Four Great Marketing Opportunities for Public Companies
Earnings season is disruptive. There’s no doubt about it.
From the point of view of a corporate communications firm, earnings seasons create great marketing opportunities. Indeed, lacking a major corporate event between quarters, we think that earnings may be the best chance a company has to market itself over the course of a year. This is an oft-neglected aspect of earnings. It is also our best chance to help our clients to achieve a positive investor response, regardless of their results. It is an opportunity that presents itself four times each year!
While finance groups and management teams focus in earnest about disclosure matters and stress about what the Street’s reaction will be, thousands of people eagerly anticipate earnings reports. They set email alerts, lay out earnings calendars, refresh their expectations and put their lives on hold for earnings. This is of course hyperbole, but there is an important point here that is hard to dispute. During earnings, a company has the attention of a large and engaged audience of current and future shareholders. And let's not forget about the sell-side and the media. Earnings is a great marketing platform.
Any discussion about marketing has to begin with a discussion of messaging and storytelling. Results are results – some quarters will be good, others less so. Despite these fluctuations, the same set of questions need to be addressed. What is your company’s ultimate value proposition? Why should someone continue to invest in or begin to assess an investment in your company? That's the starting point, namely who are you and why should someone invest in your company? These are the riddles we are focused on solving during each earnings season. The answers aren’t static.
Your company’s core messages need to evolve with its strategy, financial results and market backdrop. They evolve with your company, much like your shareholder base will evolve as conditions change. If the quarter was bad, how do you get people to look towards the future with integrity (let’s make lemonade!)? Messaging can be blunt, or it can be subtle. It can increase the appearance of transparency, or it can smooth the edges around an otherwise bumpy quarter. Regardless of your actual results, the words you use to explain your results and the broader context can be as important as the results themselves. This is your chance to shape and own the narrative. You get to do this four times each year!
Another great thing about earnings is that you will produce content whether you like it or not (charts, graphics, soundbites, etc). The nice thing about content is that content can be repurposed. Is there a great chart or graphic from your earnings presentation or press release that you can feature on your website and /or social media channels? All you need is some data and a little imagination. Have you considered a video webcast of your conference call? People consume content in various formats across diverse media, and content can reinforce your company’s narrative.
A lot goes into making earnings a successful marketing exercise. For now, we'll leave you with just one final thought: Earnings gives you a reason to engage with the sell-side, your largest investors and your most likely targets. We're talking about direct outreach. Spend some time thinking about how to maximize those engagements – make a priority list and be proactive. Reach out to those key constituents and offer them a time to speak with you following your earnings call. This helps to build relationships, and relationship building is an important part of marketing.
Next earnings cycle, switch your mindset and put on your marketing hat. Nobody can market your stock like you can, so don't miss the opportunity. If you're not sure where to begin, just give us a call. We may even pitch you on our services!