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A Steak Is Good But The Sizzle Is Better


Who better to take advice from than Elmer Wheeler, an astounding individual who was revered as the greatest salesman in the world? Recorded in his salesmanship 101 textbook; Tested Sentences that Sell, he wrote the following words that have been passed down as a trade tool for generations:

“Sell the sizzle not the steak.”

It’s safe to say that people only buy something because it makes them feel a certain way — and that’s exactly what this meat metaphor is about.

It’s about exciting not just your taste buds, but also your other senses with the mouth-watering smell of beef in the air and the sweet sound of the meat taking a graceful leap onto the grill that sends a delectable aroma across the room. With the use of that sight, smell and sound, it’s about making more hungry mouths yearn for that one slab of meat, because you’re selling the promise — not the prime cut.

The hungry men and women at The Bullet aren’t the only ones who fall for this meatlicious trick time and time again. Here are our favorite campaigns that have successfully sold the sizzle:

1. Think Different (1997)

Perhaps the most awe-inspiring ad campaign ran by a tech giant, did you notice that Apple never once mentioned any of their products? They were selling inspiration, boldness, radical thinking, or in Steve Jobs’ own words, “to the crazy ones.” The TV commercials featured 17 iconic personalities but never a Power Macintosh. The success of Think Different was the very campaign that rocketed Apple Inc. into the tech-marketing giant that we know today.

2. Smell Like A Man, Man (2010)

This brilliant campaign was not targeted to men, but instead, their other halves. Why? Because we rely on the ladies in our lives to not stink up the place. And obviously given the choice, who would they want us to smell like? The manliest of men! Hence, the ads were designed specifically to sell macho, over-exaggerating the comparison of Isaiah Mustafa and his manly activities to “your man”, but never the product.  Applause is due by associating a body wash scent to manliness.

3. The Odyssey Film (2014)

Saving the best for last, this is the ULTIMATE sizzle ad. From the first 10 seconds till end of the commercial, the sizzle goes on continuously! In between the cleverly choreographed scenes, the creators tease the audience by showing the iconic Heineken bottle here and there, but that’s it — nobody in the ad was shown drinking. Heineken shoots an entertaining piece to show you the fun you can have with their drink, Heineken scores!

The experts never sell the steak because it’s the sizzle that gives them the opportunity to reach a wider and more famished audience. Of course, at the end of it all you do have to present them an actual steak — but by then, the appetite of your audience would already be at its climax, ready to consume anything you serve on their plate.

Is your brand selling the irresistible?

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