Lessons Learned Going Zero to 10 Million in 1 Year
with Alex Brown
Subscription Business Hacks, Viral Video Marketing, and Customer Retention: MakingBank S3E35 with Alex Brown
If anyone knows the power of viral video marketing, Alex Brown is the man. In his two and a half years at The Beard Club, Alex landed over 200 million video views leading to massive subscriber intake and the shipment of over 1.7 million beard boxes.
Being thrust into a high growth business with 10k subscribers after a mere couple of months certainly brought challenges and snags, but it forced Alex to learn the subscription business model first-hand and fast. Now we get to benefit from the hacks he picked up along the way.
Viral Videos and Brand Authenticity
First, don’t try to shoot a viral video, instead focus on shooting something that will achieve a specific outcome. If you are a new company, focus on warming people to your brand. If you’ve been around for a bit and are looking to spike growth, make your aim to convert new customers.
When you go in with the express intention to shoot a viral video, you set yourself up for disappointment and disenchantment. The intention cannot be view count, it has to be something more. Then the video accomplishes something even if the reach isn’t astronomically far. It educates, entertains, introduces your brand, etc.
Be authentic to your brand!
Create something you think people will share either because it’s funny or captivating or memorable or reminds them of themselves. If you can take an idea that people are already familiar with and bend it to your brand, people will identify that familiarity and be willing to engage.
For Alex, this familiar idea came in the form of the beard nod — dudes with big beards nod when they see other dudes with big beards as if they were in a motorcycle gang. He took that small physical action and turned it into a video introducing their beard product subscription company to the world.
He capitalized on familiar behavior, so his audience could relate to the product and place themselves in the hero role. Your video should do the same. Keep in mind, “[The video’s] not necessarily about everyone. It’s about something that your ideal audience can say ‘Yeah, that’s me! I love that.”
Show what problem your product solves.
A lot of people get caught up in creating flashy stories, when in reality simply showing what your product makes easier in life, is often all you need to do. What problem does your product solve?
The problem itself might evolve over time. Initially, The Beard Club was started to combat the absurdly high price of beard maintenance products but eventually changed to answer customers specific needs — itchiness, dryness, beard shape, etc. Knowing the problem you’re aiming to solve makes your product more sustainable and scalable as well!
From there the biggest challenge becomes continuing a strong customer experience. Once you convert them to a customer from the video, you must continue to fulfill that relationship expectation. This is where RETENTION comes in.
People drop off, it is the nature of subscription companies. You need to find out why. You must take care of the people buying from you. Do not be short sighted, look at customer relationships on a long timeline. You will earn more from retaining customers than onboarding new ones.
Alex said he is always thinking, “How can I get the attention, trust, and loyalty of this customer for the next couple of years so I’m not constantly trying to force them to buy product.” Education and laughter help immensely with this.
Structure the offer. If you are sending too much product, people will stop their subscription. Only send what people need, so they don’t have tons of extra product that they will never use lying around the house.
Educate your customers. You can send people incredible product, but if they don’t know what it is for, or how to use it they simply won’t use it at all. Educate people to know how and why to use what you send them. Make videos, or send instructions with clear images and a step by step process.
Include people in the story of your brand. This harkens back to your initial video campaign. If you can show people how they fit into the story of your brand, they become the hero in their own story by using your products.
Beard guy watches The Beard Company video. Beard guy recognizes universal beard nod and laughs. Beard guy feels camaraderie with The Beard Company. Beard guy becomes a customer. Beard guy is now the cool beard guy from the video.
Continue to include your customers in the story, even in the education literature and videos. Laughter goes a long way!
And as always, don’t underestimate the power of email marketing!
For more from Alex Brown, you can find him on LinkedIn, subscriptionhacks.com, and thealexbrown.com.