Doing the job right is the “steak.” Looking good while you do it is the “sizzle.”
There was a time in my life when I was focused almost exclusively on the basics of delivering my product (clean, well-maintained apartments, four tight walls, and a solid roof) to my Customers. I did no marketing and only basic advertising.
Then I noticed that others, who I felt did not deliver the service or value that I did, were outperforming me in the market.
When I analyzed it (after my internal ranting and raving at the injustice of not being properly recognized and rewarded by the universe for my Herculean efforts), I realized that my competitors were much better at getting their story out to the public than I was. I might have a better mousetrap but no one was beating a path to my door. My steak may have been better but they had better sizzle. I needed to amp up my sizzle quotient. Great steak alone was not enough. I needed some great marketing, great promotion. I needed the sizzle to sell my steak.
All sizzle and no steak fails fast. Looking good but not delivering is a formula for rapid failure. To take the gold, you want to be able to deliver a great steak with have some awesome sizzle to sell it.
I had been looking down my nose at my competition because I KNEW I was delivering better value for the money. Problem was, the marketplace didn’t know what I knew. And I may have been wrong in my definition of value: To my Customers’ eyes, maybe a splashy-looking pool and a cool clubhouse were a better value than a 32-ounce carpet vs. 24-ounce, than a best grade vs. a good grade of paint.
So I upgraded my sizzle factor to match my competition. We became experts in BOTH steak and sizzle. Believe me, we are committed to delivering great steak! Hot and cooked to our Customers’ specifications. At the same time, we are second to none in our efforts to promote our performance, to sell the sizzle and deliver the steak to back it up.
We continually challenge ourselves on the steak–sizzle balance:
Are we doing things right? Are we delivering quality to our Customers?
And are we selling right? Are we letting our marketplace know how good we are?
It is amazingly easy to get caught up in the nuts and bolts, the day to day, and wake up to realize that while you have constructed this great mousetrap, you have forgotten to lay the groundwork for letting the world know.
This is a classic from the NSC Blog archive, originally posted July 31, 2008.