How to get more people into your store is a question that retailers both big and small have been asking since the dawn of e-commerce. Add Amazon, a pandemic, direct to consumer online brands and a smartphone in the hand of nearly every consumer in North America, and the answer seems less clear still.
Mark Kinsley and Mark Quinn (also known as Dos Marcos) are both veterans in the retail industry and have written a book on this very subject. Come Back to Bed is a joint effort, bringing their expertise and experience in the mattress industry together to discuss core principles that can apply to any retail category. Today, we’re going to talk about these core principles as well as strategic tactics brands can implement.
Melinda: Hi, I’m Melinda, and you’re listening to Think Retail.
How to get more people into your store is a question that retailers both big and small have been asking since the dawn of e-commerce. Add Amazon, a pandemic, direct to consumer online brands and a smartphone in the hand of nearly every consumer in North America, and the answer seems less clear still.
My guests today, Mark Kinsley and Mark Quinn (also known as Dos Marcos) are both veterans in the retail industry and have written a book on this very subject. Come Back to Bed is a joint effort, bringing their expertise and experience in the mattress industry together to discuss core principles that can apply to any retail category. Today, we’re going to talk about these core principles as well as strategic tactics brands can implement.
Welcome to both of you. Thanks for being with me today.
Mark Quinn: Hello there.
Mark Kinsley: Thank you. It’s great to be here.
Melinda: Let’s start off with Mark Quinn. Can you tell us a bit about you and why you call yourself a “mattress geek”?
Mark Quinn: Well, I guess it starts with the fact that we’re just geeks, but you know, I read a book by Phil Knight called Shoe Dog, and I always loved the way he represented people that are kind of crazy about shoes. He calls them shoe dogs. So, I guess we’re mattress dogs, mattress geeks. Just because we’re really passionate about the category, right? We really feel strongly that we represent a product in the market that literally changes lives, right, so mattresses and sleep.
And then the tension on that is there’s not a lot of people who really understand sleep. Most people have a pretty good working knowledge about nutrition and exercise, and they can kind of talk about that, but sleep is one of these things that you’re never really taught about. Teachers don’t teach you about it. You know, a lot of coaches don’t even talk about it when it comes to performance with athletics. So, who’s teaching people about sleep? We’re geeks about sleep. We think it’s important that our industry rise above the product price and promotion, which is what we call the crack cocaine of the mattress category and the sleep category in the larger sense. Let’s focus on what really matters to human beings, and that’s sleep and wellbeing. So, we’re all geeks about that, for sure.
Melinda: Absolutely. You don’t realize how important it is until you can’t sleep and then you really realize how important it is. Mark Kinsley, can you tell us about how the two of you came to be known as Dos Marcos?
Mark Kinsley: Well, this is probably my fault.
Mark Quinn: It’s totally your fault.
Mark Kinsley: Quinn has been kicking and screaming ever since. I started off in journalism and I did TV and radio for several years and that’s where I started my career. And then I got into the agency business and Quinn became my client. He was working at Leggett and Platt, the world’s largest manufacturer of innersprings and bedding components – you know, the springs that go inside of mattresses? And I was working for an agency and they’re like, “This guy’s yours.” I’m like, “Cool.” And he was effervescent and full of energy and passion for the category and sleep. And I’m like, “We’re gonna get along great.” And we have ever since.
And so in the process, he dragged me away from the agency, hired me at Leggett. He eventually left, but we both managed the in-house agency there, which had about 40 people that serve the entire $4 billion company. But while we were there, we realized we could change the industry and then hopefully change the way that consumers thought about sleep. And the way that we were going to do that was through the lens of the RSA, the retail sales associate because the most influential factor in some of these mattress purchase, even to this day, is the salesperson.
There wasn’t a lot of connecting the dots between better sleep and our products, the mattresses, and the accessories. And we thought that’s a chance for people to have a more emotional conversation that gets away from product price and promotion. So we formed this media platform called Sleep Geek. Literally we are geeks about sleep, and we started feeding it with content and we put up a course on how retail salespeople could talk about sleep, get educated on those topics, connect them to our products and leave the consumer better off than when they came into the market, because it’s a grudge purchase. People hate shopping for a mattress. And we wanted to change that. And so with launching Sleep Geek, getting it up and running along the way, I said, “Hey, Quinn, we need do a podcast about the mattress industry.” Since then we’ve recorded 186.
