Ad copy 2.0: Beyond the sizzle?

In the sales business, headlines have always had one job:

Get the attention of the reader.

Since the early 1900’s, the ruling formula’s been: Sell the sizzle, not the steak.

Headlines online and off do just that: they’re intended to shock, promise or seduce the reader to read the rest of the copy, and of course buy what ever is being offered.

That’s worked pretty well these last 90 years, even though people are often unhappy with what they bought. That approach still lures. But I believe it works much less now than before, especially in our MLM/Network marketing type business.

After all, developing yourself or building an empire isn’t like buying the latest cooking knife or sexy car, is it?

Look at any self-help and how-to-become an expert/explode your business/become rich/become the next Google-type ads. What do they sell? The promise, don’t they? The dream of that fabulously successful self. That’s the sizzle.

(Many MLM companies actually have “sizzle cards” for reps to hand out or leave around, including fake $100 or $1,000 bills.) But here’s the rub:

After you read deeper into the copy, or when you review “the program” itself, they all come out of the closet with the big sad truth: there is no secret; no fast way. You have to put in whatever time and energy is required to become knowledgeable, an expert, an authority, etc., if you expect anyone to buy from you. Other than your mother, that is.

So why keep selling the same old school sizzle of (secrets of) quick success? Why not sell some steak to begin with, for those of us who know it’s a process?

Don’t we all, as entrepreneurs, know (by now) it IS a journey?

Am I alone here?

Do you still respond to those sizzle ads?

Results so far here.

What kinds of steak ads would you want to see, so you could begin to learn something real and useful?

About the author

Kim Klaver


  • Sizzle calls, sizzle cards, etc… do not work. Sure, they may work short term and you may sign up some people, but the attrition rates will be astronomical.

    I remember the days when I was told “Call leads, get them on a sizzle call and sign them up.” Bing, bang, boom, just like that. MAYBE one out of 20 would actually do anything. Most dropped out one or two months down the road when they realized they had to “sell and pressure” people to get them into the “deal”.

    Over the past year I’ve been creating a presence for myself on the internet. I blog, I post comments on a number of other people’s blogs, I post on forums. My signature line always links back to either one of my product pages or to my blog. I can’t tell you how many people have emailed me or called me and said things like “I read your posts on such and such forum and I feel like I know you” or “I look forward to reading your comments on Kim Klaver’s blog (for example) and I read your blog and I feel like I know you.” Quite a few of these people call/email me to ask questions and network with me and/or get help with something and quite a few also call/email me to ask me about my company or products.

    That is how I’m building my business. By being me, being helpful and letting people come to me. I will never use a “sizzle” call again because when you use a “sizzle” call, people fizzle out after they sign up. 🙂

    Create a presence. Let people get to know you. The ones who like you will seek you out.

    I’ve seen quite a few people who post on here that I would like to network with or ask a question about an idea they posted here or just send an email to say “Great post”, but they either don’t have a link to anywhere where you can contact them or the link they have links to a company page and their email and or phone number is nowhere to be found. Think of the prospects you will lose by not giving out your email address on your webpage. YES – you’ll get spam that way. Hit the delete button. It’s worth it to have an easy way for people to contact you. Build a free googlepage if you have to and link to it. Get an NMC profile and link to it. Have some way for people to contact you and get to know you.

    That, my friends, is the way to “do” network marketing in this day and age. Does it take longer? Yup – but, I might sponsor 20 people into my business in 6 months this way and you may sponsor 100, but after 6 months, 5 of your people may be still there and 2 may be working and 15 of mine will be working. Because they got to know ME and were told UP FRONT exactly what they need to do to be successful. They were given time to make sure it’s what they wanted to do and they initiated the contact with me.


  • What kind of ads would I like to see? The type of ad which tells a compelling story, expressing the power of network marketing while being clear about the effort needed.

    Is that possible?

