BtoB Top Marketer: Mark Gambill. CDW Corp.

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Mark Gambill, VP-CMO of CDW Corp., a provider of IT products and services, has dedicated significant time and effort this year to learning more about his company's customers. In fact, for the first time, CDW performed what Gambill calls a “deep dive” into its existing customer database, looking to identify who the high-value customers are, what their purchase propensity is, how best to engage them and how to offer them the most value. “We have over 500,000 customers,” he said. “As much as we'd like to be able to service all of them, all the time, very well, the reality is there's a group of them that can really help drive our revenues and profits.” The extensive process yielded data that CDW's sales force can use in a much more efficient way than it could have previously. The company also conducted customer surveys that revealed a variance in the level of sophistication among IT purchasers and decision-makers in different companies and verticals, including education, government, small business and health care. To meet the needs of these groups, CDW created specific microsites with targeted information. “As we provide more relevant and targeted data, products and information to these different audiences in a very user-friendly manner, it makes them feel more comfortable and also helps them ask the questions they might not know how to phrase or put forth about how to use technology,” he said. Gathering—and acting on—the right information has been an important part of CDW's success. “Everybody is probably adept at collecting information. But how you manage it, how you aggregate it and the conclusions you draw from that data really are what's going to make the difference between whether you're really successful or just doing OK,” he said. “That's what we've really tried to concentrate on.” At the same time, CDW has continued to articulate its brand relevance and value proposition to the market with its “We're There” integrated advertising campaign and a sponsorship of the PGA Tour. The sponsorship has given CDW and its technology partners broad visibility, Gambill said, allowing the company to bring current and prospective customers into a relaxed environment and engage them in a discussion about how CDW is helping the tour and how it can help businesses. The company updated the “We're There” campaign, which has been running for about 18 months, with fresh ads earlier this year. The campaign's TV spots—one of which won Best Single TV Spot in BtoB's Best competition last year—communicate CDW's strengths while giving viewers a few laughs. “One of the things we wanted to do is incorporate humor,” Gambill said. “Because life's too short, and people are way too serious most of the time. I'm a firm believer that levity never hurt anyone.” —Mary E. Morrison
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