The power of an underdog story and how to leverage it.
Hey there 👋 - Abhi here!
Happy Thursday to the 24,280 marketers here today :)
I've spent the last week making what I would call the toughest decision of my life, and I can't wait to share it with you. Hopefully, next week!!
But in the meanwhile, let's look at...
the power of an underdog story
beating Hershey's with a TikTok
building a loyal fanbase as a small business
Reading Time = 3 minutes 13 seconds
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Now to today's piece 🤝
The Underdog's Narrative
Rocky. Moneyball. The Karate Kid. Some of my favorite movies, with 1 common theme tying them all together - the story of an Underdog.
And the more I think of it, this narrative extends to businesses as well. Whether it's a rags-to-riches story, or a small business fighting an industry leader, everyone loves the underdog. You just need to know how to turn that natural admiration into cult-like loyalty.
And that brings me to Mid-Day Squares.
Launched in 2018, Mid-Day Squares is a functional chocolate bar that showed very early signs of success. So much so that Hershey's even offered to acquire it in March of 2021 - barely 3 years after its launch. But after being rejected, as any sore loser would, Hershey's went on to sue Mid-Day Squares for copyright infringement.
A big business trying to bully a small startup - classic. But Mid-Day Squares, and the founding team, are far from the usual. Backed into a corner, they complied with Hershey's threat and changed their packaging. But they didn't stop there.
They launched an entire movement. Starting with a diss track and ending with:
24,000+ views on YouTube
an increasingly loyal fan base
and an underdog story we can happily stand behind
A modern-day David vs Goliath.
So what does this mean for you?
As a small business, how can you create such cult-like loyalty?
For starters, you don't have to make a diss track (but I'd love to see more).
Start with these science-backed insights instead...
3 Tactics For You
1/ Pick A Public Enemy
Based on several studies performed across the years, it's evident that group formation is strengthened when the group has a common enemy.
My favorite implementation in business - Pepsi vs Coca-Cola:
Now luckily for you, you don't need to compete with big names like Coca-Cola or Hershey's. In fact, I'd suggest going against a belief or idea instead.
2/ Don't Undermine Your Competitors
In fact, based on research from Ariyh, publicly praising your competitors instead will improve attitudes towards your brand. Customers are more likely to buy from you!
Mid-Day Squares managed to stand up to Hershey's without insulting them:
It reminds me of the blemishing effect - some negative reviews are good for your business. Don't try to be perfect, everyone sees through it.
Embrace (and even appreciate) your competitors.
3/ Make Sure It's A Fit
Startups are the business equivalent of an underdog. Small teams, fewer resources, and more challenges. Luckily for us, everyone loves an underdog story.
So if you got a small team you should showcase that as much as possible? Right?
Actually, that's wrong. Based on the research from my friends over at Ariyh, people believe more in small businesses as long as they are creating low-tech products.
We often assume that bigger companies make better high-tech products.
So please make sure your business is a good fit before you go out there flashing your startup status.
That's all for this week - thanks for reading :))
ICYMI, last week we analyzed The Rolex Obsession
A Review From A Fellow Marketing Psychologist...
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See you next Thursday,
Abhishek "I'm A One-Person Business" Shah