Hipster mattresses, they say, are all the rage. One reason for that just might be the brand stories they’re telling in innovative ways.
Casper is Killing Content Marketing–Starting With Their Brand Story
For leader of the pack Casper, a mattress company that delivers right to your door after you order online, the big story is about sleep–and how we can improve ours–without driving ourselves nuts trying to figure out how to buy a mattress.
How do they tell the story? It’s baked right into their business model. They sell one single type of mattress online direct to consumers, for under $1000 USD. The mattress is delivered to your door in a compact box, complete with box cutter. This brand story alone differentiated the company right out of the gate, and has enabled them to grab a share of the U.S.’s roughly $7 billion-a-year mattress industry.
It’s a revolutionary story for some mattress shoppers. This Business Insider reporter describes her experience:
You [usually] spend an hour in the store, awkwardly flopping on and off beds trying to find the one that meets the Goldilocks standard of “just right.” Then you have to lug the winning mattress across the parking lot, onto your car roof, up stairs, and into your home … But I did things a little differently this time … My shopping experience [with Casper] began online, and was over and done with in fewer than 10 minutes. Casper sells just one type of mattress, dubbed “The Casper Mattress,” because the company prefers to “put all our energy into building the ideal bed … rather than confuse you with tens (or hundreds) of models that all start to feel the same after a while.”
Where Content Is King: King Beds
Casper has a killer core brand story at the centre of their marketing; but they’re also moving the needle on content as well. In general, Casper’s marketing is content marketing, relying on a conversational voice in emails and web copy, as well as on testimonials, friendly videos and social media.
Like Dollar Shave Club, they made this happen by hiring professional journalists from the outset: people who inherently understand story, and how to use story to connect with audiences. As the Wall Street Journal reported in 2015:
Casper is making real efforts to position this as a real journalistic venture. It has already hired Elizabeth Spiers — former editor-in-chief of the New York Observer and founding editor of Gawker.com — to head up the initiative as editorial director. It’s also hired journalist Jeff Koyen as its editor-in-chief, and is currently hiring for senior editor and staff writer positions.
And voila: in 2015 the company launched Van Winkle’s, a website that describes itself as all about “exploring the science, culture and curiosities of sleep.”
According to Backchannel, the single rule on Van Winkle’s was “they couldn’t write about mattresses,” according to Van Winkle’s then-editor-in-chief Jeff Koyen, who explained that:
“The idea was to create sleep as an editorial vertical, much like fitness or shelter … I wanted to get Van Winkle’s readers to think about sleep, and the rising tide would benefit Casper … It’s not just, ‘let’s wake up and greet the sun in a yoga pose.’ And it was also not that CEO shit, of maximizing the most of your day — I think there’s a backlash right now against that.”
Indeed, what’s most interesting about Van Winkle’s is just how different its content is from Casper’s main website–making a strong argument for (reasonably) unbranded content marketing, or what are sometimes called digital content hubs.
Whereas Pillow Talk, the Casper blog, for example, is quite directly about all things bed (“How Many Pillows Do You Actually Need On Your Bed?” and “How Do You Properly Prepare for Hibernation Season?” are two of their fairly typical recent posts), Van Winkle’s is more editorially bold, reading as a slightly edgy (online) magazine about the role that sleep plays in our real daily lives (“How, Exactly, Does Ambien Work?“; “Oh, So You’re Staying Over?“). And indeed, there are no mentions of mattresses.
There’s no doubt that Casper is making waves in content marketing circles. But how does the mattress actually stack up?
If you try one, let us know.
Other Mattress and Marketing Contenders: Hastens and Endy
Hastens, a high-end Swedish bedding manufacturer, has jumped onto the sleep wellness bandwagon as well, with some solid content marketing of their own in the form of “Sleep Sound,” an intentionally snooze-inducing Spotify playlist.
Interestingly, Hastens’ playlist project is part of a larger effort by Spotify, the streaming music service, to cater to brands keen to express their brand musically. Spotify’s Soundtrack Your Brand campaign encourages a range of brands to create curated playlists that engage audiences aurally. (It’s a great example of a service catering to brands who want to tell stories in different media — but that’s another blog post).
And dear to us in Canada, Endy is a made-in-Canada mattress manufacturer that, like Casper, caters to online shoppers. They have yet to make a major play in content marketing (we urge them to get in touch) but are doing a beautiful job with their social media content and are scoring big with their customers (and letting those scores speak for them).
What does this mean for you?
It means that your brand is more than a logo. In a marketplace with rapidly multiplying consumer decisions, it’s about how you make someone feel.
It means that your brand’s story is sometimes the biggest factor in making a decision.
And as always in the digital age – it means that bold experimentation is required to thrive.
Sleep soundly, friends.