How a clever YouTube video set this business on the path to riches

Even if you’re not a member of the Dollar Shave Club, you probably recall the stir the brand made when it launched its product with a very clever and funny video on YouTube.

That was five years ago and Dollar Shave Club is still delivering razors to customers around the world. In fact, one of the biggest corporations in the world, Unilever, acquired the razor merchant for $US1 billion ($1.3 billion) last year.

The sale saw one of Dollar Shave Club’s founders, Michael Dubin, walk out of the deal with $US90 million. Dubin was the face of the initial YouTube campaign that put Dollar Shave Club front and centre for young men looking for quality razors at a low price.

It was a masterstroke of marketing and an impressive slice of advertising, especially when you consider the 93-second ad was made for $US4500. That paltry sum seems like a very smart investment considering what has happened since then for the company.

It’s worth noting though that Dollar Shave Club had some serious creative chops within their team. The ad was brilliantly scripted and Dubin’s performance was well above the average stilted style you might get from your regular run-of-the-mill chief executive.

It probably helps that Dubin actually has a comedic acting background, having studied at the Upright Citizens Brigade theatre in New York City. (We’re not talking local amateur theatre here—some pretty big names have been through the doors of the Brigade, including Amy Poehler.)

Dollar Shave Club did all its creative in-house rather than going to an agency, which is why it could keep costs down on something like a YouTube ad.

Viral awareness

The ad went viral. It currently has had more than 24 million views on YouTube.

Think about that for a moment. A $4500 ad for a subscription men’s razor service has been watched more than 24 million times. And in five years, the company went from a cheeky startup to a billion-dollar acquisition.

The Dollar Shave Club story is perhaps the superlative example of the potential of video for raising your business to new heights of consumer awareness. We can’t all be Dollar Shave Club. But that’s okay because you can still get so much value out of video for comparatively little outlay.

Online viewing figures have gone through the roof in the past few years and are only set to continue on an upward trajectory as smartphone penetration peaks and broadband costs keep coming down.

Basically, if you’re a business that can make a video about a product or service, you should be making that video!

Consider some of these statistics compiled by Hubspot about the value of product videos:

  • Four times as many customers would rather watch a video about a product than read about it (Animoto, 2015);
  • Almost 50% of internet users look for videos related to a product or service before visiting a store (Google, 2016);
  • Fifty-three percent of smartphone users feel more favourable towards companies with mobile sites or apps that provide instructional video content (Google, 2015); and
  • Four in five consumers believe that demo videos are helpful. Shoppers who view video are 1.81 times more likely to purchase than non-viewers (Animoto, 2015).

And video has never been easier or cheaper to produce, with major platforms like YouTube and Facebook looking to entice SMEs to make videos and advertise through them.

YouTube has rolled out its YouTube Director suite of products to Australia in recent months, after initially launching in the US, UK and Canada. The main component of Director is an app that makes it quick and simple for businesses to edit and then upload a video to YouTube, which cuts out the need for expensive professional editing services or even haphazard DIY video editing.

In the US, one of the Director services involves YouTube actually sending out a professional videomaker to help a business make a video as long as that business has spent $US150 on YouTube advertising.

Facebook has also been aggressively targeting SMEs, with more than 60 million active business pages already on the platform. A big part of that strategy is to get businesses making videos, which are more likely to be shared than is other content.

You might not hit the jackpot like Dollar Shave Club, but think about what clever videos you could make with your products and services. You might be pleasantly surprised by the return on investment you get.

Fi Bendall is chief executive of The Bendalls Group, a business that leads STRATEGY : ADVOCACY : MOBILE delivering the business acumen to drive effective positive results in a disruptive economy for the C-suite. Fi has recently won a Westpac/AFR 2015 100 Women of Influence award. 


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