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Internet PC Firm Focuses on Techies

With a colorful Web site and witty ads, Internet PC company iDot.com targeted clever, tech-savvy customers when it opened for business last month.

The result was more sales in its first week of business than the company had projected for its first month, said Rob McEwen, president of M2K, the company's advertising agency of record.

The strategy began with the corporate identity of the company, whose only storefront is online. For iDot, Austin, TX, avoiding retail and attempting to attract customers who would require less after-sale support is a way of keeping costs down so the savings can be passed onto the consumer.

“We arrived at the tag line, which is 'PC's for Smarties' because we wanted to reach the tech-savvy buyers rather than what they call newbies, who are people who need a lot of hand-holding,” McEwen said.

The company's Web site seeks to re-create the style of buyers who are well-versed on the Internet and computers.

“We wanted the attitude to reflect Web culture, meaning a little bit cocky, bright, colorful and succinct,” McEwen said.

Meanwhile, through print ads and Internet banners, the company and agency have fine-tuned the type of customer they are seeking even more by trying to attract specific types of computer users, particularly gamers, small-business owners and college students.

Banner ads have been placed on sites where people do last-minute research before buying a computer, including netbuyer.com, computershopper.com, and Yahoo's Visa shoppers guide. They also have been placed on sites such as mplayer.com, to attract gamers; smalloffice.com, to reach small businesses; and collegestudent.com, to reach the college market.

Banners include slogans that all carry an attitude number, as in one geared toward college students that reads, “Attitude # 19: 'Hey Dad, My PC Broke. Send $1,400.' (How to Get a Great New PC and Pocket $400.)” Many of the banners also include special incentives such as a chance to win a new Volkswagen Beetle.

The agency also has created banners using cartoon office worker Dilbert and arranged for a banner on the Dilbert Web site to link to iDOT's home page. And print ads placed in computer magazines took a similar tone to the banners.

“Many computer companies show computers and prices in their ads. Our print ads are long and narrow with a banner and minimal text accompanying it,” McEwen said.

One print ad, using a slogan that is also used in some banner ads, takes a shot at Dell Computers, another Austin PC company with text that reads “Attitude # 11: Don't Buy PC's From Billionaires,” and a few lines of text inviting customers to visit the company's Web site or call its toll-free number.

The humor apparently was the right approach, as one of the more quirky banners has proved to be the most popular.

“There is one that says 'Attitude # 2: If You Want to Shop Naked … Hey, Shop Naked,' and that has drawn a lot of traffic,” McEwen said.

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