FINITE: B2B Marketing Podcast for Tech, Software & SaaS

#41 - Marketing through an acquisition with Jason Bradwell, Senior Director, Group Product Marketing and Communications at Deltatre

February 15, 2021 Alex Price Season 1 Episode 41
FINITE: B2B Marketing Podcast for Tech, Software & SaaS
#41 - Marketing through an acquisition with Jason Bradwell, Senior Director, Group Product Marketing and Communications at Deltatre
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Today we're excited to welcome Jason Bradwell onto the FINITE B2B marketing podcast. Jason is Senior Director, Group Product Marketing and Communications at Deltatre, a technology business providing solutions to the sports and entertainment industry.

Alex is talking to Jason about marketing through an acquisition, which is a really niche but interesting subject. The technology landscape moves quickly, with companies being acquired regularly and Jason shares some great tips on marketing during an acquisition based on some first hand experience. 

Jason also runs his own podcast, B2B Better as well as a B2B marketing newsletter that he publishes weekly called B2B Bite. Follow Jason on Twitter at @JasonRBradwell.

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Speaker 1:

Hello

Speaker 2:

Everyone. And welcome back to another episode of the finite podcast. I'm excited to welcome Jason. Bradwell onto the episode today. Jason is senior director, group, product marketing and communications at Delta tray . A really innovative technology business, providing solutions to the sports and entertainment industry. I'm talking to Jason about marketing through an acquisition, which is really niche, but interesting subjects . You will know the technology landscape moves quickly with companies being acquired regularly and Jason shares some great tips on marketing through an acquisition based on some firsthand experience. Jason also runs his own B2B marketing podcast called B2B batter, a newsletter called B2B bites . And if you're on Twitter, I definitely recommend following Jason at Jason R Bradwell , as he shared some great insights there too . We'll drop links to all of these below, but for now happy listening,

Speaker 1:

The finite community and podcasts , a kindly supported by nine three X, the digital marketing agency working exclusively with ambitious fast-growth B2B technology companies. Visit nine three x.agency to find out how they partner with marketing teams in B2B technology companies to drive growth. Jason,

Speaker 3:

Thank you for joining me. Hey Alex. Thanks very much for having me. I'm looking for let's talk. I know we put this upside in the pipeline for a little while I feel, but we finally pin down a date. Yeah, it has been a long time coming. You know, I think we first started talking about it when I had you on , on my podcast. And that was like, you were one of the first guests and I want you to back in August. So yeah, very glad that we managed to make this work. So we're talking about a really interesting subject today , marketing through an acquisition, which I think is one of those things that as you pointed out, there's not a huge amount out of that around acquisition. At least not from a marketing perspective. I think there's pensive top level kind of business acquisition related content out there, but very little that dives into kind of real life case study, I guess, of some of the stories and the experiences you've had of going through an acquisition. So I'll let you in a sec, explain a little bit about, from what perspective you're looking at the subject, but before we even do that, I'll let you just explain a little bit about where you're up to at the moment, tell everyone who you are and then we can dive into the subject. Yeah, of course. I think it's a really interesting subject and I think we'd have a lot to talk about. And as you say, I think there is a lot of material out there for leaders of organizations, CEOs, people like that who are having to make some very complex decisions that encompass the entire organization, but very few materials I've come across that. Talk to it from a marketing perspective, but as your questions. Yeah. So I'm the senior product marketing and communications director for a tech organization called Delta tray and Delta tray. They operate on what we call the field of fan spectrum. So they have a hand in everything from the production of content, particularly sports content on the field, in a stadium, putting cameras down, that kind of thing, and then all the way transporting it through to the end consumer so that they are seeing it on a screen in their hands or in their living rooms and everything in between. So kind of match data collection analysis and distribution, building websites and apps, doing broadcast graphics, OTT services, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. So it's a bit of a cliche, but we think of ourselves as the industry's best kept secret. It's been going for 34 years and work with, you know , many, many of the top tier tier zero tier one support into terminal organizations around the world. We like to say sometimes that if you were to pull the plug out of Delta tray , the world of sports and entertainment would come to a come to a crumbling hold, but you know, maybe that's a little bit overkill and we're a big enterprise tech organization, long sales cycles, big deals and you know, a complex value proposition. And I actually came into Delta tray through an acquisition in 2018. I worked for an organization then called massive interactive. It was a user experience software company that had a tool that allowed OTT providers over the top video streaming providers to, you know , very quickly and seamlessly changed the user experience on the front end of their apps without touching any code and Delta, Trey acquired massive to build out its OTT portfolio of products and services. So, you know, what we're going to talk about today is come from firsthand experience in some cases, but also, you know, I always try and have these conversations where I can with marketing leaders, who've gone through a similar experience to me, either on the buyer or the seller side and get their take on it as well.

