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Razor Sharp Marketing: Dollar Shave Club

Aaron Steinfeld

Who doesn't like a good start-up story?  I know I do, especially with a commercial that's as sharp as a tack... or in this case, a razor. Enter California-based funny guy Michael Dubin, and his business partner Mark Levine. These two entrepreneurial geniuses saw what a hairy situation men had with purchasing over-priced shaving equipment and decided to do all of us manly gentlemen a favor. This favor, launched in 2011, is known as the Dollar Shave Club.

Have you seen the included video yet? It's Dollar Shave Club's recent commercial, and it's gone completely viral, garnering over three million epic views on YouTube in about a week's time. If you are a super savvy individual like me, or someone that had to start shaving way too early in life (curses to you, gene pool), you no doubt realize that those are a lot of views. Say what you will about the commercial; maybe you think it's not serious; maybe you even think its offensive. Maybe you're right. Pardon me while I lather on, but I see it as an engaging exchange with socially savvy men (with senses of humor) who are tired of paying too much money for dinky, multi-edged pieces of plastic and metal. I also see this as a hungry consumer pool looking for a chance to not only save money, but spend it.

In an informative article by the Huffington Post, an interview of Dubin can be perused along with other details about the company's inner-workings. The following question/answer jumped out at me.

Can you offer advice for entrepreneurs who are thinking about starting a subscription-based business? First, find the right niche. Everyone is creating subscription businesses these days. If you're going to be successful and hit the masses, you need to be very specific about what you're offering. Second, be a membership company, not a subscription company. It may just be semantics, but there's a warmth to the word membership that subscription lacks. Subscription is cold and impersonal. Membership makes you feel included, like lobster night at the country club. And I think that extends into the brand experience for the customer. We want customers to feel like every month we're adding the kind of value that the other memberships in their life bring them.

There you have it, entrepreneurs: always look for your niche!

So, I'll ask again—who doesn't like a good start-up? I'll tell you who: the competition. Look out, Gillette, apparently the Dollar Shave Club is aiming to take a cut from your grasp of the market. CJP

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