Michael Buck / Dell SMB Podcast Transcript

Steven Groves Hello, everyone. This is Steven Groves with the ROI of Social Media and SocialMarketingConversations.com welcoming you to this episode of the ROI of Social Media podcast series. In this series, we‟re interviewing business and users of social media marketing and exploring the ROI models that are being developed and used by businesses. My associate, Guy Powell, author of The Marketing Calculator, who blogs at www.marketingcalculator.com, is with us. How are you doing today, Guy? Guy Powell Fantastic, Steven. It‟s great to be here and looking forward to our conversation with Dell and Michael Buck. This is a great opportunity to really get some good insight, not only on the high-tech space, but also to look at, potentially, some of the differences between consumer social media versus business-to-business social media, and would certainly like to get an update on how the CeBIT Fair went over in Hanover, Germany. Yeah, I‟ll tell you that social media and Dell are almost synonymous. Dell has really been a casestudy for that and you‟re right, today we also on the phone Michael Buck. Michael is the director and general manager for the global small to medium online business at Dell. Michael also champions the community and social media efforts for their small to medium business clients globally. Michael first joined Dell in August of 2004 as a director and general manager for software and peripherals for Dell in Europe. He also managed several pan-European businesses for Dell Europe prior to his current role. Before Dell, Michael was with Hewlett-Packard for 11 years. There, he held various pan-European executive level positions in sales and marketing for their various product lines. Welcome to the call Michael. Michael Thank you, Steven. Hello, Guy. Buck Hello. It‟s great to be here and have you on the line, Michael. Hopefully, it sounds like you‟re pretty GP close to enjoying your weekend and it looks like you had a good experience at the CeBIT in Hanover. MB Yes, that‟s correct. We just came back from C-bit and I have to say that I‟m very positively surprised about the momentum that we see as a company, but also as an industry. It seems like the growth is coming back and that‟s a good perspective. That‟s great. I know that CeBIT is really the premier show for consumer electronics in the European market, but as we get into our call today, talk to us a little bit about Dell and what‟s going on with Dell‟s social media activities.. I would love to. As you know, we‟re doing social media, so to speak, since 1995 approximately. We started with a lot of forums and added blogs and really learned our way into this domain. Today, we‟re using mainly Four Pillars to drive social media. One is Dell.com as the ecommerce platform. We use this, mainly, to integrate. We have interactive tools like chat, ratings and reviews, we use feedback from customers on Dell.com. ROI of Social Media Series
Steven Groves / SocialMarketingConversations.com Guy Powell / DemandROMI.com Jerry Dimos / LiTMUS Group

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Podcast recorded March 5, 2010

Michael Buck / Dell SMB Podcast Transcript
The second pillar is our own communities, which we‟re running. We have Ideastorm, we have blogs and forums. I‟ll talk a bit more about those later, where we have communities where our customers can engage and meet each other on Dell.com communities. The third pillar, for us, is external communities. It‟s very interesting, obviously, because social media is about democracy on the net. So, using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and others to make sure that we‟re participating, both, actively and passively in the overall communities outside of Dell.com. Then, last, but not least, the fourth pillar for us is really our employees because, as you can imagine, we have 100,000 people working for Dell and all of those people are brand ambassadors in the market, on the net, talking to 100s of 1,000s of customers every day, and using certainly, also, our employees internally with blogs and forums, but also externally, making sure that people have an opportunity to talk outside. GP Yeah, that‟s fantastic. I think that it‟s interesting to hear the fourth pillar, which is employees, because they clearly can offer a lot of value in building the conversation and responding and driving the conversation around Dell and building the brand for Dell. What do you see, then, as the biggest obstacle for growth for social media for Dell? MB It‟s an interesting question. I was thinking long and hard about this and there‟s no real big obstacle, per se, I think it‟s more of a migration, which as a company we‟re undergoing, and you can see that the company is going more from an inbound to an outbound perspective, to transforming into a listening and responding company on the net and it‟s really more a transformational element, a learning element for us, to provide perspectives for our customers. Not only on the phone, to give us feedback, but to actually have this feedback and incorporate this feedback through loads and loads of channels, online channels, and get this feedback, these learning‟s, back into the organization. For a company of our size that is a challenge, I would say, but ultimately, again, it‟s something where we grow into it. Other than that, I would say the smaller obstacles are the funding of programs sometimes. You have a discussion between the offline marketing elements and the, let‟s say, social marketing elements. You have the same debates, probably as in every company, about how to actually manage the process, how to build policies around social media, how do we measure social media. What does success look like? That‟s certainly a debate that you always have when it comes to new engagements. To me, that‟s not true only to social, it‟s certainly something where social has established itself, within Dell, as a key pillar in the marketing mix, and with this we don‟t face much push-back. In fact, Michael Dell is probably the biggest raver, he‟s personally engaged. He‟s blogging, he‟s engaging on various platforms himself, and I think that‟s kind of really important for our organization. That this is a top-down approach, where you see that the senior managers, and in this case our boss, is fully engaged with both hands in social media. That makes it much easier for pretty much everybody in the organization. GP That‟s a fascinating approach and it is interesting to see how it flows top-down with Michael Dell Page 2 of 9
Podcast recorded March 5, 2010

