We’re Going to Need a Bigger Garage…Product Marketing at the World’s Largest Start-up

Oh how the time flies! It is hard to believe that I have already reached the midpoint of my marketing summer internship at Dell. I’ve had an incredible opportunity to work in Dell’s product marketing group with a specific focus on tablets. In this role I use market knowledge and consumer insights to impact product decisions and maximize the value that Dell can create for its customers all over the world.

The program:
Maybe I’m biased, but it seems like Dell has built one of the premiere internship programs in the entire country. In late May, I arrived in Round Rock, TX and headed to Dell’s sprawling campus with a massive case of nervous excitement. As I walked in the door, the security guard directed me around the corner and I was greeted by the sight of two-hundred summer interns (graduate and undergraduate, from schools around the country) waiting to go put their talents to the test throughout the company. We were essentially handed a network that we could leverage to learn about any part of the company we chose! It was like starting B-school all over again (in the best possible way). Throughout the summer, the University Relations team has curated events that have enabled us to learn about the Dell culture, strategy, and the structure of the company. In addition to this, the program has provided us the opportunity to interact with the executives from all corners of the company. The highlight of this for me took place last week, when I got a chance to ask Michael Dell himself a burning question I had about the future of Dell’s product development and got a thoughtful and candid answer.

Dell today:
Dell’s recent shift from a publicly traded company to a private one has opened it to a plethora of new opportunities. Primarily, the company has been freed from the obligations of creating short-term returns to satiate shareholders. Instead, it can focus on a product and delivery strategy that creates more value for customers long-term and will build greater brand loyalty and sustainable sales. What this means for me is that I get to carry an entrepreneurial spirit into my day to day work. This enables me to implement a “blank-sheet” approach to solve any problem. In other words, instead of following a process that may not be ideal for what I’m trying to accomplish, I can evaluate exactly what information I need, how the pieces are going to fit together, and then decide the most efficient way to bring it together and communicate it to drive a desired outcome. This empowerment is contagious and is changing Dell’s DNA for the better.

My work:
The tablet space is a new business for Dell, and a place where there is a huge opportunity to create value for our customers, both commercial and consumer, and enhance our current offerings (due to confidentiality, I will keep my accounts sufficiently vague). My projects require me to take new products through the strategic marketing elements (market analysis, segmentation, targeting, and positioning) and use that information to decide what should be on the product and how it should be priced. Doing this at Dell requires an intense and passionate focus on the customer and the ability to work and communicate across a variety of functions. Only through understanding the pain points of a customer and how they use products, can you develop a device to solve their problems. This experience has been truly transformative and has changed the way I look at customers. They ARE the product experts. They may not always know what something should look like, what it should be called, or how it should be messaged, but the answers to these questions are in their behaviors, and in their voice. You just have to learn how to hear it.