In the ocean of content that is the Internet, many marketing videos go unseen.
They disappear to the shadowlands of Google results and collect dust somewhere on page 23.
Dollar Shave Club managed to make a viral video though (which is no easy feat).
They spent $4500 to make this video. Compared to their returns, including their sale to Unilever for $1billion in 2016, they spent pennies.
This post breaks down how a company selling $1 razors made one of the successful explainer videos in video marketing.
Let’s dive in.
Familiar Product, Different Angle
What do you want in a razor?
It should be:
- Easy to use
- Sharp enough to shave without leaving your skin a gaping open wound
But, chances are your razors already tick those boxes.
At the bare minimum, Dollar Shave Club needed to meet these standards to break into the razor market.
But when it comes to hygiene and grooming products, people don’t switch brands often.
Dollar Shave Club was a small fish in a red ocean. And they were swimming with some pretty big competitors like Gillette.
Yet, Dollar Shave Club managed to not only break into the market, but grow exponentially.
Gillete focused on being “the best a man can get” and showcased their fancy shave techology to get a superior shave.
Dollar Shave Club went the opposite direction and focused on simplicity. Simple razors, simple process, simple savings.
They found the gap between their competitors’ marketing, honed in on that and it paid off.
Message Market Match
Eugene Schwartz famously said that you can’t create desire. You can channel it though…if you do your research.
Research is an underrated skill yet it’s the key to making high-converting marketing videos. In fact, I always ask 14 basic questions for any video script I write.
These questions help me explore the target audience’s level of awareness and what appeals to them.
- Who your audience is
- What they respond to
- Their level of awareness
Helps you craft a message that matches your market. That match is where the money is.
Dollar Shave Club did a great job of this. Their audience already knows razors exist. And they know the big brands that sell razors.
But, Dollar Shave Club focused on men who like simple yet quality razors.
Men who like to save money.
Men who also probably forget to buy razors until they’re out and debate between looking scraggly or letting a dull blade maul their face (ouch).
No matter how great a product or service is, if there isn’t a message market match, it’s not going to succeed.
Mundane Became Fun
These are razors after all. How serious can you get?
It’s hard to spark interest for everyday, mundane objects like razors. And Dollar Shave Club’s challenge was to draw enough attention to their product in order to compete with Gillette.
They might have succeeded with a serious tone, but it would have been a lot harder. Gillette has a serious tone, so Dollar Shave Club would have been competing on product and messaging.
Instead, they made their video fun and light hearted, which is a big contrast to their competitors’ tone.
Being different helped them attract attention.
Several other companies like Purple Mattress, Geico and Squatty Potty have taken this fun approach and seen some great results.
Humor doesn’t work for everything though. Finance, security, healthcare…I’m not sure how funny we want those industries to be.
The Intro to the Founder and the Company are Short
I doubt anyone cared about who Michael Dubin or his company were before Dollar Shave Club’s viral video.
People don’t care who you are. They care what you can do for them. This video recognizes that.
This video keeps the intro short and gets to the good stuff right away so they can hook us.
We Get Hooked Instantly
A great hook gets our attention and keeps it. Now, starting off with “Hi, I’m…” doesn’t seem engaging. But, this gives us a face we can put to the brand. And this face is the founder, so this gives the video some credibility.
The company intro is really a value statement that makes us stop and go…wait what?
The statement of, “Well, for a dollar a month, we send high quality razors right to your door.” challenges our thinking. Because most quality razors are much more than $1.
Now we want to know how this is even possible.
Visually, the video catches our attention by contrasting the tone of the introduction and the room.
At first, you’re focused on the serious person. But, then you start to notice the blurry background as it comes into focus. It’s filled with toys.
The serious tone of the words doesn’t seem to match the “fun” office filled with toys.
There is just enough challenge to our thinking to keep us engaged without losing us.
Dollar Shave Club Anticipates Your Objections Before You Say Anything
The script addresses the most likely objections:
- Ease of access
All before you can say anything. And they do this verbally and visually for a strong message.
Price and Quality
$1 razors would make a lot of people skeptical. And rightly so.
Cheap prices and quality don’t often go together in people’s minds.
The video doesn’t shy away from this. In fact, they kick this thinking in the teeth by telling you their blades aren’t good.
They’re f**king great (with a poster so you really get the message).
After Mike breaks through the paper covering the door, we see a safety poster. In fact, the “call 911” is front and center.
Visually, this signals safety to us and we start thinking about safety.
The dialogue then tells us about the features that seem to make the razor safe.
Our concerns over safety and gentleness are laid to rest thanks to the toddler though.
Toddlers cannot be trusted. Yet, the man calmly reading a book while a toddler holds a razor near his head does.
And he lives.
Ease of Access
You don’t have to go anywhere to get these blades. Dollar Shave Club ships them right to you.
It doesn’t get easier than that.
Addressing these objections up front was clever (and highly persuasive).
They Sell You on a Transformation
Features don’t sell. Transformations do.
Michael Dubin knew this when he wrote the video.
Viewers can go from the guy who overpays for razors (and forgets to buy new blades) to the guy who saves time, money and has a great shave.
You can even help make jobs!
That’s an attractive transformation.
Plus, this video did a great job making Dollar Shave Club cool. This means members of this club are cool.
And people like to be cool.
This video does a great job of digging into the reasons why people buy. It targets the desires to save money, time and improve our reputation/gain praise.
So now you can be that cool guy with more time, money and a great shave. Hard to lose here.
The Video Focuses on “You”
After the introduction, there is only one part that isn’t focused on the viewer.
The video subtly suggests that you can help create jobs too by buying from Dollar Shave Club.
I think the video would have been successful without this, but definitely doesn’t hurt the message.
No other razor company was talking about social issues when this video was released.
The Call to Action is Memorable and Catchy
“Shave Time. Shave Money” is catchy. It reinforces the brand’s offer and prompts you to take action.
You can choose to be the guy who wastes time and money (which isn’t cool), or you can sign up for Dollar Shave Club.
I know what I’d choose (and I’m not even a guy).
The video also ends with the song Karate, which is a catchy song. And now every time I think of that song, I think of Dollar Shave Club. A lot of people probably do the same.
Promoting the Heck Out This Video
In the early days of video, you could go viral without trying hard.
Now, you need a strategy behind your video to get eyes on it (and ultimately customers). Especially when you’re up against big name brands.
Dollar Shave Club released their viral video in 2012 and invested heavily into their ad spend.
They poured about 4.6million dollars into Taboola and $830.10K into Outbrain toward the end of 2016.
A well-made explainer video with a persuasive message can do wonders for conversation and brand awareness. But, you need a smart strategy to distribute and promote your video for it to be a success.
Dollar Shave Club’s video is considered one of the greatest explainer video examples in video marketing. Everything about it is so well done.
It’s the kind of video that served it’s message up on a silver platter to a bunch of hungry viewers. And it’s so fun and shareable, you probably can’t wait to show your friends (even if you’re not the target audience).
Between the video and their promotion strategy, Dollar Shave Club did well in the “Razor War”.
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