This week, Chris Budd, founder of The Eternal Business launched a new Programme to help businesses transition to becoming employee-owned through financial marketing plans.
To mark the launch we asked Chris to explain more about the concept of the eternal business. This includes how it interacts with your current financial marketing plan.
Over to Chris…
Take ownership of your marketing plan
Do you have a marketing plan for your business?
Do you have a succession plan for your business?
If you do, then are the two aligned?
And if you don’t have both – why not?!
Promoting personality or business?
Your marketing plan should aim to produce results which are aligned with the long-term plans for the ownership of the business. For example, a business made up of self-employed advisers (commonly known as an ‘Eat what you kill’ business) might have a marketing plan aimed at producing client enquiries, by promoting the individual advisers.
Alternatively, a financial planning practice which is looking to build as a business, might focus on building a brand; where clients see themselves as having a relationship with the business rather than an individual.
This needs a very different marketing plan.
In a similar vein, if the intention of the owners is to sell to a consolidator, then the business has a finite life. In this instance the marketing plan might be focussed on a few individuals.
However, if the business is going to last beyond the founder to next generations, perhaps by selling to an employee Ownership Trust (EOT), then the focus of the marketing should be about creating a brand around the business, not on the individuals within it.
Because if the business is about you, then you cannot leave it!
Let’s look at a one of the most important the areas to focus on when constructing a marketing plan for a business which wants to last beyond the current generation. The flag.
My book, The Eternal Business, and the new online programme (see below), provides a pathway to creating a business to last. Key to this, and therefore key to any marketing plan, is the notion of the business having a very clear purpose.
I use the metaphor of the business having a flag in the ground around which everyone will gather. Employees and clients should clearly be able to distinguish why they work for this business, or engage with it, as opposed to the other firm down the road.
The flag does not simply mean ‘doing a good job’. It is about a set of beliefs and principles; it is the purpose of the business, the reason why it exists first place.”
It isn’t however about goals and objectives. A goal is something you aim to achieve during the day. Your purpose is the reason why you get out of bed in the first place.
The flag should be at the heart of any marketing plan, and therefore time should be spent working out what the flag of your company is. The marketing plan is then one way of making this real.
To give an example: at Ovation Finance, our flag is that we “Help clients to use their money to accumulate life”. The evidence of this in our marketing is the Financial Wellbeing Book and podcast, plus our coaching first approach to financial planning.
Marketing for eternity
Every business has a succession plan. Unfortunately, most of these are kept inside the owners’ heads!
Linking a clearly defined succession plan for the business with the marketing plan can be powerful indeed. It becomes essential if the plan is for the business to carry on forever.
The EOT is a succession plan which allows owners to sell at a market value, but in a way that looks after employees without requiring them to go into debt or stake their own money. It provides an ideal exit route for many owners – but only if the business is prepared in advance.
The flag now becomes especially important, providing the focus for the business and ensuring clients and employees alike consider themselves as engaged with the business, not one or a few people. In this way the business continues long after the founder has left, partly in order to leave a legacy – and partly in order that the founder gets paid out.
Constructing a marketing plan means more than just constructing a marketing plan. Find the company purpose – not a simple process – and ensure that this is aligned with the long-term plans for the business.
This week Chris launched the Eternal Business Programme, an online learning facility. This first course provides a pathway for owners to decide if selling to an EOT might be right for them, then prepare an engagement plan for employees. Subsequent courses bring in the leadership team, then all employees.
- For details of the course, pricing and this innovative method of succession planning, visit the Eternal Business website
- To have a sneak preview of the programme, click here
SPECIAL OFFER! The first 10 companies to sign up get a free 90-minute consultation with Chris.