Born at the turn of the 20th century, Elmer Wheeler has long been lauded as the father of persuasion marketing. Known for coming up with ingenious ways to upsell everything from shaving cream to crude oil, Wheeler has also been credited with coming up with some of marketing’s most important adages, from “don’t ask if but which” to the concept we will be discussing today “don’t sell the steak—sell the sizzle!”
If Mr. Wheeler were alive today, he could surely give us countless examples of sizzle. A New Yorker profile on the marketing maven tells of how he would carry a square clothespin with him to illustrate the “sizzle” behind these everyday household objects. You see, back in the days of yore, way before clothes driers, clothespins were round and–consequently–more likely to roll under furniture and far out of reach. Then, in the 1920s, square clothespins entered the scene, and their “sizzle” (the fact that they don’t roll if you drop them) helped them take over their round counterparts within a matter of years.
So you are a B&B and you serve breakfast…but what’s special about it? Do you make fresh juices? Have a special zucchini bread recipe that guests keep asking you for? Do you cater to special diets? Source the herbs and veggies used in your kitchen from an on-site garden?”
At Webdirexion, we believe that a big part of selling sizzle comes down to mastering the art of storytelling. We want you to sell experiences rather than just rooms, to engage your audience in stories in order to convert them to paying guests. Whether you tell your story through hotel videos, blog posts, or even just the occasional tweet, it’s important that you develop it in such a way that guests feel like they are part of it. A good book or movie will have readers or viewers develop an emotional attachment. Your story should be no different.
How is this relevant to hotels, inns, and B&Bs?
Simply put, the steak is your inn and the sizzle is what guests enjoy about a stay at your property. It’s important that you don’t just show your property and its features to potential guests (i.e., visitors to your website and social media pages)—to stand out, you must demonstrate what makes your hotel so special.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should neglect giving key facts about your property. Wheeler is quoted as saying “The sizzle has sold more steaks than the cow ever has, although the cow is, of course, mighty important.” In other words, don’t neglect your hotel’s key competencies in order to devote more energy to sizzle—rather, use sizzle tactics to strengthen the case for your already solid property.
Three ways to find your sizzle
Look for seasonal or holiday-related themes that could be relevant to your hotel. Do you light up your property during the holiday season? Hold Easter egg hunts in the springtime? Does your rooftop terrace provide a prime viewing spot for your city’s 4th of July fireworks display? Let the world know!
So you are a B&B and you serve breakfast…but what’s special about it? Do you make fresh juices? Have a special zucchini bread recipe that guests keep asking you for? Do you cater to special diets? Source the herbs and veggies used in your kitchen from an on-site garden? Think about sharing recipes, food photos, and even just write-ups about what the dining experience at your property is all about.
How do people experience your inn? Are there any special or unusual features of your property that guests are sure to remember? Write about them! This could be anything from a sleeping porch to a fireplace in the bathroom to a koi pond. Any features of your hotel or inn that might make a guest do a double take or blurt out a “how cool!” is prime fodder for sizzle-worthy content.