Mark Fasken: Jonathan, I wanted to start off with what I would call foundational question. We talk a lot about targeting on the podcast and at Irwin and within the investor relations community. To do effective targeting, you have to have a strategy in place.
Mark Fasken: And so what are some of the strategies that you believe a company has to have in place before they begin investor outreach and targeting?
Jonathan Peterson: Yeah, it comes up often, Mark, I guess each company has their own kind of unique IR goals, which change over time with the company. So whether that's increasing liquidity, looking for additional volume, or perhaps they want to attract retail investors, or they want to narrow in on a specific institution.
Regardless of the goal, setting out the objectives from the beginning, I think is key before any targeting. You start with the targeting before any outreach should begin
Mark Fasken: And on that note, what are some of the more common objectives that you find companies put in place? And I'll give an example.
We hear often is maybe we're trying to get investors with a different style, right? If we have a lot of high turnover investors, we're trying to get some more low turnover investors. We see a lot of, or hear a lot of talk about focusing on certain geographies. Are there other objectives that you're hearing often?
Jonathan Peterson: Yeah, I mean, it's a lot that we'll come across as perhaps that we're refreshing IR program will come in and perhaps that they're looking to increase the institutional shareholder base. Historically, over the past couple of years, we had a lot companies come into the market via a SPAC.
Typically, they don't have institutional investors, or a large base of institutional investors.
Jonathan Peterson: So, again, increasing that liquidity in that volume, we want to look for perhaps family offices, hedge funds, I hesitate to use the term, but sort of faster money, institutions that are looking to make an investment in an industry or in a certain sector.
So, again, when we would look to target hedge funds or family offices, we would turn that tab on. And we obviously are looking for active investors rather than passive.
Jonathan Peterson: The other key is just simply management being able to talk about the story, so we can go out when we can target all of those investors.
But one of the litmus test is if you ask a CEO, what is your company do? And they struggle to tell it in the sentence, it's not going to make a successful meeting with an investor. So again, just establishing all of that, that IR program before you start targeting, and then looking at the, the geography, the industry, you know, the certain specifics of investors that, that we've spoken to over time, that we know that they're looking for an investment in that industry, and just overlaying that with, with the classic targeting approach.
Mark Fasken: Yeah, that's great.
Mark Fasken: And I know you work with a lot of small-mid-cap companies who are just sort of building up their investor relations program, and, you know, targeting is obviously different for some of these smaller organizations. To your point, they're not just going to be focused on some of these very large institutions.
And so you mentioned a few things there, sort of the geography, the type of investor, you know, family offices and things.
Mark Fasken: What does your team consider first when creating that initial targeting list? And what are some of the things that you think? Are most important for that sort of small and mid cap company to consider?
Jonathan Peterson: Yeah, it's well, I guess 1st off, Mark, we've got to consider what is small cap. My day small cap was anything up to a billion dollars. Small cap seems to have got even smaller. And now we have nano and micro. So again, just the ability for that investor, whether it's a hedge fund or a long only, for that investor to come down the market cap scale.
And then you've also got to look at the volume of the client that you're working with. If you're working with a family office that typically takes a 2 million dollar position, how long is it going to take that person to build up that position? So again, using the Irwin system, looking at the assets under management , looking at, you know, do they have high turnover?
Do they have low turnover? Have they invested in some of the peers? Of all certain topics that we look for, and then also just knowledge having met with investors throughout the U. S. and Canada, we know that certain investors have a greater appetite to invest in sort of smaller cap companies.
They're chasing that performance, that that uptick, you know, smaller cap companies, the price will typically appreciate much quicker. So you've got a lot of family offices and hedge funds that are looking for that. They're chasing that performance so they can manage the fees. In terms of of the targeting, again, it comes down to, you know, what are the holdings? Are they interested in your sector? Have you seen a switch from 1 sector to another and an increase in the cash holding? So, again, these are all sort of specifics that we look at in terms of small cap targeting.
Mark Fasken: You mentioned, just a little bit earlier, you said something to the effect of, your knowledge from past meetings, and that's something that is a big topic of discussion within the IR community, is just for being able to track all those interactions. And see, that can be useful when you think about targeting.
Mark Fasken: And so when you think about cold outreach and sort of working with companies on cold outreach and targeting, how would you recommend IROs incorporate some of that existing data that they have into their investor engagement strategies?
And like, what is that data? Right? I mean, obviously, they've had meetings, they've gone on roadshows, like, how do you incorporate that so that you can be more effective?
Jonathan Peterson: Yeah, I mean, again, it comes down to understanding who's likely to take a meeting. I mean, you may reach out to someone with cold outreach, and you may say, they're an investor.
