Mind your Marketing

Every organisation needs to be a digital organisation

| Updated on November 07, 2019

Srihari Palangala, Senior Director, Marketing, Dell Technologies.

This week, we have in the spotlight, Srihari Palangala, Senior Director, Marketing, Dell Technologies India. An engineer by profession, he has a passion for technology and has spent around 17 years working with technology products in various roles, including business development, consulting and marketing across the US, India and Asia Pacific.

B2B marketing strategies have evolved a lot lately – can you outline innovations in this space?

Every organisation, big or small, is actively making technology purchases today. The buying process spans complex solutions to transactional purchases. Against this backdrop, never before has the balance of ‘Art’ and ‘Science’ been more perfect in B2B marketing. Marketers need to maintain that balance across the marketing spectrum of messaging (of vision, product, solutions - art), optimised delivery of message across multiple channels driving reach/frequency (art/science) and analytics to measure performance (science). As teams raise the bar on each of these elements, innovations and improvements in campaigns are constantly happening.


With the emerging technologies making their way into every sector, the opportunities for B2B marketers in the digital arena continue to grow. The new tools and channels present us with new ways to reach the target audiences. The main objective of B2B marketing strategy is to customise each campaign for the audience and position itself distinctively in the industry.


Digital transformation is an emerging opportunity. How is Dell addressing this? 

Today, every organisation needs to be a digital organisation, powered by data, running in a multi-cloud world, ready to take on anything. At Dell Technologies, we have a broad product/solution portfolio addressing needs from the edge to the core to the cloud; and across the stack, from infrastructure to applications. We support data-driven transformation journeys of our customers across IT, workforce, security and application as part of the digital transformation.


Dell Technologies’ success in India and the promise that the market holds for us is immense. Our focus is on opportunities in BFSI and Government and we are in partnership with many marquee clients across various verticals, like manufacturing, BFSI, cyber security, smart cities, education and healthcare. 


For us, Digital Transformation entails four pillars of transformation – IT, workforce, security and application. Our roadmap on this front is to establish our presence as a solution-provider for digital transformation. Driving innovation is a key priority across all of our R&D set-ups in India and is at the heart of Dell’s transformation journey fuelling global growth.

Slowdowns are challenging periods for marketers. However, they give rise to innovations, e.g. we are seeing a subscription model in auto. Has Dell any special strategies for downturns?

Slowdowns bring the focus and importance back on driving demand. At Dell Technologies, we are fortunate to have a broad portfolio that can engage with a prospect on most aspects of their digital journey. It is, however, important to double down on execution basics, from (micro/sub) targeting, to apt messages in the buying cycle to tactics in driving conversion. We also couple this closely with listening to the market, which is enabling us to take the right offers and product bundles to customers. As messages resonate with prospects, we look to scale those that are working.


Marketers are moving from separate strategies for product marketing and services marketing to a more converged approach. Your take on this?

This is absolutely true. At Dell Technologies, we see our services and support offerings as a key differentiator amongst customers and they complement our products nicely. We take an integrated message for the market, for example, our Unified Workspace solution with support/manageability and that as deployment delivers customised PC systems, which are shipped directly from Dell’s factory to employees. This is an example of our best-of-breed end-point products coupled with the right services messaging.


What are the trends you are witnessing in loyalty marketing? How useful a tool is this?

The biggest players are making huge changes in their strategies to attract new loyalty entrants, by creating exciting experiences. While technology will be the enabler, it will be creativity that drives loyalty into the next phase.


Our products and technology, coupled with the services and support, drive innate loyalty among our customer base. Those who buy from us repeatedly, form an important base who transact with us as they look to refresh, upgrade or make cross-purchases. We constantly aim to drive ease and convenience for our customers as they look to make repeat purchases from us. 


