Inches Not Miles

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For a business to grow, it used to be all about closing as many big deals as possible. Things are quickly changing.

One change in a business used to be able to make a big impact, and it was one that was sustainable. A company would announce a major innovation or change to how they run production and that multi-million (sometimes billion) dollar change returned record profits and helped the company continue down a path to riches for years to come. Those days could well be over.

For business to really succeed in this day and age, it’s about moving many inches – consistently – versus trying to jump miles ahead of the competition. 

For any major international company making an extra couple of million dollars a year is really not that big of a deal. Do you think it’s a big deal that Dell sold three million dollars more of computers in the past little while? It’s probably not that big of a deal, but because Dell can link it directly to their activities on Twitter, everybody is paying close attention (see: InformationWeek – Dell Makes $3 Million From Twitter-Related Sales).

It’s not easy to sell three million dollars worth of anything on Twitter.

Again, this is not a business-to-business scenario where a company expands and an additional three million dollars to a purchase order is just another day at the office. Before being able to make a penny on Twitter you have to build a community based on trust and providing value. From there, you need the resources (re: people) to really be active, present and participating and – at that moment – you might be able to swing those paying attention to you over to actual paying customers (never an easy thing). It takes a lot of faith, belief and hard work.

There’s got to be a better way to make that kind of money.

The truth is this Dell story is not about the three million dollars. Think about the overall halo effect for the brand activities like this continue to be. Shifting perception of a brand with customer service issues to a brand that is not only listening but being active participants (even when they really don’t have to be). The real money, revenue and value that Dell is getting out of Twitter (and their other new media activities) is probably incalculable when it comes to understanding the shift in brand perception in the marketplace. They could have just as easily employed a dozen additional salespeople to hunt down some big corporate accounts if it was just about the money.

Dell – and many other companies – are beginning to understand the new world of moving in inches instead of miles.

This is not a "slow and steady wins the race" type of Blog post. This is a new way of thinking. This is about not doing one thing that affects millions of people, but about doing a million things that affects millions of people. The businesses that are able to move in inches instead of miles and look for many small and incremental wins versus the one or two big ones are the businesses of the future.

Do you think business is prepared to make these types of drastic (and smaller) moves that should culminate in a big win?


  1. The real story for me is, has Twitter expanded Dell’s off-lease sales? Or has it merely shifted sales from existing channels? The link doesn’t answer that
    Also, a marketing definition of ‘halo effect’ would be useful here.

  2. Nice post. Short and to the point. Not every company has a model and business like Dell. Every business’ success story or failure on Twitter is original and very much their own. Like many companies in this current economic climate have to get creative using new strategies that are always evolving and changing.
    Follow me on Twitter @blogging4jobs

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