Knowledge Is Only Potential Power?

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Leadership, marketing, mattress industry, product development, Retail

If you have been reading this blog for long you know that I am a HUGE fan of Roy Williams, the New York Times bestselling author of the  Wizard Of Ads. Mark Kinsley and I actually went to Austin, Texas and studied with him a few years back and I can tell you that he has a great brain for this marketing stuff.  If you ever get the chance to visit him at the Wizard Academy I encourage you to do so!

I am borrowing from Roy today based on his recent Monday Morning Memo which I also recommend you sign up for. In it, Roy talks about data and how we could be getting it wrong if we are not careful. Consider the following thought straight from Roy’s blog:

FACT: The Japanese eat very little fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or Americans.
FACT: The French eat a lot of fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or Americans.
FACT: The Japanese drink no red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or Americans.
FACT: The Italians drink lots of red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or Americans.
FACT: The Germans eat sausages with beer and suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or Americans.
EVIDENCE-BASED CONCLUSION: Eat and drink what you like. It’s speaking English that kills you.

Industry reports say we didn’t grow in 2017 so do you buy that or is it possible that we didn’t capture all of the sales from e-commerce? Sales on your new product line are not what you want them to be. Did your product development team get it wrong or could it be the way you went to market, trained your people or featured it on the selling floor?

Data is important for any business as it can give you information that can help you make good decisions but it can be dangerous if looked at the wrong way. “Another limitation of data is that it cannot tell you the right thing to do. It can only tell you the result of what you have already done.” Roy Williams

I was once on a team that was working with an outside consulting firm and we spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in research to understand where we should be going as a company. To me, a sales and marketing guy, the data was crystal clear as to what our future should be. To others on the committee that were more operationally driven and risk-averse, the data suggested something completely different. In a way, we were all using the information to support what we wanted to be true.

Be intentional about collecting data but don’t look at it in a vacuum. Consider all things tangible and intangible and respect the information in a way that allows you to hear everything it’s telling you without bias. Reports are great but they’re only the tip of the iceberg. Don’t let them sink your ship. (Okay that ending was so obvious but I couldn’t help myself.)

Before I sign off today I want to pay my respects to Art Van Elslander of Art Van Furniture who died recently at the age of 87. I didn’t know Art well but I did meet him once in Detroit. I was asked to do some training for my company and was told he was going to show up so I was a little nervous. I knew Art was in the room before I ever saw him and I’m not kidding. This guy filled a room unlike anyone I have ever seen. He was an industry pioneer, philanthropist, and a friend to those that knew him. Art, thank you for what you gave to those you left behind and for making this industry better. We need more like you.

Market Matters

Posted 4 CommentsPosted in fun, furniture, marketing, mattresses, Retail

It’s that time of year as many of us are getting ready for Vegas Market Baby! As you prepare to walk the halls in uncomfortable shoes, eat too much, drink more than you should, and sleep less than you want to, I offer a few reminders.

For the people selling stuff:

  • Keep it short, nobody really wants to hear you talk and everybody has other people to see.
  • Save the BS and shoot straight. If your marketing department has gone all goofy with technical speak that nobody can understand then summarize, and evangelize.
  • Ask a bunch of questions because the retailers are the ones traveling the market so make sure to understand what is hot from their perspective. If you hear something over and over you probably need to pay attention.

For all of you buyers:

  • Don’t get caught up in the aforementioned BS slinging. If a claim is made, ask them to show you some proof of that. If you don’t immediately understand what they are talking about, simply acknowledge that it’s probably sales doublespeak designed to divert your attention away from the fact that it’s really just a polished up version of last years model.
  • Are the companies you’re talking to trustworthy? Do they tell you one thing and do another? Ever feel like your business relationship is one-sided with them keeping a fling on the other side of town while they ask you to stay faithful? #cakeandeatit2
  • Do your share of visiting current suppliers but be sure to spend at least 20% of your time checking out some people you haven’t seen. You never know what you might find out there.

Yes, some of this advice actually serves me as I make an appeal for you to come and visit us in C1595 at the PureCare/Knickerbocker space. First of all, it’s where all of the cool people go. Second, we have ice cream in the afternoons on certain days. Third, Spink and Edgar is a guest there this year and we have an incredible new line to share with the right retailers. Our new product doesn’t look like anything else on retail floors, it definitely doesn’t feel like other beds, and our farm to bedroom story beats that tired memory foam, gel, hybrid crap every day of the week. 🙂 My MANY THANKS to Eric Johnson our product designer for creating something incredible, and to A. Lava, Bekaert, and Culp for bringing us some really great materials and expertise.

Final words of advice….leave the hookers alone it’s really not worth it, be careful walking the streets… people die in that traffic, and if you visit the legal pot shops in Vegas just know that you are probably going to run into someone you know. That’s how that works. 🙂 Have a great market; hope to see you next week!



This Ad Says “PEE ON ME!”

Posted Leave a commentPosted in advertising, creativity, fun, marketing, mattresses, Retail

“Peeing on this ad may change your life.” That’s what the most recent IKEA ad says, created by Swedish agency Akestam Holst, Adweek’s International Agency of the Year.  If you are a pregnant woman and place some of your own urine on the magazine ad, the test strip will reveal a 50% discount giving you the friends and family price on a new crib for your nursery.

I LOVE THIS STUFF! They placed this ad in Amelia magazine, one of Swedens most influential publications for women so that was pretty smart, but the best part is, they are getting millions of impressions of earned media as a reward for their creative approach. Remember some of IKEA’s past mattress commercials? They are definitely not the typical ad.

The crib ad got me to thinking; how many children are conceived on mattresses each year? So you are telling me we are directly involved in the act of making babies? We sell baby making platforms? Our products participate in the act of creating some of the brightest minds on the planet? Want to still push price and promotion? How about 50% OFF OF THESE BABYMAKERS!