ROI of Social Media Series
Steven Groves / SocialMarketingConversations.com Guy Powell / DemandROMI.com Jerry Dimos / LiTMUS Group

Michael Buck / Dell SMB Podcast Transcript
and then Steven Felise being very involved in that, and then having that flow down to 100,000 people as employees, potentially actively engaging in the Internet and in the communities. You mentioned, and I really like your concept of moving from inbound versus outbound, to listening and responding. Do you see any differences there between the business-to-business (B2B) markets, as opposed to the consumer markets? MB There are distinct differences. The consumer market is more proactive in providing feedback and providing comments and providing reviews. The B2B market is very thankful for the help and forums and blogs, but they‟re not as active by themselves. So, the B2B market typically requires facilitation, when it comes to facilitating blogs and forums. Also, the difference is that, in the B2B market you are talking to various people within the organization, so you could talk to finance, procurement, top management, and they do have different focus areas in the way that they communicate and what‟s interesting for them. So, you need to have a more diverse portfolio for B2B, whereas on the consumer side, it‟s much more colorful, it‟s much more vibrant where you see much more pro-activity on the customer‟s side to really drive inputs and drive learning into the organization. So, there are distinct differences, but ultimately, when you look at the benefits for social, both groups benefit in the same way because both groups are looking for ways of engaging with vendors, engaging with other peers, learning from other peers, and that‟s true for businesses, as well as consumers. I get what you‟re saying, relative to the comparisons between the B2B and the B2C, that you have one tactic to talk to consumers and there‟s a very different type of a tactic to converse with the businesses out there that you‟re responsible for, and that there‟s so many different types of people within the business, that you have to be prepared to correspond with. You have to be ready to talk with them, but that‟s really got to add a certain level of complexity, I would imagine, to the metrics and to the measures that you apply to your effort. Take a minute, if you would, and talk to us for a moment about the key metrics that Dell looks at when you‟re trying to drive value from your social media participation, from your social media presence. What are the things that are kind of the end-goal or, perhaps, just the interim key performance indicators that Dell looks at when they‟re involved in this kind of a push? MB Absolutely, and the key beauty of social for us in Dell is that we‟re very metrics-driven company, but before we go to the metrics we always look at Customer Value Drivers, because you can measure whatever you want on social. At the end of the day you need to, first of all, fulfill customer requirements here and we have defined a few value-drivers and we‟ve listened to a lot of customer we then service and then say, “What are the top five things that customers are really wanting to see from us, from social media?” I‟ll run you through those five and then I‟ll get to the Dell metrics, if you don‟t mind. The top five value-drivers for customers is, first of all, they want to have a meaningful connection based on shared interests. That‟s a very important point and, as you know, this is not a one-way street. They would like to express themselves. That‟s very important, because in a lot of ways you have a hotline. This is not really expressing yourself. Expressing yourself means that you have ROI of Social Media Series
Steven Groves / SocialMarketingConversations.com Guy Powell / DemandROMI.com Jerry Dimos / LiTMUS Group

