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If it's Not Good Enough for the Client, Then it's Not Good Enough to Sell.
"If it’s not good enough to put in your showroom, it’s not good enough to sell." Now stay with me.
This past weekend, between mowing the lawn and watching 10 year old news coverage of September 11th, I had to accomplish one of those tasks that you never think about as a kid and only think about every 10 years or so as an adult; I had to go buy a mattress. Not that it was a terrible experience - in fact, it was a spectacular experience (relatively speaking).
I visited the Original Mattress Factory to pick up a mattress that I had already chosen online - the cheapest queen set they make. The mattress is for the guest-room, after all, and if you allow guests to get too comfortable, who knows how long they’ll stay.
I walked in the doors and looked around to find the mattress that I had picked out online. As soon as I had found it, a very nice gentleman asked if he could help me. I answered him, very clearly, “I need a mattress for our guest room, so I want to buy the cheapest queen set you have.”
At this point, there were two things he didn’t do. First, he didn’t try to change my mind about going cheap. Second, even though I was very clear that I wanted to purchase a mattress on the spot and that I wouldn't be his biggest sale of the day, he didn’t brush me off or rush me through the process. In other words, he respected me and my needs.
Even though I was already sold, he insisted that we tour the factory where they famously make their mattresses and sell them “with no middle-man markup,” and showed me the difference between his beds and the national brands’. I had a great conversation with him about a topic that I never imagined I would have any conversation about at all - let alone a good one. In pointing out the things that differentiate his beds from the other brands’ he said something very poignant; in fact, it caught me off guard and I asked him to repeat himself. He said, “If it’s not good enough to put in the showroom, it’s not good enough to sell.”
This was extremely refreshing to hear. It’s something that I know I’ve always believed, but I’ve never heard it put that succinctly.
We design websites for our clients. We don’t design them for ourselves and we don’t design them to stroke our own egos. There have been numerous times in the past that we felt we had created a dynamite design and concept for a client, but when the project was completed, it was far from where we expected it to be, even though the client is thrilled with the result.
The pursuit of a portfolio must always come secondary to the clients’ needs. Designers and artists often feel that if a project or work of art does not meet their own criteria for success, then it is a failure. This is a selfish and egotistical mindset that will only lead to disappointment and frustration. Artists and designers that get caught up in the world of the-designer-knows-best will never feel fulfilled or feel like their work has been a success.
Only when artists can disconnect themselves from their work, stop falling in love with their own perfection, and begin to realize that their feelings come secondary to the client’s needs, will they ever feel as though their work is meaningful.
Every day we preach that we champion business value and push for the highest possible return on the clients’ investments, but this is most often in the context of marketing, developmental specifications, or strategy. Rarely is the idea of business value discussed in the context of the design itself.
My salesman at the Original Mattress Factory made me realize that every time we release a new product, finalize a new design, or even get signoff on a new wireframe or mockup, our job is to create something we can be proud to show that client. I know this because time after time we strive to push to the last minute making correction after correction - oftentimes starting over from scratch until we’ve reached a solution the client will be proud to say is theirs.
In the end, that’s all that matters; the final product confirms to the client that they made the right choice to partner with us for their project, and we, in turn, can be proud of the product we deliver.
[Salesman from The Original Mattress Factory: Tony Dempsey, Vice President;
“Tony has been in the bedding industry since 1972. He was formerly the Vice President of Sales at Sealy's Forth Worth, Texas plant. He also served as the Executive Vice President for Spring Air's Atlanta, Georgia and Birmingham, Alabama factories. He joined OMF in 1999 and is responsible for local Sales & Marketing.”
The Original Mattress Factory, 2245 Wilson Road, Columbus, OH 43228]
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