Hewlett-Packard aims to recruit 3,000 resellers worldwide by the end of the year, to back up its most aggressive onslaught ever on the small business market.
The company said "several hundred" of these would be in the UK, and they would be targeted to sell PCs, printers and communications devices to companies with under 100 staff.
The Small Business Initiative drive, coupled with a multi-million dollar marketing campaign, is the biggest effort HP has ever made in this arena, one that fellow PC makers such as Compaq are increasingly targeting. The company believes it could generate $4 billion in extra revenue from the programme in its first 18 months.
"You will see a massive branding campaign with millions of dollars spent," said PC group marketing manager Jim McDonnell.
There will be a certification programme for resellers, even existing ones in other HP markets, to show that they are qualified to serve the needs of small customers.
Other elements of the HP initiative include a Web site dedicated to the needs of small businesses and a widespread advertising campaign in IT magazines and those targeting entrepreneurs and smaller companies.
The Web site will include an online list of qualified resellers categorised by area, since local purchasing and support is one of the key requirements from small business buyers. It will also contain technology tutorials, columns from industry writers and a bulletin board. These services are available immediately at www.hp.com/go/smallbiz.
Currently, small companies tend to buy unbranded clone PCs. These machines account for about a quarter of sales, while HP, Compaq and Apple claim about 12 per cent each. HP is targeting its resellers to increase that market share to 40 per cent by the end of 1998.
In the UK, small and medium companies account for over 60 per cent of GDP but less than 20 per cent of IT purchasing, so HP believes there is a great untapped market there, in which no one player or brand currently dominates.
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