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Crazy Bedding Promotions!

Furniture World Magazine
Volume 149 NO.2 March/April


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Design & Designer Series: Jeanne Chung
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If they get two bucks for something that flows out of the tap and is given away free, you can come up with an off-the- wall promotion to boost bedding sales!

Major corporations put every new promotion through multiple layers of vetting before they go public. It’s quite understandable as the costs of production and marketing are great, and the risk of failure can be greater. As a result, some truly innovative and cutting edge ideas may end up getting tossed in the scrap heap.

Imagine, if you will, overhearing the following conversation in the boardroom of one of the world’s largest conglomerates (perhaps Pepsi-Cola North America).

Marketing VP: I would like to thank everyone on the board for your time. We have developed a new beverage sensation that serves an unmet need to the public. We have put hours of research, development, and testing into this product, and we believe it will revolutionize the world beverage industry.

Board: On with it then, our time is valuable. What have you brought us?

“If you are thinking, 'I don’t give a hoot about bottled water' then know that this article is really about taking a risk, reaping the reward, and letting innovation shine.”

Marketing VP: We present this half-liter clear plastic bottle, 500 milliliters of pure refreshment.

Board: Go on… what does this plastic bottle contain? What is the formula?

Marketing VP: The bottle contains-WATER! Pure unadulterated H20.

Board: You boys in Marketing must be hitting the sauce harder than usual! You expect to sell water! How much do you expect to sell it for?

Marketing VP: We suggest a price of $1 for the cheap brand and $2 for the fancy brand.

Board: Two bucks for something that flows out of the tap and is given away free! No flavor and no fizz-it’s madcap! We demand you halt this foolishness immediately and update your resumes for your next employer.

After some heavy wining and dining and a couple of tickets to the Super Bowl, the board came around and funded the project. Bottled water flowed off production and rolled off the shelves. Today, bottled water accounts for about 28 percent of all beverage sales in North America.

If you are thinking, “I don’t give a hoot about bottled water” then know that this article is really about taking a risk, reaping the reward, and letting innovation shine.

Promotions so Crazy They Just Might Work

“The job of advertising is to bring in traffic. Anyone can run a cheap mattress, but imagine an offer to buy back a cheap mattress if your customer isn’t comfortable.”

In our own retail world, innovation in marketing message is rare. Look at any retail mattress ad and you will see price, finance, free stuff, and once in a while, some warm fuzzy stuff about a mattress changing someone’s life. (Often shown with puppies, kittens, and children). It worked in the past, but today has diminished returns.

How willing are you to invest in an off-the-wall innovative promotion? Think about those grey-suits who bottled up filtered tap water and made it a staple on every grocery list. Can you execute a promotion that is so crazy, it just might work? Here are a couple of ideas to mull around. Bend them to fit your retail model, make them simple to understand and as easy to digest as the Gluten Free Vegetarian Non-GMO bottle of Aquafina sitting in front of you.

  1. $199 Mattress with a 199 Day Comfort Guarantee!

    The job of advertising is to bring in traffic. Anyone can run a cheap mattress, but imagine an offer to buy back a cheap mattress if your customer isn’t comfortable. You can really do it if you offer a 100 percent credit back on any mattress $799 (or $999) should they decide to reselect. Frame it like this. “We believe that you need to invest $XXX for a good night’s sleep, but your needs may be different. Try our base model for $199 for 199 nights, and if you aren’t satisfied, we’ll buy it back toward an upgrade” Prove us right-or prove us wrong. Either way YOU WIN!

  2. Call us for a free sleep assessment and earn $100!

    If you have done any training in your store, then your RSAs should know five basic questions to recommend a mattress. Simple stuff like do you sleep warm or cold? Do you toss and turn? Does your partner disturb your sleep by snoring or tossing? Do you have a TV, tablet, or phone in your bedroom? Do you wake up with aches or pains (not including your sleep partner)? Don’t wait for shoppers to come to your store. Just get them to call in, ask them questions, and recommend a type of mattress (plush or firm, innerspring or foam, or hybrid, with flat or motion base). Give them a range of pricing (for instance $799-1799) and offer to email or text them a code or password to bring to the store for $100 off.

  3. Bed in a Box Regrets Center Promotion!

  4. Has your store’s business been hurt by those online bed in a box guys? Here’s a chance to capitalize on their shortcomings. Many people purchase a bed in a box because of the convenience of transportation or delivery. And there’s no risk, because most of the burrito beds come with a 100-120 night comfort guarantee. The problem occurs with getting rid of the bed when they have to return it. Once the wrapper is off, it’s hard to get the frijoles back in the tortilla, if you catch my drift. Be the hero and become the Bed in a Box Regrets Center. All you have to offer is to remove and dispose of their buying mistake AND give them a $200 coupon towards any mattress $999 or more in your store. (They probably paid a grand for their first mistake). The goal is to get them to come into your store first, make a selection, and you’ll do the rest. Remember-they probably got free shipping the first time, and will want it when they buy from you.

“If you are thinking, 'I don’t give a hoot about bottled water' then know that this article is really about taking a risk, reaping the reward, and letting innovation shine.”

Innovation & Risk Taking

All the above ideas have been thoroughly vetted (I read them and like them), undergone extensive market testing (the lady who cuts my hair and my college buddy both thought they are “Groovy”) and were successful in alpha testing (four likes on Facebook). The point is, you have to be willing to take a risk and be the first person to give these (or any) marketing ideas a shot. Or, you can continue to do what you’re doing and getting worse results.

All the above ideas have been thoroughly vetted (I read them and like them), undergone extensive market testing (the lady who cuts my hair and my college buddy both thought they are “Groovy”) and were successful in alpha testing (four likes on Facebook). The point is, you have to be willing to take a risk and be the first person to give these (or any) marketing ideas a shot. Or, you can continue to do what you’re doing and getting worse results.

Innovation and risk-taking should be part of your retail marketing strategy. If you have a “so crazy it just might work idea”, I’d love to hear it. It can be advertising, store display, pay plans, or new pop-up venues. Or, if you can share your success from a real off-the-wall promotion, send it my way and we can feature it in a future article.


Gordon Hecht is Senior Manager-In Store Concepts for Serta Simmons Bedding Company, introducing and expanding bedding business in conventional and non-traditional venues. He started his 30+ years experience in the Home Furnishings industry in Las Vegas, NV as a delivery helper and driver and later served in sales, retail management and consulting roles.
Read other articles by Gordon Hecht