What is becoming more and more common in today's very competitive business environment? Companies are being bought out, or two businesses decide to join hands and decide to do business as a new entity. In recent times, in particular, we have seen this happen with many start-ups. They are acquired by bigger and financially more stable giants. So in this vast market, where companies and businesses are bought and sold, what is the role of marketing or the role of marketing professionals?
Contrary to popular belief that Mergers and acquisitions are a top management or owner's call, M&A has a stressing emphasis on marketing and communications. There are three stages to every M&A deal. Let's see how the marketing function should act during each of these three stages.
Before the Deal
Marketing Research is key in this stage. This includes, but not limited to researching the firms in the market, and studying as to whether they might be interested in hand holding and compatible with the principles and practices of the business. This can also happen in the form of attending fairs/conferences/expos. Further to this, marketing would have to break the ice with these firms and get introduced to each other. Marketing teams are pressed into the duty of designing and creating material, which can be used for presentations/pitch to potential targets.
During the Deal
Once two firms have decided to join hands, the real work of the deal begins. Marketing teams from both functions are put through brainstorming sessions to come up with a name for the new business, a new logo, ad campaigns, STP strategies, etc.
Marketing communications assumes a bigger role during this stage. Merger communications are vital in this stage as employees and customers, both need to know how things are going to work during and after the merger. A clear communication plan needs to be devised and enforced, to address specific issues like employee announcements, online announcements, social media messages, press releases, advertisements etc.
After the Deal
After the deal, it is time for execution. Marketing professionals get the message out to the clients, old & new, and let the market know about what has changed and how. Marketing communications can also ensure that employees have a smooth transition by arranging celebrations or welcoming new colleagues by keeping the environment warm and lively. The top management of the firm can also be engaged in ensuring that the post-deal activities happen with willingness and happiness from the employees.
- It always pays to be truthful. M&A deals generally involve lot of questions from the employees
- Confidentiality must not be compromised at the cost of truthfulness. It is prudent to keep the grapevine under control
- Solicit customer feedback. But never put the deal under vote from the customers.
- It is about the future not the past
- Communicate frequently with all the estates involved
- Employees make good evangelists during the phases of change
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