Cover Story Profile - Select Comfort (2,858 words)
By Denny Hatch
Where channel integration means a sales and marketing network that never rests.
You have to be in awe of a company that opened its doors in 1987 and ended 2002 with 26 patents, 321 retail outlets, 25,000 testimonials from happy customers, net sales of $335.8 million and a dazzling stock performance in what can only be called a bungee-jumping market.
The company is Select Comfort, headquartered in Minneapolis, manufacturer of beds that encompass a revolutionary design and blessed with a marketing team that rivals the legendary David Oreck and the wizards of Bose.
About the Interview That Follows
Noel Schenker joined Select Comfort as senior vice president of marketing and new business development in November 2000. Her background includes senior marketing positions with Rollerblade Inc. and Pillsbury.
Schenker was wonderfully forthcoming about all facets of Select Comfort—from its beginnings 16 years ago to the present. And she described in detail the company's evolution from pure direct marketing into a multi-channel marketer in the mold of legendary Richard Thalheimer's Sharper Image.
As you read this, bear in mind that high-priced merchandise (in this case $499 to $2,600+) generally requires a two-step sale that starts with some form of lead generation program. When the lead is procured, the follow-up effort might include a letter and brochure, a visit to a Web site or a trip to a retail showroom to actually try out the product.
The Amazing Videocassette
In the case of Select Comfort, the in-house marketing team, Designwrite Advertising and Media Craft Video Productions Inc. have created a follow-up video that is sent with the informational brochure to all new direct inquiries. More than half a million videos were distributed in 2002.
The video is a kind of infomercial in the grand tradition of Ron Popeil and his counter-top rotisserie, but far more low-key. Instead of the Popeil's cheering section that screamed "SET IT AND FORGET IT!," the Select Comfort effort alternates hard information with a slew of testimonials from happy customers who speak with relief, love and joy at getting a great night's sleep and waking up every day without aches and pains. The video shows and describes the Select Comfort Sleep Number bed in exhaustive (and enthusiastic) detail—from its arrival in a relatively small box (it's an air mattress and is shipped deflated) to the set up that can be accomplished by even a klutz like me.