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Make Them Laugh 'Til They Buy

 By Hector Cisneros

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When it comes to marketing online, everyone is always looking for a way to get a promotion to “Go Viral.” Unfortunately, this is easier said than done.  Out of the four billion videos shown on YouTube on any given day, maybe a handful will catch the imagination of viewers enough to pass onto their friends and family.  Of those, one or two may take viewership to the next level. (I suspect that most of these are cat videos.)  However, the media likes to tout those videos that manage to achieve millions of views.  If you’re looking to catch lightning in a bottle with a new product, let me give you a little history of a couple of entrepreneurs who have come before you.

How did a tongue brush company go from rags to riches? – You heard me right, the inventor of the tongue brush, Dr. Bob Wagstaff had a problem.  After spending tens of thousands of dollars to invent, manufacture and promote the Orabrush, all that Dr. Bob had to show for his efforts was a $40,000 hole in his wallet and about a hundred orders.  (At $3 per unit, you do the math.)  He then approached big box retailers only to be laughed out of their offices.

With his business circling the drain and time running out he was desperate to find a way, to turn the tide and produce some sales.  This is where Jeffrey Harmon, a local college student entered the picture.  After listening to Bob wax poetic about the virtues of the Orabrush, Jeff came back with what we in the marketing business refer to as a Hail Mary campaign. He convinced Bob to spend $500 to shoot a YouTube video.  The budget was so low that they had to shoot it in a pool hall.

Did the campaign work?  Like a dream.  Their video went from a few thousand views to tens of thousands of views to more than 100,000 views to millions of views.  All without any kind of pay-per-click input. At last count, the original Orabrush video on YouTube had amassed just short of 27 million views! WOW! What was their secret?  The video was outrageously funny. Their schtick was to poke fun at what they called Halitophobia: The Fear of Bad Breath.  Within months the video had the company smelling like a rose as orders poured in.  So much so that within months, the same big box buyers who shunned the product were pounding on Dr. Bob’s door to place orders. Check out the video below if you want to hear the story in his own words.

Was the Orabrush story just a one-in-a-million marketing fluke or was there something in their marketing mix that could be replicated by other entrepreneurs?  Everyone who has ever produced a video dreams of it going viral.  The problem is that getting this to happen isn’t easy.  While using humor to sell can work for the big guys, such as Aflac and their Duck or the Geico Gecko, it’s next to impossible for a small business to use these same tactics to break out of the herd.  Or, is it?  To that, I have three words of advice: Dollar Shave Club.

A real David and Goliath story, it revolves around a tiny Santa Monica company with five employees that wanted to get into the razor business.  Their opponents were none other than Gilette, owned by the $13 billion behemoth Proctor and Gamble, not to mention Schick and Bic.  Between the three they control nearly 80% of the market.  Unlike Dr. Bob at Orabrush, the president of Dollar Shave Club, Michael Dubin, did not invent a revolutionary new razor.  No, his website simply offered to ship to the consumer their choice of twin blade, four-blade, or six-blade razors every month. So, what made them think they could compete with the Fortune 500?

As much a comedy routine as an advertisement, the Dollar Shave Club’s original YouTube video has garnered more than 27 million hits.  While the company won’t say how many people have signed up for the club, an authoritative source told me that within the first few weeks the site had generated more than twelve thousand members.  

The video, which only runs about a minute and a half, shows the president of the company riding a forklift, playing tennis (badly) while dancing with a guy in a bear costume, among other antics.  Far from being afraid of going too far, the titling above their video reads, “Our Blades Are F***ing Great!”  Well, I don’t know about that, but their results were certainly f***ing great. While big-box retailers didn’t come calling, a Fortune 500 company did.  Not to offer to distribute the product but to buy the company for $1 billion in 2016.

How Can Your Company Create an Internet Sensation?

So now you can see that with a little imagination, even major markets can be cracked by the use of humorous video campaigns.  So why aren’t more small businesses producing outrageous videos in order to sell their products?  It can’t be the cost.  Remember the Orabrush got into the game for a paltry $500. The trick is to do like the inventor of the Orabrush and keep banging away at it.  Throw a few dollars in the hat and sponsor your videos on YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook.  Embed them in your blogs and social posts.  If you have a pet, use them as talent.  (Have you seen how many views funny cat and dog videos generate?)  Just get into the game and tap into the world’s most powerful superstation.  

In short, if you want to leapfrog the competition, try injecting humor into your marketing mix. For a little sweat equity, you could soon find yourself laughing all the way to the bank.

If you’re looking to break your company out of the herd, give Hector Cisneros a call at (904) 887-0946 to find out how cost-effective YouTube can be.  He’ll be glad to share stories and videos from clients who have successfully used YouTube to generate viewers and sales of products and services.

If you found this article to be useful, share it with your friends, family, and co-workers. If you feel you have something to add or just want to leave a comment do so below.  If you would like a free copy of our book Internet Marketing Tips for the 21 Century click here and fill in the form on the page. It has been my pleasure sharing with you our view of the current state of search engine marketing. I look forward to reading your comments. Thanks again for reading and sharing.   

That's my opinion; I look forward to reading yours.

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