SAN FRANCISCO - Dell Computer Corp. and its agency Goldberg Moser O'Neill here have transformed the PC maker's bank of toll-free phone numbers into a tool to evaluate advertising effectiveness.
The Austin, Texas-based direct marketer, which handles about 25,000 support and sales calls a day, has more than 500 toll-free numbers. Each time the company runs an ad, it lists a different 800 number. That way, Dell can gauge responses to any ad in any publication.
Ads that discuss Dell's customer service draw some of the biggest responses, said Mike Massaro, who heads up the account at GMO. Also among the most effective are ads that make head-to-head comparisons with Compaq and IBM. One of the biggest successes was an ad that showed Dell ranked No. 1, ahead of IBM and Compaq, in a customer satisfaction survey. The ad read, 'After years of losing market share to Dell, IBM and Compaq decided to start playing hardball. The score is 8-0.' Ads heavy on product information score better than those that emphasize the brand, Massaro said.
The results, particularly when they point to the effectiveness of comparisons, could set off a new round of PC price wars, a concern that sent Dell's and Compaq's stock prices plummeting in past weeks.
But industry analysts say low prices alone will not be enough to win customers anymore. Other issues such as performance, upgradability and customer support are becoming a more important way for companies to distinguish themselves. That's something, they say, Dell has already succeeded at doing.
'They're competitive, but they also have outstanding technical service and highly reliable products,' said Antione J. Tristan, an analyst with SouthCoast Capital Corp. in Austin, Texas.
Copyright Adweek L.P. (1993)