New CMO touts Dell's ‘power'

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Dell Inc. ( made its reputation as a consumer marketer, but about 80% of its revenue comes from business and public sector customers. Leading Dell's global marketing push is Karen Quintos, who succeeded Erin Mulligan Nelson as senior VP-CMO in September. Prior to her promotion, Quintos was VP-marketing for Dell's global public business. She has been with the company 10 years.

CMO Close-Up: Dell recently announced a new brand positioning: “The power to do more.” What went into this repositioning, and what will it entail in the coming months and years?

Quintos: First of all, “The power to do more” branding position is about one common theme, which is our customers. We've been on this journey for a while now—to go out and determine exactly what our consumers want out of the Dell brand. We talked to 9,000 to 10,000 customers across the world in every major market, and one theme that came back time and time again was that our customers wanted us to focus on their needs and the outcomes they're trying to achieve.

When we talk about power, it's really about the peace of mind of our customers. It's about quality, reliability and all those things around the Dell brand that are important to our customers. When we talk about doing more, it really is personal to the customer, whether they are a consumer customer, a small-business entrepreneur or a CIO administrator who's running data centers. It's really about helping them to utilize technology that enables what they want to do, helping them enable their mission, to grow and thrive.

CMO Close-Up: What kind of b-to-b marketing will be built around it?

Quintos: A lot of people think that the vast majority of our business is the consumer space and, quite frankly, it's the opposite. Eighty percent of our revenue actually comes from products, services and solutions in the b2b space.. When we talk b-to-b, we're talking small business, medium business, public and large enterprise customers. … On the large enterprise side, it's really about driving efficiencies and savings into the data center. Too many of our IT customers are spending too much time and resources maintaining the status quo in their current environments. We feel our enterprise solutions can drive efficiency, free up time, free up money and really enable them in their environments to spend more time on the value-added IT capabilities in their organizations and less time maintaining their current infrastructure.

CMO Close-Up: How do you interact with your customers? Do you rely on a proprietary network or are you moving to other means, such as Twitter?

Quintos: It's really about a balanced approach grounded in how our customers want to interact with us, not how we want our customers to interact with us. Our community sites were our first foray into social media, so we built that by listening and talking to customers, who value the information. They value the networking and the ability of Dell to bring these communities of individuals together. I would also say it's about communication, not just with our vehicles and properties but also participating in other conversations happening around the world. We use sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to communicate, so we think it's important to have a presence in all of them.

CMO Close-Up: Is Dell's TechCenter a big driver for customers?

Quintos: How customers are using it is really amazing. A lot of people start with this whole notion of a customer calling in with a particular problem and we're the smartest people to help solve it, and that is the traditional model of how customers get problems resolved. The fact of the matter is that there are really smart, capable Dell customers who can help other customers, and they want to interact in these highly technical communities. So we really set up the capabilities for them to do that. It started in 2007 as a way to drive loyalty around our largest customers, where members will share advice and ask questions of Dell experts and engineers, and we opened it up to the broader community. So it started as the more traditional model and now it's opened up to 6,000 members who come together thousands of times a day and use it to exchange ideas and get their concerns resolved.

CMO Close-Up: Dell made its initial reputation on responsive customer service. How do you continue that tradition in terms of open communications with your customer base?

Quintos: Open and transparent communication has always been at the core of what Dell stands for: our ability to listen, our ability to be there for customers and our ability to understand their pain points. I recently returned from one of our top customer events, and the number of customers that came up to me and Michael [Dell, chairman-CEO and founder of the company] and said, “You have no idea that the simplest thing that your sales, and tech support and service and support organizations provide us is simply the fact that they know us. They know our environment. They know our pain points, and they listen. And you know that's something you've always stood for, so do not change it.” And that's really key in the b-to-b space. Our social media capabilities and the approach we're taking really amplify our ability to [gather] feedback, make changes, facilitate conversation and listen to what our customers are saying and make our products and solutions better.

CMO Close-Up: How important is the SMB space for Dell nowadays?

Quintos: Small-business customers to Dell have always been a significant part of the business. We've helped many small-business customers become very large customers, and we've helped small-business customers who weren't interested in growing to stay in business and be profitable. We work with 10 million small-business customers around the world. We're No. 1 in the U.S. and in other key markets like Brazil in terms of our small-business share and No. 2 on a worldwide basis. Small-business customers continue to play a significant role.

We also have a very strong belief that small-business customers are what fuels economic growth, and we're here to help that. It's not just in desktops and notebooks. Our revenue around our server, networking and storage space is growing in double digits on a year-over-year basis and continues to be a core part of our small-business strategy, which is being able to provide a full array of products and solutions to small-business customers to really help them grow and thrive.

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