Shiny Bait for Big Fish

Deliver Magazine, September, 2006

DEPARTMENT
content connection
BY: TRACY MAYOR

Shiny Bait for Big Fish

Commercial realtor uses a glossy magazine to woo C-level decision makers

Bishop Ranch, a massive 585-acre office complex in San Ramon, Calif., has its share of star corporate tenants.

It’s that caliber of client that the park’s owner, Sunset Development Co., aims to attract with Bishop Ranch Business, the oversized, four-color magazine that it mails two to three
times a year to CEOs and other senior-level corporate decision makers in northern California and across the country.

Bishop Ranch has a diverse clientele, explains Jim Offel, general manager at Diablo Custom Publishing (DCP) in Walnut Creek, Calif., which has partnered with Sunset
since 1995 to promote Bishop Ranch. In the office park, well-known multinational corporations intermingle with hundreds of smaller businesses.

Sunset has had great success attracting the smaller end of the market with print Advertising and direct mail postcards targeting professional-service providers in the medical, legal, accounting and consulting fields. The challenge has been conveying the benefits not only of the complex but also of San Ramon and the entire I-680 corridor. That’s no mean feat, given its 30-mile distance from San Francisco.

Postcards, says Offel, don’t carry enough weight to persuade Fortune 1000-caliber companies to relocate a sizeable workforce to an office park an hour’s ride — on a
good day — outside of San Francisco. That effort takes a different kind of message and a different kind of medium, says Ed Hagopian, Sunset Development’s senior vice
president of sales and marketing.

Enter Bishop Ranch Business, a 10” x 13” full-color magazine, ranging from 12 to 20 pages, that’s printed on heavy glossy stock and features a full-bleed cover and high-quality photography (including, in each issue, an aerial shot of the complex across a two-page spread). Sunset prints some 70,000 copies of each issue and divides them between
inserts in Bay Area business newspapers and copies mailed directly to CEOs and other executives.

The publication forgoes hard sell in favor of informative articles touting the benefits of local school systems, the caliber of the available workforce, and lifestyle amenities
within Bishop Ranch and the wider San Ramon community. Perhaps most persuasively, the magazine regularly profiles executives and other well-known businesspeople
connected with Bishop Ranch.

“When these executives see a well-known CEO on the cover, they think, OK, maybe I’ll take a look at this thing,” says Hagopian. “I’ll have somebody come in from New York, a corporate director of real estate, and he’ll say, `I’ve really enjoyed getting your magazine.’ That’s always a pleasant surprise — they really do remember the product
and recognize our brand.”

Hagopian admits that, despite his 30-plus years in marketing, he wasn’t the biggest fan of direct mail until Offel and DCP convinced him otherwise. Offel says direct mail is still the best way to deliver rich content to the highest end of the customer base. “Of course, the creative has to be right, and the message has to be right,” he says, “but if you put the right kind of piece with the right message into the mail stream, it’s still the most effective channel for getting that message into the hands of the people you’re targeting.”