How thinking about burgers can boost your profits

Burger wars - marketing advice

If you and I set up rival businesses, both running our own burger vans, and you could choose any competitive advantage…what would it be?

…A plush new van?

…Top quality meat?

…A recipe for the best relish in town?

Go on. Any advantage you like - but you can only choose one.


This question was posed by the late Gary Halbert, one of the most celebrated marketers of the last hundred years. He’d ask a whole roomful of students, list all their demands, and then tell them why he’d win the burger war hands down.

Because his advantage would be unbeatable: He’d ask for a starving crowd.

Think about it. You could have the world’s greatest burgers. But pitch up in the wrong place, like a vegetarian rally, and no-one’s buying.

On the flip side, the van selling average burgers in the right place - like a prime spot outside a football ground on match day - is going to rake it in.

That sounds obvious, I know. But it’s a vital lesson in marketing.

To succeed in business, you need a starving crowd – not a trickle of individuals who feel a little peckish!

In your case, the ‘crowd’ is a group of people who share a problem or desire, and can’t find a solution…until you come along.

So they’re ravenous. Desperate for help. They’ll fall over themselves to buy from you, and pay top dollar for the privilege.

The only question is, how do you find a starving crowd in a world where customers are spoilt for choice?

Try this. Get inside your customer’s head and ask yourself, where do your competitors come up short? What’s frustrating or inadequate about the industry’s bog standard offering?

What do people want that’s better…more reliable…less of a headache…than the norm?

Answer that and you’ll find a starving crowd, right in front of you. Not your entire market, but a profitable segment that’s waiting for you to offer that thing they desperately want.

This concept is extremely powerful. Because while you’re off sending targeted, emotionally charged marketing to a small niche, your competitors are sending bland, generic messages to anyone with a pulse.