With the increase in the number of venture capital (VC) and micro-VC firms, it’s a challenge for the individual firm to stand out from the crowd.
One study shows that there are at least 1000 VC firms operating in the US, which is the world leader in this sector. Nearly 20% of the public limited firms in the country were launched with VC support.
Though the numbers are increasing, there still remains an air of glitz and mystery around how they work, raise funds, what drives their success or causes their failure.
What Is It All About?
To clear the clouds a bit, VC is a synonym for private equity financing or capital to early-stage companies and emerging start-ups that are deemed to have the potential to succeed. They may also have displayed certain markers for high growth potential in terms of revenues, scale of operations, staffing, etc.
This process is similar to angel investment, and crowd/seed funding for equity.
History shows that VC was once the realm of wealthy philanthropists but the passage of the Small Business Investment Act (1958) signaled the granting of tax breaks and more professional management of small/medium sized businesses.
Initially, their focus was on launching and growth of businesses, and since a majority of the businesses that benefited were technology firms, VC became closely associated with tech firm financing.
The advent of the internet and WWW gave VC a huge impetus as firms such as Yahoo, Amazon and Netscape were launched using VC funding.
Though the risks are relatively high for venture capitalists, there is a good chance of a great ROI. It benefits start-ups that find it difficult to access capital markets, bank loans etc. especially if they have a short history of operations.
Why Do VCs Need Marketing?
Start-ups and fledgling businesses have plenty of options today to choose from. They can be picky about whom they do business with.
Though it’s an exciting and exhilarating field to work in, it’s also fraught with enormous risks. The VC sector is now mature enough to be broadly classified into first, second and third tier VC firms, with the attendant branding to attract the best firms. The top-tier firms tend to corner the better deals and ventures, simply because the outside world has limited access to performance data and the real-time interval between funding and ROI.
These firms need to advertise and market their services to:
- stay relevant and competitive
- communicate information about their services, experience and knowledge
- boost brand awareness and build credibility
- create trust
- educate, inform and establish yourself as an authority on the subject
- attract qualified leads
- get better ranked prospects to avail of your funding
- ensure a consistent flow of inquiries and interest
- put yourself on the path to becoming a top tier firm
- leverage industry connections to win more clients
- ensure personalization
Hiring The Best Designer
Whether you’re revamping your existing website, or launching a brand-new business website, it’s important to spend some time and effort on doing your own homework.
Once you have the basics firmed up, you can determine what you want, and who’s the best person that can provide you with it.
Know What You Need: There are several components to website design and it’s smart to familiarize yourself with some of the terms. Website designers plan page layout, colors, fonts, themes, graphics, and text placement, in tandem with your brand, style and niche. They also design the navigation, menu, cross-linking of pages, and they may also be involved in programming and artwork. Programmers, copy/content writers, internet marketing consultants and website developers have slightly different skills. Get a handle on their scope of work – would they include graphic work, logo, email set-up, e-commerce, membership programs, etc?
Budget: Keep a tentative budget in mind before talking to designers. Consult your marketing department and involve the rest of your team so that you get a wider point of view on the real need for a top quality website. Stay flexible if the designer/design firm is ready to pitch in a few extras for a slightly higher price, support and troubleshooting. Most importantly, price should never be the determiner of your choice of designer. Cheap isn’t the best and when you hammer the designer down on pricing, they would certainly have to cut corners somewhere.
Referrals: Get recommendations from trusted sources, look up reviews and feedback and speak to other clients. Apart from tech and design skills, get the lowdown on how good their communication skills are, whether they stick to deadlines, how professional they are and their working style.
Portfolio: As with any designer, their portfolio speaks volumes. However, you need to remember that whatever’s on the portfolio is an example of work that was done specifically for other clients. It may not reflect all their skills, preferences and capabilities. Portfolios do provide strong clues about their style, thematic preferences and design architecture. In case you don’t spot a common thread running through the work, you can assume that they have worked with a diverse range of clients.
Experience: It’s important to select a website designer who has some experience in working on VC website design. These are the true credentials you need. Otherwise you could end up wasting a lot of time explaining the fundamentals. They also need a solid foundation in the basics of website industry trends, SEO, responsive design, email integration and omnichannel marketing. In many ways, it’s wiser to hire a more experienced website designer rather than select a newly-hatched one.
Communication: Website design isn’t just a matter of leaving it to the designer. It is a two-way collaborative process that the client needs to be fully involved in. Ensure that your communication styles jell and that you feel an emotional connect with the designer. You can lay down the communication format that you’d like to follow and get a buy-in from the designer. Soft skills are as important as tech and design skills.
Finally, you can look for VC website designers in various ways. A simple Google search can yield great results if you make sure that you specify the industry/sector you want. Freelancer platforms are another good source. Using a local designer is a great idea when communication is important, but today with remote working being the norm, you can easily hire an overseas designer too.