Making mattresses different

When you start a business, no one cares (well, maybe your family and the bank). No one knows what you stand for, who you are or what you sell. Steve Jones elaborates on this post from Brand Like a Rock Star.

When you’re mounting a charge against the big guys, you need to differentiate yourself and prove why you’re different. Let’s take a look at Best Sleep Centre.

When Best Sleep Centre started, nobody cared. It was a small mattress store in Winnipeg, Manitoba and it was going head-to-head with the biggest names of The Brick and Sleep Country. The Brick and Sleep Country were established brands in the market and both were heavily pushing their mattress selection and mattress deals in their marketing. Not an easy market to break into by any means for Best Sleep Centre.

Best Sleep Centre owner David Keam decided to use his weaknesses as strengths and The Brick’s and Sleep Country’s strengths as weaknesses. Best Sleep Centre had one store in a not-so-good location. Instead of masking the fact Best Sleep Centre was hard to find, David went right after it. He didn’t even mention where he was located, he simply used the tag line, “You’ll find us.” He also voiced his own radio commercials and his one-of-a-kind voice was able to cut through the clutter. I’m not a huge advocate of business owners voicing their own commercials or using their face as a part of the brand, but in this case it worked. David also was quick to mention that the big guys had bigger locations and selection, thus meaning more overhead, so he was able to save the consumer more money as a result.

Turns out, many people were able to find David Keam and Best Sleep Centre, so he started to expand and really hammer The Brick and Sleep Country. In his advertising he labeled The Brick as “The Wall” and Sleep Country as “Sleeping Beauty”. He took on his competitors directly and the big thing during this period was free delivery. Both The Brick and Sleep Country were toting free delivery, so as a way to differentiate himself, David came right out and said he would charge for delivery. However, even with a delivery charge, he was still more affordable than The Brick or Sleep Country and he made sure to hammer home this point.

Best Sleep Centre has now expanded to be one of the largest mattress, bedroom set and futon shops in all of Manitoba. Check out Best Sleep Centre’s website and you’ll see he continues to launch attacks against his biggest competitors. You’ll also hear his one-of-a-kind voice.

At the moment, he’s trying to expand into the chair, sofa, dining room set and kitchen set category, which may hurt him in the long run. This could leave an opening in the market for someone to come in and solely focus on mattresses and make the point that they only do mattresses unlike other businesses who are expanding into different markets. More markets = more overhead = higher prices for the consumer.

Making diamonds different

Picking out an engagement ring was one of the most stressful times in my life. The questions I had were endless and the process itself was intimidating. If only I had a Spence Diamonds in my part of the country.

Spence Diamonds is a superb example on how to differentiate yourself from the competition. Most of the big name diamond stores are in malls and all look the same with a bunch of high-priced jewellery locked away in cabinets. The sales representatives wear suits and are quick to mention their financing plans. They mainly advertise around Valentine’s Day and Christmas. It’s very, very predictable.

Spence takes a different approach. They have ONE stand-alone location. Just about everything is out for you to see and touch, the sales representatives wear white lab coats and their engagement ring financing plan, isn’t really a financing plan (you pay 10% upfront and you’ll get a replica of the ring you want while you save up to pay off the real thing).

The video above is quite long, but it basically outlines what I mentioned earlier. Spence Diamonds also happens to advertise year-round and at a high-frequency. I shouldn’t have to tell you that Spence dominates when it comes to market share and top-of-mind awareness (I am privy to some market research).

In a world where most small businesses try to act like the big guys, Spence takes a different road, a road on which they can compete. Almost everything they do is the exact opposite of what the big diamond companies do. Obviously, this makes them stand out and standing out in an over-communicated society is all you need to get an edge on the big guys.

Stop trying to be like everyone else and build your own road. Know your competition and try doing the exact opposite of what they do. Take a risk and do something with your marketing that scares you. It may scare your competition out of business.

Why Breaking Bad is so…different

Breaking Bad wrapped up on Sunday night to obscene numbers in this day and age. It brought in over 10 million viewers in the U.S. and commanded a 30 second spot rate upwards of $400,000 according to AdAge.

So how is it that Breaking Bad went from a relatively unknown show to a TV titan? You could say it’s the writers, actors, directors…who are all integral to the shows success, but let’s dig a little deeper.

How many shows are based around police, firefighters or lawyers? How many shows are like CSI & NCIS? Hell, how many different versions of CSI and NCIS exist? Also, how many shows are set in New York, LA or Chicago?

Before Breaking Bad, how many shows were based in New Mexico? How many were based around a high-school chemistry teacher turned drug kingpin? How many shows had a continuous narrative and didn’t wrap up with a solution to the crime or storyline every episode?

Breaking Bad was developed on a whim by a struggling writer and his friend who were willing to take a chance on what sounded like an insane idea. The show was never written to achieve ratings or awards. It was written and created by someone who loved to write and write differently. Vince Gilligan and Co. took the formulaic TV script, gave it the finger and said let’s try something different.  Let’s turn a middle-class chemistry teacher dying of cancer into a murderer, meth-cooker and multi-millionaire. Let’s have our characters say, “fuck, shit, bitch,…” Turns out, some people liked Vince’s insane idea. Those few crazies were all the show needed to get the snow ball rolling, eventually turning it into an avalanche of support, awards, you name it.

Breaking Bad was the odd looking kid in the classroom; it was the ugly duckling. It was different and in this copy cat, over communicated society, it stood out. Stood out to the tune of 10 million viewers and $400,000 per spot.