Sell the Sizzle

About five years ago, Copyblogger Media CEO Brian Clark posted an entry on the site titled “Discover Your Hidden Remarkable Benefit.” While the wording is a little cumbersome, a “remarkable hidden benefit” is something that sets your company apart from the competition. Clark gives two real-world examples of hidden remarkable benefits, those of Schlitz beer and the Collin Street Bakery in Corsicana, TX. By publicizing their hidden remarkable benefits in their marketing, both companies increased their market share significantly.

What’s truly interesting about the Schlitz story in particular is that Schlitz didn’t choose anything truly unique or different to focus on. Schlitz highlighted their brewing process, which involved filtering water. While every brewer is careful about using filtered water, no one had ever shared that fact with the public. It seemed ordinary and mundane to the folks at Schlitz, but they were too close to the story to see a great angle for a marketing campaign. (You can find a similar angle in Miller Lite’s new advertising, touting the beer as “triple hops brewed,” when in fact, most brewers add hops to their beers multiple times, and Miller Lite doesn’t actually sport a particularly “hoppy” taste.)

This is something that marketers have long called “sell the sizzle” (which certainly rolls off the tongue better than “discover your hidden remarkable benefit”). Selling the sizzle is a reference to steakhouse commercials, which always feature a “money shot” of a sizzling steak on the grill, designed to appeal to our innermost, most primal brain and our caveman lust for red meat. It simply means to sell what’s most exciting. It turns out that fresh, filtered water is exciting to beer drinkers (Coors knows this, too; thus their “rocky mountain springwater” tag.). Hoppy beer is exciting, too, in an age in which microbrews (and even mass-produced brews posing as microbrews) are the rage.

Another example of this kind of marketing comes from the fresh and frozen poultry industry. Did you know that, for example, Perdue chicken doesn’t contain antibiotics? Sounds like a great reason to eat Perdue chicken, right? Many in the industry thought so, too—but it turns out that not only doesn’t federal law allow antibiotics in fresh or frozen poultry, it doesn’t allow companies to advertise that fact, either, at least not without a disclaimer. A great marketing campaign down the tubes…

What’s the sizzle on your company’s steak? What’s special about your line of work that the public may not know about, even if every company in the industry does it that way? What’s that special angle that someone too close to the company may have trouble finding? Another way of looking at it is to understand what motivates people to buy. Roy Chitwood, president of Max Sacks International, a sales training and consulting company, believes that people buy emotionally, not logically, for one or more of the following reasons: desire for gain, fear of loss, comfort and convenience, satisfaction of emotion, security and protection and/or pride of ownership. So if a company can answer the question, “What will it do for me?” they will be likely to create the “sizzle” response that prospects and customers seek.

Trade Press Services can identify your “hidden remarkable benefit” and help you publicize it in a variety of media. Call us today.

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