See how we created an online community for bedding industry RSAs.Read the Story
We created a wacky ad campaign to freshen up the recliner mechanism industry.Read the Story
Here's how we discovered potential for higher profits in carpet cushion.Read the Story
Leggett & Platt's Bedding Group had three major marketing objectives for 2011: build brand equity; build value in innersprings as a platform; and influence the in-store sales process. To garner such a change, the Bedding Group and Leggett & Platt Creative Services, in collaboration with Pure, a Columbia, Missouri, advertising agency that specializes in motion media, chose to target retail sales associates (RSAs), the face of the bedding industry, with a campaign.
RSAs are essential to brand success, operating as the consumer's contact throughout the sales process. Therefore, Leggett & Platt's Bedding Group felt it necessary to get the RSA involved with 2011 marketing efforts.
RSAs are motivated by personal success and largely work independently to earn their sales. From their perspective, altering sales strategies does not guarantee a reward. Therefore, to encourage an RSA to adopt a new technique, there needed to be an incentive that outweighed the risk.
To educate the industry, the Leggett & Platt team and Pure created Sleep-Geek.com – the only online community for bedding RSAs and retailers. Sleep Geek provided a place for industry members to interact, engage, learn, and be entertained through shared experiences. It created an online space to discuss products, innovation, and sales. The Leggett & Platt team employed a vast marketing campaign to gain attention for Sleep Geek at the Furniture Today Bedding Conference in May of 2011.
The marketing campaign was highly successful, surpassing many national marketing campaign averages. Online advertising received nearly double the national average click-through rate, while the percentage of responders to the Sleep Geek direct mailer rated nearly 11% higher than the national average for direct mail response.
To attract RSAs, the first 100 days emphasized the Daily Game, where users could win over $100 each day. Sleep Geek incorporated educational and entertainment content related to the bedding industry, and encouraged collaboration among community members through forums. Through Sleep Geek, RSAs gained a voice in the industry, giving them ownership over the retail experience.
Site content afforded Leggett & Platt the opportunity to educate the retailers and RSAs to drive placement and assist in return on investment. Sleep Geek not only offered an opportunity to inform RSAs and retailers on new products and trends, but also to gain insight into the consumer's experience.
"The Leggett & Platt team did a fantastic job with its Sleep Geek campaign. A great use of multi-channel marketing that not only generated leads but also built brand recognition," said Penny Schneck, online manager at Furniture Today.
"Even more astounding, the program has created an online community of RSAs with whom the company can engage in ongoing communications that will build loyalty and provide valuable research for future products."
Sleep Savvy, a trade publication for sleep products professionals, keeps the only known RSA database in existence. However, this list is not readily available or updated regularly. If Sleep Geek had used the Sleep Savvy list, it would have cost at least $55,359 to reach the same number of RSAs. Compared to the actual cost of outreach of $23,140, results were achieved at a lower cost and did not require payment to a third party. And now Leggett & Platt owns an in-house RSA database through Sleep Geek registrations.
The first 100 days ended with 2,120 registered members, who were contacted on a daily basis via site content, emails, social media, and text messages. The value of this earned media has become more evident, as the Sleep Geek Community has now grown to 5,000 members and is still the only one of its kind, continuing to establish Leggett & Platt as a thought leader in the industry.
With the introduction of the new 300ez recliner mechanism in 2012, Home Furniture Components (HFC) needed an interesting way to promote the product. HFC first approached MediaCross, a St. Louis, Missouri-based advertising agency that often works in conjunction with the Bedding Group and Creative Services.
During an early meeting, it was mentioned that HFC tested the 300ez with real humans at 300 lbs. for 25,000 recliner cycles in order to determine the strength and ease-of-use of the mechanism. MediaCross used this for the initial idea of a series of videos centered on a man working in the mechanism testing department.
The man, later dubbed Cycle Man, would be a lively, humorous character used across the entire campaign to freshen the image of the 300ez mechanism, bringing something new and different to the industry.
HFC and MediaCross then approached Creative Services for help fleshing out the character and creating a series of advertising pieces for the campaign.
The Cycle Man creative process began in November 2012 with a brainstorming session involving Creative Services and MediaCross. During this session, several storyline ideas were proposed based on a strategy that was created with goals and a target audience in mind. Eventually, a story was decided upon in which a group approaches Cycle Man, a quirky and determined mechanism tester, for help testing their new product. Second City Communications, the agency arm of the well known improvisational comedy club based in Chicago, was tasked with writing the scripts for the video series.
