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Advertising the HP Palmtop
Many of us have become HP Palmtop evangelists. We use the Palmtop all the time, we keep discovering ways to use it to make us more effective, and we don't understand why HP doesn't advertise the darned thing. When we bubble to our friends, they are skeptical. They see it (perhaps rightly) as our toy, and they don't know why they've never heard of it.
There have been several HP ad campaigns, but not a lot of resources have been invested in Palmtop advertising. The most recent advertising appears in consumer money-management magazines such as Money, Kiplinger Report, and Worth under the headline of Chaos Management. We have reproduced it and its Road Warrior predecessor of over a year ago on page 23. (For space reasons we reduced these full page ads to one fourth page).
Apparently (based on the magazines chosen) the current campaign targets Quicken users although that is not the explicit emphasis of the ad. IN MY HUMBLE OPINION I am glad that HP is advertising. More users mean more Palmtop knowledge, more Palmtop products, and more HP attention on research and development. However, I believe HP could be better directed, more aggressive, and more effective in its advertising.
Advertising the HP Palmtop is a challenge, especially if you have a limited budget and only a page to work with. First you have to decide what potential customer you want to target. Then you must decide what publications or media in which to advertise. Third, the ad that you create must get your target customers attention and stand out from the sea of other advertising. Once the customer notices you, you must keep that attention and communicate the compelling reason to buy. Then you must tell how to buy. On top of that, a company such as HP must maintain some uniformity in its image as it advertises across various product lines.
Both the Road Warrior and Chaos Management ads get your attention. (As much as I personally didn't like the look of the Road Warrior himself, it was especially effective in getting your attention.) The words Chaos Management also grabbed me, but its rigid up and down look and object-oriented approach rather than human appeal did not make me want to read it.
The copy of both ads are well-written and benefit oriented. However, I don't think there is enough of a graphical or verbal tie between the main graphic and the body copy to invite people to read.
One has to be pretty sophisticated to appreciate the value of the HP Palmtop from an ad. To date, most Palmtops have been sold by word-of-mouth (HP has not aggressively advertised the product or even had it well-distributed).
If I were to design the ad for HP, I would put the emphasis on its two most important assets. First it truly is a computer in your pocket. Secondly, users love it. I think HP should invest its limited ad resources in advertising to the group that has been most effective so far in spreading the word: experienced computer users. Computer (and perhaps business) publications are the best platform for these ads. The Palmtop can be marketed as an inexpensive computer rather than an expensive organizer.
The second asset that should be exploited in an advertising campaign is the unrestrained enthusiasm for the Palmtop by many users. Palmtop use is quite personal, and that human element should be emphasized in the ad. It is not the Palmtop per se that is sold but the relationship between the person and the machine. That is its strength. That should be the emphasis.
We at The HP Palmtop Paper decided to take a shot at how HP should advertise the Palmtop. Freelance graphic designer George Foster (who I've worked with for years and who designs our HP Palmtop Paper covers) agreed to design an ad according to my specifications. (George specializes in book covers, but does the whole range of graphic design work including brochures and ads. He can be reached c/o Foster and Foster, 104 South 2nd St., Fairfield, IA, USA; Phone: 515-472-3953; Fax: 515-472-3146.)
You can see our approach on page 26 of the hard copy of the issue. What do you think?
As long as we are discussing advertising, we have always wondered why HP doesn't advertise its excellent Palmtop accessory line with us. HP sells service contracts, storage cards, the Connectivity Pack, connectivity cables, and HP StarLink. The HP Palmtop Paper seems like a perfect medium to communicate the benefits of these important Palmtop add-ons.
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