Sell the sizzle, not the sausage | VM Digital

Sell the sizzle, not the sausage

Sell the sizzle, not the sausage by Michael Byers

Sell the sizzle, not the sausage

If you think about it, (and Denny famously used this in their Christmas advertising in the ’70s), the sound and smell of sausages sizzling away in a pan, is far more appealing than the ingredient itself. (Unless you’re like me who loves a sossy, but you get the idea). Which is why in marketing, we sometimes use the expression ‘sell the sizzle, not the sausage’. What it means is that people don’t buy products, they buy the benefits of the experience promised. It’s how the product will make me feel that we’re attracted to.
So when writing copy for client campaigns or presentations, I try to convey the emotional benefits and avoid discussing features. Emotional benefits are the good things that will happen when someone uses your product or service.

It’s the same for us at VM Digital when we’re selling ourselves to customers. If we are pitching a website, we don’t sell the features about the benefits of WordPress sites, or navigation bars or hamburger menus, we sell the fact that the website will attract and engage the user and ultimately deliver new sales.

When selling video, we don’t sell the cameras, or the sexy lapel mics, or how a clapper board works, we try to convey how the viewer will feel after watching the video, supported by the stats that they will retain 95% of messages they watch on video. And of course, we all know that that video content is pound for pound the best value marketing investment you can make.

So for us, we firstly strive to learn about our client’s products or services that we are being asked to promote. We must of course understand the features of those products, how they function before we consider the emotional benefits to target customers with. We ask questions of ourselves like ‘what can we say about this customer’s brand that will make viewers feel good enough to engage or buy. This thinking is not new, but worth remembering.

As an example, we have been recently commissioned to produce a video for a client who owns a large building in Dublin City, that’s available for rent. Typically the kind of video we produce shows the building inside and out, local amenities and transport links, to give potential tenants a good sense of the place and space available. So we pitched two ideas on this occasion; the typical one as described above. But we also pitched a lifestyle video, featuring 4 individuals who live in the area, highlighting the amazing life they have in this part of Dublin. We would show these 4 enjoying the food and social scene, the places to visit, the amenities on their doorstep, the ease of travel. The link would be that all 4 worked in the building we were promoting. The idea behind it was that when viewed by potential renters of large office space, they would see that their employees would be attracted to work there, given the lifestyle they would enjoy, by living and working in the area. The client went with it, for a few more euro of course!

Sell the sizzle, not the sausage.

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