20 May 2024, 09:23
By Lisa Artis Dec 19, 2018

Why the sleep story matters

For more than two decades, manufacturers and retailers in the bed industry have benefited from The Sleep Council – an organisation that was born out of a desire and a demand from consumers and the media to provide meaningful and relevant information and advice about sleep. NBF communications manager Lisa Artis explains the part it continues to play to reinforce beds’ biggest selling point …

“When The Sleep Council launched in 1995 it set out to become the go-to place for everyday information about sleep and beds, and it worked. And the principle is still working today,” says Lisa .

“Over time, we’ve established ourselves as a credible, impartial organisation that raises the importance of a good night’s sleep and how the bed plays a pivotal role in that. We’ve been successful because we don’t have anything to sell, and we don’t ram commercial messages down anyone’s throat. And we’re still here.”   

In fact, with more platforms to work with than ever before, The Sleep Council is reaching more audiences with its message – the importance of a good bed, regularly replaced, to getting a good night’s sleep. Sleep is, after all, the main benefit to be obtained from buying a new bed.

It has never strayed from this strategy, remaining fiercely independent and providing totally generic advice. What it has done instead is wrap up three core bed messages in inventive and creative storylines. For whatever the headline-grabbing copy was, the subtext has remained the same: spend as much as you can on a new bed; buy as big a bed as you have space for; and replace your bed every seven years.

Spreading the word

The marketing collateral developed for retailers has supported this. From informative consumer leaflets and artwork toolkits for online and offline advertising, to awareness campaigns to piggyback upon and videos which can be shared on social media or embedded onto websites, bed retailers have access to a vast array of materials to exploit and plug the benefits of a new mattress.

“We do what we can to benefit retailers and our NBF members,” adds Lisa. “All our work encourages bed purchases to be made from retailers, especially those stocking NBF Approved members’ beds.

“We urge bed retailers to download our free marketing kits to use in their sales and marketing campaigns – either in the lead-up to one of our campaign months or for general publicity. We also offer tips and advice on how best to take advantage of the sales opportunity that the annual campaigns represent.”

The work The Sleep Council does to help bed retailers goes hand-in-hand with its consumer campaign activity, which is focused on educating the consumer in the importance of a good bed, regularly replaced.

It is this work that keeps beds, sleep and its key messages constantly in the public eye – every year, many hundreds of articles about sleep and beds are published, many radio interviews conducted and, from time to time, elusive TV airtime achieved.

“Every year we have to come up with stories which will capture the imagination of journalists in national and regional media,” says Lisa. “It’s quite a challenge. We’ve used every trick in the book, from surveys to competitions, to stunts, to celebrities. And along the way we’ve amassed a huge amount of interesting facts and figures about sleep and beds.

“Plus the awareness campaigns – National Bed Month, National Sleep In Day, and the most recent, Sleeptember – have always provided us with the perfect opportunity to shout about beds and the impact on sleep. We’ve been doing it for nearly 25 years and we’ve no intention of stopping.” 

There’s plenty of talk about why we need to sleep (it benefits our health and wellbeing) and even how to get a good night’s sleep (no coffee after midday, no phones in the bedroom), but what is often overlooked is the foundation of achieving that great quality sleep – a comfortable, supportive bed. 

Imparting the skills to sell

That is why the Sleep Council Sales Academy was formed back in 2015. It was designed to help bed retail sales advisors learn more about the science of sleep and how to use this knowledge effectively within their sales presentations to build trust with their customers. There are now more than 1000 accredited sleep advisors nationally. 

Businesses both large and small have seen the benefits of enrolling their staff on the course. In an age when competition for consumers’ money is so fierce and the choice of where to buy from is so wide, promoting Sleep Council accreditation gives a retailer a distinct advantage over its competitors.  

Adds Lisa: “We know that buying a new bed or mattress is considered by many to be a risky purchase and consumers are looking for expert, impartial advice to guide them through the minefield – and that’s where we hope we can help!” 

There is no doubt that sleep (or the lack of it) is gaining more column inches in the press, more coverage on the internet and more chat on social media channels concerning how to get more of it and how to improve the quality of it – all of which augurs well for anyone involved in selling sleep products. 

At the end of the day, you can do all the right things when it comes to sleep – eating the right foods, limiting your alcohol and caffeine intake, exercising regularly, switching off screens an hour before bed, unwinding properly and sleeping in an ideal environment, and practising all these things daily – but if you are sleeping on an old, unsupportive and unhealthy bed, you still will not get a refreshing night’s sleep. And that is the biggest selling point a retailer can focus on. 

Lisa concludes: “Ours is still a very small voice in the grand scheme of things, yet it remains an effective one. And the more the industry supports our efforts, by building on key messages, the more beds (and the better the beds) the industry will sell.”  

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