BayBanks Inc. is hoping to increase its market share by operating like a mail-order company.

The Boston-based bank introduced on Wednesday a glitzy 49-page catalogue giving details on virtually every product and service it offers, all of which can be ordered by calling a toll-free number.

The catalogue tells about checking and savings accounts, credit cards, loans, and private banking. It even has pictures of checkbook styles and statement options.

"[All our research] told us that a lot of people would rather call us on the phone than get in their car, go down to a branch, and maybe wait in line," said Donald L. Isaacs, chairman of Bay-Banks Systems Inc., the subsidiary in charge of marketing, among other functions.

Baybanks, which has $9.5 billion in assets, plans to mail the catalogues to about 500,000 customers and 500,000 prospects in Massachusetts.

The company is not the first bank to introduce a catalogue, but its effort is the most ambitious, according to Robert Clayton, president of Dot Systems, a catalogue designer and producer in Denver.

Other Catalogues

About 75 to 100 banks with assets in excess of $2 billion already have catalogues, Mr. Clayton said, but most run no more than 32 pages.

Among those with catalogues are U.S. Bancorp in Portland, Ore., First Maryland Corp. in Baltimore, and Crestar Financial Corp. in Richmond. He said PNC Financial also is planning to launch a catalogue soon.

Mr. Clayton said that introducing catalogues has proved an effective way to promote banking products and services to existing customers, but they have not worked well as a marketing tool to attract new business.

Mr. Isaacs said that because BayBanks is running 30-second television ads and full-page print ads to promote the catalogue, it made sense to more than just BayBanks' customers.

He would not be specific about the bank's goals for the campaign, which will cost more than $2 million.

Customer Habits

Mr. Isaacs said the campaign, which took two years to develop, grew out of two observations: that customers like to shop from home and that they like to bank by phone.

"Whenever we enabled them to call us from home to get a loan, they did," he said.

Though its real estate lending has proved disastrous, BayBanks has a strong reputation as a consumer marketer.

It was one of the first to promote the use of cash machines in Massachusetts, for example, and as a result now has the leading share of consumer deposits in the state.

"What BayBanks excels at is being consumer-marketing oriented," said Gerard Cassidy, an analyst at Tucker Anthony Inc. in Portland, Me.

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