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Michael Buck / Dell SMB Podcast Transcript
various ways of engaging with a company of your choice. They would like to receive rewards and recognition for contributions that they are providing. So, in other words, if they bring feedback, they bring learning, they would like to make sure that the company reacts to that. They would like to get advice and validation and, again, that‟s true for B2B and consumers, as well. Also, assurance about their own decisions, because when you move into social, you would like to learn from your peers. You would like to learn from others how they do it. That‟s the power of the learning effect of social. Last, but not least, a lot of customers just want to have a problem be solved. This is really something where we see a lot of chats or engagements that we have, which ultimately save you a lot of money at the end because you don‟t have to log a support call because customers are much happier to receive up-front information through other means and through social. So, looking at those key value-drivers, we then define metrics for us. For us, it‟s also five metrics which are correlating with those. The first one is, the customer insights to drive innovation and we‟re actively using customer feedback to drive our product development innovation. We are measuring this internally to see how many customers are changing our products, affecting our products and also making sure that we have a quantification of what this is worth for the company. We‟re looking at marketing spend efficiency because social media is not free but, ultimately, it‟s less expensive than if you run, for instance, campaigns, marketing or ad campaigns. We look at conversion rates online. Social does a lot of good for making sure that you can streamline your online ecommerce perspective. You look at the customer life-cycle value and that‟s really important because a lot of the valuedrivers for customers is certainly customer loyalty, at the end of the day. You would like to make sure that customers stay with you, they‟re happy, not just at the point of purchase, but through the life-cycle of their needs and this is really important for us because we believe that social has an amazing appeal, when it comes to keeping customers happy over time, and ultimately, number five is a cost-saving element, which again I mentioned the support calls. We can eliminate a lot of friction in the system, and potential friction in the system, up front, in helping customers with innovative social media interactions. So, questions at the end of the day, are being answered even before they come up, and that‟s really turning into a cost-saving opportunity for Dell altogether if this works. To me, I would call this a win-win between the value-drivers and the metrics for measuring. Yeah, that‟s fascinating and I really like the five key value-drivers and then the five key metrics surrounding that. It‟s interesting too, going back to that inbound versus outbound, when you think about the listening and response and the customers to have meaningful connections based on shared interest, that is really on the one hand it seems like it significantly improving the sales function, in terms of, in the past I had to call into tech support and maybe ask them some pre-sales questions, ROI of Social Media Series Page 4 of 9 GP
Steven Groves / SocialMarketingConversations.com Guy Powell / DemandROMI.com Jerry Dimos / LiTMUS Group Podcast recorded March 5, 2010

