E-Catalog Gives Compaq More Timely Contact Business Customers

Compaq Computer Corp. officially launched an e-catalog this month to give the computer maker faster, more comprehensive contact with its small and medium sized businesses than it can get with its print catalog.

“Our customers and prospects will be getting our promotions and product catalog in front of them much more frequently now,” said Dan Busse, director of SMB marketing for North America at Compaq, Houston. “Our time to market is dramatically shorter and by using an electronic version of our catalog the cost for production and prospecting is also much cheaper.”

Busse said the e-catalog went to 300,000 to 500,000 recipients though he would not discuss the exact number.

Targeted are primary business decision makers who approve the budget for technology purchases.

“We plan on keeping the number of e-catalogs we send out each month in that area,” he said. “The e-catalog is sent to both clients and prospects. The split in the mailing is close to 50/50.”

The prospect names come from opt-in lists provided by vendors.

Compaq will continue a paper catalog it mails once a quarter to more than 1.5 million people in the small and medium-sized business market. The e-catalog will be delivered once a month. Busse would not discuss the cost production and distribution costs for the print or electronic versions.

“We have people that want paper instead of electronic,” Busse said. “Those tend to be the smaller companies. The bigger and more aggressive companies prefer the electronic version. They want to know what we have available for them right away and they want consistent reliable data delivered frequently without having a paper catalog mailed to their facility.”

Busse said there is about a 20 percent to 30 percent overlap of people who are receiving both catalogs.

Compaq began testing the e-catalog at the end of December to 100,000 recipients. The company made a number of changes before the official launch based on consumer feedback during the four-month test-period. Some of the major changes were giving consumers more information on the sales and promotions Compaq was offering and featuring more information on technology solutions rather than just product specifications on PCs and other equipment.

“People were saying, 'Tell us about the sales promotions you have going on. That's what we want to see,' ” Busse said. “And they also wanted to see more about our solutions and how the technology we had could help them solve their business problems.”

Busse said he would not discuss the average response rate the e-catalogs saw in the test period but he described them as easily achieving industry standard response rates.

The format of the e-catalog will generally be the same from month to month Busse said. It will feature two products with images at the top of it and four other special promotions underneath. From the e-catalog recipients can access all products in the small and medium-sized business catalog.

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