Identify your starving crowd

What if we both ran rival hamburger joints and were locked in fierce competition to sell the maximum number of burgers? What advantages would you choose to help you secure victory?
Identify your starving crowd

A legendary marketer and master wordsmith, Gary Halbert, used to deliver enlightening copywriting workshops. During one session, he posed a thought-provoking question to his class:

"What if we both ran rival hamburger joints and were locked in fierce competition to sell the maximum number of burgers? What advantages would you choose to help you secure victory?"

The classroom buzzed as students began to throw out a variety of responses. They said they'd prefer the finest quality beef, freshest bread rolls, gourmet cheese, or premium sides and garnishes. Some shifted the conversation to the value proposition, discussing the most competitive pricing or the capacity to offer bonus items like beverages or fries at no extra cost.

However, after the students exhausted their imaginative list of potential advantages, Gary revealed his singular, winning edge: a starving crowd.


To help your team better understand your product's target market and identify its core needs.


  1. Divide your team into small groups.
  2. Assign each group a specific aspect of your startup's product or service, such as quality, price, or additional perks.
  3. Ask each group to imagine they are in a competition to attract the most customers, just like in Gary Halbert's hypothetical scenario.
  4. Each group must identify what their assigned aspect's 'starving crowd' looks like. Who are the customers most in need or desiring their specific aspect?
  5. Encourage them to think broadly, considering the demographics, preferences, lifestyles, and pain points of these potential customers.
  6. Have each group present their 'starving crowd' to the rest of the team, explaining why these customers would be especially attracted to their assigned aspect.
  7. After the exercise, discuss as a team how these insights can be applied to your startup's marketing strategy. How can you tailor your messaging to address the needs of these 'starving crowds' more effectively?


Here's an illustrative example of this marketing exercise being done by a B2B SaaS startup.

This fictional startup offers cloud-based Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software designed to improve customer interactions, drive sales, and enhance business relationships.

  1. The team was divided into three groups. Group A was assigned 'Software Features', Group B 'Affordability', and Group C 'Customer Support'.
  2. Each group was asked to identify their 'starving crowd'.

Group A - Software Features:This group decided their 'starving crowd' would consist of sales teams in medium to large businesses that are struggling with managing large customer databases and require advanced, easy-to-use CRM functionalities. These companies might be dealing with lost leads, miscommunication, or lack of sales insights due to insufficient or outdated CRM systems.

Group B - Affordability:Group B identified small businesses and startups as their 'starving crowd'. These businesses are often price-sensitive and may struggle to afford high-cost CRM solutions. However, they still require effective tools to manage their growing customer bases and drive sales.

Group C - Customer Support:The 'starving crowd' for Group C included companies with minimal internal IT support or those without much tech-savviness, often requiring constant guidance and prompt customer service to troubleshoot issues or provide software training.

  1. Each group then presented their 'starving crowd', giving reasons why these specific segments would be highly interested in their assigned aspect.
  2. The final discussion allowed the team to explore how they could better tailor their marketing strategy to target these 'starving crowds'. They considered crafting differentiated marketing messages, emphasizing features, affordability, or excellent customer support, depending on the specific needs and pain points of the targeted customer segment.

Through this exercise, the startup was able to understand their varied customer base more effectively and devise a strategy that caters to the unique needs of each segment.

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