Dell Inc.'s Russ Fujioka says relevance marketing—placing the right content in front of the right prospect at the right time—is at the heart of Dell's b-to-b marketing.
The company's VP-marketing-public and large enterprise group spoke with CMO Close-Up about Dell's content marketing and how it encompasses traditional custom publishing, building an online community at the company's TechContent website and tapping into the latest social media buzz. “From 140 characters to 140 pages, that's the kind of guardrail-to-guardrail coverage you have to have in content today,” he said.
CMO Close-Up: How central is content marketing at Dell?
Russ Fujioka: I don't think we look at content marketing as anything abstracted from what we need to do in our overall marketing effort. Content is the game. It's all about content—relevant content, targeted content. The ability to get the right content to the right people is about the relevance marketing idea. We curate a lot of content. We get people internally to be very prolific writers, from custom publishing, to advertorials to all the normal things. But the key is thinking about the whole idea of 1 million markets of one versus a one-to-1 million type of thing. The technology path that industry has been on for the past decade—which is understanding the implications of CRM and targeting—calls for curation of content that is very personalized. We can't get enough content. We can't curate enough. We can't propagate enough. It is the key to the game.
CMO Close-Up: Where is content marketing working best for you?
Fujioka: Let's look at custom publishing. From a b-to-b aspect, we've had something called Dell Power Solutions magazine for a while. We actually distribute that as a custom-published magazine in print and digitally (with a total combined annual circulation of 2.4 million). It has been kind of a mainstay for the b-to-b part of the business. We also do a publication called Catalyst (for small and midsize businesses). There are still a lot of people who want to receive that information kind of traditionally in that print format.
CMO Close-Up: What nonprint content marketing efforts are working for you?
Fujioka: We have this community called TechCenter. It provides a catalyst for these folks that are within Dell to create these massive social communities around the technology and start conversations. TechCenter is a destination on its own. Dell manages that. Rishi Dave (Dell's executive director-online marketing) is the “kingpin” on TechCenter. Rishi's management has been outstanding as far as the amount of information and the community he's been able to build.
CMO Close-Up: Why has content marketing become so important? Is it the Web? Search marketing? A company's own website? The power of communities and social media?
Fujioka: It's all of the above. It's the need to understand individuals and predict what content they need as the ability (is there) to get more targeted and specialized in these areas. Broad-based advertising has different roles for different companies. If you're a Dell—which has almost 100% unaided awareness in the technology community—you don't have to get people to necessarily know Dell, but you do have to get them to really understand Dell. It's about leading that perception change. We utilize broad-based media to take (prospects) deeper in their journey for the information. What you see in mass media is actually pointing people to content.
CMO Close-Up: How does social media fit into your content marketing efforts?
Fujioka: Social media is an incredible asset if you can understand it and manage it. What I mean by that is that it can give you really good indications of what you need to provide that community. It can also give you a good idea of what they don't want to see and to what technical depth they want their information. And there's an immediacy to it. The art of content in this era right now is how fast can you get content to the right people at the right time in real time to meet their needs? And their needs may be changing continually.
CMO Close-Up: How have you adjusted your personnel to the rise in importance of social media?
Fujioka: There is a huge amount of people at Dell who are focused on social community. We have what we call our “SMAC” (Social Media and Communities) team, which monitors the social media channels to look at the conversations and have the ability and the empowerment to react to detractors. Everyone on my marketing team thinks about what kind of content they individually are going to curate as well as how they are going to amplify that. My expectation of everyone in my organization is that they should be developing content at one layer or another.
CMO Close-Up: How important overall is content marketing?
Fujioka: If company is not focusing—from communications to IR (investor relations)—and isn't really thinking about how do they support their audiences with as deep and as specialized pieces of content as they can, then they're going to lose. You've already lost if you don't have your focus on content. Content is certainly top-of-mind at Dell. I think we at Dell do exceptionally well at how we tie together our social listening and the information we can extract from that. Social media on the Web as a whole provides huge amounts of information on a minute-by-minute basis, and our ability to monitor and take those kinds of input and turn that into targeted content on various media has been a big strength for Dell.