Baton Rouge, La.-based Premier Bank has turned to a new medium for marketing its services to small businesses: the personal computer.

The bank sends PC diskettes to businesses containing a software program titled, "Money -- How to Help a Banker Say Yes!"

The program explains the information-gathering process required for a small-business loan application and details Premier Bank's range of products.

Entertainment Also Offered

The program includes a loan application which can be filled out on the PC, printed, and then sent to the bank. For entertainment, the software also includes a golf game with the colorful name Invitational Crawfish Classic Golf Tournament.

With $3.8 billion of assets, Premier Bank operates throughout the state of Louisiana. The diskette is targeted to businesses with under $5 million in annual sales and to companies with borrowing needs of less than $300,000.

The bank decided to create diskettes last winter after undertaking a series of focus groups with owners of small businesses.

Premier Bank's research indicated that small-business owners felt neglected during the oil-related recession that hit Louisiana in the late eighties and that they wanted to learn more about financial-management terms and practices.

"Our customers told us they wanted to know more about things like managing cash flow, key financial ratios, and other factors bankers consider," said Pam Kimball, the Premier Bank product manager who spearheaded the project.

"We thought it made sense to communicate with them through their computers in a format that would allow them maximum flexibility and privacy,"

Premier Bank's new marketing tool was created by The InMar Group Inc., a San Antonio-based company that specializes in developing interactive-communication tools for companies like Chrysler and AT&T.

"Automobiles, like financial services, are complex products that need more than a simple brochure to do them justice," said Lisa Diestelhorst, an executive at Inmar Group.

Ms. Sullivan is a freelance writer based in New York.

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