The Law’s of Success and Failure

I am back from vacation and I am fresh so thank God for time away! Before I get into this post I want to let you know that I will stop writing Q’s Views after 2-3 more post. I love writing this blog, but it’s time to focus 100% of my time on Spink and Edgar. I will however start a new blog that will be featured on the new Spink and Edgar site when we get that launched. The good news for me is that I get to start writing for the consumer instead of writing for the trade. This fires me up because I think there is a lot that needs to be said so I am going to dive in with some purpose.  I want to finish talking about the 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing and then I will post my final blog so stay tuned as I am sure I will be on a rant for that one. I will share some of my thoughts on the state of the industry as it currently is, and where I think it is headed so get ready to share your own thoughts!!!

Law #18 in the 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing is the Law of Success which basically says, “Success often leads to arrogance, and arrogance to failure.” I have seen this story played out so many times where a company is rolling along and doing great, and they start to lose their objectivity. I think it is true that success breads success, but that same success can cause you a lot of pain if you don’t treat it right. I have talked about the Tempur-Pedic launch of Simplicity in a past blog so I will try not to rehash what has already been said. The summary of it is that Tempur-Pedic believed that they could defy basic merchandising laws, build an inferior bed to the competition and succeed. I would love to have been in that meeting where they placed Simplicity next to their competitors, clearly saw that it was NOT AT ALL competitive to what was already on the floor at those prices, and then someone made the decision that it wouldn’t matter. I am sure part of that process included giving a lot of credit to the Tempur-Pedic brand to carry it into a successful position. It didn’t work. Their competition was no better early on, thinking that just because you had a big “S” brand you could market your memory foam product across the aisle from Tempur-Pedic who actually launched the platform and owned the category.  At first some of the “S” brands started selling memory foam $100 above Tempur-Pedic and when that didn’t work, they started reducing prices. A lot.

 The Laws of Success and Failure

The Law of Failure speaks to the idea that many companies are risk averse because many of the senior executives making the big salaries don’t want to rock the boat and screw something up. They are making a lot of money and to take on risk just doesn’t make sense to them which is why you have to mix up your talent at the top! If you have people in key positions just coasting in for retirement, you could have a problem. “Nobody has ever been fired for a bold move they didn’t make.” Take a look around your organization. Get out your pen and make a list of the guys/gals that are pushing the envelope, driving new ideas, thinking of ways to get more out of your business but with some greater risk. Who are they? Do they even exist? According to the book, “Failure is expected and accepted.”

Next week I will cover the Law of Hype and the Law of Acceleration so stop back by for a quick read. The last chapter of the book talks about the Law of Resources so I will attempt to tie that back to the industry, along with a score card on Spink and Edgar through the filter of the 22 Laws, (did we follow the rules) and then I will publish my last blog post the week of August 24th so stay tuned.

 

 

Back Next Week!

I am sorry to the faithful followers of this blog for being out of the saddle. Last week I was in Orlando, Florida where my daughter was playing in the fast pitch softball World Series at the ESPN/Disney Wide World of Sports complex. They took 7th place which really isn’t too bad considering we are small team from a small market playing against the big guys. Then we hit Universal Studios and met Harry Potter, went shark fishing and now we are in Rosemary Beach in Florida enjoying some family time on the beach.  Next week I will be back at it!

IMG 8324 Back Next Week!

The Quinn’s at Graceland. This was on my son’s bucket list so there you go. icon smile Back Next Week!

What I have confirmed once again this last few weeks is that you have to carve out time for yourself and your family to keep things where they should be. Investing time and money on a vacation where you make incredible memories and connect with your wife and kids on a deeper level is something that I will always be grateful for. I hope you have had that kind of time with your family this summer.

Talk to you next week!

 

 

The Law’s of Singularity and Unpredictability

The 16th law of the 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing says, “In each situation, only one move will produce substantial results.” I am going to disagree on this one but I understand where they are coming from. Skilled companies can work on different tactics to get them to the result they desire but they need to be careful not to get off track. In addition, there are other laws in this book that say a similar thing so I will move on.

predictability The Laws of Singularity and Unpredictability

The 17th law is the Law of Predictability and it says, “Unless you write your competitors plans you can’t predict the future.” I think the most important thing to take away from this law is that it is very important to have short and long term plans and strategies for your business. The problem is that you can’t predict the future so having a plan is great, until the market changes on you and you have to react. When we first created Sleep Geek we put everything behind a wall and the visitor had to sign in with their email and create a password to get to the content. Good idea because we could then use those e-mails and reach out to our community when we needed to market our products or communicate with everybody. The problem was that nobody wanted to sign up that way, they just wanted to watch our video’s and read our articles without the hassle of having to sign in. After watching the metrics on the site and talking to some of our Geeks we decided that we would abandon the original plan and do what our community wanted. Good thing because it has been growing ever since.

Don’t be married to your ideas. Watch and learn from everything that is happening around you and if you are a good student of it, those things will tell you exactly what you need to be doing. Your marketing plan should always be written in pencil so that you can maneuver to the best possible place.

