What SMBs Can Learn From Dell’s Small Business Outreach

Many large companies fail at finding ways to be useful to their customers. Dell, however, is not one of those companies, as they continue to show signs that they “get it”. Last week, Dell took a giant step forward with its efforts to help small business owners, expanding its Small and Medium Business Solutions Center to provide SMBs with the resources, information and online communities they need to grow their business. If you’re a small business owner looking for ways to expand during hard economic times, I recommend two things:

  1. Familiarize yourself with the resources provided by Dell.
  2. Learn from Dell’s example and find ways to build outreach on your own sites.

Here’s a look at what Dell is providing SMBs and how you can match it with your own customers.

What Dell Offers: The Small and Medium Business Solutions Center makes up the heart of Dell’s small business support house. It’s essentially a one-stop-shop of information that will provide value to any small- or medium-sized business owner. Highlights include expert articles to help you get ahead, handy online tools, educational online courses and even stories from small business owners themselves. It covers the gamut of small business owner-hood, with information on tech issues, marketing and even consumer relations. Everything you need to know to run and build your small business can be found within these walls. It’s incredibly useful and incredibly smart.

  • How You Can Match It: Add your own mini site resource center. You don’t have to dedicate pages and pages to it, but do create a section that answers the main questions about your industry for colleagues, consumers and anyone interested. If you’re a florist, create a few pages that link out to other resources, that explain the ins and outs of your trade, and content that will help new florists get involved with the industry. You don’t have to reveal all your company secrets, but when you find ways to be helpful you help spur a community around your site you never knew existed. By reaching out to others, it encourages people to trust you and to stick around. Just as Dell has become synonymous with small business, you can become synonymous with your niche.

What Dell Offers: Dell’s Stimulus Learning Center provides information on the newly passed American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, something many small business owners probably didn’t even know existed until now. And that’s the point. Dell recognized a need to help small business owners understand how the $787 billion stimulus package for small businesses may be able to help them. It breaks out the specific industries that will most benefit from the money and explains any tax benefits that may be coming their way. Its information every small business owner MUST know, explained in language they can understand. What’s more useful and engaging than that? What a great way for Dell to establish that they truly care about helping business owners succeed.

  • How You Can Match It: Maybe you work in one of those industries that will be most affected by the new laws. If so, create content on your site that will familiarize your colleagues (not to mention yourself) on the changes and impact. They probably don’t know this law even exists. Tell them. Or, instead, focus on the legal issues and guidelines that do affect your trade. Find ways to make your site the leading expert on understanding this information. Every site has issues, terms, or a history that is worth getting down on (virtual) paper. Capitalize by being the site that makes this information available in an easy-to-read format. Doing this will help you improve your site authority and encourage the discussion around these issues to come to you.

What Dell Offers: A lesson in being a social media maven. Dell has active social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and YouTube, as well as many blogs and forums. They’re finding out where their customers are and they are reaching out to them to grow their own community through the Web. If you’re a frustrated Dell customer, they’re finding ways to come to you and improve your experience. And that’s what positive branding and loyal customers are built on.

  • How You Can Match It: You don’t have to be everywhere. Educate yourself on the top SMB social media sites and then find the ones that will convert best for your audience. When you reach out to others, you encourage them to engage, stick with you and be more vocal about their love for your company.

Dell has established itself as a leader in social media and a company that truly gets community building, branding and proactive outreach. You may not have the manpower that Dell has, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t reap the same rewards by taking a cue from them and finding your own ways to reach out to your community.


Lisa Barone Lisa Barone is Vice President of Strategy at Overit, an Albany Web design and development firm where she serves on the senior staff overseeing the company’s marketing consulting, social media, and content divisions.

12 Reactions
  1. Dell has done a good job positioning itself in the realm of social media, after being blasted for a long time across blogs and other social sites. Small business owners can take a look at a lot of these companies that “embrace” social media, steal some good ideas and leave the rest to the masses.

    Nice Post.

  2. Martin Lindeskog

    Zach Heller: I agree with your statement. Dell has done a long journey, from being blasted by e.g. Jeff Jarvis in his post series ending with the post, Dell Hell: The end?, to become a leader in social media with plenty of different Twitter accounts, microsites, Facebook fan pages, etc.

    I am interested to hear more about your ghost writing service and your upcoming book.

  3. Great suggestions. What I like most about Dell is their support in small business. Tons of people are constantly searching for more knowledge so it only makes sense to draw consumers in by providing a nice free resource/tools section.

  4. I agree with the goodness that being a social media maven brings. What I really appreciate the most with social media today is that it builds bridges to connect people from different parts of the world in a quick, responsive and less expensive manner, most are even free.

  5. Zach/Martin: Dell would make a very interesting case study for someone looking to go from Most Hated Brand to Most Beloved. It’s been very interesting to watch them turn things around, to learn from their mistakes and to make a real effort to do better by customers. It’s a great story.

    Mary Grace: Mmm, couldn’t agree more. It’s fantastic the way companies have been able to use social media as a bridge and to unite and empower users. It’s like what marketing used to be about. It’s nice to watch people use it for good. 🙂

  6. I hadn’t even known about this resource. Certainly a model to be followed for any B2B looking to grow their online presence.

    Top notch post.

  7. It’s good to see that some large companies actually do cater to small businesses, instead of just saying they do! Dell has recognized that an extremely important part of their future growth is from small business owners, and small businesses will probably recover sooner than large ones.

  8. Definitely Lisa! 😉

    You know what, I’m already starting to wonder what comes next after Twitter, FB and all other social media strategy in the coming months or years. I’m excited how people will soon connect to each other as powerful or even more powerful than what we used to be these days! 😉

  9. Good point Steve. Visually seeing Dell’s commitment to small business makes them more desirable in my eyes. With the support they offer us small business owners, I’d be more likely to do business with them over other companies. It’s exciting to watch their rise to the top.

  10. Yes! I think Don, we or any entrepreneur out there, should see the way you see Dell’s effort for small businesses. I know Dell is already a big company but if businesses of other types, of different size, tries to help and lift each other up then everyone could be happy. I know it’s quiet idealistic(young minds really are) but crab mentality will never work and will never help. If everyone could just see how you see it, then there’s a bright future ahead of us and for the next generation. 😉