Hal Conick wrote an enlightening and useful article, How Marketing Can Make Mergers and Acquisitions Easy, in which he referenced the AOL / Time Warner merger. According to Conick, Time Warner executive Ted Turner said the transaction was “better than sex.” We now know, of course, that this particular merger was not successful.
Marketing topics might not rise to the top of the list of issues entrepreneurs typically think of when negotiating acquisition terms. But discussing these topics before you sign on the dotted line increases your chances of a successful acquisition.
5 Marketing topics to discuss before you close the deal on your acquisition
Branding and Product Portfolio
- Which brands should be kept as stand-alone brands? Which will be rebranded, or absorbed into the acquiring company’s brands? What is the basis for this decision?
- What process will be followed to ensure an orderly transition? This needs to be driven by what prospects, customers and other stakeholders require.
- Which trademarks should be kept, sold or abandoned?
Marketing Strategy and Planning
- What role will the acquired company play in the overall marketing strategy of the acquiring company?
- Will the acquired company continue to operate separately, or will it be integrated into the business operations of the acquiring company? If the latter, what will this transition look like?
- Who approves final strategy? What initiatives should be continued, reexamined and changed, or stopped? What is the approval process for individual initiatives?
- Who controls the marketing budget going forward?
- Which partners will continue to be pursued under the new ownership? Do any conflict with the acquiring company’s partnerships and if so, how to handle the situation?
- Which relationships will change, and in what way? How can they be strengthened?
- Who owns each relationship?
- Who will be kept on after the acquisition, who will need to be managed out and what would be the fairest way to do this?
- How will roles of the remaining marketers need to change? What possibilities are there for them to grow professionally within the new company? What will be necessary to retain them?
- Which outside consultants and agencies should be kept, and how should their roles change? Which should be transitioned, when and how?
Announcing the Acquisition
- Who should be notified, and what is the right process?
- What messages need to be communicated to all stakeholders, including employees, customers, partners, and investors? What’s in it for them?
- What tangible actions should the company take right away to show how the acquisition delivers value?
This is a partial list based on my experience working with startups and enterprises undergoing mergers and acquisitions. The main point is to have these marketing conversations up front, to improve your chances of a successful acquisition.
Look forward to your thoughts.
This post was originally published by the American Marketing Executive Circle.
(Main photo source: Unsplash.com)