What every small business can learn from the Payless/Palessi influencer stunt
Have you seen the commercials in which Payless shows how they duped influencers into raving about their $20 shoes and offering to pay up to $640 for a single pair? Similar to the old Folgers Instant Coffee commercials from my childhood, the point was supposedly to show that the quality of the featured product was higher than the average consumer might think.
Instead, I think both commercials illustrate the importance of marketing. I often tell clients that people judge things they don’t understand based upon the things they do understand. Think about your own experiences. Say you’re driving down the road trying to choose between two restaurants. Maybe you’re in a town you’ve never visited before. You don’t recognize the names of either place. So how do you make a choice? You’ll look at the building, the sign, maybe the cars in the parking lot, and you’ll make a judgement call based upon the limited information available to you. The cars in the parking lot have nothing to do with the quality of the chef, but it’s all you know so you use that information to make your purchase decision.
If you’re a small business owner trying to compete with larger, more established businesses, the quality of your marketing is extremely important. Your prospective customers will judge you based upon the quality of your advertising. If your website is easy to navigate and provides a good user experience, they will assume your customer service is good. If there are typos in your blog or your brochure, they will assume your business lacks attention to detail. It’s silly but it’s true. We both know that if you’re a CPA and your marketing director makes a typo on your website, that has nothing to do with your ability to prepare taxes correctly and accurately. Unfortunately, your prospective clients will judge the quality of your CPA work based upon the quality of work provided by your marketing department.
That’s exactly what happened in the Payless/Palessi experiment. When Payless shoes were placed in the setting where shoppers would normally find designer shoes, the event attendees assumed the shoes were designer quality. They saw what they wanted to see.
Good marketing isn’t about tricking people into buying products or using services they don’t want or need. Good marketers understand how their target market thinks, then uses these perceptions, misperceptions, and patterns of behavior to help customers overcome objections. Good marketing educates in a way that will be interesting to prospective customers or clients. Good marketing catches your prospects’ attention. The Payless/Palessi experiment did all these things. Yes, Payless showed that they have stylish shoes. Payless also demonstrated that good marketing is interesting, sometimes surprising, and always necessary.
Want to learn more about how to develop a marketing strategy for your small business? Read 5 factors that must be part of your small business marketing strategy.