Look, we have this company X, Y, Z on the road. Would you be interested in a meeting? They may come back and they say, look, it's the middle of earnings season. I don't have any interest. The key to successful IR is being organized. Is taking note of that that it wasn't a flat out rejection. It wasn't a no, we don't invest in that market cap size, we don't invest in that industry. Flagging that using a database, and actively managing the database. So, sometimes the, I guess, the negative comments can be just as helpful as the positive comments, but you've got to be very disciplined. So, in terms of, using a database, using that system to track all of your interactions, being disciplined, if you're fortunate enough to work in a team, making sure that everyone has access to that database, and every time you have an interaction, you log that interaction, good, bad, or indifferent. And that, in my opinion, is key. That follow up, so if, if you have a meeting and in the meeting, they ask for sales numbers or something that you just don't have, you know, you don't have to hand and you say, look, I'm going to come back to you, Mark. That's a great question. I'm going to follow up, make sure that you flag it and make sure that you follow up.
It's, it sounds easy to do, but the follow up is so key to establishing that relationship.
Mark Fasken: Those are great points, and I think that the organization and consistency is one that we hear a lot. I was actually at the IR Mag, they did a small camp forum in New York a few weeks ago. And this was a topic of sort of follow up and targeting, just out of curiosity sort of top of putting on the spot here.
But when you think about outreach, what would you say the response rate is on the emails that you're sending it to investors. You're working with a team. You send out a hundred targeted emails to investors. How many of those investors do you think come back and actually are interested in a meeting at some point in time?
Jonathan Peterson: Can I, can I answer with a question, Mark? Can I come back? Do you mean on my first email or on the second email or on the third email? Oh, great. Good, great, great point. Cause that, that first email I would say, let's say you send out, I don't know. Let's make the maths easy. You send out 10 emails. You're probably going to get two that say, thanks for the invite, no interest.
You're going to probably get two out of the office. So that then takes you down to six. You're going to get two that say, yeah, I'm interested. And then the rest is just no response. We typically then will follow up afterwards. Just following up to say, look, you know, we, we saw that we just want to make sure that you see this email.
We'd maybe do it later in the day if we sent an email out earlier in the morning. So trying to capture that kind of that investor later in the day, that 1st email, I would say it's, it's pretty low batting averages, on that 1st, and then on the 2nd, it gets better. And then on the 3rd, you know, you're probably around 80 percent interaction with everyone that you've gone out to. The 1 thing I would say and stress is that if someone said that they're interested, stay with them.
Investors have a very short attention span. They say, yeah, sure. I'll take a meeting. When is it available? Be ready to go with two or three different times. And so I always keep a notepad beside me when I'm when we're working on a road show to keep the times that were available, and just cross them off. It sounds super simple.
But again, you've got that person's attention. You need to make sure that you kind of close that transaction and that you get them booked and that you're able to go in and meet with them.
Mark Fasken: I think that that's a great point because that was pretty in line with what we heard in at this, at this IR Mag event, where people were sort of saying, like, 5 percent response rate on the 1st email.
Maybe? Right. That would be pretty good. 5 responses in 100. it's probably okay, but that the key to it was that consistent follow up, right? Like, having multiple touch points over the course of maybe weeks., Or months and it all depends on earnings and what's going on in that person's world. And so I think those are, those are really good points.
Mark Fasken: I want to talk about social media a little bit because, also I know you guys are pretty adept at using social media with your clients and it's a big focus in the small midcap world, both to attract retail and institutional. How do you use or think about companies using social media in their targeting strategies?
Jonathan Peterson: Okay, so this is the bit where I have to full disclosure. I was somewhat anti social media for the longest time, and I'm a convert. I think it has its place and its part in an overall IR strategy, but you've got to have your ducks in a row and, creating that cadence. So making sure that if you're going to do something, you continue to do it.
So very often we see a lot of, in the small and the mid cap space, management teams, I'm going to do a weekly blog. Week one goes great. Week two goes fantastic. Week three, it gets difficult to come up with a new idea. Same with social media. Don't be in a hurry just to post press releases. You actually need to have a plan.
We know that investors will go to social media. They'll use that as a source of information. It will drive them to your website. So again, it's equally important to make sure that the website is buttoned up. So very often, we come across new clients and we go onto the investor page and we'll see that the, you know, the date will be July 2022 of the latest presentation.
It's these small things that forget about. So when you're active on social media, you need to make sure that you establish a cadence. There was a recent survey that came out and said that about 81 percent have made a decision on an investment based initially sourcing information from a digital or a social media platform.
So it is an incredibly powerful tool. And again, we see as a gateway to driving to your website. So, again, we always talk about just being consistent, reposting, liking, commenting, pulling in people that are experts within your professional industry, tagging them. We're great fans of the likes of LinkedIn and twitter or X as it's now known. We think that those probably are the better platforms for for using for social media.
