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5 Lessons for Bloggers from Dollar Shave Club

Dollar Shave Club LogoIf you have even flipped on a computer in the last 24-48 hours, there’s a good chance you’ve seen or heard about the new viral marketing video from Dollar Shave Club.

The video features Mike, the founder of the company, making a blunt but comedic pitch for his service, which sends fresh razor blades to customers in the mail every month. The video has become a massive hit, getting over 600,000 views since its launch two days ago and has been featured on a slew of major sites and blogs.

But even more than a great viral video, Dollar Shave Club is an excellent case study in marketing and in reaching an audience. However, the lessons aren’t just for competitors or other companies, but they can be used by anyone trying to market themselves online, including bloggers.

With that in mind, here are five good lessons every blogger can learn from the skyrocketing popularity of Dollar Shave Club.

1. It’s Never Too Late to Do Something Awesome

Contrary to popular belief, Dollar Shave Club is not a new company. It’s been around and marketing itself since at least June 2011, when its first Facebook post went live, and it shipped its first orders a month later. Though the company recent received $1 million in new capital, it is far from being a newly-launched startup.

It doesn’t matter if your blog has been around six months or six years, it’s never too late to do something incredible for two reasons:

  1. Odds are, most people still haven’t heard of you or your site.
  2. Every site can reinvent itself easily, so long as it creates something better.

It’s never a waste to try a great idea on an established site, with the Web, there is always a lot of room to grow.

2. It’s OK To Have a Sense of Humor

Watching the video, there isn’t a single truly serious moment in it. From Mike’s proclamation of who great the blades are to blowing dollar bills with a leaf blower while upbeat music plays, the video is almost wall-to-wall sight gags and one-liners.

However, Dollar Shave Club is very much a real company, with a real product and real money on the line. The success or failure of the business is no laughing matter to its owners and investors. Also, they’re doing something that could be radically disruptive to a very large industry (grooming).

But rather than pitch the service as revolutionary or try to make a serious pitch on price or convenience, they chose to bury their benefits in a thick coating of zany comedy. It seems to have worked.

Unless you’re talking about a topic that is too serious for any humor to be injected, it’s ok to not take yourself so seriously and to relax a bit with your approach. A little humor can help relax your audience and make them more receptive to the ideas you’re trying to plant in them.

Would the Web be nearly as upbeat about Dollar Shave Club if they had used pompous music and pitched the service entirely seriously? Probably not.

3. 1 Message. 1 Image

If you visit the Dollar Shave Club site, you quickly see that the video is just one piece of a cohesive marketing strategy.

The entire site from its colors to its copy fit with the message and the image the video created. Everything flows together naturally and creates a unified experience from first watching the YouTube video until you finish your purchase.

This is a company that knows what it wants to be, what message it wants to deliver and it does both with one voice and one message.

Everything you do should be similarly on point and on target. If you want to change messages or drastically change direction, you need to either reboot the entire site or, if possible, create a new one.

4. Video is Important

Bearing in mind that Dollar Shave Club has been around nearly 8 months in relative obscurity, it is important to realize that it was a video that brought its message to a new, much more massive, audience.

Video is probably the most powerful communication medium out there, combining visuals, music, spoken word, text and, thanks to YouTube, links. Though it’s not right for every thing you might want to say, when it is right, it’s important to exploit it.

If you’re not doing anything with video or under-utilizing it, there’s no time like the present to jump in. It doesn’t have to be anything impressive, expensive or time-consuming, just unique and with a good message.

5. Make Sure Your Hosting is Up To Snuff

Finally, this is the one thing that Dollar Shave Club got horribly wrong and something that makes Amanda’s column about server overload amazingly relevant.

Yesterday, as the video was breaking out on sites such as Reddit and across hundreds of blogs, Dollar Shave Club’s site was down. It’s hosting simply couldn’t handle the load.

The good news is that it is back up today and there still seems to be a lot of momentum for the company so, most likely, they will still see lot of new customers from the video, but other sites aren’t so lucky.

Many sites do something incredible, get a huge traffic spike and remain shuttered until well past the moment has passed. Whether it’s a link doing well on Reddit, a viral video or just a mention on a major news site, many blogs that work fine today are just one stampede away from being flattened under a “friendly DDOS attack”.

If your site is barely humming along on the server you have now, it’s probably time to upgrade. Capacity is cheap and the cost of getting good hosting that can withstand traffic spikes isn’t that much greater than regular shared hosting. In fact, you may be able to drastically improve your capacity for just pennies per month by adding a content delivery network to your existing hosting setup.

Bottom Line

Where there is success, there are lessons to be learned. Dollar Shave Club is no different. It may seem to be a novelty site with little hope for lasting impact, but it still found a huge new audience and customer base overnight.

While your site might never become an overnight success story, it can still benefit from the lessons of those who rocket to fame.

Whether you’re on a slow climb uphill or rocketing into the sky in an instant, you’re moving the same direction and the same forces will propel you there. It’s just a matter of finding the mixture that works best for you, your site and your audience.

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