Michael Buck / Dell SMB Podcast Transcript
“How does it do this? How does it do that?” As you mentioned, a lot of those questions may never even get asked because they‟re already answered on the forum somewhere. So, that‟s a fascinating way of looking at how the social media has really streamlined the presale component of it, and then, as you mentioned with the customer lifetime value, how that streamlines and makes it much more valuable to the customer, in terms of the post-sale activities. Now, in terms of those particular metrics though, do you correlate, or do you look at how specific marketing programs drive those, or do you see those more as just the engagement of the various Dell employees, I guess, engaging in different forums and participating and having customers participate, or do you see them marketing as a function, and as an activity, driving separate kinds of goals in the social media space? MB That is an interesting question. I can only say, for us, marketing is the new finance here. Again, Dell is a company which measures everything and I think, in this case, we would like to understand how effective campaigns are, these social campaigns, be it offline campaigns, be it ad campaigns. So, be assured that we are looking very sensitively into our eye of campaigns and how we can improve them. Ultimately, I think you made the comment before, eCommerce, per say, is almost the outcome of what you do well on social. So, it‟s not something where the selling aspect is in the foreground. The first thing that you have to do is really listening, building the ecosystem, building the supporting environment. Then, ultimately, as you‟re building this up and customers see that you take it serious, you can find the ravers and the people who are influencers and multipliers in the market and then, ultimately, you can measure the effect of that and you can measure the success of that in the market, and you can benchmark traditional marketing tools and tactics against those and, quite frankly, the ROI for social and most of the elements of social are absolutely unbeaten compared to what you have in traditional marketing aspects. The other element, as you know, I‟m responsible for small and medium businesses, specifically for small / medium businesses with very limited marketing budgets, social is a huge opportunity to get a coverage that you wouldn‟t get with any marketing spend available. So, I can only recommend, for small/medium business in particular to look at social elements as replacement for traditional marketing means and then measure the success of those as we do it. GP That‟s fascinating, and I think you‟re right, certainly for a small and medium size business, social media really lowers the threshold for entry and really does help out those kinds of businesses and I could see where, even on the buying side for a small to medium sized business, that even on their side it reduces the cost of the purchase cycle. One of the things that was kind of fascinating, we noticed that you have this thing called the Dell Swarm, and that‟s looking at, I guess, purchasing groups, but where I was going with social media has two approaches there. One of them is certainly being able to do purchasing groups, but also to streamline that information gathering and making that easier. So, very fascinating. You know Michael, I‟m listening to the conversation about what you‟re doing with small to medium business and, when we talk about Dell doing support of small to medium business in the social Page 5 of 9
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ROI of Social Media Series
Steven Groves / SocialMarketingConversations.com Guy Powell / DemandROMI.com Jerry Dimos / LiTMUS Group

Michael Buck / Dell SMB Podcast Transcript
media space, what does that program look like and are there specific, or key, tactics that you‟re employing that are lending themselves to being able to determine whether or not this is a success. I‟m really interested in figuring out how Dell is taking the social media message to small to medium business and what are the key metrics, or what are the tactics, that you‟re using to do so? MB That‟s a very difficult question because, given the amount of social activities that we‟re running these days, it‟s very difficult to define this because there are so many different target audiences and so many different vehicles that you can use, but one of the things that you need to be very clear about is who is your target audience and what‟s the best way of actually working with the target audience to get the maximum success out of this. To me, the starting point for all of this is actually the trust, which you have to get from your customers and you have to earn from your customers, that they‟re engaging to you. Because, to me, it‟s not a given that customers engage with Dell on social media platforms, just for the fun of it. I think you have to gain a reputation that, as a company this is not a store-front. This is something where you take it serious and it‟s actually taken into the company, being used in the company, and consequences follow, out of the feedback and the engagement that you get. With this, we have various vehicles, we call them vehicles that we‟re driving. Coming back to your question, we have sales vehicles on social, so we‟re very effectively selling on Twitter and we‟ve sold the magnitude of $19 million so far on Twitter. The beauty of this is that it‟s not a sales channel, per say, because people are signing up to do business with us. So, this is not about sending somebody an email who doesn‟t want it, this is really actively, millions of people signing up for getting information, getting sales information in real time. That‟s one of the activities that we‟re driving. The tactics that we‟re applying is that you find people who are interested in Twitter, not only as a means of communicating, but also as a means of selling. The other tactic, which is a campaign, for instance, just two examples, we‟re running “Take Your Own Path” you might have seen this on billboards or in airports or online. We‟re using people in the industry, we‟re using small and medium businesses, and we‟re building out the story of those small to medium businesses and what they have done to be successful. So, those are customers of ours. What we do is, not only building out those, what we call, „Heroes‟ and portraying how you can take your own path, but we are customizing in a way that small to medium businesses really do understand how you can actually be successful with the means of eCommerce or social, and we‟re morphing online and offline means here. So, we have offline campaigns about this, but we have a very rich online campaign, as well, at the same time. We encourage our customers to bring in stories of their own, sharing those stories with other customers, and the success of this is really, first of all, that you‟re talking to small and medium businesses globally, and you‟re actually using their own peers as examples for success. The second key to success here is how you successfully morph and merge online and offline assets so that, ultimately, it‟s something that, wherever you go, you actually have different ways of accessing information about this campaign, and you can also proactively engage, not only in listening and looking at things, but you can contribute yourself and you can dive as deep as you want and that‟s one of the key tactics we‟re applying to all of the social media. ROI of Social Media Series
Steven Groves / SocialMarketingConversations.com Guy Powell / DemandROMI.com Jerry Dimos / LiTMUS Group

