Not all burgers are created equal.

There is a ladder which ranks which burgers are better. But, “better” means different things to different people. And it’s all based on what they value.

For some, the value is cost.

For some, the value is speed.

For some, the value is in the amount of care taken in the preparation. The quality of the ingredients. The amount of the ingredients. The skill of the chef. The ambience of the grill.

Each variable will vary in importance. And, when you put them all together, you see why your values make your burger a very different burger to mine. Or anyone else’s.

It’s like a giant graphic equaliser in your head.

No alt text provided for this image

Consider the not-so-humble Wagyu burger.

Wagyu beef burgers cost more than normal burgers because of what we believe about Wagyu beef – because of the stories we’ve been told.

The mythology suggests someone has taken prime, hand-massaged, perfectly marbled Wagyu, minced it up and made it into a pattie for my eating pleasure.

I’m calling bulldust.

While we know, intellectually, Wagyu is just a type of cow – the legend of the beer-drinking, massage-loving Japanese Black, hand-raised in sheltered pastures makes the burger worth more.

The story, while untrue, makes us believe the value of the burger is enhanced.

The story is “Wagyu beef is better.” Which therefore makes the consumer better. Or feel better. Or more sophisticated. And while it doesn’t really appeal to my sensibilities – I’m more of a greasy spoon and twice-fried chips kind of guy – the only thing which does matter is the values of the person who is going to buy the burger.

It’s not your story. It’s theirs.

It seems to me, the hardest lesson for most marketers is this.

You are not your product. Many, many marketers and advertisers will put their values into their strategy or position or brand – and then promote that story to their customers rather than a story the customers might prefer to listen to.

Your customer isn’t buying your product based on your values. Your customer is buying your product based on their’s.

It’s easier for a middle-class white marketers to buy advertising which appeals to middle-class white customers.

(As a writer, I can guarantee it’s easier to create advertising which appeals to the creator.) The hard thing for a marketer is to look at the market and understand what they value, what they like to hear, what they think will enhance their lives – and create stories which fit that framework. It’s hard for a middle-class socially-conscious copywriter to write a boom-boom joke and convince their middle-class-and-cynical creative director to present it to their middle-class-with-aspirations client, and have everyone buy it – even if everyone knows, deep down, the customer will love them for it and buy their product as a reward for the artful way the writer rhymed “clever” with “fart”.

Shape the story to fit their lives.

People who want to be seen as sophisticated will want to hear stories like “Wagyu beef tastes better because they feed it beer.”

People who value cost more than ingredients will want to know how much each delicious mouthful will cost. And the values-equaliser in their heads will tell them the $5 burger tastes just as good, especially when they throw in chips for free.

People who see themselves as realists will probably prefer a story like, “The only massage our cows get is the pat on their arse as they go off to market.”

And while it may not be your kind of story, if it’s what the customer wants to hear it’s the story you need to tell.

Then stand back and watch them swap your story for their money.