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Dell's a personal computer maker, one with an exceptionally easy to use customization and ordering process. You don't normally associate it with the written word, except, I suppose, that you can use a Dell PC as a word processor. So why has Dell developed its own (currently in beta) tech information site, Tech Page One?

Dell's mission, according to Dell's managing editor, Stephanie Losee, (who spoke at the San Francisco PRSummit, which I attended, earlier this week) extends beyond building and selling built-to-order computer technology. It's to help you do what you do better. That help can be in the form of a computer put together with your specific needs in mind. But making the best use of that computer once you've unboxed it also falls within this mission, and would presumably make you a repeat customer.

While much of Tech Page One's content will be available to stream into Dell devices, both desktop and mobile, much of it will also be consumed by potential new customers. Yep, we're talking about content marketing here. 

Tech Page One, launched in December 2012, assembles both original and curated content relevant to computer users and buyers. The site is an extension of Dell's BrandVoice channel on Forbes.com, which has since been discontinued. Content is organized into categories that touch on buyers' interests:

  • Technology: cloud, security, virtualization, data software, mobility, storage
  • Business: productivity, entrepreneurs, leadership, management, strategy, etc.
  • Lifestyle: gadgets & devices, mobile apps, downtime, green, giving

Users of the site can specify their preferences and only be delivered content that matches their interests. But if these look like keywords that an SEO marketer would target given Dell's line of business, that's because they probably are. These topics  provide a large set of segment permutations for the types of potential customers Dell is likely to court...and develop content for.

Why content marketing has become a larger segment of Dell's marketing spend has to do with its efficiency. “People coming in through inbound marketing are the highest-quality leads that close the fastest,” said Rishi Dave, executive director of digital marketing. “Our biggest focus now is how we bring all these content strategies together to manage a robust funnel and increase inbound traffic and lead generation.”

Tech Page One not only curates related content from across the web - the front page's "Editor's Picks" currently highlights selections from InformationWeek, CIO.com, and Fast Company - it distributes its original content for pickup and republishing by aggregators, as well. Losee mentioned an article that was reprinted on PC Magazine, providing another content-related touchpoint for the Dell brand.

Losee brought up an interesting example of the relative freedom newer content marketing grants editors than more traditional brand-promotional content: your topical breadth is considerably wider. While still publishing through Forbes.com's BrandVoice program, Dell published an article called Managing Distraction: How and Why to Ignore Your Inbox. While this has almost nothing to do with the hardware that Dell is in the business of, it still fits within the scope of their broader mission to help people do things better. And those who are trying to find ways to deal with a daily deluge of email might very well be office administrators, operations people, and small business owners who don't have a lot of time to shop around for their next notebook.

Finally, content developed for Tech Page One can do double duty in social media. An infographic developed for the article above, created by illustrator Wendy MacNaughton, has been shared on Pinterest, appearing on a pinboard about email marketing. In case you missed it, you'll find a hat-tip to Dell in the infographic's footer.