Marketing Your Way To A Successful Exit: Core Strategies For Enhancing Business Value

Exit plan written in a notepad next to a pen and a cup of coffee.

As much as SME business owners love their business and whatever their level of commitment, not many aspire to die at their desk. There must be an end point to the story, and for most people this is an exit strategy – whether to retire altogether, pass on the business to new owners, or sell it to fund the next adventure.

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Moving on from a business you’ve nurtured and guided through thick and thin is one of the most poignant steps in anyone’s entrepreneurial journey. But what many business owners don’t realise is that the groundwork for a successful exit strategy starts years before the ‘for-sale sign’ goes up. By strategically investing in marketing and sales that enhance the value proposition of your business – whether your exit is 12 months or 20 years away – you not only set the stage for a better sale but also future proof your legacy in a changing market.

In this article, we’ll look at the main strategies available to business owners to increase the value of their business, and how a marketing strategy can leave you in the strongest possible position for an optimal exit.

1. Strengthen your business brand

Brand strength or business authority can be a crucial differentiator between potential companies in a crowded marketplace and is an equally important asset when valuing your business. Before you even think about selling or transferring ownership of your business, a recognisable and credible brand can enhance your company’s appeal to potential buyers. Here’s how to use marketing to solidify your brand presale:

Assess and update your branding materials and content

Evaluate your brand materials, content, and digital assets from prospective buyers’ point of view. Does your content, website, marketing material, and visual identity (e.g. logo, colours, and so on) reflect the image sought out by your target customers?

Establish clear brand guidelines

Consistency is essential in developing strong brand authority. Develop and ensure that everyone in your company, and any third parties you work with, follow clear brand guidelines to maintain a cohesive message throughout all your communications and customer touch points.

Invest in your digital presence

With the bulk of business transactions moving online, a robust and credible brand presence is vital. Now is the time to ensure that your business has a strong and active social media footprint on LinkedIn and any other platform relevant to your customers, a modern and user-friendly website, and high-quality digital content marketing assets that reflect your brand values and expertise.

2. Ramp up your digital marketing efforts

The best way to build value in your business year-on-year is to invest in a proactive digital marketing strategy. This will not only yield sales short-term and long-term, but also increase your business visibility and levels of customer engagement, both of which contribute directly to a company’s worth. Here are some essential considerations to enhance your digital marketing efforts.

Re-evaluate your buyer personas/ideal customer profiles

Take stock of who your ideal customers and typical buyer personas truly are and segment your market to home in on the people most likely to value your business. You can use targeted digital marketing and advertising to cultivate a contact base across specific segments, increasing your sales closure rate.

Optimise your website for conversions

A high converting business is a valuable business, so invest in your website and digital channels to optimise your conversion rates. There are many ways you can do this, but clear calls to action (CTAs), customer testimonials, and a generally seamless and enjoyable user experience will all make prospective buyers more likely to enquire.

Valuable digital assets

High quality and informative content assets showcase your industry knowledge and are a powerful tool for increasing search visibility and converting customers. Regularly publishing relevant content in the form of blog articles, downloadable guides, new webpages, and videos will also help increase your website traffic and relative position for important keywords on Google.

3. Develop long-term customer relationships

A business that is demonstrably committed to long-term customer relationships may achieve a higher market value than a high churn business with low retention. Why? Because long-term customers often have a higher lifetime customer value than single purchase or sporadic customers, and customer retention generally costs less than new business sales, leading to lower overheads and higher profits.

Nurturing your existing customer base through marketing can therefore significantly enhance your company’s resale appeal.

Implement a customer loyalty programme.

Reward repeat customers to show appreciation for their business and incentivise future sales, e.g. through customer loyalty discounts, exclusive offers, or preferential access to value-added services. You can also experiment with a referral scheme – email your long-term customers with a poll to find out what types of incentive that they’d appreciate in a loyalty programme.

Personalised marketing and communication.

Customer relationships often break down when the supplier loses touch with what the customer currently needs. This can change over the course of a relationship, so a key to long-term retention is to utilise your CRM and customer data to create more personalised and innovative experiences and offers that demonstrate an up-to-date understanding of your customers preferences and needs.

Encourage customer feedback and genuinely listen

Positive reviews and testimonials can be a compelling asset in digital marketing, so actively encourage and promote customer feedback on Google, your website, and social media to highlight your business value from an outsider’s perspective. You should also encourage customer feedback on a more informal basis, take note of what is said, and use this is the foundation for change. A business that listens to its customers is better informed of changes in the market and better equipped to make strategic decisions than one that doesn’t listen.

4. Optimise your sales process

Efficiency is an increasingly important core metric for valuing businesses as it directly impacts profitability. By rationalising and streamlining your sales process, you can shorten your sales cycle, improve your conversion rate, and often raise both your revenue and the value of your company. Here’s how:

Automate repetitive sales tasks

If you haven’t done so already, now is the time to invest in sales and marketing automation. Using a platform such as HubSpot, you can identify and automate those sales processes that are time-consuming but yield very little added value. Automation tools can, for instance, handle your email follow-ups, data entry, and other routine but crucial administrative tasks, which frees up your sales team to focus on more strategic activities, and avoid any delays in getting back to important customers.

Develop a scalable sales model

A sales model should be easily scaled to accommodate potential growth without a significant increase in resources or sales staff. Pay special attention if, at the moment, your sales process is heavily dependent on you or your senior team. The more people that are involved with sales, and the better they are supported with software assets, the more resilient and responsive your sales model will be.

5.Invest in training for your team

It may be a cliché that your staff are your strongest assets, but it’s as true today as when it was first said. A company with a strong, motivated, and highly skilled workforce is going to pack a stronger punch in the sales market than a less experienced company. By investing in the expertise, qualifications, and skills of your team, you’re also investing your business’s future saleability, reducing staff turnover and saving yourself time and hassle in the process.

Foster a positive company culture.

A supportive and positive company culture adds to business value intangibly by increasing team morale and encouraging better collaboration, innovation, and a stronger team identity that can be very attractive for potential buyers. By demonstrating the cohesiveness and competence of your team – e.g. by investing in technology partnerships, apprenticeship schemes, and continual professional development – you showcase your company’s capability for future revenue growth and sustainable success.

What next?

Preparing an exit strategy is a process that requires careful planning, time, and a strategic focus on developing value. To find out how a personalised marketing strategy can help you achieve your goals for your exit strategy, please contact JDR today by [clicking here].

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