How A Cheap Hamburger Brought Top Search Rankings And Incredible Traffic

Can you imagine paying $1,000,000.00 for a measly hamburger and soda? Is there any possible way that you would ever, for any reason, pay such an exorbitant sum? What I am going to do is prove to you that asking you to pay that amount of money for a hamburger would actually be a bargain. I’m going to set up a situation where you’ll happily pay that much and more. Not only that, but I’m also going to explain why you might be focusing on all the wrong things with your marketing efforts.

You see, I get clients all the time where a meeting will start with them proudly talking about their large social media presences, viral marketing efforts, traffic to their blog, and so on. All of those things are good, of course, but not if they miss the point.

If you are running a business, then the point of that business is to turn a profit.  The only way to do that is to get customers (duh). Therefore, any marketing activity that isn’t generating more customers for your business is a waste of time and money.

The thing is, often it simply requires the correct framing of your activities so that you do the right things, and therefore get the right kinds of responses from your market.

That said, let me tell you the story of the million dollar hamburger and soda and then I’ll tie it into how you use this to make you more.

I’ve actually told this story a number of times at several events, and honestly it’s something I learned from Kevin Nations.  I usually make this the last story that I tell before a break, because I love hearing the mental shift that people tell me that they are having during the break. This story should change the way you think about your business and how you position your product; it’s that powerful. With this article however, once I tell you the story I am going to expand on it and explain how you can leverage your new knowledge into top search positions, lots more traffic, but more importantly, far more sales.

Anyway, on to the story:

If you’re looking for a cheap hamburger and drink, you can pick one up at any of several places for a buck in most places in the US.  You can get a reasonably decent fast food burger for about $5.  For the moment, lets just say that a reasonably decent burger is worth about $5 and that’s what you would pay for one.

However, lets change the situation a bit.

Let’s say that the burger is made with all organic ingredients. The lettuce and tomatoes were picked from a garden just that morning. The bread was made by hand from all organic whole grains only a few hours previous. The beef is free range grass fed USDA prime.

It’s being served at a fine restaurant with white linens, and you’re being served by a maitre’d.

I’ve gotten numbers as high as $50 before I start seeing people rolling their eyes.

At this point, just by making the burger better, and by adding great service and an impeccable setting, the burger has increased in price ten times. However, paying $50 is a long ways away from $1,000,000, so let’s keep going.

Let’s keep that same $50 burger and the same impeccable setting, but lets make it part of a charity event, where you’re going to get to sit at the same table as any living celebrity, sports personality, or politician of your choice (even the President of the United States).

How much is that burger worth now? How much would you pay for that kind of an event?

I’ve gotten numbers as high as $10,000 for this. While that’s quite a bit of money for a hamburger, it’s still quite a ways away from $1,000,000.

So let’s change something else.

You just saw your server drop the burger on the floor.

To make matters worse, he stooped down, picked it up, put it back together, and proceeded to bring it to you like nothing had happened.

How much is that burger worth now?

Almost without exception people say the burger is now worthless. It has a value of exactly $0.

Well, remember when I said I was going to show you how a burger could be worth $1,000,000? What if I make this even more difficult? What if I told you that I could happily have you paying $1,000,000 for a hamburger you just saw dropped into the dirt?

You see, I’ve been changing the scenario slightly to make the burger worth more and more. The reason why the most I’ve been able to get is $10,000 is that the entire time I’ve been selling a burger and a soda and simply “packaging” the items better with atmosphere, or improving it through better ingredients.

Let’s change “what I’m selling” while the items that will be delivered will still be a burger and a drink.  You’ll see what I mean by this in just a second.

You see, you’re out in the middle of the desert. You haven’t had a bite to eat or drink in days; worse, you’re five days away from the nearest source of anything to eat or drink, but you’re only two days away from dying of thirst and starvation.

And in the middle of the desolation, you see me and I have a burger you just saw me drop onto the desert dirt, brush off, and put back onto my table. Beside it is a tall glass of your favorite soda. How much is that burger and drink worth to you now?

I once had someone tell me “I’ll give you $3,000,000 right now and I’m vegan.”

The reason is that I’m not really selling a burger and drink anymore. Yes, that’s physically what you’d be getting; the truth, however, is that I’m now actually selling you the ability to continue to live. I’m selling freedom from hunger and freedom from thirst.

Let’s make some real world comparisons with what I’ve just run you through, with one of my favorite case study companies, Starbucks. Prior to Starbucks becoming a national company, most people were spending anywhere from twenty five cents to at most one buck for HUGE amounts of coffee. I remember my father literally getting 64 ounces of coffee from 7/11 for 49 cents when I was a kid. Coffee was a cheap commodity that could be obtained from any number of places.

By changing what they were selling from coffee to lifestyle, Starbucks was able to cause a 400% to 800% increase in the price of what people expected to pay for “coffee.” They set up a good product with a great atmosphere, and now they weren’t selling a commodity anymore.

My point in all of this is to pay attention to what you’re selling. Don’t try and sell hamburgers to a room full of people that just ate (don’t sell commodities). Your burger in that scenario is simply a commodity.  Sadly, this is what far too many people try and do. It’s why they constantly complain about the price at which their competitors are selling, and the squeezing of profit margins, and all that nonsense.

Going back to the Starbucks example again, they set themselves up as sort of a “better coffee.” It’s the coffee that smart “in the know” people drink. It’s where cool people get their coffee. Whether or not it was true, Starbucks set themselves up as coffee experts that sold better lifestyle.

