How the Coronavirus is affecting B2B business and what we can do about it
The Coronavirus pandemic has besieged our world as we know it, affecting the lives of millions around the world. In addition to the health bearing, there is the immediate global economic impact which is affecting businesses in the short term, and unfortunately will have long-term ramifications for some time to come unless we adapt our operations and strategies accordingly and make a concerted effort to stand out from the pack.
Whilst many economic experts are stating that the crisis will fundamentally change the way we do business, I am of the belief that companies cannot look beyond the short-to-medium-term from a survival and sustainability point of view. Below I have outlined five different ways businesses can adapt the way they operate to offer continued service to their clients:
Be the supplier at the front of the queue
With the downturn in the economy, the majority of companies are going to look to tighten their budgets and trim expenses where possible. Should your company be one of those suppliers who are going to be negatively affected, you need to ensure that you stand out from the crowd, especially if tough business decisions are going to be made.
Communicate with your clients on a regular basis, do not sit at home and stand idle, diversify your business offerings based on what you have at your disposal and offer clients and customers a sense of security and support to guide them through these trying times. Moving forward, you are going to need to become partners rather than suppliers. Through dialogue, strategize ways you can achieve this while assisting your client by offering an improved service which will shine favourably upon you in order to secure your immediate future.
While the majority of customers have ceased operations during this national lockdown, why not try and build further trust in your brand by conducting research both internally and to consumers of your products? Whilst respondents have reduced day-to-day deliverables, and a number of executives are in a state of reflection, a well-coordinated and defined research project can create a platform for great discussion and understanding.
Research can provide great insight into ways to improve your operations or the handling of inter-business relationships. This, coupled with the ability to plan for the implementation of changes, means that this can be invaluable time for the client.
Host webinars and online meet ups
In this time of such great uncertainty, business owners and executives are searching for ways to feel connected, platforms for learning and even general social and business engagement and interaction. Hosting an online meet-up and positioning yourself as an expert and thought-leader, offers a number of opportunities, including more loyal customers, opening up opportunities for diversification within your role and the ability to connect and create potential business in the future. In addition, a major opportunity that this creates is that you are connecting with other executives who are experiencing the same challenges as you are. This ultimately creates a level playing-field where individuals are more likely to voice their vulnerability and be more open to help.
Create video content
The rule of thumb with video content is that it needs to either come across as authentic and genuine or it needs to be well produced and professional. In this current climate, video content across all platforms has seen a roughly 400% increase in quantity, with engagement up 30%. The large majority of this content is authentic in nature with videos of Zoom meet-ups, at-home tutorials and opinion pieces on trending topics.
Recording and sharing videos is a fantastic way to communicate well and offer support to clients and their staff. Share information across multiple platforms and keep the brand relevant. It is also a great way to diversify how you communicate messaging.
So, don’t be scared, thoroughly and strategically prepare your video content and do two or three takes to get it to a level of proficiency and you will be differentiating from your standard messaging in no time.
Create online customer portals
There is loads of qualified opinion that the current crisis will forever alter the way we do business. If that is the case, what we have certainly learnt, is that there are a number of online and digital offerings which allow us to continue with business.
One such offering has been the creation of customer portals tailored for B2B businesses to assist their clients. A customer portal will allow customers far more insight into stock, ordering, deliveries, pricing and planning compared to not having the system in place. It also ensures that the customer is not reliant on an individual to capture their order, ensuring the speed of the transaction can be increased. Focus on the short-term training of your customers using the system and you will improve service-levels in the long-term. A number of templated and easy-to-use portals currently exist in the market and it’s often more a question of ensuring they integrate into your existing systems than having a system developed for your specific requirements.
Essentially, there is a lot as B2B marketing practitioners that we can do, but it will require an understanding of your market and the desire to think outside the box, while innovating and testing new concepts and ideas. There are challenging times ahead, so ensure that you stand out from the crowd to fulfil the potential that exists.
If you enjoyed this article you may also enjoy reading Brand Reputation during the COVID-19 Crisis