Black Box, Fall/Winter 1998-1999

Sep 01, 1999 9:30 PM  By

There are so many good things about the Black Box Fall/Winter catalog of computer networking products that one almost doesn’t know where to begin. “This catalog gets outstanding results year after year in an extremely competitive industry,” one judge says. Another gushes that “Black Box illustrates how to make a huge catalog easy to use. It sets the industry standard for the amount of space devoted to the customer.” In fact, the first 20 pages and the last 35 pages of the book cover instructions on how to order and offer indexes, glossaries, and guarantees.

Black Box also sets the standard for organization, the panelists agree. The 924-page book may look intimidating, but once you get past the “plop factor,” few catalogs are easier to navigate and use. The table of contents and the legends at the bottom of pages help the reader stay on track.

The catalog’s friendly tone starts on the inside cover spread, where Black Box takes a full page to explain its technical support services, clearly outlining its superior service speed, and detailing instructions for using its touch-tone call routing system. The opposite page welcomes the user to Black Box with a letter from its CEO that, while promotional in tone, also manages to communicate the company’s dedication to customer service. “Enjoy our catalog,” writes Fred Young. “And don’t hesitate to call for free help withyour computer communications and networking needs.”

As for merchandising, whew! Imagine a catalog featuring a walloping 600 new products. “The depth and breadth of product is impressive,” says one judge. Another agrees, adding that “there is support for all of these products as well.”

Black Box describes its vast product offering with authority. “Its copy teaches as well as sells,” one panelist says. “For a very technical product line, the copy is clear, concise, and easy to understand,” another adds. It describes a 3Com Bigpicture Video Phone, for example, this way: “The Bigpicture Video Phone runs on Intel PCs with at least a 133-MHz processor and a PCI slot. Plug in the video capture card and camera, load the CD-ROM software, and you’re ready to go live with anyone running a similarly equipped PC.” Headlines are to the point and effective: “Control up to 64 devices from a single computer,” says one for a switch. “Bring on the bandwidth!” says another, for a multiplexor that combines T1 lines.

Over the years, Black Box’s name has come to mean quality, service, and authority. And this Gold Award winner proudly continues in that tradition.