What’s Your Sizzle?

What’s Your Sizzle?

We often don’t take a deep dive into our own decisions on things. Maybe college choice, marriage, or other huge milestones of life get the thought and consideration they should, but when asked about why we picked one way over the other with mundane, everyday decisions, we normally give generic answers like, “It felt right,” or “I don’t know.” But even though we might not be able to pinpoint them at the time, people do have reasons for why they choose one road over the other – or, one product over the other.

Taste, quality, convenience, price, and a whole list of other things are all contributing factors in who gets a consumer’s hard-earned money. But whether they can pinpoint it or not, according to research the single largest determining factor in a prospect’s final buying decision is emotion. In his book, How Customers Think: Essential Insights into the Mind of the Market, Harvard Business Professor, Gerald Zaltman had this to say:

Why aren't consumers truthful about their purchasing thoughts and feelings? Well, a big reason is that they are driven by unconscious urges, the biggest of which is emotion. Emotion is what really drives the purchasing behaviors, and also, decision making in general.”

So, buying, selling, and in turn marketing the goods that are being bought and sold, has less to do with hard facts and more to do with the overall experience. How does the experience, from start to finish, of your product or service make your consumer feel? If they choose you, do you think they’ll feel wise, like they got good value from their decision? Should they feel safe and confident their problem will be resolved? What buttons are you pushing and are they enough to outweigh the emotions pulling them to a competitor? Not if you’re simply trying to be logical.

Zaltman continues,

“…human beings are not as logical as we might imagine. And understanding this has significant implications for marketing, sales, and branding. For example, by only marketing the attributes of your product, you will likely generate lackluster results. Humans are driven by feelings. So, if you want the consumer to remember your product or brand, they must be engaged and impassioned by the interaction with your company.”

If asked, most business owners would immediately name price as the largest factor in a homeowner’s choice of one contractor over another, but according to Dr. Zaltman, they’re wrong. He believes price only comes into play if they can’t make an emotional connection large enough to justify the expense, not the other way around. Renowned marketing genius, Seth Godin, said that far too many businesses assume all of their potential clients desire a “sort by price” function when shopping for anything, when that’s rarely the case. There are those who are buying strictly on budget, sure, but those come into the decision with the understanding they can’t get emotionally attached and their purchase must be more formulaic – this amount gets me this product – and at that point, it’s just a commodity.

Should home services in your area be viewed as a commodity? Are you all exactly the same, with the only difference being the price on the final bill? Of course not. There are different years of expertise involved, different levels of guarantee, different attitudes, commitment to service, and ideology. But how do you market that, and what’s it worth?

Let’s be honest, many homeowners go into a transaction with a level of assumed trust the guy who pulled up with his name on the side of his van knows what he’s doing. If one company touts, “50 years of service” does that really make them the unquestionable choice over the company with only 10 years? Probably not, but how much of your advertising goes out listing things that matter much more to you than the customer? We have to go a little deeper than that to elicit some emotion. Where can you really play on an emotion response and connection with your prospects?

“Luxury goods target our feelings of self-worth, acceptance, and status in the world. Communication devices excite us by offering a connection to friends, family, and a broader network of people. Athletic brands inspire by offering adventure and glory through the act of competition. As marketers, we should still focus on the features of the product. But we must also sell the lifestyle and the feeling. The key is to highlight the emotional response a consumer will achieve by using the product.

As the old saying goes – sell the sizzle, not the steak.”

What’s your sizzle? Try promoting your people much more than a list of faceless qualifications. Prospects can easily say no to a list, harder to say no to a smiling employee they’ll see at the grocery store with their family. Think of ways to associate doing business with your company and giving back to the community you share with them. Donations from every sale going to local schools, sponsoring little league teams, etc. are all excellent ideas to add emotion. Add to the relationship you have or hope to build with them by reinforcing the idea of being a trusted friend instead of just a name on Google. Don’t just sell the feeling of not only getting something fixed… they can get that anywhere. With you, they can get their problem solved, plus leave with the “warm-fuzzies.” All sales should be viewed as mutually beneficial, so if you’re creative in going above and beyond to make the consumer feel good about choosing you, you’ll undoubtedly be happy with your sales numbers as well.

justin jacobs
Justin Jacobs
Marketing Coach