Joe Polish I Love Marketing

Episode 024: The one with more cheese and less whiskers

  • 0
  • June 26, 2011
  • After reading this transcript, I thought back to 8 or 10 years ago when I got a phone call from Dean asking if I’d like an additional 4 to 5 sales a month. I had met Dean several years earlier, so had some recognition, but when I got his message about more sales, I dived for his cheese and am still eating it. (What I’m saying is, I’m living proof that it works.)

  • Suddenly feeling very feline, but will definitely be striving for more cheesiness in everything I do. Thanks for a another simple yet massively important concept! Love the Dan Sullivan idea of making columns for cat and cheese…have to do some work.

    Keep it coming. Trying to make the September event…just need to shift the family vacation!

  • A CHEESE audit! Now that is a brilliant way to describe how to scrutinize our marketing materials. Thank you, Dean and Joe, for the phenomenal marketing insights here. And you deliver them consistently with every episode. That’s why I’ve listened to every one of them. Thank you for the regular doses of cheese. Notice I keep coming back…

  • I loved this episode!
    But defining the cheese can be a bit tricky, don’t you think? I get a lot of emails promising me more website visitors, higher search engine rankings, a more profitable business, etc. Those are cheese, but they’re so overused and overhyped, they leave a bad taste in my mouth… and I know the cat is lurking on the other side whether I see the whiskers or not.
    Good cheese requires a lot of thought. The examples in this episode were great — I’d love to hear more!

  • roger

    I agree with Bonnie. Careful cheese choice required as poor/average cheeses will lead to a lack of authenticity. I also suspect that most buyers can smell the cat behind the cheese. I think that you are talking about speaking the language of the client and saying to him exactly what he wants to hear.

  • After today show YUP Dean is smarter LOL

  • Len

    Hi guys,

    Andy Jenkins posted a video today saying that conversation starters do not build credibility. He went on to say that you should post content that leads to conversation rather than just posting conversation starters. I loved your episode today and wondered what your thoughts are about this.

  • Ad #1 What would your vacation at home look like?

    Ad #2 Frustrated with incomplete cleaning, like dust on your ceiling vans, blinds and baseboards?

    Ad #3 Disappointed with cleaning companies not delivering on their services?

    Ad #4 What does a clean home smell like to you?

    Ad #5 Do you hate to call the maid back to redo the work you just paid for?

    Each question above is the cheese I use at the beginning of 5 different ads for a cleaning company.

    Before these ads the cleaning company used whiskers in their advertising. Like most, business was up and down.

    When I took over their advertising I used the cheese method right from the start. I’ve run these ads simultaneously on Craigslist for the past 8 months and the cleaning company had to hire additional help to keep up with the demand.

    Woody Quinones – The Promotional Guy

  • Joe

    Brilliant way to get your foot in the door that can possibly be used in ALL niches. I love the way you simplify advanced concepts.

    Cheese audit ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Great show – one of your best yet.

    I liked Dean’s “Do You Do Birthday Parties” campaign. It made me think. It’s obvious that this is going to work well to get people to raise their hands. But note they are not raising their hands and asking to be marketing to. So if I was a restaurant owner and I received the second message (“great would you like 5 more birthday parties next month”) I would feel tricked. Maybe this doesn’t matter – maybe their commitment to the initial action will prevail. So when do you show your whiskers? I think the ideal stage is never (e.g. you reverse the risk so much that your product itself is cheese).

    What also struck me about the birthday party campaign is the short copy (you can’t get much shorter). This makes me think that short copy might be a good cheese delivery mechanism for people who don’t know you or your product. Any comments?



  • It’s been a long time hasn’t it Bill?
    Thanks for sharing ๐Ÿ™‚


  • Bonnie and Roger…you are both correct. You really have to think through what the cheese is to YOUR prospect…from their perspective.
    I always like to ask “What would be a dream come true?” for my prospect. Also, I’m about to answer another question further down that really gets to the heart of the issue.

  • Steve!
    You hit it on the head that the ideal scenario is that you create a completely Whisker-Free experience.
    That’s why it’s so important to create a “dream come true” scenario for your prospects.
    And…just to clarify your thoughts on the second message, there is a little more to the message than just asking if they would like 5 more birthday parties.

