We recently had a conversation with an investment manager about what makes an effective pitch book. Here’s an excerpt:

Q: What is the most common mistake a manager makes when putting together a pitch book?

A: Many pitch books tend to be dense with text, and have charts and graphs that are small and difficult to read.

Q: What makes a good story?

A: A good story speaks to the persona of the investors, who they are, and what they are looking for. The story is clear, crisp, concise, and solves an investor’s problem.

Q: What are the general elements that go into a pitch book?

A: A successful pitch book should have an executive summary, a table of contents, a discussion of the investment manager’s background and experience, performance if available, service providers, fund terms, contact information, disclaimers, and answer the questions – why us, why this asset class, and why now?

Q: How does an investment manager make the pitch book stand out in the crowd?

A: Impact imagery, color, animation, and white space are your friends. Investment managers should not be afraid to have some slides that have a single specific and telling quote, as opposed to trying to put as much information on one slide as possible. Adding links to a relevant video, white paper, or podcast can also make a book stand out.

Q: What advice can you offer on how to use a pitch book?

A: The pitch book is a guide, not a script. Know your story, improvisation may be required. Many investors have specific questions. So you answer them when asked, not when you get to page nine. If the deck is used in small group situations, like a lunch meeting or one-on-one.

Q: When should you use your pitch book?

Don’t even pull out your pitch book at the beginning of a meeting. Just sit down and talk to the prospect. Get to know them, establish a relationship, find out what they are interested in learning about, and then have a conversation.  And then point them to specific parts of your pitch book that are relevant within the flow of the conversation.

Q: How long a pitch book should be?

A: It’s not how many pages or slides that’s critical, but how long it actually likes to tell your story. The sweet spot is anywhere from 20 to 25 slides, including the cover and disclosure slides, although some may be as few 15, as many as 80 pages. But there’s often a lot of air between the slides, so that when the information is presented, it’s easier to understand.

Q: What is a reasonable objective for a pitch book?

A: The pitch book is part of the sales funnel or sales process. It’s part of the “getting to know you” process. The book helps the investment manager present their firm and his or her investment style, strategy and fund, not close the sale.

Q: What disclaimers should a pitch book have?

A: The short answer is, whatever the manager’s legal team says is required. If the fund is for accredited investors only, the pitch book must say so. Disclaimers should detail risks. Indices should be cited. Outside data should be sourced. Text should be 8-point type at minimum. Text should be proximate to what is being disclaimed. The fund’s objectives and terms should be consistent from the legal documents to the sales materials. And past performance, of course, does not guarantee future similar results.

Q: Any final thoughts?

A: Potential investors often see hundreds of pitch books. Clarity is essential. All managers say they are disciplined and experienced. Which may be true, but it’s not distinctive. So story matters. The breadth and depth of your organization matters, too, as does your team’s education, affiliations, and accreditations.

And an investment manager’s marketing does not start or end with the pitch book.

Generating leads to help raise capital may also depend on a website that attracts, on eBooks that educate, on emails that speak to prospects wherever they are in the sales process, and on breadth and depth of content that positions a manager as a informed source.