Mark Kinsley on how Leggett & Platt beat the competition with content marketing

Leggett & Platt is pretty far removed from their customer.

“We don't actually sell mattresses. We sell the springs that go inside the mattress, and the bed maker makes the bed, sells it to retailers, and retailers sell it to customers,” explains Mark Kinsley, their Staff VP of Marketing, in his presentation at our Brands-Only Summit.

With that kind of distance to cover, they had to do something drastic. Why? Because “specialty sleep” mattresses, like foam beds and Tempur-Pedic mattresses, were putting their springs to shame.

To compete, Leggett & Platt had to call attention to their own specialty “foam core” spring mattress — they had to change the current idea that springs were uncomfortable and the only alternatives were foam mattress.

“But when you're changing a conversation, you can't say ‘No, we don't suck. You suck,' because that's the worst comeback of all time,” Mark says.

Instead, he says they took some advice from Gary Vaynerchuck's talk at our Member Meeting in New York: “You are a media company.” Brands have to provide content that's useful, visible, and helps people during the research process.

“So naturally, we produced a rap video,” Mark says.

That's right, Leggett & Platt hired Chicago's famous Second City comedy group to film a satirical rap video explaining why “Springz and Phoam” are better together and to introduce a new word to the mattress industry: “hybrid.”

With lyrics like “Springz keep it poppin', and Phoam keeps it laid back,” the rap about their hybrid foam core mattress was a big hit. But, Mark says, one successful marketing stunt wasn't enough.

“When you're trying to sell rap videos to the engineering-minded people at Leggett & Platt, you have to have a strategic approach outlined.”

Part of that strategic planning involved mapping out their social media universe. They created a document describing every tactic or deliverable they could create from the “Get Hybrid” video. Then they matched it to the right social channel for distribution, like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and their internal sales force.

The video got the conversation going about hybrid mattresses, but Leggett & Platt had to spread word to the people closest to their customers: retail sales associates.

So they created video scavenger hunt competitions on their site, a social hub for mattress salespeople, to keep the momentum from the rap video going. They also filmed a behind-the-scenes documentary to show more of Leggett & Platt's personality.

After that, the word “hybrid” took off in the mattress industry.

They found that sales associates who used the word “hybrid” not only increased the average value of each sale, but also got customers from the front door to the cash register a lot faster.

In fact, since introducing “hybrid” to the industry through social, Leggett & Platt's foam core springs have outsold specialty mattresses nine quarters in a row, and almost every major mattress manufacturer now has a hybrid mattress.

Mark explains that social teams don't have to make a rap video to turn around the conversation about their brand, but they do have to create something entertaining, useful, and unexpected.

You can watch Mark's full presentation here or say hi to him on Twitter. Mark's been a member of since 2014.