll start to meaningfully engage with prospects from the first day you publish content.
Still, the goal isn’t to just produce individual content engagements, it’s to create a strong perception that your firm is the best in the industry. You’re building a brand, and building a brand takes time. If you’re consistent in your efforts, you should begin to see a notable impact on your prospect relationships within 6 months to a year.
Closing More and Better Deals
When your firm has a strong brand in its target industry, you’re going to close more and better deals. When that happens, the cost of content marketing is going to be swallowed up in the return. At that point, the conversation will change from, “How do I know if I’m getting a return on this?” to “How can I do more of this?”