This is Manitoulin distribution shadows new Chi-Cheemaun marketing strategy

MANITOULIN— Late in June, on the last day of the school year for families with children in elementary and secondary schools, 10,500 copies of Manitoulin Island’s iconic tourism lure magazine, This is Manitoulin , were distributed directly to parts of a southern Ontario demographic that has responded to the M.S. Chi-Cheemaun’s new marketing strategy that focusses on both the ferry service and on Manitoulin Island.

This is Manitoulin magazing 2015.
This is Manitoulin magazing 2015.

This year, the Manitoulin Publishing Co. Ltd., that publishes both this newspaper and the This is Manitoulin magazine, decided to direct copies of the magazine to a market that has shown interest in the Chi-Cheemaun’s new destination marketing program and, in an information sharing initiative with the Owen Sound Transportation Company (the Chi-Cheemaun’s operator), determined that responses to and interest in the ferry service’s new marketing campaign, which features a large online component, were coming from suburban Toronto areas where large numbers of East Asian Canadians live. This is encouraging because one of the thrusts of the campaign, based on the study the Chi-Cheemaun’s operators commissioned three years ago in response to dropping traffic, was to encourage new Canadians to consider the ferry and Manitoulin Island as a nearby destination.

The challenge for the Manitoulin Publishing Co. Ltd., then, was to put the magazines in the hands of people in these regions who had, as a general group, demonstrated an interest in the Chi-Cheemaun-Manitoulin experience as determined by their visits to the Chi-Cheemaun’s refurbished website.

Publisher Rick McCutcheon then contacted Metroland Publishing, a division of the Toronto Star, that publishes community papers (like The Expositor and the Recorder) in these regions, explained what Manitoulin Publishing Co. wished to accomplish, and over a two-week period fine-tuned a distribution of 10,500 This is Manitoulin magazines into select neighbourhoods in the Markham, north Scarborough and Mississauga regions. The distribution is using a half-dozen Metroland publications to directly deliver the This is Manitoulin magazines into homes in neighbourhoods that have been identified as responding to the new marketing strategy and have shown interest in the ferry and in coming to Manitoulin Island by the very fact that people from these communities have spent time on the website, directed there by other prompts both online and via other media.

In 2014, Manitoulin Publishing Co. sent the same number of magazines into the London market where they were delivered directly to households that were subscribers to the paper. The particular demographic last year was determined by household income through statistics the London paper was able to provide to the magazine’s publisher.

“This year, household income was not a determining factor in the choice of where to distribute some of the magazines,” publisher Rick McCutcheon explained. “We felt that would look after itself if we focussed on a new market that had shown interest in the Chi-Cheemaun and Manitoulin Island experience.”

The magazine’s pressrun is 55,000 copies and it is printed in late February and distribution begins then to tourist information centres and through travel and tourism shows such as the one the Manitoulin Island Cycling Advocates (MICA) attended in early March.

Mr. McCutcheon explained that this week’s Greater Toronto Area distribution was this late in the season because the Chi-Cheemaun’s new marketing program was only launched this spring and it took until recently to get a profile of the areas that had responded to the advertising and had gone to check out the Chi-Cheemaun website

“Next year, we’ll be able to tap into nearly a whole year’s data and we’ll be able to do this part of the distribution much earlier, in the late winter,” Mr. McCutcheon said. “We certainly want to continue to support and augment the Chi-Cheemaun’s new marketing program which also shines a spotlight directly on Manitoulin Island and the unique cultural experience, fishing and other outdoor options, accommodations, activities, legends and the myriad of other tourism-relevant details the magazine features.”