Marketing Communications for Mergers and Acquisitions: What Could Go Wrong?

Do you lead marketing for a company that is growing through acquisition? If so, you face a specific set of marketing and communications challenges. The first and foremost of these is that too often, companies involve their marketing departments after the decisions have been made and dates have been set.

Yet the transaction is more likely to be successful and profitable if marketers have the time and information necessary to develop a full pre- and post-acquisition marketing and communications plan a few months before ‘Day 1’, when the official press release announcing the deal is distributed.

With experts predicting that the long-awaited boom in mergers and acquisitions is  coming, seasoned marketers are dusting off their M&A related marketing folders, and retrieving those archived marketing plans from that 2007 corporate merger.

So next time the CEO’s PA calls you into his office, be prepared and take a printout of the below Mergers and Acquisitions Marketing Roadmap with you as a rough guide to how the marketing department will support the corporate objectives related to the merger or acquisition.

In addition to advising management on the market and marketing opportunities offered by the transaction (ideally pre-acquisition), marketing is responsible for supporting the deal with:

Merger and Acquisition Marketing RoadmapCustomer communications that explain changes and help retain business (a factor often overlooked to the later detriment of the acquirer)
Employee communications that serve to inform and engage employees of both companies
Media relations to promote the strategic vision and objectives of the merger or acquisition
Marketing operations integration to transition the acquired company’s sales, marketing and client service assets, for example CRM databases, customer service portals, websites, sales collateral, public goodwill and brand equity, as well as liabilities and existing commitments such as contracts with agencies, budget committed to tradeshows, advertising, customer advisory boards and conferences
Sales enablement programs to ensure that the sales teams understand the cross-selling opportunities created by the acquisition and can confidently communicate the benefits of the expanded product range.

A strong and strategic marketing and communications plan can make a real difference to the success of mergers and acquisitions. A weak one plan can destroy value, damage the brand of the acquirer and can drive business to your competitors.

Here a few examples of M&A related marketing decisions that, with the benefit of hindsight, should never have made it off the drawing board and into a marketing plan:

  1. Rebranding goes wrong: PwC and the tale of the Booz acquisition
  2. Bad advertising and worse distributor relationships: Quaker Oats’ acquisition of Snapple
  3. Post acquisition customer attrition: First Union Bank loses 20 percent of customer base in the first year after purchasing CoreStates Financial 

Know other examples? Please share them via the comments section…

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