Effective communications are a critical element in a company’s journey toward acquisition. Media coverage, inclusion in analyst reports, industry awards and speaking opportunities at industry events can demonstrate that you’re a contender and put your company in front of potential acquirers. This can also increase your valuation.
I’ve helped our clients showcase their market value, capture the attention of potential acquirers and achieve maximum valuations. As a result, I’ve participated in over a hundred acquisitions and am passionate about sharing these insights with other business professionals to help them strengthen their exit strategies.
Here are seven public relations and marketing strategies that can drive brand awareness and boost market value. To maximize their impact, start implementing them at least 24 months before you’re hoping to be acquired.
1. Employ Strategic Messaging
Messaging for acquisition purposes differs significantly from standard sales messaging and “features and benefits” language that’s typically used with the press. Instead, emphasize your company’s vision, market opportunity, differentiators, intellectual property, validated market share and the experience of company leadership.
If you have four to six strategic partners in mind as potential acquirers, develop messaging that addresses their initiatives and business pain points. Raise your hand to provide support for their initiatives at their events and comment on their executive blogs and social media posts.
Once you’ve tuned, focused and tested your messaging, have your PR and marketing team include it in all communications channels, including your website, collateral, newsletters, press releases and any other engagement with the media, to ensure consistent information is distributed with the greatest impact.
2. Seek Media Coverage
Acquirers are often on the lookout for news stories and media coverage that will lead them to candidates for acquisition, so showing up in the relevant industry and business media outlets is important.
Securing positive and on-message coverage about your company’s products, intellectual property, funding, market momentum, customer or partner wins and awards in well- respected publications and targeted industry magazines can serve to build market buzz and credibility in the eyes of potential buyers.
Make it your goal to get mentioned in articles alongside the top two competitors in your industry. That way, the executive team of an acquiring company may keep seeing your name in the press and decide that they need to snatch you up before their key competitor does.
3. Publish Press Releases
This tried-and-true tactic has a specific function: It provides newsworthy information about your organization to your key audiences. Press releases also create a historical record of your company’s accomplishments and forward momentum. Even if you just post them on your company’s website, your press releases can show potential acquirers what your company has achieved.
Many potential buyers may look to press releases as a reputable source of information on company developments. Therefore, a consistent cadence of one to two significant news releases per month is optimal for maintaining awareness.
4. Implement An Executive Thought Leadership Program
Make one of your primary goals to position your executives as experts. Most acquirers like to see a leadership bench with strong credentials, creative thinking and industry clout. Thought leadership — publishing informative content, earning media coverage and attending trade events — can help establish your company’s leaders as seasoned subject matter experts within their field.
In our experience, implementing a strategic thought leadership program is an essential step in highlighting executives’ experience and industry vision — and, ultimately, in inspiring confidence among potential buyers. Key aspects of the program can include getting bylined articles and executive coverage in well-respected publications, publishing blog posts on a company’s website and being invited to speak at high-profile conferences.
5. Establish Relationships With Analysts
Analysts serve as objective third-party experts in their practice areas. Acquirers often look to industry analysts for validation on leading or emerging companies. Therefore, building awareness through an analyst relations (AR) program is essential. Set up briefings with well-respected analysts to inform them about your company and how your target markets are developing to get their feedback and establish relationships. This way, when acquirers contact analyst firms in search of background information and leads, your company is more likely to be top of mind.
6. Develop Collateral
Supporting documents that provide accurate and thorough information can be another key tool for showcasing business value to interested parties. As your company begins its journey toward acquisition, engage with analyst groups and content development firms to commission white papers, customer success stories and market research reports. These documents can help you demonstrate industry expertise, substantiate market potential and provide acquisition teams with verified data that they can present to other decision makers.
For example, case studies and success stories from customer champions can provide proof of the benefits that your company’s products or services can bring to interested acquirers. The most compelling success stories not only demonstrate how to solve common pain points but also provide hard numbers on return on investment, total cost of ownership and cost savings. In addition to a standard case study, consider developing your story in multiple media formats, such as videos, webinars or slideshows, to optimize visibility and engagement.
7. Amplify Through Digital Channels
Distributing press releases, securing on-message media coverage, expanding thought leadership and developing collateral are only jumping-off points. Next, repurpose and leverage these valuable assets to build and strengthen your connections. A digital amplification plan employs communication channels, such as social media and newsletters, to push strategic messaging, proof points and other compelling information to key audiences. Providing partners, influencers and potential acquirers with a steady flow of content via the mediums they interact with the most can maintain the visibility of your company’s value proposition and support a higher valuation.
A well-executed PR and marketing program can drive acquisition interest and higher valuations. Use these seven strategies to create greater awareness and excitement about your company, executives and products or services. This “rolling thunder” approach can help pique the interest of companies with acquisition dollars.