"It's not the nuts and bolts. It's the extent to which we contribute to our clients' result."
The title is a statement by CEO Gert van Laar, and characteristic of Synmet's distinctive market vision. A general misconception above all among technical companies happens to be that brands are only important in the consumer market, that only consumers are sensitive to brands, and not companies. That is not so, since a company is a collection of consumers who every day make choices based on a set of associations in their heads. Even business choices, although very few technical companies consciously work on their brand.
Synmet was an exception. Synmet was an organization with a distinctive vision on recycling. In the recycling sector, every supplier claims to be selling solutions, yet they see the product as the solution. Synmet understood that if you want to become a solution seller, you'll have to gear the organization toward this; and a connecting factor in a transition such as this is The Brand. This is the process we went through with Synmet – we created a brand, and this enabled Synmet to achieve its ambition: to become market leader of turnkey recycling solutions.
The advantage for us was that no missionary work had to take place on the importance of the brand. The management was already conscious of this, as well as the added value of marketing. Synmet's initial question was therefore based on the opportunities they saw in the recycling market, and in particular in the field of waste separation. There was an ongoing trend of waste processors increasing in size, yet the market for suppliers was extremely fragmented. All of those separate machinery manufacturers were not able to meet the demand of above all the major players. This meant that the domain of market leader lay open, and Synmet had set itself the goal of claiming this domain within three years. The question to us was what had to happen for this regarding the brand, the sales approach and the organization. The wet dream of any self-respecting communication agency.
Opportunities in the market are often few and far between, so we what we first did was concretize the opportunities for Synmet. Fines and fees are important in the recycling sector, and these determine the waste streams and the manner of separation. There are furthermore trends and developments - including in the field of legislation and regulation - that influence customers' choices.
Based on this information, we devised a region strategy with quantitative and qualitative objectives: a business case for each country as well as the brand roll-out per country. We developed the communication concept on the basis of market intelligence, the basic principle being to position Synmet as the party that like no other understands its clients' business, and is able to enhance it. A target-group shift was crucial in this. The major recycling companies are increasingly being run by business-oriented directors who do not by definition have a technical background. It is partly for this reason that at the time, a process of professionalization was underway in the recycling sector. The technical specifications of machinery were no longer at the forefront when choosing a supplier; the client's business drivers tipped the scales. For this reason, we drew up a number of single propositions based on the deliverables for the client, the specific features for each region and the clear improvement regarding existing competitor installations. That also led to a specific assignment for Research & Development: continually provide us a new solution, as well as an improvement of the existing solutions. That then means that you as Synmet always deliver a first, and you as an organization show involvement in the client's process. We therefore ensured that Synmet's own organization was in a position to fulfill the promise, including an extensive training program for the sales department.
We also implemented the communication tools in the communication concept based on the distinctive proposition, in which the business case and the added value for the client were central. The profile of the most expectant prospect is identical to that of the most satisfied client, which is why we use testimonials in which clients describe how Synmet has actually contributed to their business. Another important component in the communication approach was taking part in exhibitions, with Synmet having a prominent presence in the most important of these. The aim was brand awareness and rumor around the brand, and so at each exhibition a first was presented; noblesse oblige. It was this that underlined Synmet's leading position in the market.
The result of all the efforts was huge. In a short space of time, Synmet had extremely high name recognition and a very positive market perception. That was also revealed in the figures, since in three years Synmet managed to achieve turnover growth from 12 to 96 million euros. Unfortunately, the project department was unable to keep up with the explosive surge, and Synmet eventually succumbed to its own growth. The Synmet organization has now been divided into a number of separate companies that moreover still benefit from the position that Synmet managed to seize. The Synmet brand still exists, and it is only a question of time before an entrepreneur takes up the gauntlet and breathes new life into the brand.