KeyCorp, trying to distinguish itself from other banks, plans to replace its sales brochures with three slick-looking magazines produced by Time Inc.
The venture between the $65 billion-asset KeyCorp and Time follows a pattern of unconventional marketing at the Cleveland-based bank company. KeyCorp is already known for its catchy advertising and aggressive brand- identity program.
Stephen A. Cone, KeyCorp's executive vice president of marketing and strategic planning, called his company's former bank brochures "generic, tired, and predictable." A former American Express executive, he said the new magazines will replace hundreds of "unreadable" brochures that usually ended up being stockpiled in warehouses.
"This is important because we might finally produce something people will read," Mr. Cone said.
Although specific costs and terms of the deal were not released, he said the magazines will be less expensive to produce than the brochures.
The information will be condensed, because "less is more," he said, promising "very readable" magazines. "We're not trying to produce a 40-page book," Mr. Cone said.
For Time, the deal allows it to launch a newly created custom publishing division, a sales- and marketing-driven unit that will produce magazines for businesses trying to spice up their marketing materials.
Peter Costiglio, a Time spokesman, said the 24-page KeyCorp magazines will be printed quarterly, with full and condensed stories that appeared in Time-owned magazines, such as Money, Fortune, Sports Illustrated, Parenting, and the flagship newsweekly.
KeyCorp's magazines will target specific customer segments. Business Vision will cater to small business; Your Rewards will focus on customers aged 50 and older; and Today's Focus will be geared toward younger consumers. A fourth magazine, designed for affluent customers, is planned for early 1997.
KeyCorp said it would print one million copies and would distribute them throughout the company's 1,200 branches.
Still, analysts were skeptical about what the new brochures will deliver.
"The marketing is a refreshing change from what banks have traditionally done," said Lehman Brothers analyst Michael Mayo. "Maybe it will influence other banks. On the other hand, the payouts from these initiatives are farther out. The jury's still out on the longer term."
KeyCorp is not the first banking company that has upgraded its promotional material to attract customers. Large banks such as Bank of Boston Corp., NationsBank Corp., Chase Manhattan Corp., and Wells Fargo & Co. have contracted with small publishers to produce magazines for small business customers.
Four years ago, Boston's BayBanks Inc. mailed 50-page catalogues describing its products and services to more than one million Massachusetts households. Customers interested in products were encouraged to call an "800" number. KeyCorp's new publications feature a similar number.
A spokeswoman for BayBanks, which recently merged with Bank of Boston, said the catalogue has been so popular that it has been updated nearly every year, including a new version mailed in April.
The KeyCorp magazines are different than the BayBanks publications, Mr. Cone said. "Catalogues work," he said, "but they need to be accompanied by timely, reader-friendly material."