The Surprising Way to Boost Business Value

Even if your sales are high, shoddy marketing can still hurt you

Written by Lisa Shepherd

Great marketing sells products and services. But did you know it also helps sell companies? How you market your B2B business can make or break how potential investors perceive value, and can mean the difference between an excellent return, a mediocre one—or no sale at all.

Whether you’re planning on selling now or are considering it as a possibility down the road, you’ll want to think about how you can make your company an attractive purchase. Marketing may not be the most obvious place to start, but think of it this way: if it’s the first impression your customers get of your offering, then chances are it’s the first thing investors will see, too. And if it comes across as haphazard, unprofessional or insufficient, that will be their impression of your company as a whole—no matter how successful you are at selling your product or service. Take a cue from private equity companies; sales and marketing is a function they almost always enhance after making an investment in a B2B company.

Read Your Business May Be Worth Less Than You Think

Here’s how you can market your company to make it more appealing to buyers—and while you’re at it, boost profitability and customer reach along the way:

Put your best face forward

Every investor will notice if your website was built by a pro or done on the cheap with a template. They’ll look at your sales collateral and marketing materials to get a sense of who you are as a company. If your materials are anything but top quality, they put your overall offering in a bad light. Yes, brochures and websites can easily be changed by the investor after purchase, but that’s not the point; if you do world-class work, communicating that effectively through your marketing materials will drive buyer perception and make your business worth more.

Maximize your online presence

Once upon a time, trade shows and sales calls were enough for B2B companies to get the word out about their offerings. Those days are over. Now, every company that wants to be successful in the B2B landscape needs to market consistently, and to market online. There’s no better way to expand your reach, generate leads and boost revenue. The online world offers so many more opportunities to present your solutions to customers and potential buyers. Why spend more to reach fewer people with traditional marketing when you have the reach and affordability of the web at your disposal?

If your target market can’t find you online, be warned: they’ll find your competitors. Not having a strong web presence is tantamount to not existing at all. You need to do your marketing where your audience is looking, consistently and frequently—through sites, online advertising, videos, search engine optimization, pay per click and more. And if your customers find you online, you can bet investors and buyers will too.

Build a strong brand

When investors can’t envision a company being profitable without its owner, that can make it a hard sell. This is where an owner’s attachment and influence on their business can actually hurt them at the point of sale. The solution? Change the perception that the owner is the business€“this will decrease the risk for buyers and increase the value of your business. Build the company’s reputation (not the owner’s) with strong B2B marketing tactics like PR, thought leadership and online presence€“and you’ll strengthen the brand and up your sale price.

Remember, when you’re selling your company, potential buyers are looking at the whole package. By making your marketing efforts count, you’ll attract more investors€“and increase your chances of getting the price you want for the business you’ve built.

Lisa Shepherd is author of Market Smart: How to Gain Customers and Increase Profits with B2B Marketing and president of The Mezzanine Group, a business-to-business strategy and marketing company based in Toronto. She was the youngest female CEO of a PROFIT 200 company in 2007 and 2008 and is a frequent public speaker on B2B marketing strategy and execution.

More columns by Lisa Shepherd

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