5 Rules for a Successful Virtual Analyst Day

Written By Elizabeth Saunders, Partner

May 1, 2020

Many of the changes businesses have been forced to make amid COVID-19 are going to become part of our new norm because they just make sense. We’ve discovered the conveniences of working from home; enjoyed the benefits of collaboration platforms like Slack, Teams, and Zoom; and found ways to do almost any type of business or transaction without leaving the house. Given the advantages inherent in many of these new work practices, it’s clear that some will stick, making us question why we didn’t try them sooner.

Virtual analyst days fall into the group of trends that should have caught on well before now.

And the big reason is costs. With a traditional event, half of a typical $100K+ budget is spent on travel and venue before anyone even steps foot into the ballroom. And the events are disruptive, creating headaches with clearing schedules and getting key people in the same room at the same time. Slashing costs and simplifying scheduling means you can hold these important meetings more often than once a year or every other year, and budget and logistics won’t hold you back from personally imparting important information to your shareholders.

Still feeling skeptical about virtual investor days? Then consider this: In a recent survey we conducted with investors and sell-side analysts, 88% of respondents said they were likely or very likely to attend such an event. Already, companies like GoDaddy and 2U have hosted well-received virtual analyst day events. Sell-side conferences are going virtual and most of the large firms are making corporate access virtual, as well. It’s becoming the norm and the Street appears to be fully on board. Ultimately, investors want to see and interact with your company’s leaders, and they are perfectly okay with doing it over a screen.

Making your virtual event pop.

That means the onus is on you to make your virtual analyst day as engaging and dynamic as possible. Here are five ways to get started:

  1. Be prepared to talk about right now as well as what’s next. As is usually the case, it’s a mistake to ignore the elephant in the room. Current market conditions have to be addressed and they should be the focus of any analyst day you host right now. You can use the pandemic to validate the effectiveness of your current strategy if your business has done well during this time, or you can use it to explain any pivots you have made and how you are responding to the here and now. Either way, it’s also critical to talk about what’s coming a little further down the road as the world begins to move from crisis to recovery mode. Speak to what a post-coronavirus world is going to look like for your business later this year and into 2021. Telling the longer-term story and painting a picture of how things will evolve over the next months to a year will create the foundation for keeping investors engaged longer term. This is especially important for companies that are trading low right now and that may represent a great buying opportunity as long as they have a solid plan for the future.
  2. Target new investors. Given the significantly lower cost of a virtual analyst day, it’s a great time to include new and potential investors on the guest list. Not only does the format cost less for you, it requires less time and effort from the attendee, making it an easier commitment for both parties. But you need to make the experience meaningful for this group—make it clear that there will be a “101” education phase to the day. You may also want to give all attendees, including new and current investors, a chance to submit questions ahead of time, and then work them into the presentation. This ensures your event is addressing the issues that are most critical to each segment of your audience.
  3. Post a primer ahead of time. Even before meetings went virtual, investors were clamoring for a sneak peek at the presentation deck, arguing that seeing it in advance would lead to greater engagement and better preparation. Of course, companies don’t want to give everything away ahead of the big show. But with virtual analyst days, providing a teaser can help build interest and ensure engagement throughout the event. Consider something that goes beyond a robust agenda, but is short of the full presentation, to whet appetites. This also gives attendees something they can print in advance and use for note taking and following along, which will support their engagement.
  4. Make the experience dynamic. Resist talking at the Street for the entire duration of the event andbe creative in how you engage attendees in the conversation.  Aswe’ve all learned by now, it’s easy to multitask during virtual calls, especially long ones that don’t require active participation. To keep things interesting, vary who is doing the talking. Your CEO and CFO should be the headliners; but try to also include business heads and as much of the management team as possible. Break things up by holding an interactive Q&A after each presenter or including at least two separate times for questions and answers: one midway through the agenda and the second at the end. Think about incorporating a virtual panel discussion that allows your leadership team to interact with one other. And include videos where it makes sense, such as virtual tour of a plant or facility.
  5. Record and repackage. Virtual investor days deliver great value for the investment. You can maximize the ROI even more by capturing video or recording the event and posting it on your website. This allows investors who can’t log into the live event to watch later on.  You can also repurpose snippets and highlights of critical content and messaging for your investor deck, fact book, or website.

Keep logging facetime however you can.

Investors have resoundingly told us that the pandemic doesn’t change stakeholders’ expectations for communications. And there is clearly a desire to see the faces of your leadership team. Using today’s communication platforms to create meaningful and engaging events with your investors is paramount. And once you master how to optimize the time online, it may just become your standard protocol for the long term.

Whatever the future holds, we invite you to access the insights from our virtual investor day survey to make your current virtual events as powerful as they can be. As always, reach out with questions, and let us know how we can help you keep your investors fully engaged during the pandemic and beyond.

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