With 2023 in the rearview mirror, the collective attention of B2B tech companies turns to 2024. While the Fed is looking to drop rates in 2024, and that may help out startups looking for venture capital, there are still many strategies that companies need to consider to thrive in 2024. As businesses embrace what may well be the first “normal” year of business since the pandemic, companies are reckoning with a rapidly changing regulatory, trade, and infrastructure atmosphere. But hyper-growth CEOs know the key to staying the course during high growth periods is controlling what you can. One of the most valuable assets a B2B tech company can control is reputation. From our perspective, there are several growth strategies for B2B tech that improve reputation.
Emerging Technologies: a Reputational Growth Opportunity
Emerging technologies, harnessed appropriately, can improve customer acquisition, customer satisfaction, and customer loyalty. The world is embracing a dizzying array of technologies right now, including AI. And while AI promises next-generation productivity, the world is also collectively suspicious; this is often the case for emerging industries, but Ai faces unique PR challenges. Embracing emerging technologies presents many growth and reputation advantages as well. Of course, simply using new technologies like AI isn’t a PR story; what could be a PR story is industry leadership around the use of AI, defining parameters that are brand-consistent as they apply to AI. Taking the lead on trust-based initiatives is a reputational win.
Transparency is another reputation-building asset that companies can use technology to improve. Imagine if all your suppliers used blockchain to authenticate where the products you buy originate from. You could then help your clients ensure their own purpose-driven supply chain was sound and create a solution that has historically been a huge challenge for businesses. Some executives will shy away from this, knowing that their supply chain isn’t completely “clean.” But there, too, is an opportunity to increase transparency and create a conversation. Believe it or not, companies that proactively discuss their imperfections are more credible than those that only showcase their strengths.
Cyber Threats: A Reputational Threat
It seems hardly a day goes by without hearing about some data breach or another. Technologies for securing data are improving every day, but they aren’t perfect yet.
Companies examining their own cyber security internally may wonder what they would do if there was a data breach within their own technologies. Today, most cyber insurance companies will require you to have a business plan in place, but that isn’t enough because saving a business isn’t important. If its reputation is so damaged, no one will do business with it again. The best time to plan for a crisis is when there isn’t one. While cyber insurance programs sometimes include reputation-building services like PR in them, the limits are very low on all but the most expensive policies.
The IPOs of 2024 will be from established and “safe” companies. However, for many businesses, 2024 may be the tip of the spear towards IPO. Preparing for an IPO is a cross-functional process, but one of the most important things a company can do, at least 24 months before an IPO is shore up its reputation and awareness. Yes, this is a financial commitment, but brand capital is a considerable contribution to most private company’s value. In a constantly shifting stock market, smart investors want resilient brands and brand equity is resilient. Investors want to know that the brand is trusted, but they also want to know that brand strength can be the foundation for exponential growth. No company grows exponentially without brand confidence.
Growth strategies for B2B tech pre-IPO include media coverage; if the company has never had much media coverage, there is much work to be done. The CEO must be heavily engaged in the PR process, and that is very often a shocking shift for founder CEOs, especially since it can be time-consuming. Not only that but making the news isn’t as easy as starting a business, believe it or not. Less than 1% of businesses ever receive media coverage – but those that do are well positioned to be at the top of their vertical.
Another key aspect of IPO preparedness is crisis planning for cyber threats and other considerations – they could be anything from a recall to a regulatory threat. Planning for a crisis means everyone at the C-level understands when there is a crisis and who leads it. Having a solid relationship with a PR firm before your crisis occurs is paramount to a quick, strategic, and effective response.
Sustainable and Responsible Business Practices
Even B2B companies will be called to understand their social impact. For growing B2B tech companies, this could include electrical footprint and processing power, as well as the international supply chain and even employee relations. But how is this part of the Growth strategies for B2B tech? Companies that are in hypergrowth must have a clear line of growth – and doing so includes considering cultural and business changes that are likely to impact growth over the next five years. A company’s reputation will be driven by how much it embraces these future valuation implications. ESG may have been a political hot potato, but the fact is that social impact isn’t going away. Businesses may go quietly about their own sustainable and responsible business practices, but they will still need to do these things because to NOT do them will become a reputational liability during critical moments like IPO or acquisition.
Reputational improvement and maintenance will be as important as any other growth strategies for B2B tech in 2024. Reputations will be simultaneously more expensive to acquire and more valuable. Investing in reputation today will drive the growth of tomorrow.