I’m a business owner, communicate a way for me to get out of here
2 September 2015, Blog
Corporate deals – mergers and acquisitions are on the up. According to Deloitte there were more than $1.8 trillion worth of deals announced in the first half of 2015. Mergemarket also reports that deals in the UK account for almost half of the total value announced so far in Europe this year – the highest annual total since 2008.
Whilst you may feel your business is a desirable proposition for other companies, how do you start positioning and building interest in what you have to offer to a potential buyer so that employees, customers and suppliers do not become suspicious.
Communications can often be overlooked in corporate deals with the focus being on the money and legal side to ensure due diligence is undertaken, risks are mitigated in the transaction process and the best deal is achieved. But effective communications can enable you to make the right impression on target prospects in the lead up to a sale and ultimately help you realise the valuation you are looking to achieve for your business.
So how do you communicate your way to the perfect business deal?
- Identify types of businesses that represent ideal acquirers. Future buyers will be interested in whether you are a good strategic fit for them – perhaps you can help them access new markets or you have product/services which complement what they have to offer. You may also represent a thorn in their side making you an attractive acquisition proposition. Don’t forget industry analysts and consultants who work on behalf of acquirers to provide market intelligence. Understanding your audience and their drivers for doing a deal will help inform the media channels and messaging going forward.
- Use media relations to showcase the value that you could represent to an acquirer – this could be your intellectual property, client portfolio, new market opportunities, strength of the leadership team and differentiation in the marketplace. For example position your board as key media commentators, announce new markets that you are successfully moving into and promote game changing services and products.
- Communicate with substance to avoid any potential suspicions that you are over-hyping your business – reinforce what you are saying with strong evidence to back up your PR.
- Avoid vanity PR and focus on the big picture. Reach out to the media channels that provide an information source to the decision maker that will write the seven figure or more cheque. National media is key here, whether it’s the business sections/programmes of the broadsheets or major broadcast channels – from the FT and Sunday Times to the Today programme and BBC Breakfast.
- Position your business as a winner to attract potential suitors – enter national business awards and performance league tables – for example the Sunday Times Fast Track series.
- Demonstrate strong leadership through the communication of a strategic blueprint or vision for the business which clearly shows its direction of travel, timescales for achieving its goals and commitment to investment to make it happen. This will help give acquirers every confidence that they are buying into a business model and team that will bring them success.
- And finally show that you are very good at your own PR – this isn’t just important in warming up potential buyers but also when you come to do a deal. Your profile and reputation in your marketplaces will form part of the assessment that a company will carry out on your business when deciding whether to make an offer or not. Don’t forget social media in this equation as it sends out a clear message that you are embracing new ways of communicating to your stakeholders.
Most companies, which achieve a successful sale, don’t do so because their eventual acquirer stumbled across them. It’s down to achieving the right profile in the right places so you can gain the attention, and eventual valuation you are looking for.
By Chris Lawrance, Managing Director at JBP