Of being acquired and merging organizations

Working alongside and taking the best of both worlds

I have recently joined Mention, a leading SaaS startup specialized in online monitoring and social media marketing. I had just entered the premises when I learned that the 50+ startup had just been acquired by a 250+ well established Swedish company with expertise in the PR industry.

A bit of a shock for a fresh addition to the team, but a move that made a lot of sense (skills, markets, industries, personas).

Running towards each other

You could feel the eagerness of our new colleagues to start collaborating as soon as possible and build a unified business. For them this was a breath of fresh air that shed new light on the future of their group; and for us, the opportunity to get the resources to build the international growth.

The first days were dedicated to many… many…many meetings, wanting to understand how we were doing business on an operational level, how we could share best practices and knowledge and directly start building synergies. Having just arrived, this lead to a lot of investigation.

So yes, we ran towards each other, but not in the slow-mo fashion you see in movies, more like two rams headbutting!

We ran towards each other (…) like two rams headbutting

We all rushed into this happy frenzy, both excited to go to the next level together. We entered a “quick win” phase with the ambition to generate our first joined deals and get some growth as fast as possible.

This ended up putting tons of pressure on many teams, losing focus, and catering for all the needs without prioritization (answering questions, providing access to tools, training on the product, etc.). Were we successful? You might have guessed, no. But here is not the story… both companies learned from this experience and refocused on their specific goals. Mention and Mynewsdesk are doing great, sharing expertise and deals, behaving as sisters companies under the amazing patronage of NHST (the holding).

One department though didn’t suffer too much from the back and forth… it even shined during the integration process in my opinion: marketing!

Taking things slow

The success of the integration of both Marketing teams was not only due to the complementarity of the teams with their very different skillset, or the thrill of adding a new product line to our mix. Nor what is because both organizations were looking at the deal as a way to learn from each other (and not overtake/dominate the other).

Looking back (not too far), I think it was mainly due to our approach to the integration. At Mention, we are very lucky to work with many top companies such as HubSpot, SEMrush, Mailjet, and we decided to simply look at Mynewsdesk as yet another partner. And that is my main learning: “When acquired, play the long game and treat the other as a trusted marketing partner.”

When acquired, play the long game and treat the other as a trusted marketing partner.

After an observation round and numerous audits of each other activities and content, we discussed potential marketing opportunities, starting with guess blogging and newsletter introduction. This made us treat each other with even more trust and respect, seeing the quality of what was delivered on the other side. This smoothened our relationship, working with peers, willing to build something together that could last and be in the best interest of both parties.

Co-marketing campaigns are the best

The next step was natural: building a co-marketing campaign, something Mention has always been very good at. We looked at how we could integrate the other company into our marketing roadmaps to limit steering away from our goals while leveraging each other.

I do think that the best co-marketing campaigns are the one that serves your objective first (I’m not a fan of opportunistic campaigns mostly based on loose discussions, friendliness or gaps in the calendar). The stronger the alignment with your plan the stronger the campaign will be since you will put more effort into promotion. too often I see co-marketing campaigns.

The best co-marketing campaigns are the one that serves your objective first

Mynewsdesk’s Head of Content, Chris Van Mossevelde came to us with a prepackaged campaign (you can discover the end result here) that was already planned. We thought that we could give it more value by adding our knowledge, network and customer database. We needed an early Jan campaign, loved the topic (“The Data-Driven Communicator”) that fitted our personas interest.

We set off and built one of the most successful campaigns we had. From this success and the ability to work together as one team, we were all in to even merge teams.

No merger but intertwined branches

As developers will tell you, developing multiple code branches is a tricky exercise because one day you want to merge them together and this can be a challenge. The secret recipe and the one that we still follow today:

  • Build trust between team members/teams
  • Understand how each work and what they have done in the past
  • Create a common best practice library
  • Share tools
  • Develop a common framework
  • Care about each other and be ready to help out

How does this translate on an operational level? We adopted an agile method for project management through Jira and 2 weeks sprints. We use the same tools (HubSpot, VWO, Hotjar). We got support on improving tracking and our Google Analytics setup, and even running our first ad campaigns. We also mirrored the “Experiment Framework” of Mynewsdesk that allows us to become a more data-driven marketing team (Mynewsdesk is very advanced in this matter). We are still exploring more co-marketing opportunities but without selflessness, we still focus on our objectives!

We know that the success of both teams means Marketing will shine brighter, our organizations will be even more successful and our customers will ultimately benefit from it!

This journey is still ongoing and I’m grateful to my team and the one from Mynewsdesk for being so resilient, helpful and talented.

Originally published at https://www.linkedin.com.

CMO Hivency.com, leading influencer marketing platform. Former CMO of @Mention, @Ulule, @Bolden.