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If They Say It...

by Doug Davidoff | Jul 12, 2007 1:22:08 PM

I feel for Michael Dell. His company was an example of everything that was right in business for so long. It’s understandable that he's lost in this new environment where Dell is no longer special. First, Dell missed the consumer market move, then they abandoned their core business model of selling customized computers direct to consumers when they decided to sell their computers in Wal-Mart, and now Dell is resorting to disingenuous platitudes to stimulate its business.

Dell has launched a new campaign claiming that it 'cares about small business'.  To prove it, they are launching a new line of computers built 'to work as hard as small businesses do'.  Doesn’t that just make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside?  The only thing I can see that makes these computers different is that they are not loaded with trialware.

Maybe the bright idea of focusing on the small business market is Dell’s bold new growth strategy, but the new campaign simply has no credibility. What has Dell ever done to demonstrate they care, or even think about small business?

The campaign reeks of ad agency 'creativity'. It's fake, it's manipulative and insulting. Additionally, it's bad strategy. Dell is not positioned as a small business specialist. It’s like Wal-Mart saying they're now dedicated to luxury buyers.

What could Dell do differently?  At the risk of giving basic advice - they could go back to the basics. Get back to delivering a compelling experience and value proposition. Dell still clearly brings a tremendous amount of operational excellence to the table - they need to get back to their strengths rather than creating expectations they'll never be able to deliver on (it's a lot easier to make a promise than it is to deliver it).

What if Dell is really serious about serving the small business market in a compelling manner?  They'd be better off taking Toyota's approach when it launched Lexus to serve the high-end market. By doing so Toyota did not violate their position, they played to their strengths and they freed up the creativity to serve one master – their target customer.