Speaker 4:

Interesting. So I guess that's approach it kind of chronologically in terms of an acquisition process. I guess the very first thing that comes to mind for me is even before digging into the, getting ready to sale side of things, how early on in this case, did you even know that you were being acquired? And because I always wonder whether it's something that , you know , that a couple of the C-suite know about and then suddenly it's just announced the rest of the company the next day, or obviously in certain marketing and comms roles. I think there's more need for someone that seems to be involved, but is it still just some of the team and not everybody? So what was the kind of timeline and up to even even the pre-acquisition stage of let's start planning, getting ready to sell, was it a kind of open secret and that the plan had always been to Salem , the CEO was very open about that or was it more of a, I guess a little bit more of a discreet process?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, it's an interesting question. And I like to think, well, I think that leaders of businesses, like to think that, you know, they are giving their teams lots of time to plan for a potential acquisition, but to be honest, I don't think you can, you can ever have enough time because I think if you really want to do it well, then you're looking at something like a three, a runway to a point of actually signing a contract and being acquired because, you know, I like to think of it as pre acquisition . You've got two goals from, from a marketing point of view, one it's about putting yourself in front of a suitable potential buyer and making sure that the right organizations that you want to be acquiring you, I've got their eyes on you. And two that you're doing everything you can from a marketing point of view to raise the perceived value of that organization, of the organization that you work for in that and that you want to sell. And that is a big brand exercise, right? Particularly for companies that I'm familiar with, which is what I call kind of sleeper organizations where perhaps, you know, marketing has never really been a core element of business growth, much as something like sales has when you're talking big enterprise sales, typically it's who, you know, rather than the blog posts you write or the white papers you produce, and that's a big mindset shift for , for these kinds of organizations, you know, they've decided they want to be acquired and, you know, they need to suddenly stop putting in the legwork from a marketing, a branding point of view, to position the company to the right buyers and also to raise the perceived value of that organization. And that takes time. So I like to say that, you know, it should start three years before that process, obviously that is a big leap of trust for an owner of a business for a CEO to open that conversation up to the wider team. And I think what it really hammers home to me is why it is so important to have a marketing representative in the leadership team, because if your business is somewhat hierarchal and, you know, from a , you know, at the top level, you're in a need to know basis, but the lever they own you , you're on a non , you know, you don't need to know that's where suddenly you start seeing a disconnect, right? And there's obviously an ambition from the leadership team to, you know, make this move and , and sell the company. But marketing is kept in the dark up until almost the contracts are being printed out. So I think having that representative in the leadership team who can strategically start positioning the organization well in advance without necessarily, you know, telling their team directly, this is what we're going for, but can start setting the objectives and setting the strategy. That's going to position the company in that way. You know, I think that's why you need a marketing representative in the leadership team to be able to enact that

Speaker 4:

Reminds me of the book. I don't know whether you've come across that built a salad, which is, I guess kind of takes your three-year window and basically says why she nevermind a timeframe that we should just be operating businesses if that kind of getting ready to be sold at some point from the very beginning, which I think is an interesting, interesting framework . But I think one that is easy to say, but not so easy to do in practice. I think when the day-to-day gets in the way of things, but so on a more tangible level there's was that a bigger investment in PR and engaging with industry press and I guess, was it, was it pretty multifaceted in terms of just covering all of the basis of increasing the perceived awareness of, of the business? Yeah ,

Speaker 3:

