Good question. It came up at breakfast with a partner in a very successful regional investment bank the other day.
He and his firm are busy. There’s a lot of demand for high quality middle market businesses. Strategic and financial buyers are out there. Sellers – particularly owners of family businesses – have lots of reasons to sell now. Money’s available for financing. Prices have stabilized. Capital gains taxes are on the way up. And competition for market share is only going to get harder.
But, in part because they are so busy, he and his partners just don’t have time for “PR,” which worries him, too. Are we underinvesting when we’re busy in ways that will come back to haunt us when the current pipeline is empty? Are we missing organic search opportunities that provide billboards to owners who need to know about our services? Are there new ways to target those owners that we just don’t know about? And how do we avoid just talking to our peers and competitors who are also out hustling for deal flow?
Here’s what we told him.
1. Define your audiences geographically and by industry segment. Then use tools that put you in front of them. Suggestions: targeted media coverage and bylined articles in relevant trade publications read by his targets
2. Get inside your target’s heads. What are they concerned about? What information do they need to make good sell decisions? Once you know that, write point-of-view content that addresses those points. Suggestions: search-engine-optimized proprietary content for use on his website along with direct-to-target communications using the same content.
3. Get a program. Create consensus among your own partners. Develop a communications plan that is focused and practical (see points 1 and 2). And then get going.
Because that’s the game, folks. When someone wants to know about you, your products and your success story, the first thing they do is go to Google to see what you’re doing, even before checking out your website. And if you look as if you don’t have momentum, you may never get that call.
It’s not too late to start.
(Greg Miller is President of Marketcom PR)