Dell Powers Up First Global SMB Effort

Dell next week will introduce the first global campaign for its SMB unit. Dubbed “Take Your Own Path,” the push will feature stories of real customers in an effort to rebrand Dell as the complete solutions provider for small and medium businesses.

The IT provider unveiled the campaign today (Thursday) at a press event in New York City, where some of its customers were present to share their experiences. They include small businesses like SewWhat, Endeavor and TecAccess, and their founders are being featured in the new ads.

“Most companies are choosing celebrities to represent their brands. Our celebrities are our customers,” said Paul-Henri Ferrand, Dell’s vp of global marketing and strategy, when speaking at the event. “The campaign looks at entrepreneurs, the challenges they have and how they succeeded by using Dell technology.”

The effort, which first kicked off in India and debuts in the U.S. on Sept. 8, includes print, outdoor, broadcast and a major online component. A microsite, Takeyourownpath.com, will offer resources to SMBs and will spotlight Dell’s featured customers and their stories—including challenges and successes. (While the site is currently live, it is targeted at the Indian market.) The work was crafted by Enfatico, part of WPP’s Y&R Brands.

Additionally, the effort is being promoted on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Dell’s social network Direct2Dell, among other social outlets. A Dell rep said the company hopes to encourage dialog among its 30,000-plus fans on Facebook, for example.

Dell didn’t disclose the cost of the campaign, but Ferrand said the company is putting a significant investment behind it since it’s the first such effort for Dell’s SMB unit. “The big change for us is that we are focusing on pure branding,” said Ferrand. “In the U.S., we want to change [Dell’s] image—that Dell is more than just a PC company.”

Ferrand added that Dell’s goal is to become the No. 1 SMB technology provider. Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group, said competitors like Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo and IBM share a similar goal with Dell. Given the economy, large enterprises have frozen IT purchases, while consumers and SMBs are still buying, according to Enderle.

“Dell [however] has an advantage over the others because historically, SMBs used to be their strong point and they’re able to scale down,” Enderle said. “And [by featuring real customers in ads], Dell is appealing to the SMB market where reference sales are very common. If executed correctly, the result can be very powerful.”

The campaign will run for three months in the U.S., Japan, Germany, China, and the U.K., in addition to the existing campaigns running in India and France.