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May 26, 2021


How Oatly built a cult-like following

So, you can't actually milk oats. But that doesn't seem to matter for Oatly. In 2016, no one in the US knew what the heck oat milk was. Fast forward to last week, and the Swedish-based oat milk company went public with a $10B+ valuation. With backing from the likes of Jay-Z and Oprah - I might add.

The worst (or best) commercial to ever air on TV

But what's most oat-standing (sorry, we had to) is how simple their strategy was to make it all happen. Oatly simply met their customers where they're at. Literally. 

When they started to scale, one thing was for sure: the company had to secure the US market. Between 2012 and 2016, dairy alternative sales grew 61%. But even with people going nuts about nut milk, none of the substitutes were as creamy as regular milk - leaving lattes burnt and flat. 

This was Oatly's competitive advantage. Oats absorb more water, giving the milk a thicker texture and allowing it to froth like cow's milk. All the company had to do was get Americans to actually try it. The rest, they believed, would fall into place.

So, they partnered with high-end coffee shops in New York City. And basically told the baristas: play with our product. If you like it, recommend it. If not, no hard feelings. 

And it worked! Baristas were instantly hooked. Finally, they could create beautiful latte art for lactose-free individuals. So, they started recommending oat milk to people, who then recommended it to other people.

We all know that one barista

Next thing you know, everyone was crazy about it! Demand skyrocketed in coffee shops and grocery stores around the country. And at first, Oatly struggled to keep up (this led to "the great oat milk shortage of '18" - it was tragic).

So, they officially opened up shop - well, manufacturing facilities - in the US. And with increased production power, they've made their product available in 60k+ retail stores and 32k+ coffee shops worldwide (including all Starbucks locations in the US).

And while their scaling story is about as crazy sounding as their product, it's proof that product placement matters. So, where exactly does your customer think about the problem you solve? Because that's where you need to be if you want to win.


12 ways your small biz can beat the big brands

Size matters… but not in the way you might think. Because when it comes to business, bigger isn’t always better.

Small businesses are just like Yoda

According to Gallup, people are 3x more confident in small businesses than big brands. That’s because big businesses operate with a ton of red-tape. And as a result, they tend to make decisions based on profit, not people. The consequences (quality, cost, and more) then trickle down to the customers.

This creates an opportunity for small businesses (like you). Because when you’re small, you’re also lean and agile. Meaning, you can go the extra mile for your customers where the behemoths can’t. 

For example, you can: 

  • Pivot quickly. Meaning, when a crisis hits, you can adapt faster than the big brands. Such as at the start of COVID, when small businesses started carrying new pandemic-friendly products (like hand-made masks) months before big businesses.
  • Engage more on social media. Every time you get a comment or DM, respond. Not with a templated response or a like. But actually take a minute to read what they had to say and use it to start a conversation. 
  • Reinforce your value. Big brands can sell for cheap because they often manufacture overseas or outsource their services to external parties. So, don’t try to compete on price. Instead, lean into the value you bring to your local community, like your products being locally sourced or creating jobs. AKA spell out why your products or services are worth a few extra bucks. 

👉 Get all 12 tactics.


Why your volunteers don't come back

When your organization hosts an event, you probably spend countless hours and dollars recruiting people to help out. And if this is a recurring event (like an annual fundraiser or an IRONMAN race), you have to do this over and over again.

A volunteer huddle at IRONMAN 70.3 Texas.
A volunteer huddle at IRONMAN 70.3 Texas.

That is unless you can get your volunteers to come back! Then, there's no need to recruit or train new volunteers. You can jump straight into making the event happen. 

But that's the ideal situation. Most organizations only retain roughly 65% of their volunteers. And a lot of why volunteers are "one and done" comes down to their volunteer training experience.

If it's "meh," your volunteers are left: 

  • Not knowing the right way to do things
  • Standing around, waiting for directions
  • Feeling micromanaged when your team jumps in

As a result, these volunteers likely won't come back. Because as far as they're concerned, you just wasted their time, and they didn't make an impact. 

And those volunteers might be right. Because they probably spent more time figuring out how to help out than actually helping out. So, your event doesn't drive the impact it set out for. 

But by training your volunteers before they show up, you can make sure every moment counts. And get more people to come back next time you need a helping hand!

👉Here’s how to build a volunteer training program.


This week's highlight reel

  • Oh, snap! Snapchat joins the eCom game in response to the iOS privacy updates. With the new in-app marketplace, businesses can list products directly on the app and clearly connect purchase decisions with an ad.
  • Do remote workers have hustle? Chase, WeWork, and Goldman Sachs’ CEOs don’t think so - despite newly remote workers being more productive during the pandemic.
  • Graduated. Squarespace, the small business web company that started in a college dorm room, just went public at a $2.4B valuation.
  • Not worth the hype. Turns out, SPACs were a bad idea after all. Their median returns trail the S&P 500 by roughly 15%. And retail investors just aren’t interested anymore.
  • RIP Internet Explorer. Chrome killed Explorer years ago, but Microsoft only just buried the browser. And they’re going all in on Edge, a “faster, more secure” product to replace it.

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