The Advantage Of the Click Over the Brick

Posted 6 CommentsPosted in advertising, creativity, e-commerce, fun, furniture, Leadership, Management, marketing, mattresses, purpose, social media

Last week I talked about the advantages that the brick and mortar, (B&M) guys have over e-commerce companies selling sleep products primarily online. Today, I want to flip that over and share some thoughts on why the digital approach to this category is capturing most of the growth in the market. As a reminder to everyone, this is just one guy’s opinion so be sure to share thoughts wherever you might be reading this.

  • Giving consumers a choice on what to buy is a good thing, HOWEVER, you know what they say about too much of a good thing. E-commerce companies have really done a great job of simplifying the purchase of a bed. I am not of the mind that there is one bed for everyone, but to not have to decide against 50 different products feels a little less intimidating to the consumer; especially if there is no one there to facilitate the sale. Bed in a box company’s (BIB) are starting to expand their offering so we will see how far they take it.
  • Not only have BIB companies made the decision-making process easy, they have taken the pushy retail sales associate out of the picture. This isn’t a fair thing to point out for all of the retailers that have created good buying experiences for the consumer, but there are plenty of stores out there with the “used car” mentality. That and many people today prefer to buy things online because they are just used to it now and when you consider the 10’s of thousands of positive reviews from consumers buying a bed from a website, they make a pretty good case for purchasing this way. If your in-store experience isn’t good enough for her to tell a friend about when she leaves, why should she even come in?
  • When you consider which bedding brands are spending the marketing money at the national level, the advantage definitely goes to the BIB guys. If they own the share of voice the way that they do, they are going to get the attention, click, view, share, and eventually the sale.
  • It’s not just that they are advertising more, take a look at the message the BIB guys are delivering. I visited some of the top retail B&M websites against the top BIB websites and you know what one of the biggest differences was aside from design? Message. If all you do in your marketing is pimp the sale, then you are building no value with the consumer.  Don’t stop at retail, it’s the same for many of the manufacturer’s websites. If you have products that deliver a wonderful night of sleep, fix her problems, and help her achieve a better quality of life, don’t you think this is something we should share?  Of course you need to tell them that you have products cheaper than anyone else, and make sure they know about your financing options, but if you don’t BUILD VALUE in the products that you sell, you are missing out in a big way. (That financing plug is a shout out to my good buddy and loyal Q’s View’s reader Dan White at West Creek Financial . 🙂  Don’t take my word for it, visit some of these sites for yourself and see who builds value and who doesn’t. If you’re buying a new pair of dress shoes and the guy selling you spends 98% of his time on how cheap his stuff is instead of how great his products are, what kind of impression does it give you?
  • Since we’re on the marketing message, what group does a better job actually connecting to the consumer these days and by connecting I mean making the consumer actually FEEL SOMETHING? (Consumers make buying decisions based on emotion right?) Who has the more creative approach to telling their story? Who makes it more fun to shop for a bed? If you insist on looking at this category through the same old lens, then you are going to suffer the fate of the buggy whip. Many of the BIB guys were never mattress people to begin with so their comfort zone is much larger than many of the long-time industry people and it shows in what is being said to the consumer.

Here’s the good news for both sides, there’s plenty of business out there for the people that are willing to grow with the market, build solid strategy based on what’s going on around them, and form strong relationships with other companies that can help them achieve the end goal of profitability. I don’t care if you’re ringing people up with a brick or a click, my question to you is simple; are you skating to where the puck is or to where the puck is going?

 

That’s What I’m Talking About!

Posted 3 CommentsPosted in creativity, fun, furniture, Leadership, marketing, mattress industry, Retail, service

I was pleasantly surprised to see this story run in Furniture Today about Raymour & Flanigan and their approach to taking on the bed in a box guys (BIB). I’m not here rooting for one or there other, but I am calling out a brick and mortar company for getting it right.

