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June 29, 2006

Sell the steak, not the sizzle

Originally uploaded by rightee.
Following up on an earlier post about features versus benefits...

Jeff De Cagna and Jamie Notter have both expressed disappointment about Cam Marston's session on generational differences at ASAE & The Center's Membership & Marketing Conference. I've been somewhat biased against generational research for some time now. I can draw as many conclusions about someone's disposition from their generation as I can draw from their astrological sign. And after hearing Cam's speech, I've now decided that knowledge about generational differences is overrated. Grouping people into buckets with tens of millions of others and calling it "segmentation" is sounding pretty ridiculous to me right now.


Here's a gem I didn't post about earlier. Cam said that, especially when communicating to Generation X, it's better to "sell the steak, not the sizzle." In other words, Generation X sees straight through the marketing spin, and that selling the feature, rather than the benefit, is the better approach. I have to agree. And here's yet another case of the new conventional wisdom being unseated by the old.

Maybe this is a generational difference. Maybe not. All I know is that if some salesman starts rattling off benefits, I tune him out, and I can smell a press release a mile away. Tell me about the feature, and I'll determine how I'll benefit. Tell me, don't sell me.


1 comment:

mghikas said...

Ben, I agree that some skepticism and balance on generational research makes good sense. People and "buckets" are a bad combination. That said, and I think it goes to you "sell the steak, not the sizzle" point, it does seem useful to note the very real differences in the cultural and social environments in which individuals come of age.

If you haven't run into it, check out the Beloit College "Mindset" list on their website. Most entering Beloit students are "traditional" -- that is, starting college immediately after graduating high school at 17-18. The "Mindset" list -- created to help faculty avoid "hardening of the references" -- is a list of things that are "generally true" for entering college freshmen this year that have never before been "generally true" for an entering Beloit class. I usually find a couple of things that cause me to snap to mental attention.