Like most startup owners Directly’s Antony Brydon had only ever tried the outbound approach to fundraising:

  • identify investors
  • network to coordinate calls and meetings
  • work 1:1 to create demand

This tried and tested approach produced somewhere in the region of a 5-10% close rate.

In his article Close A Round With New “Inbound” Techniques And Tools On AngelList Antony covers some of the things he wishes he’d known previously.

Based on Antony’s article and experience, here we focus on a three point ‘to-do’ list when considering fundraising using the inbound method:

    • Run a campaign to generate inbound demand
    • Apply the latest marketing technology and techniques
    • Use a sales funnel to move from commitment to closing

Run an Inbound Campaign to Generate Demand:

‘The first and most important thing we did was to shift the way we thought about the fundraising from “outbound” sales to “inbound” marketing designed to generate demand.’

Choosing to take an inbound approach rather than an outbound does require a ‘shift’ in thinking. The key to changing your approach is to first change how you are thinking. This is the biggest obstacle and it requires buy-in from all involved. Your biggest challenge may simply be one decision-maker in your company who just can’t get their head around the required shift in how they think about your traditional tried and tested approach to fundraising. If they know you’re going to close at around 5-10%, why would they risk a new approach?

Running a campaign meant that Directly came out top on AngelList, gained followers, inbound introductions and were able to assess these introductions based on them being the right ‘fit’ for Directly, thereby generating a 37% close rate, 27 percentage points up on the highest close-rate expected using the tried and tested outbound approach (as an aside, Antony does note that there was also a direct pursuit of investors, but this is not included in the 37% close rate).

Apply the latest Marketing Technology and Inbound Techniques:

‘The right tools changed the game for us with an unprecedented level of awareness and visibility into interested investors.’

The inbound campaign process requires you create and publish engaging content, track this engagement, score your engaged leads, prioritise your leads, nurture and follow-up accordingly.

For sales and marketing you would use crm (at Brightfire we use Salesforce) and marketing automation software (we use Hubspot).

For fundraising, Directly used:

    • Clearslide.
    • Rapportive.
    • Gmail
    • Angie

Use a Sales Funnel to Move from Commitment to Close:

‘The last important thing we did was treat the investor funnel like a sales funnel…’

Using a funnel whether in sales, marketing or fundraising requires calls to action (CTA). These CTAs require that the engaged party take committed steps of interest that secure them as a seriously interested party and an actual lead, thereby reducing your fallout, or ‘no shows’ as Antony puts it very nicely in his maître d’ analogy.

The CTA Directly used was a creating “commitment” step where they requested investors send complete investment information and confirm their online reservations.

This ruling out of disinterested parties, or ruling in of interested parties – however you see it, is what greatly contributes to a high close rate, whether for the benefit of sales, marketing or fundraising.

Directly also continued to ‘nurture’ their interested parties using content in the form of a ‘steady stream of updates – some delivered en masse, some delivered individually.’

Wrapping Up:

‘Run a campaign to generate inbound demand, take advantage of the tools and technology that can give you precise visibility into investor activity, use a sales funnel to relentlessly close – and you will transform how you raise money.’

To be honest, I couldn’t have wrapped this blog up better. If you do want further insight in to how to run an inbound campaign this webinar will give you some great insights. It’s a recording of a recent and inspiring Q&A session with marketing automation and inbound method experts Jeetu Mathani of Hubspot and Johnny Mone at Brightfire:

You can read Antony Brydon’s full article here and follow him on Twitter @abrydon.