That's an interesting question. And I think for a lot of B2B organizations, particularly ones that are kind of going into a period of, you know, we're going to be selling this organization in the next three to five years, a huge focus gets placed on revenue, right. And things like EBITDA and making sure that the financials stack up and in turn, I mean that the knock on effect of that is that, you know, things like lead gen activation, you know, getting pipeline , uh , growing pipeline suddenly becomes, if it hasn't been already, you know , the primary focus and it should be a focus, but it shouldn't be the only focus. There's a great report that came out a couple of days ago. You may have seen it from the B2B Institute, which I think is , um , from LinkedIn and it's called 20, 30 B2B marketing trends or something like that. And they talk about how, you know, the B2B businesses that are going to be winning in in 10 years time , uh, the ones that are devoting 50% of their time to that kind of, you know, activation part of their marketing , um, bringing in leads, growing pipeline and 50% to building out brand and building brand equity because that brand equity cementing yourself in the minds of your, of your industry as the go-to provider of your solution of choice, that is what's going to contribute to your long-term success. And I think particularly in an acquisition environment during the due diligence process, right, where, you know, the financial entity, the legal entity, the acquiring company is, you know, they've given a statement of intent and they're now lifting the hood of the car and checking that the engine's running as , as it should do, that is such an intense process. And it covers so much of the organization beyond just the financials. It involves employees, it involves customers, it involves partners. You know, you're really, they're doing that to get a true picture of what the business is all about. And I think that's why an investment in brand and making sure things like, you know, your customer experience, your employee experience, your partner experience is as good as your marketing is making it out to be right. That's why it's so important because if you're, you know , at the early stage saying, look, our financials are really healthy and we're on such a great growth trajectory, but then they actually get into the business and they can see that it's, you know, this may be a little bit intense, but rotten from the inside, you know, it's two different pitches. And ultimately that can then impact the , uh, the , the sale, the sale journey. So yeah, I think press, you know, it's what all CEOs want to see. They want to see their names on the financial times. And then in the wall street journal, they want to see leads coming in. They want to see pipeline growing. All of that is incredibly important, but don't discount the investment in building out your brand experience across all touch points, you know, that your potential customers are going to be experiencing when working with your business, because that is what's going to contribute to your long-term success.

Speaker 4:

Yeah. Some really good advice. And I think marketers can really think about, I think as you've alluded to, like any of these acquisition are generally just pretty much or heavily driven and owned by finance people, right? Whether that's investors or MNA advisors, whoever it might be, no matter how you look at it, there's always going to be a heavy waiting to, as you say, like multiples against EBIT or whatever the things are that matter. But as you pointed out, when, when did you diligence gets a little bit deeper stuff can kind of come out of the woodwork.

Speaker 3:

And if I can say, I think, you know, from, from a marketers point of view, you know, I consider it our responsibility to be equipping the people who are sitting in the room with those, you know, with the private equity firms or, you know, the bankers or whoever, you know, it's a marketer's responsibility. If they're not in that room, having that conversation to be equipping the people that are in that room, the CEO, the CFO, you know, whoever to be able to tell that story. Right. So, yeah, that's also a very important part of this process. It's, don't just focus on kind of what you're putting out into the market and you know, what you're putting into your press releases, but how are you equipping your team who are having these very long and often intense conversations with financial institutions that there is value in marketing one, but also, you know, brand development, brand equity.

Speaker 4:

I want to talk a bit about the, the acquisition kind of process itself. And , uh , so you've kind of made this big investment in marketing brand. You've, you've hopefully got the business out there a bit more people are more aware of you and the industry, and then it appears that there's an opportunity for two businesses to come together. At what point do you start looking at the kind of , uh, I guess alignment and integration piece in any shape or form, or is it once everything's been signed and okay, we're being quiet , let's start working together or is there some, there's some conversations earlier on, give us a sense of, of that side of things

Speaker 3:

