As we continue our analysis of the book 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing we hit the 5th law today which is the “Law of Focus”. Let’s play a word association game. I will throw out a word or phrase and you tell me what it makes you think of:
Volvo____________ Nordstrom_____________Memory foam____________ Adjustable comfort____________ Best mattress blog ever written__________
You should have answered SAFETY, SERVICE, TEMPUR-PEDIC, SELECT COMFORT and of course Q’S VIEWS! (Sorry, couldn’t help myself.) The law of focus says, “You become stronger when you reduce the scope of your operations. You can’t stand for something if you chase after everything.” This is a really interesting law when you apply it to our own industry.
The two mattress examples I slipped in to our game are both companies that started out standing for one thing. The problem that most manufacturers have in our business is that they try to be everything to everybody. I don’t care what consumer brand or trade brand we talk about, most bedding producers today have a full line of products starting at the opening price points, featuring some version of a high end product as well as a specialty category. Some have even branched out into the adjustable bed business. Most of these guys don’t have the cash to build their brand, much less a part of the product portfolio, so they end up trying to own it all. Look at Corsicana on the opposite end of that. Carroll Moran has never claimed to be or tried to be anything other than what they are which is a value line of products. They did branch out later into some trade brands, but have not had the same kind of success in that space. In my opinion it is because they don’t understand it as well and it takes them away from what they are good at. (I also talk about this in more detail in this past blog.) Think this is crazy? Try the word association game with the following brands and see if any dominate idea pops into your head OR does anything really define them? Serta________Sealy_________Simmons_________. Now these guys are doing very well so they are getting many of the other laws right, but you see the point.
Consider that it is also hard to own a position that nobody wants to be on the opposite side of. You can’t really claim to be the comfort brand because nobody is going to be the un-comfort brand. Politicians can’t claim to be honest because nobody will own being dishonest but they can claim to be pro business if you apply this logic. Look at what Kurt Ling did when he entered the market owning latex. Kurt himself will tell you that there is no genius in that. He was simply willing to step up and define Pure Latex Bliss as something nobody else was claiming, and he built a significant business out of it. That part WAS brilliant, well done my friend.
Do people know how to define you personally? How about your company? What do you stand for?