BrandSource Is On The Move

Posted Leave a commentPosted in creativity, e-commerce, experience, furniture, Leadership, Management, marketing, mattresses, Retail

This last weekend I had the honor of speaking at the “Better Together Summit”, a national meeting put on by the buying group BrandSource. These guys bring in thousands of people representing over 4,500 stores across the United States and they were fired up.

Brand Source CEO, Jim Ristow took the stage in the first general session and let the audience know that the sole purpose for his group is to support them, the small furniture and appliance retailer that make up the “backbone of America”. He talked about the changing landscape with the growth of e-commerce, and how Brand Source is well positioned to help all of their members succeed by utilizing their AVB marketing division to create copy, video and photography that will make the members websites come to life. CONTENT IS KING! Jim also pointed out that “we don’t celebrate, we innovate”, and shared even more ways that Brand Source was going to help its members thrive in their local markets.

Later that afternoon, Jason Dorsey took the stage as one of the world leaders on research around Gen Z and Millennials. Jason isn’t just a speaker, he is a researcher and he knows his stuff. To be honest, I just about walked out to make phone calls because I had a lot going on and I really didn’t want to sit through another boring speech where a millennial stands on stage and lectures me about how I don’t understand his generation; as if it’s ALL ABOUT THEM. It was one of the most entertaining speeches I have heard in a long time with great content, some eye-opening stats that I had not heard before, and  he brought me to the realization that it is ALL ABOUT THEM. Well, a lot of it anyway, as they represent more buying power than any other demographic by a long shot and if you are going to sell them, you certainly need to understand them. There are some big misconceptions about the different generations so check out this Ted Talk by Jason, be entertained for 18 minutes and learn a few things along the way.

My speech at the event was based on one of our Dos Marcos podcast “Top 10 Reasons Your Business Might Suck” which must have rung a bell with people because we had a good crowd in our session. It’s clear that people are looking for answers. Traffic is down for many and this shift to e-commerce has a lot of people off balance. How do I get my traffic back? How do I sell more to the people walking in my doors? How do we deal with billboards telling our consumers that we are greedy when we are just trying to make a living like everybody else? These retailers told me about their stores, some were brand new to the industry and some were 4th generation family owned businesses but they were all there for the same reason. To learn something that would help thrive in their markets. My guess is that the people attending events like this, taking an active role in finding a solution, are the ones that will be around for the 5th and 6th generations to come.

Jeff Willis, Karaoke Host, and Me

Kinsley and I are going to unpack this a lot more in a podcast that we record next week so tune in and hear all about it, including the story about how Jeff Willis from Famous Tate FORCED ME ON STAGE during a moment of weakness to participate in the LIVE BAND KARAOKE at BB Kings Blues bar. This one could have gone better! Remember, our new podcast website is DosMarcospodcast.com or you can find us in most of your podcast apps, just search DosMarcospodcast.

A big thank you to Brand Source for bringing me out to speak to their members, and to all of my new friends from the event. You made it awesome for me and I am grateful! Sorry but I gotta go. I ripped up the emergency check in my wallet so now I have to figure out what Venmo is. Thanks a lot Jason.

 

Why Should You Attend the National Sleep Foundation Expo?

Posted Leave a commentPosted in creativity, experience, fun, Leadership, marketing, mattresses, purpose, Sleep

Before I get started, just a reminder that Mark Kinsley and I moved our podcast to DosMarcospodcast.com so check out the new site or search for us on your favorite podcast app. You can also watch video of each podcast on our Facebook page, just search for Dos Marcos Podcast. Finally, I will be speaking at the Brand Source Summit event this weekend in Nashville, Tenessee so if you are attending come pay me a visit. I am part of Mattress University and will be talking about the things that can destroy your business, so check it out in room Bayou E, Saturday at 1:45.

On March 8-10 our industry has an opportunity to rally around something way more important than mattresses, sheets, pillows, protectors and adjustable beds. We can connect all of these things to the amazing thing that occurs from buying these items. It’s something everyone wants, that’s emotional and can deliver a happy life. Great sleep.