Mark Quinn: And I said, “You’re freaking crazy. Who in the hell is going to listen to a podcast about the mattress category?”
Mark Kinsley: And maybe in the beginning they didn’t, but we’ve kept at it. And we call it the “Galaxy’s greatest mattress podcast.” Could be the only one, we’re not sure. But in the process of that, I’m like, let’s have some fun with it. The bedding business should not be boring. He’s Mark, I’m Mark, one day I said, “Hey, let’s be Dos Marcos.”
Melinda: It’s perfect. So, I mean, you’ve touched on this a little already, but you know, we’re going to start with the mattress category because that’s at the heart of your book. Why did you feel that independent operators needed this book Come Back to Bed?
Mark Quinn: Well, we had a discussion during COVID really, and Kinsley said to me, what are we going to do with this gift of time? And kind of at the same time, we arrived at the answer, which is: we’re going to write a book.
We had done a keynote speech for the largest marketing group out there; they have 5,200 retailers called Nationwide and its furniture and mattress and appliance guys. And they’re just an amazing group. And so, we gave a keynote and the whole keynote was about how you drive big foot traffic into your stores because Tom Hickman, their president, kind of put it to us. And he said, that’s one of the major things people are talking to us about. Our membership, but retail they’re saying we need traffic. And so, when we gave that speech, we asked them to fill out a note card and say, “Hey, what was your best traffic driving event of the year?” We got, I don’t know, 70, 80 different new cards back and we thought, man, there’s gold here.
One of the things we talk about as being Dos Marcos, is we look at ourselves as like guides on a tour, right? There’s a campfire, people come around the campfire, they want to learn, they want to listen. And so we kind of consolidate information and push it out. It was just the whole thing where we kind of figured that there was a good future in that, and there’s a lot of need. And our whole platform is based on two things. I think primarily Kinsley, you can add to this, but it’s about serving our audience and helping independent retailers out there who we love.
There’s generational businesses, and when we talk to them, they tell us about their grandfather, starting the company and riding on the truck with their granddad as a little kid. And, you know, we hear their stories and then we go on their websites and we look at the About Us section, it looks like a really bad cut and paste job. And we’re like, “Oh my gosh, your story is incredible. You’ve got to get it out there and connect with the consumers.” And we just realized that it wasn’t being done. And we felt a real need to not only like, say, “Hey, look, you’re a superhero power, forget big box in e-commerce, you guys have something they don’t have.” And it’s the ability to connect on an emotional level with the consumers in their market. We just had a heart for them. We love them. The Nationwide people are awesome. And we really wanted to put a book out there that was in some way, beneficial to those people.
Melinda: So how much of a shock was the direct-to-consumer brands? I’m thinking of Casper, here in Canada we’ve got Endy. Was that a big shock to independent operators or to the, in the category as a whole, or was that expected?
Mark Kinsley: It’s been a seismic shock to our industry. The biggest shift we’ve seen in decades. And who would’ve thought Amazon led to the same fate with books and beds? You know, we ended up in similar spots. Amazon completely disrupted books and that’s where people want to buy them. And then all of a sudden, beds were able to be rolled, packed, and compressed into these little boxes and you could ship them through the mail.
And when we were at Leggett and Platt, we constantly looked at the next technology and the next innovation that would obsolete springs, that would completely evaporate our business. But very few people were looking at, “Oh my gosh, it’s packaging technology and compression technology.” It’s not a shift in the componentry that’s going to disrupt our business. And so these direct to consumer companies came along and it was really led by Tuft & Needle.
They were showing how to build a brand, how to simplify a confusing process, and how to take everything that consumers hated and solve those problems or appear to solve those problems. So, it’s been incredibly disruptive and it’s led to incredible innovation within our industry. And now you’re seeing these direct-to-consumer online brands shift their strategy because the cost acquisition is so high and they’re getting into retail.
Melinda: I know, it’s really interesting. And how does this compare to what you see in other retail categories?
Mark Quinn: Well, we think it’s similar and that’s why this book is so relevant to anyone because here’s the other part, we’re afraid for independent retailers, honestly, because if guys running stores today don’t figure out a way to create an experience inside of their store, where, you know, all this traffic that they’re getting and they don’t connect to them on some level, then there’s going to be a question in the consumer’s mind, more and more every day like, so why should I leave my house? Why should I go shop in a store? Why can’t I just do what I’m doing online? And part of the answer is that there needs to be an expertise. There needs to be something fun. There needs to be a memorable experience. And so, you know, that’s no matter what industry you’re in – e-commerce is disrupting it, right?
