Leggett & Platt: Mattress rap videos, sex research, and millions of dollars — Live from the Brands-Only Summit

Coverage of this session by Kristen Platt of SocialMedia.org. Connect with her by following her on Twitter.

2:10 — SocialMedia.org's Lauren Clevenger introduces Leggett & Platt's Mark Kinsley.

2:11 — Mark shares their main problem: “Specialty sleep was killing us.” The solution was to change the conversation.

2:12 — They knew they had high quality products, so they needed to come up with a new way to spin the conversation. They started using the word “hybird” to promote their superior bed made of springs and foam. People had to “get it.”

2:14 — Mark talks about step one: We learned about our hunch to introduce their new word into the industry — is “hybrid” going to work or not?

2:15 — Mark: We asked this question to our local retailers and had them use this terminology to customers. They found out that this term “hybrid” actually did resonate with customers. They got it and it brought the product up in price point. The sales cycle also got quicker.

2:16 — Mark shares a quote from Gary V.: “You are a media company.” Mark further explains: You need to be visible and you need to be a part of the research process.

2:17 — Mark talks about Sleep-Geek.com. Sleep–Geek gives their local reps useful content for sales points. The site also included a large social presence and featured podcasts, blog posts, videos, etc. to establish themselves as a content hub.

2:18 — Mark: One problem was that Leggett & Platt's customers were also the competition since the stores carried the hybrid mattress as well as all-foam mattresses. They couldn't say springs or hybrids were necessarily better than foam mattresses because both were their customers.

2:19 — So, in order to avoid alienating either customer, they decided to produce a rap video about mattresses. They partnered with Second City productions to create the song and the video. The also shot a documentary of the making of the video for future content purposes.

2:20 — Tied to business objective: Sell more Comfort Care springs (springs that would go into the hybrid mattresses they were trying to promote. You need to have a business objective in mind when producing something as radical as a rap video.

2:21 — Mark mentions their other challenge: Leggett & Platt had to rethink a product that's been around for years. (Hybrid mattresses have existed forever before this.)

2:22 — From a content prospective: Their publishing universe included all social channels, Salesforce, websites, and magazine advertising.

2:23 — Mark: “Silly season was a good sign.” Customers and critics debated whether the video was legit. All word of mouth was good at this point, because they wanted people talking about it. Finally, people started getting it.

2:24 — Mark: Then we released the making of “Get Hybrid” the mini documentary of the rap video production. “Hybrid,” as a result, was getting a lot more buzz. We knew we finally moved the needle when Sealy named their flagship product “Posturpedic Hybrid.”

2:25 — Mark: Got buy in, and then went to Vegas for some “sex research.” They wanted to create the best mattress for sleep and sex (people shouldn't have to choose between the two when buying a new bed).

2:26 — Mark says Leggett & Platt partnered with a third party research firm to survey 250 people and they found out that people preferred the hybrid to  the all-foam mattress for both sex and sleep. They got the numbers — did they do their job? 9 quarters in a row hybrid wins!

2:27 — Mark gives some final takeaways from his case study:

  • Be a media company
  • Look outside your industry
  • Get funny people to do funny material
  • Change the conversation
  • Be unexpected: Obvious is easy to ignore!
  • Have fun

Q & A

Q: When looking outside the industry, any suggestions on how to get C-suite buy-in when you have that creative and innovative an idea?

A: Mark You need to get them to get on board with the idea that “we're a creative and innovative company.” Mark suggests saying, “Let's experiment and gather research/metrics on the way.”

Q: What was the social part of this campaign?

A: Mark: It was very limited public engagement on this campaign. We're BtoB, so our focus was the industry and try to engage them first and foremost. We wanted the “hybrid” buzz to be internal. We have a small presence on social, and we did push out this content on those as well, but that wasn't the main focus for distribution.

Q: Any tips for how to start the journey of social publishing to becoming a media company?

A: Mark: First thing is to get buy-in from your team. Bring the right people to the table to start the conversations and reaching out to your internal champions. Also, take some chances! I mean, who is going to listen to a podcast about the mattress industry?! As long as the right people listen to you, it doesn't matter how many are listening. We started small and grew from there.

Q: Why a rap video? How did you know it was going to resonate?

A: We had no idea if it was going to work. All we knew is that we couldn't approach the topic straight on because it was expected and boring. We needed an opportunity to create buzz, and we thought since rap videos don't fit in at all with the mattress industry, perhaps folks would be intrigued. Also, music usually resonates better in the brain and is not quick to be judged, so it was a decent risk to take.