Unique Home Improvement Magazine Offers Exclusivity and an Earth-Friendly Approach to Advertising

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Local restaurants and home service companies benefit from quarterly magazine's exclusivity, savings, and shelf life.

One local Orange County magazine has found success and a way to stand out amidst a sea of look-a-like advertising magazines by taking a different approach to serving both its advertisers and its customers. Home Improvement Services Magazine has come up with a unique, cost-effective way for local companies offering home improvement services, as well those offering fine dining, to market themselves to potential customers. Rather than the usual method of garnering new customers with repetitive monthly coupons, fliers, and value packs, Home Improvement Services Magazine has hit upon a successful way for its advertisers to spend less money on more effective direct mail that does a better job of meeting its mark. The main tenets of the magazine's success are exclusivity, high quality printing, quarterly distribution, environmentally aware production methods, and the addition of restaurant ads.

Established in 2004, the magazine has been under publisher Michael Boshart's guidance since January 2008; his distinctive approach and attempts to trim the magazine and refocus its direction are already paying off. Serving over 100,000 homes in the Orange County area, with the main bulk being homes that have an income of over $100,000, Home Improvement Services Magazine, (http://www.orangecountyathome.com; 949-870-7802) has set itself apart from the competition with its quality-over-quantity tactics.

"We only put quality companies in the magazine, which ensures that homeowners do not need to bargain hunt," Boshart explained. "They know they are getting the best deal from a reputable company." His plan seems to be working. "My customers know that a good deal is not cheap and a cheap deal is not always good," Boshart added. "They are not looking for something-for-nothing; they understand that people need to make a living and they just want quality service for an affordable price."

The magazine's success is not only a good thing for area homeowners; it benefits the advertisers in many ways, as well. "I received 8 calls and 7 jobs in the first week," said Jim Straw of San Clemente Window Washing who advertises in Zone 2 covering 50,000 homes.

Exclusivity Eliminates Direct Mail Pitfall:
What Michael Boshart realizes is that direct mail, when used correctly, is an excellent marketing tool. Direct mail in the form of attractive magazine advertising can be very effective. The down side for advertisers seeking business with this type of marketing is that not only is it somewhat disposable, but it also puts them literally right up against their competition. When every other local competitor is listing discounts in the same magazine for each aspect of home improvement -- whether it's landscaping, marble countertops, window treatments, maid services, or carpet cleaning -- it is difficult for one company to gain an advantage.

Since most discount and coupon magazines distributed to homes are in business to try and make as much profit as possible, they will -- in their own best interests -- accept advertising dollars from any and all comers. This "May the best advertiser win" strategy not only attracts time-consuming and often fruitless phone calls from price shoppers (consumers who call around asking for rates and quotes and who often don't purchase any actual products or services), but it also decreases the advertisers' potential return on investment. "Competition with other companies offering the same services has been eliminated with Home Improvement Services Magazine's exclusivity guarantee," Boshart said.

Another problem, says Boshart, is the saturation of the market caused by repetitively hammering each potential homeowner with the same magazines sporting the same ads, month after month after month. Not only is this practice wasteful, as the homeowners are likely to just start throwing the magazines away, but it's wasting the business' valuable advertising dollars, as well. To combat this problem, Home Improvement Services Magazine publishes its magazine quarterly. This unique approach seems to be effective for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that less paper is being thrown away by over-saturated consumers. "By printing and mailing Home Improvement Services magazine every three months we can greatly reduce the amount of paper that gets thrown away every year," Boshart said. "This also benefits the consumer by limiting the amount of mail they receive."

Long Shelf Life = More Value:
Saving paper waste is all well and good for the environment, but how does mailing a magazine out less often make it any more effective for the hardworking advertiser, one might ask. According to Boshart, it's all about shelf life. "We have developed a magazine that has a shelf life," he said. "The longer people hang on to the magazine, the better chance they are going to use it." Rather than routinely tossing that magazine as it comes in the mail each month, homeowners who receive an attractive, unique magazine that they didn't already see just a few weeks ago are more likely to hold on to it and use it.