In the mattress industry, here’s a funny thing: just because you don’t want it to be true, doesn’t mean that it’s not going to be true. People in our category, and I’m sure that you have an experience because you have a much broader look at the retail category. A lot of the guys were like, “Oh no people aren’t going to buy a bed online because you can’t lay on it. And if you can’t lay on it, you can’t feel.” Not true. People were buying beds online. And so, the book in part was to kind of rattle the cage of everyone and say, look, guys, you’ve got to be paying attention because in five years, if you’re not doing some of this stuff we talk about in this book, you may not be around anyway.
Mark Kinsley: And Melinda, one of the things that we saw whenever the pandemic hit was at the beginning of 2020, there was an interesting change in the trend line. And the change was that the number of people that were willing to buy a bed online flatlined at the beginning of 2020, into 2019. It was at about 43 percent of consumer respondents were saying, “We’re totally willing to buy a bed online without trying it first.” And that’s the key: without trying it first.
So that’s when we saw the shift happening in these bed-in-the-box brands, we’re going to come back to retail. And we were thinking about what that looks like. What is that connection between online, offline brick and mortar and that whole buying journey for the consumer? Well, during the pandemic, that number shot up to 71 percent. 71 percent of people said, “Hey, we’re willing to buy online.” And that’s after it had flatlined, but clearly conditions changed, and the consumer mentality had shifted.
So where did it settle back? We had a big spike and then it kind of tends to settle back. Well, it settled back at 53 percent. So, still 10 points higher than what the trend line was at the beginning of the year. We’re talking to people not only about foot traffic and building meaningful brands and connecting with consumers. We’re also thinking about that consumer journey and how it begins online and how to merchandise properly so you can compete, because we know people are starting their research process or their shopping process online.
So how do you get creative within that environment say, good, great, that’s the world in which we live? How can we then do something that’s meaningful and remarkable to get people to come into the store, even though they might be looking at these other brands? And there are retailers out there doing it, they’ve changed their merchandise. Some of these bed-in-the-box brands are driving foot traffic to their stores. But more importantly, it’s about knowing who you are, owning that position in your marketplace, championing that, and then doing all the things you can do, pulling all the levers for every creative idea.
Melinda: I want to reference the tagline in your book because I think it’s really powerful. The tagline is “Attract more foot traffic and make people fall in love with your store.” Fall in love, that’s really aspirational and it’s kind of a high order. Tell me why this is how far brands need to go.
Mark Quinn: Well, if you think about why consumers make decisions, right? We’re all in the marketing space, so here’s the question. Do we fundamentally believe that consumers make decisions based on emotion? And if we agree that that’s true, because it’s certainly what the research says, then it is our job to connect with people that come into our stores or people we’re interfacing with online, we have to connect with them.
You look at people in the market that have a heart for what they do in the community. We have this part in the book where we call it a CAGE, right? A lot of retailers don’t understand how to talk about their business or themselves. There’s a humility piece to that for some. And some people just don’t even really understand who their brand is actually. So, we take them through a process and we see, okay, C stands for community. What are you doing in the community? What kind of community organizations are you involved in? How do you participate?
A as for answer and so serving your audience. Like what kind of answers are you offering to people to be helpful to them? Forget whether they’re going to buy it from you, serve those people and they will feel something about who you are. Giving, what kind of charities are you involved with? What kind of stuff do you believe in? Is it foster kids? Is it sex trafficking? Is it the hungry? Whatever that is, do something, insert yourself into the story. You don’t have to talk about yourself, talk about the charity, and be part of that story.
And then the final one is experiences, E, and so what kind of experiences do you create in your store? Is it fun? Do you go in, is it different than every other florist or shoe store or car dealership than anyone else? Because there’s so much sameness out there. We think if you look at those different things and you talk about those different things, if I know that you have a business that does work for foster kids, and I have a heart for foster kids, now, I believe what you believe and I have connected to you. And now we have some beginning of a relationship and it’s much harder for guys online or big box people to really pull that off.
Mark Kinsley: Melinda, it just hit me. The tagline of this book could have easily been shifted to “Attract more foot traffic by making people hate your store.” And here’s why.
Mark Quinn: I don’t think it sells as well. Do you, Melinda?
