This Company is Fighting to Get Under Your Sheets

Who knew being a mattress salesman in 2018 would be such a sought-after gig?

Sure, it may not be seem to be the job every kid dreams about, but those in the marketing biz know that this industry is at the forefront of the e-commerce space. Today, working for an online mattress company means you’re likely innovative, ambitious and always thinking about the next big thing.

It also means you’re not afraid of a little competition. The “mattress-in-a-box” model has been championed by new brands like Casper, Leesa and Endy, and even traditional retailers like Sealy and Serta have gotten in on the action. The market is now valued at an estimated $15 billion, with up to 200 competitors in the space.

With so many companies battling to get under consumers’ sheets, we spoke with Dan Ucko, Director of Content at Nectar Sleep, about what it’s like to market in this hyper-competitive space. Nectar, which launched in 2016, was founded on the principle that “nothing is more important than your sleep.” Using content, SEO and other marketing tactics, Ucko and his team are trying to share that dream with the world.

Pressboard: Could you tell us a little bit about your background and how you ended up at Nectar?

Dan Ucko: My degree is in journalism. I graduated in 2008, so the job market was not so hot. I eventually found my way into marketing, where I became more and more interested in technology and advertising and the connection between the two. What led me to Nectar were the conversations with Nectar’s VP of marketing — a friend and colleague I’ve known from the past. I figured it was the right time to go into a clearly fast-growing space.

What is it about both Nectar and the mattress space that you think is really exciting right now?

To be honest, I knew nothing about mattresses before I started. I wasn’t excited right off the bat about selling mattresses. It’s sexy now because there’s opportunity.

Everyone knows this figure: people spend a third of their lives sleeping. I think this new interest in sleep also comes at a time that fits really well into the wellness movement.

What interests me more is the business opportunity. We are actually a portfolio brand, so we’ve got Nectar, we’ve got DreamCloud, we recently acquired a company called Level Sleep, and we’re quickly building new brands to also expand into furniture and the rest of the bedroom as well. So, for me, it was just kind of an interesting challenge: how to build these portfolio brands from scratch.

Are you using content to try to tell the stories of those different mattresses and companies? How does storytelling play a role in your marketing?

Right now, content is more of a tactic than it is part of our story. We haven’t focused on brand building the traditional way. We’re a very performance-driven company.

These days, people do their research. You Google the crap out of this brand and that brand, seeing that these guys have 4.8 stars, and some of them have 4.7 stars. We’re all used to that from shopping on Amazon.

For us, we’re more focused on answering questions. It’s about understanding the signals to search and conversations on social and putting the answers front and center. We also have a pretty strong strategy around the types of content that work for native advertising and paid promotion.

Nectar’s sleep experts collaborated with PopSugar to create this informative piece about “Signs You’re Sleep Deprived.”

Why is it that people are so interested in learning about and talking about sleep?

The easiest thing to say about doing content marketing at a mattress company is ‘we’re not selling mattresses, we’re selling sleep.’

Everyone knows this figure: people spend a third of their lives sleeping. I think this new interest in sleep also comes at a time that fits really well into the wellness movement.

People are very attuned to wanting to improve their lives and their well-being. It’s hip to be healthy and fit.

If I were to start my research today, I wouldn’t know the difference between Casper and Nectar and Serta. What efforts does your team take to differentiate your product from others in the same space?

It comes down to brand in a lot of cases. People are going to go with someone they trust, so brand building will become more and more important for us as we want to compete in that space.

Native ads are eating banner ads for lunch (just look at Facebook). Consumers will always crave information and personal interactions with brands. Content satisfies that.

It’s important to pay attention to what everyone is saying as well. You have to be very vigilant, stay on top of feedback on social media, and answer people’s questions. I think, to some extent, you put yourself out there, you try to do your best out on the stage, lead the consumer and of course, deliver a good product.

Can you think of any specific marketing tactics that you’re proud of that have helped you build that trust or to get that information in front of potential customers?

I have this slide that I’ve shown of three blog posts and ask people which one they thought didn’t convert. Everyone guesses, and everyone has different reasons, whether they think something is boring or just didn’t perform. And then, I reveal they all actually converted.

One of them is a pretty typical, more search-focused one, titled “How to Tell You Need a New Mattress” There’s a lot of topics you could write about that seem really boring. But “boring” is whatever is not interesting to you. It’s very subjective.

If you’re in the market for a mattress, or improving your sleep, or you have a problem like back pain and you want to understand what can solve that, then that sort of low funnel search query can be not boring at all. It can be super, super useful.

Where do you think content marketing is going in the next few years?

Recent predictions are that all marketing will be content marketing within five years. It’s pretty aggressive to say that in five years all direct advertising will go away because, frankly, it still works. It’s just that you can’t build a business doing 99% direct response.

To be honest, I knew nothing about mattresses before I started. I wasn’t excited right off the bat about selling mattresses. It’s sexy now because there’s opportunity.

Native ads are eating banner ads for lunch (just look at Facebook). Consumers will always crave information and personal interactions with brands. Content satisfies that.

Everyone has trouble falling asleep from time to time. Do you have any tricks, yourself, when you can’t fall asleep that help you?

There’s this cliché about counting sheep; that’s one of these things that’s actually a myth. We decided that we need to focus on debunking sleep myths and things that people think are helpful that actually aren’t.

One simple thing to keep in mind is, don’t spend more than just a few minutes trying. Instead, just stop trying. Wake up, go read a book for a little while. Also, do your best to avoid devices. Do something else and then try again would be my simplest advice.

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