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  • Writer's pictureEric Markovsky

The Art of Storytelling in the Sale of a Business

Updated: Sep 19, 2023


The Power of Storytelling in Business Sales.


Many intermediaries and business owners overlook this fundamental truth when crafting marketing materials for a listed company.


The Value of Storytelling


The Overlooked Art in Business Sales.


Every industry weaves tales – whether it's called branding, communication, PR, or some fusion of these, the essence is storytelling. The motive is clear: to effectively convey their value proposition and stand out.


So far, so straightforward.


Yet, a curious omission arises when it comes to selling businesses that offer those very products and services. Storytelling, so crucial elsewhere, tends to fade into the background.


All too often, businesses are marketed solely on the figures found in their income statements. While these numbers are significant, they should constitute only one facet of the larger narrative.


Overemphasizing financials can miss a vital point – the power of storytelling. Unlike storytelling, an income statement is a glimpse into the recent past, and while last year's high margins impress, buyers are ultimately seeking conviction about the company's future.


What Comprises the Elements of Narrative Building in Mergers and Acquisitions?


As a seller or intermediary, your mission is to craft a captivating narrative around the acquisition of a company.


Various formats can be harnessed to bolster the business's story: presentations, infographics, videos, storyboards, or even immersive virtual tours, each providing a distinctive perspective on the business's value and potential.


You might even explore the use of a free storyboard maker to fashion compelling narratives about your business.


An effective approach to consider when shaping your company's story is to ask yourself, 'How would I sell this company if I had no knowledge of its financial performance?' This doesn't necessitate flowery language but rather clear, effective communication.

Here are some crucial components to consider:

  1. Executive Summary: This serves as the story's hook, capturing investors' interest and motivating them to delve deeper.

  2. Company Overview: In a market where numerous similar companies are up for sale, this is where you articulate what distinguishes your company from the pack.

  3. Business Model/Strategy: Undoubtedly, a cornerstone of your narrative. This is what's at the heart of the acquisition and must be solid. How will the company excel in its markets? How will it not just meet but exceed its proforma projections? What risks might impede progress, and how are they mitigated?

  4. Financial Overview: Financials remain a pivotal part of the storytelling. They should align with the case you're presenting and provide a clear view of the company's future performance.


What Defines Effective Storytelling in the Sale of a Business?


Common Pitfalls in M&A Marketing Material: A Cautionary Tale.


Anyone acquainted with the M&A arena has likely come across marketing materials that tend to oversell businesses. While this practice is particularly prevalent in venture capital (cue the 'Uber of [insert industry]' comparisons), it's a pitfall encountered across various business sales scenarios.


Here's why you should steer clear of it: at best, it reads as exaggerated, and in the worst cases, it can lead to accusations of fraud and bad faith.


When crafting your M&A narrative, consider these essential characteristics:

  1. Objectivity: Ditch the subjectivity that plagues most marketing materials. A useful guideline is to scrutinize the adjectives strewn throughout your text.

  2. Logical Flow: Compelling stories flow logically, with each part seamlessly connected to the next. If you foresee a surge in the company's sales, substantiate it with a series of logical steps, reinforcing the underlying hypothesis.

  3. Clarity: Your content's rationale should be crystal clear, even to those unfamiliar with the industry.

  4. Well Supported: Back your claims with recent, relevant data. It's astonishing how often documents, authored by seasoned investment bankers, incorporate figures from as far back as 2017 and beyond.

Conclusion

Human beings have an innate love for storytelling. It's in our DNA to engage with and be captivated by stories. This universal human trait underscores the vital importance of making storytelling a cornerstone of your company's sell-side marketing materials.

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