“Don’t sell the steak, sell the sizzle” is a classic sales line. In other words, people don’t care about your product, they care about what it does for them. People don’t buy a TV, they buy entertainment. They don’t buy a Rolex watch, they buy the feeling of prestige.
You get it.
I agree with this line 99% of the time – except when I don’t: when selling the steak is actually juicier than the sizzle.
Let me explain.
Uber came out with a video teasing their new UberAir service. No matter what you think of the actual company, there’s no denying this would be pretty awesome if it became a reality!
Now I want to be clear, the video does “sell the sizzle” in a few key moments (ie. not being in traffic, being home with the kids) but the creators were smart enough to recognize that they can spend a majority of the screentime selling the steak because the UberAir service itself is so darn interesting. This video has a way of hacking your brain so you start imagining what the future could be with UberAir, without being told!
When your product or service is truly game-changing, selling the sizzle may actually be doing it a disservice. While I was watching the UberAir video, I found myself wanting to skip the parts where they focused on the sizzle aspects, because I wanted to see more about how it works. I wanted to see the process, not the outcome. This idea could explain why un-boxing videos are so popular. We like to see how things are packaged, what it looks like when you first turn on the device, and so on.
As sales and marketing folks, it’s important for us to be honest and practical when selling our wares. Again, I think we should be “selling the sizzle” most of the time. But it’s important to recognize when you have a really tasty steak and you can let the thing sell itself.