Dell sees continued success with DM

By Published on .

Mark Thompson
VP-marketing, Small & Medium Business unit
Company: Dell Computer Corp.
Years in current job: 4
Quote: “Direct marketing has worked for us and continues to work for us.”

Twenty-year-old Dell continues to market its PCs and an array of products and services using the direct marketing model with which it built its reputation. While that process has been paired with consistent branding, it continues to evolve, said Mark Thompson, VP-marketing of the Small & Medium Business division at Dell.

"Direct marketing has worked for us and continues to work for us," Thompson said. "The workhorse for us is our catalog. We mail several different versions each month and touch the entire small and medium-sized business universe." (Dell wouldn't provide the number of small and midsize businesses it targets.)

Dell also markets via TV, e-mail, online and print, and this year began regularly using free-standing inserts (FSIs) and radio. The radio ads drive traffic to an easy-to-remember URL and the results have exceeded goals, Thompson said.

The company diligently measures marketing. Thompson and his team have used regression modeling to determine the impact of TV spots on sales. He said television generates an 80% lift. "People might see the TV ad and dial the number on the back of the catalog," he said. "In the past, we might have attributed it to the catalog and missed the link from TV."

Thompson also discovered that banner ads were actually cannibalizing business, so Dell pulled back its investment there.

Educating the small-business market has been a key objective. "This year we tried to make things easier [for them]," Thompson said. Dell introduced a host of services, including landing pages, and added services to deal with issues such as security, networking, storage issues and converting to wireless.

Thompson said the company's business has benefited from several of these new initiatives. "We've seen tremendous share gains year on year," he said, adding, "we continue to be the No. 1 choice for small businesses in our space, according to IDC."

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