Sanjeev Aggarwal's Blog

March 18, 2010

Dell’s New Vostro 3000 Laptops: Designed for Small Businesses

Filed under: Blogs - Sanjeev Aggarwal, Channels, Infrastructure, mid-market, Small Business, SMB — Tags: , , — sanjeevaggarwal @ 5:04 pm

The realities of a lingering recession and a do-it-yourself (DIY) ethos continue to frame today’s economic climate. As entrepreneurs and small businesses went into financial shock beginning in mid-2008, they hunkered down and made do with older laptops (the dominant computing platform for these businesses) and other hardware instead of spending precious cash on new equipment. But with hints of a slow recovery in the offing, these older, over-extended laptops may not be up to the task of helping to support these businesses as they prepare for new business opportunities,

Consequently, Dell’s introduction of its new Vostro 3000 family could not be more timely. As credit markets begin to thaw, and business prospects look more encouraging, small business interest in taking advantage of the power of Microsoft Windows 7 and Intel’s next generation i5 and i7 processors is growing. With the 3000 series, Dell has put a lot of energy into meeting the needs of small businesses.

The Dell’s Vostro 3000 line offers:

  • Affordable pricing. Prices for smaller-sized systems begin under $649, while the larger 17″ systems start at $798, making them affordable for small businesses on tight budgets.
  • Flexible service and support
    options. Small businesses lack the IT resources to service and support these systems. If even one key executive’s laptop is down, the business suffers. Dell provides a range of service solutions, from phone support to ProSupport, which includes a dedicated, single point of contact, and next day onsite support in most instances. Based on my own personal experience with Dell ProSupport service, I would rate it as an industry best and would not hesitate to recommend it to small businesses for mission critical executive and power user laptops.
  • Data and access security. Freefall sensors are standard on all Vostro laptops. These sensors detect if the laptop is in a state of free fall, and park the head of the disk drive to prevent a head crash and resulting data loss upon impact on the ground. Businesses can also select optional features such as fingerprint readers and hard drive encryption for added protection. These security features help protect loss of business critical data in the event of accidents, loss, theft or unauthorized system access.
  • Data backup. When was the last time you backed-up your laptop? Though many of us are loathe to admit it, most small businesses fail to back up their laptops consistently and regularly. Viruses, accidental file deletion, disk crashes, etc. can irreparably compromise data. Dell’s DataSafe online backup is an easy way to ensure mission critical laptops will get backed up.
  • Connectivity. Many very small businesses only use a wireless network in the office and home office. The Vostro 3000 family laptops support a full range of connectivity options, including 802.11g/n wireless LAN, Bluetooth, and mobile broadband.
  • Fresh design and features. The Vostro 3000 series offers entrepreneurs sleek yet rugged styling, with aluminum shells in an updated choice of colors. The line-up also features webcams and microphones for videoconferencing in all models, and strong graphics capabilities.

Summary

Overall, Dell’s Vostro 3000 family provides a stylish, sturdy and affordable choice of laptops that address key small business requirements, affordability, service and support, security, data backup and connectivity.

However, Vostro 3000 products are currently available only from the Dell.com website. While Dell regularly emails and snail mails Dell Small Business newsletters and product brochures, and Internet research can provide a lot of good information, this doesn’t meet the needs of small business owners that like to physically see and touch products before they buy them. These customers—and there are many of them–are more comfortable shopping at retail stores like BestBuy and Staples, where Dell’s consumer laptops are available—but no Vostros.

To reach a broader small business market, Dell needs to supplement its direct model with a strong presence for its small business solutions at the retail outlets that small business owners and office managers frequent.

March 2, 2010

Relevance of Marketing Tools/Media in Customer Acquisition

The topic of lead generation and the role of various media solutions in the lead generation process draw significant conversation. From a survey of small businesses done in the summer of 2009 and detailed in my blog, GoToMeeting‘ from CitrixOnline or ‘Intuit Website’ from Intuit. This form of media effectively cultivates and nurtures demand. ‘Small Businesses interest in Social Media Increasing ‘ and with regards to tools used by small businesses to promote their business (not generate sales leads), 77% of small businesses are using or plan to use social media tools. Why has the use of social media seen such a dramatic increase? This is primarily driven by several factors:   

  • Change in the personal communication environment and habits of consumers and business workers  
  • Low barriers to entry: the cost of participating in the social media communications are very low and some—tools like Twitter, Facebook, WordPress and LinkedIn—are even free 
  • Social media solutions are a one-to-many form of real-time communications
  • Social media is much more than a digital form of viral marketing – it is an effective and inexpensive way to convert contacts into a referral network  

   

Traditional Media tools. On one end of the spectrum, marketing is responsible for Demand Generation by driving awareness. Traditional media tools such as radio, television, newspapers and business journals (in their print form), provide broadcast opportunities and are good for creating broad awareness to develop interest among consumers and businesses – otherwise known as Outbound Marketing. Successful examples include the TV commercials like ‘GoToMeeting’ from CitrixOnline or ‘Intuit Website’ from Intuit. This form of media effectively cultivates and nurtures demand.

New Media/Digital Media include Social Networking tools (Facebook, Blogs, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.), Webinars and Podcasts, and Search Engines. Such ‘inbound marketing’ tools enable businesses with product/service increase awareness already developed to a certain level through traditional tools to further draw in consumers and encourage their further investigation of the company’s product or service.  

An SMB survey from Citibank found that some small businesses saw little reason to hop onto the social-network bandwagon. The majority of them found sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to be of little help in finding new business leads. While social media can certainly provide channels to network and help a growing business flourish, many SMBs do not have the manpower or the time required to take advantage of them—that is, use them to look for business advice or information. It is up to the business to bring in the relevant social media conversations related to crowd-sourced recommendations for their company and solutions into their company website or other discussion forums. Techniques that do this are illustrated very well in the “Inbound Marketing” book by founders of HubSpot

Personal-touch Media tools like company website, e-mail marketing, live webinars, and professional advisors provide the information to convert exploring consumers and business buyers into potential leads. The new media-based inbound marketing solutions drive the explorers to the company website and/or additional personal touch based media and channels. However, SMBs must work to channel their company relevant social media discussions into their website. These social media conversations are similar to word-of-mouth and personal communication methods. Ultimately, these personal-touch media solutions are directly involved with actual lead generation, ongoing lead nurturing and finally conversion to customers as well as cross-selling and up-selling to existing customers continually deepening prospect relationships    

Some of the new marketing automation and lead nurturing solution companies like Marketo, HubSpot and Demandbase are combining some of the key aspects of New Media/communications and Personal-touch Media/communications solutions that provide great value to the SMB and mid-market companies for both outbound and inbound marketing – and most of these solutions can be implemented for a fraction of the cost of a marketing person.    

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