A three-year campaign supporting customers to discover their inner stylist and become interior creatives has led Homestyle magazine and Citta design store to claim the top content marketing prize in the Magazine Media Awards. Anna Bradley-Smith spoke to Nicholas Burrowes, general manager of The Pluto Group about the strategy and the impressive results.
Putting a photo of your bedroom on social media is a revealing move, and that’s without it being peered at by hundreds of curious strangers and judged by some of the country’s top designers. But that’s exactly what Homestyle magazine has got readers to do as part of the annual Style your Space campaign they created for Citta – the Auckland-based design store.
Showcasing the campaign through the pages of the magazine, a custom website, social media and using Citta’s already well- established Instagram presence, Style your Space has run successful workshops, editorial spreads and competitions that have attracted high levels of engagement.
The interactive multi-platform campaign, launched in 2015, received top marks for content marketing at last year’s Magazine Media Awards with the judges noting:
“Ticks all of the boxes of the judging criteria. There is a really great brand alignment between publishers and client. Style Your Space is beautifully executed and has achieved demonstrable commercial success.”
The Pluto Group general manager Nicholas Burrowes says the key to that success is simple: the campaign generates tangible business results in every area.
Citta approached Homestyle to create a partnership that used the key strengths of each business – interior styling and advice.
The initial concept mooted was to hold styling awards that coincided with seasonal themes and product releases. What Homestyle developed went a step further, changing the campaign from being event-based to being more holistic content-driven programme.“The ultimate goal was to create a platform that would grow in esteem over the years,” Burrowes says.
“We knew it would be successful but it has exceeded expectations.”
Burrowes says Citta wanted to build trust and loyalty with customers, elevate the brand’s presence in the New Zealand market as leaders in interior style advice, create a platform to grow interest and esteem, educate would-be stylists and give them the confidence to expand their skills, and showcase the brand’s interiors range.
To do this, Homestyle ran three five-page integrated editorial spreads, ran social media competitions, held six sell-out workshops, and created a large pool of high-quality content for Citta’s own online style advice platform, styleyourspace.nz.
“In the spirit of partnership, the campaign became entirely holistic and weaved through all our channels,” Burrowes says.
“While finished features were published in print and online, imagery and video of behind the scenes and how-to’s were widely viewed through both Homestyle’s and Città’s channels.”
Using themed photoshoots to set a scene and give inspiration, say for bedroom styling, Homestyle laid the groundwork for competitions.
Readers would then take ideas and style their own bedrooms, email the photos or put them on Instagram with the hashtag #CittaHomestyle, and go in the draw to win prizes that included $1500 store vouchers.
In 2017 the competitions drew 1,000 entries and had over 200,000 social interactions. All content generated was shared to Citta’s styleyourspace.nz. Burrowes says he was pleased with the number of entrants given people had to put their own space out there, something that can be slightly nerve-inducing.
“It really engaged them, people could come into the stores and get a bit of advice or look at practicing with the products then go home to do it themselves.”
The competitions were hosted on Instagram, which Burrowes says was a natural fit with how content is produced and published on the platform. Being an almost purely visual content channel, Instagram fits well with home category magazines, publishers and brands who have great imagery, he says.
“Instagram has become a big part of our connect to audience, it’s probably the best channel to interact.”
On top of print and online content generated for the campaign, a big part of its success was getting people into Citta storerooms to meet with stylists and become familiar with the brand.
Six sold out Style your Space workshops were held and each had a waiting list. During the workshops, customers were able to interact with the expert Citta stylist and a Homestyle stylist to get tips and advice for how to rework their own homes.
Burrowes says there was a big jump in retail sales on the days of events, with one outlet bettering its previous takings record by 100 percent. On the back of that success, Citta’s new Newmarket store has installed a purpose-built Style your Space area that will be rolled out into other outlets.
At the core of the workshops, editorial campaign and competitions, was the modern interior styling advice Homestyle and Citta knew readers wanted. Although Citta products are central to Style your Space, Burrowes says going beyond branded products with trusted expert styling advice on the latest trends through a number of platforms was the key to enduring success.
Marketing for the future
This approach, where brands play an active role in campaigns, is central to the success of modern marketing.
Buying a double-page ad is still a valuable way to get eyes on your product, but to create a successful and lasting impression businesses need to invest in the content as much as the marketers do, Burrowes says.
“It’s totally a joint venture these days.
“It’s beyond the commercial investment - you actually need your staff the brands and your team to invest in it too.”
He says brand association in the right editorial context in front of a refined audience will always have value, and brands should be employing the depth of understanding and knowledge magazine magazine teams have in their respective categories.
StopPress provides essential industry news and intelligence, updated daily. And the digital newsletter delivers the latest news to your inbox twice a week — for free!