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Five things Edgar Allan learned from working with 11 VCs in 2023

5 things we learned from working with VCs | Edgar Allan

In 2023, Edgar Allan was fortunate to partner with 11 venture capital, growth, and private equity firms to help define their brands and messaging, re-design and launch their websites, and broadcast their stories to LPs, founders, and growing businesses.

Sure, that’s a drop in the ocean when you think about the sheer number of these companies across the US alone. However, the experience we’ve gained from these VC website projects has allowed us to hone in on what makes this category — and each investment firm — so unique, put them in control of their marketing through some kick-ass Webflow sites, and build solid category expertise working with investment teams and their marketing staff.

Let’s dive into five trends and takeaways we noted as we worked with firms like Sequoia, Accel, and Premji Invest.

1. Create connection

We come to every web project with one big question that sets the tone for the work to follow: What is the role of this site, and what purpose does it serve? 

This question is no different regardless of investment firm type, but the answer is unique to the category: to create connections.

Unlike a lot of B2B sites, the job of a VC website isn’t to sell more widgets or subscriptions. Instead, the aim is to connect founders, partners, investors, and LPs with your firm. Connection is driven by authentically presenting your brand’s story to the world. That’s why it’s actually less important here how any specific investment firm compares to another. We always look around at the field, but what we really want to do is highlight differentiation, personality, and point of view. 

Think of it from an entrepreneur or business’s POV; they want to enter a deep relationship with an investor. So, they’re asking, “Who do I ‘fit” with? Who can help my business get to the next stage of growth?” 

As a VC or PE firm, how do you build connection? Our observation is that sometimes teams get overly hung up on their home page or about page design and content. Our take: The front door is important, but friends use the side door. So, give people that kind of access and make it enticing to come inside.

A flow we typically see with VC websites is that a user will hear about a deal or investor and want to know more about that specific topic — the person and what they’ve done or the relationship the firm has with the company they’ve invested in. So, that means we think strategically about the content presented on team and portfolio pages — rather than just slapping down the bare minimum. It’s also just difficult to create pages that play to everyone all at once. Our advice? Don’t. Instead, look at how each page can effectively present a specific topic while optimizing for search so the right people get into the right side-doors.

2. Validate the deal

VC websites have become a vital validation tool in the deal process, telegraphing innovation, legitimacy, and proof that a firm is actively “doing.” 

More than two-thirds of the sites we’ve worked on have been centered around “big reveals” — created in preparation for a major announcement like a new fund, an IPO, an exit, or a shift in the firm’s investment themes. At all these inflection points, firms tend to turn to their website to get their messaging buttoned up and out to a larger audience.

It’s also where an agency like Edgar Allan comes into the picture. 

We’ve learned to meet the moment and then build for the need. In other words, we work with clients to separate what’s needed for their important announcement from what’s required for the long term and then prioritize.

It’s an excellent opportunity to tackle big asks in an intelligent order. For a new fund or IPO, we might work on an immediate refresh to a firm’s home and blog landing pages, for example, two places interested parties would look for detail during an announcement. From there, we can refresh the rest of the pages and tackle migration as a second phase in a larger overall project. 

3. Everyone’s doing more. Join them!

The days of riding the success of your latest deal through to the next one are over. Every investment firm is doing more talking, writing, and marketing to spread the word and maintain top-of-mind status in the market. The downside is that teams may already have their hands full but still need to move quickly to push the newest content piece out.

At Edgar Allan, we think of every website as more than just a set of pages on a screen. Instead, we create a set of marketing tools teams can use to scale their reach. This looks like amplifying a defined brand strategy (right thinking) with a new site powered by Webflow (right doing) so investment firms can unlock their full potential. 

But what happens after the handoff?

Even with a rock-solid marketing foundation and advanced control, teams often need more help. To empower them, Edgar Allan has created on-demand growth and support services that are less expensive than a full agency engagement but allow for a structured way to manage updates and fixes.

4. Manage internal and external comms

Internal communication is the key to managing expectations on all sides and as well as vital for setting up projects for success. Marketing teams need to manage two communication channels to keep the balls rolling, namely, 1. what’s being published to the market and 2. communication with internal stakeholders. 

A strategy Edgar Allan employs to ensure everyone’s always on the same page is the tried and true weekly status report. 

It’s nothing complex, just solid communication basics — quick, actionable items to keep everyone, agency and client-side, in the loop. We like to think of it as a journey rather than a spreadsheet to fill out: a way of checking in on where we’ve been, where we’re going, and what’s next.

Then, when it comes time to review work, we have teams pay attention to the type of feedback and inputs they request. This is where our feedback guide comes into play to help guide conversations with internal audiences so everyone gets what they need to move forward.

5. Don’t be afraid to jump on trends

So… AI’s got everyone talking. (Yeah, we know. It was bound to come up in this article somewhere.) But AI isn’t actually what we’ve noticed as the biggest VC website trend. That honor goes to podcasts and video.  

Podcast and video creation have given investment firms a new opportunity to start conversations with founders and potential portfolio partners, share knowledge, and bring their perspectives to life in novel ways. But this trend has a lot less to do with the communication format and more to do with the approach itself. 

Both podcasts and video series are awareness bombs, creating an asynchronous way for firms to build relationships, expand their network of influence, and maintain a foothold in the market—– resources that are gifts that keep giving once launched.

But “I’ve got to record something regularly,” you may lament. It sounds like a lot to manage, but we’ve got some tips to help get your podcast or video series started: 

  • It’s not about being perfect. Audiences in this space are niche and generally super friendly, so don’t be too critical of yourself.
  • There are plenty of ways to dip your toe into content creation. Our advice? When it comes to podcasting, start with making a few guest appearances and see how you feel.
  • When you’re ready to scale, consider bringing in a group to help with the production. There’s good news here, though — podcasts are season-based; they can be created in small, discreet batches. So, try one season, and before you go for a second, review what you’ve done and make changes if necessary.

Want to re-think your investment firm’s brand or website? How about create more content? Jump on a call with Edgar Allan, and let’s talk about how we can help you refresh your story and digital presence. 

Interested in partnering with Edgar Allan on a web design, brand, or content design project? Get in contact with us today.

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