IT Marketer Reenters Catalog Business

The $861 million GTSI, a Chantilly, VA-based provider of information technology solutions, has relied primarily on its 55-person field sales force and 75-person inside telesales team to reach the government employees who are its customer base. But in August, the company relaunched its ClarITy catalog with a 200,000-book mailing. GTSI hadn’t mailed ClarITy since 1998.

“We needed to make sure our customers and prospects are aware of our capabilities,” says vice president of marketing Johnny Wilkinson, “and printed catalogs are a very valuable part of our marketing mix. Research has shown that our customers keep our marketing pieces for long periods of time in binders to use as reference materials.”

The 34-page, 8-1/4″ × 10-5/8″ magalog includes articles on NASA’s operational requirements and the U.S. Army’s Medical Information Systems Support Agency’s development of mobile solutions for employees. Those and other articles explain how GTSI products helped the agencies solve their problems.

“Government end users may use it as a catalog to buy a printer for their department,” Wilkinson says. “But those same people may influence a purchase of an enterprise storage system after seeing the ‘magazine’ portion of the book showcasing a case study or how our technology teams align to government priorities.”

The book was distributed to five segments of government employees: IT end users, procurement officers, IT project managers, IT program managers, and chief information officers. Nearly 25% of the catalogs were polybagged with IT government trade magazines Federal Computer Week and Government Computer News. Catalogs were also polybagged with U.S. armed forces publication Stars and Stripes. Many of these publications are hand-delivered to government offices and don’t go through the postal system, giving the cataloger faster delivery and postage savings. In addition, the trade magazines “have tremendous credibility with decision-makers and hit prospects who we don’t have,” Wilkinson says.

Clearly there’s money to be made selling to IT products to the federal government. The Department of Defense, the government’s largest purchaser of IT resources, alone spent $21.7 billion on IT last year, according to the General Accounting Office. GTSI anticipates an average order of $14,000, although Wilkinson won’t speculate on a response rate.

The book will be mailed quarterly through the first half of 2003; the company will then increase frequency if it deems the catalog a success. This year, GTSI will distribute nearly 500,000 copies of the book.

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