HP to reposition MarketSplash, pilot DIY design service for printers

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HP has eliminated all advertising for its online marketing design services Web site MarketSplash and will shut down the site in September in order to relaunch it as a platform exclusively for HP customers soon after.

The company also is looking at testing a program that will enable print service providers to offer design services through MarketSplash.

MarketSplash was launched in November as a platform to help small businesses design and create marketing materials. Currently, users can choose a design template for business cards, postcards, Web sites and other materials, personalize the design and then print the materials at home, place an order online and have it shipped to them or send the order to a store for pick up.

HP, which is a leading manufacturer of high-end digital presses widely used by commercial printers, soon began getting some less than enthusiastic feedback about MarketSplash from printers.

“The fact that the program is going directly to the end user and offering up the printing of promotional pieces as well as design work, which is something that our members offer as well and something that they look to for revenue” didn't sit well with a lot of commercial printers using HP equipment, said Steve Johnson, president and CEO of the National Association of Quick Printers.

At a Webinar meeting on Monday with members of Dscoop, which is a digital services cooperative of HP Indigo users and HP, Vyomesh Joshi, EVP of HP's imaging and printing group, said HP listened to feedback and is making changes to MarketSplash as a result.

“We want to make sure that you are successful in the market,” said Joshi during the Webinar.

The new MarketSplash will be repositioned as a service for customers of HP desktop printers and other items, with a focus on print-to-desktop. New customers will be invited to join MarketSplash and will receive login information with their purchase.

HP will add a printer locator to MarketSplash to refer customers to HP print service providers for local when requested. Printers will have to meet certain criteria regarding volume in order to be able to be listed. A print-to-mail fulfillment capability will be reintroduced once MarketSplash revenue reaches $10 million annually, according to HP.

Finally, HP is building a pilot program designed around the idea of using MarketSplash to enable print service providers to offer design services online and reach new customers.

In a recent HP survey of print service providers, 29% of respondents said they would be “very interested” in a do-it-yourself design feature, 21% “very interested,” 17% “somewhat interested,” and 26% “not very interested.”

The company is currently selecting a pilot partner in the US. If the program is successful, it will investigate a broader launch of the program.

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