slogans that sell the sizzle

Recently, in preparation for an interview for a magazine article, I visited the website of the interviewee’s organization to get some background information. In particular, I wanted to make sure I understood the organization’s mission; it’s a useful reference point for framing interview questions.

Unfortunately, the mission statement that I found on the “About Us” page didn’t tell me a thing about their mission. It was one of those focus-grouped slogans full of vague buzzwords that promised to deliver intangible things in response to undefined needs. The site design was very clean and professional, but what, exactly, did they do?

I found myself mentally cringing at the thought of getting more of the same during the interview. I was in need of choice quotes and piercing insights, not abstractions wrapped in vapor.

However, to my relief and even pleasure, the interview turned out to be one of the best I’ve had in a long time. The interviewee used sharp, lucid, and concise language to convey information and offer insights. Not only did I get my choice quotes, by the end of the interview I knew what the article would look like — hook, lede, and sinker. Writers live for interviews like that.

Afterward, once I had finished cleaning up my notes, I found myself pondering the power of clarity. Had their website been my only point of contact with the organization, I would buy ventolin hfa online have walked away with a very different opinion about their capabilities. What makes for a good slogan?

As salesman extraordinaire Elmer Wheeler famously observed, “It is the sizzle that sells the steak and not the cow, although the cow is, of course, mighty important.”

An organization’s sizzle is its takeaway message — whether in the form of a mission statement, a slogan, or a motto. It needs to convey just one thing: this is what we can do for you.

You’re not offering your customers quality, or outcomes, or (least of all) solutions. Those things are, or certainly should be, characteristics of the services or products you’re providing; they are not the things themselves. That’s like telling people you do blue or sell smooth.

So here are some quick tips for making sure your takeaway message actually gets taken away:

  • Be clear about who you’re aiming to reach.
  • Be clear about what the results will be.
  • Use verbs that convey actions.
  • Don’t establish context. If it’s not immediately clear what the context is, go back and fiddle with the previous three items until it is inherently clear.

If this sounds familiar, it should — all we’re talking about here are subjects and predicates, nouns and verbs. The plain old nuts and bolts behind the good old-fashioned declarative sentence. Try it.

Is your slogan selling your organization’s sizzle — or merely leveraging carnivore-centric appetite solutions?


Author: Paul Lagasse

Paul Lagasse provides expert-to-expert communications services to nonprofit, business, and government clients in the metro Baltimore-DC area. Specialties include science and medical writing, technical report editing, and content marketing.