Whether it’s your first or fiftieth ETF launch, you can draw from a wide range of marketing and PR strategies to drive attention to your fund before, during, and after launch day.
The work of building awareness should start weeks, if not months, before the launch of an ETF.
Competition has never been more fierce for issuers to attract assets and get buy-in for new products. This is why industry observers like Eric Balchunas call the ETF business “the thunderdome.” Alongside market makers, index providers, exchanges, accountants and lawyers, the marketing and distribution plan is a table stakes component of winning in the ETF game.
The simultaneous U.S. debut of 11 Bitcoin spot ETFs on Jan. 11, one of the most anticipated launches in the history of ETFs, proved to be a great example of the role that integrated communications plays in the ramp-up, launch, and follow-through period for a new ETF. The highly unprecedented launch created unique challenges for issuers to stand out and build awareness towards their funds. We were fortunate to play a role in supporting the launch of the Valkyrie Bitcoin Fund (Nasdaq: BRRR). Below are some lessons we want to share that helped Valkyrie stand out. We believe ETF issuers can apply these lessons to their own launches to make the most of the moment.
Pre-Launch Prep and Opportunities:
The path to launching any ETF, and certainly one as novel as the Spot Bitcoin ETF, is filled with opportunities for brand, product and thematic awareness before trading. While there are certainly compliance components to consider in the quiet period, don’t let them keep you from finding ways to establish your thought leadership and what makes your firm unique.
Building relationships with reporters can lay the foundation for a successful launch. While the Spot Bitcoin ETFs naturally garnered a lot of media opportunities leading up to the launch, there are always opportunities to discuss all areas of the market in the financial press. Whether you’re launching a bespoke thematic fund that targets a niche area of the market or a broad index-based ETF, tapping into the media creates a virtuous cycle of opportunities. For example, if you’re launching an ETF that invests in companies based on a specific factor like momentum or low volatility, don’t wait for the fund to be live to share your insights on specific stock names you find attractive, or why a certain approach like low-volatility makes sense in the current market.
Like any good relationship, your connection with reporters should be reciprocal. Yes, you want coverage for your launch. But reporters want insights to inform and engage their readers about the topics that matter to them. Building ongoing connections with reporters over a period of time allowed Valkyrie to continuously shape the narrative around their product and insert their expertise into mainstream financial media. They built awareness of their fund well before its launch. If you do the same, reporters will know you and your firm name, and the valuable insights you bring to the table when the day comes for your own ETF launch.
In today’s interconnected world, being present on social media can significantly boost visibility. But just like building a good media relationship, it takes time. If you’re willing to lead with your name, consider engaging in conversation on Twitter/X or LinkedIn on topics around the ETF you’re launching as well. Showcasing your thought leadership and building your online presence can elevate your brand, and more and more we are seeing greater activity on social media platforms around investing discussions. Gregory FCA can help game plan your social media strategy leading up to and during launch.
The key to a successful launch day is meticulous preparation. For Valkyrie, this meant ensuring that all aspects of the launch were finely tuned and ready to go. They had a compelling press release, media pitches with interest-grabbing hooks, a tight, targeted media list, and key messaging on all channels. This preparation allowed the team to focus on media interviews and public engagement, rather than last-minute operational tasks.
Monitoring and being responsive to media coverage is crucial. Your launch is a huge deal to you, but after the second or third trading day, the news cycle will move on. To capture the moment, your spokespeople need to be ready to pounce on launch day media opportunities. By amplifying positive stories and quickly addressing any inaccuracies, we were able to drive more than 100 pieces of media coverage and mentions for Valkyrie’s launch. But it’s not just about mentions, it’s about what you do with them. At Gregory FCA we support clients beyond the quote. We want to help you get that coverage onto your website or into a newsletter or posted to your social pages. Good coverage doesn’t stop on the homepage of the news site.
While your ETF launch might be the most important part of your day, reporters will already be on the hunt for the next story. We need to factor in what’s going on in the world around us and determine how to best thread your story into the news flow. Whether that is selecting a “slower” news day for launch or leveraging relevant news of the day, think of a launch like jiu-jitsu. In other words, the best launches use outside momentum to be successful.
Keeping the Launch Momentum Going:
The launch of an ETF is just the beginning. Valkyrie set its post-launch strategies in motion during the pre-launch phase. We worked together in a continuous effort to Identify new stories and opportunities to engage with the press. The goal was to keep Valkyrie in the public eye, maintaining interest and momentum around their ETF.
Don’t let up In the post-launch period. Keep looking for ways to insert your ETF and your knowledge as a spokesperson into broader conversations around finance. Whether that means creating interesting educational content, tapping into upcoming earnings periods or attending conferences, there is no shortage of opportunities to create positive media-driven results after a fund is live. Other examples that can drive media opportunities include AUM milestones, rebalancing days or other developments at the firm that tie back to the ETF(s) like new hires.
A great launch starts well before launch day, but it doesn’t end there either. Over the years, Gregory FCA has played an instrumental role in the successful launch of dozens of ETFs. We understand the planning and execution it takes. More importantly, we can help take that off your plate so you can focus on what matters. We’ll prepare you to make the most of a launch and give you the tools to generate the sustained brand and product awareness necessary to drive assets to your funds.