The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) will have it’s first ever Sleep Show in Houston, Texas. They are expecting to see over 10,000 consumers at this show who will be coming to buy products from vendors and learn more about sleep and how it can benefit them and their family.  Some of the companies showing at the expo will include Bed Bath and Beyond, Mattress Firm, Gallery Furniture, Tempur-Pedic/Sealy, Serta, 24 Hour Fitness, The Pillow Bar, and the meditation app Head Space just to name a few. There will also be some great speakers there talking about sleep and our industry.

On the main stage you can hear from experts like Dr. Harvey Karp, author of Happiest Baby, and The Sleep Doctor/ Dr. Michael Breus among others. I will also be giving a talk with Mike Magnuson, founder of Goodbed.com on March 8th at 4pm, as we expose the underbelly of the mattress industry. Are the reviews and influencers out there legit and how can you tell who is shooting you straight?!  I will be giving a second talk on March 9th at 2:45 where I speak to consumers about the 5 best ways to make sure your children are getting the sleep they need. In addition, I will be the emcee for their Sleep Tech Awards on the main stage all day Saturday the 9th, as the NSF looks for the very best technology out there focused on helping us sleep better.

You need to go just to hear Mike and I speak of course, but believe it or not, there are more important reasons for you to attend. 🙂

When I was the Chairman of the Better Sleep Council we had many conversations with our PR firm about how to connect products in our industry to better sleep. Sure, consumers understand that sleep is important to a happy life, but consumers don’t make the connection that says…mattresses, pillows and sheets deliver happy life. If there is an industry event that is focused on the consumer, educates the public on the importance of sleep to the quality of life in a HUGE WAY, and then offers our products up as part of those solutions, why in the world wouldn’t we rally around that event? Consider the dots connected. If you’re a manufacturer and want to sell direct, this is a great place to do it. Do you have a new innovative product that you want some national media exposure for, this is a great place to launch.  Or come to learn and create some marketing content during the show that you can use to demonstrate to your customers that you really are about more than the products you make or sell. Interview speakers after their talks, take some photos of your team at the event and post this gold to your blog or social platforms. Sure beats more pictures of cats taking naps.

Remember what Theodore Roosevelt said…”People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” If you are connecting your company to something emotional like “happy life”, and show people that you have their best interest at heart by learning more on their behalf, then you give purpose to what you are doing. Stop selling the things you make and start selling the “why” behind it all.

Hope to see you there!

 

 

 

 

Own It

Posted Leave a commentPosted in culture, experience, Leadership, Management, mattresses

I am reading a book called Extreme Ownership written by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin, a couple of Navy Seals that have experienced a thing or two. There really isn’t too much in the book that is groundbreaking on the subject of leadership, but the stories they tell are pretty dang cool.

As you probably know, to become a Navy Seal you have to endure one of the most rigorous training programs ever put together. In fact, only about 6% of the people that try to make it through actually become a Seal. These guys have to be tough.

By night three of “hell week” many of the recruits have quit. They have either been hurt during the exercises or they are just flat broken from the physical demands of the training. So they have to ring a bell three times to let the Navy Seal trainers know that they are tapping out; ending their dream.

During hell week they are put into boat crews of 7 men per boat and are given an IBS boat that weighs 200lbs but significantly more when it’s filled with sand and water. These guys have to carry this boat around, run races with it and essentially make it an extension of their body. They have a series of competitions between the teams with these boats and the winner gets to sit out for the next drill, which may not sound like much, but having a few minutes of rest is a BIG DEAL.

In this particular story, boat team #2 was winning everything. They had a bright young crew captain that was a strong leader and helped his team figure out a way to work together, compensate for each other’s weaknesses and they took pride in winning almost every competition. On the other hand, boat team #6 was losing everything and getting a lot of unwanted attention from the instructors. They told the captain of boat team #6 that if he didn’t get his crew in order, he was never going to become a Navy Seal. His argument was that his crew wasn’t as good as boat team #2 and if he had those guys on his team he would win everything. So the commander of the training made a switch and put the captain of boat #2 in charge of boat #6 and vice versa.

