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HP drives home value of presses

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Although best known for its desktop printers, Hewlett-Packard Co. also sells high-end commercial printing presses. These large and expensive machines-10,000 lbs. and $250,000 or more each-are sold by HP Digital Publishing Solutions. The division targets commercial printers, print service providers and advertising agencies that manage multiple, small printing projects daily.

Because of their size and weight, HP's presses proved a challenge to demonstrate anywhere but on site at HP regional centers. Adding to the challenge, the Digital Publishing Solutions group needed to increase the number of product demonstrations with qualified prospects, shorten sales cycles and deliver a greater return on its marketing investment, which it ultimately sought to reduce.

"We were searching for a way that we could bring the demo to them versus them fly up to our demo centers," said Merrill Clark, HP marketing programs manager. After Sept. 11, prospects hesitated to travel, and their budgets to do so were drastically cut or eliminated altogether.

HP's answer was a yearlong, million-dollar mobile marketing campaign that brought HP Digital Publishing Solutions product demonstrations to the doorsteps of qualified prospects.

"No one had ever put [a DPS printer] on a truck to give demonstrations, so we were breaking new ground everywhere," Clark said.

The HP Impressions Road Show features two, 53 ft.-long trailers, which expand into a 900-square-foot exhibit and hands-on demo booth.

By taking the machinery to the customer, HP allows decision-makers to experience the technology at their convenience, with no travel time involved. An interesting side benefit is that the mobile campaign helps underscore the quality of the HP gear. That's because commercial presses, which typically take weeks to install, are highly sensitive to vibrations and temperature fluctuations. Executives understand that if the presses perform well in a truck traveling across the continent-48 states and two Canadian provinces-they'd turn out top-quality pages in their own shops.

According to HP, the Impressions Road Show exceeded all expectations. Since the launch of the first truck in September 2002 and the addition of a second in May 2003, there have been more than 125 Road Show events, exceeding HP's goal by 25%. The event has played host to more than 2,600 companies and 6,000 decision-makers, exceeding expectations by nearly 50%.

The events have generated more than $20 million in revenue, all directly attributed to the truck demonstrations. That's $8 million over the sales goal: HP hoped to sell 48 printing presses with the road show but sold 76, directly attributed to the tour. And HP Digital Publishing Solutions indicates it has another $120 million in pending sales.

Aspen Marketing Services, Lake Orion, Mich., an expert in mobile marketing tours, organized HP's tour, as well as an earlier b-to-c road event. "This b-to-b campaign takes live demonstration to a new level," said Yvon Russell, Aspen group president. "This has generated a higher ROI than anything I have ever seen." M

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