SALES CAN BE A LONELY BUSINESS Futon Advisors
Sift through any newspaper in any town over the course of a week, and you are likely to end up with a pretty decent pile of print advertisements for futon mattresses, posted by both independent sleep shops and the major sleep shop chains. Some are large, eye-catching affairs with crisp photos and illustrations, while others are grainy black-and-white jobs done locally. The inevitable sale prices are also splashed across the page in bold numbers.
The ads, when done right, are a good carrot. They are often the lifeblood for the salespeople in these stores.
I found out just how important a solid, ongoing ad campaign is to at least one salesperson the other week when I was visiting a mattress store. I walked in late in the evening, shortly before closing, and he was massaging his aching back after rearranging several mattresses -- by himself -- in the back room. He was there alone because the store, located in an extremely low unemployment area, was down one body and his manager couldn't fill the slot. No one, it seems, was interested in selling futon mattresses on a commission-only basis. How Does Your Sleep System Perform?
This salesman had been working there for only three weeks. He wasn't from that part of town, and he really didn't know enough about the area to do any effective cold telephone solicitations.
Because of the lack of help, he was putting in big-time hours -- arriving at 8:30 a.m. in his old station wagon and leaving at 9:30 p.m., six days a week -- in a small, fluorescent-lit store in a strip center, usually by himself in a sea of beds. In terms of generating traffic himself, he was trapped in that store and totally dependent on the effectiveness of those ads and radio commercials -- barring a clown suit and waving at cars from the curb.
And even when someone did come in with an ad torn out from the paper, looking for a $499 futon mattress, the customer wanted an even better deal than the sale price. Being on this commission-only basis, he described his experience with these customers being as pleasant as a tooth extraction. But those ads and commercials, he said, were the driving force in getting these bodies into the store. The more bodies, the more chances he had.
I've gotten into the habit of writing letters to companies of products I've purchased. Sometimes it's a small suggestion, but more often than not, it's just a short note complimenting them on the item. I figure they get enough grief already. I've received nice responses to two of my most recent letters.
The UPS man delivered to me a small box of goodies -- a T-shirt, a cap, some socks, a key chain -- from the Brooks running shoe company, with a note signed by the company president. In my letter, I told him about my completing the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington (at a leisurely pace to take in the scenery) wearing a pair of Brooks shoes. And I told him about how helpful and enthusiastic his employees were when they manned the Brooks exhibit booth during the prerace runners' expo. full size futon mattress get tip
The other day, I got a nice letter from the Taylor Guitar Co., also a response from a letter I had sent, with a stack of back issues of their newsletter and a video featuring the president. I had recently taken up guitar (why, at this stage of my life, I'll never know) -- a Taylor acoustic guitar -- and had read the most current issue of their newsletter and extensive Web site, all of which told me a lot about the company.
The responses from those two companies told me more about their character than any ad would have. And next time I'm playing Carnegie Hall, I assure you I'll be wearing my Brooks running shoes (with my tux) and strumming on that Taylor. They are both keepers.
The power of the pen works in both directions.
Karl Kunkel has covered various aspects of the furniture industry since 1984. https://futonadvisors.com/sleepytime-pal-myriad-mattress-makers-offer-variety-colorful-kid-friendly-lines-animals-cartoons/