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Tips for Navigating Mergers and Acquisitions

Surprise! It’s Monday morning and your large A/E firm has just made an exciting announcement about a pending acquisition of a smaller firm with a specialized skill set. You’re probably wondering: What does this merger mean for you and your marketing cohort? This edition of Marketing Trends presents tips to successfully integrate a new company into your branding and proposals, based on some of the top challenges faced in AEC mergers and acquisitions (M&As).

Growth through M&As is increasingly common for AEC firms; in 2018, nearly 1/3 of professional services firms were active in M&As [1]. Below are the top three tips for marketers for successful navigating M&As, based on the most common challenges encountered in research from Hinge Marketing and Karl Feldman [2]:

1. Proactively engage with your new marketing partners regarding brand strength and decide to what extent the two firms’ brands should be integrated.

Lay the foundation for an effective communication plan, which should answer questions along the lines of “how much should any changes to the brand or messaging be broadcast to clients,” and “how soon should those changes be enacted?”

How much new branding should be done, if any, depends on how much the merger or acquisition affects your company’s offerings. If your large firm is rounding out its portfolio of services by acquiring a small firm with a niche offering, for example, there likely won’t be much change to your company’s messaging. However, a merger between two larger companies with strong brands may require integrating and blending the two brand messages. It’s also important to discuss the timing of the changes and the media through which they will be communicated.

2. Understand commonalities between brands to help integrate messaging and get everyone on the same team.

Though there are many ways to articulate a firm’s commitment to providing exceptional client service, look for ways to find common ground between the two merging firms’ messaging. Once those commonalities have been identified and refined, disseminate a cohesive message within your firm so that everyone, especially technical staff who assist with the proposal process, is up to speed with the new messaging. Presenting a cohesive, articulate brand message internally is a crucial first step in delivering that message to your clients.

3. Develop a repeatable approach to new acquisitions.

Answer the question, “Will the newly integrated partners simply adopt the business development (BD) processes of the larger firm, or does the new, smaller partner bring something to the table in their BD process that’s worth integrating?” When making this decision, consider the following: How successful has each firm been with winning business from major clients and is that success attributable to their BD process?

Troy Krause


Troy Krause is Marketing Coordinator with CDM Smith who enjoys Boston’s restaurant scene, playing sports, and visiting art museums. He is a contributor to the Marketing Trends blog series and a member of the Communications Committee.

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