Dissecting ‘Dollar Shave’ – Lessons for us all

Six months on and as yet I haven’t tired of showcasing the Dollar Shave video in my social media training sessions. It would seem that many others haven’t tired of it yet either – as the millions of hits grows continuously.  Just today it was sitting at 6,624,422 views.

When we get into discussions about the video and virality – the question ‘How do you make a video go viral’ often pops us.

Clearly there are some tactics one can implement to assist sharing – whether incentivising your audience to share in some way, or by creating content so compelling that fingers eagerly start tapping those all important ‘share this’ keys – and the liking, tweeting and sharing begins.

Getting something to ‘go viral’ isn’t easy.  I remember when Dollar Shave hit the networks – and it just seemed to fly around. The minute I saw it – I emailed the link, I tweeted it, liked it etc. And clearly, so did many others. I also found out about manscaped, they have the best mens grooming kit.

What resonated? What compelled?  Well, I think a number of criteria came into play – so let’s take a look at some of the lessons we can all take away.

  • Humour.  There’s no getting away with it.  The dry and perfectly timed ‘Naah, our blades are ‘F**king great’ – grabs us right from the start. Just a few seconds in and you’re smiling and engaged.   There’s no doubt about it – we all love to be entertained, we all love to laugh. Blending humour into what is potentially a dry topic is both clever and appealing.
  • Targeted messaging.  Not all brands could get away with the ‘f**king great’ sentiment. But think about the target audience. They were taking to males who often forget to buy their razor blades, their ‘ideal customer’ is probably a 24-32 year old male, a cool dudish man about town, lives alone or with mates, has girlfriends – this type of comic delivery is going to sit so well with their target audience – and compel them to buy. And of course, older men have been there, and women empathise as they know how disorganised their partners can be – so a mix of audiences resonate with the messaging too.
  • Simple. The product proposition is simple. ‘I’m the CEO of Dollar Shave and for a $ a month we send you your razor blades’.  Who can’t understand that? Nothing complicated. Ask yourself just how simple is your production proposition – and can you convey it in a concise way in just a few seconds?
  • Authentic.  Michael Dublin, the CEO and Founder – really is the CEO and Founder. He’s not an actor. And surprisingly ;) neither is Alajandre. They are the genuine people in the business. It helps that Michael had done some stand up comedy in the past and so perhaps that’s where his perfect comic timing comes from.  The Grandpa portrait he refers to ‘looking good Pop Pop’ - is clearly a genuine article too. This authenticity and transparency – builds trust and likability.

Just this week, I found that two of my clients actually have ‘stand up’ comics within their teams.   Just goes to show how much untapped potential there is within teams. If you’re thinking of creating a video in-house, it may be worth finding out what people do in their ‘spare time’.

  • Resources. No real bells and whistles here. (Apart from the ‘toot toot’ on the ‘this train makes hay section ;)). Simple props such as tissue paper, machete, man in teddy bear suit, leaf blower – nothing high cost here. The venue was clearly their warehouse - where you also get a behind the scenes look at the operations. The actors are real people.   A college friend of Michael’s shot the video – no complicated high end film resources either. It was shot on a Canon 5D with steadicam.
  • Benefit focused.  Apart from the fleeting glance of a toddler shaving a man’s head (yes, really).  At no other time do we see any razors. He’s already told us the products are ‘f**king great’ – and so we’re not going to question that – and he’s told us that there’s no need for all the fancy features - ‘flash light and back scratcher’ – instead, Michael focuses on the benefits to the user.

‘Stop forgetting to buy your razors each month – we’ll send them to you.’  For just a $ a month.

The key messages focus not on what the razor is about – but more on the convenience and value proposition.

Great humour, clear appeal to their audience, simple proposition, authentic people, transparency all blend together to create what is just 6 months later a well known piece of viral video at its best.

The Bottom Line

Not only does this video stand out as one of the viral greats of 2012 – but it’s an impressive case study too. The impact of this video on the business was and continues to be significant.

  • Within the first 48 hours of the video going live the site received 12,000 subscriptions for the Dollar Shave Club.
  • As the video continued to be shared, the site actually crashed, as capacity just couldn’t keep up with the demand.
  • The buzz caused a number of venture capitalists to raise their investor eyebrows – who quickly offered Dollar Shave Club some significant seed investment.  So they are now in bed with some serious VCs.
  • King of Shaves – the UK’s leading online shaving product supplier took inspiration and quickly registered a club idea so they too could offer subscription razors - which is now live and thriving (see King of Shaves sub).
  • The original launch video came in at around $4500. So a seriously low investment when aligned with outcome.

Inspirational tale? We think so. There’s much for us all to learn from this – so get those thinking and creative caps on.

@Michelle Carvill is owner and Marketing Director at Carvill Creative – the online visibility experts. A digital marketing and design agency based in Maidenhead, Berkshire.  The agency covers all aspects of marketing strategy and online visibility - covering social media marketing and social media training, user focused website planning and conversion focused website design.

Want to talk to the team at Carvill Creative about your social media activity or training needs? We’re happy to chat, so simply ‘get in touch’.

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