Marketing for Exit Goals: Preparing Your For Business Sale

Two people shaking hands to celebrate selling a business.

For many SME business owners, the spectre of selling their beloved venture and stepping back is a bittersweet reality. On the one hand, having a sales-ready business is a testament to your hard work and success; but on the other, preparing a business for sale can carry significant financial and emotional weight, and is not always straightforward. This article is primarily for business owners considering an exit strategy within the next 5-10 years, but is equally applicable to any business owner looking to future proof their enterprise. (Articles we’ve written about longer term exit planning can be found here and here.)Download our Free Exit Plan For Business Guide!

Whatever your exit timetable and your financial goals, taking a proactive approach to marketing today can make the difference between a satisfactory sale and an outstanding one.

Defining your financial exit goals for your business.

There is a laundry list of tasks to achieve before you can sell a business, but all successful sales begin with clearly defined goals. Before you can market your business for a future sale, you need to have a crystal-clear vision of what the endpoint looks like. How much, ideally, do you want to sell your business for? What do you think it is worth? How do you envision the business being run after your exit? These exit goals will become the fulcrum around which your marketing strategy pivots.

Building long term value

Whatever the shape of your exit strategy or your timeline, investing in building the long-term value of your business is the key to achieving a good sales value. What makes a business valuable to potential buyers? Solid sales figures are a good starting point, but also valuable assets (property, plant, software etc), robust intellectual property, a strong digital brand, healthy market share, and demonstrable growth potential. Each sector has different factors that make a business more valuable than others, so researching what investors and buyers are looking for in your industry will help you to enhance these value drivers over time.

Creating short-, mid- and long-term goals

To achieve a successful sale, it makes sense to set not one, but three types of goals:

  1. Short-term: these immediate 12 -24 month objectives could revolve around improving your financial statements and accounting processes, identifying quick savings and efficiencies, or addressing known weaknesses.

  2. Medium term: over a timeframe of 2 to 5 years, you might strive to establish strong and reliable supply chain partnerships, pay off mortgages and other debts, solidify your brand reputation, invest in your in-house team, and diversify your customer base.

  3. Long-term: longer term objectives spanning the 5 to 10 year timeframe should include building a resilient business with the potential to thrive through various economic conditions, and with the processes in place to operate independently of its current management (i.e. you and your core team), and with a clear competitive edge over other businesses operating in your sector.

Successfully implementing these goals will demonstrate the value, efficiency, and agility valued by business investors and potential buyers, and will make it easier to achieve your desired price for your business.

How to align your marketing strategy and content with your exit goals

Marketing for exit goals is subtly different to general marketing, because throughout your messages and positioning you will have one eye on potential buyers, as well as your target customer base. A strategic marketing approach will help you to tailor your content to appeal to the most lucrative buyer profiles, recognising that different types of business investor will have different expectations and valuations.

Transparency builds trust, which is essential in any business transaction but even more so when preparing for sale. A strong portfolio of clear and authentic marketing content – across your websites, blog, and social platforms – will help inform potential buyers about your business’s past record, present activities, and future potential, adding a sense of security and authenticity.

Consistent growth and success

When reviewing your financial history, a potential buyer will often value steady profitability and sustained growth over wild swings of famine and feast. When preparing for a sale, therefore, prioritise those marketing tactics that cultivate consistent and steady growth in an upward financial trajectory, with strong focus on customer retention and brand development.

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for exit-oriented marketing

It’s very difficult to improve what you don’t measure, so implementing the right KPIs into your exit-focused marketing strategy will give you the insight you need to refine and elevate your methods over time.

  • Financial metrics – keep track of your cash flow and EBITDA (Earnings before interest, Taxes, Depreciation, Amortisation) to demonstrate your company’s clear financial health and trajectory.

  • Customer retention – high customer retention rates and strong customer lifetime value can significantly increase the perceived value of your business. Closely monitor your customer churn rate and implement strategies to improve retention, such as enhanced customer support and loyalty programmes.

  • Digital engagement – visibility is the first essential step in building a strong online presence, but isn’t the be all and end all; the goal is to be more engaging. Metrics to track include website traffic, social shares and other interactions on social media, and email open rates. These indicate the level of interest in your brand and buy-in from your potential customers and are likely to be closely scrutinised by potential buyers. Exit-focused KPIs should seek to maximise engagement across all your digital channels, with a clear link to a strong conversion rate.

  • Brand value – your brand is like your business’s soul, an intangible presence that makes your enterprise unique and, although difficult to quantify in terms of pounds and pence, can strongly influence your sales value. It’s possible to get an idea of your brand’s worth through market research, various brand valuation models, and customer surveys. A high perceived brand value often directly translates into a higher business valuation.

Find out more

A cohesive and well-designed digital marketing strategy can help you implement the concrete actions needed to achieve your exit goals. To find out more, please get in touch with one of our inbound marketing specialists today by calling 01332 215152.

Click here to claim your free inbound marketing assessment by JDR Group to help your attract more website visitors, generate more leaders, and increase your sales.

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