Sometimes the most brilliant ideas seem so simple, they almost seem silly. And sometimes a silly idea can turn into a totally profitable business. But we’re not talking about Pajama Jeans or the Snuggie here.
It’s that simple AND silly formula that created magic over at DollarShaveClub.com. Founded in 2011 by Mark Levine and Michael Dubin, Dollar Shave Club is as straightforward as it sounds. Customers subscribe for as little as $1/month for a package of razors that automatically ship straight to their homes.
This was not a revolutionary business model or a complex idea. But when the company relaunched in 2012, their approach to launching and marketing Dollar Shave Club was sharper than the blades they were shipping out. Here’s how:
Choosing the right channel to shine
Too often, brands try to make noise using as many platforms as humanly possible. Time and budget is spread thinly between Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, blogging, influencer outreach, so on and so forth.
It can be overwhelming to know where to even start but sometimes, it’s better to do one thing and do it well. Eventually, if you do it right, you can leverage one channel to grow another.
For Levine and Dubin, a laugh-out-loud video on YouTube (starring Dubin) was so perfectly executed for the brand, it had nowhere to go but viral.
Not everyone or every brand can or should choose video to promote their business, nor can they expect to go viral even if their video is awesome. But this is a prime example of going all in. Instead of doing a bunch of things mediocrely, put elbow grease into one channel and create a show-stopping centrepiece as your launching pad.
Tasteful Shock and Awe
We live in an age where there is hardly any envelope left to push. With scandals happening just about every other minute (thanks Miley!) most people are becoming numb to all the crazy and edgy people out there.
That being said, what we learned from Dollar Shave Club’s launch is that sometimes, a well-placed expletive can still turn heads.
So what does an overused curse word have to do with anything?
In this case, it’s all about the target audience. Dubin, who had training with the Upright Citizen Brigade comedy troupe in New York City, completely deadpans the f-bomb when describing his razors.
If saying something shocking with a straight face sounds familiar, you’ve probably seen a Judd Apatow film or just pictured Ron Burgundy. The comparison was inevitable and obviously the goal. The same fellas watching these films are the same guys who would laugh and enjoy this video and more importantly WANT the product being offered. Key demographic FTW!
Yep, that’s the sweet spot right there.
Find the funny
Speaking of Anchorman, this is a good time to bring up the use of humor.
If you really think about it, there’s nothing really funny about a razor subscription. You pay money, you get razors.
Throw in a bear, a toddler and a machete and that joke kind of writes itself. Now we’re not saying there’s a formula for humor that can consistently create a viral effect. Timing, mimicking and trying too hard can sometimes work against you. What we are saying is that even if your product or service offering is not sexy, even mundane, find where you can splash some color and light-heartedness.
They call it brand personality for a reason, it’s what separates us from the robots.
Spell Out Your Value Proposition
Usually at launch, most entrepreneurs would be satisfied if at the very least their brand/product/app/service caught a few eyeballs, created a little buzz and allowed them to sleep for the first time in months. But if you’re not looking to acquire paying customers at launch, you’re probably missing out on a crucial opportunity.
This is not about the hard sell. No one likes a pusher.
This is about integrating your value proposition, as clear as day, into your launch campaign. For Dollar Shave Club, you cannot miss it:
Remembering to buy razors is a hassle. Fancy razors are expensive and excessive. DollarShaveClub.com solves both.
Boom. You have been entertained while simultaneously discovering something that will change your life. Winners all around.
Have Your Own F***ng Voice
Probably one of the coolest thing about the Dollar Shave Club approach is it’s authenticity. Yes, we know “authenticity” is thrown around as much as the f-word these days, but it doesn’t make it any less important.
There is no hired spokesperson for this video, it is straight up, the CEO. Just imagine how much cooler the Old Spice ads would have been if the Old Spice Guy was the CEO…riding a horse…shirtless.
Oh right. Authenticity. For Dubin to star in the ads, he takes owning the voice of his brand to a whole new level. People can believe that when they support and share the Shave Club, they are actually supporting a hilarious founder and a virtual bro.
When launching your brand, take into account the energy, tone and spirit of the messaging and if any of it rings empty, go back to the drawing board.
Go Forth. Be Great.
After you break it down, this simple business model paired with this silly video is chock full of valuable takeaways you can apply to your own company’s launch and marketing strategies.
Nurture one channel and make it shine
Stir the pot a smidge
Tickle a funny bone (when possible)
Pitch with clarity
Use your voice
And when all else fails, reach for a giant bear costume.
What other startups have you seen rocking their launch? Let us know in the comments below.