The conventional view of online marketing is to attract unknown prospects to your website via various marketing channels so these prospects can raise their hand and do business with you.
99% of the time, this inbound marketing approach does not work for private equity firms serving the middle market. Here’s why.
#1 The best prospects usually aren’t looking to sell
While investment criteria vary from firm to firm, often the best companies to invest in have founders who are heads down growing the company or keeping the lights on. They’re not shopping around for investors, so they’re not likely to land on your site and fill out a form.
#2 The window of opportunity to close a deal is narrow compared to a company’s lifecycle
The period of time in which a founder is looking to make an exit is usually a short one. So to rely on that company to find your firm and raise their hand in that short time is a low probability outcome.
#3 Most founders don’t know they could benefit from a capital partner
Especially in the lower middle market, a lot of founders won’t even know that private equity is an option for them. Many won’t even know what private equity is, meaning they won’t go looking for it.
#4 Founders don’t know how to evaluate firms
Even if a founder does research private equity firms, they probably won’t know what to look for. So when they land on your site, unless they’re presented with some clear educational content to get them up to speed, they won’t reach out for more information.
So what’s the alternative to inbound?
Inbound isn’t a great strategy for private equity, but account-based marketing (ABM) is. When employing an account-based strategy, you take initiative to place yourself in front of founders, educate them about private equity, then position yourself as a preferred partner.
Specifically, ABM for private equity involves:
- Handpicking your prospects
- Nurturing them via content marketing
- Developing relationships via business development
- Providing social proof via public relations
With this approach, instead of marketing to the void hoping good prospects raise their hand, you actively promote yourself to companies you have high confidence are worth working with. In doing so, you can educate and nurture relationships for as long as needed so when the founder opens the door, you’ll be there waiting on the other side.
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