BtoB

Michael George

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For Dell Inc.'s Chief Marketing Officer Michael George, this year has been the best of times and the worst of times. While the computer giant was named "America's most admired company" by Fortune in January and has racked up record revenue of $52.8 billion through the last four quarters, it has also faced some trouble, primarily a shrinking reputation for its once sterling customer service standards, which also fall under George's purview.

And although Dell's forays into entertainment devices such as flat-panel TVs hasn't bolstered the brand-and may even dilute it, say some industry observers-George, who is responsible for building and enhancing the Dell brand across all customer segments, is forging ahead on this front.

Still, a good portion of Dell's revenue is generated in the b-to-b arena, and the company is taking pains to enhance its standing in the marketplace and protect its No. 1 slot in the worldwide computer market, with a share of 19%, as estimated by IDC. These efforts include working with FAST Search & Transfer to improve Dell's enterprise search, which directs users once they arrive at a marketer's site and typically includes sophisticated site navigation, content search and commerce search. In addition, MRM Partners Worldwide, the relationship marketing agency of McCann Worldgroup, built a new analytics hub to support the company's marketing in Asia as well as expand Dell's database marketing. Dell is also part of the board of advisers for the European Chief Marketing Officer Council, which was set up late last year to improve the practice and performance of marketing in the IT and telecommunications industries in Europe.

As Dell faces an increasingly competitive IT market and industry consolidation, George was quick to remind people gathered for a Dell consumer launch event in New York in September what has always distinguished the computer maker, much to the chagrin of rivals: low prices. "We've dramatically lowered the price of upgrades because, again, that's something we do uniquely," he said. "We allow our customers to configure the PC exactly as they want it vs. buying off the shelf."

George joined Dell in 2001 after spending 16 years at management consulting firm McKinsey & Co., where he was a senior partner and led the firm's North American Retail Industry Group. During his tenure at McKinsey, George assisted retail and consumer goods companies in the areas of corporate strategy and organization, marketing and merchandising, sales force operations and information technology.

-Matthew Schwartz

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