Why You Should Tell Your Financial Story
For small and medium-sized independent retailers, the idea of telling the outside world your business story is daunting. Retail investor relations expert Paul Barker explains why you should consider it.
Even if your company isn’t publicly quoted or doesn’t have institutional or retail shareholders there are potential gains for independent retailers in sharing your corporate story. Nowhere more so than differentiating in a highly competitive market, and raising finance for the purpose of accelerating business growth.
There is less of a need today to sell equity in your business as non-traditional sources of debt finance emerge, bolstered by the emergence of crowdsourcing, credit funds and mini-bonds.
In these cases, independent retailers need to tell their corporate stories in a more compelling and transparent way and to a wider audience than they might have done in the past.
Both mini-bonds and crowdfunding, for example, are typically offered to private investors who are also existing customers. This, in turn, increases interest and awareness in the success of the brand. In effect, the lines that used to be drawn between corporate and customer communication aren’t just becoming blurred; they’re ceasing to exist.
This doesn’t mean independent retailers have to start quarterly corporate reporting, but regular content and media engagement which is both relevant and appropriate for the size and profile of the business can be useful.
Developing a richer corporate narrative also brings the potential to unlock ‘softer’ business benefits, including promoting the business as a great place to work and attracting the best new talent.
Here are five easy-wins that will help you on the road to effective corporate communications:
1. Develop the About Us section of your company’s website. Management profiles, company vision and strategy, case studies and, where possible, bring your ‘investment case’ to life by using visuals and video.
2. Speak to your PR agency, if you have one, to ask for specialist corporate advice to help plan a programme of corporate engagement.
3. Debate with your board and senior management what metrics and level of financial information you are prepared to disclose to and how frequently – headline performance combined with a succinct narrative about strategic and operational highlights during the period under review are your starting point.
4. Consider an online annual report (hard copies are often an unnecessary expense for independent businesses) which reflects your brand and headline financial performance and will be of interest to employees, suppliers, landlords, funders, customers and other stakeholders.
5. The media is increasingly interested in trends and commentary on the wider market, rather than just individual financial performance, so before you engage develop some interesting narratives about your business and the markets in which it operates.