It's dependent on the situation, but it kind of goes back to my original point, which is having a marketing representative in the leadership team on both sides, because if that's the case, then you can start having these conversations very, very early on, you know, the contract doesn't have to be signed, you know, [inaudible] these processes, there is often a , well , there's always kind of a statement of intent from the Inquirer , from the acquiring company that, you know, yes, we're going to go and make that purchase. And then we move into that due diligence process and, you know, all things going well, we are going to make this happen and we were just negotiating, you know, possibly on price and things like that. So as soon as that has come in, as soon as you've kind of, as soon as the seller has identified a single buyer narrowed down the list of potential buyers to just, just one, you know, in theory, you can start having that conversation. And I would probably suggest that you do right, because the worst thing that can happen is it's 4:00 AM in the morning and you've got the Ft on the phone who are like, are you making the sale or not? Cause you're kind of hovering your pan over the contract and trying to negotiate the final few pounds and pennies that you're gonna , that you're gonna make. And only then the marketing team are getting involved. Right? So I think as soon as you've narrowed it down to a single company, that's going to be acquiring the other that's when you should be having the conversation with one another, that the marketing leads from both organizations need to be coming together and communicating and sharing ways of working and equipping each other with, you know , each of their respective stories. You know, what is the organization about, you know, what we also USP, what are our points of leverage in the market? How do we bring those together into a coherent narrative that , you know, we're gonna be putting into the PR, that's going to be announcing this thing. Everyone needs to be well in advance of the actual announcement and signing of the contract . Everyone needs to be aligned on kind of what the goal is. And it can be a tricky one when you've got kind of three sets of leads, potentially, you know, acquire a seller and a financial institution somewhere above that. It can be a little bit tricky to get those aligned if you haven't had the time to communicate and, and , uh , kind of almost, you know, whiteboard it out , uh, in advance of what a launch would look like.

Speaker 4:

I think that the finance institution is an interesting one because I think I mentioned you, I should record an episode earlier this week with a VC. Um , w we were talking about, you know , what VCs look for from a marketing team and things that matter from marketing, from a VC perspective, when they're looking at funding rounds and all those kinds of things, I don't know what the situation was in their specific acquisition that you went through, but I think those financial institutions can be a really interesting persona that marketing kind of have to have to think about sometimes more than might be obvious.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. I mean, look, they're a very important part of the equation because, you know, as the ones that are, you know , effectively bankrolling the deal, you know, they need to be instilling confidence, you know, from the private equity world , they need to be instilling confidence in their backers that they're making the right kind of choices and they need to set the tone of what the next five, 10 years is going to look like as they maximize the value by extension of the company, that's acquiring the value of the asset that they have acquired. So they will have an agenda. And I don't say that with negative connotations, but it's just the nature of what this situation is. And making sure that their input is included as part of a launch marketing campaign, and then ongoing communications is vitally important. You know, all goals need to be aligned. And in our case, you know, we were very lucky that, you know, we have a communications counterpart at the private equity firm. That's involved with Delta tray and he does a fantastic job. You know, we get on the phone every single week and every single week we're brainstorming ideas and we're, you know , batting around concepts with one another on, you know , how do we continue telling this story? And we found him and by extension the private equity firm that he works for incredibly useful in helping kind of elevate our positioning in the market and also opening doors for us. You know, I said the world's best kept secret early . When I was talking about Delta tray before we were talking to our communications counterpart over the private equity firm, things like appearing in the wall street journal or the financial times, you know, those were just barriers that we weren't able to overcome. So I , I wouldn't, I would say to anyone, listening to this podcast, that's in this situation, don't discount the value that your private equity partners can bring in terms of just opening doors and, you know, just sharing ideas because ultimately what's in your best interest is in their best interest.

Speaker 4:

You've touched on a few times now, the kind of narrative and the story that comes with an acquisition, and obviously both sides will have the kind of the story that they want to tell them the story that matters to them. And I'm sure there's some in a lot of cases, some kind of personal preference worked in, and I was going to say the word ego, which is maybe a bit, bit too much, but I think founders and CEOs and everyone has their own story that they want to tell of why they've sold and what it means to them. And what's next and kind of justify that decision-making to everybody around them. I guess there's a number of different perspectives that needs to be kind of hopefully aligned. How do you post that side of things in terms of packaging up the why, why this is happening ?

