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The Difficulty to Differentiate in the Mattress Industry

Seth Godin is one of my favorite bloggers and he recently wrote about the WeberFencherLaw and I think it is relevant to our industry. Imagine two bags full of flour. One is regular and the other is the size of a sack of dog food. Seth writes, “It’s easier to tell the difference between two bags of flour that are three ounces apart in weight when one weighs a pound, than it is to tell the difference between two bags that are three ounces apart when one weighs twenty pounds.”

If you enter a market that is full of noise, it is much harder to make a difference or stand out, even if the additional benefit you add seems large to you. We suffer from this at Leggett & Platt when we create new products. In the development phase, we create a product that seems to be break through in many ways, but when it comes right down to explaining how it is significantly different from others in our own program or in the market, it is tough. We recently had a large customer in for a presentation and when they really pushed and asked me how product A delivered a different benefit than product B, I had a hard time giving them a solid answer; even though it was crystal clear in the early stages at the IDEA Center. This ever happen to you? 

How many versions of visco, gel, gel/visco, latex, or even springs are we trying to differentiate ourselves with? If you look at our industry on the gel/visco issue alone and all of the mattress producers using that comfort layer, it is a very crowded space with each manufacturer trying to carve out some piece of a story to differentiate at the point of sale. Seriously step back from your world and take your company goggles off and tell me what you see. If you would like a little taste of reality, just Google gel mattress and view the results from the consumers’ perspective. So my question to you is, how close is your story to everyone else’s? Are your bags of flour one-pound bags or twenty-pound bags?

This is why innovators have such a big advantage in business today. If you can create that next big thing that puts you in a place that is less crowded, you can make more noise with less effort because nobody is drowning you out!

My thanks to Seth for today’s blog inspiration; you really are a rock star!

When put to the test, does your story sound just like the other guy’s story? Ever feel like you’re saying the same thing as the competition, only using different words?

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