David Roman is the Chief Marketing Officer at Lenovo responsible for driving all marketing activities for the global PC + technology corporation. Under his guidance, Lenovo was named in Interbrand’s 100 Best Global Brands list in 2015 and 2016. Prior to joining Lenovo, David was vice president of worldwide marketing communications for HP’s Personal Systems Group (PSG), responsible for driving advertising, media relations and marketing services.
In this conversation with Connect Intelligence, David shares his insights on how technology, privacy and personalisation are impacting Lenovo’s marketing strategy.
1. Since re-branding in 2015, how has the launch strengthened Lenovo’s market presence and what are the greatest changes you have seen throughout the brand’s transformation?
With the acquisitions of Motorola Mobility and IBM’s X86 server business in 2014, we added new brands and products to our growing portfolio of devices. Not long after, we structured our business more simply around consumer, small-to-medium-business and large enterprises. This business transformation allowed us to transform our brand from a house of many brands to one where Lenovo is the master brand. With this move, we created a unified way of presenting ourselves to the world by defining our own attitude, point of view and presenting it with a new found energy. We also followed the business approach of moving from a product-centric model to one driven more by customers. You see this reflected in how we engage users to create content and how they interact with us. While we’ve only started using this model, we see it working in markets like Australia where we’re the #1 brand in the consumer PC space.
2. Privacy remains to be an ongoing concern for consumers and multinational tech giants alike. How do you effectively communicate Lenovo as a reliable tech choice when bolstering greater consumer loyalty and confidence?
Privacy remains an important issue, especially as big data has the power to draw more granular insights from individuals. On the positive side, this information allows us to create more useful and meaningful experiences for users. For example, collecting data about how you use your PC lets us optimize battery life, which helps improve the overall PC experience for everyone. However, on the flip side, collecting some data may go beyond what some users want disclosed. That’s why it’s important to be transparent and give customers choice in how, when and where their data may be used.
3. Lenovo uses unstructured data from social channels to better understand consumer motivations and product engagement. What is the process of translating this kind of information into future marketing initiatives?
Technology has changed the way we create and interact with our audiences and what they expect from us. Today we create campaigns in weeks, not months, sometimes even in hours and days – and they’re driven by data. For the most part, that means we have more certainty than before about how our different audiences will respond. And we tailor content to their unique tastes and preferences. We approach campaign creation in three phases: research, development and rollout. Technology and data permeates all of these phases. In the research stage, we’re drawing upon insights from past campaigns. Because we’ve measured and tracked performance, we have a detailed historical record of what worked well for which audiences. We’re always trying new things. As a marketer, that’s part of the fun and challenge because the industry is changing so rapidly. One recent way we’ve experimented is in testing creative. While making content better by using sentiment analysis isn’t new, using technology that analyzes a person’s facial expression as a measure of sentiment is. What we’ve learned is that the best testing method varies by each piece of creative. We optimize rollout with the right platforms to reach our audiences at the right times, and we carefully monitor and track how it performs with the platform tools and our social listening team. This allows us to get real-time feedback that rolls into the next piece of content.
4. The role of personalisation is becoming ever more important and apparent for tech companies. How does Lenovo seek to simultaneously engage with niche markets whilst maintaining a wider retention globally?
The Internet helped create niche markets, and now with new marketing tools, brands can reach as small of an audience as one. By focusing on getting the message right for individuals based on what they think, believe, support, etc. (the psychographics), you’ll naturally reach a broader audience who share the same values instead of targeting based on demographics. A college student in the U.S. and in India share more in common than if you segment them by age, race, etc. (demographics).
5. There have been many new directions for Lenovo, including increased developments in the smart TV market alongside ongoing contributions to the rising popularity of wearables. As Lenovo delves into other sub-markets, what makes Lenovo’s approaches distinct?
As our business and product portfolio expands we’re transforming our approach from product-driven to customer-driven. Like many companies, we focused first on developing the latest technologies and then the consumers who needed it. We’ve reversed that approach to be much more research-based, customer insight driven where we collaborate with customers and our products are responses to their pain points.
6. The modern CMO faces a balancing act today of crafting creative campaigns whilst upholding a pragmatic analytical approach towards implementation. Given your long track record working in advertising, how do you believe CMO roles are shifting and where does it fit within the Lenovo business narrative?’
Marketing will always be part art and science. As a profession, we’re starting to over rely on new, more powerful tools driven by the Internet, big data and artificial intelligence (AI). Good marketing requires a balance of art and science, so this creates an opportunity to re-emphasize the art side – you need good creative that evokes emotion to get consumers to respond. Good creative requires people. In an age of machine learning, people are the differentiators.
To hear more of David’s insights, join him at the Brand Forum 2018.