Instead of selling burgers to a room of full people, why not instead sell freedom from hunger to people that are starving? Why not sell freedom from thirst to people that are dying of thirst?

Now if you aren’t skilled, doing that can be challenging. So how about if you just do this:

1) Dramatically increase your prices to much more than anything your competitors charge.

2) Make your products far better than anything else they can produce. Since you’re charging more, your product can be better, and therefore worth the extra you are charging. Not only that, but because it’s so much better, it’s now also worth dramatically better profit margins.

3) Turn yourself into the recognized expert in your field by freely and generously giving your information to anyone and everyone interested. People expect to pay more from the top expert in a field/industry/market/niche.

Here’s the thing: when you sell your products for a lot more, you can make them much better. In other words, by charging as if you are the best, you now have the ability to actually be the best. It’s synergistic.

Don’t. Compete. On. Price.


It’s foolish.  Let me explain just how foolish.

In 2009, GM went bankrupt because it couldn’t sell enough cars. GM sells its cars like a commodity where it is constantly competing on price. This constant competition to be seen as the lowest price provider for the cars it sells in a given car class squeezed its profit margins to the point that, with the fallout of the 2008 financial collapse, it nearly went completely out of business. Only massive infusions of cash from the federal government saved it.

Compare that situation to that of Aston Martin, which, during 2009, sold out of every single car it produced, and had a waiting list it couldn’t even fill. Aston Martin’s cheapest car gives Aston Martin more in profits than the entire revenue for most cars in GM’s line up.

Let me ask you this: would you rather sell cars based on cheapest price like GM, or be the highest provider and arguably best provider, selling cars at huge profit margins, like Aston Martin? You don’t need to be an accountant for this to be a fairly easy decision!

{mospagebreak title=How to Channel it Online}

"Yeah, great," you’re thinking, "but this is SEO Chat. What does any of that have to do with search engines, or traffic, or anything else I care about reading here?" 

The honest truth is that everything I just told you has everything to do with those things.

Once you decide to be the top provider — the best provider of your product or service — in your industry, it means a shift in how you do things online.

It means doing things that make you the recognized expert in your market.

However, you have to do those things with a clear understanding of what you’re trying to do.

You becoming an expert is NOT exactly the goal. It’s merely a means to an end. The actual goal is to leverage your position as a market authority into getting more customers in such a way that they expect to pay more.

So let’s talk about steps.

1) You pay close attention to Twitter for any hash tags relevant to your field. You monitor for Twitter trends.

2) You have Google Alerts and Reader feeds set up to tell you what’s going on in your industry.

3) You’re following for any trends in the news that you can use, and especially for any trends that affect your market.

4) You’ve got feeds from Technorati and Google Blog Search telling you if anyone is blogging about anything relevant to your market.

Now that you’re well connected about what’s going on in your market, you’re also using that knowledge.

5) You’ve got a Youtube channel and at least once a week you’re producing a video with great information relevant to your market, possibly even using the news feeds set up in the four steps above as anchors and hooks for your content.

6) You’ve got a blog, and you’re posting additional great content there.

7) You’ve got a Twitter account, and you’re telling your market about anything important that happens.

Those steps will turn you into an expert. Actually, those steps won’t do it exactly.

You need to make sure that you’re giving your content titles that will cause people to want to see what you have. “Are Your Titles Irresistibly Click Worthy” is a great guide for this. In fact, you will notice that this article uses one of the examples as a template. The guide provides seven different ways of structuring your titles for maximum effect.

However, a fish hook has a barb on it to make sure the fish doesn’t slip off. Similarly, your content should have some kind of “barb” that will keep people consuming your content. Stories are great for this, as is controversy. This particular article used a story to keep you reading.

When you’re doing that, you’ll find that your content is being broadly shared. People are linking to it like crazy. Your search rankings are causing absolute dominance of Google, and you have traffic coming from sources spread all across the Internet, so you don’t even have to worry about algorithm changes.

But once again, becoming an expert isn’t the goal; it’s the road that gets you to your goal. Now what you need is “calls to action” that drive people to your products/services. But a call to action needs to have a reason someone should act.

In other words, just saying, “you should go and buy my junk” probably won’t get you many sales. If instead you say “this is what I have, this is what it will do for you, and now I want you to go and get it,” that works like crazy.

The reason it works is that you’re explaining what’s in it for them.

Now, if you’re really smart your calls to action will directly relate to the content that you’ve been giving.

As an example, if you sell golf stuff, and you’re talking about the latest golf tourney, then an explanation of the drivers that the winner used, and tying that into a reason for buying the same driver from your store … that’s a great call to action.

That’s how you can convert the traffic you are getting into sales, which is the point of the whole thing!  However, if you want to learn all of my marketing and conversion secrets (I explain for businesses that sell to consumers and that sell to other businesses; obviously, there’s differences), then check out my Community Versus Customers post at Google+. Everyone that leaves a comment to that post will get my complete inbound marketing and sales conversion report, where I leave no stone unturned.

So Let’s Run It Through

The first thing you need to do is make sure that you’re selling “the right thing.” Make sure that you’re positioning your product so that you’re not just another commodity in the market, and instead, you’re selling what people desire, or you are a solution to their problem.

Once you’ve done that, you are doing everything you can to make sure that you are the recognized expert in your market. Your search rankings are unassailable, you’re the major mover and shaker on the social networks for your market. Your content is being spread around to everyone that has even a minor interest in your market, because it’s just so good.

Next, your pricing puts you as the number 1 best provider in your market. Then further, that your level of service and what the customer gets supports the higher pricing.

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