Skip to main content

As the Senior Director of Digital Marketing for Dell Technologies and MTM’s recognized Marketer to Watch, Geoffrey (Geoff) Colon is a creative disruptor with heart. He leads a team of marketers with various backgrounds—ranging from design to analytics—to produce content that inspires, educates, and leads consumers to become repeat buyers and advocates of Dell.  He is also the published author of Disruptive Marketing, a must-read book for every marketer.
Geoff’s fingerprint on the industry has revolved around pushing boundaries, forecasting what’s next, and finding the best ways to design information that inspires in a technological age—even if that means stepping outside the digital world to discover what marketing (and life) is all about—human connection. 

What gives me energy outside of work

“My family. I’m also really into art, sneakers, travel, and athletics.”

Books or podcasts every marketer should read or listen to

“To understand business right now, it’s best to understand what humanity will look like in a world overwashed in technology. The best book to read on this topic is Range by David Epstein. When it comes to a podcast, I love Hard Fork with Kevin Roose and Casey Newton. Also, Emotion by Design by Gregg Hoffman is a masterclass in brand marketing.”

Future of Marketing

Q: What is one thing coming down the pike for marketing that you are most excited about?

Everything in marketing is a remix. For 15 years, it was all about analytics, metrics, and performance; ideas took a back seat, and product was all that mattered. Understanding people was less prevalent, but that’s shot to the front again. I can get a site/brand/product on the market in a week, but I need a vision to make people notice what the brand is about. We’re inching back to into long-tail thinking after short-term growth worship.

Q: What’s a prediction you have or something that you see evolving in the digital space over the next few years? 

The big thing to note is how ugly the web will look over the next three years, but–here’s the caveat–how well everything will function. That’s because we’ll create most things with intelligent assistants based on functionality but NOT design. And so there will be a sea of mediocrity that will awash us in the name of “Gen AI.” The function and formality of it will be amazing, but it will lack soul.

This evolution will catch many off guard who have measured things based on popularity, how well things look online, and web traffic. But in this world where search is changing how we discover, search engines are really ‘chat agents.’

Most digital design needs to exist to be authoritative, not popular. In the past, we rewarded what was most popular, even if it wasn’t correct. In the future, we will reward the most authoritative expert on these topics, destroying many who thought they could be the new gatekeepers for institutions that have spent decades harnessing authority on subject matters.

Q: What widely accepted “marketing truth” or concept do you wish the industry would do away with or evolve?  

The industry needs to do away with the idea that a brand grows by creating loyalty programs or just marketing to existing customers. That truth goes against all econometrics. Ultimately, you have to persuade and influence new customers, which means you have to be seen beyond where you regularly target. You can’t turn off and on customer awareness as easily as you expect. Customers don’t just see awareness vehicles and go, “Yes, I’ll ‘buy now!'” When you pause focusing on acquiring new customers, it always shows in the pipeline 2 to 6 quarters later.

Marketing at Dell Technologies

Q: What’s something exciting you’re currently working on?  

We just refreshed our homepage. I know people might say, “That’s not that innovative,” but from the standpoint of the company’s transformation, it’s essential. A homepage is the front door of all of your offerings. If you don’t make that easy for people to navigate, it becomes a bigger learning what-you-offer issue. Brand should exist to make it as easy as possible to learn about things you are trying to solve and how your solution solves it. Simple, but with human intent at the center of it.

Q: What’s the most pressing business challenge you’ve faced within the last year, and how have you tried to solve it?  

The most pressing business challenge always comes down to what we should prioritize, why we should prioritize it, and how to stay focused when others want us to prioritize other things. To solve this, I remind myself and the team to ask every day, “What is the priority? Has it changed? Is it still the same? If it has changed, why?” It is our duty as leaders to get everyone to focus on the main focus. Results matter. But results only happen when you stay focused on keeping everyone focused. One hundred different things is a wish list, not a focus. 

Career and Leadership Advice

Q: What leadership muscle is most important for marketers to exercise?

Human skills are more critical than ever–understanding human issues and emotions, how to communicate and collaborate, when to say no, and why you are saying it. We are crossing over from the information age to the relationship age. We need as much imagination as we do hard, technical skills. But most haven’t gotten the memo.

Q: What’s a piece of game-changing advice you can offer?

Always hire a mix of people you would want to work for in the future and those you can influence to go from average to great. Set them up for autonomy and success and promote them. When it’s time for them to leave (and they will), cheer them on.

Our role as leaders isn’t to squash people’s hopes and dreams or create co-dependent relationships. A good leader is always “fired” by their team. What I mean by this is something similar to parenting.

If you’re a good parent, ultimately, your kids fire you when they become their own thinking and living adults. Sure, you may be a consultant to them, but they move on. Same with good people on your team. One day, they’ll leave. Don’t look at that as a failure. Look at that as a success. Hopefully, they will spread what they have learned to others; that is true influence.

I’m proud that so many people I’ve had the fortune to lead over the past 20 years are now Academy/Emmy/Grammy award-winning artists, popular-selling musicians, influential creators, CMOs, entrepreneurs, and amazing people who care about others.

That being said, not everyone has to become big or popular. If you lead or mentor people who feel their path goes a different route, like being a parent, taking care of others, or changing to a different field of work, always applaud them for those decisions. They provide more value to life than is seen in the “metrics.” Let people live the life they want to live and be proud that you inspired them to see the world from all angles. That’s the measure of true success.

Marketers to Watch is a recognition series to spotlight highly innovative and forward-thinking marketing leaders in the community. If you have someone you’d like to nominate for the series, apply here.