Mindscape Communications New Answers for New Times™

Jul 2012

It's a Heat Wave!

There's a heat wave affecting a large portion of the U.S. right now. We'll let the news media cover that. Instead, we're going to address another kind of heat wave.

It's a given that the subject of "What's Hot?" comes up in advertising and marketing. A lot. This is an industry that is very much focused on the flavor of the day. One of the agencies I worked for long ago and not-so-far away had its slogan, "Hot Ideas Served Daily," made into a neon sign which was displayed in the reception area of the office. It was a classic example of selling the sizzle and not the steak. Our sales pitch to a prospective client began the moment they walked in the door. I learned a great deal at that agency.

That's what we do in the marketing communications business: sell the sizzle.

Someone will buy a steak, but not because it's a steak. That''s not what they want. Not really. Think about it: do they really want a raw piece of meat? Rather, they're buying a taste, a smell, a feeling, a memory, an experience. That's what people buy. And that's what good marketing and advertising helps the customer to recall or imagine and act upon. If you are a B2B company, that prospect you are trying to sell to still works out of the same psychological set, despite being wrapped in the guise of budgets, units, SKUs, etc. You are still helping them meet a want or need. If they feel better about your sizzle, you'll likely get the sale.

As marketers, we seek to learn as much as we can about your end user, your target audience, your customer. Then we attempt to communicate with them about your product or service using those communications cues that they will mostly likely relate to and respond to. In other words, selling the sizzle not the steak.

I hate to tell you this but it doesn't matter how much a wife, mother, brother-in-law, husband, son, daughter, father or even the CEO him/herself likes a particular ad concept; it only matters if your customer likes it and responds to it. That's what matters.

That's when we've got a "hot idea" on our hands! That's the kind of heat wave we really want.

-- GSM