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Law firms Mergers: Market the Merger

Mergers and acquisitions have taken the legal world by storm, and the numbers predict this trend will continue to grow in frequency and popularity. The expansive effect of this top-down decision means that the Legal Marketing team needs to be prepared to communicate with internal and external actors while anticipating sticking points and working to avoid or mitigate them. However, it can be complicated to market a law firm merger effectively.

For this reason, marketing departments must keep things interesting by upping the ante and gently ruffling a few feathers, even when the content concerns a law firm merger. A course of action highlighting visibility and presence will help ease the merger’s growing pains and help the newly bonded firm be noticed. Beyond that, there are several specific strategies that marketing teams should employ before, during, and after the process.

(1) The motivational pillars that a merger stands on are related to the deal’s economics, the firms’ DNA, and the synergy between practice areas. The majority of the time, the baseline for bringing firms together is an economic decision. Businesses at the end of the day, all law firms involved in a potential deal will be working to determine if moving forward would be a sensible and ultimately financially beneficial move for them.

(2) The second pillar rests on the firms’ DNA, which should have flexible, aligned visions for the future. When two firms are in harmony regarding their financial futures and identities, the final pillar important to consider is establishing a synergy between practice areas. The point of a merger is not to take two firms and put them next to one another – but instead to fully integrate within themselves.

Through internal communications and marketing of the agreement, there needs to be an established way for employees to refer old clients and recommend new ones seamlessly. It is necessary to devote time to creating a transitional team whose sole focus is collaborative communication during this time. It is important to include voices from different layers of the firm, including all functional areas, because the new entity needs to be reintroduced in coordination with its revised plans for growth and cultural amalgamation.

Solidifying a responsive holistic team is the first step in preparing for a merger. Once that has been done, three main tasks must be addressed, including crafting a strategic communications plan, deciding on a spokesperson or group of spokespeople to spearhead publicity efforts, and developing a unified brand message.

At this point, conversations about confidentiality concerns and managing sensitive information must happen. But here lies the Catch-22: to garner attention and foster excitement for the changes, a communications team should prioritize transparency; however, releasing too much information can be harmful internally and externally.

To combat the confidentiality dilemma, a firm must already be working towards a realized, unified identity for employees, clients, and other stakeholders. Building a coherent brand perception and focusing on the benefits of the merger will often mitigate the common issues that come from this business-driven decision. By maintaining a transparent approach, the audience will feel informed and involved in the process, fostering a sense of trust and unity.

The next stage of the process is publicly announcing the merger to a general audience. Timing is critical because marketing efforts must be synchronized with legal and other operational milestones. At this junction, the quality of the planning procedures is tested:

  • If there has been a successful synergy between the firms, it will be less complicated to figure out the best time to announce or update the digital world.
  • Understanding the inner workings of the newly established business will make or break this stage.
  • Executing an announcement could have its own article.
  • Keep it brief, guidelines on public announcements’ tone and general content must be determined.
  • With a strong brand identity created, pulling from a reviewed and revised mission and vision statement, web copy, or new logo should not be difficult.
  • Rolling out press releases, internal memos, and client communications should be done uniformly and through multiple channels, including but not limited to the firm’s website, LinkedIn, and Facebook.
  • Managing reactions is another critical factor that needs to be addressed. The techniques applied to handle any potential misconceptions or negative responses could make or break the fresh union.
  • By maintaining a unified brand message, the audience will feel the strength and clarity of the firm’s post-merger identity, instilling a sense of confidence and trust.

After implementation, the merger’s momentum must be sustained to ensure continued success and growth. A long-term branding strategy should have been present throughout the transitional period of the proceedings, but it is imperative to revisit and discuss it again at this stage.

Continued integration efforts will foster further cultural cohesion and work to combine histories under a new brand. These attempts could include check-in meetings with employees across departments, including finance, human resources, information technology, billing and collection, facilities, and marketing.

Or it could become an elaborate, official event to commemorate the deal’s closing. The beauty of this merger stage is that a spectrum of possibilities exists. An online presence and continued marketing strategies are vital to continue the upward mobility of a firm and to maintain and increase client trust. “You have to be seen to be believed.” Queen Elizabeth II’s famous words echo again at this juncture and provide insight into maintaining a visible and engaging presence online, including dialogue with stakeholders and promoting the new brand identity.

When the dust has settled, evaluating and adjusting strategies can help measure the effectiveness of merger-related communications. Here, it is essential to collect feedback from employees and clients alike so that plans can be adapted to better fit into the ever-evolving legal field.

Proactive planning, careful execution, and sustained efforts of a firm’s marketing approaches can make the difference between a successful and unsuccessful merger. Looking at the landscape shift as its own lifecycle will also help packaging and promoting it to key audiences. This detail-oriented, intimate process will be challenging, but if the firm aligns well and its actions are noticed online, there is almost no limit to its growth potential.

The post-merger phase holds the promise of enhanced capabilities, expanded reach, and increased market share, all of which can lead to a thriving and successful future. Good luck.

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