Dollar Shave Club Video Case Study

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A couple of years ago, a tiny start-up company, based in Santa Monica, California, exploded onto the scene with a simple idea and an incredible video. Dollar Shave Club’s business plan is simple: Deliver high quality men’s razors on a monthly subscription basis at below-retail prices. Practical, but not particularly revolutionary or exciting. They offer three options; the Humble Twin, the 4X and the Executive ($1, $6 and $9 / month, respectively), which include shipping of 4-5 monthly cartridges of various sizes and a handle to fit. Their website is well-designed and the content is well-written and really quite funny. But that’s not what made them famous.

In March of 2012, after a little less than a year in existence, they made a short video. Within 24 hours of its release, they had 5,000 new subscribers. Within 48 hours, they had 12,000. Their website had so much traffic, in fact, that it crashed within the first hour of the video’s release. In the year since then, the Dollar Shave Club video has had well over 10 million views. Pretty amazing. What is even more amazing is that they spent less than $5,000 on the video. That’s next-to-nothing in the world of advertising. So what made their video so f**king great?

Take a look:

First off, CEO Michael Dubin understood that with a limited advertising budget, he needed to make a big impression out of the gate. With a background in brand development and digital marketing, and training in improv comedy with NYC’s Upright Citizens Brigade, he knew that a well-executed comedic approach could go a long way toward building a loyal audience.

In an interview with Entrepreneur he said, “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.”

So Dubin set out to create something that would make people laugh their hairy faces off.  He tossed aside any notion of conventionality, choosing instead to focus on tight, well-crafted jokes and the simple message that Dollar Shave Club will reduce the expense and hassle of buying razors the old-fashioned way. Throwing in some tongue-in-cheek references to reviving the economy and elevating the general happiness of all humans, everywhere, didn’t hurt.

Dubin was able to keep costs down by enlisting the help of some friends in the film business. A video of this quality would probably run closer to the $25,000 – $35,000 range, than the roughly $4,500 they actually spent. Hey, it pays to have talented friends. And pay off, it did! After crashing their site and piling up more orders than they knew what to do with, the video went on to win an award from AdAge for “Best Out-of-Nowhere Video” in 2012. The video has since gone on to garner the aforementioned 10 million+ views, and the company has received sizable capital injections from investors, resulting in significant expansion and development of some new products. Impressive results stemming from a smart video strategy. Thanks, Dollar Shave Club for keeping everyone out there psyched on the power of video.

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