The very next race boat team #6 finished in first place and boat team #2 finished in second place. So what is the learning here? The team is rarely the issue; it’s the leader.

Take a look around the industry or inside of your own company where a group of people are not getting it done. Where this is taking place there is likely someone sitting on top of that team blaming outside influences like the economy, market conditions, product inferiority, people problems, competition etc. If there is a leader on top of a failing business or group that IS taking ownership of the problems, I would bet money that he/she just got there and the problem won’t be a problem for long.

I know that there is nothing new in what I’m saying in this post, but I thought the story was a great way to drive this very important point home. Weak leaders want to blame others, strong leaders own the result. Period.  If your traffic is down then change your advertising. If you aren’t making enough margin, bring in new products. If you are being beaten down by your competition and aren’t sure why, they go to school on the subject, talk to your customers and LISTEN for the solution. But stop blaming others and playing the victim because it won’t get you anywhere.

The best leaders I have ever worked for are the first ones to accept blame for the problems and divert praise to their team for a job well done. What kind of leader are you?

Thanks to Karl Glassman and Perry Davis at Leggett and Platt for not telling me how to do it, but showing me how it’s done.

 

What I Learned At Las Vegas Market

Posted 3 CommentsPosted in advertising, creativity, e-commerce, fun, furniture, Leadership, marketing, mattresses

We just got back from a very successful trip to the Las Vegas Furniture Market. I know a lot of you reading this don’t really like going to Vegas but that’s not me. I love the energy of that town, the incredible food, amazing shows, and the best people watching anywhere in the world. We did have to work however so we put on some comfortable shoes and went to market and boy was it good.

First of all my thanks to my Josh Miklos, my brother Jeff and the real workhorse Jennifer Parrish for having Spink and Co. as a guest of Dormeo/Sinomax. They were very gracious and nice to include us! Both Dormeo and Spink and Co. had an incredible show, so a big THANK YOU to all that stopped in!

Market is THE place to shop for new lines or sell your new products, but it’s also a great teacher if you are paying attention. So what did I learn this trip?

  • It blows me away at how many mattress producers there are showing in Vegas. Who buys all of these beds?!? Showroom after showroom of rectangles that all pretty much look the same excluding the variation of color and some details on the finish. Just like retailers floors, I guess. More of the same until you run into something that isn’t and when you do…you certainly know it. So does the consumer. Takeaway: The people with new and different win the buzz in the hallways.
  • There was a lot of disappointment with some of the large bedding brands out there. Boring products and poor service continue to be “accepted” by many retailers but from what I was hearing, the patience for that might be running out. To the retailer’s credit, they have given the aforementioned brands a lot of grace which we all need every now and then, but I think people are fed up.
  • My very good friend Mike Magnuson, founder of goodbed.com, is ridiculous when it comes to putting away all you can eat sushi. Mike puts on a clinic when we go and the owner of the restaurant stands in the corner shaking his head in frustration as we order roll after roll of our favorites. Don’t believe me? Ask Jeff Cassidy, Mark Kinsley, or my sister Cari Quinn, they were all there. Next…I think we let Mike take a shot at the Old 96’er. #nomorefoodforyou #youmustgonow
  • I remember when bedding brands would reluctantly roll out a mattress in the box and put it in the corner or back room to show retailers when this all first started. Not now. Everybody is in the game and doing everything they can to hitch their wagon to the growth. Compression bedding is in the spotlight, even if you aren’t selling beds online.
  • There are a lot of retailers out there in search of answers. Traffic is down, sales are off, and many just don’t know why. My hope for them is that they realize the products they carry matter more than ever, protecting their margin is critical, and promoting only product, price and promotion will kill your business and falls well short of where you could be.
  • My friend Doug Krinsky had another huge year at the Ante 4 Autism event raising $147,187 and over $700,000 since 2008. I could not attend due to an important business dinner but my heart is with them every year as this is such a great cause. Go next year if you can, you won’t be sorry.
Mark Kinsley, Mike Magnuson, Cari Quinn, Mark Quinn, Jeff Cassidy

I know that this is going to sound a little mushy but it’s true; I love seeing so many friends each year. The best part of attending market are the brief moments with old friends, hugs in the hallway, photo ops and riding in elevators with David Perry. Seriously, you guys make market great for me so thank you for your friendship, positive feedback on the blog and podcast, and for taking time to stop in and see the new Spink and Co. collection. It means more than you will ever know.

