Superbrands – Supersupply Partners

The 2015 Superbrands results were announced in February, and I found myself reviewing the results last week.

The annual list is designed to give an insight into Britain’s strongest brands, and the separate consumer and business line-ups are the subject of extensive discussion every time they’re published. The business brands list for this year was predictably impressive, featuring everyone from British Airways to Apple, BT to Samsung.

The list has been running since 1995, with results based on independent research that incorporates opinions from a wide range of audiences – consumers to marketing experts to business professionals. The list got me thinking about what makes a “strong” brand. Much of my work is focused on building and maintaining strong customer relationships; much in the same way a strong brand must have a powerful connection with consumers, we aim to have a similar connection with our clients.

Onto the big question - if our clients were asked to vote for a list of “supersuppliers” would we be on it? I’m confident that we would. Being viewed in this way is a natural goal for any supply partner, and all of us that work in client side roles are focused on achieving this. So how best to go about it?

1. Partnerships

Genuine business partnerships are the only truly successful approach when it comes to strong client / supplier relationships. This starts from the initial engagement with a potential new client all the way through the relationship. It should be regularly reviewed, monitored and developed. Act like a part of their internal team and you’ll be treated like one. Build relationships with different stakeholders at different levels across their business and take all of these partnerships seriously. This will allow you to generate results that go above and beyond the norm and give you a deeper level of engagement and client intimacy.

2. Shape shifting

A certain degree of shape shifting is required. Be prepared to mould yourself, your team, your offering and your systems to suit theirs. Adaptability is highly valued precisely because it is so crucial to key outcomes, so be prepared to do what is necessary to meet their needs. Don’t assume that all clients are the same, they have similar, yet slightly different challenges which require solutions that are ‘shaped’ for them.

3. Expertise

Never forget it’s your expertise that they’re buying, it’s what will enable them to get to where they need to be. Make sure you and your team keep this in mind at all times, don’t take it for granted and always look for new ways to demonstrate it at every opportunity; never get complacent. This is how to add value in a way that others don’t.

Clearly there is a lot to this, and truly strong relationships take time. But being a “supersupplier” is obviously worth the effort. Maybe we should start a new list for 2016? Who’s with me?