Genius Marketing Ideas That Made Millions, Some At Almost Zero Cost

Dollar Shave Club’s “Our Blades Are F***ing Great” – $615 million as of 2015

Michael Dubin started a company that sold a stripped down version of razors without fanciful features and shipped them to your door. He decided to scale it up to the world and by making a YouTube video that features him, the CEO, explaining his business model. The video was called “Our Blades Are F***ing Great”. It became an instant sensation, about 12,000 customers signed up within 48 hours that followed and 19 million views as of June 2015. This is most impressive, considering their existing audience and followers are next-to-none when they posted the video.

This video was shot and uploaded in 2012 but have a quick look at the comment section, new comments are made complimenting their services every day. 3 years later, that video is still bringing in money. But wait … all these at what cost?

Answer: $4500, to make that video which would otherwise cost $50,000. How did he do it? Dubin’s connections helped keep Dollar Shave Club’s Video production low. Commercial’s director, Aniello helm Paulilu, is a friend from his university days.

Take a closer look at the video, do you see the razors they are selling? No, instead you see machete, falling bills and an oversized teddy bear.

That is because they know their audience well; they are marketing to tech-savvy younger men, who are also the most open audience to make purchases online.

Furthermore, they were clear of their selling points – price and delivery method. They stripped their products down to bare essentials and made a direct comparison with brand name razors with “shave tech you don’t need”.

What can we learn from it?

  • Sometimes, being all serious in business isn’t always good.
  • Make connections early, someday it could prove helpful.
  • Know your target audience well and unique selling point well.
  • Most of all, take action by proactively reaching out to them.


Pet Rock – $5 million as of 2004

Pet R

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Pet Rock? How can a pet BE a rock? It must be a joke! Indeed, it’s an “absurd” joke that costs $3.95 each, turning Gary Dahl into a multi-millionaire. In 1975, Dahl was a 38 years-old ad copywriter based in Los Gatos, California.

One day, listening to his friend’s “misery” maintaining a pet, he joked of a perfectly low maintenance pet – a rock. He began to take it seriously by writing a booklet describing the proper care and handling of a Pet Rock. He packaged his rocks in card box cases complete with air holes and nests them in straws to keep it comfy. Each box comes with the booklet detailing the care and temperament of Pet Rock. My personal favourite was “You may find Pet Rock is addicted to TV. You can put Pet Rock Next to you while you watch a movie or your favourite TV program, most of them love commercials!”

While some may say this product is absolutely useless, Dahl told People in 1975 that “You might say we’ve packaged a sense of humor.”. Sadly, humor has a short shelf-life, the craze was over by the end early months of 1976, but Dahl has already made his fortune. With a cost price of $1 each, he told New York Times in 2004 that “I put about $5 million of today’s money in my pocket,”.

However, the journey was not all smooth sailing. In 1977, he was sued by two associates who helped financed his Pet Rock project after he quit his job, accusing him of not paying a fair share of the profit; Dahl lost the case and was ordered to pay a six-figure sum. In addition, he also failed to replicate the Pet Rock success when he tried to sell follow up items such as mail order college degrees for Pet Rock.

Nevertheless, he managed to open a saloon and sailboat brokerage before returning to advertising, authoring the book Advertising for Dummies in 2001. And now, Pet Rock is coming back at $9.95 each.


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What can we learn from it?

  • Be open minded. Sometimes, the best idea comes from where you least expect it.
  • Take action, start somewhere. Dahl started writing pet rock manual which was similar to his field of work. That’s where it really begun.
  • Use humour.


Star registry – unknown and still growing



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If you think selling a rock is absurd, here comes something brutal – selling a star that you don’t own. At International Star Registry,  you can get a personalised framed star chart including a complimentary personalised wallet card imprinted with star name and coordinates; all for just $489. If your budget is tight, you can get a basic set for yourself starting from $54 or send as a gift from $65. Compare these prices with Pet Rock, it is not difficult to guess which is more profitable.


This is not a scam, they market their products and services as gift or memorials right from the beginning. There are buyers out there willing to purchase them as a gift. Scanning through the web, my favourite line is “Star Registry® offers a unique birthday gift, especially for the person that has everything. Your gift will shine in the sky and be light on each and every birthday for your loved one. Name a star for that special someone today.”. They must have understood their audiences mindset very well to be able to craft such compelling page!


On a more serious note, you can start a company, build a website, start receiving orders and send out your own certificate. (Some shameless advertising, we can help you with these and other digital marketing services, check out the rest of our pages!) Anyone can start a star naming company because the names are unofficial anyway. Hence, with a large number separate business owners, the total profit remains relatively unknown.


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What can we learn from it?


  • Keep your eyes peeled. There are businesses that sell products that cost next to nothing. In fact, there are businesses which people pay and give you the raw materials you need to sell. E.g. Pallet recycling.
  • Marketing is crucial if your product or services are easily copied.



Dumb Ways To Die – Non-Profit

You’ve probably seen this commercial before. This is one of the most innovative public safety videos of all time, dumb ways to die was a hit around the world and won numerous awards worldwide. As of August 2015, the video received over 110 million views. The aim of the campaign is to engage an audience that doesn’t really want to hear any kind of safety messages. Indeed, cute animations and catchy songs masked grotesque ways you could die, that would normally be censored, into a darkly cute and irksomely catchy ad that captures attention beyond their target audience.

What about results? According to Metro trains, the campaign contributed to a more than 30% reduction in “near-miss”, from 13.29 near-misses per million kilometres in November 2011 – January 2012, to 9.17 near-misses per million kilometres in November 2012- January 2013. (Source)  However, the campaign received some criticism that it reinforces deadly train as a suicide method.

For the rest of us, let’s just enjoy an entertaining video and remember stay safe wherever you are.



P.S: We do not receive any advertising profits from the above-mentioned companies.

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