Payless Shoes, Disruption, and the Timelessness of Books

There’s been a concept floating around lately that has my attention – disruption. The context I want to talk about it is that of business, specifically when a business comes around and disrupts its industry. With Payless Shoe Store just announcing they are closing all their stores, it brought this all up for me again and I just really wanted to address it.

Here are some examples of disruption:

• Uber/Lyft disrupting the Taxi Industry
• Netflix/Redbox disrupting Video Stores
• Amazon disrupting Book Stores
• Roku/Sling disrupting Cable TV

As I thought about Payless Shoes and their closure of over a thousand stores, I wondered how in the world could such a franchise die? And then I considered their market – cheap shoes.

The Time I Ran Away

When I was in high school, my mom and I got into a huge fight over… no kidding… Payless Shoes. I have “wide width” feet. This was very problematic for me as a teen girl who couldn’t find shoes to fit. My dad is a quadruple E width and had always special ordered shoes, and sadly, I had to look at custom options too. As a teen in the late eighties who just wanted to fit in and be cool, special shoes from World WIDE Shoes made me feel awkward at best. When Payless Shoes came to be, they offered several options in wide width and I loved that, but my mom didn’t because she hated that she had to replace my shoes every few months, unlike the high-quality ones from the specialty store. I didn’t care what my mom wanted, I wanted what I wanted.

For a long time, I only shopped at Payless because I knew they offered the sizes I needed and would longingly gaze at the Steve Maddens I wish I could wear. In a way, Payless disrupted the shoe industry by making wide widths more accessible. I’m sure they also brought affordability to the market as well, as previously people had to buy their shoes from department stores who paid commissions to salespeople for peddling higher priced shoes. But, here’s the problem: while they were running Buy-One-Get-One sales, Crocs entered the market. Skechers opened stores selling only their brand. Discount stores began popping up that offered more variety and name brands and Payless didn’t change.

Disruption is Evolution

When it comes to the idea of disruption, one of the things that really sticks with me is how our world continues to evolve and we as entrepreneurs must always be poised to either lead with innovation and disruption, shift to keep up, or, like Payless, die.
In the world of SEO, if you aren’t implementing a search strategy, you are behind the curve and will be facing extinction, unless you have other significant marketing in place such as a huge customer list or a strong offline presence. As the world moves even further into content marketing, social media, and video, we need to look at what is coming down the pike.

In my opinion, one of the enduring disrupters is a book. Books are timeless. Books share your expertise, give you a public claim in your industry, create an additional revenue source and open doors to opportunities for speaking engagements. I believe these keep you innovative, because speaking, and being seen as a resource and expert, will never go out of style. Opportunities like TedEx, podcasts, YouTube, Zoom Conferencing, and all of the upcoming technologies that are being created and thought about in this moment, are paving a way for more disruption… are you ready?

Today’s Self-Publishing is Disruptive

Self-publishing has disrupted the publishing industry. Print-on-demand self-publishing platforms make it more affordable and accessible than ever before. No longer stuck with a pallet of books to sell from their garage, authors have online providers who allow them to upload their book and have someone else handle printing and fulfillment while the author sits back and collects their royalties.

No more queries. No more waiting. No more rejections. (Did you know Harry Potter was rejected 12 times before JK Rowling became the richest author in the world?) Writing and publishing a book has never been easier.

However, there is a learning curve with publishing and there are so many options and information out there that it is easy to get confused. Some would-be-authors are being sold publishing packages that help them part with their money, more than bring their book to market. When it comes to publishing, buyer beware. Before signing that contract, or even before starting your book, contact a professional in the industry who is known for their ethics, such as me. I offer a free 20 minute, no obligation, no pressure consultation.

Let’s start disrupting the world with your unique expertise, now, before it’s too late.

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