Mark Fasken: How do you think about that intersection between social media and targeting? Like, when I think about social media, I think what a lot of IROs think about social media, they think about, you're posting and maybe it's building awareness and some people are seeing it, but then, you know, how does that relate back to, I have this targeted list of investors,
that I want to get a meeting with.
Jonathan Peterson: Yeah, and it's I'm not sure that there's any data out there that shows that the 2 are linked. What I will say, having been in a few investor meetings over my time, what's quite interesting is when you're sitting there. And you turn to a specific page or a specific announcement and then that investor then says, oh, yeah, I saw this on your social media.
So it's it's definitely building awareness and then it confirms that what you're doing is right when you're having comments from investors in meetings, or even you're having investors reaching out to you saying, Hey, I just saw your latest post. We're invested in this sector.
We'd love to have a conversation with you, are management available? So, again, it's definitely that interaction. From a targeting standpoint, I think if it. If it resonates with 2 or 3 investors that are, as we call it, rather than pulling, they're pushing into us, they're coming in to ask for meetings.
I think it then helps fine tune that targeting that you're doing. Okay, this specific type of investor that's now interested in us. We now pay, you know, perhaps the client pays a dividend, so we're now starting to see those those income focused funds, and perhaps we change the targeting accordingly.
Mark Fasken: And one of the pieces of feedback I've heard, I don't know if I'd call it a piece of feedback, but maybe a concern around social media. I don't know if you've heard this as well, is companies and IR teams, perhaps feeling like it's too promotional, maybe not educational enough. Have you heard that? And how do you, how do you think you balance those things?
Jonathan Peterson: Yeah, the, the, the promo trap, right? It's you have a good set of numbers. So you're excited to highlight a specific fundamental and your numbers and you post it all over social media. And then the next quarter, you don't want to post that because it's not quite as good. You know, our view is that you, anything that you put up as a publicly traded company, you need to ensure that you're complying with the rules and the regulations, just as you would with a press release, just as you would with any of your, your, your website or your investor presentation.
I would say that social media has become much more self regulated. A lot of the professional IR teams are making sure that they're in compliance with the fair disclosure, non promotional. They're not misleading in any way that, that, you're constrained with a certain amount of characters so that they're actually using links or they're using diagrams or pictures to make sure that the reader understands and is not misled. That's the last thing that you want to do. But again, I think you just you, you have to have in the back of your mind, you know, good governance, good disclosure and ensure that you're not misleading an investor in any way.
Mark Fasken: I think that's great.
And that, that your point on just using different forms of, of content, infographics and everything, video seems to be super popular. I've also heard a lot of talk about trying to leverage the social media channels to be educational about the sector, right? And educational about the company. So I think those are great points.
So I want to go back. We've got a couple more questions here and, and we've, we've sort of touched on this one, but I want to get a little bit more specific. It goes back to the targeting list, right? We've got our strategy. We've got our list. We've sort of decided on a, on a group of investors that we want to reach out to.
We talked a little bit about the response rate, but also that there needs to be multiple touch points. I want to kind of get a little bit more detail on that, because sometimes I get the feeling as though people think I'm going to build a target list. I'm going to send it an email. And then you get a bunch of responses from people who want to meet with me, which is not realistic for the vast majority of companies.
Mark Fasken: So what is a typical cadence look like for you? What would you recommend to an IRO who's saying I've got a list. Now what?
Jonathan Peterson: Yeah. I mean, once you have that targeting list, there are different ways. It depends on what you're trying to achieve Mark, right? So yeah, by all means you can go out and you can blast it.
Are there specific people in or organizations in that list that you really, really want to meet? Is it worth sending personalizing that email just a little bit more? We, we met at a conference 3 months ago. You asked us to follow up. We're following up your management's going to be in town or we're hosting virtual calls.
Sometimes just offering that virtual call versus being determined that you're going to have an in person meeting. I think helps. In terms of crafting that email, you want to make sure that that you're introducing the company to an investor that perhaps hasn't met before.
Again, think about all of the fundamentals of your company that you can put in there. Should you suggest to the investor why they should take a meeting? Why is it important that they meet with your company now versus last quarter or the quarter before? It's tailoring that email to solicit a call to action, to that investor that you're sending out.
And again, looping in the social media, perhaps a sell side analyst has commented on a piece of industry news that you posted on social media, again, reaching out to that analyst, creating that dialogue with the sell side analyst saying, look, We are in this industry, we know that we're not gonna get, necessarily get coverage from our first interaction, but we're here.
Let's develop a relationship. So again, using that, crafting that email, and then also not being afraid to pick up the phone. Call someone, say, Hey, I just sent an email. I know that you, you've had an interest in our company before our industry. We'd love to set up a call. So, you know, offering that sort of virtual zoom call again, think about using virtual conferences. That's another great tool that you can think of in terms of we're going to be attending this conference. And crafting that in the email and inviting that perhaps that new investor you've never met before.
