The Problem with Starving Crowds

“If you and I both owned a hamburger stand,” Gary Halbert famously asked, “and we were in a contest to see who could sell the most hamburgers, what advantages would you most like to have on your side to help you win?”

You’ve probably heard this one before.

The answers vary. Some entrepreneurs want the freshest beef. Others go for the tastiest buns, a high-traffic location, the lowest prices, etc.

Gary only wanted one advantage: a starving crowd.

When people are hungry, they need to eat. If they’re starving, they’ll pay anything, there won’t be objections to overcome, and the food doesn’t even have to be that good.

There’s a lot of wisdom in that idea. If YOU want to sell something, you gotta find some customers hungry for what you bring to the table.


Is a Starving Crowd Enough?

The part of the story that usually gets left out is this: Halbert’s imaginary burger-selling contest is, well, imaginary. There are starving crowds everywhere – but in most cases, the market is teeming with burger joints competing for the same customers.

How do you keep from becoming a commodity?

You can’t just step out there, expecting people to throw money at you. Having a high quality product doesn’t guarantee success, either. You have to do something unique. Something

  • better
  • faster
  • more specifically targeted
  • easier
  • more glamorous
  • funner
  • less painful

…or you have to be cheaper. Or engage in hand-to-hand combat with the “big boys” (and a bunch of smaller competitors who probably want it just as bad as you do).

Benjamin Franklin Plumbing is a great example making of a very “boring” business, where competition is fierce, much more interesting. It involves one of the strongest guarantees you’ll see in anywhere:

Ben Franklin Plumbing USP Guarantee

Businesses only exist because there are problems that need fixing and desires that need fulfillment. There are starving crowds out there. Are you serving what they’re hungry for? Is there a good reason they should buy from you instead of anyone else?

Think about it. Then commit to do something about it.


This Is Probably the Main Thing Holding You Back

Gary Halbert, one of the smartest marketers in history, said he believed most people would choke to death in a restaurant before they’d allow someone to perform the Heimlich maneuver on them.

I don’t think he was far off the mark.

Why would Gary make a statement like that?

I wasn’t there when he said it, but I think I understand his reasoning. He was trying to shed some light on the biggest force that stops most people from making the kind of progress they’re capable of making.

I’ll come back to this in a moment.

Your Real Job as an Entrepreneur, Salesperson, Marketer or Other Kind of Influencer

As a business owner, copywriter or marketer, you have a two-fold duty:
1. Create value for your clients/customers.
2. Get them to take action.

(Sometimes your ability to induce action is itself the value you create.)

I’ve often said it this way: A salesperson/marketer/copywriter’s job is to empower people do the things they already want to do.

They want a more comfortable temperature in house during summer, so you help them get the right air conditioner, etc.

A big part of that process is education. Education is in powerful tool for persuasion, but if it’s not helping the would-be customer take action to improve his life, it’s lacking. Consider this: a teacher gets paid to “do the work,” preparing lessons, presenting to the class, grading homework. As entrepreneurs and marketers, we don’t make money by simply doing the work. We have to impel customers to act.

What Holds People Back?

What keeps people from buying even when they’re in the market for a specific product, they can see the benefits and can afford to make the purchase?

The main reason is fear. The fear of making the wrong choice, looking stupid or getting burned. The fear of having to explain the purchase to a spouse or business partner.

Here’s a big one — the one Gary Halbert was referring to in the statement above: People are very protective of their comfort zones. Halbert said that people will “struggle harder to stay in their comfort zones than they will to save their own lives.

When you ask someone to change their habits, their preferred brands or their way of looking at things — you’re asking a lot — even if it will get them closer to the future they want.

This applies to YOU as an entrepreneur or marketer.

We often cling to our way of doing things, even when we know there’s a more efficient way.


We spend hour after hour educating ourselves, only to keep doing the same things, the same way.

I’m guilty, too. Over the years, I’ve only implemented a fraction of the ideas I’ve spent hundreds of hours consuming.

Herein lies the rub: nothing is going to change if you don’t change it. You can either take responsibility for your own results or you can make excuses. One of those options empowers you; the other gives your power away.

If there’s something your business needs but doesn’t have…
If there’s something you need to do, but you’re not sure how to make the next step (or the first one)…
If there’s an urgent problem you have no idea how to solve…

…Own it! Then take action to get what you need.

Quoting Gary Halbert again, MOTION is the biggest difference between winners and losers. He said “You don’t have a choice of being afraid or not afraid in life; you’re going to be afraid. You’re either going to be afraid and frozen or scared and moving.”

Isn’t it time to get in motion?


P.S. Need help skillfully persuading your prospects and clients to take action? Come to my Irresistible Offers teleseminar August 11th.


Two Fatal Flaws: Fix These or Fail

Real quick,

Let me mention 2 dispositions that will KILL your ability to succeed in any area of your life, from relationships to football (go Bears!) to business.

1. Lack of motion. If you’re not willing to get off your butt and do something, you will fail. Period. We humans are so stuck in our comfort zones. Gary Halbert told Joe Polish that he’s convinced that people will work harder to stay in their comfort zones more than they will to save their own lives. Although I don’t know if I’d go so far as to say that (although I’m a huge fan of  this kind of exaggeration), you get the idea.

There’s nothing to fear but fear itself. We certainly let that baseless fear hold us back, don’t we? Time to shake that off your shoulder pads. You have to take action. Gary Halbert also told Joe Polish that the difference between losers and winners is motion.

2. Unwillingness to learn. There’s plenty to learn in every part of life. Get the foundational knowledge you need to get where you want to go. Find a map, if you will. As you move forward, you have to be willing to learn even more.

Always be teachable. Learn from your experiences, both victories and failures. Learn from the experience of others.

If you won’t take action of if you refuse to be a continual learner, don’t count on achieving your loftiest goals, My money is on the other guy.