M|A|Peterson recently increased the magazine to 12 pages and added sections on construction solutions and client testimonials. The publication also includes a detailed look at one or more projects, a design article and a letter from owner Mark Peterson.
When Chris Elliott came to M|A|Peterson in Edina, Minn., two years ago as director of marketing, the company devoted a good portion of its marketing budget to print advertising. While this brought many prospects into the office and generated a lot of phone calls, the leads rarely turned into business. Most of the people who signed contracts with the company were repeat or referral clients.
So Elliott redid the marketing budget and created a quarterly magazine, M|A|Peterson Home. Produced in-house, the 9x12-inch, full-color magazine contains employee-written articles accompanied by professional photography. "It is editorial first and foremost," Elliott says. "It's not advertising, and it's not promotion. This is about producing quality reading for the high-end client who wants to learn about homes."
Based on demographics and age of homes, Elliott targeted the residents of two neighborhoods to receive the free magazine. M|A|Peterson also sends it to immediate neighbors of any job under construction, prospects from the previous 12 months, past clients, and employees, subcontractors and vendors. The issues are sent in transparent plastic envelopes that in-clude a cover letter customized for each recipient group. The company prints and mails approximately 5,000 copies of each issue at a cost of $2-$4 apiece.
Employees benefit from exposure as published authors and experts, giving them leverage with customers. Prospects learn that in addition to design/build remodeling, the company provides landscape architecture, interior design and custom woodworking.
After the first five issues, Elliott says the number of leads has declined sharply, but their quality has improved greatly. Now, for every $1 the company spends on print advertising, it spends $2 on the magazine. The publication's real beauty, he adds, is the opportunity to tailor the company's message so M|A|Peterson deals with only the most qualified prospects, saving time and money.
"We don't want everyone in the world to know who we are. We want the right customer," Elliott says. "The people who work with you, especially in our price point, have to have an experience with your company, and the magazine encourages conversation about our company. The more we can infiltrate and shape that conversation, the more we repetitiously and strategically stay in front of them, the more firmly positioned our company is in their mind."
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