Are you full of it?

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I am getting SOOOOO tired of reading press releases or visiting websites that tout the latest and greatest from my friends in the mattress industry. “It’s better!” “New and improved!” “Improve pressure relief!” “Less motion transfer!” “Sleeps cooler!” “More comfort!” “Lasts longer, more durable!” These things are great to say and most of it is relevant to the consumer, but are they just words?

Are our marketing claims misleading our customers?

What you rarely find following these statements are facts about how they were arrived at to begin with. Where is the testing data to support the claim? Have you done your testing or research? I bet that I could come up with around 10 claims that people make in this industry and cover about 90% of what is being said out there. My question is, how much can people prove, or are they just following the leaders (whoever they are)? (more…)

Do your customers want you to win?

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In one of Seth Godin’s recent blogs titled “Not Fade Away,” he wrote:

“Most partnerships don’t end up in court.
Most friendships don’t end in a fight.
Most customers don’t leave in a huff.”

This got me to thinking about the “raving fan” mentality, and how that differs greatly from a customer that simply buys from you and fades away with a feeling of merely being “satisfied.” On the manufacturer and supplier side, it is fine that our customers do business with us, but is it enough? We know we have a relationship with them because they keep ordering, which is great, but my question is, do they want you to win? If your customer likes you to the degree that they become a raving fan of your business and actually like you and enjoy adding to your success, then I say you’ve made it. (more…)

Which Is It?

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For as long as I have been in this industry, I have watched the companies I worked for battle with the sales vs. margin dilemma. On one hand, you want to grow your market share, take as much as you can from your competition and drive the top line. On the other hand, you can back off that a little and work on getting better margin at the cost of sales. To get both at the same time is very hard to do.

How are you achieving balance?

I understand the benefit to both sides and depending on where your company is, one will make a lot more sense than the other. So the million-dollar question is, how do you get both? (more…)

Trust Me

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Walmart is the largest company on Earth. It has a brilliant strategy in terms of its distribution model, placement of stores, data analysis, and, above all else, making absolutely sure it is the low-price retail leader. I believe it was Walmart that coined the acronym “EDLP” – or “Every Day Low Price.”

So why has Walmart chosen to go with everyday low prices when most of its competitors focus on big sales events? Companies like JCPenney and Sears try to drive traffic by using strong advertising for big sales under every banner they can think of: Presidents’ Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, you name it. They all compete against each other on the same platform and philosophy of being on sale pretty much year-round. I understand why they do this. If you read some of the research out there and simply observe consumer behavior in terms of how people react to sales, it is easy to understand the approach. How has Walmart been successful flying in the face of this tactic? I don’t pretend to be an expert on the topic but I do have a few thoughts. (more…)

The Unconscious Incompetent

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The theory of four distinct stages of competence was developed in the 1970s by Noel Burch of Gordon Training International, a global human relations training organization.

Of these four stages, the one I want to talk about is the unconscious incompetent, or the person that doesn’t know what he doesn’t know.

Make sure to pay attention to the feedback coming from outside your conference room.

Tell me if the following sounds familiar: You are in a meeting with your colleagues to create the next big product. You debate the different approaches you could take and during the meeting, you hear the opinions of several in the group. You finish your meeting and make a decision based on the group’s consensus of what is the best idea or even default to the strongest personality in the room. Does this really make sense? (more…)