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Comment: Marketing harmony post-acquisition requires the right help says Simon Ward of Inspired Thinking Group

John Lewis and Waitrose. Tesco and Harris & Hoole. Whatever happens with the mooted Sainsbury’s and Home Retail acquisition, the trend is clear. Organisations are increasingly diversifying their offering to provide a customer experience that is both seamless and integrated.

However, providing integrated customer experiences following mergers and acquisitions can prove difficult. Ensuring the synchronisation of brand values in-store and across digital platforms is a very admin-heavy task. Siloed marketing departments working in partnership are faced with a variety of challenges – not least negotiating the use of preferred suppliers, printers and other third-parties.

While these companies may operate under different brand names and with a degree of autonomy, the key challenge is ensuring that marketing teams work together to guarantee all campaigns reflect the underlying set of brand values the partnership is based on.

Processes must be put in place to enable individual marketing departments to liaise with one another, plan regular tactical activity, and generate strategic briefs to guide both local and national campaigns. The solution to this dilemma lies with technology.

Relying on emails can result in missed messages, late communication and often conflicting audit trails. Implementing a marketing resource management (MRM) tool makes communication easier and eliminates these problems.

MRM platforms provide complete visibility across all aspect of every project through a single online platform, making coordinating interdepartmental marketing efforts much easier.

A brand partnership operating out of different locations can also make use of an MRM platform to engineer print and procurement supply chains.

If you are producing hundreds of thousands of posters, leaflets and POS displays, fine-tuning a printing supply chain can be an expensive and time-consuming task. However, across larger projects, even the slightest improvements in price and quality can save a significant slice of a marketing budget.

For this reason, outsourcing marketing print and design work can prove the most efficient option. Specialist marketing services businesses are likely to have developed and fine-tuned their network of print suppliers over several years, and can remove this burden from marketers, while ensuring they secure the best price and quality for each project.

Investing in expert advice is sometimes the best way to deliver significant business returns and desired outcomes. Outside consultancy can often help brand groups revolutionise their marketing, creating a perfect balance between international and localised marketing campaigns, while dramatically reducing operational expenditure.

Taking this combined approach of technology adoption and expert consultancy, retailers and brands undergoing a merger or acquisition are left in an ideal position to ensure that tailored in-store campaigns are harmonised with overarching brand direction. In turn, this means that the customer experience is optimised, no matter how they choose to interact with a brand.

Simon Ward is founder and CEO of Inspired Thinking Group