Forget the Steak. Create Your Own Sizzle.

Don't give into consumerism. You likely don't want what companies are selling-you want the feelings associated with it. Create your own sizzle instead!

Forget the Steak. Create Your Own Sizzle.There’s a little nugget of wisdom that people in the advertising industry whisper among themselves:

“Sell the Sizzle, Not the Steak.”

That advertising motto is crucial in their efforts to squeeze more money out of customers. (No disrespect. That’s their job, and they do it well.) But what do they mean by that?

Steak — A commodity. It’s a slab of dead cow meat.
Sizzle — The fun, the friends, the merriment. You want to hear the sizzle of your warm meal as it comes out of the kitchen on a blustery winter night. You want a cute server to deliver it to your table while your best friend regales you with a hilarious story that makes you burst into hearty laughter. You want, just for a moment, to forget about your headaches and relax.

We don’t want a slab of dead cow. We want the sizzle. Advertising’s job is to get us to conflate the two ideas. They want us to associate the restaurant’s brand name with positive emotions. With laughter. With relaxation. With the beautiful, fleeting joy of being alive.

You don’t have to spend $14.99 to find the bliss of life.

When you find yourself wanting steak — create your own sizzle instead.

Here’s what I mean:

The sizzle, as you know, is free. Every cliche says so. Money can’t buy happiness.” “The best things in life are free.” Our society pays lip-service to these ideals, and deep down, most people believe that the platitudes are true.

But most people don’t live their lives accordingly.

We have to eat something. Steak, tofu, beans — we have to put calories in our mouth every day. Preferably delicious and healthy calories, and preferably in the company of family and friends. We’re not anti-social hermits, and we’re not willing to sacrifice our health for the sake of saving a few bucks.

That’s fine. Eat the damn steak. Or tofu. Or whatever you want to eat. Invite your buddies over and grill out in your backyard. Because that’s also where laughter and joy take place. That’s where the sizzle happens.

You can create your own sizzle. You don’t need to buy it.

Here’s a mindset exercise that might help:

Next time you watch a restaurant commercial, imagine eating that meal alone, in a hurry, while on a conference call with an abusive boss. Not as much fun, right? That means you don’t really want what they’re selling. You don’t want the $14.99 meal. You want the sizzle, and you can create that elsewhere.

Here’s another example. Sorry, fellas, this one is girly:

When I see a cute dress, I’m tempted to buy it. But it’s not the dress I want. I want the feelings associated with the dress: fun, free, beautiful, confident.

The problem is that no $32.99 dress can buy that. What will really achieve the feeling of “fun and free?” Breaking away from the cubicle. Taking a vacation without putting in a formal request.

What will really make me feel “beautiful and confident?” Toned legs. Strong arms. Skin that glows as a result of nutrition, water and plenty of sleep. And no dress, no matter how flattering, can compensate for a lack of time spent leading a healthy life.

So I tell myself, “Forget the dress. Work on your abs.” Don’t spend money on superfluous commodities. Use your money to buy time. And use that time to create the sizzle.

Thanks to Jakeprzespo for today’s photo.


  1. says

    Absolutely true! I’m always looking for ways to have fun with friends and family that don’t involve mega bucks. There are so many ways to enjoy each other’s company and even enjoy some festive food (with frugal recipes). Love your post & I’ll keep on the lookout for great recipes and inexpensive fun activities to share!

  2. says

    This reminds me of many colleges today when they try to sell you the sizzle (gorgeous campus, high-end dorms, you get the idea…) I’m finding it hard to separate the two and pay solely for the steak. If only students could pick a no-frills package!

  3. says

    You make it sound so easy! I agree with you– I do, but it’s much more intermediately satisfying to buy a dress than to make my abs flat!

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