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Case studies | Jun 12

Ireland’s Homes Interiors & Living: utilising agility to diversify revenue

Case studies | Jun 12

A strength that all SMEs share is their agility. Their ability to be reactive is what makes them so effective at seizing opportunities. This is an attribute Ireland’s Homes Interiors & Living lent on to diversify income and futureproof against risk. 

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According to Words Rated, over the last decade Global print magazine and newspaper revenues are expected to decline by an average of 3% per year. Conversely, digital magazines are expected to grow over the next five years. With over two decades of experience in the industry, Ireland’s Homes Interiors & Living Managing Director Robert Ashe recognised this shift in landscape a few years ago and has since diversified revenue to maintain the magazine’s profitability.  

Ireland’s Homes Interiors & Living is a home design magazine that gives information on interior decorating and sourcing suppliers in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. After a brief stint at a call centre at the age of 19, Ashe found his way to Ireland’s Homes Interiors & Living through a friend of a friend who worked at the magazine. 

After ten years in print, Ashe then went to work with the Yellow Pages, as part of Yell, who brought him on during their transition to digital. It was here that Ashe explored new and innovative ways of generating revenue. 

Following four years with Yellow Pages and a number of transnational corporations, Ashe was coaxed back to Ireland’s Homes Interiors & Living by Founding Publisher and mentor Mike Keenan. As Managing Director, Ashe was now able to implement change within the magazine, but all these new ideas needed to be corralled and expressed through a business paradigm. It is for this reason that Ashe decided to enrol onto the Help to Grow: Management Course. 

‘I could have come back to the magazine and just sold advertising. But if you haven’t diversified income in preparation for change, you’re in a spot of bother. Especially in these times when we don’t know what’s coming next.   

‘I began to look at different revenue streams but getting all the information in my head on to paper was the issue. One of the modules from the Help to Grow: Management Course I found most useful was Digital Transformation. As part of that I undertook a digital audit and found that digital marketing and advertising was a huge opportunity for us.’ 

‘We can increase client loyalty by offering more and generating additional revenue per client, we now have a wider range of services. Potential clients will also have more confidence in us if we can demonstrate an ability to exceed on multiple levels.’ 

Robert Ashe
Business Manager, Phoenix Cleaning Company

Three-pronged approach to change 

Armed with a wealth of knowledge, Ashe went to work bringing the magazine into the digital age by implementing a strategy to utilise new methods of communication and monetising them. The first area of focus was social media. 

‘I used to think TikTok was teenagers dancing around their parents’ front room. But when I came across Gymshark in a case study on the course, I realised how powerful a marketing tool it could be. I started looking into some different social media channels like ours and found Wardens. They had more than one million views on TikTok and it had changed their business over night. 

‘We couldn’t use the same tongue-in-cheek approach as Wardens as our customer-base is a little more high-end. We also needed to decide whether to focus on brand awareness or selling a product, we chose brand awareness.  

‘We felt we finally had a plan but didn’t know how to execute it. However, during one of the peer-to-peer calls on the course a guy was mentioned whose job it was create content and run a social media strategy. I reached out to him, and he’s been creating for us ever since. We were the first home interest title to do that and have over 20k views on our videos.’

Since launching their social media campaign, Ireland’s Homes Interiors & Living has seen an uplift in sales and brand awareness. In addition to this, the magazine charges showrooms £500 as a video production fee to feature on their TikTok channel, a new stream of revenue that previously didn’t exist. 

The increased social media presence has also spurred on additional revenue streams such as events, which Ashe holds throughout the year to generate income through sponsorship and table costs. 

The final way Ashe diversified income was through the monetisation of the website. Teaming up with an analytics company, Ashe can now present website data to local and national distributers of materials and homewares within the industry. This data is a primary marketing currency for advertising on the website. 

A different conversation 

Diversity of revenue and expanding your portfolio is an important part of any business’s growth journey. Companies that rely on just one or two large projects to generate income are left vulnerable if one of them is suddenly lost. New streams of income mitigate against that risk, and also allow business leaders to venture into new markets without the same level of precarity. 

One of the biggest benefits for Ashe is that it has allowed him to explore new opportunities with confidence: 

‘When I’m out with clients or potential clients, the diversity of our portfolio allows me to have a different conversation. “This is what we’re doing and what we want to do.” It has allowed us to evolve into a multimedia company. I can say to people, “Look at the comments, engagement and following we’re getting.”  

Ashe is currently putting himself and his staff through various paid courses in social media, podcasts and video production to continue expanding and diversifying the services that Ireland’s Homes Interiors & Living offer.

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