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:
- Familiarize yourself with the resources provided by Dell.
- 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.