A DOLLAR for your thoughts? Know how this “Marvel” turned his frustrations into a multi-million dollar brand! [Monday: Marketing Marvels]
Miles Everson’s Business Builder Daily speaks to the heart of what great marketers, business leaders, and other professionals need to succeed in advertising, communications, managing their investments, career strategy, and more.
A Note from Miles Everson:
We hope you’re ready to kickstart this awesome Monday.
Let’s start the day with a dose of motivation by talking about one of the world’s “Marketing Marvels”—outstanding people in the business and marketing industries.
In this article, we’ll talk about the contributions, experiences, and insights of a co-founder of a men’s personal grooming brand.
Read on to know more about this person and the marketing lessons you can learn from him and his business.
CEO, MBO Partners
Chairman of the Advisory Board, The I Institute
Dollar Shave Club is an American company based in Venice, California. It is known for manufacturing razors and other men’s personal grooming products.
The brand was a result of two men meeting at a party and venting out to each other their frustrations with the cost of razor blades.
Using their own money and receiving financial support from tech and marketing studio Science, Inc., the company where they were both board members, they began the Dollar Shave Club’s operations on January 18, 2011 and launched its website in April of the same year.
One of the brand’s founders?
Photo from CNBC
Dubin grew up in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. After graduating from Emory University in 2001 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in History, he moved to New York City. There, he worked numerous jobs in the marketing and advertising industry, and by night, he took classes in accounting, corporate finance, and comedy improvisation.
In 2011, Dubin met a friend’s father-in-law, Mark Levine, at a party. They struck up a conversation where Levine spoke to Dubin that he needed to unload a warehouse full of surplus razor blades from a failed business venture.
They spoke about their irritations over the cost of razors and the inconvenience of accessing these in a shop. After that, Dubin had a realization:
He thought if he offered razors to consumers at a lower price, these pain points would be solved.
So, what was his next move?
To prove this theory, he registered the domain, dollarshaveclub.com and began planning for a men’s personal grooming empire. His focus was to provide good quality blades at a low price without all the unnecessary features that had become commonplace in the market.
Using his marketing knowledge, Dubin officially opened the Dollar Shave Club for business and created a YouTube ad that contained the brand’s unique selling proposition—good quality razors at a lower price.
The video cost USD 4,500 to make, but that amount came back to the company much bigger because the ad became a hit and went viral.
In fact, the company’s server crashed due to a huge amount of traffic! Dollar Shave Club also received a total of 12,000+ orders a week after the video was launched.
After achieving success in selling razors, Dubin expanded his business by selling other products. According to him, Dollar Shave Club needed to be more than a voice in selling razor blades; it also had to be a leader in the men’s personal grooming industry.
So, the company also began offering shave gel, body wash, wipes, and more to its target market.
In 2015, Dubin and his company’s success captured the attention of J.P. Morgan’s former Managing Director, Romitha Mally, and Unilever’s former President of North American Operations, Kees Kruythoff. They were impressed by Dubin’s business and marketing skills, especially in making waves with a new razor brand.
Then, in 2016, Unilever acquired Dollar Shave Club for USD 1 billion. Following the acquisition, the razor brand’s sales topped USD 225 million for that year.
Dubin’s Lessons on Brand-Building
Dubin was 32 years old when he and Levine started the Dollar Shave Club. According to him, having “a relentless curiosity” and “an indefatigable energy for problem solving” are two essential attributes of someone who wants to build a successful business.
Here are his advice for startup founders:
- Direct-to-consumer (DTC) is great, but it’s no longer enough in gaining a competitive advantage nowadays.
Dubin says in 2011, the DTC business model was all business owners and leaders needed to stand out. This strategy was cheaper and more convenient for consumers, and through this, the Dollar Shave Club caught its larger competitors flat-footed.
However, today’s business landscape is different compared to what it was 11 years ago.
A huge portion of e-commerce nowadays is DTC. That’s why Dubin’s advice for anyone who’s planning to launch a new business is to have an omnichannel strategy from day one.
He believes this tactic will help startup businesses increase awareness about their brand, grow their sales, and reach more consumers.
- It’s now easier than ever to launch a startup brand—and much harder to succeed.
According to Dubin, the challenge for today’s business owners and leaders is no longer launching their startup brands—it’s breaking through the noise and gaining awareness in an increasingly crowded marketplace.
Here’s what he said:
“You’re not only competing with people in your category for eyeballs. You’re competing against beef jerky, steak knives, exercise balls, and everything else.”
In fact, Dubin says at the Dollar Shave Club, attracting more customers became more expensive after the brand’s initial wave of popularity passed… and for him, there were two solutions to that problem:
- Paying more for marketing and letting the brand’s economics bear that out
- Finding a different place or way to tell a story
Dubin, Levine, and their team chose the latter. They believe whether it’s venturing into a new retail strategy or exploring new social media platforms, it’s important to be creative to reach future customers.
The Dollar Shave Club wasn’t the first men’s personal grooming business nor was it the first to sell razors online. However, it was the first to point out a problem in the sector.
By identifying two concerns—razors were overpriced and these products were often locked behind cases in stores—the brand was able to make a ground-breaking entrance in the market, and sell affordable and accessible razors to consumers.
A round of applause for Dubin and his ingenious marketing skills!
As a business builder, Dubin acknowledges the importance of staying true to one’s brand.
That means not only searching for your brand identity when creating a new offering, but also asking your team members or colleagues to be watchers on the wall of your brand.
He says sometimes, your judgment can get cloudy when you build a brand for yourself. So, you need to have accountability partners who will tell you if your business is on the right track or if it’s starting to sound and look like other businesses.
Dubin believes that building a good team is crucial for building a successful brand. For him, running a business is like a team sport—to score a point or a goal, you have to collaborate with your teammates and strategize with them.
That’s all for today’s “Marketing Marvels.” We hope you learned a lot from Dubin’s brand-building insights!
Remember: Tap into an essential truth, offer a real solution to a problem, and deliver an extraordinary customer experience.
This strategy will enable you to grow a reputable brand and make waves in your industry… just like Dubin and his Dollar Shave Club!
“Focus on [your] most important thing. Don’t be distracted by other people’s most important thing, or by what other people think your most important thing should be. You only have so much time and energy in the day. Spending it wisely will be the difference between success and failure.”
– Michael Dubin, co-founder of the Dollar Shave Club
(This article is from The Business Builder Daily, a newsletter by The I Institute in collaboration with MBO Partners.)
About The Dynamic Marketing Communiqué’s
“Monday Marketing Marvels”
Too often, industry experts and the marketing press sing the praises of some brand or company’s marketing strategy.
… only for the audience to later find out that its product was a flop, or worse, that the brand or company went bankrupt.
The true ROI in marketing can’t be separated from the business as a whole.
What good is a marketing case study if one can’t prove that the company’s efforts actually paid off?
At the end of the day, either the entire business is successful or it isn’t. And the roles of marketing and communication are always paramount to that success.
Every Monday, we publish a case study that highlights the world’s greatest marketing strategies, marketers, and communicators.
However, the difference between our articles and the numerous ones out there is that we will always make certain that the firm really did generate and demonstrate earning power worthy of study in the first place (compliments of Valens Research’s finance group) in keeping with a person’s leadership skills in the area of marketing and/or communication.
We’ll also study the greatest marketing fails and analyze what they did wrong, or what they needed to improve. We all make our mistakes, but better we learn from others’ mistakes—and earlier, rather than later.
Hope you found this week’s marketing marvel interesting and helpful.
Stay tuned for next week’s Monday Marketing Marvels!
Head of Marketing
Valens Dynamic Marketing Capabilities
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