Canadian Publishers Vertical markets focus

Putting out supplements has been a trademark of Canadian Publishers in the Winnipeg market for the past several years.However, as the marketplace has become more competitive, with other newspapers trying the same thing, protecting our traditional point of difference has been...

Putting out supplements has been a trademark of Canadian Publishers in the Winnipeg market for the past several years.

However, as the marketplace has become more competitive, with other newspapers trying the same thing, protecting our traditional point of difference has been important.

Canadian Publishers is part of the Montreal-based printer and publisher, Transcontinental Group, but we function autonomously in Winnipeg, operating four urban community papers.

The newspapers (The Metro, The Lance, The Herald and The Times) cover the entire city of Winnipeg, with a Tuesday circulation of 180,000.

We compete head-to-head with The Winnipeg Free Press (the Thomson daily) and The Winnipeg Sun (a Quebecor daily.)

Grown dramatically

In the last four years, we have grown dramatically, mainly due to the high numbers we offer, but also because our supplements and promotions have proven appealing to advertisers and readers.

In our pursuit of increasing advertising, we have looked for new ways to deliver excitement for readers and results for advertisers.

What we have done this year is combine promotions with supplements, focussing on a single vertical market.

In the case of our ‘Spring Home and Garden’ supplements, we have built two publications, one at the end of April, one in mid-May, focussing on home improvement, backyard leisure, landscaping and gardening.

Readers know these supplements are the place to turn to for information about getting their homes and properties ready for the spring and summer seasons.

Complementing the editorial package is a group of home-related advertisers which make our supplements a great shopping guide and a valued source of revenue for home-based papers such as ours.

To create more interest in this vertical market, and extend our advertising opportunities, we put together a major promotion, called ‘Win the Backyard Vacation of Your Dreams,’ intended to run in the first two weeks of June.

Extend advertising

Our goal was to keep our home-related advertisers with us further into the season, and, through the contest, keep reader interest up.

The promotion was simple.

The first thing we did was arrange for a prize sponsor by putting together $26,000 in promotional advertising in our newspaper, on radio and in point-of-purchase material.

By including the sponsor in this campaign in a significant way, it was willing to give almost $6,000 in prizes.

An above-ground pool, patio furniture, gas barbecues, and steaks for the summer were packaged and advertised in advance to create excitement with readers.

Salespeople approached all of our spring advertisers with a chance to be a part of a major promotion.

Coupon

All an advertiser had to do was commit to a 1/4- or 1/2-page advertisement at regular rates and we would attach a coupon with a value and entry form at the bottom of the ad at no extra charge.

Advertisers had to participate for two weeks and they were given a ballot box and point-of-purchase material for their stores.

Only participating advertisers’ stores had ballot boxes to guarantee traffic for our clients.

The clients who created the better or more appealing offers in their coupons were the ones who generated the most traffic.

Advertisers got increased traffic, readers got a chance to win a great prize package and Canadian Publishers strengthened its relationship with advertisers in the home and garden vertical market.

More than 4,000 people entered the contest at 55 businesses in Winnipeg.

‘The Back Yard Vacation of Your Dreams’ promotion, on its own, is nothing special.

We still have to put out great ‘Spring Home and Garden’ supplements and meet readers’ needs from an editorial point of view.

However, what a promotion does is add fun and excitement for our readers and shows our advertisers that we are willing to do more to help make their advertising work.

In a competitive market such as Winnipeg, the best method we know of to grow is the continuation of good targetted supplements.

Unfortunately, we are not the only ones who know this, so adding excitement with promotions at the same time seems to help cement advertising and reader relationships.

As long as the promotion is well-suited to the field in which you are working, it is well-accepted and helps broaden the client base.

At community newspapers such as ours, where we know readers are looking for value, many times a strong promotion or contest will have as much impact as an in-depth editorial piece.

By combining our ‘Spring Home and Garden’ supplements with the ‘Win the Backyard Vacation of Your Dreams’ contest, we hope we have done both.

Scott Kaisaris is director of advertising at Canadian Publishers, a Winnipeg-based group of community newspapers.