In July 2011, co-founders, Michael Dubin and Michael Levine launched a little start-up called Dollar Shave Club, based in Santa Monica, CA. The two met at a party and got into a conversation about shaving…more specifically, the woes of shaving. Dull blades, outrageous prices and pointless “new technology” that offers relatively little to the quality of the shave. From this conversation, a business was born. The premise is relatively simple: a monthly subscription service that delivers high quality razors to your door at reasonable prices.
During their first year, they decided to team up with a Los Angeles-based production company and create their first marketing video. As with many start-ups, their budget was small and they didn’t have a lot of resources, so they tried to keep things simple, but fun. In March of 2012, they uploaded their new marketing video to YouTube and shared it on social media sites. They went from start-up to full-fledged business within a matter of months.
In the first hour of the video’s release, their website crashed from the amount of traffic. Within 48 hours of the video debut, they gained roughly 12,000 subscribers. Flash forward to 2015 and Dollar Shave Club serves over 900,000 subscribers and is expected to exceed $60 million in sales. All of this rooted from a single video.
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Right off the bat, let’s set aside the fact that the video went viral, pretty much immediately. Sure, you can hope for the ever elusive viral marketing video, but to plan it is a pretty risky gamble…at best.
Now that we have that out of way, what made this video such a success? While there may be lots of little pieces that make up the answer to this question, let’s look at 4 of the main ideas.
- Authenticity. If you look through the Dollar Shaving Club website, read/listen to interviews with the co-founders or see any of their other videos, you will find humor, sarcasm and wit. It’s who they are and they do a beautiful job of bringing their personality, not only into this video, but into their entire brand. Michael Dubin knew that with a limited budget he had to make this video count. With his theater background, he also knew that people remember humor and music. In an interview with Entrepreneur magazine, he states, “People tend to remember things when they’re musically presented, and comedy is a form of music…when you’re launching a new business and sharing a new idea, if you can get people to remember it, there’s obviously a better chance at success.” It’s not just the fact that they used humor, it’s also the fact that the video feels genuine and natural. It’s authentic.
- Targeted. Like most companies, Dollar Shave Club has a target market. 20-somethings, 30-somethings, male, and friends, family, significant others of those 20/30 something males. And recently, they just extended their market to include females as well. By using just enough sarcasm, wit, slap stick and humor, they are able to reach not only their target market, but appeal to the general public as well. It works out well that their target market is themselves.
- Well-Planned. While the video has an easy, spontaneous feel to it, the lead up to the shoot was anything but. They were “ruthless and unsentimental” in shaving down the initial 4 page script (no pun intended…well, maybe a little). According to video producer, Lucia Aniello, in the same Entrepreneur interview, “If it wasn’t 100 percent essential, it was gone…every moment, every frame, everything has to have a reason or point.” So, even a video that is only minute and a half video takes vision and planning…if you want it to really have an impact.
- Professional Quality. While there is a time and place for impromptu video clips shot on your smartphone, a quality video marketing piece is conceptualized, scripted, planned, set-up, shot and edited. Dubin could have easily have shot this video on his smartphone. But, by using a professional production company, Dubin was able to work through the concept, whittle down his script to a minute and a half, get everything set up ready to shoot, create the appropriate lighting, record quality sound, shoot the video from the right perspectives and edit and piece everything together into one final product. These are all elements that make this video great and that cannot be done by an app or a piece of software.
Dollar Shave Club shows that a product video can be entertaining, high quality and not overly complex. By knowing their voice, who their target market is, having a thought out plan and professional help, they created a great marketing video…that happened to go viral.
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