It was January 2018 and the first order of Bradfords business was already upon us.

Spring is by far and away one of the toughest periods of the year in terms of driving profitable sales. Competitor activity is a bloodbath, demand is high post winter, and getting the year off to a good start is critical for every merchant going. We needed to win the minds and wallets of tradesmen, all in the face of some big business challenges:

– Previous promotions had relied too heavily on giveaways and competitions to drive sales, which negatively affected our ROI
– Promotions had focussed on having a big idea to bring cut through which had resulted in the product message being relegated
– We were ‘reinventing the wheel’ each time i.e. coming up with new ideas that were costly and built no equity into a longer term platform

Despite these challenges, our commercial aspirations were big:

– Deliver a 5-10% YoY increase in sales
– Show that a fully integrated campaign could deliver positive ROI

And our budget? £140k for creative, media and production.

Working with our communications agency, Good Eggs, we started by undertaking some in-depth interviews with the trade to get under the skin of how they really felt about sales promotions. This uncovered a brutally simple insight that became the inspiration for our activity;

The majority of the ‘deals’ offered to the trade were either; not that competitively priced, not on the products they needed, or not when they needed them.

This powerful insight got us thinking, what if all three of these were to come together at once? How would the trade react? Based on everything we’d heard, we knew it would be met with nothing short of disbelief, and from this, an idea was born:


Next, we asked ourselves how could we inject the notion of disbelief into a creative idea that cut through, was ownable for the brand and put an unbelievable product message front and centre? We didn’t need another research study to tell us how tradesmen react when they don’t believe something?


And as the leading builders merchant in the South West, we simply considered what Bradfords would say when it comes to offering tradesmen unbelievable deals on what they want, when they want it?


Such was the belief in this idea, the business really got behind it. The commercial team were able to bring unbelievable deals to the table and we all got to work on building a truly integrated campaign across every part of our offering.

We started by activating the entire Bradfords estate – everything from banners and truck liveries to gondola ends and staff t-shirts. Branch and trade partner engagement (delivered via a Supplier Roadshow, a Branch Standards competition and a Branch Managers Sales competition) was seen on unprecedented levels, right from the word B*******s.

We utilised tried and tested media channels to engage the trade and drive them to branch; press, radio, outdoor, digital, and social media to name but a few. The idea played seamlessly across these channels, ensuring ‘Spring deals you won’t believe’ was seen right across the South West.

Our campaign had been live for all of 4 weeks when we were hit by the ‘Beast From The East’. Bad weather has forever been a scourge on builders merchants but this Beast was like nothing we’d seen before. But far from shying away from the Beast, we grabbed it by the horns. We used social media to put out a rallying cry to tradesmen to keep coming and take advantage of these unbelievable deals.

And the results? Well, quite frankly, they have been unbelievable:

– A 25% uplift in sales YoY on business priority products in the 10 week campaign period (vs a target of 5-10%)*
– A 10% uplift in sales YoY across the entire landscaping portfolio in the same 10 week period**
– All at a time where the category i.e. landscaping products across all UK merchants, was down -3% over the same 10 week period**
– This delivered a 12% increase in Bradfords’ market share of the landscaping category in just 10 weeks**
– All up, our campaign drove a 4:1 marketing return on investment for the business.

We saw unprecedented levels of engagement with trade partners:

“The promotion drove an 8% YoY uplift on our products, despite the trials of the ‘Beast from the East’™. A terrific success!”
(Area Sales Manager, Tarmac Cement)

Our branch engagement activity clearly paid dividends too:

“After spending almost 30 years in the industry I finally saw a promotion that truly ticked every single box”
(Branch Manager, Weston Super-Mare)

Finally, not only has this campaign delivered huge commercial success for our business in the short-term, we now have a long term sales platform on which to build. ‘Deals you won’t believe’™ will return. The best integrated sales campaign ever seen by a Builders Merchant?

That must be B*******s.

*Source: Bradfords Internal Sales Data – Mar-May 18
**Source: Independent UK market data – Mar-May 18