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Salesmanship in Print

Furniture World Magazine

Volume 146 NO.4 July/August

"There is no such thing as a lack of attention span, only the lack of being entertained.” - Jerry Seinfeld

The quote at left from Jerry Seinfeld is one I keep in mind when it comes to the marketing of my two mattress stores and also my mattress retailer coaching business.

And it SHOULD be what you have in mind too when marketing your store.

Ask yourself why is it that Kim Kardashian is worth MILLIONS? When you include brand equity and name recognition she is likely worth hundreds of millions. Yet what exactly does she DO? You may snicker and say nothing, and you would be dead wrong. She entertains, and for that people pay her very well. Now of course her type of entertainment is fleeting and it requires many things to remain within the crosshairs of the Hollywood paparazzi. From sex tapes, to outrageous marriages, risqué photos, family drama, and oddly named offspring. You name it she’s done it in order to perpetuate the entertainment empire she has created. All of it has meaning, all of it points to entertainment which keeps every one of her fans engaged and paying.

All that said, none of her antics are what I would call marketing assets. As each day goes by, the asset that is Kim Kardashian is one day older and one day less cool; all while someone else is coming up right behind her, even her own family, with even more over the top entertaining antics. There are no true marketing assets in the Kim Kardashian empire. Some day the perfume deals will end along with the appearance fees and endorsement deals.

Now stop thinking about why Kim is worth millions and re-focus on three questions you should be asking yourself about your business.

1. How can you create assets in your business?

2. How entertaining is your advertising?

3. Do you consider your advertising a valuable scalable asset that when you run it, a payoff is guaranteed?

The fact is that most furniture and bedding store advertising is down right boring and certainly not scalable year after year across all kinds of media. Most all advertising that comes across my desk begs of desperation with the same old tactics since the days of the caveman selling chiseled rocks as chairs to one another. Here is the advertising recipe that has been sinking our collective ship for decades now.

Bad Advertising Ideas

1. Find a reason, any reason for a sale

2. Create a reference or MSRP price (Did you know in most European countries this reference price must be charged within about 3 weeks of the day you run your advertising! Imagine if that happened here!)

3. Offer a first discount typically 40-60% off

4. But wait it’s not over, take another 5-20% off citing some other reason for this additional discount – store card, loyalty card, friends & family, etc.

5. Add in stock pictures of the product

Very few retailers attempt to actually entertain anymore, let alone take the time to educate readers about why their store above all others is the undeniable choice to buy from. Few take the time to clearly answer, in each and every advertisement, why my store?

This is a skill, it’s called copywriting, but it can also be made very personal and a retailer can tell a personal story. By no means am I a copywriter for hire. I am able to hold my own and have invested heavily in the study of copywriting over the last five years. You should know that I can’t possibly distill my study of the great copywriters, nor do this skill adequate justice, in these pages. My goal is to introduce you to a different, more profitable way to advertise that will create an asset for you that is scalable across many different types of media, both online and offline.

From here on out, let’s call copy writing salesmanship in print because that is the goal of great advertising, isn’t it? When I sit down to sell in print I focus on these five things first and in this order:

  1. The Offer – make it irresistible.
  2. The Headline – promise a reader benefit.
  3. The Message – tell readersspecifically what they are going to get.
  4. The Call-to-Action – tell readers exactly what to do next.
  5. The Deadline – tell readers what they might lose if they don’t act now.

Every advertisement should sell for your store, regardless of media type, by incorporating the five components mentioned above.

I start with the offer first because ultimately that will frame my headline. Frankly the offer is the easiest part to come up with. There is always a good offer to put out there, but it’s the headline and subsequent message, plus selling in print that makes the offer compelling and one that will swing the door and ring the phone.

Advertorial Example

Take a look at the advertorial on this and the following page that Gardner’s Mattress and More has been running now for over a year. In case you are not familiar with advertorials, they are advertisements designed to look like articles in the publication, with the intent of catching the readers’ eyes by not looking like every other ad in the publication. It was the late, great ad-man David Ogilvy who said, “It has been found that the less an advertisement looks like an advertisement, and the more it looks like an editorial, the more readers stop, look, and read.”

