The Pillow Marketing Wake-Up

If you are one of the many who have heard me present on the power of effective marketing you know about my obsession with being direct with your customers. May times I have quoted Barry Sonnenfeld’s movie Men in Black when talking about dealing with people:

Will Smith: People are smart! …
Tommy Lee Jones: A Person is Smart. People are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals and you know it!

All too often we take our marketing approach like we are dealing with a PERSON instead of dealing with PEOPLE. And for some things this works well, but for the majority of our products and services this is not the case. And nothing showcased this more to me than my recent foray in search of new pillows.

I don’t know of many products that have “everyone” as a target market, but pillows have to come close. Almost everyone in a civilized society uses a pillow (store bought or home made) to cushion their head against the harsh reality of surfaces. And it is such a “purchase and forget” product. Unless you’re a sleep connoisseur like me who enjoys looking at new nocturne technologies you probably do not think about it. Most people only look at new pillows when they need to look at pillows. As an amateur sleeper looking to go professional I am always on the lookout for that one piece of equipment that will put me over the edge.

Enter the Serta Gel Pillow. I first noticed this when walking through Sam’s Club and then later at Sears. What immediately jumped out at me was the “Perfect for Side Sleepers” tag on the pillow. I tend to sleep more on my stomach than on my side so it made me look at other options. And there it was … my vision of perfect marketing. It was the Serta iComfort series (newly created for 2011) which had in big bold letters, “Perfect for Side, Back and Stomach Sleepers.” Immediately I thought to myself, “What other type of sleepers are there? Isn’t that everybody?” The beauty of the statement however is not using the word everybody. It is making you think about how you sleep and putting you in that category to say … “That’s me! I sleep on my side!”

They understood the first key marketing principle of Men in Black: “A Person is Smart. People are dumb … If you had the chance to individually talk to each of your customers and clients you could very easily convince them why you are the best person to provide the product or services they are looking for. You could communicate intelligently with them because “a person is smart!” However, we don’t live in a world were we talk one-on-one with our potential customers and clients. So in our marketing materials we need to address this “People” world and delicately direct them to a thought process of how they use our services. Sure Serta could have said “perfect for everybody” but if you’re an elitist (like myself), individual (like myself) or iconoclast (no comment) then you do not want to be like everybody. So the message is lost.

So how do we take away something from my Serta experience? Simple. We break it down into simple steps to follow:

  1. Understand your Products Unique Marketing Position: It’s important to understand what sets your product apart from the rest of the crowd. What solution does your product/service provide? How is that important to your intended client?
  2. Identify your ideal client. You need to understand who is using your product. Not everyone is your ideal client. If you understand who your ideal client is then you can start thinking about how your product solves their problem.
  3. Create the right message for that Client. Each ideal client can now have a specially tailored message to help fix their problem. This will make that person attract themselves to your product/service quicker and easier. Plus it allows them to imagine themselves using that product/service and see them having the success you are offering.
  4. Direct those people to your product. It is ok to be specific. It is ok to be direct. As a matter of fact it’s better to direct the right people to your products than to assume they will find it magically. Always remember “A Person is Smart. People are …”

Once you implement a simple process like this you can create marketing materials that are successful and powerful. The downside: you lose that idea that you can sell to everyone; The upside: You start impacting the right purchasers and buyers of your product, you start increasing sales, and ultimately increasing revenues. Also … you can be seen as an expert servicer to the people in that specific demographic. And that brand management is powerful as well.

Who will I go to for “Stomach Sleeper” Pillows? Serta, because they spoke to me first in that language. And I also like Nick Park the creator of Wallace and Gromit and those Serta counting sheep. Now if I could just find someone who specializes in stomach sleeper blankets ….

Happy Marketing!

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