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!?!

 

 

 

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Don’t Extend Yourself Too Far

“By far the most violated law in our book is the Law Of Line Extension. What’s even more diabolical is that line extension is a process that takes place continuously, with almost no conscious effort on the part of the corporation. It’s like a closet or a desk drawer that fills up with almost no effort on your part. One day a company is tightly focused on a single product that is highly profitable. The next day the same company is spread thin over many products and is losing money.”  The 22 Immutable Laws Of Marketing brings us law #12, which is the Law of Line Extension, and as you can see here, it is a problem for many consumer products companies.  I understand why this law is broken so often because any good leader wants to take a success and ride the wave. They want to milk that momentum for as long and as far as they can. The problem is it doesn’t work in most cases.

The book says it has a lot to do with the leaders in the company that believe in the brand so much, they are “blinded by their loyalty.” I agree but say it a little differently. I think there is a lot of ego involved in these decisions and companies just think that because they have done well with one product, they will do just as well with the next one. Many times they forget about all of the hard work that it took to make those past products successful and they think that their brand can do anything. Isn’t the diversion a problem as well? In my blog post on the Law Of Focus I talk about companies that try to be everything to everybody and in most cases that doesn’t work out too well; same thing here. Extensions can take your focus off of your core business which can send you to a place you don’t want to be.

I will give some credit to Select Comfort, Therapedic and Tempur-Pedic on this point and I’m sure there are others. These companies have done very well in developing sleep accessories that compliment their brand in adjacent spaces. The product development teams have found great solutions and are driving their business outside of their core competency. These are definitely the exception however, as there are many more failures than successes.

 Dont Extend Yourself Too Far

Nothing Sleeps Like A Hog

Want to avoid missing the sweet spot? In the mattress industry I have seen several attempts by bedding producers to establish relationships with other consumer brands outside of our industry, brands in the entertainment space or even fashion designers, and they rarely work. Borrowed interest can be a good thing, just make sure that the extension makes sense. For example, I don’t see a Harley Davidson mattress doing that well. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good hog, but I want to ride it not sleep on it.

If you want a great example of how to do a brand extension the right way, just look at Apple. I am pretty sure they are the benchmark. If you are successful with portable music players, phones, television devices, tablets, computers, and entertainment content among other things, you are the undisputed KING.

PS-Extra bonus tip!: On a personal note, I just started to binge watch Game of Thrones. I have heard references to it many times but was never interested enough to tune in. Do yourself a favor…subscribe to HBO Now and start on season one; you can always cancel. I am starting season five so I flew through 40 something episodes. It is AWESOME. Who is your favorite character? Tell me in the comments section!

The Law Of Division And Perspective

This week I am going to cover two laws in one post. The 10th law from the 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing is the Law of Division. It says that over time a category will divide and become two or more categories. Take computers for example, when it all started you had computers and main frames. Now there are mini’s, phones, tablets, phablets, laptops and the list goes on. Looking at our own industry and we can apply this one pretty easily. When I started in this business there was really only one category and that was the big bucket of mattresses. Later came pillow tops as a construction type and then specialty and most recently the hybrid which is obviously the most fun of the categories. Don’t agree? Do any of the other categories have their own rap song and music video?

Law #11 is the Law of Perspective and it says “marketing effects take place over an extended period of time…The long term effects are often the exact opposite as the long term effects.” Is alcohol a stimulant or a depressant? It depends on what time of the night you are in the bar doesn’t it? Early in the evening when you have had a few cocktails the volume level of the bar increases, the jokes get dirtier, and the evening gets a little crazier. Check back with that same group around 2 or 3am and what are you seeing? The depressant side of the coin unless of course you went to college with us at SFA, in which case we were just getting started, but I digress. icon smile The Law Of Division And Perspective

What is the short term effect of running big sales in the mattress industry? Sure it drives business for the holiday you are focused on, but does the consumer ultimately learn to wait to buy from you until the next big holiday? The largest retailer on the planet, Wal-Mart, is EDLP or every day low price so I am certain it works but maybe only for general merchandise? That’s not true either because there are some very successful mattress retailers out there that do a bang up job with EDLP price structures. If sales are the drug of choice for our industry, does that make financing the crack/cocaine of the industry?

 The Law Of Division And Perspective

The short term effect that sales and finance offers have on our business is easy to see as it relates to sales spikes. The question on the table is, will those short term gains ultimately have a negative impact because the consumer doesn’t like all of the BS that comes with it. Much of it is deceptive and that can only hurt you long term. Mostly in this transparent age of the internet.

What do you think about the Laws of Division and Perspective, have I missed it?