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Zag Ep. 49 - How Snickers broke category convention to 2x market share, 10 lessons on scaling to 100M downloads, How Mr Beast builds his social hooks

🍫 How Snickers broke category convention to double market share


What they did: You may not think of Snickers as a challenger brand. They are, after all, one of the biggest brands in the candy category and have been around for more than 80 years. But they pulled off one of the most effective challenger marketing efforts of the last decade with their “you’re not you when you’re hungry” strategy.


We’ve all seen the ads, but if you need a refresh on the campaign - see here. It’s fun, entertaining, memorable, and most importantly effective. Between 2009 sales increased by 15% globally between 2009 and 2011, including in 56 of its 58 markets globally. In the US specifically, Snickers has doubled its market share since 2012 and now commands more than $100 million dollars in incremental sales compared to its next biggest competitor, Kit Kat.


There’s a lot that the team at Mars and their agencies got right, both strategically and creatively and it’s worth reading up on some of the case studies digging into what made it all so successful. But we want to call out one thing that we don’t think gets talked about enough and is a big opportunity for most businesses out there…


👉Snickers reframed their position in the category - they changed it. 👈


Satisfying hunger is not a traditional job to be done for the candy category. Almost every other brand is about impulse, escape, reward, satisfaction - buying a candy or chocolate bar is about indulgence. Snickers broke the category convention by staking their claim on hunger. All of a sudden, they became an alternative to a sandwich, a piece of fruit, or a granola bar. They created a new, differentiated, and own-able position for themselves.


What it means for you: What category conventions have you automatically accepted in how you position your brand or product? How can you change them or position yourself against a different, adjacent category?


🎙 10 lessons on scaling to 100M downloads


What they did: Harry Stebbings is an incredibly successful podcaster and modern media mogul in the venture and early-stage start-up world. His flagship podcast, The Twenty Minute VC claims over 100,000 listeners and he has nearly 150k followers on Twitter.


He did a great podcast recently on his “10 lessons from scaling” his podcast and media empire. There’s not a ton that’s new to us in here - it’s the same advice you’d get from a lot of successful content producers (or traditional media businesses - just remember it’s all about doing the fundamentals well!), but it’s a good episode and we think it will be relevant to many of you looking to grow an audience or community.


We’ve pulled out a few of the top lessons for us and added an actionable build against each - i.e. what to do about each lesson.


  • Persistence: This is a game of who can last the longest. // Expect that it will take at least a year before any new property gets any kind of audience momentum. Yes this makes it harder to sell-in internally, we know! But it is what it is - there’s so much competition for attention and so much opportunity and reward if you can build a property to scale. This is just the cost of entering this ‘media’ game to win.
  • Platform Selection: Choose the platform that best aligns to your skills and passion, not the one that is "hottest" at the time. // Think fewer, bigger, better with channel strategy. Do less (or even one), but to it really well. Don’t be on any channels “because you think you need to”.
  • Be Targeted on your Content Topic: Do not be vague. You have to be very specific in the topic you choose. Start very niche. Find your 100 true fans. Expand from there. // This is all about differentiation - make sure you can clearly explain what’s DIFFERENT about the content you’re producing, not just why it’s relevant to your audience.
  • The Right Ratio Between Creation and Distribution: Do not create content and then press publish and think the work ends there. You have to spend the same amount of time distributing the content as you do creating it. // Production and distribution need to be tied at the hip. Really look at how much time you’re spending on each and make sure it’s a 1-1 ration.


Listen/read the full list here. Shout out to Nigel Walsh for sharing the episode with us.


What it means for you: Pick one of the 10 lessons and make 3 changes to your content strategy this week.


🎥 How Mr Beast builds his social hooks


What they did: Mr Beast is one of the biggest influencers and YouTube celebrities out there these days with over 110M subscribers. Fortune recently published an article on how he’s seeking a $1.5B valuation….wow.


If you haven’t seen his content, you should spend some time on his YouTube page to get a sense of what he does - it’s…unique. Marketing Brew recently published an article on how he builds his “hooks”.


By “hooks” they mean how he and his team develop content that grabs and holds peoples attention. In a world where the average time spent with a piece of digital content is 1.7 seconds, that ‘hook’ is key.


The article is worth reading through (also we’re just fascinated by Mr Beast as a business and what the implications of his massive valuation mean for the influencer industry), and it includes some tactical recommendations to take and apply to your own content. E.g. use high quality images, human faces that express emotion, and big, readable text.


Yes, all that will help. But strategically the thing that matters most in creating content that people will want to spend time with is being able to answer this question:


👉 Why will people care and why will they share? 👈


This should be your North Star for any creative and/or production process you undertake. If you focus, from beginning to end, on answering this question and are able to answer it well, you’ll create engaging, shareable content. The tactics from the article aren’t wrong, but we’re fans of frameworks and philosophies - they’re more transferrable and more applicable. The tactics will change depending on your brand, your audience, and the channel, but the North Star for creating good, effective content is always the same.


What it means for you: Look at the last 10 pieces of content you put out and ask yourself ‘Why will people care and why will they share’. Is the answer clear? How can you make it more compelling?

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