An idea 4: cross-selling PC peripherals

The idea: Discover what you can connect to your PC

Proposition: At the point of sale introduce the connection possibilities with peripherals to pimp the buyers PC.

Linked to the previous idea 4: advertising a network solution, this idea 4: cross-selling PC peripherals works best in an online e-commerce environment such as Dell.com’s product configurator.  Excite buyers about the product they have nearly bought and introduce them to the world of pimping PCs.

Create the sense of intrigue and desire to explore by using the actual ports as main options for buyers to see what is possible and let them click and drag, and play.  Surprise buyers by the wierd and wonderful USB gadgets that are available, output Blu Ray movies to LCD flat panel TVs, show what the heck that 1394 “Fighrewirerrr” port is for, show everyone peripherals that do not even need wires!  Holy cr&p!  People start seeing a PC as a hub that can be pimped endlessly.  Right I’m off to buy that USB microscope, see the Gadget Show for more great gadgets of 2008.

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An idea 4: advertising network server solutions

The idea: Create your perfect IT infrastructure

Proposition: Educate and excite small businesses about the benefits of a proper server-based network solution.

Why: With servers cheaper than desktop PCs, businesses can now benefit from better IT resource sharing and security at affordable prices.

How: A dynamic micro-website that allows users to create IT network blueprints: “drag and drop” servers, switches, storage, thin clients, PCs and peripherals to create their perfect infrastructure.  The completed creation will be rated on multiple  levels with scores uploaded to a scoreboard.  The winner wins a version of their perfect infrastructure.

More why: Almost like an evolution of the Dell configurator (but much more fun), the drag and drop infrastructure creator lets the geek inside of (potential) IT network managers have fun and do their job.

Where: Dynamic display banners driving traffic to the micro-website, featuring a mini-puzzle/logic game.  Emails to the customer and prospect database.  A targeted mailing to customers due to upgrade their network, featuring a physical puzzle/logic game.

Toshiba’s Timesculpture stuck in time

Toshiba launched a new advert recently using Timesculpture camera technology – i.e. Matrix-style bullet time camera techniques.

The advanced effects are impressive and do nothing to harm Toshiba’s image as an innovator of technology.

Whilst the effects are impressive (especially as the post-production team had to handle over 20TB of data from all the video they had to splice and dice), it seems that someone forgot about the real objective of the advert and it’s message.

The voice over:  “When what we watch constantly redefines itself, shouldn’t how we watch it do the same? The new Upscaling range from Toshiba: clear, sharper, richer images.”

So why do we see people doing something and then rewinding?  Instead of evolution or innovation we get people stuck in time.  Here’s me thinking that constant redefining would lead to progression.  Show me a journey that evokes emotions, which Sony did in a fun-loving way with its Balls.

Dell the value brand

Dell in danger?  Dell going to hell?  Well, not quite the second one, but the once darling of the industry that grew into a giant is struggling whilst Apple continue to rise like a designer phoenix from the flames.  The jack-of-all-printers company: HP, is now the number 1 seller of PCs and the likes of Acer and Asus chomp away at the global market like a fat kid with a hot apple pie.

There’s always the issue of service, but remember that as a direct company not having the luxury of face to face contact with its’ customers is a major disadvantage.  Traditionally, the product designs have been very “utilitarian” but this is being addressed with their new range of lifestyle products.  Marketing and advertising has it’s limitations as cynics keep pointing out, but product design and service is not where marketing and advertising can make the biggest impacts.  Sure, market research has helped Dell to design better laptops, and telling people about the added services that Dell can provide on top of PCs does help the cause.  But for something with a bit more real impact immediately …

Firstly, Dell’s not dead, it stopped evolving for a while (especially in the looks department) and is now trying to play catch-up.  Good value PCs that were reliable with good specifications used to be good enough for people.  This is where Dell excelled, offering pretty good prices on PCs that you could spec yourself and build the perfect PC.

For the geek in us, configurating a PC on Dell’s website was actually quite fun.  Dude you got a Dell!  The speed of a processor and size of the hard drive became bragging rights for rich kids with Dells speced up to the max.  Yet poor kid could also get a Dell in it’s more basic configuration.  So value for money and the ability to build your “perfect PC” were two winning factors, supported by the cost-effective direct model.  (Or maybe those two factors are actually linked and underline what value was all about in the earlier days of the PC industry).

So Dell are good value and do good deals, but no need to tell people everyday in the newspaper, every week by email and every month via a printed catalogue.  Maybe there is a need (??!) but I find that the 6th consecutive chocolate bar never tastes as good as the first, sickening in fact.  Some basics to stop getting even fatter and maybe a little fitter too:

1.  Have the courtesy to not speak to people as if its the first time everytime

What was the last piece of communication received?  This is should affect: (i) the earliest another direct communication should be sent and received (ii) what the next communication should contain.  Continuously asking a girl at a bar “will you go out with me” is not likely to get you progressively better responses, most likely the opposite.  Save your energy for another time or another girl.  However if the girl starts talking back and keeps “accidentally” brushing your arm isn’t it time to turn it up a level?

2.  Stop being so desperate and create a sense of desire.

As well as reducing the amount of repetitive communications, stop promoting the cheapest products in the adverts.  Make Dell cool again and desirable with showcase products like the XPS and Precision.  Being pulled is often much more pleasurable than doing the pulling.  Make them come and they can always buy an Inspiron if they don’t quite have enough cash at the checkout.  Getting people in the mood is often the hardest part.

3.  Just make it clear for us all

Those different “special deals” advertised every week fool nobody, and get less special with each viewing.  Just make it the standard price and standardize pricing across all communications to be the TOTAL TOTAL price (exc. vat for businesses).  Automatically find the best deal for that model, don’t treat people like a schmuck and make them search 5 pages of the site for the best deal!  Finally, sort out the configurator on the website and let non-geeks have as much fun speccing up a Dell as geeks.

4.  Re-do the maths on an online/PDF catalogue versus a monthly printed catalogue.

How many months/years would it really take to recoup the cost of implementing this?  Even so, where does Dell want to be in 10 years time when the issue of recycling and environmentalism is even bigger?  I’m not usually one for PR but what a great green activity if Dell saved tonnes of trees by not physically printing even one tenth of what it currently does.  Actually the real reason is to collect data!  Knowing what products browsers clicked on; how long browsers spent on each page – all excellent stuff for a big corporate machine.

Did Dell stop listening to its customers and the environment?  Whilst IT geek culture and mainstream culture met and mingled in the late 1990s Dell weren’t there with R&D or design, but with the product launches in the past few years Dell seem to be hearing again.  They just need to listen a bit more carefully to the peope they are shouting at and not scare them off just as it starts to get more desirable again.

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