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What Going Private Means for Marketing at Dell

A Q&A with Allison Dew, VP of Marketing at Dell

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Allison Dew
Allison Dew

Since its inception in 1984, Dell has been building a database rich with customer information. The company claims it has more customer data than most others because it sells direct to its small business clients. After decades as a public company, Dell is about to go private, giving it an opportunity to devise a longer-term strategy and experiment away from investor scrutiny.

Allison Dew, VP of Marketing at Dell, spoke with Ad Age last week about how becoming a non-public company might affect marketing plans and its popular @DellCares social outreach program.

AdAge: Dell is going private. How does that affect your role and the company's marketing strategy?

Ms. Dew: As Dell evolves, our marketing team's job is to ensure we continue to focus on the customer and stay true to our purpose and brand. I joined Dell five years ago to set up our research division, just as we were beginning to grow our enterprise capabilities. As we grew as a company, it became increasingly important to apply our customer data from across the business to develop a holistic view of our customers. With Dell going private, it's more important than ever to stay close to the customer and use insights to make the right decisions for our brand and our business.

Our data-driven strategy begins with listening to customers across social and traditional channels to keep a pulse on their needs and perceptions of Dell's evolution. From our conversations, we found that our customers -- consumer and B-to-B alike -- wanted Dell to be their partner and support their achievements. So, "The Power to Do More" brand was born -- focusing on enabling our customers to reach their full potential. This approach will continue to drive Dell's customer-centric strategy as a private company.

Ad Age: Dell has lots of CRM data acquired over many years. Tell me about that.

Ms. Dew: Because of our heritage as a direct business, we have a vast customer database. But it is not just about quantity of data. The true power is in bringing together everything you know about your customers from every interaction with your brand to develop a holistic view of the customer. When you better understand them, you can form a deeper relationship and best meet their needs.

Ad Age: How does Dell work with outside agencies or consultancies to help manage its CRM program?

Ms. Dew: Yes, we have a global portfolio of solutions that fit together to meet CRM needs. These solutions enable us to analyze data, generate leads and automate marketing and sales, and more. Dell partners with many leading agencies across different aspects of the CRM value chain, including data vendors, marketing and sales automation companies, media agencies, and online and social providers. We work closely with our IT team at Dell to ensure we are leveraging these systems in a smart way. Our shared goal is to get closer to the customer. CRM and other marketing technology solutions are just efficient tools to get us there.

Ad Age: Dell has been considered cutting edge in social media for its Dell Cares program. That is a very customer service oriented initiative. How does it influence other Dell marketing initiatives?

Ms. Dew: The @DellCares program is just one element of our Social Outreach Services (SOS) team that now includes @DellCaresPRO for business and other online communities geared for the enterprise, including the Dell TechCenter, Inside Enterprise IT blog and #DellSolves blog. Through all of these social channels, we are able to understand customer needs and questions in aggregate and shape our strategy accordingly. These communities do more than just help to resolve issues; they help us grow our business. Our social engagement helps us form sustainable, positive relationships with customers. For example, those that go through the Dell Cares experience are much more likely to purchase from Dell and be a repeat customer.

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