Still, the majority of managers use a presentation, investment memo, or “pitchbook” to showcase their strategy and offering to prospects. The form and length vary widely based on audience, strategy complexity, and manager preference. Some managers believe the written presentation is of little value and place far more emphasis on in-person meetings or calls. However, without a well-crafted pitchbook, you may never have the chance to give additional color in a verbal presentation. Your pitchbook should communicate your value proposition or tell your “story” in a way that is both accurate and casts you and your strategy in the most attractive light. The information in the pitchbook should enable the investor to begin thinking about where you and your strategy might fit within their portfolio.
The first mistake we see managers make is crafting what we call The Podium Pitchbook, which means it contains content that would be more appropriate for a spoken presentation at a conference. Wide gaps in the narrative or bullets that don’t make sense without verbal color often leave the reader feeling confused. Will they pick up the phone and ask you to come down to their office, have a cup of coffee, and engage in a discussion to fill in those gaps? Maybe, but they’re just as likely to delete your email and focus on other compelling opportunities. Don’t take that chance. The pitchbook can and should stand alone to thoroughly yet succinctly describe what you do even when the reader does not (yet) have benefit of speaking with you.
Mistake #2 is failing to get your key takeaways across in the first four or five slides. Always assume your reader won’t take the time to flip through all 15 or 20 slides. Get your important points across early. Too often, managers use several slides to describe market conditions or the market opportunity early in the presentation. In a few cases, this is appropriate, but most managers should create an executive summary that gives a bullet or two on the firm, strategy, objective, and portfolio. Follow the executive summary with these slides in no particular order: the strengths of the firm and approach, the track record, and, in the case of emerging managers, the portfolio manager’s bio. Don’t make the mistake of putting your key takeaways slide at the end of the presentation as a summary, or if you do, make sure you’ve covered the same information very early in the narrative.
Mistake #3 is making your reader expend too much mental effort to interpret charts and graphs. Draw a conclusion for your reader. The point of the slide can usually be made in a sentence or two. The chart should offer supporting data for your statement.
Mistake #4? Too much information. With rare exception, don’t send out a 45-slide presentation. You’re not trying to avoid a due diligence process with a single piece of marketing collateral. The pitchbook should be a fairly detailed overview that effectively showcases your strengths and answers most of the questions an investor would have during an initial evaluation.
Mistake #5: falling victim to the myth of the secret sauce or, in other words, giving too little information. Transparency engenders respect, and if someone can precisely replicate what you’re doing after reading through 15 slides, is it really worth your fee structure? Describe what you do. Don’t be too cautious about providing a reasonable level of detail.
We’ve seen managers become paralyzed trying to incorporate every well-meaning friend’s advice into their presentation. Your pitch will never be perfect. Use it, make note of questions you get repeatedly, and consider tweaking to address. The goal of your pitchbook is to capture the reader’s interest so you can progress to the next stage with your prospect.