Dell: Brands are doing themselves a disservice separating B2B and B2C

Looking for the similarities, rather than differences, between B2B and B2C is the strategy at tech giant Dell, explains global brand boss Liz Matthews.

Dell tries not to separate its B2C and B2B customer bases, looking instead for the similarities rather than differences between the two groups, explains senior vice-president of global brand, creative and experiential marketing Liz Matthews.

In the current “modern era” of marketing, Matthews suggests if a brand separates its business buyers from consumer buyers it is doing itself “a disservice”.

“At the end of the day, they’re people,” she states.

Matthew also points to a generational shift taking place, arguing that most people making purchase decisions for Dell’s business tech are digital natives. This means how they “connect with brands and how they learn” is very similar to consumers, she notes.

As a result, Dell wants to “continue to find more of what’s alike than what’s different” across its customer base.

“Having them [B2B and B2C] separate, you realise there’s so much that’s actually really similar, so bring them together and learn from each other and get scale out of it,” Matthews advises.

We’d like to call ourselves technology optimists, because we believe wholeheartedly that it can be used for good.

Liz Matthews, Dell

There’s a similar tactic in the internal makeup of her team. She tells Marketing Week that all the colleagues working across the different campaigns are “under one organisation, no matter what segment”. And it’s important to find the “nuance” within this kind of structure.

“The idea of content and storytelling is just as true in B2B marketing as it is in consumer marketing and testing new platforms, trying new things, innovating in new ways, is just as important on both fronts,” Matthews adds.

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She describes Dell’s marketing strategy as “really simple”. However, going through a rebrand and merger can be the opposite of simple. That’s why, over the past five years Dell has seen purpose and storytelling as a “huge part” of its content and marketing strategy.

Matthews, who has been with the company for more than a decade, reflects on the last few years at Dell, describing it as an “evolution” following the company’s 2016 merger with EMC and its family of brands. She explains through the evolution of the brand strategy, Dell landed on the need for simplicity.

But it’s not a case of restarting now the company is at the next stage: “We’ve evolved the brand strategy to where it is today around just Dell Technologies, in the spirit of simplification,” says Matthews.

‘Technology optimists’

While the brand doesn’t have “another five year marker”, Dell does have “goals and aspirations” around how it’s looking at audiences, including a “huge focus” on using tech and data to drive decision making.

Amongst that, Matthews says Dell is “very focused” on evolving its marketing tech stack. “That road to personalisation that so many marketers talk about? We’re in the middle of that journey,” she adds.

The spirit of evolution extends to the company’s purpose, which has evolved across the last decade. Now Dell talks about its purpose “almost as the democratisation of innovation”.

“We’d like to call ourselves technology optimists, because we believe wholeheartedly that it can be used for good. And so, it’s really woven into the fabric of who we are and what we do,” she adds.

While Matthews says purpose is interwoven into how Dell Technologies communicates with team members, its long-term vision and short-term strategy, she admits it makes her “a little uncomfortable” to discuss.

“I don’t pound my chest and say: ‘We’re so great’” she adds.