An investor day is like an earnings call, non-deal roadshow, and annual meeting all rolled into one. It should be the signature event of your IR calendar but hosting a successful one requires careful planning and thorough preparation. Keep the following tips in mind as you begin the process.
1. Picking a Date
March, May-June, September and November-December are popular windows in order to avoid the brunt of the earnings, holiday, and vacation seasons. You will want to host your investor day as soon as is practicable after a quarterly earnings call to prevent any Reg FD issues, to avoid uncertainty about short-term results, and to keep the focus on the long term. Otherwise, consider issuing preliminary results ahead of the event. This will ensure that your most recent financials have been adequately disclosed, which will free your team to speak more openly about your results and outlook. Once you have a target date in mind, check with your analysts and top investors to see what conferences they may already have on their calendars. Additionally, talk with your sales team about any industry events that could present conflicts. As a final check, speak with your department heads about the timing of any pipeline projects that could potentially be unveiled during the investor day. Including a “big reveal” of a new product or service can pique investor interest.
2. Picking a Venue
New York City is an obvious choice and hosting in the Big Apple is typically the best way to maximize in-person attendance, which has rebounded strongly this year. But consider your target audience and what might be easiest for them. For example, an oil and gas company might want to choose Houston or Dallas, while a tech company might opt for Silicon Valley. Alternatively, if you have a corporate facility that is worth showing off, such as a state-of-the-art manufacturing center, hosting the event on site might be the best option, particularly if doing so would facilitate a tour or product demonstration. Whatever the location, the best hotels and conference facilities can fill up months in advance, so nailing down your choices as early as possible is critical.
3. Constructing Your Presentation
You probably already have an investor presentation in hand, or at least a basic messaging framework that you are comfortable with, but give your team sufficient time to evaluate investor perceptions, survey the competitive landscape, and test your assumptions. You will want to start with the big picture. You might have six or more members of your leadership team speaking on the big day but their presentations should fit neatly together as a coherent whole, ideally as a set of key messages that your CEO can reinforce in the opening and closing remarks. Developing those key messages is an opportunity to pressure-test your enterprise strategy and investment thesis. Are you sure you have both? You might be surprised how many companies fail to communicate them effectively. Moreover, in the course of developing your presentation deck, you might discover that your strategy covers the “how” or the “what” but not the “why.” Only when you have a rock-solid outline for the entire presentation can you assign each section to your individual speakers for them to fill in the supporting details. Such a comprehensive approach can be transformational for your IR program but it cannot be done overnight. The more lead time you can build into your schedule, the better.
4. Logistics, Logistics, Logistics
From hotel reservations to menu selections, invitations to vendor coordination, and signage to seating, you will have endless details to arrange and monitor—none of which you will want to leave to the last minute. For example, pre-recorded video segments can be a great way to convey your story, such as by sharing first-person experiences of customers and partners, but quality production takes time. Who will be featured? Where will it be shot? When? Additionally, presentation training is essential for any members of the team who might not normally be in the IR spotlight and can also be a great way for experienced speakers to become more comfortable with new material. But the time to reserve space in their schedules is now, not in the days before the event. And don’t forget your run of show. Everything from how your speakers will enter and exit, to where they will stand, to what stage adjustments might be needed between presentations must be worked out and rehearsed prior to the big event.
Whether the format is in-person, virtual, or hybrid, there is no better way for your company to make a splash with investors and analysts than by hosting an investor day. For more insights on how to make your event a success, check out this panel discussion cohosted by Notified and IR Magazine, in which Sharon Merrill President David Calusdian discussed best practices.