Image: Sizzling Steak on the grill

There’s a big difference between describing what your business does… and what your business does for your customer. Anyone can sell steak… but the sizzle is what customers are buying.

On a recent episode of the sitcom Modern Family, Manny, the young stepson of Jay, was trying to raise money for his school. His door-to-door fundraising activities weren’t going well and he was very discouraged. When Manny complained about his lack of results, Jay asked Manny what he was selling. Manny responded, “Wrapping paper.” ”Wrong,” said Jay, “you’re selling Christmas — holidays, joy, celebration; the anticipation of giving…and receiving.. gifts.”

When someone asks you about your business, are you selling “what you do” or “what you can do” for your client?” Selling the sizzle means revealing the results your product or service can achieve.

A personal trainer doesn’t just show people how to exercise; he or she is helping to improve their client’s health, fitness and self-confidence. In addition to solving a legal problem, an attorney provides peace of mind. Financial advisors manage wealth to grow assets and minimize tax implications, but their long term goal may be a well-funded retirement or a lasting family legacy. A website developer builds a new site but is really helping to successfully brand, promote and generate leads for a business.

Sizzle factors include the value you and your business bring to the working relationship (extensive expertise and experience in your industry); the benefits customers reap by choosing to buy from or work with you (why what you offer is a plus for your customer) and results (the positive outcome other customers achieved working with you). The sizzle is what differentiates your product or service from your competition…and why you get the job or make the sale. A well-written case study and the best testimonials and recommendations incorporate those “sizzle-factors” (be sure to helpfully list what these factors are when you’re requesting a recommendation or testimonial). Focus on including your “sizzle factors” into your elevator pitch, marketing communications, website and presentation content

Remember…you want to “stake” your reputation on the sizzle.