    Sure it is, I’ve been writing that kind of story for the last 2 years as I’ve shared my experiences from just a couple months in the business to my current experiences two years later on my blog.

    People read my story, hear me talking about ‘becomming’ continually and they also get to know me.

    Now, obviously my blog isn’t an ad as you are suggesting or asking about–but it has the same result doesn’t it? It draws people to me and, the business and more importantly the products I offer.


  • Roxanne your comments were excellent. I’ve decided to add my email to my blogs after reading your comments. I think with the blogger changes on options for links, the Other being removed has been an issue for people without a blog. Many NMC members did link to their profile but now they don’t know how to do this.

    Thank you for sharing and caring.


  • Great response from Roxanne : it answers the question with the reply that people now want to know about the “steak” : is it organic, will it truly nourish them, etc, etc.

    It’s not just about the sizzle but the steak. I think we’re all on overload with all the “frying” going on and want to get to “the meat” of issues, offers, etc these days.

    So if that’s how we all feel, it’s also how our ultimate end-user, customer and future business partners feel as well.

    Dr Moira
    Promoting safer use of cell phones and other technologies

  • Roxanne,

    I swear, I felt like I was reading my own testimonial and comments when I was reading yours. Kindred spirits perhaps!!!

    I traded in what I call “old school” techniques 8 years ago in favor of the internet; building relationships with like minded people; and attracting people who are looking for a business to me instead of the reverse.

    And, it has worked BEAUTIFULLY! I am actually in love with my business and look forward to every day working it; meeting new people through the internet and so on.

    And you are right, these people STICK! They stick because –

    a. The business was their idea, and they went looking and found it.

    b. There is no hype. I am upfront with people about what I do; what it takes; the type of personal education they will want to embark upon; and some realistic time expectations assuming persistent, consistent action.

    c. I work very hard to create open communication; a complete training system and the knowledge that I am always approachable and WILL return their phone calls.

    An interesting twist I’ve run into recently is a few in my downline who tell me I am not duplicable. And, I’m not sure why.

    I actually emailed Kim last night asking for some interaction on this topic and she advised me to get ready for this particular post. You were right Kim (as usual) and I feel this hits right on the topic indirectly.

    So, Kim asks –

    After you read deeper into the copy, or when you review “the program” itself, they all come out of the closet with the big sad truth: there is no secret; no fast way. You have to put in whatever time and energy is required to become knowledgeable, an expert, an authority, etc., if you expect anyone to buy from you. Other than your mother, that is.

    There is no secret, no matter what method you are going to use to build your business. IT takes time, some money and certainly energy invested to get it done.

    I really look forward to the comments of others.

    EXPECT Success!

    Jackie Ulmer
    Sic Figure MLM WAHM

  • Kim,

    Sizzle ads work but not the type of ads you are talking about. Our prospects are more savvy than in the past so people can’t expect to make ridiculous claims just to get someone’s attention and expect them to join the business. Even if they do join, as Roxanne said, they won’t stick around.


    You can write sizzle ads that catches people’s attention but are still realistic.

    For example, I’m currently testing a headline that I’m getting a great response from tailored towards network marketers that says…

    “If you didn’t earn at least $500 last month in your (name of their company) business, this may very well be the most important letter you have ever read”

    That type of headline works because it has sizzle, but it’s realistic. Most people can’t get a grip around making $10,000 a month and most people in most opportunities are NOT going to earn that type of income their first month. However, they can get a grip around an extra $500 a month.

    Another headline I used for prospects for my business that worked well for me as well is…

    Here’s what USA Today said about my business:

    “This is like health care BEFORE it became a TRILLION dollar industry.”
    You missed health care. Don’t miss this!”
    (web site link goes here)

    This headline worked well for me because it attracted a lot of curiosity. People wanted to know what I was talking about and clicked on the link.

    So sizzle ads still work when they make a realistic claim in an attractive or curiosity-building way.

