One of my favorite shows on television is “Antiques Roadshow.” If you’re not familiar with the program, people take some of their most prized possessions and family heirlooms to find out from the panel of expert appraisers if what they have is trash or treasure.
When evaluating the value of the painting, Persian rug or Chippendale table, the experts consider a number of factors, such as the artist, condition, history and market demand. This process is not unlike what you’ll go through as a startup looking for cash, to go IPO, or court a merger or acquisition exit. One of the challenges around building valuation is it that it can often seem more like an art than a science.
What is undisputed is that the media attention can play a significant role in impressing potential investors and raising the price as you look to prove your worth. Here are a few tips on how to get your company noticed by media and, as a result, potential investors.
- Empower Your Champions — While it’s great to have you out there telling the company story, enlist the help of your friends and company champions. Whether it’s board members, backers, industry analysts, academics or others in your network, having more than one voice in the market touting your value will go a long way in terms of validation. Provide them with the key company facts and figures and recent press coverage, and then find ways to get them to mingle at networking events, conferences and other venues where they will be rubbing elbows with press, investors, bankers or other influencers. Also, don’t be afraid to tap extended networks and ask for introductions if you see a LinkedIn connection you think can open a door to a media opportunity or business meeting.
- Contextualize the Market Opportunity — While it’s great to show that you have a strong leadership team, you also can’t tell your story in a vacuum. Showing that your innovation is important to your customers, your market and the world is critical. Map out for trade and business press how you’re moving mountains, challenging convention and are unique from all the others out there. Use market-sizing data (in addition to other balance sheet metrics) to frame the addressable market potential — and leverage that data and those banker references for press.
- Play to Your Leadership Strengths — Don’t be too humble. Highlight your company’s leadership and entrepreneurial strengths. Showing this is not your first rodeo and pointing to previous successful exits can go a long way in underscoring why your latest venture is poised for success. In addition to securing executive Q&As with key financial and business media, use content in places like LinkedIn to give your leadership team a voice and then syndicate those pearls of wisdom across platforms such as Medium, your blog and other social channels. The more you can validate that your management is the smartest around and is on the right track, the more you raise your company’s value and lessen the perceived risk of entering into a financial relationship.
- Avoid the Buzzword Overkill — While you’re contextualizing the market for press — be it interviews, press releases, contributed articles or other materials — avoid industry jargon that will leave mention of your company on the cutting-room floor. Some common offenders that you might be tempted to throw into may include “marketing-leading,” “disruptive” or “transformational,” which tend to get a quick reporter eye-roll response. Be genuine and back up your claims with proof (data, references, etc.), not just catchy words.
- Demonstrate Profitability Potential — While you might not be breaking even yet, customer case studies can go a long way in showing investors that you are here to stay. In addition to highlighting them on your website and with sales, provide press access to some of your biggest believers. Getting ink with a customer will show that you have sales momentum and a solid path to profitability.
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