Storytelling – Geeksquad vs firedog


I have several official and unofficial jobs at Circuit City.  One of the “official” ones is that I am heading up our entry into the virtual world of SecondLife.  Partnering with IBM, we have a “demonstration store” on one of IBM’s islands.  It’ was in no way designed to be a compelling SecondLife experience, but was intended to be an interesting device to show the “art of the possible” to our executives.  The “store” has been up for a little over 3 months and we are starting the process of envisioning the second generation experience.

Our IBM partners told us that our competitors from Minneapolis were inquiring about SecondLife at January’s CES.  Today, I saw that Geeksquad island has opened in SecondLife.   That’s a fast implementation and points out the strength of BestBuy’s Sense & Respond capability, but the big story here is something else entirely. 

Looking at the Geek Squad SecondLife announcement page, I came to a realization about the different marketing approaches for Geek Squad and firedog.  For months, I’ve been trying to figure out why I didn’t feel comfortable with the firedog brand.  Today it hit me. 

In today’s “experience economy”, it’s not enough to simply make your products and services available.  To win in this market, you need to be able to tell compelling stories.   Lots of promiment Marketing types like Hugh and Seth, have discussed this concept recently.  I think Geek Squad has that ability.  They have created this “geek mystique” that resonates with the masses of people who know they are not as technically savvy as some folks (like the geeks).  With their SecondLife marketing, they carry this “story” forward:

“While this announcement is expected to help Geek Squad’s customers by offering an extension of Geek Squad’s 24-hour service, it is also expected to cut further into its Agents’ already meager social lives.”

“I’m constantly asked about what it is that Geek Squad Agents do in their free time,” said Robert Stephens, founder and Chief Inspector of Geek Squad. “While it used to be a pretty clean mix — divided between poring over computer manuals and sleep — we’ve seen the balance shift in recent years to poring over computer manuals and immersion in digital worlds like multiplayer online games and environments like Second Life.”

Sure, most Geeks have probably never even been to SecondLife, but the story that has been build around the “Geek” makes it easily believable.  It makes sense that “geeks” would be out on the technology edge.  Contrast that with firedog which uses the metaphor of man’s best friend to represent the brand.  The big word here is “Loyal”, but there are a whole series of other words that are used to describe what “what makes a firedog a “firedog” including “Tidy”, “Real”, “Grounded”, and “Fresh”.   firedog.JPG

The problem is that these are just words.  They don’t really tell a story.  They don’t say “these guys live for the technology problems that drive you crazy”.  There is no “mystique”, no story about who these guys are and why you should use them.  It’s simply not as engaging as the “Geek Mystique”.

I’ll probably get some serious grief from my Circuit City family for this post, but I have to call it as I see it.

What do you think?


12 thoughts on “Storytelling – Geeksquad vs firedog

  1. I have just currently started to work for the Geek Squad in the UK and in my employment history can honestly say that there is no other company like it.

    We are definitely separate from any other technical support groups out there and pride ourselves on that.

    The customer comes first and above everything else, and big companies loose that factor, but Geek Squad retains that too its core.

    Thanks for brining Geek Squad to the UK Robert 🙂

    The UK love us!

  2. I’m a former firedog at circuit city and since it’s very early stages just over a very basic area on the sales floor, then IQ and now fully launched firedog. I thank circuit city for the opportunities. I was also working at best buy when the bought the geek squad brand and there was/is an issue in most of their stores when it comes to giving the chance to grow in most of their stores. There’s a lot of favoritism (more than in circuit city). Circuit City makes the customers feel happier and more comfortable as they bring their problems to firedog. We still have a log way to go….. that’s a fact , but consumers will be very pleased with our service once they taste the difference..

  3. Hi KracK, Thanks for the comment. I appreciate you insights from BBY. I also think we have a better offering. I wasn’t my intent to say otherwise. My concern is around the marketing and creating a compelling story to get those customers to try firedog in the first place.

  4. As a lead firedog, i definatly see your points about the mystique of the geek. but also it helps me at my job as i play on words often when dealing with customer’s and thier issues. i personally wish though cc would decide first and foremost if thier firedogs in-stores are sales or tech support, its difficult to be both and often brews up customer service issues. shrugs, much like other companies the distinction has aided in better quality of service as mac genius with apple. i just find it odd that other companies don’t hard on the apple store design instead of the cc/bb designs… just a thaught right. cause if you look deeply at it, you will see effective tech support and repair, as well as device training and usage support, paired up with a constant flow of sales and orientation to the branded and third party supportive products available in the store.

    just a thaught from a reformed mac genius, now firedog

  5. Hi Firedog Moby,

    Thanks for the comment. As a former CC associate (23 years at corporate), I agree with your point about deciding how they want to position in-store firedog. I think it should be Tech Support first. Build a reputation on that. Find some added value that Geniuses or Geeks don’t deliver and exploit it; and don’t charge extra for it either. That’s not to say that there isn’t a sales role for in-store firedog. To the contrary, big opportunity to sell upgrades and add-ons.

  6. I’m a former tech at Comp USA and I have to say I’ve heard more horror stories coming from customers who have tried both of these companies services, I’ve seen countless machines with that pretty pink Best Buy tag come though our doors with customers telling me that the Geeks can’t fix it and Firedog wouldn’t even look at it. And don’t even get me started with Apple support, you are better off asking a wino for a homeowners loan. I’m A+ Certified I’m Apple certified and proud of it, when I learned that the Geeks could work on machines without it I cringed. The bottom line is that Comp USA does not spend millions on marketing campaigns to show just how good their people are or drive a Comp USA wagon, they just hire people who know what their doing and though they may lose data from time to time, at least they fix the problems in the process rather then put a band-aid on a problem that will crop up again in a month or two.

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