Marketing Considerations in Mergers and Acquisitions


Video Transcript

We’ve previously done content around mergers and acquisitions and the marketing considerations that need to be accounted for in those environments.

There are a few things that we haven’t touched on in previous content, and one of those is a skills assessment. When you bring two marketing teams together in a merger or acquisition, you’ve got two teams that have been operating in specific ways and you may have overlapping skills or you may have gaps.

The first thing you need to do is consider what the business needs now. Obviously, things have changed. You might be hitting a new market or a new customer or have a new product. And the things that each team was doing and each team was considering before may not be what the business needs in the future. So the first thing is understanding where is the business going? Where do I really need my in-house capabilities or what you’re going to need external support, external expertise for.

The first thing is to really understand the people who are available inside of these teams. You may be managing one of those teams. You may be coming from the outside for both teams, but doing a skills assessment and not making assumptions. Someone’s job title may or may not actually represent the skills and the expertise and the interests that they have. Once you’ve done a full skills assessment, understanding where people have been thriving, getting a sense of personalities, where they’re really interested, where their job description may not actually accurately represent all the things that they’ve been doing or working on. Then you can kind of put everything out and determine what that accountability chart should look like in terms of what roles you need and what people fit inside of those roles.

You may end up finding that you have some overlaps or you have some gaps. Just because you have overlaps doesn’t necessarily mean that’s a bad thing. Now, I’m not saying that you may not have to make hard decisions. A lot of times as part of mergers and acquisitions, there are people who need to be let go because there’s redundant skills or someone has been specializing in something that you no longer need. That is a reality. But before people just start ripping people out of an organization, I think it’s really important to spend the time to understand what you actually have available to you and then put that up with what does the business need now?

And then you can make really smart decisions that everyone on the team can really rally behind if you’re really clear about why decisions are being made, what the expectations are for people and where you’re going in the future.

The second thing that is related to this is employer branding and communications. The marketing departments are often in charge of a lot of this work inside of organizations and as part of mergers and acquisitions, it is critically important that there is transparent communication, constant communication, and people understand and what is happening, why is it happening and what’s happening next. Also having some surprise and delight moments, team building events. When we think about team building activities, I’m not saying things like trust falls, we’re just really talking about bringing people together in community, having them in the same space, getting people to interact with other people and learn about each other.

If your internal employees do not feel confident and can’t rally behind the decisions that are being made, the directions that things are going, this merger, this acquisition, you can never expect your external market, your customers, your industry to really understand it. Your internal employees are the first line of defense in terms of sharing your vision with the world. And if they don’t feel bought in, no one will ever be bought in.

The last thing I want to talk about is brand integration. Marketing departments are often the recipients of decisions that have been made by the business. Pause for a second. Someone inside of marketing should have a seat at the table in merger and acquisition decisions. A lot of times there’s no consideration for brand equity, share of voice, market share and promises are made as part of the business deal that likely don’t make sense long term or an organization will continue to acquire companies. And then in three years, five years, depending on how you’ve acquired, you suddenly have this pile of brands that the organization and specifically the marketing team are being asked to maintain.

And there’s been no consideration about brand architecture, what brand should be merged, what brand should be sunsetted, what should continue to live on in the market. So that’s probably worthy of a different video, but we’re not going to talkabout that today. 

So there’s really four things that can happen when two companies come together. Either they will continue to operate as independent companies. There may be some things behind the scenes finance systems, payroll, point of sale that they may share, but they may continue to live in the market as independent brands or one brand may be absorbed into another brand, either through a rip in replace or a rolling slow transition. Or the two companies may come together to form something new with a new name, a new purpose, a new vision. Do not underestimate the amount of efforts that it will take to make these things happen and ensuring you have a plan.

If you are inside of an organization that you are expecting an acquisition or a merger, or you are a company that does these things regularly, it is important to start building your playbook now. For those four scenarios, what are the things that need to happen? What are the steps? This is also probably worthy of its own video, but it is an important
consideration that is often overlooked for marketing departments, when we think about mergers and acquisitions, is the level of effort and focus and time that it takes to do this and do it well.

So to recap, it’s really important when we think about M&A to do a skills assessment and define the roles in the accountability chart and the people who will fill those. Really consider your internal branding and communications and really, really make sure that you are planning for how you’re going to be maintaining your brand architecture and what that should be and what your brand play is long term.

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