By Jenn Sinclair. Designing and managing equity plans is half the battle – effective communications represents the other half and requires equity plan managers to put on their marketing caps. I know that you already have a ton on your plate, so here is a quick “Marketing 101” that will help you gain awareness for your equity plans.
In marketing, we often think in terms of the four P’s: Product, Price, Place, and Promotion. One way to think of it is putting the right product in the right place with the right price at the right time. But thinking more strategically, you want to ensure you have considered each of these four P’s and their impact on the success of your efforts.
Equity plan managers can utilize the four P’s to convey the value of equity plans, effectively reach employees and increase engagement.
Let’s look at each “P” in terms of your equity plans.
Product = Equity Compensation or ESPP
You are the expert on your product, but in order to market it, you should become an expert in the advantages and features that are important to participants. Knowing these advantages will help you create the themes of communication to current and potential participants.
Some questions that you should consider when identifying these advantages are:
- Will the plan help participants reach financial goals?
- What could employees do with the return on their equity?
- Will it reward participants’ work?
- Will it reward participants’ loyalty?
- Is the plan competitive with peer company plans?
The last question is a harder one to answer, but it is likely the most important as it could be the difference attracting new talent or losing current employees. There are resources available that can help you gain insight such as GEO’s Global Equity Insights Survey, the NASPP’s Domestic Stock Plan Administration Survey, or working with a compensation consultant.
These questions will help you gain a clear understanding of your product’s benefits and potential shortcomings to current participants.
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Price = Value
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Consumers will only purchase or buy-in to products if they can see the value. They might see value in better quality, a lower cost, or products that will give them status. A key part of marketing is to determine what unique value will make consumers choose your product over another. For equity plan managers, this means understanding what your participants’ value and showing them how their equity awards will help them get it.
For example, we have found that in order to communicate the value, scenarios are most effective. Instead of thinking of the value in terms of numbers – if 1,000 shares of your RS vest and the strike price is $100/share, you will realize $100,000 – it is more effective to put it in terms of college tuition or a trip to Australia.
Place = Reach
The third P has changed dramatically in the past decade, and it continues to change for equity plan managers. When thinking in terms of where your participants will engage with information pertaining to your equity plan, think “multi-modal’. This means you will need to leverage numerous methods of delivery: accessing information online, discussing in person, attending a webinar, watching a video, reading an email, etc. Your participants want and expect to get this information the way they prefer – and different groups have different preferences.
Promotion = Engagement
Promotions are everywhere, offering discounts, the chance to meet a celebrity, or even free stuff, but the goal is always the same, to get consumers to engage.
The important thing to keep in mind when trying to get participants to engage – is that it’s not a linear action. It’s not the cause or the effect. Engagement is a cycle. In order to inspire participants to be active with your company’s plan – you must engage with them continuously.
Key considerations with engagement are:
- What media should you use?
- What events or seasons draw interest?
- Are you pestering or do they wish they had more information?
- Which communications get the best results?
Read our white paper, 4 Steps to Elevating Stock Plan Communications, for more tips on effective stock plan communications.
Utilizing these four P’s will help you convey the value of your equity plans, reach employees and inspire them to engage.
Jenn Sinclair is the marketing communication specialist at Certent and has been working in the industry for over five years. She has a Bachelor of Science in Contemporary Media and Journalism from the University of South Dakota where she focused on marketing, advertising, and communication studies. In 2015, Sinclair’s design, content and project management skills contributed to Certent receiving three Marcom awards. Jenn lives in Denver, Colorado with her husband and dog and is a devoted Broncos fan.