Last week when a friend told me he got a new Dell Vostro laptop at work, I had a few questions. What is Dell up to these days? What exactly is a Vostro? What kind of specs are we working with here?
Curious, I hopped over to Dell.com to check it out. Little did I know I was about to stumble into what I’m calling the Dell Dilemma.
Here’s the thing: Dell has so many laptops. I was looking for the Vostro, which I eventually found, but there are also Inspiron, Latitude, XPS, Precision, and Alienware models.
Once I found the Vostro line, there were five models to choose from, so I had to ask my friend, “Which one did you get? 3555, 3460, 3560, 3750, or 3360?” And to be honest, by the time I’d asked the question, I didn’t even care about the answer. I was too overwhelmed by what seemed like a foreign language comprised of random model names and numbers that didn’t mean anything to me. Using MindNode I made a little map of Dell’s laptop options as they’re presented when you start on this page: (click to enlarge)
Regardless of where you land in the whole Mac vs. PC debate, I’m sure you can see why I wished I was browsing Apple.com instead of Dell.com. At Apple.com you’ll find just two laptop lines — MacBook Pro and MacBook Air — each with a few size and speed variations. In fact, here’s the Apple laptop map: (click to enlarge)
We’re not talking about price, value, performance, product design, or anything like that here. We’re talking about communication. Which map is easier for you — as a non-Dell or non-Apple employee — to navigate? To me, the Apple map invites me to dig in and start comparing models. The Dell map, on the hand, stops me in my tracks. It’s what some people would describe as “paralysis by analysis.” That’s why I call it the Dell Dilemma — the number of options, and the presentation of those options, leads to a difficult decision.
In the case of Dell, this is after you’ve made a conscious decision to browse or purchase one of their products. In other words, you’ve already sifted through a crowded landscape of sometimes indistinguishable PC manufacturers and arrived at Dell, but your decision-making process is just getting started.
What about you? Does your organization present something akin to the Dell Dilemma? If you’re a church, maybe it’s the platter of ministries you offer: Merge, Emerge, Verge, Converge, Diverge, NextGen, ReGen, FirstGen, Crosstalk, and Crosswalk. Your staff might have a hard time keeping all those offerings straight, so just imagine how new or prospective attendees might feel.
This isn’t to say Dell or your organization should drastically pare the number of options your present to the world. Do what works best for you as you serve who you ought to serve. But — and this is the point of all this — you need to be aware of the communication challenge you’re undertaking.
Communicate with care and intention. Help people navigate and decide. Avoid insider jargon that baffles newcomers. Empathize with people who have a choice to make. Find a way to transform “Oh no. Which one should I choose?” into “Wow! Look at all these great choices!”
The Dell Dilemma could just as easily be the Dell Opportunity. The difference, I think, is communication.
Scott McClellan is the Editor of Echo Hub and the Director of Echo Conference. You can follow him on Twitter: @scottmcclellan.