The economic downturn resulting from the pandemic has been felt across nearly every industry, and the venture capital (VC) world is no exception. Although investments are still being made across the cybersecurity landscape, they have slowed in pace over the past few months. However, many startups are still looking to attract investors. And those companies inking deals are then faced with another challenge – how to effectively tell their company story through a new investment.
Here are a few tips startups can take to tell their stories that will amplify their brand and even attract investors in hard times, and why now is an important time to do so. Additionally, I’ll provide insight into key strategies to more effectively tell your investment story and break through the noise to uplift your company, and even your portfolio companies, to garner visibility in a crowded market.
The Need for Cyber Spending
While we never anticipated cyber threats going away, no one could have anticipated the impact COVID-19 has had on the threat landscape. Not surprisingly, threat actors found a way to capitalize on the pandemic, with organizations like WHO experiencing a fivefold increase in attacks. As cyber threats increase during this time, so too should VC funding to bring new cyber-defense solutions to market to combat evolving and persistent threats.
According to a recent report from Learn Bonds, almost 70 percent of major organizations plan to increase cybersecurity spending due to heightened threats following the outbreak. Even for those organizations struggling to raise funding now, the industry as a whole certainly has an opportunity for increased funding on the other side of the downturn.
Navigating the Media Landscape
It’s no secret the media landscape has been tremendously challenging during this time. Media coverage of COVID-19 and its negative economic ramifications have dominated headlines, with many industries feeling the fallout of shutdowns. To show that the cybersecurity industry is still thriving, it’s critical that the industry change the media narrative to demonstrate funding activity is alive and well, and may be more important than ever as the bad guys continue to use the pandemic as a fresh attack vector.
Given the uncertainty of the past months, many companies have held back news. Not knowing how things will move forward or how business will evolve has impacted corporate communications, primarily with companies opting for a conservative approach. Now that we’re in the next phase of this “COVID economy,” investors and companies need to rethink their communications strategy, particularly around funding news.
But Why Now?
So, how does this translate to good business news? Rather than holding your funding news for fear that it will be buried in the deluge of coronavirus coverage, now is the perfect time to get your story out there. Besides announcing funding for the sake of announcing it, there’s a reason why telling an investment story is important – and why it’s important now. A company landing an investment during one of the toughest economic climates shows its ability to not only survive, but thrive. And as TechCrunch rightly points out, it also provides a brief sigh of relief for those scanning headlines and a beacon of hope to your stakeholders, employees, fellow startup founders, other investors and industry peers.
Much like a fingerprint, no two investment stories are alike and each warrants a tailored strategy. Particularly in a time where marketing strategies and media tactics have been upended, avoid adhering to the announcement status quo – or what was once the status quo. In order to amplify your message, make sure it checks all the right boxes, as outlined below.
Key Questions to Ask When Developing Funding Messaging
As is the case for most content creation, honing the right message is critical to building brand awareness and reaching the right audience. It’s easy to focus on the news itself – funding – but instead take a 360-degree view of your communications strategy. To understand how to craft the right message, ask the following questions:
Why is this investment important?
Investment rounds raise eyebrows, but a good story is what lands eyeballs. By thinking through the outcomes of this investment you can begin to craft a story that showcases the potential impact your organization will have on the market. It’s historically an important time. Don’t shy away from highlighting the fact that funding rounds are harder to come by during economic hardships. This company recognition from your investors shows resilience and necessity. Alternatively, if you’re looking for investment opportunities during these times, demonstrate why your company mission is important now, more than ever.
What market challenge will it address?
There are thousands of cybersecurity companies out there, many of which are competing for funding. Part of breaking through the noise is making sure your story doesn’t sound like similar vendors. Just as you prepared a unique pitch deck for your investment courtship, you should put the same ideals behind your funding messaging. Part of the reasoning for receiving this investment is that your company addresses a particular challenge. Don’t let your audience assume what that challenge is – tell them.
What problem does it solve?
An investment usually means that your company is in a better position to solve a problem. Again, don’t allow your potential customers to guess that problem – make sure they know. Your solution should headline your narrative. If you’re breaking into new sectors where cyber crime has surged, a funding announcement is a great way to drive needed attention to specific industries. The better understanding of your solution that your stakeholders have, the better chance you have in building a lead pipeline, talent pipeline and even brand advocates.
Who will be impacted?
Cybersecurity and IT professionals face a lot of challenges and are working to combat threats and stay ahead of evolving technologies. As part of this major company announcement, highlight how this news will empower cyber professionals or address their pain points. New funding often means more job openings for your company. During a time where unemployment and online training has spiked, news around new job opportunities is not only a breath of fresh air, but is a beacon of hope for some. It’s also a great way to get a head start on your recruiting process.
Navigating the answers to these questions will not only help you build a unique, strong company narrative, but will also guide your communication strategy to achieve your goal – whether that is building brand awareness, attracting investors or driving leads. A funding round is a major company milestone and requires strategic planning to reach both your marketing goals and the right audience.
As a B2B PR, marketing and creative agency that has supported dozens of startups over the past 25 years, we’ve helped our clients navigate uncertain economic times and bring uplifting investment stories to market. It’s not only a good time to get your story out there, but it’s also important to showcase your company’s current momentum, ongoing mission and exciting trajectory. Having a pulse on the media and marketing landscapes and understanding the current desire for good news will allow you to craft an authentic and compelling story that your key stakeholders will appreciate.
Want more information on how to successfully tell your investment story or how to effectively navigate your marketing strategy during tough times? Check out our helpful resources.