October 22, 2015

How to market your blog property for a merger

The internet is full of blogs, but what separates a noble effort from a property with real market value?

On this blog, we recently discussed the acquisition of HelloGiggles (HG) by Time Inc. for a reported $20 million. Last year, AOL purchased The Huffington Post for a nine-figure sum, and more large corporations are speculating content creation platforms for their next strategic buy.

The internet is full of blogs, but what separates a noble effort from a property with real market value?

Launch big, if you can. A major draw for the launch of HG was the fact that one of its founders is indie film and music celebrity, Zooey Deschanel. The initial burst of interest surrounding the site was akin to the attention received by other lifestyle blogs with famous backers. While you may not have a network television star on speed dial, other types of earned media and cross-promotion can help get the word out about your blog from the beginning.

Get your visual branding together. Another strength of the HG site is the clear attention to aesthetic detail. Marketed much in the vein of Deschanel's on- and off-screen persona, polka dots and cutesy cartoons lend consistency to the "twee" look. Your blog probably appeals to a specific audience, so making it as attractive as possible to consumers within that target demographic can help court readers and, down the road, investors or buyers.

Clarify your voice and message. HG might have launched simply as another "blog for women." However, the deliberate optimism of coverage helped establish its unique identity in a crowded field of competitors:

"HelloGiggles is a positive online community for women (although men are always welcome!) covering the latest in culture, female empowerment, style, relationships, friendship, careers, and issues that matter most to young women's lives," states the site's mission. "A platform for writers and artists to create and share, HG welcomes reader contributions and publishes them daily."

Attract visible contributors. A lesson we can learn from both HG and The Huffington Post is the power of celebrity contributors. Both blog platforms have attracted top-tier guest writers and interview subjects so that unique content is picked up by other outlets. The Huffington Post nets exclusives from politicians, celebrities, activists and other public figures whose voices lend credibility to the overall brand.

Build your readership. The above pointers should help accomplish this, but what's the goal? For HG, the threshold was entering readership territory in the ballpark of other Time Inc. properties. For a four-year-old startup, HG pulled numbers last month that made it an attractive purchase.

"HelloGiggles.com attracted 11 million unique visitors in September, up from 721,000 in September 2013, according to measurement firm comScore Inc," reports the Wall Street Journal. "The websites for People and Entertainment Weekly, by comparison, drew 32.7 million and 18.6 million unique visitors, respectively, in September."

HG might not have been a viable acquisition target one, two or three years ago. But the convergence of popularity with demand made the deal a success. 

With the guidance of an M&A advisor, your tech firm or startup can find, negotiate and sign a merger or acquisition deal that achieves your growth objectives. Contact us today to learn more about how working with an advisor can help your company reach the next level of expansion and success.