By Jeff Giagnocavo, Co-Owner of Gardner’s Mattress & More in Lancaster, PA, Co-Publisher of Mattress Retailer Weekly
As a first-time contributor to Sleep Retailer I was asked a very pointed question—Jeff, what makes your store different than other mattress retail stores out there?
At my core, I am deathly afraid of operating a “me-too” business. Yes, we sell mattresses just like you, possibly even the same name brands. We order them and deliver them like you. But there are three very distinct differences in how we continue to grow our business in a very competitive market place.
The first difference can be found in how we market to and attract our customers. Secondly, we also succeed with how we speak to and assess our customers’ sleep needs. Third, we have chosen to showcase unique and different products not sold by the top name brand companies.
During my tenure as a manufacturers sales rep, I sold lower to medium price point products and I saw firsthand the peril of leading with price. The most ironic part of leading with price is that the price is never low enough and everyone always seemed to ask me, “where are the customers?”
I set out in my retail venture to be truly different. We began by creating a foundational marketing piece, “What’s Keeping You Up At Night?—A Guide To Overcoming Seven Common Mattress Buying Mistakes.” This educational buyer’s guide immediately set us apart from the competition. In the eyes of our potential customers, we were the authority, THE place to purchase a mattress in our community. To date over 40,000 copies of this book have been given or mailed out, and online the guide is downloaded dozens of times each day.
The next piece of our marketing and selling plan came with the development of our “Try Before You Buy” Dream Room. This wonderful in-store experience allows our customers to experience the mattress they wish to purchase before they invest in it. Think of this as an analog version of the online retailers 100-night comfort trial that is so prevalent today. We’ve been doing this for six years now.
The Dream Room is a private room, akin to a luxury hotel room. With a deposit (eventually applied to their purchase) we will install our floor model mattress that we agree is the best fit in the Dream Room complete with adjustable bed base, mattress protection and freshly laundered sheets. We also include the pillows that are the best fit to complete the trial experience. We allow our guests to enjoy the mattress for as long as they wish, but most take about 90 minutes. Upon exiting the room, they have affirmed for themselves that the mattress is right for them. Our Dream Room, like our Buyer’s Guide, has received worldwide acclaim. You should also know that our Dream Room closes 100% of the booked appointments.
We also use our Dream Room as a “down sell” opportunity to move the sales conversation forward even when the sale isn’t being written today. We ask the customer if we are a fit, and if they feel as though the mattress selection is in the ballpark. Typically, 2 out of 10 of our customers will book this future appointment and once they have the chance to digest our conversation, come back and try the mattress—they buy it.
Another key shift in how we sell is to engage our prospective customers in an assessment of need. Before we get into a comfort test or any kind of blathering about coil technology, foam types and differences of one brand versus the other, we have a conversation.
In our customer lounge, we sit down looking away from the showroom, and through a series of questions related to comfort and use of the mattress in the bedroom we formulate a plan by which we will showcase our products and how they best fit our customer’s needs. This is a very different experience as compared to our competitors and we find our customers appreciate it.
How we market and attract our customers is very different than most. We do not discuss lowest price. We do not attempt to sit in a position of being the best. We simply approach our marketing by identifying who our ideal customer is and putting our message in front of them in the media they read most often. Today, we have a deep mix of digital efforts and offline print efforts. We manage our own online campaigns like AdWords Express, Pay Per Click and social media ads on Facebook. We also write our own long form sales copy, which is used in direct mail, advertorials and sales letters. We multiply these efforts with targeted video on demand and cable television commercials.
These efforts have paid off well and today we are proudly able to claim the title in our market as The People’s Choice to buy a mattress. With over 140 online 5 Star reviews we have found the number one thing people say about our store is that they searched for stores, saw our reviews and simply had to see what all the buzz was about.
All of this can begin and happen for you too, but I challenge you to get off the price, product and promotion hamster wheel and to begin truly communicating two key messages in your marketing. First, what is truly unique about you and your store? What can you and only you say? Secondly, start selling the benefits of a great night’s sleep—and truly commit to it.