Considering a sale of your niche media business, but not sure how to get your highest and best price – while also keeping your team focused on growth? We recently consulted Michael Alcamo, President of media investment bank M.C. Alcamo & Co., Inc. and a popular speaker at our Niche Media conferences. In this post, Michael will address Key #5, Maximizing Market Perceptions.
When thinking ahead to a sale in twelve to eighteen months, it’s critical to condition the market of potentially interested purchasers.
Here are five important steps you can take to optimize the perception of your business among the M&A staffs of the most relevant buyers.
1. Labeling is Key.
The public profile of your business should reflect your operations and your ambitions. Consider the way the world perceives you – starting with your name.
If, for example, your business owns a series of education and conference products that have grown larger than your legacy print platform, then make sure this is reflected in your business trade style. The same holds true if your ambitions lie in developing conferences and meetings.
Hence, if you have been “Pinnacle Publishing” for forty years, consider becoming “Pinnacle Media and Research Group,” or “Pinnacle Communications.” You can leave your legal, corporate name intact, but you can update your entire look by changing your corporate group name on email signatures, web site, and business cards. We recommend a soft re-branding, without any major announcement.
2. Draw on your Relationships with Industry Partners.
In the years you’ve owned your business, you have built up a reservoir of strong brand equity with industry associations. Such groups often have media and technical needs for which your firm has the expertise: newsletter technology, list maintenance, annual reports, content marketing, social media, or managing an industry conference or summit.
Taking on the management of an annual event – or creating a new event with the endorsement of the association – is a great way to anchor your reputation as a savvy, respected industry partner. It also allows you to pull firmly ahead of your competition and win business from key advertisers.
Similarly, ensure that your key business and editorial staff are moderating industry panels and blogging on industry news sites. When the time comes to sell your business, purchasers will be highly impressed at these apparently long-standing and deep relations with industry groups.
3. Elevate your Employees.
Your leadership team already have a strong brand identity in your industry. Encourage them to get noticed in larger ponds as the recognized experts in the industry or region they cover. A good example is Daniel Yergin, the founder of Cambridge Energy Research Associates, a worldwide leader in petroleum research.
If your firm provides a regional economic report, a Top 50 List, or proprietary annual or quarterly data, be sure that the mainstream business press knows in advance. Consider hiring a publicist for three months to organize television and print/digital media appearances. Another strategy is to tune in to investor calls for publicly-listed companies in your industry or region, and be in a position to give advice on industry developments.
Additionally, consider appropriate promotions. For example, if your group publisher has effectively been acting as the chief executive of your company, it adds strength to give that person the title of Chief Executive Officer.
4. Build your Bench Strength.
Purchasers will likely value your business more highly if you can illustrate that you have a strong, team of talented junior employees who demonstrate initiative and innovation.
In fact, this can usually be achieved in a very capital efficient way, as younger employees often are motivated more by professional advancement than by money. If your team includes talented junior employees well-versed in social media, encourage a company working group to deploy audience engagement techniques on platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Certain regional media companies have become so good at social media that they actually manage the social media campaigns for large advertisers (for appropriate fees).
Naturally these initiatives should have a strong revenue component. But recognize that a junior employee will be thrilled to add the title of “Vice President for Social Media” to her LinkedIn profile, and will probably deliver returns far in excess of expectations.
5. Syndicate and Repurpose your Content.
More and more frequently, media companies seek to aggregate, or “curate” content produced by others – and this often elicits objections from the content authors. Instead, we recommend going the other way, encouraging editors throughout an industry (including competitors) to utilize your editorial content. Ask them to include appropriate attribution, of course, but your objective is to have your perishable content distributed throughout the industry as much as possible. In that way, it will be stored in a high number of internet and Google caches as practicable. Then, when anyone runs a search that relates to the subject of the editorial, the story, the author, and your company’s name will appear at the top of the search results.
For hot stories and or key features, you can consider imposing a 24-hour delay, but appreciate that, as Lowell Thomas once observed “there’s no such thing as bad publicity”.
We recommend taking a multi-media approach over a period of twelve to eighteen months, including some of the elements listed above. By optimizing the way the market perceives your team and your company, you can strengthen the reputation and brand equity of your business, establish a defensible leadership position, and thus optimize your market valuation on sale.
More about this blogger: Michael Alcamo, President of media investment bank M.C. Alcamo & Co., Inc., serves owners of digital niche media companies in originating and advising strategic business and asset sales.
Niche Media has created super niched-out events specifically for magazine publishers for over 12 years. We’ve helped pave the way for the era of boutique events that connect specific audiences and provide great educational, friendly and super-fun environments! Plus, Carl Landau – Niche Media’s Grand Poobah – just launched a blog all about creating and marketing targeted events – blog.NicheEventNation.com Check it out!
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