RE-ESTABLISHING EQUINE EXCELLENCE
AT THE BRITISH HORSE SOCIETY
“An added bonus, has been the coming together of wider stakeholder groups”
The British Horse Society (BHS) has been the UK’s largest equestrian charity for the last 70 years and had, until recently, been the No.1 destination for anyone wanting to start their career in the equine industry. However, in recent years the position as the leading body in this market has been eroded – the industry began to question the quality of candidates, assessors and teaching styles, diluting the BHS reputation for high standards. In addition, competitors took advantage of this situation, positioning themselves as credible, modern alternatives to the BHS.
Our objective was to re-establish the BHS as a supportive equine authority that guides, advises and supports individuals throughout their career. And to present the BHS education framework as the pathway to equine excellence.
The plan was to simplify and modernise the exiting outdated and complex education framework. And to present it as a clear and easy to understand, aspirational career pathways that appealed to new and existing members.
To establish a coherent strategy, we collaborated with the BHS marketing and education teams, deconstructed the existing education framework; untangling professional and recreational stages; identifying distinct career pathways; and knitting together the complex assessment qualifications to establish clear accreditation titles.
With the new education framework approved, at all levels within the BHS and with the associated award bodies, the next stage was to build a clear messaging system and campaign that re-introduced the new education framework to existing BHS members – designed to create a tangible buzz, re-igniting interest in career progression. And to introduce the advantages of an equine career to the young grass-roots community coming through.
The new education framework was a significant step-change for the BHS and its members. Many of the established,
long-standing accreditations and titles were changing and a positive presentation was essential to ‘bringing them on the journey’. In addition, for those who are new to a career path, we had to inspire, motivate and ultimately encourage loyalty to a long-term career path with the BHS.
With our core target market being under the age of 25 and predominantly female, there was a need to connect at a more relevant and emotive level, using storytelling to demonstrate how members are bettering themselves, developing their careers and loving what they do. It was important that our audience could place themselves within the narrative, therefore film became the heart of our campaign.
With the help of the BHS we found three ‘ambassadors’ to promote stages 1 to 3. Then shot a series of short naturalistic films of a rider, groom and coach. These films became the backbone of the campaign from which all other channels pointed.
It was vital to get buy-in from the approved riding school community, so a key aspect of the campaign was the creation of center kits that promoted awareness, helped the riding schools sell-in the changes and provide confidence that the BHS were there to support them.
In addition to the core awareness campaign, all other education assets were brought in-line with the new education framework, including brand development, a dedicated website, award certificates, resource books, customer journey assets and event materials.
The key metric for the campaign was ‘engagement’ – compelling existing career members and new non-members to discover more about the broad career opportunities in the equine industry, ensuring BHS is positioned as the knowledge-hub for each enquiry.
Following a successful launch in July 2017 to the press and assessor community, new phone enquiry applications rolled in from day one, with a sustained 50% increase.
The use of direct urls within marketing channels contributed to a significant increase of visits to the new ‘education hub’ website, an increased footfall of 115% from launch, with the largest group being 18-24 year olds via mobile.
An increase of over 30% in stage 4 and 5 assessments YOY, demonstrating the new education framework and campaign has ignited interest in career progression beyond stage 3.
An added bonus, has been the coming together of wider stakeholder groups, such as assessors, coaches, riding schools and equine employers, to back the campaign, promoting awareness across the industry.
“MA have been great to work with. They’ve brought lots of fresh, innovative, relevant ideas to the table, and have delivered some brilliant work that’s really helped with this challenging relaunch.”
Natasha Eastwood, Marketing Director, The British Horse Society