Ask a consultant

  • Updated: March 23, 2008 - 6:28 PM

Q I recently sold my 20-year-old company, making it a wholly owned subsidiary of a larger well-known national company. Our name and personnel have all remained the same and the real "brand" to be sold is still our local company and its after-care, service, parts and supplies. How does one best market that in the shadow of a national brand?

MARK CARLSON,

PRESIDENT,

MINNESOTA MAILING SOLUTIONS

A To the local market, your position is the same one you had when you sold your firm to the national company. The real customer situation hasn't changed. You are presumably providing the same service as you did before the acquisition and, ideally, your new relationship with the larger company will only enhance your market. You may be able to then attract customers from other firms in the Twin Cities or elsewhere.

The tricky bit is retaining customers from previous suppliers if you no longer carry their preferred brand. After all, there is a reason why, when first given a choice, those customers selected your former mailing equipment brand to your current one. Your challenge is to use your newly found resources to convert them.

There are three basic situations.

In the first, they have a strong preference for your brand and chose your original supplier because it was available from your company. Converting them should be straightforward.

In the second situation, they have an insurmountable preference for your old supplier and it may be impossible to convert them into current customers and you will lose them.

In the third, they have a strong but penetrable preference for your former supplier. This is where you want to leverage your new relationship to provide help in converting them, perhaps offering special deals, trade-in allowances on equipment and the like.

LORMAN LUNDSTEN,

CHAIR, MARKETING DEPARTMENT,

AND JAMES HEYMAN,

ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF MARKETING,

UNIVERSITY OF ST. THOMAS

OPUS COLLEGE OF BUSINESS

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