Best Showroom In Vegas. Great Experience Guaranteed!

Posted 1 CommentPosted in creativity, experience, fun, furniture, Leadership, marketing, mattresses, product development, Retail

You are the coach of your kids basketball team and you’re running a motion offense but can’t get the ball to the hole. Do you continue running that same offense or do you try something different that will have a better outcome? You change it up of course! Is business any different?

With Spink and Edgar, we have been working hard to make awesome beds with mostly natural materials grown on our very own farm in Yorkshire, England. The first two versions of the product sold well but we weren’t getting the traction we thought we should so we started talking to the rsa’s that were selling our beds and based on those conversations, we made some big changes to our products over the last 6 months.

  •  We increased the mattress profiles in a big way to improve the perception of value in the luxury space.
  • Placed some very soft foam in the quilt for additional comfort and base foam under the core innerspring to give more structure to the mattress.
  • Started using some very soft, puffy, beautiful stretch knit fabrics so we could better feel the unique raw materials in the product.
  • Because of the fact that we are using small amounts of foam we have been able to differentiate the feels in the collection in a more significant way.
  • Speaking of feels, consumers are going to fall in love as soon as they experience these mattresses!

When we first launched Spink and Edgar we really wanted to keep the product all natural but the fact is, if we continued to do that we were really only targeting about 5-7% of the market. Consumers LOVED the fact that we didn’t use foam however, we just couldn’t get the beds to feel and look the way they needed to in order to be one of the dominant players in the luxury category.  If all we do is make a great bed then we will have to compete with all of the other great beds out there. What happens when you stir in one of the best selling stories in the industry? Here are a few things that separate us from everyone else:

  • We still grow our mattress on our very own farm in England. “From our farm to your bedroom.”
  • The Queen of England continues to favor our company with awards for innovation and international export.
  • We feature the micro-coils that were designed by my partner Simon Spinks that allow us to have coil counts that are 3-5x’s higher than anyone we compete with. Coils extend comfort life. Coils sleep cooler. More coils deliver more support.

When our team finished the product development process we couldn’t help but feel like we had made a mistake on the earlier versions. Maybe we should have used some foam in our beds when we started? Maybe staying too focused on the natural customer was limiting our success. Maybe so. Probably so; but what are you going to do? You evolve and make sure that you are committed to the best possible outcome no matter how many times you change things up. What’s important is that we’ve made a few tweaks and are bringing products to LasVegas market next week that will give our customers something very special to sell that will justify those big price points and profits retailers are so hungry for these days.

It’s not about where you start, it’s about listening to people that matter and knowing when to alter course to get you to the place you want to be. There are many failed companies out there that didn’t listen, didn’t change, and also didn’t succeed.

I am very proud to be partnering up with Dormeo this year in Vegas. They have a great showroom in building B space 980 right off the escalator so come in and pay us a call. These guys are nice enough to give the all-new Spink and Co. collection some wall space to show off our new stuff and the fact is, that we are all in a similar boat.

Dormeo has new products that are unlike anything else in the market utilizing their patented Octaspring technology. In addition, they can deliver a similar “sleep cool” story with the increased airflow in their mattress vs. other memory foam products and they are using much better quality and density foams than almost everybody out there. Bottom line is that we both have a mattress line that delivers big tickets, big profits, exclusive distribution opportunities, with incredible selling stories. Win/Win/Win

Don’t take our word for it, stop in and experience these products for yourself. I promise there won’t be anything like it in all of Las Vegas! We also have some special hangover cures if you’re out too late one night. Come by and let Dr. Quinn, Medicine Man set you up. Where else can you go for that?!?!?