Flogging Big Macs: What startups can learn from advertising

Bob Hoffman is The Ad Contrarian.

Years ago, I managed to get my hands on one of his first books, The Ad Contrarian. It is 63 pages of solid gold advice from someone who clearly revels in being the skeptical but smart old bugger in the corner.

Page 51 features this gem of a sentence:

It’s easier to convince you to eat a Big Mac than to convince you eating a Big Mac is a good thing to do.

The point is this: it is usually a lot easier to change behaviours than it is attitudes.

Startups should heed this advice.

Often our products start with a grand plan. There’s no shame in this: we should want to revolutionise an industry or destroy the status quo.

My startup is no different. We still refer to Inn Style as The Reservation Revolution on our homepage.

But we don’t necessarily need to sell it this way.

Some of our customers will love our opinionated methods and philosophies.

And that’s cool, but we must remember that many our customers may not want to be revolutionised.

Their needs could be far simpler. They might just want to keep track of bookings on their iPad. Or replace their existing booking system because it’s caused them problems. Or take card payments without needing a terminal.

We’re not changing attitudes – our customers are already doing all these things. But it may be easier, faster or cheaper to do it with Inn Style.

There’s no embarrassment in having paying customers who don’t prescribe to your digital ideologies.

In fact, maybe we should simply avoid the hard work of trying to sell the vision.

Or as Bob puts it:

It’s easier to convince you to go to Las Vegas than to convince you that going to Las Vegas is a wise thing to do.


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