Commentary

Selling the Sizzle

Have you ever been to a Mexican restaurant whens patron at the table next to you receives their "sizzlin' fajitas"? You can just hear the sound now... I have always thought that the sizzlin' part of the fajitas had a lot to do with the platter's special appeal. All eyes in the restaurant turn to that crackling, smoking plate of spicy delights. But, if you have actually eaten well-made fajitas, they also do a fine job of satisfying your pangs of hunger--especially when accompanied by a margarita or Dos Equis!

In the media sales business, advertisers are increasingly looking for some "sizzle" in the media programs that you offer. In the magazine business, this can mean a promotional event tied into a print buy. In the TV business, product placements within the actual program ("Don't knock over that 32 oz Coke while you are gyrating to the song, Paula Abdul!!"). In the online business, many advertisers are asking for all sorts of sizzle in the form of podcasts, RSS feeds, wireless, etc.

So, what is your organization's strategy for selling sizzle? There is no doubt that the right kind of sizzle can help you take more money off the table and increase your market share from an advertiser's campaign. I recall the lengths that Rolling Stone went to, early in my career, in order to secure a print buy from Doritos. While RS's demo/psychographics matched up perfectly with Doritos target, there was a little problem: Doritos only did TV advertising; no print budget, no print creative. So, RScame up with the "Rolling Stone/Doritos College Comedy Tour"... Six comedians, traveling to twelve college campuses, and..... 12 ad pages in RS!

So, if you are ready to make some real sizzle part of a successful sales strategy, here are some tips:

  • Don't overvalue/overcharge for the actual sizzle part of the program. Build most of the cost of the program into media outside of the actual sizzle component. In the event that the sizzle turns into fizzle, at least advertisers will feel good about their measurable media investment.

  • A good portion of the media should include "co-branded" ads that help drive traffic to the sizzle area.

  • The best sizzle are programs that your editorial staff supports and helps create. If this program is developed by your editorial staff, the advertiser loses control over the content, but you can end up with a more high quality and popular program. If you need to create the program independent of your editorial staff, be sure to invest in the highest quality writers and designers you can get,

  • Does the sizzle have a natural fit with your media brand or are you simply creating something to appease the client? Use discipline here. Only create something that has a good chance of resonating with your audience and does not feel like a "sellout."

    Sizzle programs developed with creativity and discipline can be the most fun part of our business. And they give your clients something they can feel ownership in and are proud of. But, remember: the main reason that you went to that Mexican restaurant was because you were hungry.

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