Immutable Mattress Law #2

As I said last week, we are going to take the book 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing and apply those laws to the mattress industry. Last week we looked at the “Laws of Leadership” and this week it is “The Law of the Category.” Essentially it says that if you can’t be the first in a category then create a new category that you can be first in.

Remember old Bert Hinkler, the second guy to fly the Atlantic. Nobody does, but I bet you can remember the third person to fly the Atlantic. Amelia Earhart. Not because she was the third person to do this but because she was the FIRST woman.  We can see examples of this law all around us. Miller Lite was the first to market with a light beer, so they occupied the top spot. Amstel decided they couldn’t be the #1 light beer but they could be the best selling IMPORTED light beer, and that is exactly what they did.

 Immutable Mattress Law #2

Amelia Earhart, FIRST Woman to Cross The Atlantic

Look inside our own industry. For years, companies like Tempur-Pedic and Sleep Number defined innerspring beds as old and dated. It worked for them and they created what is known today as the “Specialty Sleep” segment. That segment was the darling of the industry as it was the fastest growing and most profitable for years.  It was frustrating for my team at the time being innerspring guys, because we knew that comparing a $2,500 sleep set to the entire category of innerspring mattresses was a very unfair thing to do, given that innerspring beds started at the very bottom. That caused us to look for a new way to talk about, or position innerspring mattresses. We defined the term “hybrid” in the mattress business, essentially creating a new category of our own. (Remember the rap video called GET HYBRID that Leggett and Platt produced with Second City Communications out of Chicago? If you have not seen it, give it a few minutes of your time for a good laugh.) Sealy liked the idea and ended up creating their own version of a hybrid mattress, leading the industry into the category. It has been hot ever since with everybody else following behind the Sealy launch, and the innerspring portion of the industry has out performed specialty in growth for the past 10 quarters.

Screen Shot 2015 04 15 at 10.44.26 AM Immutable Mattress Law #2

Get Hybrid Rap Video By Leggett and Platt

How about politics, just think about that for a minute.

George Washington=First President

Barack Obama= First Black President

Maro Rubio wants to be the first Latin American President.

Hillary Clinton wants to be the first female president.

Jeb Bush is in real trouble if you listen to this law in trying to become the third Bush President!

Craft beers, energy drinks, hybrid cars, hybrid beds, and phablets, are all great examples of products that have spun off from other successful consumer product categories. If you can’t be the #1 where you are, then create a new reality for yourself and look for another way to position what you do.

What other examples can you think of? Have we created the next new sleep system already? Maybe the smart bed is the next big thing?


22 Immutable Laws of Mattress Marketing

I am heading over to England today to visit the Harrison Spinks farm where we will be growing natural materials to make our Spink and Edgar mattresses. While we are there we will get to help the sheep during the lambing process, (well, I will be there for moral support anyway), and visit our factories so stay tuned for more on that. During my travel day I will be reading a book called The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Al Ries and Jack Trout. It was written in 1994 but my money says they are still true. I am going to do my best to absorb the knowledge within these pages and report back to you, applying the rules to the mattress industry. It should be interesting so let’s get started.

 22 Immutable Laws of Mattress Marketing

You can’t argue with Ricky.

Law #1: The Law Of Leadership. This law basically says that if you are not first your last, or was that Ricky Bobby? Doesn’t matter, the point is first to market wins in a very big way. “The basic issue in marketing is creating a category you can be first in. It’s the law of leadership: It’s better to be first than it is to be better. It’s much easier to get into the mind first than to try to convince someone you have a better product than the one that did get there first.” Do you know who Bert Hinkler is? Didn’t think so. Bert was the SECOND guy to fly the Atlantic Ocean solo, right after Charles Lindbergh did. Bert did it faster, and burned less fuel than Charles but didn’t get too far in the name recognition game.

It isn’t just that you stand out in the mind of the public; this first to market approach delivers long-term sales advantages. Don’t believe me? Who has the most market share among light beers? The best selling computer printer? #1 razor? Top laundry detergent? How about Miller Lite, Hewlett Packard, Gillette, and Tide.  Surprised? I wasn’t either. The truth is that people perceive the first to market as superior. Remember “marketing is a battle of perceptions, not products.”

So let’s try this in the mattress industry? Who brought the first memory foam bed to market? Who was first at creating a mattress with adjustable comfort? Want something more recent? What e-commerce company legitimized the bed in a box concept?

What can you bring to market and be first in doing so? Obviously this doesn’t work all of the time, especially if you break any of the other 21 immutable laws, but you can see from these examples there is a lot of truth in the law so what are you going to do to capitalize on it?

Fun Is Profitable

Okay, get out your pen and make a list for me. I want you to write down all of the things your company has done this year so far to make things a little more fun. It could be an internal thing, or it could be something that you did for your customer base, I don’t care just tally it up. How long did your list get?

I thought about my blog post today after reading about THIS press release from Sean Fry in the Linked In group Mattress Industry Executives. Sean announced today that he was building the largest mattress store in the world that would measure 1 mile in length, feature a roller coaster on the roof without seat belts so if the passengers fly out they will land on one of those mattress below, and it would have a liquor license to properly serve the drunken foot traffic that is common in Vegas. No he is not serious about the reality of this store, but he is serious about making things a little more fun for us all on this 2015 April Fools day.

There are some old fashion corporate types that don’t understand why they should worry about doing anything fun for their own people or for their customer which is fine but sad. Those are the leaders that absolutely don’t get what inspires people to do MORE than what is expected. If you want your own people or your customers to react to you in the best way possible, then give them a reason to have that positive feeling when they are around you or when they walk through the door.

