By David Calusdian, President
You arrive on-site early in the morning to the smell of freshly brewed coffee and warm croissants. In the background, you can see your production team huddled together for one final review of the run of show. Members of Wall Street mingle with management in the breakfast room, smiling and exchanging banter during the lead up to showtime. This is your company’s investor day, also known as an analyst day or capital markets day, and all of your preparation is about to pay off.
Of course, a successful event is not guaranteed! Investor days are like an earnings call, town hall event, and investor conference all rolled into one. Managed properly, they can provide a detailed look at your story, raise your profile on Wall Street, showcase your bench strength, and more. Conversely, a poorly executed event is an IR liability that can do more harm than good. With this in mind, the planning and execution of your investor day should not be taken lightly. Consider the following five tips to make the most out of this cornerstone event for your IR program.
1. It is never too early to start planning.
A six-month time frame is not unrealistic when it comes to developing your plan of attack, in fact, the greater the buffer the better. Think carefully before choosing a date and be sure to talk to analysts, your top investors, and prospective venues about their availability. Potential obstacles include earnings seasons, industry conferences, holidays, and even school vacations. With an event date in mind, draft a detailed checklist outlining intermediate target dates for everything you’ll need—from menu options to transportation and lodging, to the presentation materials themselves. A successful investor day requires a team effort, so weekly update meetings will be essential for assigning individual tasks, reviewing draft materials, and keeping the process on time and within budget.
2. Reimagine the where and how of the event.
New York City is still the default choice for most companies but, in today’s world, many of your VIP guests now may opt for virtual attendance. And while investor day webcasts certainly existed prior to the pandemic, digital capabilities, from video options to Q&A functionality, have improved considerably in the past two years. Consider the “look and feel” of the presentation you want to deliver and select a suitable format that plays to your team’s strengths. This might include product demonstrations, customer and partner testimonials, or even facility tours, in which case you may want to produce video segments ahead of time. Many companies now are including an introductory “sizzle” video to liven up the event from the start. One thing is for sure. "Hybrid" is here to stay.
3. For presentation development, think in terms of key takeaways.
When putting together hours of material for multiple speakers, it is easy to lose a sense of the big picture. At Sharon Merrill, we advise clients to ensure coherent messaging by thinking in terms of the key takeaways that you would most want to read in an analyst note the day after the event. These might include elements from your investment thesis or answers to investor misconceptions you’ve encountered prior to the event. A perception study conducted by a third party is a great, unbiased way to determine what investors and analysts really think about your company and what questions they have about your prospects. Armed with such information, you can assemble a master outline of the day’s presentations to address those concerns and reinforce your key messages while educating those who may be new to the story.
4. Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse.
If your investor day will cover new ground regarding your company’s long-term strategy, changes in leadership, or any major milestones, the day of the event is no time for winging it, particularly if one or more members of your team will be experiencing their first day in the IR spotlight. As the individual presentations take shape, one-on-one presentation training is invaluable in preparing each speaker for the stress of being alone on stage. As an added benefit, these sessions can serve to pressure test elements of the investment thesis and facilitate the development of model answers for Q&A.
5. Collect and implement feedback.
Lastly, be sure to survey all participants as soon as the event ends. Such surveys need not be more than five questions, focusing on the overall effectiveness of the event, the perception of the company as an investment, and how well the company addressed particular topics. Comparing those results to the findings of a pre-event perception study can provide meaningful insight into how your IR program is trending. But feedback is worth little if you do not act on it, and your first earnings call after the investor day is an ideal opportunity to begin implementing what you’ve learned.
Sharon Merrill has deep experience and expertise in partnering with companies to plan and execute flawless investor days. From perception audits and vendor coordination, to presentation development and training, we can help you deliver an event that advances your profile on the Street in support of your broader IR goals and objectives. For more information and to schedule a consultation, please reach out to David Calusdian at firstname.lastname@example.org.
David Calusdian is President at Sharon Merrill Associates. He oversees the implementation of proactive investor relations programs, including the flawless strategic execution of investor days. He also coaches C-suite leaders in executive presence, presentation delivery and media proficiency, and provides strategic counsel to clients on a wide range of communications issues, including corporate disclosure, proxy proposals, shareholder activism and earnings guidance.