Dell’s journey to listening – IdeaStorm

Whenever anyone asks me what my favourite campaign is, I always answer with two: Dell IdeaStorm and Nike+. The reason I love Dell IdeaStorm is that Dell were a brand that was is a really bad position (financially and from an advertising/marketing perspective). Their batteries were blowing up, their customer service was really bad and there was so much negative chatter about them in the blogosphere. Rather than being a defeatest, they started to trial new marketing ideas and got involved with the online community – a community that was losing trust in the brand (see examples below) quickly.

Dell Hell - Buzz Machine post

Dell Hell - Buzz Machine post

Dell Hell posts - where it gained momentum

Dell Hell posts - where it gained momentum

There was so much negative chatter and it was continuing to build momentum, so many other blogging celebrities were getting involved and channeling their negativity towards Dell. I am assuming at this point that Dell knew they had to do something drastic, so they started Direct 2 Dell (see initial screen grab below). A blog that was set up to provide an insight into Dell and some of the problems they were trying to overcome. However, rather than this being a proper blog (two way dialogue) all comments were moderated and edited prior to them appearing live.

Direct2Dell - launch design

Direct2Dell - launch design

This caused even more uproar in the blogging community and Dell had to do something desperate to respond to the situation. Introducing IdeaStorm. One of the best crisis marketing responses. Awesome. IdeaStorm not only invited comments and feedback from consumers, but it was an ideal way to try and contain the negativity. It also provided users the opportunity to share thoughts around product improvements and enhancements. The perfect new product development or market research tool.

IdeaStorm - Launch design

IdeaStorm - Launch design

Since launching Dell have updated the creative for both Direct2Dell and IdeaStorm, so they feel like they are from the same family.

Direct2Dell design update

Direct2Dell design update

IdeaStorm design update

IdeaStorm design update


So the Dell negativity (Dell Hell) started in July 2005 and in just over three years Dell have managed to turn it around. To show Dell’s progression over the past three years, have a look at the following presentation.


What can a client take out of Dell’s learnings? A lot.

Although, for something like this to be implemented and deemed a success there needs to be a fundamental change to the way a company works. Before any company starts a blog or an online research/support centre, the following must be considered:

  1. Feedback loop – what is the process, internally, that will be implemented to ensure that the customer feedback is not falling on deaf ears and customers are kept updated on progress within the company.
  2. Customer service (support centre) – when are the majority of comments being made? When are they being responded to? What time period or response time has been agreed within the company? Can the support lines (call centres) be trained to answer some of these questions?
  3. Moderation – what happens with negative comments? How will they be answered? Will they remain on the site/blog?
  4. Transparency – how transparent are you willing to be with the audience? What are you prepared to share? Where are the boundaries?
  5. Owner – this needs to be driven internally by a project owner. A dedicated person within must be driving this and ensuring it is used to its full potential.
  6. Campaign duration – is this going to be a short-term thing or will there be a company-wide change to ensure listening to the customers is ingrained into the company culture?
  7. Traffic drivers – how are consumers going to know the site/blog exists? Will it be an online only, integrated or piggy back off the back of another campaign?
  8. Measurement – how will success be measured? What will be used as benchmarks?
  9. Optimisation – how will the site/blog be optimised? How often? What is the plan?
  10. Shared learnings – how will the learnings be shared with the rest of the company?

Overall, this is an awesome marketing campaign and shows Dell is listening to its customers.

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12 Responses to Dell’s journey to listening – IdeaStorm

  1. Joe Pulizzi says:

    Dominique…this is an excellent overview. Thanks for putting this together.

    What a change from just a few years back…

  2. Vida Killian says:

    Dominique – as the current manager of IdeaStorm at Dell – I just want to say Thank you for the great post! You really capture the journey we’ve been on for the last few years and many of the tenets we use in our daily work.

    I think the culture of a company has a lot to do with being successful. Our rough times have helped us be stronger today and we’re always trying to figure out how to keep inventing new ways to stay ahead of things.

  3. Pingback: Online star struck - Dell IdeaStorm « Dominique Hind’s Collective

  4. Cindy King says:

    wonderfully done. I have included a link to the post from my blog carnival today and gave a thumb up,

  5. Pingback: Dell IdeaStorm - the snapshot « Dominique Hind’s Collective

  6. Rhonda Evans says:

    Wow, this is something fascinating you have done out there! Great research and I have to say- it does feel great when someone in the management is keeping an eye out for chatter about their organization and actually gets back to you! It happened to me twice, and like you I just couldn’t stop raving about it!
    It’s fantastic when companies actually walk the talk. The audience wants to know that they are heard today and not only heard, but also listened to.

  7. Dominque, this is really a great post with some great research. Thanks for sharing it, it’s probably the best example of what the life-cycle is for managing your brand online. Thanks again for sharing the link.

  8. Pingback: Branding: Without Your Brand | A Media Circus

  9. JP McCarvel says:

    This is a great post and I got a lot out of it myself. I’m the moderator for Crocs new ideas site and the bullets for success you have laid out are now printed and posted up at my desk… thanks !

  10. Pingback: When the Big Guys Spontaneously Promote Websites « Online Marketing in Dubai

  11. Dominique:

    Your work on Dell is fantastic! Thanks for helping me grasp the power of social-media driven ideation.

    Question: In your PowerPoint, you say negative comments declined from 48% to under 20%. Where do these figures come from?

    Many thanks from a new fan.

  12. webchat says:

    Thanks for the great read, i will be back for sure!.

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