Is Your Website Working?

Looking back at one of my past blogs I talked about your personal brand and how important it was. We don’t put on clothes in the morning that don’t fit right or have stains in all the wrong places. We are careful in how we look so that we project the right image. Basic stuff right? If it is so basic, then how is it that so many companies do such a crappy job of how they look on line for the whole world to see?

 If I’m in the market for a television, choosing a place to eat or seeing what movies are playing at my local theatre, I go online. Today, there are more than 2.4 billion internet users, and more than 70 percent of them are online each day, according to The Cultureist.

 Is Your Website Working?

If people want to learn about you or your company, doesn’t it stand to reason that they are going to look for you on the Internet? The answer is so obvious, yet terrible websites being hosted by people in the mattress industry are rampant.

What are you trying to accomplish with your website? Are you trying to help people in the shopping phase of buying a bed or are you simply using it as an opportunity to market AT people? How much time do you spend each month reviewing load times, time spent on site, bounce rates, conversion points, conversion rates, social-engagement levels, or something as simple as traffic numbers?

Yes, I’m talking to all you small- and mid-sized businesses out there. And don’t tell me you can’t afford to hire a high-dollar consulting firm to come in and work with you—there’s so much information available for free that you should already have  the basics down pat.

To be clear, I don’t think the lack of focus here is because people don’t care. I think it’s because they don’t understand the gravity of it and they’re flat afraid of the Internet, because they don’t understand how things work. They’re not willing to learn about how to position themselves any better than where they are today. Your website matters, and if you’re serious about your business, you need to get on the stick.

Here are a few basic things to avoid when it comes to creating or improving your website:

Everything should begin with a solid strategy. Get with your team and fully understand—so you can effectively execute—what you want the site to do, what’s most important for function and design, and how you are going to measure results. This should get you started, but make sure to have the key people who will be working on the site or benefiting from the site so that you can build it right the first time. Don’t build first and sell it in later. You will regret it.

For the most part, your website should help you grow your business, so be clear on how you are going to do that. Can you generate leads? Can you offer free information that’s valuable enough to exchange for their contact information? Can they order right from your site, or can you direct-link them to a place where they can ring your register? Be intentional when you design your site; understand how you can create an actionable item that delivers sales.

Be certain that SEO and graphic design intersect at the right place. We’ve had many debates about the site looking good versus being optimized for SEO. (By the way, if you don’t know what SEO is by now, look it up.) These two things can and do work in tandem just fine, so avoid the problem of someone telling you that it has to be either/or.

Optimize for mobile from day one. Thirty-eight percent of all Internet traffic happens on mobile devices, so be sure your content appears the way you’d want it to on your phone.

Post useful, sought-after content. Put yourself in the shoes of your customer and make sure that you are serving up the information that they are looking for and that they can find it in a single click if that is possible.

If you’re a CEO, or if you run a business unit at a larger company, and have a website, you need to figure this all out. If you don’t understand how your website is contributing to your business, then you shouldn’t be in charge. It’s the Internet, for crying out loud. Take some time out to put yourself in the shoes of your customer and look at it through their eyes. You might be surprised at what you find. Grade your company and your web presence. Is your design right and does it deliver the goods?

 BONUS: If you want to feel a little better about yourself, you can always visit this site that features the worst websites from 2013.

The Odd Couple

The success I’ve had in the mattress industry over the years has, in large part, come as a result of my collaboration with top-notch individuals. We all have good ideas, work well on our own and accomplish some of our goals, but if you’re ever going to do anything really great, you have to surround yourself with talented people.

At Serta, I had people like Bill West, John Rachid, Alan Eisenberg, Jeff VanTuyle, Ed Lilly, Susan Ebaugh, and Connie Greco, to name but a few. But my right hand was Roxanne Franklin, who was incredible. Together, we had a blast and kicked some butt along the way. After my first few years at Leggett and Platt, I was able to hire John Walsh and he, like Roxanne, was my go-to person.

The reason John was such a huge help to me at Leggett is that we’re good at different things. We even referred to ourselves as “The Odd Couple.” I flew high at 30,000 foot, thinking of opportunities and creative ways to tackle them. John had his share of creative ideas, but his real strength was driving

 The Odd Couple

The Odd Couple

hard, managing projects until they were complete and making sure no stone was left unturned (much like Roxanne did, back in the day.) The bottom line is that they both had to manage my chaotic approach and clean up my messes—but it worked.

Which leads me to this point: Don’t be one of those morons who think they know everything about everything. We all know at least one of those right?

Discover what you’re not that good at and always look for people to help you compensate where you are weaker. If you align yourself with people whose strengths lie where yours don’t, you can accomplish so much more than if you were to try it on your own. Do you have a work partner? Is there someone to balance you out and excel where you are not as strong? There’s absolutely nothing wrong in saying you aren’t good at something—as long as you’re committed to resolving the problem.

I’ve been reflecting on my time at Leggett and know that working people like John Walsh made my life easier and much more fun—and allowed me and my colleagues to achieve a much higher level of success. Later on, we found Mark Kinsley, and things got even better as we all found a groove together and things just worked.

 In my last blog post, I mentioned that if you find the right people to work with, anything is possible. There is no doubt in my mind that it is true in my life and will always be the case as I move forward.

What about you? Have you found a good balance of people? Is it better with them on the bus?

8 Years in the Rearview Mirror

Since I announced my resignation from Leggett & Platt, things have passed by as a blur. I want to thank Furniture Today, Sleep Savvy, Bed Times, Furniture World, and Home Furnishings Business for writing about my departure. As for Sleep Geek, Mattress rear view mirror 300x199 8 Years in the Rearview MirrorIndustry Executives on LinkedIn, and the Dos Marcos podcast, you guys are obligated to talk about it because the properties still report to me…at least for now, so no love for you (joking). I also want to thank everybody who has called, left me voice mails, texted, contacted me on LinkedIn, or sent an e-mail. I have saved every single one of them for a day when I am going to need some encouragement, which I am sure will be in the not-too-distant future.

Whenever people transition from one thing to the next, I think it is natural that there is some reflection on where you have been to offset the anticipation of what is to come. Allow me to think out loud on both subjects. Continue reading

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5 Signs an Outsider Won’t Make It in the Mattress Industry

Have you ever heard someone say something like, “That person is coming from outside the industry and we all know how well that turns out.” There seems to be a strong bias that when it comes to managing business at a high level in the mattress industry, you are likely to fail if you are not an insider. new guy 300x198 5 Signs an Outsider Won’t Make It in the Mattress Industry

Why is that? It might be because there is a long line of consultants and investors that has drifted in and out of the mattress industry with little to show for it. Bounding in with a lot of hubris, ready to show these little mattress people how the big dogs do it. What causes failure for these outsiders?

You know the newbie is a short-timer when: Continue reading

Leaving Leggett

Gail Sheehy is an American author and journalist and was quoted as saying, “If we don’t change, we don’t grow. If we don’t grow, we aren’t really living.

That pretty much sums up where I am with this decision to leave Leggett & Platt.

When I came to L&P eight years ago, I did it because the people I knew here were great, I liked the company, and I saw a lot of opportunity to enhance its position in the industry. If I were to look back and grade us on how we were once perceived to where we are today, I think we have done pretty well on improving some things. I’m not basing that on my own opinion, but instead on the feedback from our customers and, just as importantly, our own people.

 Leaving Leggett

Leggett & Platt Bedding Group

Continue reading

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