Bruce Bolt is a direct-to-consumer baseball batting glove company in Austin, Texas. The business launched in 2017 when its founder was a 16-year-old player. He needed a better batting glove and a job. Making and selling his own gloves solved both needs.
Chris Hall is Bruce Bolt’s head of marketing. He and I recently spoke, addressing acquisition tactics, ad performance, and more. The entire audio of our conversation is embedded below. The transcript is edited for clarity and length.
Eric Bandholz: Tell us what you do.
Chris Hall: I head up marketing for a company called Bruce Bolt. We make batting gloves for baseball and softball players — from 8-year-olds to MLB All-Stars. I like getting together with other folks in the direct-to-consumer community, especially in Austin, Texas — a great place to live.
I like selling stuff on the internet. As an ’80s and ’90s kid, there’s still something magical about turning on the computer and making a dollar online. Still something magical about it. I’ve done it with coffee, trucker hats, shirts, and now with Bruce Bolt. We’ve got an incredible product and audience, and it’s wonderful to bring something unique into the world and find community around it.
Bandholz: Is that a growing sport, baseball?
Hall: Baseball has gotten less popular in terms of live television, and they’re trying to address some things that will hopefully change that trajectory. But the number of kids playing and entering baseball and becoming serious about it, and their parents spending thousands of hours to drive them all around the country and to thrive in the sport, that’s only grown.
You’ll see people like Max Clark. He’s a high school baseball player and insanely popular because of the advent of social media. And he’s outstanding. He’ll probably be drafted in the first round, top of the first round. Many folks tell us, “I know you guys because I saw Max Clark wearing your glove.”
We have relationships with many players, from little leaguers to MLB pros. It starts just like any other relationship by getting in contact and folks discovering you. The good thing is our founders made an innovative product. The baseball community loves it.
Bandholz: What’s your acquisition strategy?
Hall: Much of our social media activity is organic. We have an organically developing community that’s built-in with travel baseball, who, when they discover you, will rapidly talk about us and share our products. Little Johnny finds the gloves, and everybody on the team wants to see and feel them, and then they ask their mom and dad if they can have one. Having that built-in community and inclination for word of mouth has caused a groundswell for our product.
The challenge for us is meeting the demand at this point. Many folks hit us up daily, wanting to join the ambassador program or wanting to outfit the entire team. We’ve worked hard for about the past year to accommodate those situations.
For advertising on social, our best messaging is simple: “Look good. Hit dingers.” It’s our highest-performing tagline. It’s about getting in front of our audience and telling them, “This will help you look cool and hit the long ball.” That’s worked. Foregrounding the product, showing people the gloves, and then featuring influencers or players they already know. When people recognize those players in our creative, it gives us more credibility.
So that’s mainly what we’ve done with ads: Simple messaging, showing the product, and then verifying the authenticity of the product with people already using it.
Bandholz: How do you track ad performance?
Hall: The primary metric for us is what Triple Whale calls blended ROAS, or what I call marketing efficiency ratio, or MER. It’s high level: how many dollars are we spending on advertising per day, and how many dollars do we have coming in? Years ago, I would have aimed for an MER of 6. It’s even better than that now. That’s what I’m tracking daily.
Bandholz: Your company has an interesting founding story.
Hall: Yes. Bear Mayer made the gloves when he was 16 because he needed gas money. His dad told him, “Either get a job or start a business.”
He’s now 21 years old and has an incredible company on his hands. The story makes a huge difference. With our customer base, we’re messaging and selling to two groups simultaneously: kids and their parents. Kids will discover us on TikTok or at the baseball diamond. He passes it along to the parents. So having authenticity behind the product gives a real “why” to the business — a real advantage to what we’re doing.
Bandholz: Where can people support you and buy your gloves?