Listening leads to good things, says Lenovo’s CMO

Ask a hundred Americans to define the word “gimmick” and most will do it. But what is that? opposite a gimmick? You could say, oh, something extremely useful, something enduring, etc. Whatever the word, good brands want it, and as a small business owner, so should you.

Have you ever noticed that it’s always the bad brands who try to sell gimmicks? How does a brand avoid going down a gimmick? Two universal principles are systematic listening and a real desire to solve customers’ problems. Small Business Trends had a Zoom chat with Emily Ketchen, CMO of Lenovo. In short, Lenovo views feedback loops as serious business and a great pipeline of ideas for making useful features and / or devices. (Or no gimmicks, you could say)

Small Business Trends: How Do You Help SMEs? How should a big brand like yours listen to feedback from SMB customers?

Emily Koch: We develop solutions based on customer insights that offer very tangible benefits and sometimes address customers’ needs before they even know they have a need. A good example of this: We have an Insights community of more than 4,500 customers who we speak to on a regular basis. We have several customer advisory boards with more than 200 customers that we speak to on a regular basis. And we also have the ability to leverage big data and analytics through a Customer Insight Dashboard, where we capture unwanted customer comments and feedback, which we then convert into very actionable insights and results.

For example, in today’s world we are all in, with remote working and 24/7 collaboration, a laptop with earphones is a fantastic way for a small business to be ready for business anytime.

And this is a product that we built from a cognizance of listening to customers who were on the go and needed tools to collaborate at the moment. So this is a great tangible example of how these insights impact product innovation and the unique approach we take to SMBs.

Small Business Trends: In general, what have you observed regarding SMB attitudes towards cybercrime? What should you know?

Emily Koch: Most SMEs may not see themselves as a target for cybercrime. But in today’s world, everyone is. Up to 360,000 new malicious files enter the digital ecosystem every day – regardless of the size of the company. As SMBs grow and expand their remote workforce, they need to commit to more business-centric and agile approaches that place security and privacy at the heart of their business strategies. It is important that employees are vigilant – it is not their responsibility to necessarily define the security strategy.

And that’s a great example of where we come in. Security is very complex, but at the fundamental level: securing the supply chain, securing the device itself, securing the interactions between the device and the cloud are the core of an effective security strategy. And those policies and implementations need to be seamless for both the employee and the company. Most Lenovo laptops have biometric fingerprint readers, hardware-based security chips, and BIOS protection as a first line of defense. Lenovo also protects its customers with ThinkShield. ThinkShield elements are specifically designed to provide real-time benefits for any vulnerabilities that may exist.

The other solution we developed for the SMB community by knowing and understanding the threat landscape and the issues at hand is a product – made specifically for them – called the Lenovo Security Console. SMBs are very vulnerable to cyberattacks. There is a statistic that shows that nearly 60 percent of non-compliant SMBs have ceased operations, which is frankly terrifying. Lenovo Security Console is a solution that offers more protection than it would normally get by default, including endpoint security, compliance on the actual device, blocking suspicious and abnormal activity, and malware and ransomware that we’ve all heard a lot. We see it as our task to proactively provide these solutions.

Small Business Trends: Should Small Business Owners Strive To Be ‘Leaders’ Now More Than Ever? What would you like to say to SMEs?

Emily Koch: I think it is very important that SMEs benefit from what we are beginning to see as “the recovery”. We are in a turning point where SMBs can take stock of their existing resources and think about how technology can empower them as a future-proof tool. Things like ensuring business continuity and making sure that business and digital transformation are at the center of their strategy because I think we’re going to see continued pressure towards hybrid.

Small Business Trends: Did your personal and professional background add a special touch to your path to becoming CMO at Lenovo? How would you summarize the value of the Lenovo brand to SMBs?

Emily Koch: I am a “child of the third culture”, which means that when I was growing up, I didn’t fit into either my parents’ culture or where I lived. I have an American father and a British mother and I was born in Brazil. Interestingly, I believe that this experience gave me a really unique perspective on humanity. I’ve always studied different cultures and approaches, and I’ve done so so professionally that after school it was turned into a career in marketing. For the past 30 years, the way science and the arts come together in marketing has been ingrained very deeply in my ability to study, and ultimately to, life [understand] our customers, that is the focus of my motivation and my work for small and medium-sized companies and in technology. I’ve worked on the agency and brand side in a number of industries, from airlines to nonprofits, but I’ve spent the last 25 years in technology and I’ve been super inspired by the speed of technology. I take great pleasure in making the complex simple.

I also really enjoy everything that helps to develop and retain super creative talents and future-oriented people. As a company, we have an incredible entrepreneurial spirit. It promotes individual contribution and very meaningful results in our organization. It enables employees within the company to understand how best to support small business customers. Every day I see examples of people going above and beyond to really help customers achieve their goals. We have an enviable breadth of technology in our portfolio. But I don’t think we want to sell hardware – we really try to listen, understand and act as advisors to small and medium-sized businesses.

Image courtesy of Lenovo

Image: Depositphotos

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