Sell the sizzle, not the steak

May 13, 2022 | General Musings

“Sell the sizzle, not the steak.” It’s one of the first lessons every marketer learns. Its message is simple – people don’t buy products, they buy the end result — or the solution.

Shake or steak, any meal will do the job to stave off hunger. But for steak-lovers, it’s not simply the cut of meat that satisfies, it’s the associated experience: the sizzle, the flavour, the satisfaction.

Woman eating steak at a restaurant

Focusing on the Outcome of Your Product or Service

Whether it be reminiscent of laid-back summer BBQs or it’s a celebratory occasion in a nice restaurant, steak invokes a feeling. And so should your brand.

No one knows your business like you do, and so there might be an impulse to share every detail about what you offer. However, you don’t want to overwhelm your potential customers with too many features, even if they all seem incredibly important.

The reality is features take longer to mentally process. The first question on every customer’s mind is, “How will this make my life better?”

If you only focus on your features, your product or service will be contrasted line for line against your competitors. But if you sell the outcome, there is much less to consider. People will feel heard because you are speaking directly to their needs.

What is the emotional value of what you sell? 

To flip the old steak adage on its head, one might reposition it to say, “sell the slaughter, not the steak”. This phrasing gives rise to a completely different emotive experience, but one that might make an effective vegan org campaign message.

The key is to know what your people want, and how to effectively reach them. Through words and a visual experience, your brand should invoke a feeling that communicates how your product or service will spark more joy or solve their problems. How will you enrich their life?

Even the most utilitarian items can capture an emotion. A safety pin can save the day by reattaching a dress strap in a public pinch. A glass of water refreshes like nothing else in this world after a long run in the desert sun.

What emotions do you want to stir in your customers? Start by identifying the benefits you have to offer and then take a creative leap into a direction of how they might be amplified to emphasize the true power of your product or service.

Bonus points if you can clearly demonstrate what makes you unique from your competition. If you’ve got a niche, let it be known.

Leverage your special features by highlighting the emotional quality behind their benefits. This is how you’ll rise above and find your people – by emotionally connecting to their needs. You may even present a solution to a problem they didn’t know they had!