Advertisers who take advantage of this shelf life not only end up forking out less money, less often, for much better results, but their services are marketed exclusively. Another component of Home Improvement Services Magazine that makes it stand out is its inclusion of fine dining establishments in addition to the home improvement services offered. "The restaurant ads ensure that homeowners will revisit the magazine for discounts, meaning that each company that is advertised in the magazine is seen repeatedly throughout the three-month season," Boshart said.

Similar magazines offering home improvement discounts do not provide this additional service. Patrons are much more likely to hold on to magazines that include restaurant discounts, in anticipation of wanting to try that new Italian restaurant they saw down the street, or the new steakhouse that just opened up by their work. As a general rule, mainly because the magazine is delivered to homes where the annual income is $100,000 or more, it will be the higher-end businesses and restaurants that are advertised in the magazine. This means a higher pay-off for the advertiser in terms of ad-based profits.

"A restaurant only needs a couple of coupon-holding patrons to come in to make up for the cost of the advertisement," Boshart said. "Not only that, but having restaurants in the magazine will get a lot more people into the restaurant--and those patrons are likely to refer others to the eatery by word-of-mouth. Essentially, advertising in Home Improvement Services creates word-of-mouth referrals, which means that its advertisers end up paying less for better, more exclusive advertising."

Making Greener Choices:
As the fervor over greenhouse gases and global warming reaches an all-time high, business owners are striving to reduce their carbon footprint, not only for the earth's sake, but to increase their own visibility and improve their brand in the marketplace. By their very nature, advertisements are somewhat disposable; a business owner can only hope that before his or her ad gets thrown away, it is seen and remembered.

"While direct mail marketing is an important medium for local businesses to reach potential clients, it is also a massive consumer of paper," Boshart said. Orange County at Home (Home Improvement Services parent company in Orange County) is ahead of the curve when it comes to being earth-conscious. The company uses printers that are FSC-certified, which basically means that the paper is manufactured in a way that is responsible, from forests that are closely mandated. Also, the magazine uses recycled paper from New Leaf, and prints with renewable inks, such as soy ink.

"Going green is not just about recycling but also about cutting down on the amount of waste," Boshart says. "Because we publish every three months and create something that stays around, we are creating significantly less waste." Home Improvement Services Magazine also offers ads at cost to companies that use environmentally friendly products, build using eco-friendly products, and operate out of LEED-certified buildings.

A Different Way to Advertise:
Another aspect of Boshart's business which presents an advantage is that advertisers who choose Home Improvement Services Magazine are not tied down to any contracts. "They can come and go as they please," Boshart said, "although we hope they realize that consistency is key when it comes to this type of advertising: you need to stay out there in order for the marketing to be effective."

Each advertiser also receives 1,000 free copies of their ad, which many companies find useful for handing out at home shows and in the neighborhoods where they work, according to Boshart. "We have a flyer-distribution company that can deliver door-to-door for our customers," he added. All ad design is free, so companies that don't already have artwork do not need to worry about paying extra in order to obtain an attractive advertisement to be used in the magazine.

Along with the benefits mentioned above, the main draw to Home Improvement Services Magazine is the exclusivity guarantee, which, according to Boshart, "means that your ad works for you and only you--not your competitors." It has a long shelf life, because it publishes less often and includes valuable restaurant offers. All of these aspects are intended to make each quarter's magazine stay in homes longer.

"Advertising in the magazine does work," Boshart says. "Other magazines sell you on call volume, but it is really the quality of each and every call that matters."

Local businesses that would like to put Home Improvement Services Magazine to the test are invited to click on http://www.orangecountyathome.com for more information, or call (949) 870-7802 and set up an appointment.

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Michael Boshart

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