What Heston Blumenthal can teach us about creating an experience that sells

In any transaction between buyers and sellers, it’s the buyer who holds the purse strings. But this doesn’t give them ultimate power. Yes, buyers can choose, but not always from among alike things that will give them the same result. Because of this, sellers who have something unique and valuable that others need or want have a lot of power too.

We saw an example recently when restaurateur and celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal transplanted his celebrated Fat Duck restaurant to Melbourne during the shutdown and refurbishment of the original in Bray, England.

The $525-a-head tickets for Fat Duck Melbourne were sold by public ballot.

$525 is a lot of money and, given that there were 14,000 tickets on offer, you’d think that meeting this target would be kind of a stretch. But in fact, the opposite was true.

Fat Duck Melbourne received 89,179 entries worldwide in the online ballot. Based on an average booking of three people per table, that equates to a staggering 267,537 people who couldn’t wait to part with at least $525 a head - and with paired wines, nearer to $900 a head - to get a piece of the action.

At the time, the sought-after ballot was likened to the “golden ticket” to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, a fitting comparison for a man who is known for his fantastical food creations, including snail porridge, bacon & egg ice-cream, mock turtle soup and Meat Fruit. 

Dining at The Fat Duck is an experience you can’t get anywhere else – and to a lot of Melbourne locals, the cost compared pretty favourably to the alternative (a trip to England).

Restaurateurs are in the business of theatre, and Blumenthal understands this well. It’s his job to create an experience, not just a plateful of food.

This is useful thinking to apply to your business and what you offer.

For example, what would be considered your ‘signature dish’? How do you go about revealing this offering to customers? What is part of the experience of working with you, that your customers can’t get anywhere else? How do you talk about this to customers? And even more importantly, how do they talk about it to each other?

Robyn Haydon is a business development consultant specialising in business that is won through competitive bids and tenders. Her clients have won and retained hundreds of millions of dollars worth of business with many of Australia’s largest corporate and government buyers.

Is it time to pimp your proposals? Stop wasting time and money on proposals that go nowhere. The Pimp My Proposals program will give you the feedback, content and structure you need to build compelling proposals that win business. Learn what you’re doing wrong, and how to fix it. Email info@robynhaydon.com or call 03 9557 4585 to find out more.