    Roosevelt Cooper

  • Roxanne —

    Very well said. Thanks for the post.

    My sponor is someone I’ve never met except over the web. (I met him on Facebook.)

    And I have two distributors whom I’ve never met, but that found me over the web. (The met me through Kim’s blog.)

    Regarding google pages, you can see what I did by clicking on my name below. It was quick and easy.

    If anyone wants / needs an invite to get a gmail address, just send me a note:

    Walter Reade (from Wisconsin)

  • I don’t “still” respond to those sizzle ads because now I look at them like real estate ads, for instance when the ad says “cozy” read “small”, likewise, when the ad says a proven system, read multiple streams of income off recruits like charging to build webpages which are virtually replicated, and the monthly hosting fee, autoresponders systems, training manuals, (isn’t that what a sponsor is supposed to do? train?) and other supplies or tools needed to “follow the system”. If you don’t, you have to invent a duplicatable wheel.

    Unfortunately, we who do not want to perpetuate the myth are stuck with either only pursuing “newbies” who haven’t been contaminated with the “old school” and have to be totally indoctrinated about the pukies and real effort required on the journey, or we only market to each other, those enlightened ones who refuse to perpetuate the lies.

  • Everyone,

    Thank for the kudos. 🙂

    Jackie, you say:

    “An interesting twist I’ve run into recently is a few in my downline who tell me I am not duplicable. And, I’m not sure why.”

    PEOPLE aren’t duplicatable, however the METHODS and SYSTEMS we use are. Anyone can do what we are doing – create relationships with others. The problem comes into play when people come into this profession thinking that they can make a lot of money and not care about people. The problem is that some people (it’s human nature) still want to scream about their proucts and/or business instead of getting to know the people they are talking to.

    Some people want to do things their own way. For example, I am advertising “Energy Drink Testers Wanted” in my local area and my signs simply say:

    Energy Drink Testers Wanted
    Call Roxanne at 270-369-0633

    My phone rings every day quite a bit with local people wanting a better tasting, lower prices energy drink than they are using now.

    Other people have tried:

    “Test our brand new energy drink – call today to get your free sample” or “Energy Drink Testers Wanted – Great taste, great energy, great business”

    And then they say – “It’s not working for ME”. HHHMMM…

    People are skeptical of free samples in the first example – it sounds like you’re going to be “sold” if you call and in the second example, they have added the business in there.

    If people are not willing to do what has been PROVEN to work, they may or may not be successful. You can’t control that. People have free will.

    You don’t want them to duplicate YOU, you want them to duplicate what you do. Promote yourself, be nice and be honest. That is duplicatable. Anyone CAN do that. Whether they WILL or not is a different story.


  • Hi Jackie,

    To your question that Roxanne just addressed so well, “An interesting twist I’ve run into recently is a few in my downline who tell me I am not duplicable. And, I’m not sure why.”

    As one that stands in the shadow of your recognized achievements crossline, but not downline; I can think of a few reasons for your interesting twist.

    Top earners become “figureheads” within their own companies. Along with that comes the imagined super-human qualities(no capes). Unfortunately all the time and effort invested in self development and failed attempts gets overlooked and people start thinking of you as a specially endowed person and therefore UN-duplicate-able.

    For all the readers here, this blogger finally got to hear and meet the “supernatural” Jackie Ulmer after over a year of hearing and reading of her accolades. From behind the microphone, this attractive young woman praised her team and not herself.

    So dear Jackie, when that few in your downnline speak of you as un-duplicate-able, indirectly they are saying to me that they are not willing to work as hard as you have. What I find ironic about the whole thing is that they don’t have to work as hard as you did because you have blazed the trail and unselfishly left clear markers for them to follow. Much like the hostess of this awesome blog.

    After all my years on this planet, the only thing I am certain about when it comes to people is that they are human. As such, they prefer to make excuses for their own weaknesses, rather than working to strengthen them.

    Still human,

    Tom Doiron

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