PC Zone gets down to business

Computer cataloger Multiple Zones International is tapping into the small office/home office (SOHO) market by mailing its first business-to-business catalog. In early June, the publisher of the PC Zone and Mac Zone catalogs, which target primarily consumers, launched the PC Zone Business Edition catalog, selling networking products, computer servers, software, and Internet communication merchandise.

Renton, WA-based Multiple Zones mailed 1 million copies of the 124-page catalog to businesses with fewer than 250 employees. House file names made up 30%-50% of the mailing; the other names were rented from computer magazine subscriber lists. Preliminary results are “favorable, with average order sizes much larger than we originally thought,” says Cathie Fowler, director of marketing management for the $490 million cataloger. (She declines to give specific figures.) The company plans to mail 12 million PC Zone Business Edition catalogs a year.

“Small businesses are growing rapidly,” Fowler says, explaining why Multiple Zones developed the spin-off. Indeed, the number of SOHO workers has grown 15.6% a year since 1995, according to the “Home Office Overview” report from Framingham, MA, research firm International Data Corp. In 1997, 34.7 million Americans worked in small businesses-companies with 10-250 employees-compared to 23.7 million in 1995.

“Now is the time to capitalize on the market by offering more targeted products specific to small-business needs,” Fowler says. For instance, consumer computer users don’t typically need products to connect multiple computers, while SOHO customers often do. Similarly, small businesses are more likely than consumers to need equipment to build and maintain Websites.

By the same token, SOHO companies usually have more modest needs-and budgets-than larger corporations. Manufacturers such as Cisco Computer Systems and Intel are developing Internet-related hardware such as routers, switches, and cables designed specifically with SOHO buyers in mind.-SO

CORRECTION In the Catalog Age 100 (August issue), we inadvertently dropped the last digit from the phone number of C&H Distributors, number 61 on the list. The correct phone number is 414-443-1700.