There has been a lot of conversation about the BIB segment and questions as to whether it’s helping or hurting the industry. One thing is for sure, if you’re a brick and mortar retailer (B&M), without a digital strategy then it’s hurting you, but if you’re making an investment to learn your way in, and trying some new marketing messages along the way, you will be able to thrive during this shift in our business. (If you have not heard it you need to click on over to Sleep-Geek.com for the Dos Marcos podcast episode #71 where we talk to my buddy John Collins at OmniiX where he tells us about Amazon and how that should absolutely be a part of everybody’s digital strategy. Without a doubt one of my favorite episodes so check it out!) Based on my conversation with the good people at Raymour this campaign has been great for them. The retail sales associates really love it, consumers are reacting the way they are supposed to, and they are getting some good PR as well. In my opinion, they got creative, a little cheeky, and offered up some great reasons to expect a better experience when you buy a mattress. Bravo, I love this stuff!

If you are a brick a mortar retailer you really have a HUGE advantage don’t you?

  • A place for the consumer to actually try your product. Yes some of the BIB guys are popping up stores but they have not been able to scale that idea yet and even when they do, I would argue that the B&M guys will have products that can not only compete but win that battle.
  • There are more choices today than ever before and consumers like the idea of being able to pick from a list. There is certainly something to be said for the BIB guys making it simple stupid with fewer choices but even they are adding some choice.
  • A mattress is still a blind purchase for consumers. You can certainly chat with someone online about your purchase but there is something really great about touching and feeling the demonstration units, being led through a fitting for the right bed, and trying each mattress out with the proper pillow which is a really big deal if you ask me.
  • For many a BIB is going to be good enough for what the consumer is after but it’s that exact thing that gives the B&M guys the edge on the master suite. There are many people out there that may buy a guest bed or a kids bed from the internet, but doesn’t the luxury category belong to the B&M players?  If you’re going to spend $2,500-$8,000 on a mattress aren’t you going to want to experience that in person? There is a significant difference in story and feel for the B&M guys that are carrying the right lines. If you have an incredible luxury mattress being presented in your department, you can definitely set yourself apart from anyone selling beds online. Getting those big ticket/high margin deals is very important these days wouldn’t you say? Spend money bringing in more people or sell more to the ones you already have.
  • I don’t care what you say, there is no way you can deliver the same kind of customer service experience online compared to what you can do with the personal touch in the store. I’m NOT saying that BIB guys don’t take care of their customers because they do and the reviews support that. I’m saying that if you have the right people working your stores, it’s really hard to compete with a warm smile, firm handshake, and your ability to create a personal bond with that customer.

Consider what Steven Stone, owner of Bedmart said recently in the Mattress Industry Executives thread posted by Brian Tippetts.

Steven Stone -“Bed in a box is simply a well-marketed delivery method. I respect this channel as it has earned it’s place and is maturing and growing. Typical B&M must evolve to stay relevant. Too many B&M retailers have boring and dull experiences. Vendors drive the sales experience because too many B&M are not driving their own businesses. The showroom experience from the moment they walk through the door to the delivery experience must be memorable. The experience needs to be honest, credible and relevant to their needs. The customer of today and tomorrow wants to be entertained, inspired and motivated to buy. I think we forget it’s not about the mattress, but the value of improving sleep. Great B&M will be defined by those who embrace the evolution of mattress retailing. There will always be competitors from different channels, it’s how you choose to compete that earns you a seat at the table.”

Doesn’t this about sum it up? If you’re a B&M guy it’s time to step it up and earn that seat at the table. The commoditization of the mattress category has become worse with the foam blocks being dumped into the U.S. at crazy prices, and the BIB companies are kicking the crap out of almost every traditional mattress brand making themselves WAY MORE RELEVANT to the consumer with their marketing spend. So what do you do with that? Make sure you have some unique products the others don’t, and create an EXPERIENCE that nobody can compete with. Thanks Steve, you offer some sound advice!

Next week to be fair, maybe I should talk about the advantages the e-commerce guys have over the B&M approach? What did I miss here, tell me in the comments section!

Because Of Us…

Posted 2 CommentsPosted in culture, faith, mattress industry, purpose, service

For many of us Memorial Day is a great weekend to hit the lake, sit by the pool, get some yard work done, or hang out with the neighbors while drinking a few adult beverages and cooking burgers. This Memorial Day was a little different for me for some reason. I found myself really thinking about the REASON for the day and I wanted to share a few of those thoughts.

