All about that time I said NO to Dollar Shave Club

Remember that crazy video from Dollar Shave Club?

If you need a refresher or have never seen it before, here it is:

It was shot for under $5000 back in early 2012 (a lifetime ago on the Internet).

It turned them into a household name and made razor subscription boxes a thing.

And that’s the thing.

It wasn’t a thing before this.

I remember speaking to Michael Dubin, the owner, back when the website was basic and the sheer concept of Dollar Shave Club was unheard of.

I liked the idea of having clients outside of Australia because they always had interesting businesses.

But I had to say no to him.

I said no to a potentially lucrative SEO deal with Dollar Shave Club.

I really wanted the deal and I knew I could provide some value.

However I didn’t feel right about taking them on as a client.

So I took my time to do some research.

But why did I turn down the deal?

Because they didn’t need SEO.

Not at that time anyway.

SEO is about improving visibility in search engines and it sure does help when people know about they’re searching for.

Back in 2012, who knew about subscription boxes for razor blades?

The search volume was practically non existent.

And how would I justify my work?

With little to no competition, there’s no doubt they’d rank well for all the right keywords.

But then what?

As much as I could have provided solid technical SEO to ensure the site loaded fast and was free from errors (etc), there wasn’t much more I could really do to propel this business.

At least, at that time, that’s what I thought.

What they needed was to build awareness and to generate demand and interest.

Sometimes you’re already solving an existing problem people know they have.

But in this case, these guys were solving a problem people didn’t realise they had.

That video went viral and as of this email has over 26 million views. It still slaps, as the kids say these days.

Maybe to modern standards 26 million seems small but at that moment in time, the video was sensational and did something incredible: turned something ordinary into something interesting.

There’s a lesson in there for your website (bonus SEO tip!).

Now, I could have written all sorts of content and it still wouldn’t have had the same impact.

Think about the last time you were sent or shared an article that was mind blowing. You’d be able to count them on one hand I reckon.

So the bottom line here is: sometimes, SEO isn’t what you need.

And SEO won’t fix your problems.

SEO can help, no doubt.

SEO is just part of the mix. Some businesses will benefit slightly from technical SEO but will generate a lot more business through Instagram ads, for example.

I’d never tell someone to do otherwise – that’s just unethical.

And in hindsight, maybe I should have sold Dollar Shave Club on some technical SEO – it would have definitely been of benefit to them.

But I was young, naive and didn’t feel right about taking a monthly retainer to do very little.

I wasn’t confident I would be able to take Dollar Shave Club out of obscurity and into the hearts and minds of thousands (if not, millions).

It’s been almost a decade since then and I’m a lot wiser now and have a lot more SEO skin in the game.

But I won’t take your money just for the sake of it.

This is what you should look for when choosing to work with an SEO consultant or agency.

You need people who care and who genuinely want to make a difference to your business.

SEO suffers enough from dodgy operators who are all about a quick cash grab.

But the real Gs aren’t about that life.

We’re out here and we’re all about the long game.

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