Irresistible is rarely easy or rational. This is a short column by Seth Godin that you may easily find by typing those words and his name into your internet browser.

It starts with these words: “There’s often a line out the door.” And he is talking about ice cream that costs $3 (Canadian) that is “served with a smile, almost a grin.
It’s irresistable”.

He bought his ice cream cone at Opinicon, a resort near Ottowa, and Godin, the world’s number-one marketing blogger, says that a team of MBAs would work out that it should sell at $8, the price where return on investment would be at its peak.

However, the resort is not in the business of selling ice cream cones, he says. They are a beacon to customers that create the chance to engage.

The Good Wine Shop is not selling cheap ice cream cones. But it is selling an experience that would make you stop off and shop in a way the Tesco Express across the road will never do

Godin contrasts this with Stew Leonard’s, a small supermarket championed by business guru Tom Peters that had the highest sales per square foot of any store of its kind.

As it grew a new generation took over that was more intent on ROI and less focused on magic, and profits went up – for a while.

“But now, year after year, it’s a bit less crowded, a bit less energetic, a bit less interesting,” writes Godin. “So when new store options open nearby, they lose a few more customers, then a few more and finally people begin to wonder, ‘why do I even bother coming here?’”

Godin argues that the heart and soul of a thriving enterprise is the irrational pursuit of becoming irresistible.

You will either agree with this or not. In my experience, great local retailers all have their areas where they are irrational in their pursuit of becoming irresistible to local shoppers. This passion shines through in the way they present their shop and in how they talk to shoppers and in how they inspire their staff.

Shops like this exist all over the UK, doing things that are beyond the calculus of a business school advisor to a chain store. Sure, the chain stores will visit these stores and rip off their ideas but they will find it hard to rip off the zest with which the business idea is delivered.

wine shop

My latest find was The Good Wine Shop in Kew, which combines on- and off-trade sales. If you buy a bottle of wine and pay £10 corkage you can drink it there (I think it was £1 for a beer). But more importantly, the manager Ben could talk expertly about any of the wines on display.

A magnum of The Chocolate Block? Great wine but you want to look for an earlier year because the later vintages are made from grapes from more vineyards as the winery looked to capitalise on demand. I paraphrase Ben.

The Good Wine Shop is not selling cheap ice cream cones. But it is selling an experience that would make you stop off and shop in a way the Tesco Express across the road will never do.

Think about what the secret thing is that your store does that makes a difference.

It could be as simple as being a child’s favourite place to collect football trading cards. If it is, then your job is to make this magic in some way. Every local shop needs its $3 ice cream cone!