Where Love Happens

Ernest Hemingway once said,  ”You make your own luck.” I think that is mostly true. I bring it up because I was reflecting on what I believe is a missed opportunity for the mattress industry on Valentine’s Day. I have written about this before so I know I am beating what could be a dead horse, but let me make a case.

 Where Love Happens

Every night after a long day of working, taking care of kids, driving people everywhere for events, running errands, looking after the house, getting homework done, we all retire to our bedroom. This is the place where every day ends and begins. It is the one room of the house that is private above all other rooms and where many important conversations happen between couples. You lie in bed at night laughing about your day, solving problems, and just connecting with that person you are doing life with. You also wake up together in bed, talk about the party you attended the night before, share the dreams you just had, and maybe even plan your day. You come to your bedroom to talk, share secrets, and for those intimate moments. Is there a room in your house that says romance more than your master suite?

A box of chocolates and some flowers has become the default gift for Valentine’s Day. I understand why, but I think there is a way for us to push our way onto the list of possible gifts for Valentines’ Day. Your bed is the place where romance happens. Isn’t your bed that safe place, that romantic place, that comfortable place where life occurs? So how is it that we as an industry don’t celebrate that aspect of our product.

Its not like we don’t have  a right to claim a role in romance. We are not manufacturing a reason for a sale. Presidents Day is a perfect day for a mattress sale because after all, President’s sleep in a bed so of course we will have big mattress events right!?!? I am being a wise guy but you get the point.

Maybe we shouldn’t necessarily be running sales on Valentine’s Day but I think there is something here for the creative mind to unravel. A cool social media campaign perhaps? Check this link out to see what some companies did to capitalize on this special day for lovers. Or you can watch this video from Hallmark to see how they bring emotion into their business. What do you think, should somebody be doing something different with this holiday to highlight the master bedroom mattress? Who has developed a good campaign for Valentine’s Day? Send me some examples in the comments section!

No Consumer Left Behind

Remember when you were in elementary school and the policeman came in for assembly and spoke to you about safety, which was always followed by the fireman wearing the Smokey the Bear t-shirt, who was followed by the local doctor talking about how important sleep is? How about your life science teachers in middle school and high school constantly talking about how important sleep was to peak performance. If that wasn’t enough my college professors were always in our face about lifestyle, and how we needed to make sleep a priority as we were getting ourselves ready to be competitive in the real world.  I won’t even get into how sick and tired I am of going to the doctor where they are constantly on me about eating right, exercising more, and sleeping better. Are you relating to any of this? Well me neither because NONE OF IT EVER HAPPENED!

 No Consumer Left Behind

Education should be a big part of what we do because sleep is not valued the same way nutrition and exercise are when it comes to making that connection to quality of life. Yes people value sleep there is no doubt, but the average person doesn’t know a lot about sleep health and they certainly are not teaching anything to their kids. Why do we insist on drinking bottled water these days? When the Quinn’s are at a sporting event at school and my kids want money for a bottle of water and I tell them to get a drink from the fountain, they look at me like I am asking them to drink from the river. Nothing researched here but my recollection of that industry was that Amway invented a home water filtration system, so to drive demand, they had their multi level marketing team share the story about how bad tap water was. (There are likely many other contributors here but this works to make the following point.) They educated the public that our water wasn’t clean enough. Today that industry sells over $12 billion dollars of bottled water which equates to over 10 billion gallons of water each year.

What are you doing to educate people on the importance of sleep to quality of life? From those lesson comes the ability to market the solutions to bad sleep which are pillows, sheets, lighting solutions, and oh yes, MATTRESSES. If the perceived need isn’t there to the degree that you want it to be, sometimes you need to manufacture it. How many bedding companies/retailers send their sales force out to our local schools to lead these kind of talks? What is being done in the education system to advance the idea that sleep is important? What if we all started with the kids and did something to educate them on what a big deal sleep health is? I bet they grow up to value their sleep equipment in a different way. What do you think? Share your thoughts with me in the comments section or on LinkedIn.

BIG SHOUT OUT to Mr. Mark Kinsley, the other half of Dos Marcos and head Sleep Geek. He was nice enough to interview me for their podcast on my new venture bringing Spink and Edgar mattresses to the United States. We had a great time doing it so if you are interested in the how and why of what we are up to, give it a listen. It’s called Sheering Sheep For Fun and Profit.

 

What Would Your Super Bowl Ad Look Like?

Every year most of us gather at the neighbors house, bring our favorite 7 layer dip, order up some wings, open a cold beer and watch the Super Bowl. This year we got to see an incredible game with a horrible ending; if you are a Seahawks fan that is. (Sorry Scott Smalling, maybe next year my friend.) Some of the Super Bowl ads went the same direction, great idea but with a horrible execution ending in failure.

