An article in Fast Company revealed how Sealy revamped its business by changing old perceptions about its mattresses. The challenges of this established brand are surprisingly similar to yours, and who knew the mattress factory could be a source for so many good ideas.
If you’ve ever walked into a mattress showrom, you know that the only way to buy a mattress is to lie down on it. For the most part, they all look the same--like flattened marshmallows.
That’s also your challenge, right? How do you convince a customer to pay for a service before they see the difference you can make in their organization? How do you differentiate your services from other firms like yours so you don't look like just another flattened marshmallow? A client in a firm with very specialized insurance brought up the issue just this morning. The word insurance is barely out of her mouth when she can see the listener start to glaze over, because they assume they know what she does. Bombarded as we all are with opportunities, we have to shut out as many as we can quickly, or be totally overwhelmed. Sharpening your message is the key to cutting through those assumptions, to let people know what is different about what you offer and how it will solve a problem or a need they actually do have. That message needs to build from a simple, clear beginning, with dime, not dollar words -- becoming more detailed and complex only when the listener signals what interests them.
The iconic design firm Ideo did a successful refresh of Sealy’s mattress collection. “Like a lot of solid, long-term brands, they eventually lost their drawing power,” says Michael Hendrix, an associate partner at Ideo’s Boston office.
Even great brands eventually lose momentum if they don't change to improve performance. More importantly you have to consistently communicate what's new in a way that maintains a positive perception about what you do. Having descriptions on your Website is not enough, even if they are well-worded.
[Ideo added] extra features like a wraparound handle for easy lifting and a rubber surface on the bottom of the top mattress to grip sheets and keep them from creeping up over your feet. To further differentiate Posturepedic from the sea of mattresses in Sleepy’s, Ideo used color, a light blue for the foundation and white for the top comfort layer -- inspired by the classic light-blue men’s shirt, and white was chosen to evoke fluffy, fresh clouds.
Often we make the mistake of making big changes to stir things up, and don't put enough focus on the communication about them, and it needs to be the opposite. If you can step back and look objectively at your self, your company, your services and products, the way Ideo did for Sealey, and make small refreshes that actually fill a need for customers, then doubly focus on the messaging, you'll have more visibility for less effort -- just what we all need for our non-stop working lives!!
In the end, a lot of the design work came down to figuring out ways to make the benefits visible to the consumer. “A mattress is kind of ironic: It’s a black box...” Hendrix says. “The key is to bring features into a bed that a customer can see to understand the value.”Prospects see value through a lens of what they need. They have their own problems to solve, and if your messaging speaks to their needs, and shows how you can provide a solution, suddenly you are no longer perceived as a flattened marshmallow, but a fluffy source of comfort -- and who doesn't love that?
If you would like to read the article in Fast Company you can find it here: www.fastcodesign.com
About the Author:
If you are ready to take your business vision to the next level, let Maggie Anderson Words That Work help you look at all the new media marketing solutions for small business today and become more visible and credible as a leader in your industry. Maggie Anderson is a communications coach and marketing expert and provides simple, step-by-step programs for small business executives and professionals, coaches and consultants. She helps you find effective communication strategies to develop your personal or company brand, stand out and attract more opportunities using social media, blogs, Web content, speechwriting and presentations, white papers and other effective communication tools.
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