The Laws of Attributes and Candor

The 14th Immutable Law of Marketing is the Law of Attributes.  Similar to a past blog post where I talk about the Law of Opposites we talk about the need to make sure that what you are saying about your product or company doesn’t look too much like your competition. If you are competing against Restonic with the Marvelous Middle which is something they have owned for decades, coming out with something similar just doesn’t make sense. “Marketing is a battle of ideas. So if you are to succeed, you must have an idea or attribute of your own to focus your efforts around. Without one, you had better have a low price. A very low price.” My add on to this law is to say that when you select your attribute, make sure that it is relevant to your target audience.

The 15th Immutable Law of Marketing is the Law of Candor. I really think that there is a lot to this law but very few take advantage of it. Consider that everything negative that you say about yourself is almost immediately accepted as true. You can tell people that you are a horrible golfer and probably won’t hear an argument from anyone about it. If on the other hand, you were to brag to some new friends about how great of a golfer you were, you may get challenged by them to put your money where your mouth is. The book points to Listerine as a great example of this. These guys know that their product taste like crap and it’s painful on top of the bad taste. Instead of running from that they embraced it and came out with the punch line of, “The taste you hate twice a day.” Consumers related to it and gave Listerine a lot credit for their honesty in advertising. What if this industry were to adopt a little of that approach. “This bed is horrible for sex, but it sleeps great!” Okay, bad idea but you know what I mean.

 The Laws of Attributes and Candor

At the end of the day it all comes down to the relationship you want to have with your customer. If they trust you they will buy from you and telling people that you are not perfect isn’t so bad. Ann Pillow used to work for Blumenthal who produced mattress ticking back in the day. Jim Lamping was my rep at the time but Ann would assist him in product presentations. I was picking covers for Sam’s at the time so every decision meant millions in sales for them. I would zero in on something and Ann would literally say, “don’t buy that one, its ugly and over priced.” Jim would whence and I’m sure be thinking he was going to kill her when the presentation was over. The impact on me was, I LOVE THIS LADY and I had never heard of anyone be so honest about their products. We did a lot of business with Blumenthal because of this and Ann and I are good friends to this day.

How much candor is there in your marketing when it comes to telling your story? Are you focused on the right attributes to set yourself apart?

 

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Give IT To Get IT

 

Before we get started I want to share a recent interview I did with Doug Stewart for his blog Furnishing Results. Doug asked me to talk about a failure in my career so I shared one of many. I have never really told this story publicly until now so if you ever wondered what happened behind the scenes of The Virgin Mattress web series, you can hear the whole story and how it eventually drove me to better things.

Screen Shot 2015 07 01 at 7.52.34 AM Give IT To Get IT

“Failure is not the opposite of success, it’s part of it.” Doug Stewart

 

“If you want to be successful today you should give something up…..Where is it written that the more you have to sell, the more you sell?” This is law #13 in the book The 22 Immutable Laws Of Marketing which is the Law Of Sacrifice. The book says that there are three things to sacrifice; product, target market and constant change. Let’s take them one at a time.

less is more Give IT To Get IT

When you walk into a store today how many beds do you see? 20? 30? 40? How many times have you heard that consumers are very intimidated when they first step foot onto a mattress floor? They see one big sea of white and to the uneducated consumer, they all pretty much look the same. To remedy this I have seen retailers partition their store so that it looks more broken up. I have seen them separate the categories by color and even by vendor to help the consumer navigate all of those fluffy WHITE rectangles. Do we really need all of those beds? I know that there is value in having multiple vendors because you can get more slotting fees, improve your selection etc., but does the consumer really benefit from all of that? When I worked for Serta we had 2 beds at Sam’s when I started which ultimately grew, but we did an enormous amount of business on just two sku’s. I took over the shop television business later on in my career with Serta and during our broadcast we featured only one mattress. We got pressure from leadership to offer a choice but we held them off. Isn’t it logical that more options creates more opportunity? My thinking was that on television anyway, if you showed them a plush version and a firm version, the consumer would freeze not knowing which one was the right decision. Mostly since you couldn’t try them out. We sold millions of dollars worth every hour doing it that way. How about Tuft and Needle and Casper? They have only one bed and they sell on line. I realize that there is much more to consider in this equation but if you consider narrow selection, I think there is a case to be made that more isn’t always better.

When you look at sacrificing target market that one gets tricky fast. There have been several attempts to focus on very specific markets like the Duck Dynasty crowd or overweight people from King Koil, or Simmons going after millennials with Loft. I really like the idea of narrowing your focus on the target market but if you are going to do that the product has to be right, what you say, how you say it, where you say it, how often you say it all has to follow, and that is complicated. Most of the success in targeting a market in our industry has been restricted to companies chasing the luxury market. Even that has slowed. How many producers out there are great at selling mattresses over $3,000?

Finally the book talks about giving up constant change and I couldn’t agree more. Change can be a good thing but if you are in a constant state of it, it’s not helpful its disruptive. Is your company committed to your strategy or do you shift at the first sign of trouble?

So there you have it the “less is more” blog post. What did I miss? Do you like adding complexity or keeping it simple? Where is the proof!?!