Revisiting Advertising’s Golden Rule

November 29, 2016 Content Marketing no comments


Courtesy of Perko’s

“Sell the Sizzle, not the Steak”

Everybody in the world of advertising would have heard of advertising guru Elmer Wheeler’s famous saying. It is considered by many to be one of the most beloved mantras in the world of marketing.

But what exactly does this mean in the social and digital age? Is selling the sizzle still relevant when hype and hyperbole may no longer work?

Put it another way. Can you create real customer benefits, rather than spin puff journalism about your product or service superiority?

More importantly, what can you do to make your offer personally meaningful and relevant for your customers?

Let us dig more deeply into the topic of advertising and marketing, bearing in mind the context of a digital and social world.

1) From Consumers to Congregation

Unlike the past, your customers may no longer be enamoured by the brilliance of your ads. After all, they’ve seen so many better ones shared on their newsfeed coming from around the world.

This means that you got to stop treating your customers like mindless “consumers.” They are not just cattle out in the pasture, waiting to be “milked.” That is an old school way of thinking which exploits the weaknesses of the human psyche.

Instead, think of them as members of your team. Consider how you can build fellowship with them. Find ways to care for them by showing concern and consideration.

You’ll be surprised to know how effective such a strategy would be.

2) Make the Steak Surpass the Sizzle

The crux of selling the “sizzle” was really all about creating hype and hope. Unfortunately this often lead advertisers to over promise and under deliver.

While you should not undersell your product or service, you could increase delight by offering your customers a pleasant and unexpected surprise. Like a free upgrade. Or bonuses that were not originally communicated as part of the deal.

Your goal is this: make your customer’s experiences so remarkable and memorable that they would return often. And hopefully bring more of their friends and family with them.

Recent studies have shown that customer experience is so important that it is ranked as the number one priority for digital marketers around the world.

Now chew on that!

3) Tell Their Story

Let your best customers be your advocates.

Show how their lives or their companies changed favourably after using your products and services. This should be easier in a digital world using various multimedia channels.

Instead of talking all about your brand or your product or your solution, make it all about them. Focus on what it does for them. Tell their stories.

Customer testimonies are the best sales force for your brand.

4) Relinquish Brand Ownership

In a digital and social world, you no longer control your brand. It is not what your corporate website says which matters – it is what Google says. Or rather, what your stakeholders perceive Google to say.

In light of this, it makes a lot of sense to transfer brand ownership to your advocates and fans.

Give them license to use your brand identity freely – so long as it’s done in a positive light. Better yet, make your best fans responsible for guarding your brand image.

5) Dialogue Not Broadcast

The one-sided days of broadcast marketing and shouting how great your brand is are over.

In the social age, marketing is about building relationships online with your customers, listening to them, and responding to their needs and wants.

When online communications move at the speed of light, your customer communities expect you to be on your toes.

You need to engage with them on their terms – not yours alone. This means monitoring what they are saying about you online, and responding to customer feedback, complaints and issues niftily.

What other changes do you see in the world of advertising and marketing? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

By Walter
Founder of Cooler Insights, I am a geek marketer with almost 24 years of senior management experience in marketing, public relations and strategic planning. Since becoming an entrepreneur 5 years ago, my team and I have helped 58 companies and over 2,200 trainees in digital marketing, focusing on content, social media and brand storytelling.

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