Melinda: Okay. Explain that to me, that’s a little counterintuitive.
Mark Kinsley: The middle is death.
Mark Quinn: True.
Mark Kinsley: If somebody hates you, somebody else is going to love you, but the middle is death. And that’s why you have to fly your flag. I tell this story, I use this analogy. I say, if you’re standing at the harbor and a big, tall ship pulls in and a crowd gathers, and all of a sudden on that tall ship, they start hoisting that skull and crossbones Jolly Roger flag, what do most people do? They run. Get out of dodge. Unless you’re a pirate, then you go get on that ship.
You need to fly your flag and be bold with who you are. You need to be notorious in your marketplace for what you believe in, who you are, and that size of real estate you’re going to own in people’s minds because in this day and age in an over-communicated busy, noisy, hard to navigate world. If you don’t do that, you will die. The middle is death. So, make some people hate you because the opposite’s going to love you.
I get a call the other day. I put an ad out, we have a mattress brand it’s called Englander. It’s been around 125 years. And we joke about how we’re experienced in bed. Because we’ve been around a long time. So we put together this ad and I wrote it. And it’s based on, “Would you rather this or that?” And so it’s like, “Would you rather have great sex or great sleep?”
Mark Quinn: Yes please.
Mark Kinsley: Either way.
Melinda: It’s a win-win.
Mark Quinn: Why are you making us choose?
Mark Kinsley: That’s the payoff. Either way, Englander’s the answer. Our mattress is the answer. And so I get a phone call from somebody on the east coast that wanted to speak with me personally. And she took me to task about how awful that ad was and about how they’re a family business. And they didn’t want that in the magazine that was laying around their store.
The next day, I get a call from the west coast and there was a lady saying, “This is amazing. I love it. I did something similar years ago.” So, by creating that reaction, that love and hate, I was not swimming in the middle. I was not dying. And I think that’s what brands need to think about. You’re going to make some people hate you, make other people love you.
Melinda: You’ve both mentioned a product price and promotion a few times. Why do you steer brands away from this?
Mark Quinn: Well, it goes back to logic versus emotion. And when it becomes the default for you and when that’s 98 percent of what you’re talking about, which is so much of what retailers do in our category, then you become the noise that you, yourself, as a human being, shopping for anything in the market tend to ignore and drown out. And so, we’re not saying don’t product price and promote. Don’t avoid it, but don’t tell us that in a 30 second spot, there isn’t room to build value in something, right? Build value in your store, build value in what you do, build value in your process, your own people, talk about your charities, but build value in something and then hit them hard and slam them with that last 10 seconds of an offer.
But if you’re not building value, then you look and act and sound and feel just like everybody you’re competing against. And so that’s why we go back to the CAGE method of find out who you are, and really thinking about ways to connect to the consumer. And if people aren’t doing that, then they’re just another sale. And it’s another place to go and conduct a transaction. You can be a place where people go to buy things, or you can be a place that serves people and their true intention and purpose, purpose is so big in everything, right?
And so, their purpose is to help you do something different, help you understand, sleep, help you understand the benefit. And by the way, this is not just sleep. It’s shoes. It’s for the person who is an advocate and a runner, or a walker and they stand on their feet all day and work. So, their purpose is to help that person be more comfortable every day. It’s the jewelry person who wants to sell jewelry and make someone feel like a million dollars or glow because a piece that they bought makes them feel something inside. It’s the emotion and the purpose and everything we do. It’s not just the mattress category.
Melinda: Yeah. I’d love to hear an example. It’s really helpful, I think sometimes for people to hear it illustrated in action. Do you have an example that you can think of who’s doing this really well?
Mark Kinsley: Yeah. So in the book we talk about George Samaras. George owns Portland Mattress Makers in Portland, Maine. And George called me up and said, “I got to figure out what I’m going to do. I’ve got competitors moving in and they’re big brands and they’re well-funded and they’re gonna kill me on price.” And so, we had these long conversations. I ended up going out to Maine and sitting down and talking with George and watching what was happening in his store.
And people in Portland, Maine really do want to shop local. You know, I’ve seen this in different communities across the country. And some people say, “Yeah, shopping local is really important,” and then they don’t actually care, and they go spend their money buying the cheapest thing they can find online. But in Portland, it was really different. And so, he was telling me, you know, this average consumer for him was a well-educated woman, higher income, mid-50s that really wants to support the local community.
