Case Study #3 – West MagazineOur Work — By Lois Geller
Western Financial Group is a growing company with its own bank, life insurance company, travel agency, and, most important, a chain of 90 or so insurance agency offices in small towns across the four western Canadian provinces: British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
The costs of using traditional advertising media to reach target audiences in dozens of small towns sprinkled across millions of square miles is dauntingly expensive on a CPM basis, which is direct marketers favorite way to count costs.
So we tossed around ideas with our client. First came a discussion of what we wanted to achieve: mostly, we wanted the people who count to understand that Western Financial Group is, just like they are, small town and western Canadian and that this is not only a unique attribute among companies offering financial services, it is a distinct advantage to customers. We came up with a few dozen more things we wanted to do and then we came back to media.
Email? Well, it’s cheap but with spam and clutter and impermanence, it just didn’t make sense as a strategic tool. Regular mail? Well, maybe, but we wanted people to look forward – eagerly – to hearing from us. Finally it hit us. We needed our own magazine, a magazine about rural and small town western Canada, an interesting magazine that could tell our communities’ stories on many different levels … and, not coincidentally, carry ads.
We came up with the name West, developed the editorial philosophy, the most important element of which is that the magazine is about customers and not about the company (most of the ads are about the company), set up regular West departments, and did all the things you do when you create a new magazine from scratch. West has been coming out quarterly as a 52-page full color magazine for about 5 years (as of January, 2009) and it has been very well received. It is now the cornerstone of Western Financial Group’s marketing program.