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Communicating M&A with Customer Centricity in Mind

April 4, 2024

I’m Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands, and this is M&A Minute. Today, we’re going to talk about the day one message. This refers to that moment when it’s time to tell the outside world about a merger or an acquisition There’s many things that precede day one internally, but day one is the moment that it becomes public.

A Customer-Centric Approach to Communicating M&A Events

It’s essential to view the day one message through the customer’s eyes. It can be tempting to be either too grandiose or too granular when announcing some form of M&A. Grandiose messaging includes phrases like, “We’re changing the world,” or “Nothing’s ever going to be the same.

On the other hand, what’s too granular is if the announcement is all about the financial terms of the deal, who the new CEO is, or other similar specs. It is our belief, and it has been our experience, that what matters to customers in moments of such big news for a company is an M&A transaction.

They want to know what’s staying the same and they want to know over time what will change to benefit them. The first rule from our perspective of the Day One message is really a continuity message. Customers work with a company for a reason. Either the products are excellent or the relationships are strong. There is some back story typically as to why those relationships exist.

M&A: The Brand Identity Choice

The Importance of Continuity in M&A Moments

First and foremost, customers want to know on day one that the things that they love, value, and respect about a company will stay the same in part or in whole. The first message is a continuity or a “do no harm” message on day one.

We also earn the right on day one and shortly thereafter to talk about the potential for how things will get better. Could be new geographic coverage, new tools in the product assortment, or any number of things that lead to an M&A transaction.

It’s your opportunity to convey the potential to make things better that matter to your customers. Ideally, the day one message is continuity to reassure customers that the people they love and the products they trust will remain in place. They need to know that they can work with the company as they have been.

At the same time, give them a little bit of a glimpse – even if it’s not entirely defined yet – as to what the potential enhancements are and how they’re going to make relationships stronger and customers happier over time.

Why This Approach Works

Now, fortunately, when it comes to day one, we have a couple of benefits at our disposal. One, the marketplace is patient to some degree. We don’t have to have all the answers. What we need to be able to do on day one is to tell them something exciting is happening.

By having a marketplace that’s patient and understands that there’s so many moving parts in a transaction like this, as long as we deliver those messages effectively, the time window of attention and interest will extend as more specifics become available as you work through them.

Fortunately, you can send different messages to different audiences. Things like the work structure, CEO, and new leadership can be announced in sort of HR and trade publications. The financial terms can be focused within capital markets publications, but the sort of corporate website and customer communications again, should be seen through the eyes of the customer.

Viewing M&As Through the Customer’s Eyes

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