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Podcast recorded March 5, 2010

Michael Buck / Dell SMB Podcast Transcript
What we‟re doing is, you can always dive as deep as deep as you would like. Some people like t stay on the surface and just listen and learn and experience from others and some really have a very proactive stance and they are extremely engaging with us on pretty much all of the vehicles that we‟re offering. So, the choice is the key here, but again, it‟s very difficult to boil it down to key tactics these days. I think what you have to make sure of is that you stay on top of those, really know what you‟re doing, and I don‟t think there‟s anything worse in social than to start something and not really take it seriously or not go the end to end path with it. People take this very serious and if you would just be identified as having this as a marketing gimmick or something, people would really call you out and that‟s really not very much the idea of social. We‟re trying to really stay the course here. We offer the platforms, we really make sure that we go end to end on those and stay close to our customers on those. GP Yeah, it‟s fascinating to see how Dell has really embraced social media to handle so many different functions, in terms of understanding and gaining insights to drive innovation and then building good relationships and being able to go as deep as you like in the sales process and in the decision and the choice process, and then, of course, on the loyalty side of things, to make sure that you‟re able to support those customers as they need support when they need it, and in a manner in which they want to receive that. Where do you see the future, then, for social media for Dell? What do you see happening in the future and what kind of trends are out there that you think that you can use to propel Dell even further forward? MB Dell is very committed to social because we see success in it and we see that our customers are really accepting it and they‟re happy to engage. There are a few trends besides the obviously existing social elements that we have already, where I see a big success for the future. One is geographically. You have to imagine that most of the social engagement in the next years will come out of countries like India, China, Brazil, eastern Europe, we see a massive increase of social engagements. The blogosphere is developing massively. So, geographically, we‟ll see a shift from the more current US and Europe-driven social media, re-balancing into those growth areas, very interesting and exciting new ways of social coming out of those regions and we‟re really very excited to be part of this. There are other elements, search is really a very core element of social and it‟s very relevant for us because search is where customers are looking for information and the key word „fish, where the fish are‟, you need to make sure that you‟re utilizing your search capabilities and you‟re optimizing your search capabilities to help customers find themselves within this massive amount of offering and I‟ve talked about the various vehicles that we‟re using, others are using. I think it needs to be very clear for customers that they have a helping hand to help them through the social network. I think another key element in social will be companies who will be looking for key influencers. They‟re looking for the multipliers of the brand lovers. They‟re looking for the social influencers. ROI of Social Media Series
Steven Groves / SocialMarketingConversations.com Guy Powell / DemandROMI.com Jerry Dimos / LiTMUS Group