I travel a lot and when I’m in airports I have witnessed that scene where someone from a branch of the military is either leaving for a deployment overseas or coming home after serving. Either way it involves a lot of hugging and tears from the friends and family assembled together to share in the moment. I have spoken with military personnel to understand what it was like to be in a foreign country, away from their families for in many cases more than a year, and I remember listening in amazement as I began to understand how tough it must be to serve this country. After the gravity of that settled on me the realization was that they don’t do that because they are being paid big money, or for the fame, because there really is none. They do it for me. And you. And they don’t even know us.

Because of us…

  • They miss their kids birthdays.
  • Don’t get to see their son or daughter graduate from high school.
  • Miss those precious first words or first steps.
  • Miss every game-winning shot, or the opportunity to give support after the big loss.
  • Can’t be there for the first band concert. (Okay, maybe this one is a blessing.)
  • Are not in the audience for the first play.
  • Never enjoy the banter at the dinner table or understand the context of the private jokes.
  • Don’t get to be there for pictures for prom or to console their kid after their first heartbreak.
  • They come back from the action so screwed up because of what they saw and suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • End up having to fight addiction to deal with their new reality.
  • But most of all they put themselves at risk or have paid the ultimate price with their life.

That’s what Memorial Day is all about. Many of you reading this understand what I’m saying here but many of us enjoy the holiday without really hitting the pause button to give this much thought. So if you didn’t do much of that over the weekend, take some extra time and let it soak in. While you’re at it, give thanks to anyone serving in the military either overseas or right here at home because if we didn’t have them, the United States would be a much different place.

The next time you’re in the airport or just out running around and you see that guy or gal with a “I’m A Veteran” t-shirt or hat on, hit them with a high five, handshake, hug, or pat on the back and thank them for their service. Do something FOR THEM.

God Bless America. God Bless our military!

3 Keys To A Kickass Culture

Posted 8 CommentsPosted in culture, furniture, Leadership, Management, mattress industry, mattresses, Retail

Is “Kickass” taking it too far? Maybe but we want our culture to be dynamic right? Does anyone even say kickass anymore? Well, I do so it stays. Let’s get to it.

The most important part of creating an amazing culture is to make sure that we all understand how incredibly important culture is. Some of the top business leaders today will tell you that their companies culture is at the core of their success and I happen to agree. If you truly value your culture and make sure that it is authentic to what you believe, great things will happen.  So what are some key components to getting it right? Here are three things for you to consider:

  1. Get your priorities straight. As I see it, culture is about your purpose; the emotion driving what you do. Strategy is about tactics and planning your business. Both are very important to success but sometimes get confused. It’s easy for leaders to get caught up on business strategy, and push culture to the backseat. Make no mistake, culture IS THE PRIORITY so if you get that right and make sure your strategy lines up, you will be on your path.
  2. Be grateful for stuff. So how do you work that into your culture? Most self-help experts today will tell you that embracing an attitude of gratitude actually makes you a happier person so would you like to have a company filled with happier employees? When you accomplish a project celebrate the people that got you to the finish line. Don’t just thank them, do something about it; actions speak louder than words.  If you make your numbers for the quarter buy everyone lunch or ice cream. How about sending a handwritten note? Don’t stop there, you also need to be grateful for the adversity. Pause on a failure or two, call out the learning from it, and make sure that everybody understands that failing is part of it and it can be good as long as it’s cheap and not something that is being repeated! If you are DOING things to show your team that you appreciate them, what will the impact of that be? If you somehow encourage and expect them to show that same kindness to each other, will your customers benefit from it?
  3. Deflect and accept. When I worked at Leggett and Platt I got to experience this first hand, especially when it came to Karl Glassman and Perry Davis. These guys were really tough to compliment. When anyone would say something nice about the job they did the very first thing out of their mouth was something like, “I appreciate that but it was Johnny that really made it happen.” They weren’t just saying it either, they meant it. This kind of humility, especially at the top of most companies where massive egos are running wild, is a big deal. If this isn’t really how you feel then spare everyone the “gesture” because people will know you are faking your way through it, but if you practice shining a light on others you will enjoy the results in a very significant way. Here is the other side of that, you have to deflect praise but ACCEPT responsibility for all things under your direction. I can think of managers in companies that I have worked for that duck and hide when something goes wrong, throwing their own team under the bus. If you are one of those people you need to seriously re-think your approach to business and just know that everyone around you thinks you’re an idiot. What? IT’S TRUE.

