I received a call the other day from an individual new to Investor Relations. She had just been hired by a junior exploration company in Vancouver and was asked to represent her company at the upcoming PDAC mining conference in Toronto. This will be her first experience as an Investor Relations professional representing a company, and it just happens to be at the largest mining convention in the world. Now what?
Depending on whom you ask, these investor conferences can be of great benefit or a complete waste of resources. I believe they can be both. If you prepare properly and follow a game plan, these conferences can be extremely valuable. But, if you show up unprepared, it may be a fun experience but a complete waste of corporate funds and time.
I caught up with Bear Creek Mining’s Lisa May, an experienced IR professional, currently completing her professional Certification in Investor Relations from CIRI and the IVEY school of Business. We discussed investor conferences and came up with these four areas which are critical to the success of Investor Relations professionals.
4 pillars of a successful Investors Conference plan
There are four pillars to a successful investor conference plan. If you follow all four, you will have success and will have created value for your company. Miss any of these crucial pillars, and your conference might have been a waste of time and money.
1. Identifying the right conferences
2. Preparing for the conference
3. Executing the conference plan
4. Conference follow up – measurement of success
Identifying the right conferences for your company
First, you must understand your own company. You will need to figure out the basic facts about your company before you can figure out which conferences to attend. Next, find out from Sr. management what the corporate strategy is and why they want you to attend the conferences. Finally, use your detective skills to search for all potential industry specific conferences. Once you know these answers, it should be easy to identify the right conferences to attend.
• What industry are you in? (no brainer)
• Why does your company want to you attend the conferences? What is the strategy?
• What stage is your company in? (grass roots exploration, advanced exploration, mining)
• What’s your market cap size? (micro-cap, small cap, mid cap, large cap)
• Who are your company’s peers? (companies similar to yours)
• What conferences do your peers attend? – which ones do they recommend?
• What is your company willing to spend to attend the conferences? Some are expensive!
• Where does your management want to gain traction? – find investors, analysts, fund managers, brokers etc. (local, Canada, USA, Europe, Asia)
• Search online – maybe there are new conferences this year.
• Search through your social networks – ask what conferences to attend on Twitter, Linkedin, and Facebook.
Preparing for the conference
Now that you have identified a few conferences that look intriguing, the next steps are to get registered for the conference and start the process of preparation. The registration is the easy part as long as the conference is open to all. You may find the conference you want to attend is by invitation only and your company may not meet the criteria this year. Once you have registered, the real work begins. The preparation stage is by far the most important.
• Identify the company goals for the conference. Why are you attending? (To gain retail investors, meet institutional investors, business development, or networking)
• Book all the conference extras (tables, chairs, carpet, insurance etc.)
• Book travel for you and your conference materials. (you may send your booth early)
• Do you have a conference booth? Is it current? Do you have a graphic designer to provide current material for the banners? Is your booth functional? How do you set it up, Test it out. Make sure you do a dry run in your office!
• Prepare the marketing materials: fact sheets, corporate presentations etc.
• Locate a local printer near the conference in case more materials are needed.
• Plan your schedule around the conference – what other events, meetings can you arrange for your management team?
• Invite investors, brokers, shareholders to visit you at the booth – by email and through social networks like: Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
• Prepare your strategy and game plan for your days at the booth. How will you engage investors? How will you track your conversations?
• Prepare a list of frequently asked questions you will likely be asked at your booth and rehearse your answers
• Add the conference to the Calendar section of your company website – maybe highlight the conference on the homepage.
• Prepare a strategy to measure your success at the show – did you accomplish your goals?
Show time – During the conference
You have managed to get this far; now it is time to perform. I strongly recommend you arrive at least one day early and make use of the early set-up time for your booth. Sometimes they break or have issues that you will want to solve before the morning of the show. Once the doors open and the investors start to roll in, you need to be on your game. Try to have more than a few hours of sleep; this can be difficult at times. Here are a few tips once the investors start to walk the aisles.
• Don’t get worried if many investors don’t want to speak to you, each investor has different agendas and specific companies and sectors they follow.
• Start with a smile and a nice greeting to those that stop by your booth.
• Define roles of those in the booth. Are you manning the booth alone, or with the company CEO?
• Have a few good opening questions like: Have you heard of our company? Are you interested in copper? If that is your speciality, can I answer any questions for you?
• Don’t act like a used car salesman.
• Engage your audience; find out if they are a current shareholder, what kind of investor they are, how they hear heard about your company?
• Create an opportunity for follow-up.
• Create a spreadsheet and record details of the good meetings you had, and try to collect a business card or contact details.
• Tweet about the conference while it is occurring, inviting people to your booth to meet you.
• Try to attend any Tweet-ups you have been invited to – maybe create your own.
• Add the conference information to your corporate Facebook page and add daily updates and pictures of the events.
• Try to get some video footage of your CEO or management at the conference.
• Try to arrange some media coverage (perhaps an interview for your Sr. management).
Follow up and measurement of success – Was the conference a good return on investment?
Once the tradeshow is over and you have packed up the booth and sent it on its way, it will be time for a cold drink and a quick reflection on the success of the event. You may want to wait until you return home, but don’t procrastinate: do these before you move on to your next task and while your memories are fresh. Here’s what I do:
• Review your spreadsheet and compare it to your original goals – did you meet the number of retail and institutional brokers you had hoped?
• Did you meet your networking goals?
• Did you manage to arrange any business development meetings?
• Did you meet the shareholders that you invited to the booth?
• Were your social media and social network activities a success?
• Review your pre-conference checklist – did all go as planned? What changes would you make?
• Were you happy with the travel arrangements? Was the hotel acceptable?
• What events, activities did you not know about that you want to include for next year?
• Plan your follow-up with all the individuals you met with.
• Update your list of frequently asked questions.
• Create a document that you can share with Sr. management and the board showing them the company’s success at the conference and a plan to improve next year’s event.
• Plan your meeting with your CEO to review your compensation – you are surely due for a raise!
We hope this has been a helpful tool. Please contact us should you have any questions or would like assistance with any of your Corporate Investor Relations needs: Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook. Talk soon, see you at the next Investors Conference!
Jon Bey - Steel Rose Communications
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