I had lunch with a new friend yesterday. She had some marketing related questions about a recent merger her organization experienced, and I had been through several mergers and/or acquisition in both the association world and the private sector, so we thought lunch was in order.
As we discussed her challenges in dealing with different organizational cultures and marketing duplicate and sometimes competing products and services, we both had a business epiphany. What are the business goals for the association and how does senior management leadership propose to get there — that is where you start. The question is simple, but in reality, establishing business goals, and then having the organization’s senior management navigate through internal land mines created by a merger to achieve the goals is quite complex.
Without strong senior management to make the tough decisions and guide the culturally different staff through the turmoil, making the simple decision to create a sub brand for an existing product can become a complex endeavor.
During the course of our lunch we discussed, product and service audits, brand audits, sub branding, micro site development and everything else marketing related, while all the time tip toeing around the big old guerilla in the room. In theory, marketing is a very logical pursuit, in reality, because humans occupy a lot of space at associations, personalities and self-interests can get in the way.
At the end of lunch, we both came back to the same place, you cannot evaluate whether to sub brand products or services until you know whether they will still be around in 6 months. Deciding the fate of products and services is not a marketing issue, although marketing can provide metrics, business cases, sales data, etc., it remains a senior management issue. So the next question is how you communicate to an organization’s senior management team that seems to be unaware of a problem, that there is a very big problem that will ultimately prevent them from achieving their goal, whatever it may be.