Mart Vonk – Vandebron

Mart Vonk – Vandebron

Mart Vonk is Head of Growth Marketing for Vandebron. He is responsible for Brand (brandcommunication), Sales (new clients) and his team is also the creative strength of the company. Mart explains that Vandebron is not an energy supplier. They are a service provider that help people do something sustainable. Mart: “Energy is the means for that. But just mentioning that is not enough, you will no longer stand out from the crowd.”

Most important KPI’s

The most important growth KPI’s for Vandebron are new customers and churn – in other words, minimising the number of customers leaving. Mart: “These are our most important metrics, and we rate our success on these elements. However, it is difficult to measure this day-to-day, so we focus on referral marketing. We have a referral participation rate, the number of customers that suggest someone else, that is an important day-to-day metric for us.” According to Mart, they can measure this via a link that customers can share. “Whenever customers do this, they get € 100, and the people they suggest also get € 100. People that suggest something to others, are less inclined to leave themselves. Moreover, when you get a suggestion from someone you know, you are more likely to put your trust in it.”

‘Renewable’ energy

Mart: “Everyone talks about sustainability and is working on it in one way or another, so it is no longer appropriate to focus on that in our communication. So, we have to do it in a different way. We are constantly working on how we can stimulate people to think about it. People don’t find energy interesting; they spend an average of 6 minutes a year on it, while discussing expiring contracts and power outages. 58 energy suppliers in the Netherlands are fighting for those 6 minutes. And of those 58, only 4 to 5 deliver renewable energy in. 70% of the consumers has a renewable energy contract, but only 7% of all the energy that is processed in the Netherlands is actually renewable energy. You can buy these certificates abroad and sell them under the “renewable” denominator in the Netherlands.”

“We won’t ever say ‘close the coal power station’. We buy it and close it ourselves.”

The mission as the main source for innovation

Vandebron has a mission: getting the Netherlands to 100% renewable energy. Mart: “Everything we do is driven by our mission. But from our current situation as a small player, it’s not possible yet. We must innovate to work on achieving that goal. Innovation is a necessary part of realising growth. That’s why our mission is our main source for innovation, along with our customers.”

Aside from product innovation, Vandebron also innovates in their marketing. Mart: “We tried to buy, close and convert the last coal-fired power station into a playground. This is also an innovation, it is mission-driven campaigning, but at the same time we show what we stand for. We find it important to focus on positive activism, instead of complaining about wrongdoings. We offer solutions and that is positivity. We won’t say, ‘the coal power station must be closed’, we buy it and close it ourselves instead.”

According to Mart, Vandebron also works on technical innovations. “With electric driving we do smart charging based on block chain technology. From a distance, if an electric car is being charged, we can determine when it should start and stop charging. In the Netherlands there is a huge energy consumption peak after work. Car is in the charger, lights are on, people are cooking. To cope with that peak, more energy must be produced. Vandebron works together with the network operator to balance the energy network more, so we don’t need more energy. We do this with the help of the battery of the electric cars. We determine, depending on the wishes of the consumer, when it will charge. This lowers the energy peak and spreads it more.”

The 6 minutes

According to Mart, you have to pick up on the 6 minutes that people think about energy. Mart: “But, I don’t want to do that. Everyone aims for those 6 minutes. When people think ‘I want to contribute, I want to do something with sustainability’ then they have to think about Vandebron. That is a completely different perspective than those 6 minutes of ‘my contract is ending’ but it makes sense in the rest of our sector. We are now focusing on the moment people are already wanting to move to another energy supplier, they are already looking and end up with us. We cannot compete with the budgets of the big players, which is why we focus on this group.”

Mart: “Everything we do revolves around our mission towards a 100% sustainable environment. And everyone who comes here puts their best foot forward to achieve this very goal.”