Through a series of six videos, the group interacts with Cycle Man, learning his unique and outside-the-box testing methods, including testing with a group of senior citizens to show how easy the mechanism is for anyone to use. Creative Services and MediaCross were responsible for production of the videos, print and digital ads, a website, an e-blast, and a direct mail piece. All pieces in the campaign were written and designed to complement the tone and visuals in the videos.
A stamp was created to mark products as "Cycle Man Approved," which is included on all material related to the 300ez. Creative Services created a Cycle Man website, LPCycleMan.com, which housed all the videos as well as a Cycle Man blog and a link to more information about the mechanism.
The Cycle Man direct mail piece included a letter, information about the product, and sticks of beef jerky that served as Cycle Man's "brain candy."
The Cycle Man campaign was launched in March 2013, with the e-blast and direct mail piece sent to 50 of Leggett & Platt's top customers in the furniture manufacturing and retail industries. Within the first three months, the brand-new Cycle Man website had over 3,000 unique viewers. The goal of Cycle Man was to convert current customers from the 250-pound model to the 300ez. Six months after the launch of the campaign, 40% had made the switch, up from just 16% before the launch. The campaign achieved its goal of bringing excitement and interest to the world of recliner mechanisms, differentiating Leggett & Platt from its competition.
Brilliant marketing. I've been waiting for this type of humor in this sometimes-rigid industry!
T. Douglas Wolfe
We'd love to do something like this.
In late 2010, Leggett & Platt's Urethane division approached Creative Services for help in resolving a simmering selling issue: upgraded carpet cushion wasn't reaching its sales potential. Though Leggett & Platt offered a diversified selection of carpet cushion including the best upgraded products in the industry, 75% of consumers were sticking with the standard cushion offered with carpet. There was an obvious opportunity for higher profits for Leggett & Platt and its customers.
A deeper look into the issue revealed a retail sales force that felt inadequately prepared to make the sale. Afraid pushing an upgrade product would jeopardize the carpet sale, many retails sales associates (RSAs) were simply not offering the upgrade carpet cushion. Complicating the situation was the fact that dealers were reluctant to show samples of the premium cushion because of a concern that they wouldn't be able to sell it.
The first task for the Creative Services team was to encourage a streamlining of the brand hierarchy. At first glance, many customers and sales associates were intimidated by the number of products offered by Leggett & Platt. To conquer this, each product was first categorized by price point, then by features and benefits. Then, a good-better-best hierarchy – Standard Series, Plus Series, and Advanced Comfort Systems (ACS) – was established, removing confusion regarding grade and benefits of the various cushions.
The Leggett & Platt team, led by Creative Services also re-imagined the brand, look, and messaging. To make the brand more relatable to consumers, the division name was changed from Urethane to Carpet Cushion, and packaging was updated with a more modern look, utilizing lifestyle photography to appeal to shoppers.
Once this was complete, an outside research and marketing agency tested the new brand. After extensive qualitative and quantitative analysis based on in-depth interviews within focus groups in New York, Los Angeles, and St. Louis as well as online polling, the new brand was launched.
The changes resulted in a more concise design, clearer brand architecture, and a more engaging approach to the consumer, which was supported by a new selling strategy.
The new Carpet Cushion division and sales strategy were introduced to a select audience of carpet store retail managers in September 2011. Leggett & Platt gained their confidence by showing them how easy it would be to sell the upgraded cushion.
The selling strategy is based on the premise that consumers will choose a premium product – rather than the pad included with the carpet – if they are encouraged to compare the benefits. An in-store display that invited consumer interaction was created. As part of the strategy, RSAs in the participating stores were trained to invite consumers to make the comparison by sampling carpet on top of Standard, Plus, and ACS cushion samples on the display. Additionally, in following the recommendations of the research, the benefits of comfort and durability were emphasized over the warranty information.
Polled after the testing period, 88% of store owners said the display was an effective way to sell upgraded carpet pad, with 92% indicating they wanted to continue using the overall selling strategy in their stores.
Before the test, just 25% of consumers bought upgraded cushion. During the test period, 71% opted for an upgrade, increasing carpet cushion profits by 38% per store.
Erik Kempf, Vice President of Sales for the Carpet Cushion division, said, "It is gratifying to have put the time and effort into this project and to have created a true game-changer. It does work – that's not just a theory or an opinion. Every participating dealer showed a huge shift to upgrade cushion."
We've only seen the beginning of the rebranding success. As word spreads, more stores are employing the display and profits continue to rise. "I am very excited to get the program and displays into my stores," said Larry Flick, owner of The Floor Store, located in the San Francisco Bay Area. "We've not focused on upgrading cushion in the past."