Marketers and small business owners rarely think about the terms, "Marketing Plan" and "Exit Strategy" and use them in the same sentence. Individually these are talked about frequently in business circles and both have incredible value when executed correctly. I would like to combine these to see if there is merit in leveraging the definition and outcomes of each. Believe it or not, both of these have a similar result that is the culmination of the strategy and hard work it takes to accomplish their goals. Hmm... can they really coexist to help businesses perform at higher level? Should marketers think differently in order to perform at a higher level? --I think we're on to something.
The Marketing Plan:
A marketing plan is a strategic and tactical blueprint that's aligned with business goals. The plan is implemented using a variety of digital and traditional channels. (SEM, SEO, advertising, content marketing, blogs, TV, display, retargeting, text campaigns, print, trade shows... you get the idea.) A marketing plan's goal is designed to expose the brand in ways that capture qualified leads that result in a sale. Simple right? Let's move on.
The Exit Strategy:
As business owners build their business, they know that the end result is "selling" the business, not owning it and keeping it indefinitely. Because the goal is to sell the business to another person or company, the strategic plan may be similar in how they capture new clients and increase sales. Most likely there is a re-established plan that outlines how the current owners plan on making sure they show a number that represents maximum customer lifetime value or total revenue, both can translate into selling the business for top dollar - all in the right time of course.
Why Do These Concepts Need To Co-Exist?
I feel both of these are very similar in that the end goal is to sell. But there's more. An exit strategy typically has a time window associated with it and sometimes the strategy within that time must change in order to stay on track to sell the business. In marketing, sometimes we don't think about an exit strategy because marketing continues, sales continue and it is a self-perpetuating activity that hopefully continues the way we need it to increase sales. I am suggesting that as marketers, we need to think of our customer conversion activities as an "exit strategy." We need to be ready to make adjustments in order to ensure our goals are met - convert a high percentage or create a certain number of qualified leads for our sales team to close the deal. This is challenging, especially if you are in a business that has a long sales cycle.
The Marketing Exit Strategy
The marketing exit strategy needs to be well defined so that all employees fully understand the end-goal. It cannot be an ambiguous thought like "we want to sell lots of product." You marketing may be an important ingredient to aid in selling, but there's more to just selling lots of product.
You may also want to define the marketing exit strategy with a goal in mind that has a number attached to it. Think about, who are your customers? Where are they in the sales funnel? What defines them as a qualified customer? What product or service are they highly interested in? Why are they interested in it? Are they ready to purchase now? These are just a few questions that need to be answered so that your marketing "exit strategy" can perform like a well-oiled machine.
Your marketing exit strategy should be tied to all leads that enter the sales funnel and more importantly, qualified leads that get submitted to the sales team. We can even take this a step further and tie all marketing to content ROI or even monthly sales. Whatever works for your team, just make sure your entire team knows what the marketing exit strategy is, what initiatives impact the exit strategy the most, and how they play an important role in order to make the marketing strategy effectively "sell."
Photo Credit: UnSplash - Thong Vo
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