Srihari says… 

a.   One strategic change we plan to execute by 2020

Build a closer and more integrated message around our portfolio of products, especially as we take our announcements around the Dell Technologies Cloud to market.


b.   My top three marketing mantras

Market coverage, marketing contribution to the business and innovation in delivering messages


c.  Three concepts I believe define a hot brand 

I’ve been reading about this recently – brands need to get the why, what and how strongly delivered in the market. Why they exist, what they do and how they will do it.


d.   The kind of ad campaigns I like

I like ad campaigns that are timed well, taking campaign messages in close resonance with what is happening in the world around us at that time. Social media is a great vehicle to get such campaigns out, they build active engagement riding on the wave. There are a few such campaigns that have done well with this.


What are some of the best ways to connect with and sell complex solutions in an age of ever-decreasing attention spans?

Customers look for proof-points in market, either from reference solutions, through other similar implementations or third-party points of view. These build a strong background and bolster confidence in the solutions and investments being made by customers. The other element is around how customers look to make a business case for technology investments in their organisations. These are good opportunities for vendors like Dell to connect with customers, offering a consultative approach in the customer’s digital transformation journey.

Are millennials and GenZ forcing brands to be more purposeful?

Technology needs to work for individuals and businesses and to that extent, it needs to constantly adapt, innovate and offer choices. The innovation drives product improvements that take it constantly closer to the end user. For example, in our client portfolio of products, we look at our technology being offered to various personas, including new-age workers. Today, ‘work’ is not a place you go to, but instead increasingly millennials are choosing to work from any location. Technology needs to recognise this and offer product capabilities that support such use cases.


With millennials becoming part of the larger workforce and spending spectrum, the industry can notice their thoughts propel the brands to take a more purposeful marketing approach.  Purpose-driven branding is on the rise, as brands are beginning to take stands on topics and causes, by effectively creating tactics to embed themselves in the brand’s strategic vision.


As employees, millennials are rewarding higher-purpose businesses with their unpredictable loyalty. They are part of the increasingly large component of the workforce, on their way to 75% of the global workforce by 2025. 


What are the things a brand should do right now to stay competitive?

Today, there is constant change and multiple alternatives/choices for customers for every product, and brands need to double down on clear communication. This needs to be coupled with the right frequency to achieve breakthrough. Communications need to be consistent and as simple as possible, focusing on the core message. Staying on target on messaging helps brands differentiate from competition.


As a marketer, driving consistency is key and this consistency needs to reflect in our campaigns and messaging as well. While we drive consistent and repeated external messages through our direct outreach tactics, it is also important to ensure our message is delivered not just through marketing but by broader functions engaging with the customer. 


Marketing constantly drives the thrust to ensure our value proposition is reflected in our company. This means adequate enablement for people and teams and also providing the right platforms for the message to be delivered, which are championed by marketing. Ensuring consistent external messaging across the board is a key element in driving transformation for the business and brand.


Marketing leaders are required to constantly scan and look for opportunities that enable business growth and better customer experience. In order to pursue the opportunity brought in, it is also necessary to bring the right talents, skills and minds together. Carrying out projects successfully requires marketing heads to be influencers in the organisations that rally people and teams to perform to the best of their abilities. We are responsible for both short-term tactical planning and long-term strategic planning, thus impacting the business directly. 


Marketing leaders are expected to work and collaborate across business functions – and in doing so, can jointly steer and execute the strategies to the best of the experiences.


How different is addressing customer complaints with them now having a multitude of forums to express their grievances?

It is passé to say that brands need to be ‘always on’, keeping two-way channels with customers open at all times. It is now important to recognise that this is owned by everyone in the organisation, since multiple teams come together delivering an end-to-end experience for a customer. Hence, close internal collaboration and communication is key, to ensure that complaints are identified and addressed quickly. Being aligned and fully integrated on core company values is important to ensure that errors are minimised and when they do occur are addressed quickly and properly.


Customer complaints are timeless, no matter the size, nature or success of a business. There will always be a certain percentage of people who aren’t happy with the product or service. In this fast-paced technology era, a customer does not think twice before picking up the phone to type their complaints and making it public. We all can see various online forums and discussion boards, which are available publicly without constraints.


Unlike in the olden days, where customers were loyal to particular brands and businesses, today the customers are aware about the competition. They simply switch to another brand even after just a single negative experience. 


Published on November 07, 2019

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