To Build Brand Loyalty And Be A Valued Partner, Join Your Customer’s Mission

Sep 1, 2021

Are you talking at your customers, or are you speaking their language and partnering on their mission? This is a question that every marketer, communicator and sales team member should be asking regularly.

We all have some level of brand loyalty in our lives. For me, those brands are Nike, Honda, Jersey Mike’s, Apple, Aurora Health Care and The Wall Street Journal. My allegiance to those brands is based on quality, style, company mission, customer service, product consistency, availability and ethical business practices (there was a time when I liked Volkswagen – they ruined that).

But more importantly, those brands align with what I am striving to accomplish in my life as a father, husband, professional, coach, and member of society.

I’m sure you have a similar list of your own.

The same is true in the B2B space and we frequently see this in the vendor space. A simple example is the technology brands that a company buys for its employees. One business is an Apple buyer, another HP, and yet another swears by Lenovo. And yet computers can largely all run the same software – it’s the set up and components inside the devices that slightly differ. Logically when the devices can all do the same thing, this would seem like an ideal scenario to purchase based on price or recent quality achievements–but the B2B brand loyalty remains.

So how do you establish this level of brand loyalty with B2B customers? How can you be “sticky” when your competition is providing a very similar product?

You need to be more than a vendor. You need to demonstrate that you are an ally on their mission.

Let’s consider a healthcare technology vendor – pick one, there are plenty. They’re solving for the difficult problems in healthcare, like access to mental health services, providing telehealth services, building an improved billing platform, managing opioid prescribing, simplifying decentralized clinical trials….and the list goes on. And this is what their team concentrates on every single day.

But you know what? These solutions are only a small piece of what healthcare providers are concentrating on. The industry has three or four vendor competitors solving for the same problem. And they all tout similar features, such as integrations with big EHR providers like Epic and Cerner. As much as the tech vendor is going to point to a certain feature or new rating, the healthcare provider would rather move on to bigger issues.

And that’s where the opportunity lies: the customer’s bigger mission.

Newsflash – every healthcare provider has a similar objective and a mission statement along the lines of: ‘provide healthcare services that help individuals, families, and communities live longer and healthier lives.’

Now, if you want to be the healthcare provider’s long-term partner or ally, guess what they want you to help them accomplish? Hint: it’s not just integration with an EHR or tracking how many opioids have been prescribed.

If you want to be a provider’s valued partner, you must demonstrate how your solution will help them achieve their mission of saving lives and creating healthier populations.

If your solution is designed to solve for challenges in the mental health space, for example, an everyday vendor will demonstrate how their solution tracks a patient through their care and identifies patients at risk for pharmaceutical addiction.

But a valued partner is going to do those things, plus help track patients as they navigate multiple care providers and the justice system. The valued partner will demonstrate how their solution is improving care adoption for patients battling anxiety and depression. The ultimate outcome of a valued partner’s relationship will focus on improved community care statistics, decreasing arrest rates, and an overall healthier community.

As a health IT vendor seeking to align with a healthcare provider, communicating your story is critical and requires distinguishing yourself and your offering as a partner:

  1. Create a core narrative that explains how your brand is advancing overall industry mission priorities. Use this content internally and externally to drive your brand message. Refine and update this message on a quarterly basis.
  2. Leverage your core narrative to create thought leadership content. These new pieces of content can be leveraged in the press, distributed through your marketing nurture campaigns, posted as core blog content, drive your social media efforts, and sales teams can share this content widely with prospects and clients.
  3. Empower a leader as the owner of your vision for the industry mission. This person, or people, should be named as the author of your content. Further, leverage your PR agency to establish these leaders as a valued interview with industry reporters and then make them easily accessible to the press.
  4. Engage with your customers and tell their story as examples of how your efforts are advancing industry change and helping to accomplish their missions.
  5. Survey customers and prospects to better understand their priorities, and where they stand on efforts to move their business mission forward. Share survey data publicly to help the industry define next steps. Leverage this new business intelligence to engage with customers and prospects on how your products can help to achieve their mission.
  6. During regular meetings, ask clients where they stand on their mission priorities and how your solution can further help with those efforts. Provide insights on additional opportunities from your perspective. And then follow through.

Each of these key steps will redefine your brand and drive brand loyalty from your clients and your prospects. More importantly, this repeated process will allow you to demonstrate your commitment to being the company’s valued partner, time and time again. You will have aligned with their mission, demonstrated the success, and publicly committed to one another’s future success.

Adam Beeson

Adam Beeson has more than 20 years of experience developing and implementing strategies to differentiate and effectively position organizations for success. He has established a reputation for effectively building the communications function for businesses and organizations across the nation. His career began in 2000, in the chaotic world of Chicagoland politics and resulted in successfully placing candidates in Congress and the Illinois House of Representatives. After seven years of government and political work, Adam transitioned to healthcare and healthcare technology. Adam has been a two-time Amendola client before joining the agency as Senior Account Director, where he sets the strategic direction for a variety of hospital, pharma and healthcare/health tech-focused clients. Working with the industry-leading team at Aurora Healthcare, he established award-winning media relations, groundbreaking social media efforts, managed many complex crisis communications, and brought the organization’s perspectives regarding healthcare reform to a national audience. In the provider space, Adam recognized the need to balance the community’s trust in Aurora with the organization’s desire to influence the evolution of the U.S. healthcare system. These efforts led to continual year-over-year market share growth, while helping to secure Aurora’s participation in many of the nation’s most advanced healthcare reform pilot programs. Following an eight-year stint in the healthcare provider space, he made the switch to the technology industry, and ultimately healthcare tech. With G2 Crowd, he built the start-up organization’s media relations, social media, internal communications, blog, and brand marketing functions. These efforts helped to revolutionize the B2B software buying function, bringing more than one-million monthly users to the site. But he recognized that something was lacking, and he missed healthcare. His unique understanding of healthcare, technology and government brought him to Chicago-based Kaufman Hall. He established a full communications function for the company’s healthcare and higher education consulting and ERP software businesses, which achieved record-breaking growth. Adam earned a BA in English from the University of Iowa.