This is the second blog in our series on personal brand and this time we are going to look at the roles and responsibilities in developing and executing on personal brand marketing for hedge funds.
Remember to check out the first blog in the series. It not only explains what we mean by “personal brand”, but also explains how and why this concept is highly applicable for hedge funds. Many hedge funds are built around – and heavily market themselves on – a personal brand, even if they don’t use this term or view it as a formal marketing activity.
In part one, we’ve defined the brand, and what we’re looking to portray to the world. We have discussed the importance of authenticity and realism. We now need to gather and create content, craft messages and commentary, and distribute this to our audience. Let’s consider how to structure this workload.
With very few exceptions, the key executive whose brand is being promoted is involved, even if only at a very high level. Sometimes in smaller firms they undertake the entire project themselves, recognising the value of this exercise in building notoriety for themselves and their fund. In many cases, the founder’s pedigree and reputation are the cornerstones of all fundraising; in the early days, it is all the fund has.
In many firms though, the day-to-day execution in managing and promoting the personal brand is driven by someone besides the influencer. This could be a dedicated marketing professional or a broader support role, such as a trusted and experienced E.A. Regardless, there needs to be a clear delineation of responsibilities and total agreement on what the personal brand is, and what it is not. Any non-influencer involved will need sufficient information and autonomy to be able to drive the project somewhat independently, coupled with quick input, feedback, and approval from the influencer, where it is needed. The influencer will need to be comfortable delegating and fully trust the person supporting the project, especially if they are allowed to publish content on the influencer’s behalf.
If authenticity is core to forming the personal brand, commitment is key to executing the project. A busy founder needs to accept they may not be able to undertake this project alone. This is similar to any other responsibility assigned to someone else in the firm. The founder hires a COO, a trader, a portfolio manager, or a CIO and then trusts them to fulfil their role with some degree of autonomy and independence. They need to be ready to trust someone else to manage their personal brand. This may sometimes mean things are not done exactly as they would like, and this can be extra challenging when it relates to the founder’s image. There is a decision to be made regarding how much autonomy others have, and the feedback loop needs to be fast and efficient an enabler, not a hindrance.
It is for the influencer to decide whether to let “best” be the enemy of “good”, and how much control they’re willing to relinquish in order to gain momentum. Because momentum really is key; getting a consistent message out, and providing the audience with engaging material on a frequent basis. This cannot be a “fire and forget” project, or it might actually do more harm than good.
Most funds already use the reputation of their founders or executive team to grow their business. A more formal project can help turbocharge this, ensuring the message is consistent, engaging, and frequent. If you’re considering how to make a “personal brand” work for your fund, take a look at our white paper: “The role of influencer marketing for fund marketers”.