 What Would Your Super Bowl Ad Look Like?

If you wanted to have your spot seen this year by over 111.3 million fans (largest Super Bowl audience EVER), then it would have cost you about $4 million for a .30 second spot or $8 million for a .60. That is a lot of eyeballs watching your commercial and the great thing about creating a Super Bowl ad, is that you are more likely for someone to see your commercial because of all the hype. (What other television program makes that big a deal out of watching their commercials?)

A few that I liked in no particular order: (You can view them all and vote for your favorites HERE.)

  1. Viagra pill from Fiat. Fun commercial that had you wondering where the story was going to take you, ending on a hero shot of the car. They made this fun to watch and I thought the casting was perfect for the older couple.
  2. Doritos came out with their “Crash the Super Bowl” contest ad called”Middle Seat.”  Scott Zabielski, a graduate student from University of Southern California, was the Doritos consumer that won the $1 million. Great idea here with the perfect formula. Make it funny, include cute baby, feature beautiful girl. Done. Winner.
  3. The Snickers ad using the Brady Bunch show as a backdrop was awesome. For starters I used to love watching the Brady Bunch as a kid (stop judging me), and second, the contrast of the ax yielding bad guy with Mr. and Mrs. Brady worked great. I also loved seeing a cameo by my man Nucky from Boardwalk Empire which I referenced last week.

My big question to you is, what would your Super Bowl ad look like? Pretend for a minute that you have one shot at reaching 111 million people. What would you say? Would you tell everyone that you can discount your products by 50%? Would you lead with a free box spring, or give away something even more valuable like a adjustable bed base or a 50″television? If you had 30 seconds to build value in who you are and what you do, wouldn’t you try to include something about how you can improve people’s lives with your products? I know one thing, you would likely gather your team and be very careful to first identify what is so compelling about what you do, and then you would look for a creative way to tell that story. You might even hire someone to help you produce such a spot, making sure that you took great care with every second you had. (This makes a lot of sense given the fact that every second cost you about $133,333.)

If that approach is right for the Super Bowl, isn’t it also right for your website, ads, trade promotions, social media content etc?

Q’s Views Challenge: Give me your idea on what a great mattress or sleep products ad would look like on the Super Bowl either as a manufacturer or a retailer. I can’t give you $1 million but I will feature your idea in my next blog. Share that in the comments section or on the LinkedIn thread in Mattress Industry Executives. Good luck!

 

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Tempur-Pedic Embraces Hybrids, No Longer Bashing Springs

I am  binge watching  a great series on Amazon Prime right now called Boardwalk Empire. The main character named Nucky is the mob boss that runs things in Atlantic City. He is one of these bad guys that you find yourself cheering for, (think Mr. White in Breaking Bad). Anyway, he is in front of the women’s temperance league during the height of prohibition, speaking on the negative impact alcohol can have on families. He exits the stage, walks to his car, and pulls out his flask for a big tug of whiskey. The obvious hypocrisy of it all is absurd, but it makes a great impact to set the stage for the series.

Speaking of hypocrisy, isn’t that what we are witnessing here with the sudden shift on Tempur-Pedic’s part to embrace innersprings as good and a favorable way to build a mattress? Have the rest of you in the market been making innerspring beds wrong and somehow Tempur-Pedic found the keys to the kingdom and have finally figured out the right way to make an innerspring bed? (Does the Tempur-Pedic product really give you twice the support?) Or is it simply that the hybrid category is so compelling that they are willing to completely abandon their earlier position that innersprings are bad, cause pressure, and are totally inferior to Tempur material? If you really think about it, they built their business in part by attacking innerspring beds as horrible, and are now embracing that construction to make some money.

Don’t get me wrong, I get it. Chances are they are going to do very well with this but I sit here wondering if they will have any issues in this transition. Think about it. You have trained your entire staff to sell your position on Tempur material being the end all be all and far superior to air and innerspring as construction options. Do any of their own people have a problem with this as they now have to go back to the rsa and contradict all those years of training on the sales floor? How about the rsa themselves? Will they embrace Tempur-Pedic in changing direction this way or will their moral compass alert flash red?

 Tempur Pedic Embraces Hybrids, No Longer Bashing Springs

At the end of the day I guess it really just boils down to what will sell. If the products look and feel right and can generate sales and profits for all involved then we as an industry can pivot where needed. If I were the retailer I would likely welcome the new products with open arms if I knew they would deliver some profit, so don’t think I am on some high horse here. I will even go a step further and say that by Tempur-Pedic getting into the hybrid category it will help everyone in it.

