You have to admit it—mergers and acquisitions can be chaotic. Slow integrations and poor planning can only make matters worse, creating more complexity and hurting value creation. Dealmakers pursue comprehensive due diligence measures that include everything from regulatory compliance to risk management. But how often, however, do you include marketing in that mix?
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Marketing can and does play a large role in integration success and, as such, should be front and center in your post-deal efforts. The following are our 5 marketing best practices that PE firms should consider after M&A and when building new platforms.
1. Evaluate Current Marketing Performance
Every project asks, “what is our end goal,” but every project should start in one place—where are we right now. As your first step, you will, of course, want to run a thorough evaluation of current performance. This due diligence will uncover many things related to operational efficiency, financial and legal risks, regulatory compliance, licensing, and permits, etc.
As mentioned above, however, make sure you include marketing in this analysis. If you didn’t examine this before the deal closed, you definitely need to sit down and examine the marketing performance at your new acquisition. Ask yourself:
- Where are you in terms of capacity? Are you meeting patient volume goals? What locations have long wait times versus no patients?
- What’s the brand sentiment and equity of the acquired company?
- What does the competitive landscape look like?
Finally, look at how performance compares across each brand and location. Keep an eye out for red flags and good ideas you can apply across your platform. Executing this marketing due diligence and examining current performance, landscape, and improvement opportunities will be fundamental to shaping (and optimizing) your post-deal marketing strategy.
2. Align Marketing Goals with Growth Strategy
Your next step, aligning your marketing goals with your growth strategy for your brand. Goal alignment across the portco is essential, and your firm, board, and management team all need to be aligned around the same agenda.
With this alignment in place, you can then more effectively guide marketing strategy. Strong, well-defined goals significantly impact marketing strategy and improve performance. After all, with this approach, your marketing efforts are actually focused on what will make an impact and support your growth goals.
Robust and clear goal setting can also bring a range of other benefits to your marketing endeavors, including:
- Clear direction for PPC plans
- Better lead quality
- Lower CPCs
- Alignment between capacity and budget
So, create that alignment and translate those goals over to marketing. You’ll be right on track to improve performance across your platform and digital media campaigns.
3. Build the Right Team
For many, building a strong management team is the most critical component in driving growth in portcos. Unfortunately, talent shortages are rife across industries, especially in healthcare, making it more difficult than ever to build a strong team. Many companies are struggling to define the right differentiators to attract talent in this ever-narrowing pool of candidates.
What are your options? One of the best ways forward is to focus on building a compelling employer brand. By distinguishing your brand as an employer in healthcare, you can attract not only more talent but, more critically, top talent.
Marketing can help support talent recruitment efforts at your healthcare group. We did a deep dive on this recently, but in summary, turn to marketing to execute some of the following:
- Promoting your brand as “employee-focused”
- Optimizing CRO to remove application barriers
- Using ads to create touchpoints for applicants throughout their journey
Of course, another big question always centers on the type of resources you need. Should you go with an in-house or outsourced team when pursuing marketing endeavors? There are advantages to both:
- In-house – Known resources with an established/known skillset
- Outsourced – Specialized skills that you can access on an as-needed basis to control costs
The best approach for many P&Es? Taking a hybrid approach. Assess your in-house assets thoroughly, identifying what exactly your team can deliver. Loop in external assets, as needed, including potentially a full-service marketing agency for large-scale endeavors.
4. Audit Your Marketing Tech Stack & Data Infrastructure
Due diligence should always include an audit of your marketing tech stack and data infrastructure. Why? Because without it, you’re likely to be left with:
- No insight into performance
- HIPAA compliance issues
- Lack of collaboration across your team and departments
A thorough audit of your stack will highlight inefficiencies and waste, allowing you to centralize resources and create a single pane of glass through which you can drive and view marketing endeavors. This is especially crucial for multi-site and multi-brand provider groups, in which “several moving parts” is the name of the game.
- So, run that audit, and centralize resources across your tech stack. In no time at all, you’ll be able to: reduce redundancies;
- improve productivity; and,
- save costs across your marketing initiatives.
Another big bonus? Centralizing and cleaning up your marketing tech stack will give you an ideal foundation for your next big step—engaging in effective and reliable analytics.
5. Build an Analytics Foundation
You’ve got your tech stack centralized, and you have a clear eye on your data infrastructure. Now is the time for analytics. With a strong analytics foundation that’s also connected to your group’s PMS or EHR, you can better assess lead quality and marketing performance, make more impactful patient care decisions, and create serious value post-acquisition.
There are several core components you must have as the foundation of all analytics efforts.
Fundamentally, you need to have a call tracking and lead outcome platform. These are technologies used to track and analyze incoming phone calls as well as form submissions. Powered by AI, they are able to identify lead and campaign source, patient sentiment, lead quality, and more.
Online scheduling platforms not only improve the patient experience but they allow you to better track marketing performance. Unlike analog systems or disparate contact centers, a centralized online scheduling solution can track from marketing campaign to form fill and phone call to booked appointment.
All marketing technologies should have robust APIs that can connect your online booking platform with your electronic health record (EHR) platform and other tools, such as customer relationship management (CRM) software and even marketing automation software. These kinds of connections can enhance your ability to pool and derive value from all sources of data to give you a larger perspective on performance and patient care.
Leverage any and all data, too. Everything from call analytics to practice capacity data can deliver solid insights and serve as an essential building block in your overall planning.
Finally, get a marketing data analytics team in play. As discussed above, this can involve in-house resources or the services of a marketing agency with experience in working with PEs post-merger.
Don’t Neglect Marketing After M&A
Marketing plays a key role for PE firms like yours after acquisition. Don’t leave it as an afterthought, but jump right in, doing your due diligence, aligning your goals, and developing the most impactful campaigns. With these tips and your own consolidated efforts across your platform, you can experience and protect value immediately after a merger and into the future.