Sure enough, I would sit there in the store and watch a person matching that description, come in over and over and over again. But I noticed something happening. They would come in and they’d say, “Well, where do you make the mattresses?” And George would be like “Right there on the other side of this wall,” like his factory was right there.
And so the first thing I was telling him, like, “George, you gotta put up some of those glass garage doors so people can see what’s going on.” But then we realized, he was scared to spend money and he was scared to promote and go tell people who he was, because he didn’t know who he was. For years, George had been going on TV with this giant pair of scissors, like the size of half your body and saying, “Cut out the middleman, cut out the middleman.”
You know, when you’re a factory direct, you make them in the back, you sell them in the front, that price advantage works. But with imports and all this other junk, he wasn’t beating anybody on price. So I realized what George was doing is what a lot of people do. They would talk about who they were, but they would use hollow words, quality, value, service, family owned.
And I said, “George, you know, we’ve got to figure out which of these hollow words describes your business, but then use vivid examples to prove it.” And he’s like, “Well, for us, our advantage is gonna be, it’s all about shopping local. And we are local.” And I’m like, “Great. What vivid example or mechanism or vehicle can we use to prove that? Your factory, you have a factory. It proves that you’re local.”
And so we just went all in on that. Portland Mattress Makers, “Sleep local” is the tagline, everything they do and everything they promote and everything they put out into the world, factory videos, all about our factory and craftsmanship.
So, okay, what are the results? George went all in on this for about eight months. And here we go. It’s May, May is a big mattress buying season with Memorial Day. The previous year he’d had a record month and he did a mismatch sale on a bunch of promotions. So, eight months of brand building, eight months of telling people to sleep local and all about the factory. And here we go, I called George in mid-June. I said, “Hi George. How’d it go? What’d you do?” He said, “Well, we did not have a sale. And we had our biggest record month in history.”
Melinda: Wow. That’s fantastic.
So, I want to take it a little bit of a different direction here. Mark Quinn, I understand you’ve got some experience in biometric sleep technology. Can you tell us what this is and what you do?
Mark Quinn: Sure. When I was at Leggett, we had a guy come to us and they had a PCL sensor. So, it’s a sensor that detected a vibration and it was out of Israel and they actually used it for troop movement, like military troop movement to be able to detect it. So our guys at Leggett took it in isolated algorithms and sleep. What does snoring look like? What does tossing and turning look like? What does getting out of bed look like?
And so we did that and then we tied it to a Microsoft interface where we could literally give a report to people on their sleep. So we embedded it into a mattress, and then we called user interface and an app. And every night you slept, you could get your sleep report. And then once you get your sleep report, if you were tossing and turning a lot, we would give you advice, some sleep health tips, right?
So if you’re tossing and turning, here’s half-life of caffeine, and this is when you should stop drinking it. If you’re tossing and turning, here’s some ways to maybe avoid that temperature in your room or sound or light. And so we did that and we created a product called Starry Night, and we call it the $50,000 bed. We took it to the consumer electronics show and people freak out because why is a mattress at a consumer electronics show? It had never been done.
And then, you know, we were part of the Home of the Future, which is a trailer, and you go through and you get all these experiences and we set it up where you hit one button. And if it was like a time to, you know, get a sexy night at home with you and your mate, you hit the button and the lights would dim. The bed would articulate into a flat position. The temperature would drop down because you were about to heat it up. Marvin Gaye would come on with his tins and then like, you were like ready to go, but the whole room set, and then it would give you reports on your biometrics.
So that was the beginning of it. And since then we worked with Bam Labs. Select Comfort ended up buying Bam Labs. So we had helped create some of that technology and then the rest is history. Now biometrics are very, very popular and out in quite a few spaces.
Melinda: Yeah. The reason I wanted to ask you about this is because I wanted to talk about innovation and how important that is for brands.
Mark Kinsley: In our space, it seems like innovation is the order of the day. And like I said earlier, when we were at Leggett and Platt, you know, we were on the component side. And so lots of innovation comes from component manufacturers, whether they’re making foam or ticking, you know, the fabric that goes on top or the springs or something like the gel that Purple uses in their mattresses.
