If you’re like most of us, you started a business because you were good at something and you loved it. You were solving a problem in a way no one else could, in a way that was better than anyone else’s solution. Over the years, you gained customers, added employees, contributed to the community in ways large and small. But somewhere along the way, the thrill of going to work in your own successful business started to wane.
There are many reasons: the market changed and, for whatever reason, you didn’t keep up, or your customers changed, with older, loyal customers replaced by a new generation who demanded changes. Or maybe you realized your kids have no interest in joining the family business. Whatever the reason, you’ve lost your passion and you are starting to think of selling your business. Wait!
The worst thing you can do before you put your business on the block is to take your foot of the gas, says Mike Metzger, business broker at Murphy Business and Financial In fact, it’s a great time to tune your business engine to get the best possible deal.
Marketing for a sale
Your bottom line on a successful sale is getting the price you want. It rarely happens, Mike says, because declining revenues, drooping sales, neglected infrastructure and an image of being past your peak will severely impact any offers you may receive. So what can you do? There’s no quick fix, but there are things you can do, all of which reflect your brand – and may affect your sale price.
Marketing goes way beyond advertising. In fact, you may never advertise and still run a very successful marketing effort that can increase revenues, gain new customers and get more business from existing customers.
If you’re ready to find your next adventure (with the most money possible from the sale of your business), you must shake off your discouragement and get to work.
Remind your customers why they love you
Start by reintroducing yourself to your customers. Visit them in their place of business, just like you did when you started and were hungry. Introduce them to your entire line of product and services, beyond those they’re in the habit of buying from you. There’s a good chance they have no idea or have completely forgotten all that you do. Maybe you need to create special deals or even special products for long-term customers. Make them feel special.
Social media is king – even if your customers never tweet
Social media improves your search engine optimization. To over-simplify, social media links back to your website. The more links in, and the more page visits you have, the more the search bots like you and the higher you’ll appear in the search results. There are many ways to decide which social media platform to use, but Facebook, which is sometimes discounted for B to B companies, is one of the most visited websites in the world. Are you sure you want to ignore it?
Share your knowledge
Share what you know about your industry with a combination of social media, email marketing and SEO. It is very effective in persuading customers and prospects that you are an expert and a trusted resource. Combine it with paid advertising and you have a dynamic campaign to gain new customers and encourage more business from existing customers.
Polish your customer service
Great customer service will win you more customers than any any marketing (though you can use marketing to tell customer success stories). It goes beyond saying thank you at the time of a purchase, though that is always important.
Hire a mystery shopper to call your office and talk to various employees who interact with customers, including service, billing, and sales. Ask the shopper to visit your location(s) for a true customer experience. You may know that Gladys has a heart of gold, but to a new customer she may just sound rude. Make sure your service department is never condescending, and sales staff is honest and clear on what a new customer can expect.
Hire an expert
You may have a general understanding of internal combustion engines, but you still take your car to a mechanic for a service and repairs. So with marketing. You know your business better than anyone and may have an understanding of marketing, but an outside marketer brings the right tools and expertise, and an outsider’s perspective. They’ll do a better job than you might, in less time and with better results.
Call us if you’d like a free initial consultation on marketing as you prepare to sell your company. 804.382.0594 or Bart.Levy@FastForwardMktg.com.