Speaker 3:

I mean, no company buys another company unless there is a why you'd like to think when you're talking about some of the numbers that you see in private equity, you, you would be, it would be awful to think that anyone was just doing it for vanity, but getting to grips with kind of what the why is, and wrapping this in a kind of compelling narrative that you can take to market is just so important because if you get it wrong at the beginning, you know, it does kind of set the tone for the future. You know, you only get one chance at making a good first impression and otherwise if you miss it, then you're just fighting against the tide. And I think that's important that you set the tone, not just for, you know, it's not just about going out and winning new clients, but also instilling confidence in your existing clients that this is the right move, because you've got to remember that on the quiet side, on the seller side, they will have customers that will be reading a press release saying, am I still being served by the company? I thought I was being served by. So getting that tone right where this acquisition is going to mean that we can be more than the sum of our parts and we can deliver value, you know , in ways that you haven't even thought of yet. You know, that is, that is super, super important. My advice would be is really just to kind of like keep it simple, you know, because there are going to be a lot of unanswered questions across so many different things, you know, once the contract has been signed, obviously you'd hope a lot of it has been figured out, but inevitably as two organizations come together, there are going to be questions that arise. You know what what's going to happen to this product when there is kind of crossover with this product, you know, who, what are the rules of engagement around territories, you know, for our , for our two respective sales teams, things like, and they're there any questions that you can really kind of start figuring out as you bring the two organizations together. So keeping your narrative simple in your announcement campaign is I think what is, is the kind of the key part of that I would focus in on a single kernel . That's what I like to call it of where the businesses obviously compliment one another. So whether that is, you know, filling a product gap that exists , that didn't, that existed on either side, that now is solved with, with two companies coming together, whether that is, you know, Hey, we can expand into a new territory or new market or a new segment that we weren't able to previously by bringing these two companies together, just push that single kernel of your message, right. To the forefront and just, that's what you should hang your communications hat on because, and I think that says two purposes, one, it helps the market just frame and understand, okay, you know, that that's what this acquisition is all about. I can, I can get that. And it's not like this kind of 10, 15 point list of things that I have to remember. But two , there are going to be people within your organization, a lot of people within your organization on both sides that are going to have to be answering questions on a day-to-day basis, you know, from customers, you know, from partners, from their teams within the organization. And if you can equip them with just one single message that no one can question, this is why the acquisition was made. And this is how it's going to deliver value in the market that buys you some time as you're figuring out the rest of this stuff. So I know this is marketing kind of one-on-one to a degree, but please just keep it simple, you know, a press release doesn't need to be, you know, a novella about, you know, how these two companies, where it was written in the stars that they were going to come together, just focus on one thing, that's going to demonstrate the value of the acquisition, and then just give that to everybody. And it will be fine.

Speaker 4:

I think that's great advice. And you just mentioned that the kind of internal comms part and employees and things coming together, were there any other bits that came up for you or that you've come across since in terms of, I guess, making that easy for people to communicate internally, communicate to partners and suppliers and everybody else, maybe when we move on to the next bit around kind of post acquisition , can you talk a little bit more generally about culture and different cultures coming together, but more generally just in terms of, cause we talked to the start about this cadence of when, to certain employees now , and I assume that a certain number of employees on both sides of you and then suddenly others found out on the day that it was announced. And did you have a flurry of like what's going on messages on Slack or, or was it kind of managed to the point that people, I guess kind of knew by that point?

Speaker 3:

I mean, look, it's kind of that old, that old saying, you know, fail to prepare, prepare to fail. If you leave things right to the last minute, when it comes to employee communications on what's happening, you are going to suffer like no question because inevitably questions start coming up in people's mind , you know, what does this mean for my job? You know , if you've got two teams that are, you know, by all accounts performing the same function within both organizations, do you still need to write ? And it does obviously quite rightfully stoke some concern within employees when they start seeing things like acquisitions. And that's why making sure that you are prepared so that you can go out if you choose to on the, you know, to leave it this late on the morning of the acquisition, with a message from the CEO, either recorded or live an FAQ, a set of materials that you can give to your management team that, you know, they can then have those kinds of one-on-one conversations with their teams. You need to be putting in the legwork upfront to make sure that you are not just focusing on how am I getting the best deal for me, the owner of this organization, but also how are we instilling confidence that this is the right move for our team? And I guess I would sum it up in four parts. You know, it's, it's about presenting that compelling vision of what the future is going to hold. Now that you have this combined value proposition. I would say that it's about ensuring that you've got those regular communications, you know, at the start, but then also ongoing and that the points of access for your employees to speak to their leaders and the leadership team in general, a very clear , um, like what do I do if I have a question who do I speak to? As I said, I think it's about equipping those managers to lead through change. So making sure that all the way down the hierarchy of the management structure, you know, they have that level of information to be able to answer questions on the fly and also, you know, find ways to involve your employees right in the process. For instance, if you've got two offices in London, for example, find ways to bring those offices together, get the people together. You know, in my experience where acquisitions have been successful is when you don't just continue to have both sets of people siloed from one another, but you actually bring them together and you integrate them. And you know, that could be just coming into one office. That could be something as simple as just hosting a barbecue, right? And you get people talking to one another and they're establishing those connections with one another, obviously in a virtual environment, it's a bit more difficult, but I think, you know, the main takeaways just find ways to involve employees in that process and get them talking to one another because by forging those links, you know, that's, what's going to be the foundation on which our success is built. So

