Every it-reseller can sell a product. However, this is way more complicated when your company offers customised and high-quality IT-solutions. By using the Social Shift, Centralpoint succeeded to show the market that they own the knowledge to do this. In marketing terms: Centralpoint positions itself as a key-player within the field of knowledge. And this all started by making use of social media.
Luuk Slaats, managing director at Centralpoint - the biggest IT-reseller from Benelux - is very certain: the customer journey takes place on the internet. Not the whole experience takes place online, but certainly the start of it. This made it perfectly clear to him where his marketeers need to position the company: mostly online.
Until recently, this was still a big challenge. De current Centralpoint organisation - about 500 employees in the Netherlands and Belgium - is the sum of three companies that are all specialised in IT: Scholten Awater, Infotheek and the ‘old’ Centralpoint.nl. In the past, Slaats was a commercial director of Scholten Awater, a company that mainly focussed on the enterprise segment. A few years ago, he introduced the Social Shift at Scholten Awater together with Rick Lamers, teammanager of marketing and communications. In the meantime, the theory of the Social Shift is used throughout the whole organisation of Centralpoint.
“The beginning of the Social Shift”
At first, social media was just 'one of many' components of the marketing mix for Scholten Awater. “We implemented social media ad hoc”, according to Rick Lamers. “We posted some messages on the most used media channels every now and then, but we did not execute a clear strategy.” This changed when we started to develop our marketing plan for 2016. “Our role as knowledge partner became more and more important. We discovered that it was very valuable to engage in an online dialogue with our target group on social media, without spending a lot of our marketingbudget. Especially on LinkedIn. This triggered us to execute marketing in a more structured and professional way.”
This functioned as the beginning of a Social Shift within our organisation that is still lasting. Together with Apostle, the marketing and communication department formed a projectteam that developed a strategic marketing plan. “We wanted to distribute our knowledge to the outside world by transforming our employees into brand ambassadors.” Due to the Social branding platform from Apostle, Centralpoint's ambassadors can easily share messages about our organisation and it's culture via multiple social media channels.
A similar process takes place at the department of communications of many organisations. At Centralpoint clearly not. “We are a marketing-driven organisation”, explains Slaats. “Where the focus of most organisations lies on the sales department, our strategy is to focus on marketing. We see marketing as the advanced discipline that creates the conditions in which our colleagues from the sales department can perform. Exploring the market, gathering information about the organisation, data analyzing, responding on changing customer needs, the development of a long-term strategy... That makes a good marketingplan in my eyes.”
Nowadays, social media is of great importance for your marketing strategy. “Social became the foundation of our marketing. It has accelerated our whole marketing process.”
“You need to take marketing seriously. You really need to delve into the organisation and assure your processes. This is only possible, if you execute an integral approach.” Slaats points at the cultural aspect. “The principal that ‘all’ employees can make content and can communicate on behalf of the company, fits to our organisation; we are a very accessible organisation where employees have a lot of freedom. Despite that, we needed to make an influential change in all layers of the organisational hierarchy. Now that all employees got used to the idea of ambassadorship, everything matches up: the ambassadors are even more engaged than before, therefore we are able to show the market even better what we are up to and we become top of mind early in the customer journey. And this is only the beginning. Belief me if I say: IT and social media will become more and more defining within our society. Cool that we are involved in all of this.”