Wouldn’t the baby making process be a fun way to sell a mattress?  I have talked about this several times in my blog and it is still true; people have sex on our products. Are you telling me that there isn’t a clever way to use that angle to make mattresses a little more interesting?

As we approach 2018 push hard to do the unexpected. Suprise people with something fun and memorable. Look at your business through a different lens and break through the sea of sameness. Work a little harder at that and your customer will reward you for it if you find the sweet spot. I guarantee it.

Thanks to my good buddy Lance Beshore for sending me the ad. You know me well. 🙂





What Can You Learn From 6 Billion Nights Of Sleep?

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Leadership, marketing, mattresses, Sleep

What do people love, need, cherish, have to have, and when they get it they want more of it and if they don’t get it they will most certainly die? Sleep of course. In this industry, we know this stuff right? Well, now that Fitbit is tracking sleep they are able to start educating all of us about the subject of sleep in a much more significant way.

Fitbit is the wearable device that can track your biometrics which includes your sleep among other things. In March of 2017 these guys started to track sleep and so far they have over 6 BILLION nights logged into their system. Want to talk about a relevant sample size; this will qualify. As a matter of fact, it’s the largest data set ever compiled. Not only will this device track how long you were snoozing away, it can tell you how long you spent in each cycle of sleep and then they can carve up this information based on the other things it already knows about you like your age, sex, weight, height, geography, activity level etc. So what has Fitbit learned so far?

  • Women sleep longer than men. 25 minutes longer! They average about six hours and 50 minutes vs. men at six hours and 26 minutes.
  • Women are also 40% more likely to have insomnia which means that they have trouble falling and staying asleep.
  • When you are 20 years old you get 30 minutes more deep sleep each night compared to when you are 70.
  • National bedtime is 11:21pm.
  • If your bedtime varies by two hours from the weekday to the weekend then you will lose about 30 minutes of sleep as a result.
  • Boston is the #1 party town as they vary their bedtime more than other cities. No wonder Roger Magowitz has the Seena Magowitz Golf Tournament there. 

There are SO MANY things that this research can show us depending on how you slice the results. The remaining question is WHY. Why do women sleep longer than men? Why is exercise good for sleep?

These guys are not alone however, there are more products in the market that will also help us learn more about our sleep like the very cool ZEEQ Smart Pillow by Protect-A-Bed, or the way that Sleep Number is integrating its SleepIQ technology. So is this “sleep thing” getting bigger?

Mark Kinsley and I made some bold predictions in this Dos Marcos podcast last year and one of them included the idea that sleep as a health issue was going to grow in importance. Part of the opportunity around sleep as a subject is the fact that it was not easy to measure in the past but it looks like Fitbit is taking care of that. If it’s true that knowledge is potential power, then this will certainly advance some of the conversation around the subject don’t you think?

Wouldn’t it be cool if sleep grew so big that it was THE THING on everybody’s mind? People started to learn about their own sleep cycles, parents understood how bad caffeine was for their kids sleep so seeing somebody else’s kid drinking pop at 8 pm was just as bad as seeing a pregnant lady smoke a cigarette? What if business people stopped bragging about how little sleep they get, wearing that as a badge as to how much of a “driver” they really are? In order for anything to become a massive trend, like exercise and diet, there must be many different groups talking about the subject. Is the mattress industry doing its part? What happens if SLEEP blows up and becomes this major thing that people become obsessed with? Will we sell more mattresses and sleep essentials?

Not saying that some of you are not contributing, but I know that with the amount of money that is spent promoting this industry, we have a large voice that could make a much bigger impact. What do you think?



What A Year!

Posted 5 CommentsPosted in Leadership, Management, mattress industry, Retail, Sleep

WHAT A YEAR! 2017 has been incredible in many ways and not all good, can you relate? Just a few thoughts for you as we close out this year; do with them what you will.

  • Our industry is changing in a lot of ways so complaining about it or ignoring it because you don’t want it to happen won’t help you; only good strategy will keep you in the game. Stay focused on what your good at, but don’t be afraid to try some new things. If you fail, do it fast and as cheaply as you can.
  •  If you’re a brick and mortar retailer out there, this is my hope for you in 2018. Create a consumer experience that is something they will talk about when they leave your store. I realize that this is a huge hurdle to jump over but if you don’t have that, then you will end up a victim of the internet. Businesses do it all the time and it doesn’t have to be expensive, just thoughtful. In addition, if you are selling the same stuff everyone else has look at some proven “craft beers” out there like Spink and Edgar that bring big tickets and fat margins. Set yourself apart this year and create your own competitive advantage. It works.
  •  Do business with the people that you trust the most. I have heard many stories this year about big corporate types making moves to benefit themselves, regardless of the impact on their customers. Life is too short for that crap if you ask me and there are WAY TOO MANY solutions in this industry to stand for that type of treatment so pick partners who actually SHOW you how important you are to them. (But get it together before you make any big changes, planning is the key!)

I say it every year but take some time in the next few days to review 2017 in your mind. What did you do right and how did you screw up? Be grateful for the bad things that happened because if you’re paying attention, chances are, they happened to show you something about someone or something so don’t miss out on that learning.

Looking forward, BE THE BOSS. Have faith in yourself and in your people and go after it in 2018. Have big expectations, solid strategy, and get the right team in place, then go out and kick some serious butt.

Finally…my parents lost their home this year in Houston due to the flood and just yesterday, I had a call with a very close friend that told me his wife was dealing with news of a tumor. Benign thank God. Bottom line is that no matter what you faced in 2017 or are staring down in 2018, stay focused on what matters most.


From my family to your family, have a blessed NEW YEAR!