Creative Destruction, a Close Shave and Social Media

Yes, you can compete with large, established competitors if you’re a small company or start up.

Yes, you can use a more human approach to attract attention to your sales messages.

Yes, social media works. (Despite being a B2C example, this story holds lessons for all marketers).

Dollar Shave Club (a start up) is proof of all three – its YouTube video attracted 12,000 customers within its first 48 hours online.

How?

With a very human and humorous approach that address a pain point in the market: the high cost of razors.

Dollar Shave has a solid business premise:

  • Basic razors at low prices.  As Michael Dubin, founder and chief executive, points out in the video, do you really need the latest razor with a vibrating handle?  Because the only way the big players can increase price is by adding features, they keep adding them.
  • A new way to sell a consumable — by monthly subscription, delivered by mail.

 

The company tells a story in a very human, personal way.  The founder just plain tells it like it is:

… In simple language (likely not professionally scripted)

… With passion

… With personality and humor (btw, the CEO was trained in improv comedy)

Viewers can relate!  For the same reason people like Super Bowl commercials – they’re creative, and fun to watch.

Taking a cue from zappos.com, diapers.com, and now even soap.com, Dollar Shave is giving consumers a new and attractive option.  It saves them money.  It’s more convenient.

Investors are noticing – willing to fund companies that are shaking things up.  And so are the traditional media.  The story has been covered in Fast Company, Forbes, Business Week, the Wall Street Journal, and more.

And big competitors?  They seem to have no fear of “just another low-cost provider.”  With views to its video at 4 million and counting, perhaps they should.

And one more lesson for B2B marketers: with social media, you don’t need a huge marketing budget to build a following.

Pointing again to the crucial nature of YOUR MESSAGE –not just its guts, but how it’s presented.

And, pointing to the opportunity represented when you can find a hole in a staid, competitive market.  Consider your own industry.  Can you find a new option for designing, packaging or delivering your product or service?

Creative destruction like this can happen in the B2B world.  If you’re looking for new or better ways to compete, or an impetus for making your marketing more creative, make this story the basis for a team brainstorm, and let the ideas flow.

Picture This: What A B2B Company Can Show (and Tell) About Its Business

Maersk Effingham, by André Hueners

So much social media and marketing content is all about the telling… or writing. From the consumption perspective, it’s all about the reading.

Now, it seems, the social prognosticators are telling us that content is now all about the viewing. Fackbook’s Timeline, Pinterest, video, and infographics are thrusting all things visual to forefront as the next social media “It Girl”.

True, visual elements are getting more attention. Before Instagram’s eye-popping acquisition by Facebook, its user base was 35 million. Alone, Facebook users uploaded more 170 billion photos.  Pictures have been a part of marketing for the last century. Who remembers the Sears Catalog?  It’s not like the Daguerreotype was invented yesterday.

Visuals also mean video. Look at YouTube and you’ll quickly see (minus the teen kitty videos and Star Trek fan remixes) just how much visual content we generate.

Even with this visual Tsunami, images and video are underutilized mediums by B2B companies. Just as there is a lot to write about, there is also just as much to leverage visually to better connect with customers and markets. Visuals can — and should — reach into every aspect of your communications.

Usage. Is there a way to illustrate the breadth and scope of your company? Check out how Maersk Group leveraged photography of its ships, containers and facilities and attracted 237,000 followers on its Facebook page… in five months. User engagement via Instagram was a winning strategy for this huge B2B company. (Tip: check out how Maersk developed its social program via the folks over at Convince and Convert.  But don’t let size  lead to intimidation. Look how this small boat building operation uses photography.

Behind the Scenes. One of the less flashy, yet compelling TV shows in recent memory is called “How it’s Made“. So, how do whistle manufacturers get that little ball of whatever it is in that piece of bent metal? The same can be said for your business. People want to know more about you and your company. Put your processes and machinery on display, as well as your people. General Electric asked Instagram users to capture GE products using the app, offering the winner a free flight to the United Kingdom for an Instagram shoot.

Demonstrations and Installations. B2B products are typically complex and/or sophisticated. Many involve technological solutions and advancements, whether it is machinery or professional services. Visually demonstrate how your products work. “How-Tos” and “What For” video and still content can help you solidify a claim of a new or improved product over a competitor; show ease of use; or used as targeted content help a propel a prospect further down the sales funnel.    

Visual Repository. For companies with histories that span generations (and maybe younger), reaching back into photo files can find a treasure trove of imagery that can communicate a corporate story and heritage. Facebook’s Timeline is geared toward this kind of representative story telling. It’s also an effective way to highlight employees and related events.  For B2B firms, showing people behind the brand can help further humanize the firm.

Whether you use shared images, compelling video, or pictures from your corporate yesteryear, pictures can help you tell thousands of stories.

In what ways have you used imagery in your marketing?