Handheld computers have always attracted interest because they provide the power of information and the freedom of portability. Palmtop users possess not only powerful computers, but an affinity for using new technology to help them organize and manage their lives. They are frequently early adopters in a number of product areas. Reaching these people with your marketing message can be challenging unless you’re in sync with their “on the go” lifestyle.
These handy handheld computers are great organizers because they share data with calendars and address books on a desktop or laptop computer. Palm computers have been available since 1992, but it’s only been in the past few years that they’ve become popular.
With almost 70 percent of the handheld computer market, Palm has achieved market penetration that few other companies have enjoyed. One reason is the ease of using a Palm computer, which is more like an appliance than a computer. In addition, the growing interest in wireless Internet devices has helped fuel the growth of the Palm VII.
Palm owners are frequently influencers and decision makers, representing a valuable target market for many companies. So, how do you reach Palm owners? There are several ways to grab their attention and then stay in touch:
- Advertise in online and printed publications.
- Provide downloadable programs and documents.
- Deliver timely information via a wireless connection.
- Motivate them to beam data to other Palm owners.
There are a number of online publications that carry advertising, such as PalmPower, PalmUser, and Pen Computing, plus sections in traditional computing and mobile computing magazines.
Once you’ve captured the attention of a Palm prospect, it’s time to make it easy for him or her to use their pocket portable to stay connected to you.
One traditional use for handheld computers has been to gather data at remote locations, and the Palm is a great platform for field data collection applications.
For instance, when a customer visits a remote location and needs to make a decision about ordering products, a Palm-based application can help the customer collect the specifications and recommend your specific part number. For time critical situations, your providing the assurance that the right part will be ordered can help snag an order that might have gone to your competition.
In other situations, providing an interactive checklist to guide customers through the data-gathering process can make the difference in the choice between you or your competitor for winning the business.
Palm users who are frequent flyers, such as salespeople and executives, have special needs to keep them going. Directions. Maps. Hotel and restaurant information.
Some Palm owners attach peripherals to their Palm that turns it into an electronic compass that can also store maps and directions. MapQuest now offers wireless data services to Palm owners. For people like me who get lost easily in a distant city, there are compasses and connections to GPS devices to keep us headed in the right direction.
One of the interesting uses for a Palm is to transmit information from one user to another via an infrared signal. If you can create information that is worth sharing, you can take advantage of Palm-to-Palm marketing opportunities that help people get to know each other better. Many Palm users beam address book listings to other people, such as the location of a favorite restaurant, event venue, or a place to meet. Another way to take advantage of the prevalence of Palms is with sales seminars and conferences.
One of the problems with sales seminars at hotels is that sometimes even the locals aren’t familiar with the hotel you’ve selected for your event. Try allowing guests to download a map and directions to your hotel into their Palm. Also, encourage them to set a reminder in their Palm calendar so they won’t forget about your morning presentation.
At the end of a seminar, offer to beam a summary of your presentation into their Palm before they leave so they have an electronic version to email others within their company. Not only does this make it easier for them to take notes, it helps ensure that their version of your presentation is accurate.
As for providing your own content to Palm users via the web, there are web browsers for Palm users that make it easy for you to see what your prospects see on their Palms.
Palm users present an opportunity to connect to influential movers and shakers within their organization. However, to take full advantage of the opportunity, it’s necessary to have a marketing and technology plan for using Palm computers. This allows you to deliver meaningful benefits to this select audience, which can create loyal customers eating out of the palm of your hand.