Want a kiss?

When I was single I had this approach to dating that was incredibly successful so I thought I would share it with you in case you or someone you know are “on the market.” First I would take my date out to dinner where I would hit her hard with all of my redeeming features and benefits. I would tell her how kind and gentle I was, talk about the fact that most people found me to be very trustworthy, make sure she knew how fun I was to be around, then I would drop some of my political and current events knowledge on her. Bam!  After I had explained why I was a great catch, I would take her home and go in for the goodnight kiss.  How well do you think I did?

You know you want it. But will you get it?

I’m obviously kidding. Rico Suave I am not,  but I had more “game” than this! (Enough to get my incredible wife anyway.) How about our “game” in this industry when it comes to advertising our products? If we hit people with product specification, endless promotions with scarcity built in like “limited time and only a 9 left in stock”, followed by the constant beating of the price drum, do we really think that we are going to get that kiss at the end of the night? How about you manufacturers or suppliers advertising in the trades? Got game?

My point is that we have to create a bond with people in order to connect with them in a way that engages them to have a genuine interest in what we are doing. The top consumer brands do this all the time and so do the best retailers. Don’t you want to do business with a store that is owned by a family with a spokesperson that connects you to them, their company and their purpose in the community to serve you and help others at the same time? How about a brand that tells incredible stories about their products that speak to you on some meaningful level. Think about YOUR favorite brands right now. How do they get to you?

Connecting with people or creating a real bond with them is something you have to earn no differently than when you are on that first date hoping for a second. You have to show them a side of your company that makes them want to get a little closer. Of course your product has to be of good quality and priced right, but that only gets you so far. Your ability to be someone that they can relate to, respect and like,  is what will transform your business from something that is transactional, into something that is built to last longer than one sale. Forget what you sold THEM; what can you sell their kids?

Okay retailers, go and open up your favorite trade publication and take a look at the ads and tell me what you see? Are manufacturers building a connection to you? Do you actually like them or are they just another company selling beds? Retailers, look at your own ads and put them to the same test. Do you create a bond with your potential customers based on what you’re saying in your ads? This works the same way for you sales people out there by the way. You have to build your brand with the people you are selling to so what is your approach?

Will you get that kiss at the end of the night, or a door slammed in your face? Do tell.

 

Mattress Wars, Round 2

It looks like we have the best selling brand Serta, going after the largest e-commerce player Casper. I like to watch a fight where you have two heavyweights in the same ring. Ding, ding.

Serta is alleging that Casper is infringing on its patented design when it developed its new Wave mattress. In the lawsuit, Serta says, “Casper’s unauthorized use is unsurprising given that Casper openly states on its website that it has ‘disrespect for the existing mattress industry.'” In other words, we don’t care what you think we are coming after you guys guns blazing.

The primary complaint by Serta revolves around the rails that are cut into the foam that Casper is using to provide “precision contouring for added pressure relief”. Serta says that this resembles its own “Channel Cut Technology” and is in violation of their patent. (There are other alleged patent violations that we won’t get into here.) Serta is after monetary reimbursement as well as a court order asking Casper to stop producing the product.

The New Natural Geometry System from Casper

All of this is going on after a new round of funding by Casper raised $170 million and has made it clear that they are planning an I.P.O in the near future. That $170 million is based on a valuation of $750 million for a company that by most accounts, isn’t making any money. Phillip Krim, one of the founders was recently asked about the valuation but declined to comment.

So what’s the point here? Whenever you have industry titans like Mattress Firm and in this case, Serta, threatened by newcomers like Tuft and Needle and Casper, there is going to be some friction. If you have intellectual property you have to defend it or the courts will take it from you so Serta is doing what they have to do. Casper knows that they have to continue to grow and leverage their position as the leader in the e-commerce space so being aggressive is important, but in this case, you have to wonder if they went a little too far.

So who will end up the victor in this particular battle? Only time will tell.  Will Casper be hurt by the lawsuit as they move towards their I.P.O.? Will Serta get much from this outside of a massive legal bill?  One thing we know for sure, the attorneys are going to do alright.

PS…

In 2014 I wrote a blog titled “5 Signs An Outsider Won’t Make It In The Mattress Industry.”  It talks about industry outsiders coming in and failing because they make too many assumptions that end up in bad decisions. About this time Michael Traub, CEO of SSB, was starting his new job. In the post I give him a warm welcome to the industry and warn that if he makes the same mistakes that I outline, he may not be around long. I recently saw Michael at the Magowitz event and we laughed about this. Today, I feel like I should make a point of saying congratulations to Michael for NOT making those stupid mistakes and for becoming “one of us” over the last three years. I always enjoy talking to Michael and appreciate that his ego allows him to laugh about such things. Continued success to you and SSB!

