CMO Strategy Summit

Dollar Shave Club's Dubin Offers Tips for a Truly Viral Video

Company Also Seeking a Marketing Exec

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Dollar Shave Club spent $4,500 on a video that 's had more than 5 million YouTube hits and spawned dozens of response videos in the four-and-a-half months since it's gone live.

For its next video, coming in August for a yet-undisclosed product launch, the company will likely need to up the budget to $25,000, CEO Michael Dubin told the Advertising Age CMO Strategy Summit in Chicago on July 18.

But even with talent no longer buying the struggling startup argument, it's not a bad deal. And the man whose venture-funded company closed a million-dollar financing round the same day it launched its video March 6 shared his tips for making a video viral.

  1. "Think deeply about the problem you're solving," Mr. Dubin said. In other words, find the insights that will make people care about the video -- which in this case were the same ones that made them care about the Dollar Shave Club brand. Razor blades -- both the high cost and the inconvenience of buying them from the locked "razor fortress" in stores -- are "an emotionally supercharged subject."
  2. "Identify a resonant shared human experience around it and then build your concept around that ," Mr. Dubin said. "In just about every beat of the video ... we're talking about the business and the benefit of the business."
  3. Keep it brief. "The video is really really tight," Mr. Dubin said. "This video is a minute-and-a-half long, and that 's really, really important. It was going to be a lot longer, and thankfully the director I worked with who helped me, who I also did some improv with in New York, she really helped me pare it down and keep it brief. Nobody wants to watch your five-minute video. Nobody forwards around a video they didn't watch all the way through."
  4. "Don't give people a video they could have written themselves." Dollar Shave Club's video may have been low-budget, but it was created by people, including Mr. Dubin, with years of experience both in improv comedy and video production, giving it considerably more punch than your average $4,500 production. "I would encourage you ... to hire some comedy writers. Go down to the local comedy club and bring them into your marketing brainstorm. I studied improv for eight years at the Upright Citizens Brigade as a hobby and loved it. ... A lot of my teachers are now on television and in film ... and I always thought they were missing a big opportunity, which was to start their own agency."

The video was so funny that some folks thought it was a spoof, Mr. Dubin admitted. That impression was compounded by the fact that it produced enough hits to crash the company's website. This led some YouTube commenters to suggest the business was a great idea someone should do for real.

So among lessons learned, Mr. Dubin said, was to have more bandwidth -- both the literal kind and in terms of human capital. The biggest thing he'd change is to "spend more time to find the right people," which has become one of his favorite parts of the job. And, to that end, Mr. Dubin announced from the dais that he's seeking a VP-marketing, asking folks to contact him at [email protected]

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