Direct mail lists can help investment managers target people who may have an interest in expanding their investment opportunities.
Direct mail lists have several benefits that can work in favor of investment managers and investors. Businesses can even use accredited investor lists to target wealthy individuals and organizations that can participate in equity funding without excessive regulations.
While some industries struggle to make the most of direct mail lists, investment managers often find that they get better results from direct mail than other types of solicitation. It’s a cost-effective method that helps them save time by targeting accredited investors.
Legal Ways You Can Market Investment Opportunities to Accredited Investors
According to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Rule 504 of Regulation D, companies can use general advertising and solicitation to find potential investors. The rule, however, states that companies must only sell to accredited investors. Even though companies can use general solicitation and advertising, they cannot recruit everyone who responds. Instead, they must make an effort to verify each person’s accredited investor status.
This means that companies cannot sell to anyone who does not make at least $200,000 per year (and has made that amount for at least two consecutive years) or has $1 million in assets, not including the value of the person’s primary residence. These laws are intended to keep risky investment opportunities away from individuals who cannot afford to lose their money. People who meet the standards of accredited investors, however, have enough money to absorb a loss. They are also expected to understand how investment vehicles function.
This law makes it legal for companies to advertise investment opportunities in several ways.
According to the website Statistic Brain, 99% of homes in the United States have televisions. In fact, the average household has more than two televisions. This creates an excellent opportunity for companies that want to find investors.
Television advertisements benefit companies by helping them reach a wider audience of potential investors. Unfortunately, companies that choose this option usually have to turn away a significant percentage of responders. Since they can only sell to accredited investors, the companies will spend a lot of time reviewing documents that ultimately prove an investor unable to participate.
Websites offer similar pros and cons as television advertisements. With an online solicitation, companies can reach a wide audience of potential investors from all over the country. Many of the responders, however, will not meet accredited investor qualifications.
Interactive websites offer an extra benefit. By having interested investors answer a few questions, companies can screen for those who obviously do not meet the necessary qualifications.
There are at least two options when it comes to recruiting investors through direct mail. Companies can purchase leads from other businesses, or they can generate their own leads and send information to those prospects.
According to FindAListBroker.info, buyers should take care when buying a lead list from an unfamiliar lead broker. Certain lead aggregators can offer legitimate, broker-surveyed accredited investor lists, but many others are selling false data for some easy money. While unscrupulous brokers will use modeled data and poorly-surveyed prospects that won’t actually qualify for the SEC criteria, legitimate accredited investor lists will include only the contact information of accredited investors who can legally take advantage of your investment opportunities. That doesn’t necessarily mean that they will choose to do so, but at least you know everyone receiving information has the ability to participate, which can save a significant amount of time and energy.
Generating leads independently can yield terrific results, especially when investment managers get their leads by presenting information to investment groups that include several accredited investors. Generating your own leads, however, is time intensive and will not produce immediate results. Investment managers may spend a considerable amount researching and networking with potential investors. This can make lead generation a relatively expensive recruitment tool.
To get the best results, direct mail sent to accredited investors needs to include crucial information about investment opportunities. These savvy investors are unlikely to respond to general solicitations that make wild promises. Without comprehensive reports with supporting data showing how investors can benefit from dedicating their money to a specific opportunity, it’s unlikely that sophisticated investors will spend much time considering the offer.
The Bottom Line
Forbes contributer Tanya Prive acknowledges that Title II of the JOBS Act allows companies to use general solicitation strategies to find investors. It’s crucial, though, that companies realize they cannot accept everyone who responds to their solicitation. As long as you only sell to accredited investors, it’s easy to stay within the rules. Failing to verify an investor’s status, however, can lead to severe penalties including fines, loss of license, and even jail time.
The Influence of Regulation D Rules
Regulation D makes it easier for companies to solicit investors immediately instead of waiting through an introductory period. This benefit comes with some stipulations, though. According to the SEC, Rule 504 of Regulation D provides exemptions that let companies skip registration requirements. They can begin soliciting investors immediately, but they can only sell to accredited investors. This lets small companies avoid the hassle and expense of registering with the SEC. Companies have long complained that SEC regulations made it difficult for new companies to enter the industry. Rule 504 changes that.
The Advantages of Approaching Investors Via Mail
Houston Chronicle writer Rick Suttle acknowledges several advantages to using direct mail. According to Suttle, direct mail:
- Lets businesses target specific types of consumers
- Is easily customized to appeal to specific recipients
- Is a cost-effective way to reach a large number of people
- Offers measurable results
Aside from these technical benefits of approaching investors via direct mail, there are some soft benefits that many investment managers don’t realize.
One benefit is that people are more receptive to direct mail solicitations than phone solicitation. According to Diana Mey, a writer who has been featured on USA Today, Dateline, and People Magazine, 98% of people who responded to an online survey about telemarketing said that getting calls made them angry. About half of Californians even say they dislike telemarketing more than traffic, doing taxes, and waiting at the DMV.
People simply do not like getting unsolicited phone calls, even when the person calling has a unique investment opportunity. The calls feel like a burden and an interruption to daily life.
Direct mail that targets people on an accredited investor list can also work better than approaching people in person.
This often feels like a major interruption, no matter what time of day an investment manager approaches someone about an opportunity. Scheduling an appointment during business hours prevents successful people from concentrating on their work. They may want to grow their wealth through investments, but they’re more concerned about meeting their professional goals. Only the most serious investors are interested in scheduling meetings after business hours, when they would rather relax with their families or hobbies.
At best, an in-person solicitation gives you an opportunity to hand prospective investors information. Putting that information in a well-crafted direct mailer is just as effective, and it doesn’t take nearly as much time.
How Other Industries Can Benefit from Quality Mailing Lists
Several industries can benefit from using mailing lists that target some of the wealthiest people in the United States.
Some of these industries include:
- Luxury magazines
- Financial newsletters
- High-end retailers
- Luxury travel
Companies that work in these industries need to attract wealthy individuals and families to sell their products and services. The average person simply does not have enough money to purchase, for instance, a luxury car that costs over $100,000. It’s also unlikely that the average consumer has enough money to afford luxurious travel accommodations.
When these companies use accredited investor lists, though, they get to target people who either earn over $200,000 per year or have at least $1 million in assets. Purchasing quality mailing lists makes it easier for them to target an audience that can afford to take advantage of their offers.
Direct mail investor lists are a boon to the investment industry, especially for companies that can qualify for Reg D exemptions. To get the most out of an accredit investor list, though, companies need to provide detailed information about investment opportunities. Companies also need to verify the accredited status of potential investors. Failing to verify the status is a violation with stiff penalties.
As long as companies follow the rules and target accredited investors, direct mail and accredited investor lists can help them take big steps towards success.