Smelly Cheese

Have you seen Jeremy Piven in the TV series – Mr Selfridge?

It follows the story of Harry Gordon Selfridge – the revolutionary retail magnate who changed the face of shopping, and ushered in the era of department stores.

The Red Gloves Scene

There’s a great scene in the series involving a red pair of womens’ gloves – with Jeremy Piven’s character firmly-yet-politely demanding that they remain on-display and accessible to all customers.

It was a battle of wills – between a well-meaning shop clerk, and the owner himself.

But Selfridge had a good reason for making this demand.

Before Selfridge, conventional retail wisdom was to put items behind counters, in display cases, or in boxes – only to be reached on-request.

Selfridge wanted to turn shopping from a chore into a leisure activity – building his department store in a model somewhat more like a theme park for consumer goods, than a traditional high-street shop.

And part of the theme park model was making goods visible and accessible.

This one “tweak” to the way retail worked had an unintended side-benefit…

Any time a consumer picked up an item, they immediately revealed their interest in purchasing. Salespeople quickly learned this was the signal to go in for the kill – with the words “Can I help you”.

It was a sales bonanza!

If we think of the sale in mousetrap terms – placing attractive items on display is like making sure the mousetrap is set with smelly cheese.

In a sea of potential customers (Suspects) visiting his store, Selfridge had discovered a way to identify the most-likely customers (Prospects).

And by identifying the the most valuable people for sales staff to invest time and effort into, Selfridge increased sales!

Where’s Your Smelly Cheese?

For the same reason as Harry Selfridge, it’s worth finding the particularly “smelly cheese” in your business.

(In the of the 7 Levers – Converts – we’ll be investing heavily into making the sale. So it will be helpful to know you’re focussing your sales investment on the RIGHT potential customers.)

What Cheese Do You Use?

Finding the right cheese for customers in your business will depend on what you sell.

Just like in Selfridge’s stores, if you’re in retail – it could be picking up the shoes or red gloves on display. Or perhaps engaging with sales staff in a deeper and more meaningful way. (A particularly good example is The Athlete’s Foot stores’ Fitprint assessment – which helps to match your foot and gait to the right shoe.)

If you’re in B2B or the service sector instead of retail, you might need to “manufacture” some cheese – like an ebook, buyers guide, downloadable course or whitepaper.

You Don’t Need To Hit a Home-Run on your First Attempt…

Experiment with offers – or even survey prospective customers on what they want from you.

In the same way that you might try different baits or lures on a fishing hook – or different baits on a mousetrap – it will likely take several tries to find a particularly effective “cheese” for your business.

Let the numbers decide if you’re on the right track. The more Prospects it draws from your sea of Suspects – and the more sales Converts it creates – the better your cheese is.

Traits of Great Cheese

If you’re “manufacturing cheese” – with ebooks, whitepapers, buyers guides, our downloadable courses – there’s an effective structure that can work for you.

These are the traits of great cheese:

Low Investment – ideally free, fast, and easy to access. No mousetrap requires a mouse to jump through hoops before giving him access to the cheese.

High Engagement – the cheese should be smelly, tasty and visually-appealing. It should be something that your prospective customers want to engage with – on a deeper-than-superficial level.

Curiosity Entry – engaging a Prospect’s sense of curiosity is a great place to begin. If there’s a gadget, feature or insight you can tempt them with, it goes a long way.

Value Middle – the worst thing you can do is leave potential customers feeling “cheated” with the cheese you give them. Good cheese is about building a relationship, and trust, with a client – before you make the sale.

Unfinished End – although you want to give value, there needs to be something left unfinished, and a reason to buy after the Prospect has enjoyed the cheese.

Points Towards the Sale – following on from the above point, the cheese should point the Prospect towards the sale – and be a logical bridge over the gap between entering your store/visiting your website, and becoming a customer.

Need Help Making Cheese?

Pete and I have built our careers on making particularly successful, particularly smelly cheese for years – and have become artisan fromagerie cheesemakers.

We’d love to give you a hand.

The first step is to download our own cheese – our whitepaper: 7 Levers and the Growth Paradox.

From there, you’ll have access to our direct contact details – where you can get in touch.

We’d love to help you out.

Until next time,

Brent Hodgson

about-pete
Pete Williams is an entrepreneur, author, and marketer from Melbourne, Australia.

Before being honored “Australia’s Richard Branson” in media publications all over the continent, Pete was just 21 years old when he sold Australia’s version of Yankee Stadium, The Melbourne Cricket Ground For Under $500! Don’t believe it? You will! Check out the story in the FAQ section (it really is our most asked question).

Since then, he’s done some cool stuff like write the international smash hit ‘How to Turn Your Million-Dollar Idea Into a Reality’ (+ the upcoming ‘It’s Not About the Product‘) and he’s created a bunch of companies including Infiniti Telecommunications, On Hold Advertising, Simply Headsets and Preneur Group.

Lots of other people think he’s pretty good too! He’s been announced as the Global Runner-Up in the JCI Creative Young Entrepreneur Awards for 2009, the Southern Region Finalist in the Ernst & Young 2010 Entrepreneur of the Year, and a member of SmartCompany’s Top 30 Under 30.

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