    It went something like this:

    I’ve been working with Roy’s Restaurant in Sarasota on some birthday marketing and I’m looking for someone to work with in Tampa.
    Could you accomodate 5 or 6 birthday parties next month?

    So, both of those are really qualifying emails.

    If they don’t do birthday parties…there is no point continuing.

    It’s not about “tricking” people…it’s about smoothing the way for them to keep focused on the cheese and ultimately giving them a completely risk-free way to sample the cheese on a small scale…so they’ll want to ramp it up.

    The number one requirement is that you have a great product or service that works better than anything else!


  • Love the cheese and whiskers analogy.

    Have explained this concept in the past using
    used car salesman as an example, but this really
    makes it super easy for folks to understand.

    It’s officially adopted!
    (and I’ll always site my source)


  • Michael Liu

    Dean and Joe, you guys do such a phenomenal job at teaching marketing and as I relisten back to every podcast, as a listener I’m finding that my understanding and appreciation for the topic deepens with every episode you guys release.

    Love you guys,

    Michael from Sydney Australia

  • Thank you guys. These straight forward examples really help to crystallise the ideas in my mind (and the art work helps).

    The clarification to Steve’s point really goes a long way to underlining the open ethics behind this approach. This builds on the ‘Givers Gain’ theory of the BNI discussed with Ivan a few weeks ago.


  • Bill Pope

    So now I have to see how I can use this analogy in selling cleaning services. I do like and agreee with the concept Great stuff

  • AJ

    Just listened to this episode three times today.
    Great insight Dean!

  • This is brilliant Dean.
    You’re both such keen observers of human behaviour.
    The cat and cheese thing also relates to the evolution of a client relationship.
    1. Initially the prospect client just sees the cheese and wants to get it.
    2. Once they know how to get it and its time to get the money out they then see the cat and its time to draw their focus back onto the cheese.
    3. If the relationship goes well all they see from then on is the cheese and all they want to know is how to get more and more of it.

    Its interesting to see the same interplay of the greed and fear emotions – cheese and whiskers – in the ups and downs of the real estate and the financial markets.

  • Great stuff you two –

    I’ve just managed to find you in iTunes & subscribed ๐Ÿ˜‰

    BUT – the latest release I can find there is showing as late 2010???

    Is that right or have iTunes got their dates wrong?

    Many Thanks,

  • Darren!
    Welcome aboard.
    The earliest release was right before new years…and we’ve now done 25 episodes in 2011.
    So, they must have the dates wrong…

  • Randy

    Thanks for the insight, as someone who is starting a service business this is very useful to keep in mind. I have two questions:

    1) How do you keep the potential client focused on the cheese and not the path (the steps I take to get them there)?

    2) I’m running a business where there are large upfront costs for me and would like to offer a “get your results or your money-back guarantee,” and would love any suggestions as to proving my worth without doing a whole project entirely on my dime.

  • Joe… Joe… Joe..

    Yes, on the cherries… ex-nay on the Vitamix…
    It’s Blendtec of nothing my friend. Blendtec…
    And yes, by the way, I do blend…
    Will It Blend w/ Shawn Phillips

    Of course I paid to be on the show! Ha…. kidding. Love it.

    You guys are rocking!

  • So I asked on Facebook, “Who likes pizza?” Everyone thought I needed help moving or doing yard work, and they ALL asked if I would have beer too. LOL

  • Fantastic episode fellas. Every bit of copy I come across now is getting a cheese audit. Billboards, brochures, squeeze pages, etc. Since you have pointed it out to me I am beginning to catch all the cats up to their sneaky tricks. Thanks again!

  • Nick


    As the founder of the opt-in page, I’m curious to hear your perspective on this.

    Doesn’t an opt-in page show your whiskers? If so, does the ideal scenario not involve an opt-in page?

    Is this perhaps why industry standard conversion rates are consistently low below 30%?


  • Morten from Norway here. Thank you for the podcast! I listen to it back and fourth to my office everyday. You really delivers more value for free than most marketers do for money.

    I tried the pizza status, here are the result:

  • Burke Jones

    Okay…I really liked this episode. My company places directional signage for new home communities on Friday nights and picks them up on Sunday nights. These signs drive traffic to the community and the realtors are happy! The main criteria for my target is that they have model homes open on the weekends. They ALL want more traffic!