 Fun Is Profitable

Case in point: When Clive Golden was with Protect-A-Bed, he, Kelly Gordon, (now Kelly Stagner), Alan Eisenberg, Lawrence Hirshon and others were the people to hang out with at market or to buy from because they were FUN to be around. I wasn’t buying anything from them but they always included me as we shared mutual friends, and it never felt like work when you were with them. They had a good product don’t get me wrong, but they built their business on relationships and just having a good time with friends and customers. They knew what they were doing and it worked. Well.

I wrote about this subject in June of last year in my blog titled, “Is Your Team Happy and Why Should You Care?” In that post I ask you to take this idea to your team and I also site examples of other companies that are great at this. Have you taken me up on my suggestion?

My hat is off to Sean Fry and all that he is doing on his website where he reviews mattresses, sleep aids, pillows and more. He has great content and is a FUN person to have in this industry, so check him out or follow him on twitter @seanthomasfry.

Now stop reading this blog and figure out a way to make your work day, company, presentations, or office environment more fun and I guarantee you will like the results. Don’t you do better when your task is more enjoyable?!?



It’s Time to Journey Better

Remember the days you went to the store and bought razors that cost so much you had to almost line item list them in the family budget? Not anymore thanks to Dollar Shave Club!

Kippo .019 Its Time to Journey Better

Guys, remember when your underwear used to ride up your butt and your t-shirts always came untucked? Not anymore thanks to Tommy Johns.

Can you recall a time when you were working out and your phone fell out of your pocket during a run or in the middle of bench press? NOT ANYMORE thanks to the all new amazing KIPPO workout shorts! (Read to the end for my wrap up and connection to our industry!)

One of my best buddies, the VP of Marketing for Leggett & Platt’s Bedding Group, has invented a new patent-pending design on a special pair of shorts he calls Kippo.  They have a built-in pocket that keeps your device from falling and flopping during your workout, yet it’s easy to access when you want to change music, answer a text, or take a quick selfie. They are very cool looking and meet an unmet need. Yes you can get an armband, but they are clunky and uncomfortable. Or you can buy a smaller device and clip it on your shirt but why do that? I know when I run I still want to be available should my wife or kids call, so for me this is the perfect solution. 


I love it when someone sees an opportunity and charges after it, which is exactly what Mark Kinsley has done here. He had a problem that he decided to fix. Then he saw others having similar issues, which got him excited about the idea and he just decided to go for it. I give Leggett a lot of credit in supporting him because not all companies truly encourage the pursuit of innovation. Not all companies let you experiment with ideas and apply those lessons in a way that adds value back to the organization.

When Kinsley and I worked together we often talked about the need to let other industries inspire ideas and he has certainly done that here. In addition he has learned a lot more about crowdfunding and how startups bring products to market, which brings me to my next point.

Please take a minute to visit Mr. Kinsley’s Kickstarter Page. You can support him with as little as $5, or pledge $49 and get a pair of Kippo shorts and FREE shipping in the U.S.—that’s a 30% discount from the soon to be retail price of $69.

Final Wrap Up:

  • Let’s support one of our own in pursuit of a dream. We can help Kinsley do something great here.
  • What does your company do to look outside for inspiration? Are you set in your ways and believe that a mattress is a mattress is a mattress? Casper and Tuft & Needle were industry outsiders and came in with an innovative approach to the consumer and they are getting paid for it. Will you be the next innovator?
  • Since you are going to be on the Kickstarter website, spend some time surfing around. There are some really great projects that could lead you to your own idea!
  • Luggage worked just fine until they put wheels on it and made it better. Not sure how we missed that one for so long but I believe that kind of “obvious” faces us in our own industry, so be on the lookout.

Mark Kinsley worked for me when I was at Leggett & Platt but I promise you I ended up learning more from him than he did me. He is a great guy, with a serious passion for life, this industry, and now this project. Help me help him realize that dream and BACK HIM NOW. Your smartphone will thank you later!

Top 10 Ways To Practice Being Happy

I am going to make this short because I am preparing for a trip to take my kids skiing this week. My wife is ditching us because she is not a big skier and has always wanted to have the house all to herself for a few days so she is going to realize that dream. She is the glue for our family and serves us every day all day so I am glad she is doing something for herself. Mom’s rock!

Anyway, I was reading an article on about happiness and I thought I would share the highlights with you, but I encourage you to read it in full HERE. Top 10 ways to practice being happy and how a ski vacation fits perfectly:

  1. Exercise: Hitting the slopes when they open and riding until the close. Check
  2. Sleep more: After you ski all day, sleep is not hard to find. Check
  3. Spend more time with family: Getting my kids away from their friends AND DEVICES will be incredible. Check
  4. Get outside more. You can’t get more outside than being in the mountains. Check
  5. Help others more. There is no doubt we will have an opportunity to help someone up after a hard crash or we might even let some people cut in line. Check (Okay this might be a stretch but we will see what we can do.)
  6. Smile. We will be smiling so much it will hurt. Check
  7. Plan a trip. Or take one in this case. Check
  8. Meditate. There is nothing like riding that lift and looking around at the mountains and the incredible gifts God gave us. There is something spiritual about that. Check
  9. Move close to work. I just quit my job and work out of my house so I can’t get much closer than that. Check
  10. Practice gratitude. I start every day of my life being grateful and we have been looking forward to this trip for months and talking about how lucky we are to get to go. Check
IMG 4280 300x225 Top 10 Ways To Practice Being Happy

2014 Park City, Utah

Spring break is here and I hope that you are taking advantage of it in some way. Vacations, even if just for a few days can create incredible memories that will last you a lifetime. From our family to yours, I hope you get to do something fun with your start to spring.

PS Happy St. Patric’s Day!!! I am drinking a green beer and thinking about you all.