Building a multimillion-dollar business on YouTube

December 09, 2011 | Marketing, Social Media, Video, Web 2.0

We keep hearing about the power of video. We have seen that nothing goes viral like a YouTube video, especially when they have entertainment value.

Smart marketers have figured this out.

One example, recently featured on the Google Blog, is the story of Dr. Bob Wagstaff, inventor of the Orabrush. The Orabrush is a “tongue cleaner,” and is one of several instruments on the market to scrape the tongue, remove bacteria and, hence, eliminate foul breath.

Is the Orabrush any more effective than its rival products? I don’t know. But I do know this: Good marketing works, and is especially powerful when it goes viral. And in this age of social media an effective promotion campaign doesn’t have to cost millions.

Dr. Wagstaff started by producing a TV infomercial, and urging retail shops to carry the Orabrush in stores. He even offered to sell his patent to oral hygiene companies. Those efforts failed. The infomercial sold only 100 units. The stores that agreed to carry the Orabrush weren’t selling many units either.

So he changed his strategy at the behest of a college student named Jeffrey Harmon. Wagstaff started marketing the Orabrush on YouTube, spending just $500 to produce his first video.

The Orabrush and its spokeman.

The commercial-style video – aided by good production values, acting talent and an entertaining script – went viral and raked in 16 million views.

Wagstaff named Harmon chief marketing officer and gave him the green light to create a series of “webisodes,” during which he introduced characters like Morgan, the dirty tongue. Harmon’s Cure Bad Breath videos created a loyal following, and the company’s YouTube channel caught fire to the tune of 40 million views. Now national chains such as CVS and Walmart are carrying the Orabrush.

Now that 7,000 stores are carrying the Orabrush, the company has altered its strategy to drive store sales rather than direct sales.

Yes, the Orabrush story is another example of the power of video. But it’s also an example of the importance of shooting a well-produced video. Not a slick, expensive video. Rather, a video that’s entertaining enough for people to not only watch, but to share with friends and colleagues.