When you have a gap in your marketing, it simply means that you have a group of prospects who have not yet converted to becoming a client – they are not buying your services. These gaps are opportunities that can revolve around your core services or a niche that is unmet with current clients and prospects. Identifying these gaps is your first step to filling them.
Gap Marketing to Improve Firm Value for M&A
When it comes to ownership transitions, the goal is to maximize value. If your exit strategy is hinging on an acquisition, this is something you have to plan for in advance. Positioning your firm as a high value acquisition can require some brand positioning and messaging to accomplish.
We recently worked with a CPA firm on the East coast who had approached a larger firm about the possibility of being acquired. They were told that it was not a viable option at that time and were given areas to improve if they wanted this to be future possibility. While the firm worked on their internal processes, Ingenuity was tasked with rebranding the firm and creating a marketing strategy to grow their core services and niches. After a few years of dedicated effort, the firm’s value improved and they were able to be acquired. While the firm was able to improve their processes and services from within, a strong marketing strategy and rebranding campaign played a role in the success.
If you want to improve your firm’s value to be better positioned for an acquisition, here are a few areas to look at.
Specialization and Niches Help Drive Acquisition
You cannot be all things to all people. Some firms operate too broadly with the services they offer and the industries they serve. This may indicate that they don’t really know their ideal client. Identify who your best clients are and what makes them so great. Why do they do business with your firm? Once you understand what it is that brings great clients to you and why they stay, you are on the path to determining where to focus your efforts to grow your client base.
It’s also important to identify which services and industries your employees excel in. If your firm is adept at conducting audits for nonprofit entities, then create a marketing strategy to develop and grow this area. Perhaps you live in a fast growing metro area with a lot of construction firms in the market that need outsourced accounting. Whatever the service or industry, a concentrated marketing effort can grow your firm and improve its value as a high value acquisition target.
Concentrate on Processes
If your firm lacks processes and documentation, can be this quickest way to an unfulfilled acquisition. While it might be fun and hip to forego formal processes, it doesn’t provide a solid foundation for operational success. Furthermore, if your firm relies on individuals over formalized processes, your firm is vulnerable to their continued employment. This can be an immediate red flag during an acquisition. Creating documentation for your processes shows that you value your employees, your clients and that you prioritize the firm’s continued success.
Look the Part
Quality brand positioning is critical to show how what your firm is about. The firm acquiring yours may decide to keep your brand intact, especially if you are well respected within your community and specialty and niche services. Ensuring that you have all branding elements in place can help create perceived value. Is your website up-to-date and optimized for SEO? Is your marketing collateral branded consistently with messaging that conveys your firm’s capabilities and differentiates you from your competitors? Have you created a proposal format that helps you win business?
Selling a company is no small feat. It takes some planning and work to be positioned for high value. Ingenuity has the tools to provide analysis and recommendations for identifying marketing gaps around your services or niches.