Marketing Alts to Institutional Investors: Start by Getting Your Story Straight

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Data from a recent Prequin study shows institutional investor interest in alternatives remains strong, driven in large part in today’s environment of rising interest rates and potential market volatility.
How will your firm stand out among all the asset managers out there crowding into this space? Clearly, a strong brand should be your foundation. But your next step should be to create your story about your offering — and leverage the strategic role that your marketing team or agency can provide.

A well-defined story and messages drive the most important touch point you have: one-on-one interactions between your wholesalers and a prospective institutional investor or platform gatekeeper.

Are You Really Prepared to Tell Your Story?

You have a good offering and a differentiated approach or process, and your frontline sales people believe in it. But can they articulate your unique value proposition memorably, distinctively, and consistently? And will the prospective investor or gatekeeper remember that value proposition once the meeting is over?

Alternatives run the gamut from relatively straightforward to mind-bogglingly complex — but you don’t want to waste valuable time in one-on-one meetings in overcomplicated explanations of product features.

Likewise, you don’t want to be caught short offering trite generalizations of your competencies that do nothing to distinguish you from the blurry background of similar assurances from competitors. And you definitely want everyone in your organization staying on message, not “winging it” or crafting disparate explanations that become different takes on your offering.

That’s why you should rethink how you look at your marketing team or agency. Instead of engaging them to produce tactics, bring them in as strategic guides who can distill the most salient points about your firm. You’ll have a much more effective overall sales strategy when you invite your agency to engage deeper, and earlier, in your go-to-market journey.

Get Specific, But Don’t Get Bogged Down

“For institutional investors who are familiar with asset class but lack the resources to execute a particular strategy, the ability to explain investment conviction is key. They expect you to have a white paper, but can you sell them on the executive summary?” explains Bhawna Johar, SVP of Creative Strategy at Carpenter Group.

According to, “Preqin’s study also found many institutional investors proactive in demanding information from fund managers.” Frontline sales people need to be able to reach for on-brand messaging easily when answering questions like: How is your investment process unique? What is your point of view? Why are you the best firm for this investment strategy?

“We’re encouraging clients to take a step back before jumping in and creating pages and pages of charts for a pitch book,” says Carpenter Group’s SVP, Editorial Director Cathy Weigel. “These clients need to start by distilling their complex offerings into memorable, lucid, straightforward messages that are compelling and repeatable.”

Once you’ve done that, you can make appropriate choices among tactics best suited to your business. Just be sure that the story you’ve presented in your meeting with a potential client is supported by all of your tactics, with thought leadership, print and digital collateral, and social media activity all demonstrating your expertise and credibility.

The bottom line is that prospective clients should come away from a meeting with a clear understanding of what you do, how it benefits them, and why you do it best.