Compaq to target small firms

Compaq Canada will increase its focus on the small and medium business marketplace in 1995.Last month, the Richmond Hill, Ont.-based computer firm tapped into its major accounts sales ranks to fill the newly created post of commercial marketing manager.Catherine Lancaster, the...

Compaq Canada will increase its focus on the small and medium business marketplace in 1995.

Last month, the Richmond Hill, Ont.-based computer firm tapped into its major accounts sales ranks to fill the newly created post of commercial marketing manager.

Catherine Lancaster, the seven-and-a-half-year Compaq employee selected for the job, has been given a mandate to ‘develop programs and products’ appropriate for this segment of the pc market, which represents 25% to 30% of total Canadian pc sales.

Lancaster says Compaq, which is the leading pc maker in Canada, already performs strongly in the small and medium business segment, but it believes a marketing and advertising thrust tailored specifically for the category will boost its sales even higher.

‘We are hoping to increase that share by 16% to 20%,’ she says.

Compaq’s sales to small- and medium-sized business are conducted primarily through small value-added resellers and small business dealers.

‘Specific messages’

Lancaster says she is ‘in the middle of researching the market,’ adding, ‘once we understand it, we will direct specific messages at it.’

Although details of the ad campaign have yet to be confirmed, a direct mail component is considered likely, perhaps with support at some point by print and tv.

As well, the company is planning to increase marketing support for its network of value-added resellers and small business dealers.

Agency A&P

Compaq’s ad agency is Ammirati & Puris of Toronto.

Lancaster says advertising to small businesses can be tricky because it has to take into account the segment’s great diversity.

‘The market has quite a wide range of interests and buying habits,’ she says.

Lancaster says she is developing a program that will target specific professions and vertical groups within the category.

It is expected preliminary advertising will get under way as early as this month, with the core elements of the campaign to be rolled out in September.

Lancaster says small and medium businesses typically make most of their pc purchases in the fall.

Compaq’s lineup of business pc brands include two desktop models, Prolinea and Deskpro, and three portable models, Aero, Contura and Elite.

Consumer brand

Presario is positioned as a consumer brand, but it is also sold to small businesses.

Compaq’s chief competitors in the small and medium business market are ibm, ast and Dell.

Lancaster says Compaq is hoping to increase its overall sales in 1995 by 20% to 25% over its 1994 sales, which are estimated to be $500 million.

Compaq’s projected 1994 figures represent a whopping 70% increase over 1993, when it sold $304 million worth of pcs.

Lancaster says that growth is not expected to be duplicated in 1995, since it was fuelled, in large part, by Compaq’s strong performance in the consumer market.

Compaq entered the consumer market the year before with such hot-selling products as Presario.