The Secret Marketer joins the roadshow

I’ve not done a great deal of marketing this week because I have been locked in meetings of another sort. As part of the post credit crunch debt detox, group HQ is looking to divest a few non-core assets and I am involved in a series of presentations to try attract the highest bidder.

It is my job to sell the dream and convince possible acquirers that the future is decidedly bright for these brands if only we had enough hours in the day to give them the focus they truly deserve.

My sales pitch is a story of missed opportunity and unlocked potential on these brands due to our being stretched too far and wide. Or to put it another way, I am now officially a part-time estate agent.

I have well and truly turned to the dark side as the numbers men from group HQ take turns to wheel me out to add some glamour to negotiations.

In a room full of pinstriped lawyers and accountants, I am the joker in the pack, armed with brightly coloured concept boards, mock-ups and tasting samples charged with convincing potential suitors that this is a “must do” deal. I am charged with adding sizzle to sex up the spreadsheets.

“I feel sad we’re disposing of these brands but we’ve achieved little with them in recent times”

The entire process is officially known as a roadshow, though the group bankers much prefer to talk of a beauty parade. Whatever it’s known as, the entire experience reminds me of a grand agency pitch process only this time I am sat on the other side of the table as the Arthur Daley of corporate finance.

By the end of the day, I will have given the same presentation five times. The more I present, the more I feel sad that we may be disposing of these particular brands, though it is a sobering reminder of how little we have actually achieved with them in recent times.

Based on feedback from the corporate match-makers that hold the control levers of the parade, we anticipate first-round bids from four of the five prospective buyers that have been lined up. The fifth prospect has withdrawn from the process, though I am hoping that this is not as a direct protest at my refusal to wear a tie in one of our meetings.

Having sold the dream, my job is largely done. It is now over to the men in suits to spend hundreds of thousands with lawyers arguing over warranties, disclosures and who can lay claim to the highest earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization.

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