Remember that epic “Get the Feeling” ad campaign that Sports Illustrated ran during the mid-1980s? I seem to recall some print advertisements and perhaps a television spot or two, but it’s the billboards that peppered Brooklyn during those summers that seared themselves into my memory.
Maybe it was the in-action pictures of larger than life heroes rendered at 14 by 48 foot scale? Or perhaps the provocative captions that asked questions most mortals would never be able to answer? One of my favorites accompanied a mid-swing picture of slugger Don Mattingly: “How Does It Feel To Turn a Slider Into a Souvenir? Get the Feeling. Sports Illustrated.” Then there was the one featuring base stealer extraordinaire Rickey Henderson in his classic “I’m about to run” pose: “How Does It Feel To Know You’re About To Break the Eighth Commandment? Get the Feeling.” Of course, that question was a bit less remote in a neighborhood where “thou shalt not steal” was considered more of a suggestion than a hard-and-fast rule.
But it was an over-head shot of some over-sized state college football stadium that captured my imagination. Splayed out across every inch of Astroturf were dozens upon dozens upon dozens of corn-fed Midwestern boys stretching before an early-season practice, all with one question on their mind: “will I make the squad?” The caption below asked, “How Does It Feel To Know You’re Just Another High School Hotshot?”
And lately, when the day's FexEx drop is particularly bountiful and several more private placement memoranda are added to the pile already strewn about the sidetable in the office, I've wondered if that ad might work just as well for the private equity world. After all, top quartile funds are as plentiful as fleet-footed recievers out of Ottumwa or Odessa.
Indeed, in 2011 a bumper crop of freshmen will be vying for a limited number of open roster spots. What factors will seperate the starters from the bench-warmers from the water boys? This year, simply being good won't be close to being good enough; my own two cents is that too few GPs think critically about what makes them and their strategy truly distinctive and defensble.
So in honor of the new year -- and the inevitable flood of funds expected to come to market in 2011 -- I thought I'd focus the first few posts of the year on fundraising, offering over the coming weeks some going-to-market observations, tips, and maybe even best and worst practices.
After all, there's little comfort in knowing that the number four quarterback at BCS-bound State U probably has the raw tools to play in the NFL if you actually happen to be that number four quarterback. Maybe over the next several posts we can work through throwing mechanics and defense-reading a bit in hopes that the competition for the scarce roster spots will be more robust.