And so with so much fluff in our category, both literally and figuratively, retailers are trying to find something that’s meaningful, that they can show consumers. And that’s the hitch in the giddy-up when it comes to innovation in our category. And I think in a lot of retail categories is okay, is this innovation that I can show to a consumer? And it’s going to make sense to them? Otherwise, it’s just fairy dust. And we got a lot of fairy dust in our industry, but we also have a lot of innovation.
You know, it’s funny when you look at one of the most innovative components in the marketplace, right now, it is the Purple gel. And this is this hollow column, buckling gel that’s very pressure relieving. If you’ve been on the internet and you’ve seen the Goldilocks egg test video, it’s really well done. It’s one of the best pieces of mattress marketing I’ve seen in years. And they were able to demonstrate pressure relief and these eggs don’t bust whenever you drop it on a glass plate and it hits that mattress.
Well, the backstory on that, it’s kind of fascinating because when I was at Leggett, we licensed that gel product from the rocket scientists that created it. And we tried to sell it for years and years and years, but we were selling it as a component to a manufacturer, manufacturer selling it to a retailer and then a retailer trying to figure out how do I position this on my floor in between the foam mattresses and the spring mattresses, and how do I guide a consumer to that and make it all make sense?
And it didn’t work. But meanwhile, they went back to the ranch and they said, okay, we need to sell this direct to consumers in a finished mattress and put slick marketing around it, demonstrate it in a cool way. And that’s where we get hung up a lot. Is it innovation for the sake of innovation or is it something that can cascade down to that consumer level and make sense?
Mark Quinn: On that note too, it’s not just the product innovation. I own a company called Spink & Co and it’s farm grown beds, and it’s not about the product necessarily. It’s the story. So you can innovate story. You can innovate process. We grow mattresses on a farm. You plant seeds, grow hemp. You grow cotton. We have our own sheep. So it’s a story innovation. Bed in the box was about a process of packaging, a mattress that was the innovation. Innovation can be so many different things. And it’s there. I mean, not all the great ideas are taken, so there’s lots of opportunity with that.
Melinda: Right. And I mean, innovation is it’s not an efficient process. You’ve got to have a lot of fails before you’re going to have that one win, right?
Mark Quinn: We know all about that.
Melinda: Yeah. So, in order to get more consumers to come back into the store, if you could maybe give us your top three tactics that you talk about in the book, that could be important for retailers, that would be a great way to finish our conversation.
Mark Kinsley: I’ll tell you, I got two things and Quinn, you can cap it with your third. But if I was going to say, there are two really valuable tools, it’s more like a tool kit. It’s our HATCH Method and it’s the Galaxy Graph.
So the HATCH Method is how do you actually generate creative ideas and bring them to life? We call it hatching creative ideas, and it’s an acronym. And it’s actually on the back of this bookmark, but it’s Hold a brainstorm, Act crazy, Take a nap, Choose ideas and Hand off to the creative team.
But the big one there, I think is the brainstorming process because so many businesses and business owners know what doesn’t work or what didn’t work in the past. And so having a brainstorm is not about crapping on ideas during the brainstorm. It’s about generating volume of ideas and you have the right people in the room and you have to set the right tone and you go for volume and then you step away.
And we say this in the book too, hold a brainstorm and act crazy. You’ve got to act crazy because when you’re brainstorming and you’re going for volume of ideas, when it gets wacky and stupid, usually you’re pushing past the obvious and you’re about to get to something meaningful and differentiated that somebody is going to love and somebody’s going to hate, and that’s where you want to swim. So the HATCH Method and brainstorming is really valuable.
And then there’s the Galaxy Graph and that’s number two for me. So many times in the past, you know, we would work with clients. When I was on the agency side and I did it myself. You have a great idea for this amazing digital ad. And then you go do it and then a weekend you’re like, wow, we should have done a print ad, and we could have turned this into a press release. And my gosh, this would be a great video series.
So the Galaxy Graph is almost like your personal galaxy of distribution. It’s like a worksheet. You fill out your Galaxy Graph, you know, all of these channels and all the creative that you can make to support those channels. And it forces you to maximize ideas. And those two things strategically are going to come in handy regardless of time and place.
Melinda: Mark Quinn finished us off with one last tool.
Mark Quinn: I have no idea. No, no. We keep talking about who you are. And so we talk about the personification of a brand and I loved when this was done for me once. And it’s, so if your brand were to walk through the door, what would they look like? What kind of clothes are they wearing? What is their playlist? What kind of car are they driving? Where do they go to eat? Like, it’s really a big deal to understand that part, because if you don’t, then you can’t lean into who you are.
