Bold, unconventional advertising may seem like a high-risk, high-reward scenario. But if you understand your audience and what drives them to purchase your product, you can take a lot of the risk out of the equation and strongly position your company for the future. Here’s how one company did it.
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Dollar Shave Club (DSC) expanded on one risqué YouTube ad to build a $1 billion business. It all began with the 2012 YouTube video in which DSC CEO and comedian, Michael Dubin, walks out of his office and into advertising history.
The situation that led to this ad was unique, as DSC determined that they had an opening into a difficult market because every player in the razor industry was moving away from simple, cheap options that they believed consumers enjoy. But the way they successfully built their business with a strong brand voice has universal lessons.
DSC found a market persona they felt was being ignored – men who just wanted a cheap, effective razor, and who felt left out by increasingly high-tech, expensive-looking razor brand messaging. By speaking as one of the underdogs, they became huge players in a market that seemed impenetrable.
Not every company is trying to break in, or are able to position themselves as such an upstart. But what you can do is find the market your competitors are ignoring – if each of your main competitors seem to be speaking to the same people, try finding the audiences they may be leaving out.
Every successful company has to differentiate itself from its competitors. That means knowing all about how they are perceived, and using competitive social media marketing knowledge to get the upper hand. As long as you know exactly who your audience is, and exactly why they would be interested in your products or service, you can produce daring work that speaks to them honestly.
In creative brainstorming, you may be tempted to rule out some of your bolder options, and instead produce ads in a style that you know has worked in the past. But by taking risks, and thinking like your customer instead of like your company, you can come up with a far more effective result.
Try working backwards – find the words you want to describe your campaign (“surreal, awesome, funny, random” might be some that work for DSC), and then put the pieces together that get you that result.
Social media campaigns do best when they land with a splash. Unlike traditional TV ads, which build awareness over time, social channels tend to have their own rules of gravity. Big-ticket campaign content tends to begin on YouTube, spread via Twitter, Tumblr, and Pinterest, and really gain steam via smart promotion on Facebook and Instagram once earned media begins paying attention. By publishing your content in the right places and promoting the right content on Facebook, you can buy double the clicks for the same price.
A single blockbuster campaign can set your brand voice for years to come. By incorporating elements of one famous campaign into future work, you create continuity over time, and strong branding. DSC took distinctive elements from their first ad and kept them in every single video they have made since.
For early-stage startups, the way you communicate initially is even more important – and it is inevitably dictated by your founders. By finding the ideal formula for capturing CEO Michael Dubin’s voice, DSC was able to create a brand voice that would extend far into the future and adapt to shifts in their brand vision.
Social media content is a means to promote your message – always be on the lookout for creative ways that social channels can help you do that. DSC found an outstanding opportunity to give back, in a way that was relevant to their audience and on-message, when a soldier wrote to them asking how to buy blades in bulk for their base. Instead, DSC told him they would send the blades for free, and he let the veterans’ community know about it – a great source of earned media that became the most popular DSC-related post of the last year.
Better than just giving the company a chance to earn positive attention with the right audience, it led to an ongoing opportunity for them to contribute to servicemen.
Beyond the branded comedic appeal, DSC clearly did several things right in planning and executing their strategy that companies from any industry can learn from, they: