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Advisors, Private Equity

Why Deal Professionals Should Emulate Business Insider


Midmarket deal professionals can learn something from the recent acquisition of online digital news magazine Business Insider by European publishing company Axel Springer: Online publishing is something you should be embracing.

Last month, Julia Greenberg, reporting for Wired, outlined how Business Insider has just been purchased for $442 million dollars – $200 million more than what the Washington Post sold for in 2013. One of the reasons Business Insider has achieved this success has been its willingness, along with other cutting edge digital publications, to aggressively embrace emerging publishing platforms like Facebook video, as the Wall Street Journal explained last month.

While Business Insider was able to rapidly scale thanks to $60 million dollars in funding since its founding in 2007 — a midmarket-focused blog or online magazine could grow a substantial audience with a comparatively tiny investment. An example of the sort of success a professional services digital platform can achieve is Australian online law firm LegalVision, which is generating 20 new customer leads per day from their inbound content strategy, according to their CEO and Founder Lachlan McKnight. McKnight outlined the firm’s strategy in a recent interview with the Australasian Law Practice Management Association (ALPMA).

Emulate the Publishing Success of Business Insider

A blog, a managing editor, and a commitment to publish about subjects of importance to key potential clients and business partners are all that’s needed to create an online publishing arm of your business. When you start out, you might just appoint one of your team members the managing editor; this will ensure that the blog doesn’t get forsaken for other seemingly more pressing concerns. The editor should be in charge of soliciting contributions, ushering articles toward completion, and tracking results.

A midmarket deal professional might, for example, consider committing to publish four articles a month of between 500 and 700 words focused on what your ideal potential client or referral source is interested in. Ask yourself: What do my ideal potential clients and referral sources want to read about? What services do I offer that can help them achieve their goals?

Then publish those articles on LinkedIn’s new publishing platform, Pulse, or on a firm blog on your website. Once published, you’ll also need to actively promote these articles on relevant social media platforms in order to secure maximum potential exposure. Essential to this effort is engagement on Twitter and LinkedIn, to name a few.

Imagine from that small investment what kind of audience might be built — and new revenue that might be won. Since 2007, as Greenberg outlined, Business Insider’s audience has grown to 76 million unique monthly visitors. But even if you start by attracting a few hundred or thousand eyeballs – those are people, many of them in your target demographic, who likely never knew you existed before.

The Importance of Publishing in a Digital Age

As Stephanie Sammons outlines in WiredAdvisor, more business are realizing “that they need to be self-publishing to attract and retain clients in the digital age.” She writes, “You may think of yourself as being influential, but if you’re not blogging in the digital age, you’re likely not going to be influencing anyone online.”

Business Insider’s valuation sends a very clear message about the importance of online publishing: Good all-digital publications can in a short time exceed the titans of the old-media era. And since anyone can adopt online publishing at a relatively low-cost, why not try?

Now, Business Insider’s acquirer Axel Springer is marching forward into new online niches. As Greenberg reports, they’re “also invested in digital news startups…and [a] news reader app.”

Midmarket deal professionals don’t need to out-do Business Insider in the publishing business to achieve online success. But they can model its success on a much smaller scale and reap the rewards that online publishing offers.

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