Recently I went on a family trip to Italy. I love the country and its approach to life, to the appreciation of the beautiful things in life, of art, food and design. And they’ve applied this the most boring of items – airport signs.

The essence of good design is making the humdrum useful while being beautiful and interesting. And while airport signage may be useful – beautiful and interesting it ‘ain’t.

Signage is basically condensed marketing. It needs to catch your attention, to sell an idea and to instigate an action. Some signs need to tell you to stop at the lights, some not to feed the animals, and some tell you where you can park for a few minutes. But how do you make it interesting and attractive?

Now, maybe it was the Italian air, making me come over all romantic, but these signs caught my attention…

At Gatwick we have Passenger Drop Off

At Gatwick airport they have nice big signs, you can’t miss them. “Passenger drop off’” they tell you, don’t hang around, just stop they car, unload and move on.

It sounds like a failed relationship. I can imagine the conversation…

Her: “Can you take me to the airport and leave me at passenger drop off?”

Him: “Er…do I have to?

At Bologna airport they have Kiss & Fly

Now that’s sounds much better. That sounds much more fun.

Her: “Can you take you to the airport, kiss & fly?

Him: “Let me get my keys.”

It’s a good lesson in marketing.

It’s about the difference between what you say you do and what you REALLY do.

In the soul-less language of sales training it’s the difference between features and benefits.

Or “sell the sizzle not the sausage.”

So when you’re promoting your business it’s important that you consider what your business REALLY does, what is the SIZZLE?

Here are some examples:

A FARM SHOP OR DELI:

What you are – A place to buy food.

What you do – Provide great local foods, have a cafe and other activities.

What you REALLY do – what’s the SIZZLE. Let customers feel good about the food they buy or feel like they belong to a group that cares about food quality.

A HIGH QUALITY RESTAURANT:

What you are – A place to eat.

What you do – Give guests the very best food, drink and service.

What you REALLY do – what’s the SIZZLE. Give customers memories of the best meal they’ve ever had. Or maybe a story the can tell to their friend so, or maybe even bragging rights!

A HOTEL:

What you are – A place to sleep.

What you do – Provide a place to stay with great service, good views and a decent restaurant.

What you REALLY do – what’s the SIZZLE. Give couples a chance to spend time together and reconnect.

Or give families a chance to spend time together, go fossil hunting, find a huge ammonite fossil and have your 7 year old son think you’re the best dad in the world, away from work, stress, school, jobs to be done, washing, cleaning, dropping off kids at clubs and all the other things on the ‘to do’ list.

So can you answer the question “What is it that you do for your customers, what problems do you solve, what pain do you salve or what pleasure do you provide?”

If I’m going to drop someone off at the airport I have a choice…  Short Term Drop Off – sausage. Kiss & fly – sizzle.

Which would you prefer?

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