[Editors Note: We’re super happy to have Rachel Durkan with us from Paradigm Marketing. She brings a unique perspective – as a marketing pro – to a subject near and dear to us: improving value. ]
Most business owners hope to grow their business and eventually sell it for a profit. This is no easy task, and even the most seasoned entrepreneur can face obstacles along the way. A comprehensive marketing strategy is just one piece of the whole, but it is crucial to business success.
The primary way to propel company valuation is to increase revenue and improve the bottom line. Easy, right? “To make more money, you need to sell more products/services.” But the devil is in the details, so where to start? Below are the top 5 marketing areas to concentrate on in order to propel the value of your business in 2015:
Many small companies are one-trick ponies, betting their entire futures on a single product, service, location or even a single customer. And while there’s nothing wrong with that in the beginning, as a company grows, it is important to identify new revenue streams to minimize risk in tough times and leverage cross marketing opportunities in better times.
2. Marketing the business, not the business owner
Shareholder dependency is a common valuation risk factor. Many small business owners face the challenge of separating their personal and professional reputation from that of the business. This transition of relationships and responsibilities is of utmost importance as a company grows. In order to sell a business, it is imperative that the business be a self-sufficient entity.
Take my company for example:
If you go to Rachel (that’s me) instead of Paradigm Marketing and Design (that’s my company) for all your marketing needs, then what differentiates my business from a consulting service? I can’t do all the work we do for our clients without my team behind me. As an individual, I wouldn’t be able to handle the volume. However, I’m the face of the company, the community knows me and our clients know me. That is why it is so important that I encourage my team to be client facing.
Ultimately, other members – whether it is various levels of management or sales professionals – must represent the organization. A business is not just one person (though sometimes an entrepreneur may feel that way); it is a complex system that if created properly, is self-sufficient and should be marketed as such.
3. Building intangible value with a brand
A brand is a promise. A well created brand can instill a feeling, value, or perception of quality. A brand is a company’s reputation. If built correctly, whether a brand is nationwide, global, or just in a local community, a brand instills a sense of trust in consumers and represents core company values and mission. Think of some top brands -Coca Cola, McDonald’s, Budweiser, Ford, Apple – and you immediately can recall key values they promise. A strong brand will enforce customer loyalty, drive sales, and create a continuous revenue stream for an organization. Brand development also expands upon the notion of removing dependency on one key Shareholder or employee. Consumers are tied to a company name and promise – something that is easier to transition post sale compared to personal relationships.
4. Ask clients what they want
Understand the market. This is such a simple idea, yet most business owners don’t take the time to do it. At the end of the day, a company provides a solution to its clients. A client’s wants and needs will determine whether that solution is profitable or not. Before launching a new product line, creating a new service offering, or even running a new promotion, stop and think about what the client base is looking for. This can be determined simply by asking them. Have a conversation with customers, develop an online or in house survey to get their feedback, or hire a marketing team to create a formal research process.
5. Freeing up shareholders time
In every entrepreneur’s career there comes a point when they must start working on their business instead of in their business. In order to do so effectively, a business owner should find an expert to wear the necessary hats for them rather than juggle all the pieces alone. Ultimately, a Company commands higher valuation multiples when there is a clear management hierarchy in place, defined roles and responsibilities shared among a team, and processes and procedures in line that promote accountability, efficiency, transferability, and ultimately, expansion potential experience through organic growth or acquisition.
In 2015, consider bringing in subject matter experts to help you develop the different areas of your business- from accounting to marketing to HR management. When we are too close (emotionally and professionally) to something, it is hard to see the forest for the trees. An expert in the form of a consultant, vendor or new team member can help to give a new perspective to the way your business is run.
About Rachel Durkan & Paradigm Marketing and Design
Rachel Durkan is the founder and owner of Paradigm Marketing and Design which provides full service marketing support including strategy development and execution, and creative services. Rachel launched Paradigm initially as a website design/development agency but quickly identified a need in the market place for comprehensive marketing support services. Paradigm is unique in that it integrates a client’s entire marketing strategy to be cohesive and ensure that each marketing initiative (brand development, website design, communication initiatives, etc.) supports the strategic plan to produce a long term return on investment.