Welcome to the mind-melting world of flame resistant (FR) apparel.

The self-extinguishing garments that protect oil and gas and electric utility workers in an arc flash or flash fire event. Total life saver. And, total pain in the blue-collar butt. It’s bulky. It’s itchy. And it turns wearers into hard-working Houdinis. Unbuttoning, untucking, and escaping compliance just to stay cool. Leaving them exposed to potential tragedy – and the safety managers watching over them open to disaster and deposition. Nevertheless, OSHA makes it mandatory. Which makes FR big business, with mega-brands like Carhartt, Dickies, Wrangler and Red Wing entering the field. Brand names with big budgets and zero differentiation. After all, FR is a uniform. By definition, everything’s the same. And when it’s all the same fabrics, products and fashion, industrial laundries can beat them up on price.

Ain’t that a kick in the coveralls?

Enter Bulwark. A 46-year-old brand that eats, sleeps and breathes FR, but had little awareness and a fraction of the category’s biggest spenders.

What in the FR do you do?

In Bulwark’s case, you change your go-to-market mindset. Entirely. You get to know safety managers. Intimately. And you transform yourself from just another FR manufacturer into the world’s leading FR authority.

The Insight.

Bulwark historically defined its customers as the distribution channel. After all, in a two-step distribution system, getting your products into market is paramount. While this audience would remain important, they were gatekeepers to the real buyers and decision makers – safety managers at oil and gas and electric utility companies. In order to win, we learned we would have to get to know these safety managers, inside-out.

Through agency research opportunistic immersions, we quickly learned three crucial insights about this unique audience.

  1. Safety is a true calling, not just a job.

  2. Our audience is deeply passionate about who they protect.

 

  1. Part schoolteacher, part police officer, safety managers have tough, thankless jobs.

  2. They work alone, without peer support.

 

Safety is wildly complex.

Safety managers oversee dozens of hazards beyond FR, and each has its own set of ever-changing OSHA rules and regulations.

The Lightbulb Moment.

 

“My job isn’t to say ‘no.’ It’s to get my guys to say ‘yes.'”

As we immersed ourselves, we heard this sentiment time and again. Moreover, they said they needed help at all stages in their FR process. They were lost in OSHA’s standards; they wanted help building FR programs for their companies; a simple “5 ways to convince procurement” was gold. Fortunately, Bulwark had 46 years of FR expertise, a best-in-class, yet completely underleveraged training program, and a burgeoning consultative offering to call upon.

Better still, Bulwark had a sacred talisman. On the left arm of every Bulwark garment is their iconic triangle. Even if safety managers couldn’t recall the brand name, when they saw the triangle, they said “that means ‘good to go’.” We even observed workers patting the triangle ritualistically as they headed out to the work site.

The path to prosperity was clear. We had everything safety managers were looking for. We just had to “arm” them.

The Idea.

Arm Yourself.

 

In two ritual-inspired words, we created the ultimate platform for thought leadership, allowing Bulwark to connect with safety managers by constantly feeding them the types of content – videos, whitepapers, tools, OSHA updates, etc. – they were craving. Arm Yourself became a rally cry that resonated far and wide within Bulwark’s walls.

  • To make the shift to a truly great 1:1 content marketer, Bulwark would have to overhaul its attitude, and its approach. Prior to “Arm Yourself,” the marketing and sales teams operated in separate silos. Marketing built assets for Sales based on their requests – but the insights driving them were wrong. Sales needed a partner to help identify and recruit new leads, as well as maximize sales to existing clients, and they didn’t believe Marketing could pull the weight.

 

  • Thankfully, our internally-embraced brand idea could become a lens for the entirety of Bulwark’s business:

 

  • We armed Marketing with new insights pulled directly from focus groups. Once we were all operating off the same set of information, we were able to reimagine new ways to connect with the safety audience.

 

  • We armed the company with new communication channels designed to showcase the full weight of the Bulwark brand. Putting a process in place to efficiently generate content along the way.

 

  • We armed Bulwark with better measurement, and results – redefining how they could look at data to ensure they were identifying the most engaging content across paid media, email, and social.

 

  • We shared results at the annual sales meeting, and the insights behind them.

 

Training & Focus Groups

Digital Content

Digital Content

Analytics & Measurement

The Results.

By using Arm Yourself as a way for Bulwark’s leadership to guide the company’s internal transformation, we successfully made the case to marry CRM and marketing automation so we could evaluate paid media and content based on sales opportunities. This shift required a massive commitment from Bulwark’s sales team—A true sign we had earned their trust.

All in all, Arm Yourself is a creative platform that bridged the divide between sales and marketing internally; that guided the training investment necessary to operationalize the company’s new marketing automation system; and set the stage for Bulwark to market to its strengths.

Ultimately, the campaign smashed its goals, beating most by astonishing margins.

Sales & Leads

Goal: Show direct sales increase of 1.5x ROI.

Result: Marketing lead revenue increase: 3.1x ROI.

 

Goal: Increase marketing leads assigned to sales by 20%.

Result: Marketing leads assigned to sales: +45%.

Engagement

Goal: Increase on site conversions by 20% without increasing budget.

  • Result: Increased on site conversions by 600% without increasing budget.

 

 

Goal: Exceed B2B industry benchmark for Facebook CTR of 0.78%.

  • Result: Exceeded benchmark by 418% with a 3.26% CTR.

Database & Brand

Goal: Increase email database by 38% while minimizing increases in unsubscribes and decreases in open rates.

  • Result: 73% increase in email database with no spike in unsubscribes or decline in open rates.

 

 

 

Goal: Surpass leader Carhartt in unaided awareness.

Result: Unaided brand awareness surpassed Carhartt’s 30%.