The Handbook (formerly The Harton Handbook) is a free community magazine and business directory delivered monthly* to homes in Harton and surrounding areas of South Shields, Cleadon and East Boldon. It is also available from a range of outlets including local businesses, libraries, restaurants, coffee bars, Health Centres and dentists’ surgeries.
Each edition of the magazine provides readers with a comprehensive list of local businesses, special features, regular articles and puzzles, and it offers community news to inform residents about events in the area.
The first edition – August 2005 – was black and white, 24 pages long and featured a handful of advertisers and only limited articles. Today, the magazine is printed in full colour and regularly contains between 72-80 pages. And whilst our original distribution was 1200, our current distribution is 8500 and still growing.
We are Leon and Maureen Jones and we set up the business in summer 2005. Our aim is to provide a magazine that people both want and look forward to receiving. We publish a magazine that is interesting and useful to residents and which offers local businesses low cost advertising.
At the beginning we did everything ourselves, including delivery of the magazines. Although it was hard work, it was nevertheless great to meet the residents and it was obvious they liked the magazine as several people asked for extra copies for family or friends who lived out of the area. Today, the business has grown so much that it is unlikely we could manage the business and carry out the deliveries so thankfully our magazines are now delivered by a distribution company.
Work on the magazine is divided equally with Leon visiting customers and dealing with the accounts, and Maureen doing the artwork and layout of the magazine.
We regularly receive positive feedback from residents and businesses alike. Residents enjoy their own local magazine because of its excellent content and because they can find local businesses easily. Businesses like it because it gives them cost-effective, targeted, local advertising, with many commenting that their advert pays for itself each month.
Why local advertising works
Why do local magazines continue to be so successful? Why are they one of the best advertising mediums available?
In today’s busy marketplace, we get bombarded with so much information on a daily basis that we can’t possibly take it all in. So we are forced to filter what we see and hear by finding a reference point – something that catches our attention. You know when you are in a crowded room and someone says your name, you can hear it above all the noise. That element, that common ground, is enough to allow it to enter your consciousness. So every bit of marketing needs to have something in it for you to hit home. As a resident then, when a magazine arrives through your letterbox which is full of information and advertisers with the common factor of being the area in which you live, you’ve already found a connection. As an advertising medium we’ve got our first foot in the door.
Secondly, there’s another piece of psychology connected with actually using the advertisers in the magazine. Suppose you are thinking of getting some painting and decorating done. If you call someone from miles away and it turns out to be too expensive you’ll feel rather uncomfortable and potentially obliged at having wasted someone’s time. So you probably won’t call at all. If the decorator is just round the corner you know you aren’t really putting him out so you will call. And it’s getting the call in the first place that we’re all aiming for because without that you have no chance to convince the customer that he should buy from you. Of course for Mr Painter Decorator he definitely would rather quote and work locally anyway.
And finally, bringing both elements together is that matter of trust. We are more likely to trust people with whom we have something in common. There’s no real reason to feel that someone living in the same town as you is more trustworthy (apart from probably knowing the type of property in which the person lives), but you will. So again you’ve found some common ground, and the fact that they are local means they tick enough boxes for you to prefer that advertiser over someone completely unknown in the Yellow Pages.
In summary you should advertise with The Handbook because:
- The local connection makes us more noticeable
- Because you are local, people are more likely to call knowing they’re not putting you out
- Because you live in the same town, people are more likely to trust you
- And all of those together will make your advertising with The Handbook successful and bring in more business!