Speaker 4:

You've signed on the dotted line acquisition complete, you wake up the next day, first, Monday day , one of new colleagues, new brands to consider. Everything's probably a little bit different. What's next? What do you do next?

Speaker 3:

Oh, that's a good question. Once you've done the announcement, if you haven't already, you need to start thinking about what is going to be your kind of first splash moment, post announcement, you know, because you want to reinforce that kernel, that, that message that you had in your announcement of why this is happening as quickly as possible with a piece of wood , with a piece of storytelling that isn't the announcement because the announcement is just, it's just words, right? It's just, you know , it's, it needs evidence

Speaker 4:

Kind of proving and demonstrating the Commonwealth option .

Speaker 3:

Exactly. So for instance, say that, you know, the kernel of your, of your announcement story was the fact that, you know, Hey, now that we've brought these two companies together, we can really go and kill it in the U S like that's going to be our new target market. Being able to follow that up, you know, a few weeks, a few months later with we've just won this amazing new client in the U S and it's a joint win basically, which leverages the both sides of the equation. You know, that's a , that's a great splash moment that demonstrates to your industry, to the media, to your clients, to potential clients that there's some juice in this idea and it's already proving itself. And also obviously it shows value to the, to the financial institution up at the top. So, yeah, I think as soon as day one, after the contracts have been signed, you know, working on what is the next splash moment of the two organizations that have now come together as one, you know, what is going to reinforce this idea of the Y um , the two businesses have come together, you know, that, that, that should be the number one priority.

Speaker 4:

And would you say that's a fairly kind of ongoing thing and that we can talk a little bit in a sec about how two different brands might stay in market together or how they might be merged and stuff, but is , it's just kind of a consistent reinforcement across over the next year, 18 months beyond even, do you think it needs to be , be kind of thought of as it has a bit of an always on a narrative that needs to be done ?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, absolutely. And , and it does kind of segue into, you know, the question Mark around, like what happens to the sole brand, because I think ultimately that is going to influence a lot of what your ongoing communications is going to look like. But yeah, of course, you know, you need to be just like with any marketing strategy or communication strategy sitting down on day one, after the contracts have been signed and kind of mapping out, you know, what are these kinds of hero stories, these anchors, these splash moments , um , that are constantly reinforcing that kernel of why this deal has been made is super, super important. But I would caveat that and say, you don't want to set in stone too early, what that is going to look like, you know, because it's a very volatile situation once an acquisition has been made. And I didn't say volatile again with negative connotations, just the word that came to mind, but, you know, it's a very fast moving situation. It's very dynamic situation. You know, lots of answers are coming out of the woodwork on some of these big questions that existed pre-acquisition and you don't want to, you kind almost as a communications team need to give yourself the room to be able to adapt to an emerging narrative, right, as the two organizations come together. So while you may have, you know, two to three kind of storylines or threads within your, within your storytelling that demonstrate the widest acquisition has come together, new opportunities will present themselves as time goes on. And yeah, you want to remain nimble and agile and flexible to be able to accommodate those in your communications while, while the dust is starting to settle.