 

How Important Is Your Word?

When I was first starting out in this business Randy Kunkel and Davis Whitworth both had a big impact on me as they trained me on how to be successful in the mattress industry. They both said a few things that have stayed with me all of these years and they are simple but incredibly important.

  1. Be the man. Do what you say you are going to do and never falter from that. If you say you are going to send your customer an e-mail then do it. If you tell an rsa that you will be there on Saturday then you better get there.
  2. Outwork everyone.

It’s that first one that I want to touch on today. If you give someone your word, or tell them that you’re going to do something, how do you value that? If you commit to the terms of a deal but later learn that it might require more to fulfill than you originally thought, do you stick with it or back out to serve your own interest? Even something like telling your kids that you will take them to the amusement park but you cancel later because something else came along that makes that decision inconvenient. What about the simple things like promising to give someone a call, or blowing off a date with your wife?

I  believe that if you tell somebody something of substance and you don’t follow through it does a lot to hurt how people perceive you and does something to damage you whether you realize it or not. We all know people that we love and trust that we would be totally good doing a handshake deal with because their word is their bond. Are you one of them? Can people really count on what you say even if it ends up being tough on you in the long run or do react to that with selfish behavior? Does character really matter? When we break our word don’t we feel a little less good?

When I was in college I bounced a few checks and my dad was furious with me. He said, “Your grandfather spent his whole life on that farm living up to his word with everyone in his town so that the Quinn name meant something. You are NOT going to damage that, are we clear?” Yes we are. If you can’t live up to it then DON’T commit to it because nobody wins in that.

 

 

 

Mattress Wars

When you think of epic battles David vs. Goliath comes to mind. How about the Imperial Forces and Darth Vader taking on the Rebels and the Jedi. Mayweather vs. McGregor? Coke vs. Pepsi. Shift gears to the mattress industry and we have our own little war taking shape….Mattress Firm vs. Tuft and Needle.

When Daehee Park and JT Marino first launched Tuft and Needle one of their primary messages was that mattress retailers are greedy. A strong message for sure, but if you are going to try to take market share in a very competitive industry with a totally different way of buying a bed, you need to be bold. (Remember the early days for Select Comfort and Tempur-Pedic and how they attacked innerspring mattresses saying that it was old technology and bad for the consumer?) In response to this, or maybe in response to all bed in a box companies, Mattress Firm launched this campaign, Don’t Get Boxed In.  The gloves were off, and the battle had begun.

Tuft and Needle came out recently with their $1 million dollar “Mattress Bet” which encourages their customers to buy a bed from them and if they aren’t completely satisfied they can return it, and receive $100 towards the purchase of their new bed but they have to buy it at Mattress Firm.  Wow.  Tuft and Needle is saying is that they have so much confidence in their own product that they can keep them sold, and that the consumer won’t find anything as good at $100 more at the Mattress Firm. So what’s the upside for Tuft & Needle?

  1. They advertise a message that is so strong that it takes some of the doubt away from a consumer that might be on the fence, which will drive their sales. People are attracted to confidence.
  2. It gives some business writers good fodder for earned media and gets people talking about them. Maybe even blogging about them. Yep.
  3. Allows them to be creative and support the narrative that retailers are greedy.
  4. People, in general, like the underdog and this has a little of that feel to it, further advancing the idea that these bed in a box guys are disruptive.

If you’re on the sidelines watching this you might wonder what Mattress Firm is going to do to respond to such a direct challenge. If Tuft & Needle calls you out like this you have to address it right? It may not be that easy. Some of the conversation at the Mattress Firm corporate office is probably going something like this; “We should go after them, we can’t just let them say this stuff.” “We should attack them hard, continue to talk about the fact that you can’t test out a Tuft & Needle bed before trying it, talk about the pain of having to return it, hit our white glove delivery experience, exclusive brand name products, wide selection etc.” But if you’re Mattress Firm do you legitimize it all by even acknowledging it? The Tuft and Needle raving fan base is also pretty aggressive at defending them in the social space so do you want to deal with the negative that comes with that? Are you better off letting Tuft and Needle do their thing, hijack some buzz, and try to beat them with your in-store experience? If you spend your own ad dollars or take up any space on your website reacting to it, do you just fuel what they are doing in the first place?

