Six things to remember in an acquisition

By Ernie Wood   |   January 29, 2016

Making the acquisition transition.

Your job is changing – now what do you do?

An acquisition is hard. And here at DeLaune and Associates, we often see the result when a client is acquired—or when a client acquires another firm.

I know a little about this. Three times, I’ve been on staff of companies that were acquired. Now, the DeLaune team and I often work with others in the same situation. It’s déjà vu all over again.

Along the way, we’ve had the easy jobs—giving the acquired company’s collateral a simple edit to meet its new parent company’s style, and flowing text into a graphic template to fit the new parent’s look. And we’ve had the hard jobs—reconciling complex messaging and reinterpreting technical graphics so they mesh seamlessly with existing materials.

Hardest of all, we’ve had to navigate—and help marketing and product managers adjust to—processes and standards that sometimes can evolve daily.

Along the way, we’ve learned a few things.

  • It doesn’t matter whether you’ve been acquired or you’re working with someone who has been acquired. You’re in a new world.
  • Find a mentor—or be a mentor. There will be questions on both sides, so you need to know as soon as possible where to turn for answers.
  • When it comes to standards and guidelines, remember the adage “Tell them what you can do, not what you can’t do.” Some challenges require innovation. All require a positive attitude.
  • Don’t try to take on the entire world. Focus instead on your core job. Some small issues seem big only because they’re new. Avoid becoming bogged down in them.
  • Understand that office politics affect the situation. Politics is always there but usually under the surface.
  • Understand that the situation will be stressful. Stress is often on the surface but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to handle.

And when you think you’ve got it, listen some more.

When it comes to the details of the final marketing material—capitalization, use of acronyms, graphic look and feel, for example—the acquiring company will prevail. In general, the same will be true for process. But there’s usually room for fine tuning the details of how processes run.

The blend of people, processes and products that are an acquisition may seem impossible at first. But the results can surprise everyone. We’ve seen it happen: change definitely can be for the better.

illustration by Fritz Ahlefeldt

Ernie Wood

About the Author

Previous Managing Copy Director of DeLaune & Associates, Ernie is an author with more than 25 years of technology writing experience.

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