Speaker 4:

The brand piece is really interesting because like I said, most acquisitions, eventually the brand that's being acquired will be phased out in some form or another, I guess, in some situations for whatever strategic thinking has been done, it makes sense to maintain a brand. And that brand would always exist even though it's got different parent company. But I think probably in the majority, I don't know how much hard data to back that up, but I think generally speaking, the acquired brand will gradually disappear with time. We'll be at , with a kind of phased integration piece and there might be an Annette and all the different kind of complexity in there in the background. How do you approach that? I don't know whether you can talk about kind of specifically case you went through and what happened to them , the brand side of things that, but I guess just in terms of broad times as well, what that process of phasing a brand out , uh , can look like?

Speaker 3:

Yeah. So one of three things is going to happen either the brand is going to be absorbed immediately. Um , the acquired brand, the brand will be absorbed later, or the brand will be kept in market. And I think, you know, kept in market. You think of like beats , for example, with Apple, right? It's still in market, even if it's owned by Apple. In our case, the massive the company I worked for that was acquired by Delta tray . You know, we, we fit in that middle category where the brand existed for a period of about six, 12 months following the acquisition. And then slowly was kind of phased out. And to give you a tangible example of, of how we kind of manage that transition, you know, there's a very important trade show in our industry that happens every September in Amsterdam called IBC . And , um, for years, massive had had a huge exhibition booth right in their eyeline of people walking through the front door. So you walked through the front door and boom, the massive booth and our brand color was orange. So you couldn't miss it in a sea of blue and gray. And, you know , it became a bit of a centerpiece, you know, for people walking around the whole , because if you needed to orientate yourself, just peek your head up and find the big orange booth, and you kind of know where you are. Um, and that was that having that booth, I think was a really important part of the transition process. We knew that the brand of massive was going to eventually be phased out and we could use our presence at IBC at , at the event , um, and the booth to reinforce the value that was going to come from having been acquired by Delta tray . So what we did was we, you know, after the acquisition, which happened in November of 2018 and the event was the following September or something, which was quite, you know , which was towards the end of that phase out process, we were just doing really simple things like just having the Delta tray logo , Mark, you know, across all of our materials where you had the big, massive logo at the top on the top of the booth, which was then kind of mirrored next to the Delta tray logo, all across all of our marketing communication materials. We were kind of slowly starting to adopt the kind of the brand colors, the style guide, things like that. And also, you know, with our sales team, we were making sure that they were confident when they were giving demos and they were talking to their prospects, what the combined value proposition of the two organizations coming together was and how they could effectively sell that to their prospective customers. So, you know, on one hand, it's the fairly kind of visual light touch elements in terms of just swapping colors, swapping brand marks, things like that. But then that's kind of counterweighted with a very important part, which is the equipping, the people on the ground to go and tell that story. And then we kind of phased out the massive brand, I think, in the new year, in January of 2019.

Speaker 4:

So what was that timeline overall? And I must ask from a, I guess from a more personal perspective for you as a marketer, how was that kind of, I guess to some extent saying goodbye to a brand that you've been involved in and building up to, you know , really driving to get us , it's finally recognizing the industry to help with part of the sale and then kind of eventually kind of saying goodbye to it.

Speaker 3:

Well, I think personally it's a very rewarding experience to go through this, right? I think that being able to live and work and successfully through see-through and acquisition just personally and professionally is a very rewarding experience because it is not everyone can experience it. And especially in a position that I was in where, you know, I wasn't where I was able to directly contribute to the ongoing strategy of how these two brands are going to come together. That was a very rewarding experience. Of course it is a little bit like saying goodbye to a love interest when you have to let go of a brand that you have worked so hard and building up, but it kind of goes back to what I've , what I've been saying about the value that these two companies coming together is going to bring, you know, an acquisition is being made because there is a belief that the two companies will be more than the sum of their parts. And I think as a marketer, you should just look at it as a new opportunity to go out there and continue developing your skillset and work with an exciting new aside , a new property. So yeah, personally I found I've found it a very rewarding experience that has certainly molded me as a , as a professional and as a marketer,

Speaker 4:

