Written by Karen D. Swim
Have you heard the expression “All sizzle and no steak?” It is an old saying that means lots of flash or style but no substance. Sales people are admonished to sell the sizzle not the steak! However, in business, sizzle may attract initial interest but you have to back it up with steak or you will not be able to keep your customers at the dinner table!
However all steak and no sizzle is just as bad! Steak without the presentation can come across as dry and boring. Many educators have learned this lesson and find ways to add a little entertainment and relevance to difficult material to engage their students. The substance does not change but adding style enhances the content and draws in the reader or listener.
Let’s face it packaging matters. You can put pretty words on a dull package and buyers are likely to pass it by for the more attractive package. A highly credentialed job seeker with a flat, boring resume is unlikely to get an interview. Sizzle matters folks. Purists may try to sell the value of substance and having the right stuff but without the packaging, your marketing is going nowhere.
So how do you dress it up without “dumbing” it down? Glad you asked!
- Use images. Powerful images tell a story and evoke an emotional response. An image that aligns with your brand can leave a powerful, positive impression. Have you ever viewed a photo in a travel brochure that made you sigh aloud with desire? How often has a delectable food photo awakened a sudden craving? This is sizzle baby at its finest! An image that gets the senses firing until the reader is touching, tasting and feeling the experience.
- Make it visually appealing. A visually appealing layout will enhance your marketing message. The key is to make the layout attractive but not distracting. The use of white space, clean lines and clear focal points can make your message dazzling rather than dizzying.
- Seduce them with words. Your words can wrap themselves around the reader like a cashmere wrap causing them to purr with delight. Food, travel and luxury writers have a deep understanding about the art of seduction in writing. They romance you with words that melt your insides. They paint a picture with words: “A storm had come through the night I arrived, and the following morning was brilliant—hard cornflower blue sky, light that brought out the folds and pleats of the landscape, and a wind like the wake of a wide-body.” (Walther, Gary, New Tuscan Trio, May/June 2008)
- Engage your audience with storytelling. Wrap your facts and benefits in a story that makes your audience experience your product or service on a deeper level. Make them laugh, cry, giggle or get angry but by golly lead them to action with a good story.
- Tastefully accessorize. A pair of jeans can from ho hum to hot with a great belt and a sizzling pair of shoes. You may not have a Madison Avenue marketing budget but you can add sizzle with the right accessory. Your accessory can become your signature touch and can be as simple as a decorative font for your name, a signature sign-off or even a color. Accessories can personalize your marketing and enforce your brand even on a shoe-string budget.
So go ahead and add a little sass and flash, you can never go wrong when you serve up your steak with a little sizzle!
Have you ever been enticed to buy something because of the sizzle? How do you add sizzle to your own marketing efforts? Please feel free to share your comments, questions or tips in the comment box. If you have a marketing issue and need one-on-one help contact me by email at karenswim at gmail dot com.
Bob Younce’s Series on Food Bloggers – Helpful tips and techniques that you can apply to any writing style
Joe Vitale – Industry expert in hypnotic marketing techniques