So I got the PDF today officially from HP about Marketsplash with the money quotes:
"HP will no longer advertise on the open market to drive traffic to MarketSplash, effective immediately. In September, the MarketSplash.com site will be turned off and re-launched as a service targeted to HP customers with a focus on print-to-desktop."
"HP will pilot a white label MarketSplash solution for HP’s PSP partners. If this pilot is successful, we will launch the white label solution to our HP PSP community."
Fortunately, having spent many years in product development, I have developed a fine-tuned ear which allows for a properly translation to be made:
1. We screwed up.
2. The team that screwed up and made all of HP look bad has six months (maybe) to perform a miracle and turn it around. Or goodbye.
Now, believe it or not, I'm being charitable on #2. I've heard that HP is reasonable good organization to work for, and the CEO is not a jerk demanding human sacrifices everytime there's a cock-up.But on the other hand, you're in the big leagues baby, it's the worst financial crisis in 70 years, and you've managed to alienate not only a significant part of our customer base, but the part that buys the big iron costing a cool half-million, not the crappy little desktop inkjet printers.
The Indigo sales guys in the field will be eating crap for awhile because of this puppy pooing on the carpet, let me tell you. Commercial print owners have a LOOOOONG memory when it comes to this stuff.
But enough of the negativity. Now it may be too late, but let's offer some encouragement and a path forward. What follows is the Prepress Pilgrim's guide for the Marketsplash team to save their collective butts and come out looking like heroes:
Okay, so you need to come up with a white label solution. What's a white label solution? Whatever you want to be, as long as: 1) Indigo customer like it and like it a lot 2) It doesn't cost money, or at least that on a spreadsheet it looks like you are not going to blow any more of HP's coin with no hope of cost recovery.
Two words: Media buys. Make a white-label solution where Indigo customer can participate in media buys. HP is based in California right? So's Google. Do you know how much it costs to buy keywords on Google for printing products?
So set up a meeting with an Adwords rep and say you have some bucks to spend. Oh, before you do that, get a few developers to look at the Adwords API and start building a framework. Build a website where Indigo owners can buy clicks or leads off you. Awards points for buying ink & papers that can go towards buying leads. Parcel out leads based on geography. The key is to give out those leads baby, and nothing more. Don't try to get between your customers and the customers' customers. But develop some in-house expertise on Adwords and Yahoo search marketing and Microsoft Adcenter, combined with some shrewd discount media buys, and you have something to offer to the Indigo customers that they so desparately need: More customers.
Now how does HP make some of the honey stick to its fingers? Well, it's arbitrage, and you should be able to get 20% margin at least from Google/Yahoo/Microsoft to your Indigo customer base, and still offer tremendous value. Heck, when I was running Adwords for printer last year, I was able to reduce keywords bids by 70% just by continually improving my ad copy and landing pages. I still have my keyword list of about 1000 words or so, you're welcome to it.
Anyhow, there you go.