I want to wrap up by talking about the coming together of all the different systems, tools, infrastructure, processes, I don't know , project management, softwares, all the different things that ended up kind of coming together. And side by side, we talked a bit about the cultural element and potentially kind of roles and team structures. I mean, the team structures change a lot. Did you find that you were kind of saying, well, we use this tool for that and we, you know , that's true . We're saying, well , we use this and you have to most things together. And I guess that's probably part of, kind of the integration piece and it doesn't have to happen overnight. Uh , but been interested in that , how you approach that side of things.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, it's, it's a , it's an interesting one. And inevitably two organizations that are coming together are gonna have very different kind of workflows and tools that they use to, to manage their processes. And it was, you know, it can be a little bit of, a bit of a shock to the system. You know, if you're using HubSpot for example, and the company that's acquiring you doesn't cause then that, you know, it's not just the tool, it's all of the workflows and the processes and the mindset around using that tool that needs to, that needs to change. I think what we did in our , in our case, you know, we looked at it as a marketing team as an opportunity to forge new ground and establish a new set of tools and processes together , um, as a brand new team. So one of the first major projects that , that we looked at was relaunching our website and that facilitated a very interesting conversation, a series of conversations around, you know , how do we want to run as a team? And what does our kind of content production workflow look like? And you know , how do we want to manage digital marketing? And we, so we were fortunate in that regard that we had , uh , had a T a leadership team that was ready and willing to, you know, facilitate that part of the journey for us. Like, you know, yes, we're assigning budget to you so that you can effectively start from scratch and build out the processes you want to run as a team. So having that kind of central project that we could all get behind, I think was really important and it's contributed to our ongoing success to this day, but yeah, you know, concessions will have to be made. I would just kind of end on that if this is going to work, you need to be ready for change and, and willing to accept, change and tools, adjust ways to implement ideas. Um, ultimately, you know, the, the more important thing I think is, you know, as a team, how, and as a culture within that team, how can we come together and most effectively create the best ideas that going to gas story to market. And the tools are just a way that we're going to get those out to the, into the world and the kind of insignificant in that regard.

Speaker 4:

Yeah . That resonates with me. For sure. I think I always talk about the people in the process being far more important than the tool was actually, I don't know whether you saw that was a really great , uh, just to wrap up a Google documentary about how search works. They released on YouTube a few weeks ago , uh , maybe a month or two ago now. And it made me laugh cause it kind of follow one of the engineering teams as they basically worked on releasing a new update to Google and they went into this final, big meeting and there was this final review as to whether or not these new basically algorithm updates would get deployed. And it basically , um , and once it's approved , uh, all that somebody does is go into a Google sheet and change a drop down in the South . Um , it made me laugh that in particular , for me being in the agency, while some of the time, how many tools and platforms and things that we all want to use all the time and the latest, but of SAS for absolutely everything. And that was Google, literally project managing Google itself out of a Google sheet. And , um , really made me think about how I recall some of these tools are. And if you've got people in process align , then the tool is, as you say, just a vehicle, it absolutely, you know, sort of spending, you know, a day arguing about whether you're going to use HubSpot or not spend that day. Just sounds a bit fluffy, but just going for a walk and just talking and brainstorming ideas and having fun. Like you've got these two amazing companies that have now come together, you know, we've , we had five brains, we've now got 10 brains. How can we bring those together as a team and do something that the industry has never seen before and really hammer home the fact that this was an , uh , an acquisition that was made for a good reason. So, yeah. And as you say that the tools are just, just implementation, it's much more important to focus on how do I get people working together efficiently, but also creatively? Definitely. Well , I think there's been some awesome advice that I think this is going to go into the archive of anybody that's going through acquisition needs to listen to this because unless some really tangible tips, which as we said, there's not a huge amount there. So then for you to share all of this open in your first hand experience is super valuable. So we will wrap up that by we'll finish by saying a big thank you for sharing everything as you have done. I appreciate it, Alex and I thank you very much for having me.

Speaker 1:

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About Jason’s experience in marketing through an acquisition
When to announce the acquisition to employees
When and how to begin marketing a business for acquisition
Aligning the two brands from the outset of acquisition
How can marketing work with the VC
How to explain to the public why the acquisition is happening
Two company cultures joining together
What to do on day one of the acquisition
Phasing out the acquired brand
Merging different tools and processes