Sell the Sizzle, Not the Sausage

Sell the Sizzle, Not the Sausage

On Spring Bank Holiday Monday at roughly 3.30 pm, I was standing outside my local church, which happens, rather conveniently, to be directly opposite my house, welcoming guests to my wedding ceremony. My bride, who clearly didn’t need an official car to transport her the 20 metres across the road, would make her entrance at 4.00pm.

Now, those of you that have been through the experience of organising a wedding (and particularly the reception) will know it can be a stressful exercise and that, as soon as you mention the ‘W’ word, prices tend to be inflated by 50%. All the more reason for the venue to manage your expectations cleverly. Not only is this a big day in your lives, it’s one of the most expensive.

As things turned out, we had a fabulous day. Actually, no; we had the perfect day but I almost cancelled the reception venue three times in the run up to the big day because they just didn’t ‘get’ us. See, there we go, I’m already blaming the whole organisation when actually it was one single point of contact that was the problem – lesson number one, make sure your customer facing staff are skilled in all forms of communication!

I’m not planning on washing all my dirty laundry in this blog but you deserve a little more context, you need to understand my particular customer journey, so here goes. It’s second time around for both my wife and I. We didn’t want the bog-standard wedding breakfast, followed by ‘an evening do’. We wanted an elegant relaxed day, with a relatively small group of friends and family, topped off with stunning food and wine – probably a taster menu where we could meander through the various courses over a number of hours. The venue we chose has an excellent reputation for amazing food and we’d chosen it for that reason – our expectations were high!

The first meeting went well, particularly as we’d turned up unannounced but we loved what we saw and made our thoughts clear. A week later, we waited for the quote with baited breath, we expected it to be high, we were prepared for that but we knew the quality would shine through. Another week (or maybe two?) passed – nothing. In the end we had to chase them – had they forgotten? Lesson number two – if you promise to get back to a customer within a week, do it!

This is what I received (by email):

Arrival Drink – Glass of Prosecco or Bucks Fizz


3 Course Wedding Breakfast

½ Bottle of House Wine pp

Prosecco Toast

Total Package price for up to 50 guests: £XXXX

No, no, no! That’s not what we asked for.

Lesson number three – you’ve got two ears and one mouth. Use them in that proportion. No one had listened to what we were asking for, they’d completely missed the point, they hadn’t treated us as an important potential customer. Did they really want to convert our enquiry into a sale?

Lesson number four – sell the sizzle, not the sausage!

Where’s the excitement in a quote like that? You know, estate agents are pretty good at selling the sizzle of a house, particularly expensive ones – you get the glossy brochure, perfect photos and creative descriptions – that’s what I was expecting. I’d gone in asking to buy a million-pound house and been given details of an over-priced £100,000 flat!

You see, that’s just one step of our particular customer journey; there were other disasters along the way but we persevered – many others would have given up.

And that’s the point. In any business it’s important to accurately choreograph the journeys of your key customer personas, understanding the important outcomes they are expecting, identifying the key contact points and preparing yourself to meet and exceed those expectations along the way. Taking them from the point they become aware of your products and services, through their conversion to becoming a first-time customer and beyond to longer-term repeat-customer loyalty and (with the right marketing) to the point they become advocates of your brand.

That’s what Viper Marketing is all about; we’ll help you establish a clear and engaging market positioning that is meaningful to your unique customer personas - different people with different views, looking for different messages, often through different communication channels. Contact me to for an initial chat and let’s start YOUR customer journey.