And here’s the big thing. You need to answer the question for yourself, then you need to have your employees answer the same question and make sure you’re mapping the data. Then you need to ask your consumers and be very intentional about that. Bring them in, have a lunch, have a conversation, take some of your customers, your best ones to lunch and ask them, how do you see our company and our brand? And then you need to look at those three things separately and bring it together.
And I guarantee you, people are going to be so shocked mostly at what they see, because what they think their employees think is different and the same from the consumer. And then the most important one, the fourth one, after you get those three done is to project, what do you wanna be? Right? So now, you know what everyone is thinking, what do you really want to be? What is that aspirational thought?
When you get to that and then you kind of figure out how you can execute on telling your story that way, that is where a lot of magic starts to happen. You don’t have to worry about, like, what are the ads going to be? If you know your brand persona, then you can funnel everything through that filter and keep yourself safe and keep yourself on message.
Mark Kinsley: And I’d say one last thing that may be meaningful for folks. I was shocked that this became one of our most listened to podcasts of all time, but it was with a guy named Wes Roberts and Wes is the cousin of the founder of the largest sleep shop chain in the country. So, we know Harry Roberts really well. And he said, “You gotta talk to my cousin, Wes.” And Wes is in his 60s, early 60s and Wes has ALS, a devastating disease that he’s fighting. And so we were able to sit down and just tell Wes’s story. And in the process of doing that, you hear who Wes is and who he was unashamed to be. And he’s got this magical spirit about him that just showed through in everything he did, his entire family had this little band and they would perform.
And he played hockey and he was always telling his kids like, “If you’re not giving it, you’re taking it. So get out there and rough him up.” And I just loved talking to Wes because at the end of the conversation, we asked “Wes, what would you say to people?” You know, this is a man that’s facing death. And he said, I would say, “Be bold.” And that’s a guy that’s had a lot of time to think about what message you would want to pass along. And it applies to all of us each and every day in your business and your personal lives and the relationships you have, let’s be bold.
Melinda: Well, that’s an excellent thought to leave us on. Can you just tell us where people can find your book and your podcast?
Mark Kinsley: Quinn’s got a bunch of them in his basement.
Mark Quinn: Right there. Well, Amazon, obviously, so it’s a Kindle. It’s also the audible version, which Kinsley and I read. I don’t know if you’ve ever done that, but that’s not as easy as it appears.
Mark Kinsley: Let’s just say that in the audio book, we both do impersonations of our wives that are awful.
Melinda: Oh, no.
Mark Quinn: But they loved it by the way. Oh yeah. They loved it. And so dosmarcos.co is the place. And if you go there actually, the official beverage of the Dos Marcos podcast is tequila. So we have created two tequila shots, two tequila glasses, shooter glasses with the Dos Marcos brand on it. And so you can get those if you buy the book and they’re silicone. They have a little dimple on there, so you can hit a golf ball off of it. So you can take shots of tequila while you’re in your golf cart and then hit a golf ball on it. So it’s pretty handy, actually.
Melinda: Fabulous. Well, thank you both so much for talking with me today.
Mark Kinsley: Melinda, you’re great. Thanks for having us.
Mark Quinn: Thank you.
Melinda: A really strong message from the two Mark’s. The middle is death. Be notorious, be bold. It’s a high order. I know that many of you indie operators are under enormous strain as result of the pandemic, but it is a good time to get your story out there and know that your community is really rooting for you.
On a personal note, I made the choice to buy as many of my Christmas gifts this year as possible from local stores. I hit about 90 percent, and I had such a great experience with some of these brands, connecting through social media, getting to know more about them. And there were a few in particular where I did feel a strong sense of connection to their story that would be really hard for a big brand to recreate.
Big brands, pay close attention. It’s harder to tell a story like George’s when you’re a massive player, but I think that what the Marks are saying is that whoever you are, you need to be brave enough to claim a strong position even one that might earn you some haters. A perfect example is Nike. It turns out that having some people burning their sneakers was actually good for their business.
I’m going to link to the website from Mark Quinn and Mark Kinsley’s book in our podcast transcript. Come Back to Bed is as much fun as they are and contains timeless information for retail operators, both big and small.
Thanks for listening to Think Retail.
Think Retail is a podcast where top designers, strategists, thought leaders and business people discuss what’s coming next. For more information, email email@example.com.