March 02, 2009, 10:56 AM — Dell has a new program that offers special deals to Twitter users. Dell of course, has always been the king of direct marketing in the IT business, but this may be the beginning of a trend--and is something VARs should be paying attention to. Instead of relying on the vendor's advertising, VARs will need to promote themselves as well, and take extra measures to make sure they can be found.
Twitter marketing is a peculiar phenomena. After all, how much can you really say in 140 characters or less? Not a whole lot, and I really don't need to see any more people Tweeting about what they had for dinner last night or telling me that they watched a great game on television. But as a tool for marketing, it has some potential. I don't think it was originally created for that, but like most social media that starts out as a lark, it's infiltrating the business and marketing world. I have a Twitter account myself for keeping people up to date on my latest business adventures and articles, and some of my more interesting blog posts. I don't tell anybody what I'm having for dinner though, and figure most people aren't really going to care what I saw on television, so unlike many Twitterers, I leave those parts out.
Dell has a Web marketing guy who presumably spends a good deal of company time Tweeting, as part of his regular company-sponsored duties, so Dell must think it has some value. And I think they're on the right track there--and in fact, they're not the only one. It's become a lot more common for retailers and other businesses to announce sales, discounts, and special deals on Twitter.
As a tool for VARs and other solution providers, Twitter can serve as good marketing and as a tool for customer relations. StreetSmartVAR says it's a tool for building trust and relationships. It's probably not going to generate a lot of direct sales, but as a tool for keeping your name in front of the customers and associates you do have, it can be quite useful--and can drive people to you web site. In fact, if you don't have a big advertising and marketing budget, Web 2.0 marketing (blogs, social networking, Twitter, etc.) can be a great way to build presence without having to break the bank.