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Sell the Sizzle, Not the Steak!

19 June, 2009, Written by 0 comment

There is an old rule in marketing that consumers shop logically but purchase emotionally. When visiting the local supermarket or department store we might carefully examine the price, content, ease of use and brand reputation of various goods. But in the end, our purchasing choice is often driven by emotional factors.

We anticipate the joy of sharing a delicious meal with our family. We imagine the admiration of our friends as we describe how we got a great deal on some popular household item. We dread the thought of our kids feeling disappointed on Xmas day.  Whether we like to admit it or not, often the heart rules the head. Sometimes without us even being aware.  In this article we will look at how you should incorporate this concept and other considerations into your website success strategy.

[perfectpullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Whether we like to admit it or not, often the heart rules the head.[/perfectpullquote]


Let’s look at the four stages of selling that should determine what elements make up a successful web marketing effort.

  • Attention
  • Interest
  • Desire
  • Action


The best product or the most compelling marketing message in the world is useless if the people who would take advantage of it don’t know about it in the first place. It’s essential to market your product or service in such a way that your target customers are going to see what you have to offer.

This can be particularly challenging on the web since we often face plenty of competition. Search engine result listings are a cost effective way of spreading the message but there are practical limitations. We only have a few words in which to capture the visitors attention. Often the best way to do so is to use high impact words like “FREE”, “NEW” or “LIMITED OFFER” in our pay-per-click listings.

For natural search results the text contained within the HTMLtags and <meta name=”description”> tags are very important as these determine what shows up on the Google or Yahoo search result pages.

Social bookmarking services like StumbleUpon, social networking sites like Facebook and thousands of individual message boards and forums offer other opportunites to actively promote our goods and services to potential customers in niche categories.


The next hurdle on the way to making a sale is to stimulate the customer’s interest in what you are selling. The best way to do this is by making it clear how the product or service is relevant to them and how it would improve their life experience.

Tell the customer how your product differs from the competition. Highlight the advantages and benefits to be gained. Can you help your client save time? Cut costs? Stay healthy? Look and feel better? Increase income? These are fundamental questions that your sales pitch should be addressing.

Focus your website’s sales pitch on the customer and the product.  Show high quality images or short videos of your product in action. Make it easy for visitors to navigate your website and find the information they need to satisfy the mental checklist of questions they might have. If you have a large site, include a search box tool in a prominent place.

One of the first questions a visitor will have, and one you must satisfy before all others, is “does this look like the type of company I want to do business with?”.  Visitors want some reassurance that you are a reputable and professionally managed organization. More and more each day, your website is your face to the world and potential customers will make judgments about your business based on how it looks and the information it contains.


As mentioned in the opening paragraph, to clinch the sale often requires finding your customer’s emotional “hot button”. What is it that is likely to push your website visitor over the edge from casual interest to persuaded decision? That is a difficult question since each of us has different circumstances, motivations and resources.

Carefully chosen imagery and good content writing are often the key to instilling desire in our target audience. Where possible use images of happy people doing happy things whether that be in the context of family life, corporate environment, private relaxation or whatever. In your sale text use short, punchy phrases that communicate a simple message at a time. Use lots of emotional adjectives like “safe”, “easy”, “fun”, “beautiful”, “successful”, “proven” and so on.


This is the “show me the money” stage of AIDA. If you have a shopping cart, make it clear what you want the visitor to do. “Click here to purchase”; “Add to shopping cart”; “Go to CheckOut” and so on. Visitors should NEVER be confused about how to hand over their money to you.

If the purpose of your site is to generate sales leads, show prominent “Contact Now” or “Sign Up Today” buttons throughout the site. These are “Call to Action” buttons and every website should have them.

Experienced salesmen talk about the “ABC” principle: “Always Be Closing”. In your website this means every element should be justified by one final goal; conversion of visitor traffic into desired results. You should be critically evaluating whether each image and each line of text communicates something of value towards the end purpose.


If your website marketing strategy considers the AIDA of selling you should be on your way to achieving successful results. Remember to catch your customers attention, stimulate their interest, appeal to emotional desire and prompt them to take action. Together with your webmaster or web consultant you should consider how each web page and each element on the web page fits into this framework.

Website Admin