Accidental Wisdom from the Mattress Guy

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“No I’m not doing that. Nobody does that.”

There it is. The 8 daftest words I’ve ever heard from the mouth of an adult human.

How? Well, this was a guy I knew back when I hung out at the local brekkie networks.

(Desperate times. The people were nice. But not the kind of contacts you need, if you want to reach clients with money!)

Anyway – this guy.

He sold mattresses. And he was moaning that all his competitors were undercutting him. So what could he do, if they were all selling the same mattresses?

Um, service.

If you can’t win on price, or quality, offer a better experience.

Like, guarantee the mattress – let customers test it for 100 nights with an option to swap or return. And/or…take the old mattress away, in a discreet cover. So they don’t have to strap it to the roof of their car, and drive off to the tip with their neighbours pointing at all the nasty stains. What the hell…even offer to store their old mattress while they trial the new one, so they don’t feel they’ve burnt their bridges.

That’d work. But he said:

“No I’m not doing that. Nobody does that.”

Cue gnashing of teeth. And yelling, “Exactly! You’d be the only one…”

I mean, why would anyone buy a mattress with no trial period…no removal…let alone no storage…if you’re offering all that?

Grr. He didn’t get it. He said, “No, all the other retailers would laugh at me for that!”


“And anyway, what if someone wants their old mattress back? I’d be out of pocket!”

Triple Yikes. Some people are so dumb, it’s a miracle they made it all the way to adulthood without slicing their own head off.

So look…a few golden rules here:

1 – Don’t be defined by the norms of your industry. Look at what your customers want, look at other markets, and find ways to change the ‘rules’.

2 – If competitors mock your offer, celebrate. You’ve got them rattled.

3 – If a guarantee gets you 100 extra sales, what the hell does it matter if you give 1 or 2 refunds? You’re still quids in.

But this guy? Nah.

He didn’t heed my advice. Or anyone else’s. He just struggled on. And went under in the recession.

Now he’s back in the rat race.

So what does this mean to you?

Well, economists are pretty dang sure, tougher times are coming. So I’ve got to ask, what are you doing to set yourself apart?

If you’re not rewriting norms…not getting jeered by competitors…you risk being a ‘Me Too’ business.

Some accidental wisdom there, courtesy of the (ex-)mattress guy.

UK Copywriter James Daniel

James Daniel

You might not know who I am, but no doubt you've read my copy. If you've ever bought a hearing aid, a pizza oven, flat roof or vacuum cleaner. If you've hired a will writer, an IT guy or accountant. If you've been to events on marketing, acting or how to buy a business. There's every chance it started with a bit of my copy - a few simple, chatty, gently persuasive words. Ring any bells?

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