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ferentiate you from your competition. When purchasing a bed, most consumers simply lie down to see if they feel "comfortable". Unfortunately, this is often in the middle of a very crowded, noisy showroom with bright lights and temperatures not conducive to relaxation. As sleep experts, you can help create an environment that will more accurately reflect the optimum sleep environment, educating your customer and creating a scenario that will ultimately lead to your customer making the proper purchase.

Historically, home textiles retailers have stressed the technique of layering bedding products to consumers. This process can actually work against them and contribute to many sleepless nights! Remember, we're all walking fur-naces...there's warm moisture radiating off our skin at all times. Creating their own little sleep cocoon may look fashionable, but it can actually work against what our customers' bodies are naturally trying to do - and that's cool down. The heat radiating from their skin gets trapped inside the cocoon, causing the relative humidity and microclimate temperature to elevate. If they're like 80% of the consumers in this country, the next step involves throwing the covers off or sticking a leg out to cool down. When they get too cool, the leg comes back in and the covers come back on. Some consumers do that for the first 15 minutes they're in bed, and others do that all night long. Think about it - if they toss and turn for a total of one hour each night, by the end of week they've lost the equivalent of a full night's sleep!

Now that we know what it takes to achieve a good night's sleep, we can continue in the next issue of FURNITURE WORLD Magazine to look at emerging technologies that are paving the way to better sleep. We'll not only delve into new bedding technologies, but also look at examples of manufacturers who are pioneering the bedding market through product development and retailers whose innovative point-of-sale, marketing and advertising strategies are paying huge dividends.

Guys Eckert has been with Outlast Technologies since 1999. He is responsible for product development, supply chain management, sales and marketing, and overall profit and loss for the business unit. Guy is an expert in specialized bedding, top of bed products, mattresses and more. He possesses a unique point of view on how new technologies are advancing the future of the bedding industry and permanently raising the bar for comfort standards. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University.

Outlast Technologies, Inc. a pioneer in developing phase-change materials and applications. As an innovative technology company, Outlast has launched temperature-regulating technology in apparel, footwear, bedding and accessories. Originally developed for NASA, Outlast® fibers, fabrics and coatings contain patented microencapsulated phase-change materials called Thermocules™, which absorb, store, and release heat, providing increased comfort for consumers.

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Part 5: You use People Media™ every day whether you know it or not. They determine your "Brand," but are you maximizing their potential?

Advertising Strategies by Larry Mullins

Mother, will you please look at me just once as though you really saw me?" That sad line is from the famous play, Our Town, by Thornton Wilder. So, what has it got to do with selling furniture? If you can use your imagination, a great deal. Because, many people who work in furniture stores and many shoppers have the same feeling as Emily Webb, the character in the play who uttered those words. Why? Because few furniture stores have great People Media™.

People Media™ begin at the top. They are character-driven. You may be thinking: "Hey, wait a minute. Isn't this article supposed to be about the digital age and branding my store? I don't need a lecture about character." I'm sure you don't. But, the most important message store owners can take home today is that their store's Brand begins with their own personal Brand. All of us have a Brand.

We cannot fake it.

Whether you are a CEO, or in sales, or are a vendor, or a delivery person, or any other associate, you also have a personal Brand. It has been said that the salesperson is the store to the customer. This is true enough. In fact, every associate in the store is, by degree, the store. So is the delivery captain (more on that later), and to an even greater degree, the boss.

There are four principle factors that quickly project your Brand:

  • How do I look?
  • How do I sound?
  • What do I say?
  • How well do I listen?

An astonishing fifty-five percent of your Brand is communicated by facial expression and body language alone. Your voice—not including your words—may transmit as much as thirty-eight percent of your meaning in face-to-face communications. And your words (at least in the first minute or less) account for only seven percent of your communication. If you don't like the way your associates are expressing the Brand of your company, there is a strong possibility they are modeling you. If not you, then they are modeling your managers, who in turn are likely modeling you.

In his book, The Irresistible Offer... How to Sell Your Product in Three Seconds or Less, Mark Joyner suggests that his own sales super-guru Brand requires several elements. (You can adjust these elements any way you want for your status as super furniture entrepreneur, or super sales person, or whatever):

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Wendell uses no dazzling graphics, but the Brand, the story, and the personality of the store are projected through and through. When he uses his photo and introduces his associates in print advertising, it is especially effective because he has already established a Brand with the community.

It Doesn't Have To Cost A Fortune To Effectively "Brand" On Your Website

Wendell Farrell, of Wendell's Furniture of Colchester, Vermont, is a customer-oriented furniture entrepreneur who has vividly branded himself. Wendell's website is nothing spectacular, but it is very customer-oriented and easy to use. And it has features none of the big boxes have. Instead of a self-congratulatory, boring paragraph "about us" and a photo of the owner of the company, Wendell's website features several 30 second clips of Wendell, sitting relaxed in the showroom talking directly to the customer. This might sound a bit egoistic, but Wendell has a knack of framing his story almost completely around the customer's interest. It's all in the sincerity of delivery. Read Wendell's story in this article.

  • Friendly smile
  • Confident posture
  • Outgoing and kind nature
  • quot;My spirit shining through"
  • First words: Something disarming and friendly

Joyner adds this note: "Some people may read these words and want to vomit, and that's OK. Cynical and sarcastic people may not like guys like me, and that's cool. My [Brand] will sort right through them. I don't want to be around them and they don't want to be around me. No worries."

Since you are still reading, I will presume you find the list of qualities that Joyner recommends is at least worth considering. And, hopefully you buy into the premise that your character is the primary molder of your store's Brand. You understand that the quality of your People Media™ begins with what you project to your associates, your customers, and your vendors. What are you communicating to your managers and associates? Integrity? Confidence? Grace and power? Caring? Or fear, annoyance and lack of confidence?

What next? The quality of your People Media is reflected in everything the customer encounters during the shopping experience. The shopping experience begins with the setting of their expectations (from advertising, a friend, pure luck, or your website). It continues through the appearance of your parking lot, showroom, bathrooms, your associates, and through the selling sequences. Previous FURNITURE WORLD Magazine articles that have covered these topics in detail can be found in the website marketing article archives. The shopping experience, for most stores, ends with the delivery (unless there is a service or quality problem). It should not end there, but it usually does.

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