How I reached customers despite big name competition


We had to battle against the brand awareness of the biggest players in the men's grooming industry to reach new customers. That meant coming up with a creative way to advertise ourselves - except we didn't have anything like the budget of L'Oreal et al.

The challenge

All our competitors have a lot more money to spend than us. We are now the biggest natural skincare brand for men, but the companies that produce synthetic alternatives - L'Oreal and the like - have a lot more money than us, and they spend it on TV and print advertising. We can't compete with that on a financial basis.

Our research showed us that people who have used our products become really loyal. So the real problem for us was: how do we get to those people in the first place, when we can't afford to pay for advertising on the same scale as the big players.

The solution

First, we decided we were going to do something online. That was because we knew from research that people who are already into our products get their info from our website. Also, online content can be viral and really innovative. And the big brands don't really know what they're doing online.

We thought about lots of possible concepts to fit our customers, and came to the conclusion we wanted to do something with comedy. Things that are funny get shared on the web.

We share a building with lots of startups, and one happens to be a production company that creates online content, so we chatted to them. One of their contacts knew David Mitchell [from Peep Show] and put us in touch. He was a great fit for our audience. We went to the pub with him for a chat and gave him some of our products. David thought online was an exciting space too and he was interested in experimenting.

We couldn't pay him anything like as much as other people he's working with, like Apple or the government, but I think he liked the fact we gave him a lot of creative license. We didn't try to handcuff him to any type of content or try telling him what he had to talk about.

The result was our Soap Box content, a series of videos with David Mitchell talking about everything and anything.

It's had 2.9 million views so far, which is just unbelievable! It's been picked up by press too - the Guardian website and the FHM website, for example.

The traffic has come mainly through iTunes, because we put it on there as a podcast. You can download from store for free, and I think that's been a really innovative way of reaching out to people. And once content is out there it's not going anywhere, which means that people will keep discovering us and that people who come to our website for the first time can enjoy the content for the first time too. That's not like conventional advertising where it's in the papers and then it's in the bin the next day.

We found that 80% of people who'd seen the Soap Box content would consider buying Bulldog products now.

Key lesson

We had a conventional challenge which we solved innovatively. As a small business you just need to work out who you're talking to and find an interesting way to tell them your message.

Big brands are faceless and feel distant. That's where small companies have an advantage, because they can feel personal and be much more innovative.

Top tip

You don't have to follow big companies' tried and tested methods. Don't be afraid to think there's a better way of doing things, without doing print advertising or TV commercials.

Find out more about Bulldog


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