Every successful business begins with an excellent plan, and that plan generally—and should—include an exit strategy. That exit strategy outlines the end goal for the business; for example, do the owners plan to sell it and retire, or expand it to include multiple divisions? Once the exit plan is determined, every aspect of the business should align with attaining that goal.
Why Exit Strategy Matters
While the exit strategy might be easier to ascertain at self-owned or small businesses, even the largest companies are steered by some exit strategy. The marketing professional’s job is to investigate that strategy, and then find a way to support that strategy with marketing tactics. This task seems to present a challenge to marketers, who may feel more comfortable marketing products, instead of long-term plans.
But really, marketing to support the exit strategy requires thinking about what potential investors would look for if they were seeking to get involved with a business:
- A clearly defined long-term vision, with the short- and long-term goals to accomplish that vision
- A sense of confidence in the long-term viability of the business endeavor
- An infrastructure that can support measured, methodical growth and can be scaled to fit that growth over time
- A compelling product or service that anticipates and meets the needs of intended customers
Aligning Marketing with Exit Strategy
All these factors boil down to trust and reliability. In the end, that’s the same thing that consumers are looking for—and what qualified marketers work to establish every day. This also means that at every turn, the marketer isn’t only addressing potential customers, but also potential investors, using a very similar approach. The key is to approach every customer-business interaction as a potential “marketing moment.” Consider these factors as you look to align your marketing efforts with your company’s exit strategy:
- Color and style: Colors evoke emotion, so it’s critical to make sure that you’re evoking the intended emotion. Meanwhile the style of lettering and layout should also look polished and professional. Simply rearranging elements on the page to make them “flow” better visually give a better sense of the company. Even the logo sends a message about the company.
- Tone: From word choice to grammar, every written element of a marketing piece communicates volumes. Even punctuation contributes to overall impression. Choose words that have the right connotations, that is, words that remind readers or viewers of trust, longevity, and innovation. And stay away from too many exclamation points!
- Focus: In this age of “shiny object marketing,” it can be easy to proceed scattershot into the realm of social marketing or the latest direct mail tactics. Investors will pick up on subtle signs of consistency, so it’s important to evaluate the best way to use any new strategy, so that it fits seamlessly and intuitively with the overall marketing plan and business objectives.
Ultimately, considering the exit strategy in all marketing decisions is simply another way of evaluating the appropriateness of any given marketing venture. It shouldn’t replace other measures of evaluation, nor dominate that process. Rather, the exit strategy represents another layer of that onion that marketing professionals must peel away as part of the campaign development process.