CDW Fuses Fliers and Catalog Into New Magalog

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After two test programs, positive feedback from its customers and a "strong" response rate that it would not disclose, CDW, Vernon Hills, IL, mailed the first official version of its new "magalog" to existing customers and prospects.


The direct solutions provider for microcomputer-related and telephony products named the 136-page publication Solutions.


"For the past few years we had a catalog that we conducted direct sales with," said Joe Kremer, vice president of sales at CDW, last week. "Last year, we started sending out these informational fliers about products in our catalog and trends within the industry to people in our database as well as prospects that they found very useful."


According to Kremer, the success of the catalog -- coupled with the positive feedback from the informational fliers -- led to the belief that integrating the two would only improve the relationship between CDW and its customers. The thought process resulted in a clear course of action: Instead of just providing people with a list of products to purchase, provide them with in-depth articles and interviews on the people creating the products and the technology before pushing products on them.


"The way we have the magalog laid out is that they can read an article on the newest trends or pieces of technology, and then two pages later they can see what is available for their company to purchase," Kremer said.


The other reason behind the creation of the magalog, he said, is that it was necessary to have something like this in the technology industry due to the rapid changes that take place and the speed with which new trends emerge.


"Also, our circulation and sales have increased to a point where the acquisition cost per customer has become low enough and affordable enough for us to do it," he said. "Creating something like this also helps to engender loyalty, makes us look like a leader in the field and, most importantly, it provides added value to our customers."


CDW sent out the first non-test version of its magalog to what it described as a list of people made up of 96 percent small- to medium-sized business executives and 4 percent consumers. CDW is primarily targeting IT managers and buyers.


Kremer would not disclose the size of its current database, how the database has increased as a result of the first two test mailings or the size of the latest mailing.


"It's too early to tell what type of effect the first non-test mailing had had," Kremer said. "Anecdotally, everything I have heard up until this point has been good."


The second magalog is scheduled to go out in one month. Kremer said, "in general," they are going to be made up of 10 percent to 15 percent editorial content, 10 percent to 15 percent dedicated to the branding of CDW with the remaining percentage consisting of product content.


The magalog so far is only available on a subscription basis. The decision has not been made regarding whether it will eventually find its way to newsstands.


"We are going to wait on making that decision," Kremer said. "If our customers come back and tell us that there is a real value to it, then we will probably go ahead and make it available on newsstands."


Kremer said that CDW continues to mail separate informational fliers as well as catalogs. But he said the magalog probably will serve to eventually phase out the catalog, but the informational mailers will continue.


Products that are available via Solutions include printers, computer monitors, software and PC units. Manufacturers whose products appear in the publication include Xerox, Computer Associates, Toshiba, Sony and Canon.
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