ESG's Mark Peters discusses business challenges during these challenging times with Susanna Gresswell of Dell.
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Mark: In this edition of "Marketing in Challenging Times," I'm thrilled to be joined by Susanna Gresswell. Susanna has a very long title, that you can see on the screen now. I'll just say, "VP of Global Campaigns," at Dell. Susanna, thanks for being with us. We're months into this pandemic now. As we were preparing for this, you said, well, you know, you actually had to get dressed, put makeup on and so on for the video, but how has life and work changed?
Susanna: It's changed insomuch as we're getting more family time together, let's be honest. That can be a blessing and a curse. I've had brief dalliances with sourdough bread, so, found myself to be a bread maker. I've become a hairdresser, for both my husband and my daughter, so I'm learning new skills. But I also worked remote from the UK for seven years before I moved to the U.S., so actually, it's been a, not an unusual transition.
More time on video calls. My UK family are getting quite grumpy now, because I just don't wanna do Zoom calls on the weekend.
Mark: How difficult is the job? How challenging? Or maybe some parts of it have got easier?
Susanna: Yeah, it's interesting, because obviously, I lead a global team, so we've always been dispersed all over the place, and in different time zones. And Dell as a company also has been really on the front edge of remote working for more than a decade now. So, actually, to some degree, life hasn't changed that much. You know, we were always doing conference calls and video calls.
That was a huge chunk of our day. At the same time, I will say that I actually think it's leveled the playing field, because, you know, as remote workers, sometimes you would feel like you weren't on the same level playing field from a career perspective as those people that were at the headquarters office. Well, no one's there now.
Mark: Turning perhaps from how you're working, which I understand that hasn't been as dramatic of a change, what about what you're working on? Not looking for anything confidential, but, I mean, can you... You're running global campaigns.
Mark: Have they had to change? Can you do the same campaigns in different countries because the pandemic is at very different stages and treatments?
Susanna: Yeah. And you're absolutely right. So, as an organization, we did have to make pivots, clearly. So, from, in the SMB space, for example, which actually sits outside my ring, but from an SMB point of view, that was obviously a sector that was really hard hit. So we made a significant shift in our marketing efforts, into that particular sector, moving away from a campaign that was, you know, going into market, to really focusing on being there with our customers and supporting them through it, and focusing on things like our Dell Technologies advisors.
So, that was a big pivot we made. On the B2B side, in my organization, we also made a big pivot towards work from home, because clearly, that was an area that our customers had a significant need in. And that wasn't a campaign that we had on our books, in terms of preparing to go and do something, so we literally had to create something from scratch, obviously leveraging a lot of content that already exists, because we've got a lot of work that goes on in the client space, but really bringing together a campaign which goes across both our client products, but also into our infrastructure products as well, all focused around work from home.
On the global front, as you're talking about it, I would say we've never seen global campaigns as meaning one size fits all. So, we've always worked very closely with our field marketing teams to make sure that we're setting them up with content, and the ability to localize that content, so that we're addressing the nuances of what's going on in the particular geography or segment at the time.
Mark: It's interesting. Many of the people I talk to in marketing are, I don't want to say tactical, but they're short-termist in many respects. There are launches, there are marketing attacks, defenses, and so on. A lot of what you and your team do, I know, is planning far ahead. So, I'm fascinated. You know, people started throwing around the term "the new normal" months ago, when we first got into this.
Is it a... And I think most of us hoped it was a new interlude. Is it really a new normal? What are you planning for from the campaigns team?
Susanna: Yeah, it's interesting. You know, overall, as an organization, our strategic objectives haven't changed. The environment within which we've got to meet those has. But from a campaigns perspective, we're absolutely still planning for the long term. I would say one of the things that we're looking at now is, you know, how do we build our campaigns with enhanced flexibility, so that we can be more responsive as the changes happen in the market.
And, you know, right now, that's all about COVID. That could easily be something else down the line, right, which isn't even necessarily healthcare-related. But making sure that we're really focusing on what those long-term strategic objectives are, but creating that flexibility, so that we can be more responsive to what the needs of our customers are, and how those change over time.
Mark: All right. Susanna, thank you very much, and we can both drop our accents now. But thanks for taking the time.
Susanna: Thank you so much.