So they don't necessarily want to do a 1 on 1, but they can hear management present at the conference. And then follow up afterwards.
Mark Fasken: Yeah that so that 1st email, I think that's a great point in terms of, deciding what it is that you're trying to do. Right? And do you want to be really tailored and specific, or do you just want to sort of blast everyone? You mentioned sort of picking up the phone and making a phone call. You mentioned earlier sort of following up. If you're sort of like what I feel most IROs are trying to do, which is I've got a target list, like a wish list of organizations that I would just love to meet with and have a conversation with.
And they're going to meet with them at conferences and whatnot as well, probably. But is that like a touch point every Month, every quarter after that first email. Is it like fast and furious? I'm gonna email you 10 times in the course of a month. What do you think works best? Or is like not gonna annoy people
Jonathan Peterson: or do you play hard to get and just ignore them completely?
Mark Fasken: just ignore everybody. Don't email anyone.
Jonathan Peterson: There's no hard and fast rule Mark. I mean, unfortunately, in the life of a publicly traded company. You're going to have periods where it's fast and furious that you've got tons of news. You've got new deals coming through new partnerships.
You've signed new contracts. Then I would say it's, it's, it's kind of fast and furious. You're picking up the phone. You're saying, Hey, Mark, we met last month. I'm on the phone. I just wanted to let you know, we signed that deal from the pure targeting standpoint, I'm trying to remember the number was a CFA event and they had a portfolio manager from from a large Boston buy side firm, and he told us that by it was something like 8 o'clock in the morning, his voicemail was full.
And it was from brokers. It was from IR uh, you know, IROs calling up to give news, and he said there was just no way to get through the voicemail. So, you know, I know that we're all desperate to get in front of investors. So sometimes maybe 1st thing in the morning doesn't make sense. It's really hard to say that it should be a week.
It should be a month. It's just dependent on what's happening with your company. What news you have, or maybe something's happened with 1 of your peers in your industry and you reach out. So I would be opportunistic in terms of creating that cadence or that, that frequency. If there's something happened within your industry that you have something of value to share, then I would reach out.
Mark Fasken: It goes back to your earlier point of being organized, and making sure that when those opportunities come out. You have that list of people that, you know, you want to reach out to you have the previous interaction information if you want to reference it. But, I mean, I, I, I think that's a great way of approaching it is like, reach out when you have something to say, not just like following up and following up and following up because I don't think that anybody
really wants that. My last question, and, you know, I think you've, you've over the years done a lot of crafting of messaging and sort of pitches and everything. I want to talk about the email because, you know, even at Irwin, we've seen a lot of different email pitches, everything from a single sentence with a table of information all the way to what I would deem to be like a short novel, what would you say is a kind of like the ideal structure of that Introductory pitch email, where it's like, I am reaching out to tell you about my company, and here's just a quick snapshot that might garner some interest.
Jonathan Peterson: Yeah, the, the magic email that, that gets you more, more interaction with sell side. I'd base it on what would I want to read in my inbox. So, you know, I typically talk about.
what is happening. So our management doing a non deal road show, and they're going to be in New York City on a specific day, and they're meeting with investors and the sell side community to give an update. So that's, that, that's, that's what's happening. Then if it's a cold outreach that you, you don't know the investors and by the way, this is our company, this is what we do.
And then the fundamentals of the company. So the market cap, your ticker symbols. So if you're quoted on an overseas exchange and then your US ticker symbol. The dates of the event, who the management team that's participating, and then I would even I typically include a reason to take the meeting.
We've just recently signed a new contract and it means X, Y, Z, in terms of revenue going forward or we've signed a new partnership and it's opened up a new geographical region for us. Again, a kind of call to action and then an offering again, be flexible, you know, 3 years ago, it was all in person or 4 years ago.
It was all in person. Now we can do a meeting in person. Or if you prefer, we can, we can offer a virtual call. For me, the success is that I get a meeting, whether it be virtual, or whether it be in person and don't get hung up on trying to fill a day full of just in person meetings. I appreciate that you possibly have spent money to travel there, but have the flexibility that perhaps you've not met this investor before, and a 30 to 40 minute virtual call can be incredibly useful. So again, it's having that flexibility, but again, just a clear, concise what's happening? Who are you? Why should that person take a meeting and giving them an option, whether it be in person or virtual?
Mark Fasken: Jonathan, this has been super helpful. Really, really appreciate it. Thank you for your time.
Jonathan Peterson: Thanks so much for the opportunity, Mark.
Winning IR is a podcast exploring the diverse insights within the investor relations community. Join host Mark Fasken as he discusses the winning strategies, tactics, and shifts in thinking with innovative investor relations professionals who are redefining the profession.
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