Being new sites, the content is stilll a little sparse — but promising. I thought you might appreciate a brief review of the new sites:
Small Business 360 is a community and information site. It offers articles and forums/discussion boards. It also links out to other Dell resources, including the Direct2Dell corporate blog and even sections of the Dell shopping site.
The majority of us who run our own businesses do not have “an IT guy.” (Or an IT gal, for that matter.) So we are on our own when it comes to buying, installing, maintaining, and most importantly — troubleshooting.
And that’s where I think the value of a site like this comes in. Researching what to buy ahead of time is one way people use the Web. But another big demand for a site like Dell’s is going to be from existing customers who want to find out more about how to use the product they just bought, or who need to troubleshoot and solve what may be minor, but for them, irksome, problems.
StudioDell is a gem. The site contains a video player to watch short videos. Most videos I saw are easy to watch, at no more than 5 or 6 minutes, and they launch quickly. The quality of the video is good.
The Small Business Case Studies were very good. These are five case studies where customers describe how technology has helped their operations. Each case study is about five minutes long. They are filmed in the client’s own premises. It’s like sitting down and talking to another business owner you met at a Chamber meeting about their experiences.
Aside from Case Studies, the “Benefits of WiFi” video was the most helpful among the other small business videos. It contained footage of a Dell employee perched casually on the edge of his desk, talking about routers and pointing out different features. He even showed how and where they install routers in the Dell premises (hint: near the ceiling to avoid interference of the signal). That kind of specific information is so useful. And it was delivered in a conversational way, as if the Dell employee were talking co-worker to co-worker with you, the viewer.
Dell would be smart to create more videos like that one, maybe even a series. For instance, how to install a WiFi network would be a good topic. How to troubleshoot problems with your WiFi signal would be another. WiFi is a big mystery to most non-technical people, and the situation can feel hopeless if you encounter a problem, even if it is something simple to solve.
Dell is reaching out to small business owners through these new sites, viewing the sites as two-way communication vehicles. I had a chance to talk with Tom West, Dell’s director of small business. He said Dell is looking at the new sites “as a learning opportunity.” While they intend the sites to be a helpful resource for business owners, they also hope to get information back, i.e., learn from business owners.
UPDATE: Link to Small Business 360 is fixed. Thanks for alerting me, Dharmesh!