How to create an online community like Castelli

What do the words ‘Luxury Heritage’ mean to you?

Trust? Definitely. Tradition? Absolutely. Unique? For sure.

Being a Luxury Heritage Brand has its upsides: instant credibility, immediate recognition and a loyal and dedicated customer base that refuses to shop anywhere else. You give your customers warm, reassuring feelings of familiarity and security when they purchase one of your products. They trust you to deliver – and they wouldn’t expect anything less.

But when it comes to communicating the core values of your brand to customers, being a Luxury Heritage Brand can be a challenging business. Exceptional product quality and a flawless understanding of customers’ needs – just some of the values Luxury Heritage Brands demand – aren’t always the easiest ones to communicate. Just how do you give your brand the same personality in a cyber, e-commerce environment as you can in a store or face-to-face meeting?

In a two-phased project, firstly to re-design and launch a new website, and secondly to develop and help implement an online media strategy, JRT has been working with Castelli, the premium Italian diary and notebook brand, for the last two and a half years.

Mark Poland, Managing Director, said, “At the end of last year we had a great new website that ensured our customers had a much smoother and fluid online purchasing experience, but I felt there was something missing. We just weren’t ‘human’ enough. The website showed our customers that we make great quality, personalised, modern and aesthetically beautiful products, but I wanted to show them who the Castelli brand really was. We’re a family brand with a great story to tell. The question for me was: how do we tell it?”

As a part of the online media strategy, Jason Russell and Mark Poland have worked closely together to develop a social strategy which reaches right to the very core of the Castelli brand.

Mark continued, “Authenticity is at the very heart of Castelli, so it has to be reflected in our social media activities. It’s not very believable or personable when CEOs are tweeting or blogging about areas of the business in which they have limited involvement or knowledge. People relate to people; and what they say has to be real for customers to properly engage with us.”

So for the first hour of the day, every working day, employees at all levels within Castelli are invited to take part in the business’s social media activities and are encouraged to write about the specialist areas in which they work. This could be anything from design or manufacture, right through to sales and marketing. All employees are invited to generate content, comment on articles and share experiences to better engage customers and increase the number of online conversations. And, perhaps most importantly, they have dedicated time within their work day to do it.

Each week someone from the business will also write a more extensive blog post about a chosen topic of their choice which relates to their job role.

JRT will have an on-going training and educational role at Castelli, offering a monthly in-house support workshop for staff when there will be an opportunity to ask questions and learn more about the latest social media developments. JRT will also work to monitor content and provide best practice guidelines to help achieve the optimum results and maximise engagement with customers.

Jason Russell said, “This company-wide, all-encompassing approach that Castelli has adopted to generating content for social media platforms is something that other companies can learn from. Not only is it very democratic, it’s also incredibly transparent and creates an environment in which online customers feel comfortable to interact, and therefore feel better connected, to the brand. We’re also due to start working on some online videos in the near future to further engage people. The end result is that cultivating this kind of community drives incremental sales and creates Brand Champions who stay very loyal.”