Deluxe Corp., continuing to diversify from its core check-printing operations, has launched new marketing software.

DataWise is meant to help banks create profiles of their most profitable customers and use the demographic information to decide which potential customers to target with direct-mail or other marketing campaigns.

"You would use this system to find your most profitable customers with the ultimate goal of finding more like them," said Tom Byrne, general manager of Deluxe Data Resources, a Laguna Hills, Calif., unit of Deluxe Corp.

"DataWise probably works best as a partner to a financial institution's customer information system," Mr. Byrne said.

By focusing marketing efforts on prospects who most closely resemble the most profitable customers, a bank can substantially reduce the cost of acquiring new customers, he said.

In tests of DataWise, banks doing direct-mail campaigns showed improved response rates and reduced printing and mailing expenses.

Users of DataWise get access to a data base with demographic information on all 110 million U.S. households. The data come mainly from tax assessor files and real estate deeds.

Mr. Byrne said a number of software packages rely on "clustered" information, which gives demographic information about groups of people who live in certain geographic areas. The data delivered through DataWise are focused on specific households, he said.

The software-an upgraded Windows version of a package called InfoAmerica that Deluxe acquired when it bought American Data Resources in 1996-uses 65 distinct demographic data elements.

DataWise only recently came out of testing and has no live customers. But InfoAmerica is used by about 50 financial institutions.

One of these, $9 billion-asset Coast Federal Bank of Los Angeles, says it has had good experiences with the package.

"This software enables us to pinpoint customers for our products whether they be prospects within the bank or outside the organization," said Helen Montag, market research principal at Coast Federal, which is being acquired by H.F. Ahmanson & Co.

"We can see those who might be likely to purchase and those we want to entice to become our customers," she said.

Whether Coast Federal upgrades itself to the DataWise product will be decided after the acquisition is complete, she added.

Mr. Byrne said Deluxe believes that upgrading InfoAmerica to Windows gives the software more appeal to banks.

"The DOS form existed for a few years with limited usage," he said. "We have completely rewritten the software and added new data and function capabilities."

Deluxe plans to market DataWise to all financial institutions.

The software license costs $25,000 to $150,000, depending on the range of geographic areas users want to analyze.

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