I sat at the red light, staring at the Mattress Firm building on the corner. It was the fourth Mattress Firm I’d seen in a six block radius, and I was beginning to feel slightly paranoid. What was the deal with all these mattress stores? Surely the demand wasn’t high enough to merit so many storefronts. One, maybe two… that would make sense. But four around the mall — and a handful more scattered throughout town?
Maybe this was how Armageddon would begin: not with a meteor strike, but with an avalanche of mattresses.
You thought I was joking, didn’t you?
In reality, what I witnessed was not the end of the world — it was a clever marketing scheme. Mattress Firm has the market cornered not only on mattresses, but on subliminal advertising.
The Best Billboard Out There
You can’t throw a stone in any city without hitting a coffee shop. Americans like their coffee, and they like it convenient. Despite the jokes about a Starbucks on every corner, the multiple locations actually make perfect business sense. But we don’t buy mattresses as often as we buy coffee, so what gives?
It’s all about the signage.
Each Mattress Firm essentially works as a giant billboard. The stores are clustered together in prominent locations (such as around a shopping mall) to take advantage of the high consumer traffic — making it appear as if there are more mattress stores than there actually are. There are currently nine Mattress Firms in my hometown, but when I asked a coworker how many there were, he replied, “There are like… 86 Mattress Firms in Boise.”
Yes, there is a Mattress Firm across the street from a Mattress Firm.
It’s a strange brand of subliminal marketing. You start to notice Mattress Firms everywhere you go. You chat with your friends and family, sharing conspiracy theories as to why there are so many locations. Pretty soon you’re looking for them, making a game of spotting new stores. They seem to pop up overnight.
And when you finally need a new mattress, what comes to mind? That’s right, Mattress Firm.
You may wonder how they manage to stay in business with all of those brick and mortar locations, but it’s not as difficult as you may assume. Mattresses don’t cost much to make, and markups in the 40-50% range are an industry standard. Most mattress stores (including Mattress Firm) don’t carry inventory, pay salespeople based on commission, and reside in low-rent storefronts. With such high profit margins and low overhead costs, it’s not hard to keep the money rolling in.
Digitizing the Mattress Firm Strategy
While digital marketing has certainly evolved in the last quarter century, only Amazon has come close to creating a virtual storefront that has the ability to slap you in the face with its ubiquity, quite like Mattress Firm. Unfortunately, aspiring to be the next Amazon isn’t a goal necessarily based in reality — it’s better to focus on being the digital version of Mattress Firm.
Start by finding out where your potential customers are spending their time on the internet. Gather feedback from current customers via a survey and offer incentives to boost response rates. Ask what sites they spend the most time on, what their hobbies are, and what they do for a living. Analyze the data you gather to determine where to increase your brand’s online presence.
Once you know where your customers’ online high traffic areas are, unleash your marketing beast. Throw up display advertising like Mattress Firm throws up stores. Gear your content marketing strategy toward topics that are of shared interest between your business and your customers. Get on social media and start conversations, engaging both your current and potential customers.
Most importantly, do whatever it takes to make your brand recognizable, accessible and universal — that’s the Mattress Firm approach in a nutshell.
About the Author
Liz Greene is a writer, marketing professional, and Mattress Firm conspiracy theorist from the beautiful City of Trees, Boise, Idaho. You can catch her latest misadventures on her blog, Instant Lo.