University of Maryland Extension

Sell the Sizzle

Ginger S. Myers

Mastering Marketing - September 2019

A new global survey of consumer sentiment about the people
who put food on our tables indicates that there is a lack of understanding of how providing safe, affordable food arrives, according to a new study from Cargill Inc. A majority of the respondents in the Food4Thought survey — 55% — believe farmers should care most about providing safe, healthy, abundant and affordable food. Farmers are under pressure to feed the world and protect the Earth’s resources through sustainable practices in addition to cost-effectively providing for their own families, the survey reported.” food

That’s a pretty tall order to fill for farms of any size. Marketing climates are in angst from everything from challenging weather to trade wars strangling sales. One bright spot is for
those who direct market their production to consumers. Whether you are selling produce, fruits, meats, eggs, or any direct marketed farm product; your marketing position needs to include “selling the sizzle and not just the steak”.

Often we are dealing with consumer perceptions about how they want their food produced.
In the Cargill survey, “sustainable” was the word survey participants said best described what they want farmers to be, Arguably, all types of profitable farms are sustainable or they couldn’t continue in business, but for this article, let’s highlight some examples of what “selling the sizzle” can look like.

Polling some of my Maryland Extension colleagues that work with a beef and dairy producer, they noted these terms are used by some when marketing grass-based production:

► Original Flavor"

► "Taste of Nature"

► "Nature's Finest"

► "Sweet 'N Healthy"

► "Grass-fed beef: the new, old-fashioned way"

► "Nourished by the sun"

► "Clean and green"

► "Good for nature, good for you"

► "From the ground up

Clear Spring  states "Grass never tasted so good." They are selling their farm production milking 40 Jersey cows against the backdrop of Fairview Mountain. They are selling the nostalgic bucolic setting of their home.

Clear Spring Creamery

Your marketing message should include the products attributes, features, benefits and an engaging farm-to-fork story. It should not include negative comment or criticism of your competitors or a different production method. Your story needs to answer these three questions for the potential buyer:

  1. What is your product and what need, want or problem does it help me resolve?
  2. If I purchase your product, how will it benefit me?
  3. Where and how do I make a purchase?

Consumer perception of “sell the sizzle” will get you’re the first sale, but a great experience purchasing and using your product is the reality of getting a repeat customer.


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