A simple motto – “Treat shareholders as customers” – is the key to
managing a successful annual meeting. Companies rethinking their AGM
can often find a useful model in their own market research,
marketing, and customer relations activities. Planning for the AGM
should begin with basic research and benchmarking that can provide
answers to critical starting-line questions:
are the company's ultimate beneficial owners?
are their characteristics and investment goals?
are their perceptions about the company?
can their misperceptions and biases be corrected?
does the company's risk profile, governance, and performance compare
can the company convince shareholders that its policies and
decisions serve their interests?
sort of packaging, written materials, outreach, road shows, and
electronic communications can be used to build loyalty and
strengthen relations with shareholders / customers?
Just as companies dedicate executive time, money, and resources to
conducting market research and surveying customers, they should also
be willing to commit resources and underwrite the costs of
identifying, characterizing and analyzing their ownership base; and
to benchmarking their governance strengths and weaknesses in
preparation for the AGM.