I have enough to think about these days so I will leave this conversation up to everyone else from here on out. (Okay, that was a lie.) HOWEVER…after being an innerspring marketing guy for the past 8 years and deflecting the criticism of the category inflicted by the Tempur team, I feel like I have the right to share a few thoughts on the subject. Isn’t it funny when you boil it all down? The main reason that we made the term hybrid popular in the industry was to defend ourselves from Tempur-Pedic and Select Comfort’s attacks on the innerspring category. Since then, the success of the hybrid mattress has driven Tempur-Pedic into the market with spring beds so I guess you could say, they pushed themselves into the spring business. Hmmm.

By the way, if you think I am a Tempur-Pedic HATER then you are wrong. Read just this one post of mine where I give them a significant amount of credit for what they do and who they are. But sometimes you gotta call it like you see it. (I think I got the Simplicity launch correct after reading this post again.)

What do you think, am I being fair here? Share your thoughts in the comments section!

P.S. Tempur-Pedic people, we welcome you to this wonderful world of innerspring mattresses and hope that you are here to stay. We don’t require you to get a tattoo or anything like that to be part of the “hybrid club” but we do want you to own it. So the next time we are sharing a drink together at an industry event, I would like for one of you to stand tall, puff your chest out a little, take a pull on the afore mentioned flask of whiskey and say, “Tempur-Pedic has a hybrid dammit, and we are proud of it!” I will even buy the whiskey.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Story Behind The Story

About two years ago in Telford, England, I gave a keynote speech at the National Bedding Federation’s gala awards dinner. A guy by the name of Simon Spinks was sitting in the audience and he approached me later to tell me he appreciated what I had to say. Have you had that experience when you meet someone and immediately realize that there is something really great about the person you are talking to? That is what happened with Simon and I, and today, that relationship is turning into something big. Big for my family, big for our retail partners that want more market share, and big for consumers out there that value their quality of life enough to invest in a great mattress.

IMG 6313 300x246 The Story Behind The Story

From left to right: Michael Bates UK, Eric Johnson, Jeff Quinn, Lance Ellman, Mark Chase, Simon Spinks UK, Mark Quinn, Neil Ellman

My brother Jeff and I have joined forces with the Ellman brothers to bring the Spink and Edgar story that Simon built to the United States. If people really do make the difference in business today then I think we have a stacked team. First off my brother, who started The Mattress Firm (MF) Atlanta with Steve Stagner, Darin Lewin and several other friends from our college days. He has been in retail for over 20 years and has served as President of MF Atlanta and VP of Store Operations at MF Corporate. He bought another retail business after leaving MF and grew that over several years and recently sold it to be my partner and the Chief Operating Officer of our LLC, SIBOSE, which stands for “Sleep is better on a Spink and Edgar”.  The Ellman brothers come from three generations of bed makers. Their father Leon Ellman is a legend in the business, and along with his sons Neil and Lance, they grew International Bedding Company, (IBC) into a top 10 bedding producer. When my brother Jeff and I sat down with the Ellman’s in Florida, we knew within a few minutes that we were with the right people.

Farm Sheep staring sky 246x300 The Story Behind The Story

Some of our sheep on the farm in Yorkshire.

Simon and his team at Harrison Spinks have done an incredible job of building what I think is hands down the most interesting story in the bedding business. (See that for yourself at Spinkandedgarusa.comAnyone can say that they use high quality materials in their beds but only Spink and Edgar can say that they own the farm that grows them. Last week I talked about how important “story” is when it comes to building value in the products you sell. This story is unique, compelling, romantic, and sits alone in many ways. Now the Bed Brothers as I am calling the Quinn/Ellman connection, (think blood brothers, get it?)  will use our combined skill sets to bring the Spink and Edgar heritage and story to retailers here in the U.S.

We know we have a lot to do to earn the right with retailers out there, but at the end of the day they are in the same business we are all in which is to sell products and turn a profit. Here is what I know. Some people are just fine doing the same things and telling the same stories. The good news here is that budgeting for most companies working in that comfort zone is easier since all you have to do is use industry projections as your guard rails. We hope to attract the attention of retailers that look at themselves as leaders in the market and are constantly looking for a bigger better way to sell profitable categories and products within those categories. We think our innovative approach from the farm to the bedroom will give retailers the story that will give them what they need.

We are in Vegas and we are fired up to see our industry friends. On behalf of the Bed Brothers I want to thank everyone for the support and the positive feedback. The reception to what we are doing has been outstanding and we are grateful.

 

 

 

 

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