Does your company really value culture and DO THINGS that represent that this is true, show their gratitude towards people that deliver results, and encourage their leaders to deflect praise and accept responsibility? What if it did?

“Customers will never LOVE a company until the employees LOVE it first.” Simon Sinek

 

Do your employees LOVE YOUR COMPANY? You’d be a lot cooler if they did. Be the first to name that movie reference in the comments section and you will receive your very own Dos Marco Podcast t-shirt. Their collector’s items you know. 🙂

Mattress Firm Is On The Move

Posted 8 CommentsPosted in furniture, Leadership, Management, marketing, mattress industry, mattresses, product development, Retail, Sleep

I don’t think anyone would argue that Mattress Firm has its hands full at the moment. Some of their problems are self-inflicted and some came about due to no fault of their own, but either way, you have to own where you are and battle out of a bad situation.

Mattress Firm is putting new products in place, they have downsized their management team, and are trying to figure out how to keep the business funded while reconciling bad real estate. They recently brought in a new Chief Marketing Officer Scott Thaler with a strong and successful background, and now they have just hired one of the top merchants/ strategists in the industry. Lorie Silva, formerly of Jordan’s Furniture, will start work at the Mattress Firm on May 15th.

Lorie and the team at Jordan’s created mattress stores inside of the six Jordan’s stores they call Sleep Labs, that are some of the best performing and best-looking mattress departments in the United States. Their sales process is totally unique and their sales associates are some of the best in the country. How many mattress departments do you know of where the customers get a pager on a busy Saturday that will buzz when it’s their turn to buy a mattress? NOT your average store.

Spink and Edgar started doing business with Lorie about three years ago and when we landed on their floor I was very excited about it. Not just because Jordan’s is one of THE MOST prestigious furniture stores in the country, but because if Lorie Silva says you are good enough to be on that floor, it means you have really accomplished something. Lorie is a no-nonsense person that can sniff out the BS a mile away so if you are showing her product, you better have your “A” game.

At this point, I consider Lorie to be a really good friend so the people that know this have come to me asking why Lorie made the move from Jordan’s to Mattress Firm or said differently, from stability to uncertainty. The funny thing is that’s exactly why she agreed to the new position. Mattress Firm is the largest bedding retailer in the U.S.A. so you’re talking about taking the biggest merchandising job in the country. On top of that, they have a lot of opportunity with their product strategy so they need help and Lorie knows that if anyone can give them a solid shot at success, she can. Don’t misunderstand that last comment, Lorie isn’t an arrogant person. But she knows that she has been very successful in the industry and fully believes in her ability to do a job. So do I. She’s got a lot of work to do and has to figure out how to navigate a totally new culture in a company significantly larger than what she is used to, but there is no doubt in my mind that if she is supported properly, she will get it done.

Lorie leaves Jordan’s in great hands. Josh Tatleman, the VP of Merchandising is awesome and will continue leading the bedding team made up of Keith Levine, Nicole Kendall, Cathy McNeal, Donna Shea and many others, plus a very solid staff of Sleep Lab Managers and sales associates they call sleep technicians. They will all be supported by SUPREME SLEEP GEEK and Chief Operating Office Peter Bolton so there is no doubt, Jordan’s will thrive long after Lorie is gone.

Mattress Firm is at a point where they have to make some big moves and this IS a big move. I firmly believe that you have to have the best people if you want the best result so get the best if you are in a position to do so. You have to start there and Mattress Firm just did.

“The man (or woman), on top of the mountain didn’t fall there.” Vince Lombardi

Congratulations Lorie, you’ve earned it!