IBM readies major direct mail effort

IBM next week will intensify its direct-sales effort with the mailing of more than 1 million four-color catalogs that for the first time will carry the full range of IBM personal computer lines along with numerous non-IBM accessories and software.

Sources said the 80-page catalog, which will offer 800 stock- keeping units, has been designed as a "store in print" with a lavish use of color photographs and graphics in an overall package inspired by the Lands' End catalogs.

All told, up to 120,000 different PC configurations will be available for assembly at IBM PC Direct Co.'s Raleigh, N.C., facility, where all direct-marketing functions were consolidated this month. A pool of 300 customer service reps will take orders.

The planned mailing marks a major commitment beyond IBM's inaugural catalog last fall, which included only a smattering of PC

models and no non-IBM-brand products. It ran to 38 pages.

Details couldn't be learned about a supporting print campaign from agency Grey Direct, which in January picked up the account estimated to bill $15 million. IBM execs have previously indicated they expect the direct channel to be a major route for the lines of more-competitive desktop and notebook models that were unveiled starting last fall. The cover photo is expected to portray a woman with one of IBM's popular Thinkpad notebook computers, upon whose screen her face is pictured.

The mailing comes at a time when the likes of Apple Computer and Digital Equipment Corp. are buttressing their efforts to tap a channel that currently accounts for more than 20% of all PC sales. Compaq Computer is readying its first such effort.

Last week, Apple was set to mail its third catalog as part of a program that should see more than 4 million books go out for the fiscal year ending in September. General manager Maureen Loeb said the new book has expanded to 56 pages from 40 pages of the prior mailing in February, and includes a heavier emphasis on hardware and complete solutions.

Copyright Adweek L.P. (1993)