Small businesses are a big deal to some very large companies. Case in point: Hewlett Packard or HP.
This week I am in San Diego attending HP’s Annual Imaging and Printing Conference. The conference is an opportunity for analysts and the press to hear the company’s plans for the upcoming year, conduct one-on-one interviews with executives, and see new products. Typically at these kinds of events new products are announced. And there have been some pretty interesting announcements of products for the small business market.
For today the new product I’d like to focus on is the HP Creative Studio.
The HP Creative Studio is a new website where business people like you can easily locate resources to help you create marketing materials. You will find templates and other design materials you can customize yourself and resources such as software you can download. You can even get access to designers who will create custom designs for you.
The site has a lot of HP materials in it — but it also includes resources from other companies, too. The collection of templates and resources is convenient for you because everything is accessible from one place online — you don’t have to search around all over the Web for it.
Here are some of the features that I found most intriguing:
- Document templates you can download, including templates for business cards, presentations, flyers, proposals, estimates, brochures, labels, business identity kits, and much more.
- Website and blog templates through Logoworks (an HP company)
- Business resources, such as free online courses, articles and how-to guides, and free image library.
- Free download of SmartDraw software you can use to create Gantt charts and marketing diagrams.
- Signage templates, for signs for trade shows and elsewhere. It’s through a special offer to purchase CorelDraw software — the current offer is $30 off plus a $50 HP gift certificate.
- Holiday card templates from Tinyprints.com
- Document templates designed for specific industries, including Financial, Pet industry, Consulting, Food & Beverage, Real Estate.
- Document templates broken down by software application. If you need a template for Microsoft Word or Publisher, or Adobe Illustrator, or QuarkExpress — to name a few — you can easily search for them.
Another thing the site does that I really like is break down your choices according to how much you want to do it yourself — or how much you are looking for help from professionals. The site offers you a choice of 3 levels under each section:
- DIY Free
- DIY Premium
- Premium Custom Designs
The DIY Free level is, of course, free templates and resources for startups and small businesses on tight budgets. If you have no design budget or just need something quick and dirty, this level is for you.
The DIY Premium gives you some nicer design choices in templates that you can customize yourself or software, but requires paying a fee.
The Premium Custom Designs are just what they signify — you work with a designer who creates something custom just for you, and delivers an electronic file of a completed design to you (or delivers it as a printed item if you wish). Naturally, this level involves the greatest expense. But it may give you the most satisfying results, too.
The beauty is that you have different options in most categories. You choose according to how much you are prepared to spend — and how much customization and design exclusivity you desire. You can even narrow your search results to look only at the level you are prepared to invest in for the project at hand.
Impressive Design and Layout
Finally the design of this site is visually stimulating. It’s got a rich dark background, jewel-like colors, and a kind of slideshow way of navigating and presenting the information. HP has placed a lot of emphasis on design and aesthetics in its products this year. We’re used to thinking of Apple as leading the pack when it comes to product design. HP aims to become a leader in beautifully designed products that evoke an emotional response — in everything from desktop and laptop computers, to printers, to their websites.
The Creative Studio has a lot to explore. I suggest you check it out and bookmark it for later reference, too, when a design project comes up or you need something for a meeting or tradeshow.