I think that this was a creative approach for Tuft and Needle and there is very little downside for them. They get to take on the big boys and create some interest at the same time. Will it cost them some money from consumers that want to get a free $100 promotion? It could. If you were a Mattress Firm rsa with price sensitive customer would you encourage someone to sign up for the bet, buy the Tuft and Needle bed so they can return it and get a free $100 to spend on something else in your store? Possibly but unlikely.

This falls under my belief that competition is a good thing. It helps Tuft & Needle do something new and different that fits their brand approach to the consumer. I also think that Mattress Firm can use it to show consumers how people are going after them because that’s what people do to the industry leader. Either way, it creates some excitement.

What do you think, should Mattress Firm react? Who will win this battle of wits?

 

 

 

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That’s What Friends Are For

Late last Thursday my brother Jeff called and let me know that conditions were good to start working towards the rebuilding process for my parents in Houston so I went to Lowes, bought supplies and headed to Texas. Hurricane Harvey rained down and flooded their house with over five feet of water causing them to lose pretty much everything material in their world. Luckily my brother and sister escaped damage by a narrow margin which is a great thing as they are now able to focus on helping my Mom and Dad.

On my drive down I couldn’t help but reminisce about the Joplin tornado in 2011 that killed 158 people so I was somewhat prepared. (If you’re interested in that, you can read about it  HERE.) Truth is, nothing can really prepare you for this kind of thing. When I first drove into my hometown of Kingwood things looked pretty normal. Flood waters had receded and many stores looked open for business. Then, I made it to the areas that were hit the hardest like my parent’s subdivision and there it was again; total devastation. House after house that looked normal from the outside, but totally wrecked on the inside. Not unlike many of the homeowners.

The front lawn of my parent’s house.

The Quinn’s reached out to their network using Facebook to rally troops and start the demolition process. We are racing the clock in a way because if you let moisture sit for long, mold begins to grow and then you have a much bigger problem. Out goes everything in the house including every stick of furniture and the stuff in every drawer. Then you begin tearing out dry wall, wood floors in every room, cabinets in your kitchen and bathrooms, removing nails from the studs, and tearing the doors off their hinges.

I know that this is a horrible thing for people to have to go through but like anything it isn’t what happens to you, it is how you react to what happens to you. What impact are you going to let it have on your life? For our family, here are a few things that we are left with.

  • We have the best family and friends in the world. I can’t tell you how many people sent us a text or gave us a call to check on how the Quinn’s were doing. Not only that but we had close to 75 different people over four days come to my parent’s house in work clothes; gripping a crow bar. Keep in mind that this was shit work and I mean literally. Sewage water that reeked so bad that at certain moments you could barely finish your task. That didn’t stop people from showing up and coming back. People from my family’s church (including one of the priest), a handful of Mattress Firm employee’s that worked with my father, brother, and sister, high school friends, neighbors and best of all complete strangers. When you have that kind of support and love from that many people, it’s very overwhelming.
  • I had breakfast with my family the day I left Houston and my mom started to cry so I asked her what was wrong. She said that she was embarrassed at how much stuff she had accumulated over the years with four closets full of clothes and drawers packed to their limit. Her takeaway… WHY???
  • Thank God my parents were smart with their money and can absorb this. They didn’t have flood insurance, and neither did 80% of the people in Houston that were hit by this stupid hurricane. You know what they say about planning for a rainy day?  They weren’t kidding. I wonder how many people are going to be financially ruined after this.

My Dad and Mom are two of the kindest, most generous people I know with their time and treasure. They have loaned several family members money when in need, donated their time to various organizations, and invested in just about everyone that crosses their path. They are authentic, godly people and truly care about others. It is because of this that so many were there for them this last week. As I walked around each day thanking people for being there to help, the reaction that I got was, “Are you kidding?”

Just a few of the volunteers.

On behalf of the Quinn’s we want to thank all of you who helped at the house, sent a text, placed a call, or said a prayer because it has made an impact. To say that my parents are profoundly grateful to you doesn’t even come close to what they are feeling right now.

Let’s continue to rally around Houston and brace for what is coming to the east coast. Based on what I saw in Texas last week, they are going to need everything we can offer!

PS: If you or anyone you know is having trouble dealing with the hurricane on an emotional level, Betterhelp.com is offering three months of FREE online counseling to those affected by the storm. Do not hessitate, reach out and see if they can help!

 

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