Winnipeg Free Press brings in new revenue with local homebuilder partnership, magazine

By Laurie Finley

The Winnipeg Free Press and the Manitoba Home Builders Association have a true partnership that leverages the core strengths of both organisations.

Because of a co-publishing agreement, we publish a consumer magazine twice a year to support the MHBA’s spring and fall Parade of Homes events, which are key sales and public relations initiatives for the homebuilders and their suppliers. 

This special six-week event encompasses 120 to 130 show homes citywide that are open to the public to view and rate. We write, print, sell the advertising and distribute 120,000 magazines through our home delivery and single-copy delivery services.

The distribution is determined by average household income, ensuring we target families that are qualified potential customers of the MHBA.

In addition to printing the magazine supporting this parade, we built the online voting site for the public, which we host off of our Winnipeg Free Press Web site. This is a new initiative this year, incorporating QR codes in each show home that take the user directly to the voting site for that particular home.

Because we publish the official magazine showcasing the homes in the parade — and there are so many suppliers involved in the construction of the homes — we have been able to create a must-have handbook for those visiting the parade homes across the city.

In addition, we have created a great environment for both builders and suppliers to showcase their products.

Surveys conducted throughout the Parade of Homes show homes show 92% of the people visiting came due to seeing the Parade of Homes magazine, and the majority of them arrive at the show homes with the magazine in hand. 

The organisation stresses to their builder members, board of directors, and suppliers the importance of supporting this official publication.

When we first decided to publish the Parade of Homes handbook in 2003, the initial couple of issues required taking a leap of faith by the newspaper. We had to hope that our revenue would grow to guarantee profitability on the project.

During a 10-year period, we have gone from one magazine per year at about C$80,000 in revenue to the current two magazines per year (starting in 2006), which produce in excess of C$500,000 in revenue with a 50% profit margin. 

The success of this project has resulted in the MHBA having a one-of-a-kind publication supporting its event, which costs them no financial outlay because of the advertising we sell.

Due to its efforts in pushing its members to support the publication, we have an extremely successful magazine with revenues of more than C$250,000 per issue. 

This is a true partnership that has matured through trust, providing a positive result for both of our organisations.

About Laurie Finley

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