Seriously, I would not want to be in the mattress business right now because there is soooo much competition. You have all of your online retailers — Casper, Nectar, Purple, and all of those guys — and you have your brick and mortar stores too. They’re all going to have to figure out how to go above and beyond just to keep their heads above water. And not all of them will.
But Sleep On Latex have it licked.
Firstly, they’re keeping things pretty damn simple; they’ve decided to focus on just two products — latex mattresses and pillows —and do them really, really well. It’s an all-natural product, the prices are good, and they offer free shipping. All of the boxes ticked, right?
Now, we’re going to gloss over the part where Illana HATED her Sleep On Latex mattress (she’s possibly just fussy!) and focus on the fact that she is completely obsessed with their pillows. They’re seriously the best pillows she’s ever slept on. So when they started to wear out after just a year, she had no problem paying $120 for replacements.
But when she went to order them, she discovered they were out of stock. Major sad face.
So she emailed the company to say that her pillows were falling apart and to ask when they’d be getting more in stock. And this is where the good business part really kicks in.
They told Illana they’d changed suppliers because the pillows were wearing out too quickly and then they sent her two replacements — for free!
The lesson: always look for opportunities to surprise and delight.
Illana hadn’t been complaining and she wasn’t looking for freebies but not only did they send her some anyway, they followed it up with an email a couple of weeks later to make sure she was happy with her new pillows. Hell, their customer service team were so great Illana’s now made friends with one of them on LinkedIn!
Now that’s good business.
Over-delivering at a point in the buying cycle when the customer is feeling a little let down, like when a product hasn’t lived up to expectations, or when they’re feeling apprehensive, like when they’re having to return something a couple of days past the deadline, just makes so much sense.
Finding ways to be amazing and generous often doesn’t cost you a whole lot but what you get back in spades is loads of free marketing (like us raving about Sleep On Latex right here!), word of mouth referrals, and a shit-hot reputation. Definitely worth a couple of free pillows.
But, pesky caveat time again…
You have to know when to over-deliver.
Over-delivering can be great, but it shouldn’t be your default position.
It totally worked for Sleep On Latex in this scenario for two reasons. Firstly, they are in the midst of a retail war — with so much competition they have to grab every single opportunity to set themselves apart from the other dudes. Word of mouth is critical. As is their reputation.
Secondly, and more importantly, they over-delivered on something that Illana actually wanted.
It sounds obvious, right? But too many businesses are trying too hard to over-deliver, and they’re actually fucking terrifying their customers in the process.
Like Rachel’s local Safeway store that hasn’t quite got the memo that more isn’t always better.
They’re always coming up with insane “2 for 1” deals on products no one actually wants. Like, who actually needs two bushels of corn? Or 15 bundles of asparagus? Or 500 packets of dental floss? Their customers mostly live in apartment buildings — they don’t have the storage space for five year’s supply of dental floss! But they’re so damn pushy; they practically force those extra asparagus spears into your cart. Rachel has actually seen customers surreptitiously trying to ditch the free veggies before leaving the store.
And plenty of online businesses are falling into the same trap.
Think about it: how many times have you been on a sales call with someone and they’ve rhymed off a whole list of things you’ll get when you buy their package? You’ll get the coaching, daily emails, transcripts of every single call, and a workbook each week that’s 80 fucking pages long. Only they don’t tell you why you need ALL THE THINGS, so you start to feel totally overwhelmed and not at all in the mood for fishing out your credit card.
And the sad thing is that it all comes from a really great place; it comes from wanting to be super duper helpful and amazing. But the thing is, it’s only helpful if it’s something that the customer actually wants and needs. And if you can explain to the customer exactly why they want and need it.
Otherwise, you’re just throwing extra asparagus bundles at them and hoping they’ll hold out their hands to catch them.
So the next time you’re doing a sales call, or putting together a business package, remember that more isn’t necessarily better. A simple offer, packaged in the right way, for the right person, holds way more value than over-delivering for the sake of over-delivering.
After all, no one really needs 500 packets of dental floss, right?