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Michael Buck / Dell SMB Podcast Transcript
So, I think that social will be more targeted. Today‟s social is very much broad-based, but I believe that companies will go much more targeted toward those people who they think are social influencers and multipliers of brand. So, targeting is a key trend. I think another key trend for us is that you need to build an ecosystem of online and offline assets so that it‟s not only about online and social. It‟s something where you need to make sure that offline, be it campaigns, be it employees, be it sales people on the phone, as well as online assets are merging and you need to make sure that the ecosystem is consistent and cohesive for customers and they can have similar understanding, similar listening, similar advice from offline and online assets within a company. I believe that mobile will play a big role. In light of the geographic movements, I think mobile will play a huge role for social. Loads and loads of people will interact socially on mobile devices and that ultimately, to me, will be another search for social altogether. Then, last but not least, I mentioned this before, Marketing is the New Finance. You have to make sure that you understand your analytics and your demographics on social. It sounds like this is something which you do as a hobby. It‟s not. It‟s really a very strong foundation of a company and you need to understand that. You need to be able to measure it, able to influence it in the future, even more so than today because that social becomes a much bigger element of your total marketing mix. It‟s very important that you do understand the analytics around it. SG I love those bullets. You came up with six really good points that are trends that I have seen evolving and developing very deeply, and they really represent the next area of opportunity and those have to do with geography search, the identification of the key influencers, the integration of online and offline marketing, the use of mobile, and I‟ve got to tell you that the new one you gave me there was that Marketing is the New Finance. I love that. That was so fun. I‟m sure that we‟ll find more, but those are a few that we‟re actively engaging with and working on and I think you‟ll see that within the industry, within the market, there‟s plenty more. The beauty of social in this case is that it is a bit of a jungle that‟s developing and it‟s not as streamlined as a campaign. It‟s not as streamlined as an ad campaign. It‟s really something where you have to work your way through and that makes the beauty of social. Yeah, and marketing really is at the front of that. In forward-looking organizations, I think market is really at the front of that. I‟ve got to tell you, Michael, this has really been a treat. I‟ve got a whole bunch of information and a whole bunch of new education that you‟ve shared with us today. I want to thank you very much for your time today and, as we go to wrap up here, I want to give you an opportunity to tell us two things. Number one, if we want to find you online, how do we find you? Number two is, in terms of parting words of wisdom, what would you share with the audience? Well, I hope I had a few moments of wisdom in the interview, but let me start with the first one. You can always find me on Dell.com, you can find me at Michael_Buck@Dell.com. I‟m active on LinkedIn and other platforms out there. I have a Twitter account. So, I‟m pretty much engaged ROI of Social Media Series Page 8 of 9 MB
Steven Groves / SocialMarketingConversations.com Guy Powell / DemandROMI.com Jerry Dimos / LiTMUS Group Podcast recorded March 5, 2010

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Michael Buck / Dell SMB Podcast Transcript
wherever you want to find me, I think you will find a way of doing so. The word of wisdom, again, I‟ve exhausted my words of wisdom, but for me, social should not be misunderstood. I think that a lot of people think social is a gimmick or social is something that‟s a fad. I believe social is a way of working and I believe that social becomes a way of having us humans interact more, listen to each other better, and having a better way of serving customers and ultimately, I think if a company understands that, a company can build their identity around social and really embracing this and seeing this as the core of what they can use and do with their customers. So, for me, that‟s really the word of wisdom is that social is not a tactical activity, it‟s more a culture which you have to cultivate within the company and you can only be successful if customers really trust you on that and they don‟t see this as a marketing gag. Because I agree that marketing is at the core of it, but if this is being seen as a PR stunt, than customers will not interact with you in social in any way because they will call you out on that. SG GP They‟ll see right through it. You‟re right. Guy, anything to wrap up with Michael as we get going here? No, I really appreciate it Michael and I really love your concept or the couple of phrases there, „Marketing is the New Finance‟ and „social is a culture‟. Those are two things that we have to embrace as marketers and business executives as we look out over the next couple of years, but definitely, thank you very much. No worries. Thank you, guys. Thank you again, Michael. Thank you, everyone, for joining us today for this episode of ROI of Social Media podcast series. This has been Steven Groves and Guy Powell, with our guest Michael Buck of Dell. You can find us on the various social networks around the web, including Twitter as @ROIsocialmedia, Facebook at Facebook.com/ROIofSocialMedia and at LinkedIn by using the URL „www.theROIofsocialmedia.com‟. We‟ll see you all on the next episode of the ROI of Social Media podcast series. Thanks, everyone. About the Podcast and Credit For Where Credit is Due – This transcript was developed from a live interview on Monday March 5, 2010 between Michael Buck, Guy Powell, and Steven Groves, captured in a recording on FreeConferenceCall.com. The podcast interview was downloaded and processes in Audacity, which is available from SourceForge.com, and with „4toFloor.wav‟ music loop from member „Rooks‟ and posted at SoundSnap.com. The transcript was sponsored by Social Marketing Conversations, LLC and introduction voice talent is Ms. Cynthia Propst.

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ROI of Social Media Series
Steven Groves / SocialMarketingConversations.com Guy Powell / DemandROMI.com Jerry Dimos / LiTMUS Group

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Podcast recorded March 5, 2010

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