THE “NEW 8th MANDATE” FOR B2B CORPORATE BRAND LEADERSHIP…In the wake of COVID-19
The onset of the first confirmed coronavirus case added a layer of uncertainty to the B2B brand landscape, which we continue to closely watch as it unfolds.
Prior to the onset of COVID-19, we identified seven core mandates that B2B businesses must strive for to achieve a position of market excellence and brand leadership, which are highlighted below. And in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we can now safely add an eighth and revamp the original seven to adapt to the new “virtual business environment.”
THE MANDATES OF B2B CORPORATE BRAND LEADERSHIP
- Exemplary Customer Service and Support. Technology plays a pivotal role here, with new tools that can mimic a very personalized and satisfying customer service experience. And Artificial Intelligence (AI) is already solving and automating many everyday functions. But technology cannot yet replace the human element that is the hallmark of exceptional customer service. Even in the short term, when handshakes have been replaced with phone and video calls, that personal “touch” remains crucial to cementing strong, enduring customer relationships through facial expressions, hand gestures and eye contact.
- High Performance, Best-in-Class Quality. Customers now are more discerning than ever, and they will continue to demand top quality and good value, despite the fact that you may be working under the novel COVID-19 conditions. Even among the disruption of a major global pandemic, there is no excuse to skimp on quality. Customers and suppliers expect a high commitment to excellence, no matter the circumstances. And consistent, best-in-class products and services must be driven by equally best-in-class processes, operations and methodologies. This means that even if you’re working remote or under different-than-normal circumstances, clients shouldn’t feel the slightest difference in levels of service, attentiveness or support.
- Unique and Visible Identity. For a b2b brand to achieve market leadership, it must stand above and apart from all others. That means a differentiated value proposition, and enough visibility for prospects to take notice. One could have a truly unique and desirable offering, but if enough prospects don’t know about it, it really doesn’t matter. Conversely, if everybody knows about it, and don’t really care because the value proposition seems common or commoditized, that’s not good either. Brand leaders are both distinct in proposition and highly visible. And if or when their brand image, value proposition, or messaging must change due to a changing business environment, brand leaders make these adjustments without hesitation. In doing so, they show that their organization is dynamic, attentive and progressive.
- A Winning “Can Do” Culture. The companies that do this best don’t just say they have a strong internal culture, they nurture it, make sure every employee knows about it, and they don’t take it for granted. Core values are defined, discussed, trained and ingrained to achieve greater alignment and performance. This is especially important in an environment of social distancing. Culture and values are what ultimately binds an organization together, and must be reaffirmed and reinforced, even when working remote.
- Meaningful Metrics. “What gets reported on gets done” as the saying goes. Any b2b brand aspiring to a position of leadership must have quality reporting and metrics in place that are easy to access, easy to define and easy to explain so that all personnel can lead and learn by the numbers. And any time taken to devise or revise a system compatible with a reduced or remote work environment will be time well spent.
- Sustainability at the Core. Many B2B companies have already taken significant steps to reduce waste and repurpose materials, to be more environmentally responsible while also reducing the cost of raw materials. Sustainability is here to stay, although we are currently seeing some unusual twists due to COVID-19. Plastics are suddenly in high demand, as single-use packaging is making a comeback to help prevent the spread of coronavirus. However, as the virus subsides, expect to see a resurgence of enduring focus on environmental stewardship.
- Good Citizenship. Customers want assurance that B2B companies are good corporate citizens. They want to be sure you mean what you say. Your marketing communication platforms provide you with many avenues to demonstrate proof of your corporate good citizenship and civic-mindedness, and you need to integrate those themes throughout your brand wherever possible. This is an especially good time to support local businesses directly impacted by COVID-19 wherever possible.
AND THE EIGHTH NEW MANDATE…
- Cleanliness Above All Else. Expect the highest standards of sanitation and cleanliness from now on. Everything has changed in the wake of COVID-19. Face masks, disposable gloves, plastic shields and visors, UV light disinfection, and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) are now the standard “uniform” for many. Fortunately, many manufacturers are way ahead of the curve, and have been cleaning and sanitizing their facilities for years, using robotic cleaning systems. Each work environment will mandate different levels and forms of sanitation. Whether your staff is already on-site, or will be returning once restrictions are relaxed, now is the time to determine how you are going to keep your environment clean and safe for your staff and to take the necessary steps towards timely implementation.
Is your B2B brand charting a course to leadership through these eight mandates? We’re here to help, and just a phone call (908-534-9044) or email ([email protected]) away.