The Offer

Let’s breakdown the offer - it’s compelling, almost unbelievable, and one that most can’t refuse. That’s why we get on average, 85 people a month visiting our store to take us up on the offer. As you will see we are offering four bonus gifts. The perceived value is high but in fact our cost is very low to fulfill this offer, and I’m happy to “go negative” to get a high-ticket customer in the long run.

The Headline

You might be thinking that the headline is too simple, but since we know our target reader for this message, and place this ad in an organic-focused publication that reaches that target, it works wonderfully well. This publication’s readers are searching for problems in their daily lives that affect their health, yet most have never considered that their mattress could be a major cause of why they may lack energy and a sense of overall wellbeing. Not so simple after all now, is it?

The great copywriters spend exponentially more time on the headline than on anything else. The headline is what snaps the neck, rings the alarm, and delivers that first moment of entertainment value I wrote about earlier. The headline is what grabs the reader and invites them to the threshold of your store.

The Message

Now let’s take a look at the message. Stellar salesmanship in print is what gets the reader, your customer, to cross the threshold and cross the divide between their casual interest and visiting your store. So many in our industry think they are doing this already. The truth is that the vast majority shortcut the process because they believe readers have no attention span, when in fact, their ad copy is at fault because it’s not nearly entertaining enough.

The copy in the advertorial is designed to be down right alarming to readers. It explains that all the pills, potions, meditation, diet and exercise these health-conscious readers are doing to better their health is likely being undone every night while they sleep.

I urge you to take this next paragraph to heart.

Picture & Price Ads

What possible impact can you have that is on par with the selling in print exhibited in this advertorial by simply showing a picture and price in your ads? Most Main Street furniture and mattress store advertising showcases product and lifestyle images. This ignores what should be the goal of meeting customers where THEY ARE in THEIR moment. Few if any tell a story about what customers can expect their purchase to be like and the meaningful benefits they can expect that will make their lives better.

Call to Action

Now for the call-to-action. Always tell your readers what you want them to do. Don’t assume anything. Candidly, I have begun writing everything I produce with my 8-year-old son Aidan in mind. When I want him to do a chore around the house I spell out all the steps. Then I get him to repeat them back to me. How many of your ads are missing clear directives as to how to get to your store, including directional reminders and even a map image. It must be clearly communicated how you want them to respond.
Deadlines can be difficult because truthfully, we all know that when it comes to furniture and mattresses there is no real, honest reason why someone needs what we have to sell right this minute. Even during Christmas time when Grandma comes to town, she could sleep on the couch or store her clothing in bins for a few days. However, the old reliable way to create urgency is to use “this weekend only” or “ends this month”, verbiage.




In this advertorial, I use the old reliable “ends this month” appeal because the magazine running the ad is a monthly publication, but I clearly spell out and reiterate my offer.

This creates urgency in the reader’s mind. When it comes to deadlines, you must always consider the shelf life of the media.

Facebook and other online vehicles present far more opportunities to get creative with deadlines.
I hope this article fired you up a bit. It’s meant to. The marketing of your store is your number one priority. Marketing assets that focus on salesmanship in print have the ability to skyrocket your sales like no vendor, salesperson or cost control can do.

Please play nice with this copyrighted advertorial example which is also available from a link to this article which can be found on Furniture World’s website at http://www.furninfo.com/Series/Bedding/1. Use this as a study guide. I share all that I share to inspire, not to do free work for others.

If you would to like hear the math and sales numbers behind this article, or need help creating your own ads with a high degree of salesmanship in print, send me an email and we can set up a time to discuss the success of this piece and how I make it all happen.

Jeff Giagnocavo and Ben McClure co-own Gardner’s Mattress & More in Lancaster, PA a multi unit destination boutique mattress store. They also co authored the book “Mega Mattress Margins” and “Retail is Dead” as well as created the industry’s only turn key, done for you, sales and marketing machine called Automated Mattress Profits that creates captures and converts prospects into paying customers. Questions on any aspect of bedding promotion can be directed to Jeff and Ben care of JeffG@furninfo.com. To get more information on their “Automated Mattress Profits CRM system visit http://www.AutomatedMattressProfits.com.
Read other articles by Jeff Giagnocavo