BizBuySell is the Internet’s largest and most heavily trafficked business for sale marketplace, with more business for sale listings, more unique users, and more search activity than any other service. BizBuySell currently has an inventory of over 45,000 businesses for sale, and more than 795,000 monthly visits. BizBuySell also has one of the largest databases of sale comparables for recently sold businesses and one of the industry’s leading franchise directories.
BizBuySell wanted to reach its core demographic of small business owners. Research indicated that the vast majority of this audience desired a source of consistent information on the value of their business and the general health of their local economy. We also found that the vast majority of small business owners were between the age of 25 and 54 and that a significant number of the target audience was exposed to a local American City Business Journals (ACBJ) publication. With a presence in 40 major cities in the United States, ACBJ offers weekly in-depth small business coverage catered to more than four million readers in the small business community – 47 percent of whom are executive-level decision makers and 72 percent between ages 25 and 54. Our analysis solidified the ACBJ publications as an ideal media outlet to reach BizBuySell’s largest target audience.
The identification of American City Business Journals as target publications of BizBuySell presented a new challenge in that each business journal primarily reported and featured hyper-local news stories. Walker Sands brainstormed on how BizBuySell could become relevant to these local outlets.
Leveraging past successes with data-driven PR, Walker Sands evaluated BizBuySell’s data assets to determine if it had local data that might be interesting to local markets, and discovered a treasure trove of previously undervalued data pertaining to business-for-sale transactions.
This data provides sales and listing prices of small businesses across the United States based on over 45,000 businesses for sale and those recently sold. It was then decided that the best way to secure coverage was to give the ACBJ business journals exactly what they wanted: local business news containing business-for-sale trend information that they had previously not had access to.
This led to the key innovation of the program – a quarterly economic report called the BizBuySell.com Insight Report. On a quarterly basis, data from BizBuySell.com would be compiled into 70 individual reports for the major DMAs around the country, measuring the health of the small business economy as reported through business-for-sale listings and transactions. The data includes information such as the number of closed business transactions, current listings, median revenue, median cash flow, median sale price, median asking price and other relevant multiples reported through the website.
Through a partnership we formed with ACBJ, each city’s statistics are packaged up for individual ACBJ business journals, highlighting the relevant data for each specific journal. The journals receive exclusivity on the data for an agreed upon exclusivity period. Subsequently, the data is released to other local publications within each local market. Should a reporter desire, BizBuySell also provides access to a local business broker source found through its extensive Broker Directory.
In addition, Walker Sands automated Insight Report generation in a way that makes the program very efficient, with minimal effort required to generate quarterly reports and conduct PR outreach. To address any potential data overload, we bifurcated the Insight Report presentation into two modalities: one for the data-phobic and one for hardcore number crunchers. For the former group, we auto-generated compact “news bites” that summarized the topline stories and helped with graphics creation.
The BizBuySell.com Insight Report was released four times during the year: January, April, July and October. Per the plan, each business journal, which runs on Fridays, was given the information on a Tuesday and allowed nine business days to run the data. After the time period, the exclusivity agreement would no longer be valid and the data would be sent to other local publications. A consultant for ACBJ helped make individual business journal editors aware of the exclusivity agreement.
The bifurcation of the Insight Report presentation into two modalities allowed us to overcome any potential concern about data overload, putting the relevant data and center in each editor’s hands in a format that they could easily understand. We were able to convince the ACBJ editors that the Insight Report would prove to be very interesting to readers, whether used as a standalone piece or worked into a larger story. The ACBJ publications eventually expressed great interest in the data, often dedicating an entire story to the BizBuySell.com Insight Report and generating graphics to visually convey the trends.
From January through December, BizBuySell received 353 placements, with 299 placements alone attributed to the Insights Report outreach. These placements amounted to more than 341 million PR impressions. BizBuySell’s coverage included not only an average of 20 business journals each quarter, but also mainstream media outlets including The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, MSNBC.com, CNN Money, Inc., Reuters, Chicago Tribune, PBS Nightly Business Report, LA Times, and the Huffington Post.
Beyond the placements generated, reports from an outside web traffic data provider demonstrate that BizBuySell.com’s web traffic increased by almost 27 percent over the course of the year, up from about 373,000 visits per month to 474,000 visits per month.
Walker Sands continues to work with BizBuySell on a comprehensive PR program that includes the Quarterly Insight Reports.