Lessons from the Palessi Prank

Lessons from the Palessi Prank

Payless pulled a fast one several weeks ago in storied Santa Monica, CA. The discount footwear purveyor took over a former Armani store and stocked it with $19.99 pumps and $39.99 boots. That should not surprise anyone familiar with Payless, but that's not the whole story. The company and its marketing agency then invited groups of Southern California influencers to attend the grand opening of a new retailer called "Palessi" and asked their invited guests to comment on the merchandise featured in the store.

Those invited to the grand opening did not have a clue they were evaluating discount shoes often sold in malls and strip centers. They were asked how much they would pay for the merchandise they were evaluating. The top amount was $640 and the store recorded more than $3,000 in sales within the first couple of hours that it was open.

Payless rang up the sales but did not keep the money. Partygoers who made purchases were told of the prank and received a full refund along with free shoes.

What lessons does the Payless prank teach kitchen and bath showrooms? It's the story that matters - products are products. Both hot and cold water comes out of showerheads and faucets. Sinks are vessels where water can be trapped and drained. Cabinets provide space to store things. Stop focusing on products and start telling better stories. When you do, you can convince a noted fashion influencer to pay $640 for a pair of shoes that otherwise could be had for $19.99. Showroom sales professionals need to learn how to tell compelling stories that match the built-in narratives and dreams of their customers.

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