THE SLEEPING GIANT
THE HARDEST CONSIDERED PURCHASE WINGMAN EVER SOLD
If Wingman learned anything about the mattress business over the last two decades working with Sit ‘n Sleep, its that mattress companies are faced with the same challenges as other businesses that sell considered purchases. At any given time, only a small percentage of the population is in the market for a mattress. Most consumers buy a new mattress once every ten years or following a life event: birth, death, marriage or a new home purchase. The sales cycle for a mattress is typically about three weeks and shopping for a mattress is a tedious process that’s all about comparing the specs.
A 20+ year working history with Sit ‘n Sleep has helped Wingman hone in on the key ingredients for successfully selling a considered purchase. We found there are three fool proof marketing strategies that ensure considered purchase advertisers compete successfully in any market conditions:
STEP 1: BUILD CREDIBILITY
THE POWER OF HOWARD
In 1991, the Los Angeles broadcast world was in a frenzy because New York City shock jock Howard Stern was bringing his controversial show to 97.1. Stern was dogged by bad press for his raunchy radio show but for advertisers he was a sought-after pitchman. His warts-and-all on-air honesty earned him untouchable credibility with his loyal audience and he had enormous success lending it to fledgling brands.
Stern hit the L.A. airwaves and immediately became the number one morning show with the prized male 18 – 49 demographic. The radio show was the perfect vehicle for building Sit ‘n Sleep’s credibility. In live reads, Stern urged his loyal listeners to go to Sit ‘n Sleep and pay a visit to his buddy, CEO Larry Miller. Immediately, Sit ‘n Sleep’s sales went through the roof.
STEP 2: BE MEMORABLE
YOU’RE KILLING ME, LARRY!!
By 1995, Sit ‘n Sleep’s business was booming but it couldn’t ride Stern’s coattails forever and it was time to expand to new audiences with television. Sit ‘n Sleep had built credibility as a considered purchase. To continue on the path of success, Sit ‘n Sleep needed to become memorable. With a consideration cycle lasting just three weeks it’s crucial for considered purchases to be top of mind. The key was running memorable ads with frequency.
Wingman connected Miller with creative strategist Cary Sacks who wrote some of the most iconic radio and TV commercials that have ever hit the Southern California market. In one ad, Sacks played Miller’s beleaguered accountant, Irwin. After becoming frustrated with Larry’s inexplicable price-slashing, Irwin screamed,”You’re killing me, Larry!” and the catchphrase stuck. This was a case of lightning striking twice because Miller’s pledge to “Beat anyone’s advertised price or your mattress is freee!” was already deeply woven into the Southern California lexicon. To this day, these two catchphrases appear in just about every Sit ‘n Sleep radio ad.
STEP 3: EDUCATE THE CONSUMER
The great recession did major damage to the United States housing market. As an industry closely tied to the housing market, the mattress business was in serious trouble.
By 2007, Sit ‘n Sleep had reached 100 million in annual sales. But the great recession hit hard. By 2008, Sit ‘n Sleep fell to just 79 million in annual sales. Once people’s property values fell they stopped using their homes like ATMS and the mattress business suffered. The common retail philosophy was to ‘just have another sale’ but when people don’t have any money or can’t get credit, another sale won’t help. Miller decided, “We have to change the way we talk to people.”
CHANGE THE CONVERSATION
Changing Sit ‘n Sleep’s message required some intense research. It was one study that changed the conversation completely. “The average mattress will double its weight in ten years as a result of being filled with dust mites and their detritus.” – The Wall Street Journal article revealed.
According to the study highlighted in the article, a mattress can double in weight after eight years due to the accumulation of dead skin cells, body oils, sweat, and dust mites. Miller wanted to change the way Sit ‘n Sleep talked to people and wound up changing the entire conversation.
THE REPLACE EVERY 8 CAMPAIGN
The Wall Street Journal report became a lynchpin in Sit 'n Sleep's new "Replace Every 8" campaign to spread public awareness about the health benefits of a new mattress. The new messaging reversed the downward trend and Sit 'n Sleep's sales returned to pre-recession levels. The campaign shortened the sales cycle because people were compelled to replace their mattresses more frequently.