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#9. Big Blue Squid's Who Dunnit Launch Campaign

MarketingSherpa Summary:
Big Blue Squid's in-house marketing team created this launch campaign on a shoestring budget proving you can do successful viral marketing on your own -- if you're exceptionally clever and in tune with your niche marketplace. In this case, the underwater diving community....

Agency - in-house
Client/company - Big Blue Squid
Brand campaign was conducted for - Big Blue Squid
Launch date of campaign - Jan 24 2005
Target audience/demographic - UK & Ireland divers, no age, skill or diving interest restrictions

Campaign Goal:
Our goal was to build our e-mail list and increase brand awareness primarily in the UK and Ireland but also mainland Europe. Our company is only six months old so following initial advertising in the niche press associated with diving in the UK, our plan was to cut advertising spend and develop a one-to-one relationship with divers and their clubs by providing a strong brand and free information to improve their underwater photography. To do this we aimed to hold a contest that would deeply involve people and take a high degree of response thereby ruling out the majority of 'one click contest entrants'.

The campaign was modeled on a popular 'Who Dunnit' board game where entrants are given puzzles. By solving the puzzles they receive clues. Out of 21 possible clues, the entrants collect 18. The three remaining are the answer to the 'mystery'. All those entrants getting the right answer are entered into a draw for a Sony camera with underwater housing and accessories. While complex in design and certainly more complex than average for users to understand the contest solved a wide range of advertising problems for us. The instructions were kept to a minimum before asking people to sign up but all the instructions were available on the website for those wanting all the information right away. After signing up, entrants received their welcome email with direct instructions on what to do next. This got people involved without trying to explain too much too quickly. Our only measurements were site stats and e-mail addresses collected. We set a marketing budget of 550 pounds and put every penny into buying a high value prize. We decided on a Sony camera with housing and all the accessories plus five runner up prizes of diving destination guides. Finally we added that every successful entrant would receive 10gbp off any order over 100gbp. The choice of prize was based on studying the competition and watching what brand attracted the most attention.

Seed Strategy:
With all our money spent on the prizes we approached the three largest online websites for underwater photography. The plan was to give entrants 3 clues out of a possible 9 in their welcome email. Another 6 would be available on the website, one appearing each week in the form of a puzzle, e.g. an anagram. 3 more clues would be available on our partner sites. First of all this brought every entrant back to our site 6 times in six weeks. Secondly, every entrant visited our partners sites and searched their forums for the bonus clue. To see the final 6 clues, entrants must tell their friends to sign up and see what clues they receive. If they were totally stuck for friends or their friends received the same clues they could also share clues on our own forum. The key to this campaign was getting advertising on the three partner sites for at least one week each. The normal cost of this would be in the tens of thousands but we got it completely free. By having our advert and press release on each partner site, they were feeding each other visitors by the need to search for the bonus clues during the contest. In essence, everyone who signed up, regardless of which site they came from, had to visit the other sites to get all the clues. It also meant we could send out a total of nine competition emails and a minimum of one newsletter to everyone who signed up over an eight week period.

Buzz Generated:
To create a buzz we relied on our press releases. A competition or any general news about a dive camera shop simply wouldn't make it in the PR circles so we created both a mystery and a story for the contest. 'The Mystery of the White Dolphin' was the outline for our story involving the murder of a rare white dolphin. Our prize was the 'reward' for finding the killer and we were appealing for the publics help. Just like the offline boardgame we had a murder mystery. This allowed us to write much more interesting press releases based on the story and not the actual event. We launched the press release through on their basic 30usd package with a read response of approximately 20,000. The real value in this service is the additional linking created from the top news pages of the major search engines.

Specific (Goal-Related) Campaign Results:
For results our web site stats went up 300%. Our previously unknown newsletter held 200 names and email addresses after the first week. Direct sales have also improved although site conversion is our next issue now that we have the stats to make comparable changes. For branding, we know our name and site has been seen by every entrant a minimum of 12 times in the eight weeks before the diving season officially begins. Our search engine rankings have also jumped. While our brand name was listed in the top ten in every major search engine within 48 hours of submission via a 30usd submission service (plus a few tweaks in house), keyword ranking has improved dramatically. Our Alexa ranking has also moved from approximately 1.5 million to 527,000. Results jumped each time a new partner site launched the ad as they were timed to appear at the beginning of each two week period. This gave us stats from our own advertising for 2 weeks followed by stats from the partner sites. Our advert was on their site for one week then we had a break of no ads for one week followed by the next partner site launching. This added value shows us which partner sites produce the fastest and most qualified results for the future.

Biggest Learning:
The biggest surprise was the number of entrants. While we had worked hard on making a complex contest simple, we didn't think so many people would sign-up. We were also surprised at how willing the partner sites were to share their marketing for free. We got top positions on all three sites, a mention in their news sections, newsletters and forums. If I was doing it again I wouldn't underestimate the response and design a range of test landing pages so I can double the value of my stats instead of waiting until I had seen the initial response to start making changes to improve direct sales.

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