In the Exit Game, Don’t Bench The Promoters!

This week on In Process, we're picking up the second episode in a series of podcasts about what businesses and their chief executives should be thinking about in order to get themselves to a point where they're ready to be sold. This series, which will lead up to our coinciding event Prepping the Princess, will touch on the issues that business leaders should keep top-of-mind before an exit—even if that exit is years away from fruition.

This week we’re catching up with Peter Baron, founder and senior consultant at Carabiner Communications, about the marketing and public relations checklist that business leaders should keep in mind if their ultimate goal is an exit. Baron is a senior level consultant offering advice to clients on product positioning, lead generation and nurturing, and digital marketing. But when it comes to mergers and acquisitions, Baron is uniquely qualified to advise his clients: earlier in his career, he founded a company with the express purpose of selling it.

“Having worked in the agency marketing side, I got to the point where I was a little bit jealous of my software clients who would build a company in five years, later sell it for an unearthly sum, and then retire,” he says. “I thought, ‘I'm as smart as they are. Maybe I can do the same thing.’”

It took Baron eight years (rather than the five years he’d planned) to get the business sold, but he uncovered plenty of truths about the role of branding and public perception in the process. One of the biggest takeaways involved preparation for sale by involving your marketing and public relations team earlier rather than later.

“We've seen that on several occasions when the marketing PR teams are left on the bleachers to watch the executives play the game,” says Baron of companies focused on preparing their businesses for sale. But you can’t bring in a PR team after the deal has been done and expect everything to fall into place.  “There really are no overnight successes. You find somebody on top of the mountain, and they didn't just fall there. There's a lot of climbing involved.”

Many companies, particularly in the technology sector, are starting the businesses with the intention of ultimately making an exit, but the fast pace of the industry can leave them skimping on the finer points of building a valuable, scalable brand. That gets tricky when founders and CEOs are looking to make an exit. What happens to the company when its brand is built completely around the reputation of its leader?

“The challenge most companies face is breaking through the noise—actually being able to establish their brand in a meaningful way,” he says. In the full conversation, Baron touches on how to make the brand bigger than its leader, why a social media crisis isn’t the end of the world, and how integrated marketing that employs analytics, varying kinds of content, and a skilled follow-up can help companies maximize their profits and build a strong, attractive business for potential buyers.

You will learn all about the importance of your marketing and public relations advisers when you stream the podcast in its entirety in the player below. To save it for later, subscribe to In Process on iTunes

If you liked this podcast or are interested in exiting your business, consider requesting an invitation to our upcoming event, Prepping the Princess for the Party: Is your business ready to sell?, on October 12 at 6 p.m. The event will host business owners and C-level executives for a panel discussion on what it takes to get top dollar for your business. For more information or to request an invitation, visit PreppingthePrincess.com