Case study: The Blue Chip Challenge

How Flint Creative helped Blue Chip Feed increase sales, reduce costs, increase communication with customers, get PR coverage and a whole lot more.

Background:

Blue Chip is the market leading equine supplement brand in the UK. Research by Flint Creative showed that many people who didn’t use one of Blue Chip’s products didn’t do so because they thought it was expensive. However many people who did use it commented that although it was one of the higher priced in the market it was also the best value, as it worked better than any competing products.

Blue Chip’s historic advertising had focussed on professional riders who used the products. Although Blue Chip never pays anyone to endorse the products and all the professionals use the products because they want to the research showed that people assumed that the professionals were being paid for their endorsements, and this affected the credibility if the endorsements. Also, each ad had previously only featured only 1 of the products in the Blue Chip range. Although this was necessary so as to not confuse the ads it also meant a low media spend per product.

The aims:

Increase sales

Increase numbers of new customers

Reduce advertising costs

Create a campaign that got retailers promoting the products and had PR potential

Drive trial of the different products in the range: Both getting existing customers to try new products and getting new customers

Increase communication with customers, especially feedback on the products

Develop the Blue Chip database

Develop interesting content for social media; blog, facebook and twitter

Methodology:

We developed “The Blue Chip Challenge”.

This had a variety of facets:

To entice people to buy we offered a £5 voucher and a 40-day money back guarantee.

A money-off voucher is a very simple marketing technique, in this case people had to visit a specially created microsite where they gave the details about themselves and their horses in exchange for the money-off voucher. This enabled us to build a database of customers and the specific problems they had with their horses, allowing Blue Chip to offer tailored advice where necessary, it also gave us an opportunity to find out what media people were consuming and what other products they were using. More importantly it gave us an opportunity to find out where people had found out about The Blue Chip Challenge – This information let us know which of the publications that we advertise in work and which don’t – allowing us to cull those that don’t get results and save money on media.

The money back guarantee was a mark of Blue Chip’s confidence in their products. The Blue Chip challenge ran in tough economic times. The money back guarantee took the risk out of the purchase for the customer.

Feedback

When people registered on The Blue Chip Challenge (which they had to do in order to download the £5 voucher and activate the money-back guarantee) they also downloaded a Feed Diary. Feed diaries were also made available in tack and feed stores nationwide, which gave stockist something to talk to their customers about and gave the (3rd party) sales force something to talk to the stockists about.

The Feed Diary allowed customers to monitor the progress in their horse over 40 days both with daily comments and daily scores from 1-10 for different benefits of the products. This increased the amount of feedback that we got form customers and the daily scoring allowed us to get across the benefits of the products extremely clearly.

Customers were offered incentives to let us know how they were getting on with The Blue Chip Challenge. These included money off your next order, merchandise and entry into a prize draw to win a year’s supply of the Blue Chip Product that you trailed.

Feedback from customers was key, as the research that we ran showed that although people didn’t necessarily trust the feedback from a professional who they (wrongly) assumed was being paid for the endorsement, they did trust feedback from other riders like themselves.

Ongoing communication

As Feed Diaries came in they were posted on the Blue Chip blog. This blog was hosted on the microsite bluechipchallenge.com and also automatically fed into the main Blue Chip site bluechipfeed.com and into the Blue Chip facebook page facebook.com/bluechipfeed.

Each new Feed Diary was also posted in Twitter.

Some of the Feed Diaries were so spectacular, with incredible before and after pictures, that they generated a lot of PR coverage in the press. The press coverage, online coverage and general ongoing communication not only promoted the products, it also promoted The Blue Chip Challenge itself – getting more people to sign up to the challenge, generating more feedback, more contact etc – Developing a viral cycle.

The most important thing about the ongoing communication was that it was 2-way communication. Customers were communicating with the company, as well as the company communicating with the customers. This kind of interaction is key to modern marketing and allows customers to feel more engaged with the brand, which makes them more loyal.

Stage 2

We ran an online survey of all the people signed up for The Blue Chip Challenge. This gave us some amazing feedback.

One of the standout facts was that “95% of customers reported an improvement in their horse”

We used this as the basis of the 2nd stage ad, along with quotes from people who had taken The Blue Chip Challenge.

This ad demonstrated the efficacy of the products, showed that they were used by ‘real people’ as well as professionals and was a very simple, singular message that promoted all of the product in the range.

Results:

60+ Feed diaries/ testimonials received

95% of customers reported an improvement in their horse

98% of customers would recommend Blue Chip to a friend

93% of customers would continue to use the product that they trialed

Dramatic reduction in media spend, whilst increasing sales

Thousands of people singing up to The Blue Chip Challenge: 50% had never tried a Blue Chip Product

800+ Facebook fans (who still get regular updates including the having the Blue Chip Blog automatically appear in their home page)

600+ Followers on Twitter (who still get regular updates)

Increased sales online AND in store

PR coverage at launch stage, mid-way results stage and final winner stage