Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Sell the Sizzle - tempting lessons from the Food Industry over 489 years

We celebrated what many in secular UK call nowadays, Pancake Day last week (Shrove Tuesday).

It helps among other things with the sales of eggs , flour, milk, pancake mixes, real lemons and Unilever’s plastic lemons called Jif.

Their famous“ Don’t forget Jif lemon Day” slogan still has resonance.

Although there are forty days to go until Easter Day, the London shops have loads of Chocolate Easter Eggs already. Bakery departments are selling hot crossed buns which a traditionally eaten on Good Friday. It won’t be long until the traditional fruit cakes-Simnel Cakes with their 11 balls of marzipan topping will appear in shops .

I occasionally feel guilty about buying and eating these products out of season despite the inviting sales pitches ( sizzles) from the shops. Lent is supposedly a season of fasting.

Such was my dilemma last Sunday (– the first in Lent for those who care about such things), when I was walking past a food shop in Villiers street off London’s Strand district.

The aroma of tasty German sausages was just too beguiling -I succumbed.

In the UK selling we often adapt the American sales guru Elmer Wheeler's expression " Sell the sizzle not the steak" from the 1940s. It was one of his five selling principles. So adapting Wheeler for 2011

"Sell the sizzle not the sausage".

This principle just might be the most famous piece of sales advice ever

But what does it mean?

It means we should sell the benefits and deeper benefits of what our offer does and means. This means our sales presentation should appeal to not only both the rational and logical features but also personal and emotional benefits or motivators. This is the foundation of what we call now our Distinctive Value Proposition (DVP).

Wheeler wrote:

“The sizzle has sold more steaks than the cow ever has, although the cow is, of course, mighty important.”

I guess Herman ze German's Florian and Azeda, who sell the tastiest of sausages, may well say ' sell ze sizzle and ze sausage.' Ze pig is mighty important as well!

So I was sold on the sizzle and the sausage last Sunday with just a hint of Lenten guilt added..

(Nearly 500 years ago to the day, a similar dilemma over the eating of tasty sausages occurred in Zurich on the first Sunday in Lent. A minor matter you might suppose yet it led to a religious revolution part of what we call now the Swiss Reformation. see history bit below.)

I bought a delicious bratwurst from their shop "Hermann ze German" whose slogan is “our wurst is ze best”. – a great strap line
The shop opened about 5 months ago and is a partnership of the two entrepreneurs Florian Frey and Azadeh Falakshahi.

They sell Bratwurst, Bockwurst and Leberkasse sausages. The sausages are sourced from the Lörrach district Germany near Basel.

Lörrach is the same market town where Philippe Suchard opened his chocolate factory in 1880. So yummy food comes from the area .

At the moment Azadeh and Florian are waiting for a drinks licence but Florian suggested that once this is granted he will probably offer Rothaus beer - from the state brewery of the Baden area.

Herman ze German's bakery includes delicious "Bretzels" and those buns like Amerikaners, Berliners etc

Their shop is a great place for a quick and tasty German snack if your happe to be in London's Strand district and feel a bit 'peckish'.

Herman ze German, 19 Villiers Street London WC2N 6NE (nearest tube station Embankment)

The history bit.

"On the 9th March 1522 a book printer , Christoph Froschauer invited a number of friends to a meal at his house within the city of Zurich in Switzerland. They sat down and shared two smoked sausages.

Nothing particularly remarkable on the face of it, but this minor orgy of sausage consumption took place on the first Sunday in Lent when the Church specifically forbade the eating of meat. It was therefore a piece of symbolic direct action enacted in defiance of the Church's authority.

Present at the meal was the evangelical preacher Ulrich Zwingli, who despite the fact that he was likely the inspiration behind the whole affair, rather hedged his bets by not actually partaking in the sausage.

Despite this, within a fortnight however he preached a sermon explaining why the eating of sausages during Lent was justified, which soon afterwards in April 1522 appeared in print under the title, Concerning Choice and Liberty respecting Food

It was a sausage that proved to be the rallying-cry for the Swiss Reformation. "

(Source: Prof Diarmid McCullough 'History of Christianity BBC TV Video BBCDVD3132 and Penguin Book ISBN 978-0-713-99869-8 page 616 and elsewhere)


To keep a balance on things food related this week, I shall be celebrating a more Catholic associated foodstuff on March 17th ,St Patrick’s day,namely a pint of the Liffy water – Guinness.

That might go down well with a bratwurst sausage -how is that for a ecumenical gastronomic thought? Better get along to Villiers Street sharpish.

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