    So here is my new “cheese” email marketing campaign:

    ME: “Do you have models open on the weekend?”

    THEM: “Yes, we have 3 models open from 12-4 on Saturday and Sunday!”

    ME: “That great! We are currently working with some new home communities out south, and we are looking to work with some new home communities up north. Could your current staff handle additional traffic and model tours this weekend?”

    THEM: “Yes….”

    ME: “Great, here is video that explains what we do! (along with some type of special offer)”

    So guys, how does that sound? I am going to test it today and let you know.


  • Mike D

    Wow!! I just found and am learning what I have been doing wrong all these years. I wish I could be at the conference today and tomorrow. I am sure the value will be multiples of the cost.

    You guys are awesome! Thanks for the education!


  • Mike D

    Dean and Joe,
    I have done nothing else but think of cheese since I listened to this podcast. It is making me hungry too!
    It is like you opened a new door to my business. But I have a question. I can see this working very easily for B2B, where the restaurant in your example wanted to get more business, but I am having trouble figuring out how to apply it at the consumer level. As Bonnie commented earlier, there is a natural sckepticism with email these days.
    I am an Investor Coach and sell a 401(k) coaching service in addition to other things, and am trying to figure out what cheese I could put in an email question, that people would want, and that they would respond to. Do you have any ideas for the individual consumer? I have an email database of people who have attended a seminar or have made an inquiry at some point in the past, and I want to cull that list. I thought of 2 questions:
    1. “Do you think you’ll have enough to retire on?”
    2. “Do you own your company’s stock in your 401(k)?”

    Unfortunately, I think people will be suspicious if they received an email with those questions in it. Would you agree? Am I on the right track? If I recieved an email asking either of these questions I think I would be looking for the cat. I have been racking my brain for cheese questions, and am not coming up with anything else.

    I’m just sayin’,

  • Nicky

    Patience of a saint.

  • oh, wow!

    That is the single most clearcut, perfectly round little explanation of how to market effectively I’ve ever heard. I LOVE it, Dean. This is going to my bible from now on when it comes to looking at how I market everything. Do the whiskers audit. Amazing, man. Keep coming up with things like that, you run the risk of becoming a legend. Thanks, my friend.


  • Awesome Post, loved hearing all of it really, I wish I could make good podcasts like this.

  • Dan

    Just thought I’d let you know that using the ideas you mentioned I went from 3% to 22% conversion and then after 2 split-tests, I’m currently at 34% conversion… so it’s a 11x improvement!! And still split-testing. HUGE! Thanks so much.

  • That’s great Dan!
    What did you change to make such a difference?

  • Dallas

    I don’t comment often but this is awesome!

  • Carlos

    This was one of the best techniques I’ve heard until today!

    Dean you are (almost) a God ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Kit

    Hey guys
    Love this!! Thank you.
    Im commercial photographer whom appeals to marketing managers and business owners.
    I must admit I wish I had a copyrighter to help me with the words. Im finding it hard to get in the head of my clients. Its hard to change my way of thinking to what they want.

  • sssandraaa

    Joe. Dean. You guys are the biggest cheeses I know on the marketing circuit. Yummy.

  • sssandraaa

    Bar none the most consice and well explained technique in alignment with the “WE” cycle marketing plan.

  • Great advice in this episode. Very actionable information.

  • ntathu

    For some random reason, I clicked on phone and this episode popped up. And m sooo glad. I love it. I have images of cartoon Tom and Jerry flowing through my mind and it reminds me of the importance of also making marketing fun and enjoyable. I like the idea of doing a Cheese Audit and as a small town yoga teacher, I like the idea of emailing potential clients with the equivalent question of “Do you hold birthday parties?” (not sure what I’ll use.something along the lines of “do you want more energy/more me-time??) and offering a free Guide to Choosing a Yoga Teacher or something along those lines. Yes. Thank you. So much easier to think of a lump of cheese with whiskeys in. Thank you.. Also as a side note, since listening to your podcasts, I’m more comfortable with the words “I love marketing” and the whole process i love marketing fits nicely in my heart. Thank you. Peace and blessings.

  • Awesome podcast, I’ve listened to it multiple times.

  • Love this episode. Too Good.