Perception is reality, now, more than ever. And these days, where do most people form their first impressions about your business? Online, of course.

What’s the first thing you do after you meet someone in a business context or learn about a new company, product, or service that you’re interested in? Most of us do an online search and check out their website, social media presence, and reviews.

This first impression will determine whether someone pursues an engagement with your business or looks elsewhere. This is especially true when you’re selling a business – first impressions can make or break you – and could actually decrease the value of your business. Potential customers are not the only ones who may be checking out your business online - potential investors and/or acquirers are doing it, too.

There’s a reason we’ve all had this old adage drilled into us: “You only get one chance to make a good first impression,” and experts say it only takes 7-10 seconds for someone to form that impression. But we’re talking about more than just a superficial facelift for your marketing efforts. You must upgrade your marketing strategy and document it as part of updating and improving your business processes – one of the eight key drivers of business value, which we cover in our book, Cashing Out of Your Business – Your Last Great Deal.

A recent article in ForbesYour Exit Strategy: Five Marketing Strategies To Maximize Valuation” recommends that one to two years before selling your business that you start to “revamp your marketing strategy to ensure you’re following industry best practices for the current moment. This can increase sales, brand awareness and brand authority, all of which will maximize the value of your company so you can gain the highest valuation when you sell.”

The article points out that it may seem strange to be putting resources, time, and money into a business that you’re planning to leave, but they argue that it will benefit you in the long run: “The more up-to-date your company is, the better. No investor wants to pour money into a business that’s behind the times, so a little spruce-up is necessary in the months ahead of your exit.” Let’s take a look at some of their recommendations.

Update Branding, Content, Assets, and Processes – Start by conducting a thorough audit of all your content and marketing materials, as well as processes, to figure out areas where improvement is needed. Areas you may want to look at include:

        • Website
        • Blog posts
        • Newsletters
        • Marketing emails
        • Whitepapers
        • Brochures or other printed materials
        • Videos
        • Webinars/Presentations
        • Social media profiles
        • Online and print ads
        • Customer reviews (and address as needed)

Adopt the Latest, Targeted Marketing Strategies – There are lots of trends in marketing out there. Do some research and figure out what works best for your business – mainly, as the article points out, the strategies that will help you “identify and pursue high-value leads.” The article specifically names account-based marketing, which “works by first drafting ideal customer personas and breaking them down according to tiers. You can also create a target audience of past clients, lost deals and companies with the intent of buying your services.” Whatever strategy you choose, make sure to do your research, plan accordingly, and maintain consistency.

Sales and Marketing Alignment – Strengthen the relationship between your company’s sales and marketing functions. We often find these functions are siloed and not working to complement efforts in many organizations. The article suggests “regular meetings between the sales and marketing teams to have them work together on everything from content creation to developing buyer personas. Investors are bound to be impressed by sales/marketing alignment, as it’s evidence yours is a company capable of attracting and securing leads.”

Omni-Channel Marketing Across Platforms – By adopting omni-channel marketing, you can seamlessly “integrate messaging and branding across multiple touchpoints, providing a more cohesive customer journey. . . A customer might, for example, spend a few minutes on your website looking at a specific video chat service, but leave without making a purchase. This triggers an automated email prompting them to set up a call with a sales rep to learn more. Or, customers who visit your website are later retargeted on social media.”

Determine where your target customers are online and expand your presence on those platforms. “Many B2B buyers are active on LinkedIn, and 70% of Millennials trust brands with videos about their products more than brands without videos. If you don’t already have a presence on LinkedIn and YouTube, it’s time to develop one. An omni-channel approach shows your buyer exactly what they want without bombarding them, which is a much more sophisticated approach in today’s market that will surely entice investors.”

Content Strategy and Development – Spruce up (or start) your content marketing game according to current best practice. And note, these are changing all the time. So, take time to do the research in your industry. “If you want to attract buyers, you must ensure your content strategy and development don’t come off as dated. Irrelevant content makes you seem like an irrelevant company, so it’s time to upgrade if you’re planning your exit.”

Customers are “valuing transparency over hard sells or over-the-top claims.” Focus on the customer experience by highlighting testimonials, customer stories, and reviews – maybe through a series of blog posts or short videos that can also be used for social media posts. “Relevant educational content that gives customers legitimately useful information about your brand, such as ebooks, are also important.”

BONUS TIP: Develop Processes and Procedures for Marketing Strategy and Execution – Earlier, we mentioned the importance of documented processes on the value of a business. Just like processes around functions such as bookkeeping, accounting, HR, etc., you want to make sure that your marketing function also has sound processes and procedures in place. You also want to make sure that there are clear roles and designated responsibilities for execution of all of these activities. This will further increase your attractiveness to investors and potential acquirers.

As a business owner with an eye towards selling in the future, your company’s marketing strategy and process needs to be considered as part of your overall pre-sale due diligence. It will ensure buyers’ interest, increase business value, and help you achieve the best possible outcome. Your marketing is a representation of your company’s brand and should be carefully managed, along with every other aspect of the company.

To learn more about how to maximize the value of your business before you exit, read Maximizing the Value of Your Business Before Selling.

Business Transition Academy has the tools, resources, and guidance you need to get started. Our proven six-step planning process and training programs provide you with the roadmap you need to exit your business on your own terms. Download our FREE book and gain access to more FREE business owner education resources, including our:

  • Introductory Course – How to Plan a Successful Business Exit
  • BTA Owner Readiness Assessment
  • Success Stories
  • Real-Life Lessons Learned by Owners

We will show you the steps you need to take to plan for a successful business sale or ownership transfer.

 

Material discussed in this communication is meant to provide general information and should not be acted on without obtaining professional advice tailored to you or your company’s individual and specific needs. Any tax advice contained in this communication (including any attachments) is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used by any person or entity, for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties that may be imposed on any taxpayer or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed herein. This information is for general guidance only and is not a substitute for professional advice. Information presented is believed to be factual and up-to-date; however, BTA makes no guarantee as to accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information within this communication and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages from its display or use. Any forward-looking statements are believed to be reasonable; however, BTA gives no assurance that such expectations will prove to be correct.

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