Orabrush founder Robert Wagstaff came up with a great product but he just couldn't sell it. Even after spending $50,000 on informercials and pitches about the tongue-scraping brush that eliminates bad breath, it looked like the company was going to fail.
Now, the Orabrush is everywhere. The little brushes are even available at retail juggernaut Walmart nationwide. And it was YouTube that made it all possible.
Orabrush spokesman Austin Craig recently spoke at the Small Business Summit 2012 in Manhattan. He described the process that his company went through to grab the attention of world's largest retailer, Walmart.
"We wanted Walmart," said Craig at the conference. "We tried every angle we could." The company's efforts make a good case study on how a small business can use social media to get spectacular results
"One Walmart manager called and said that he wanted to stock it," said Craig. "Then more managers on a tour … were so impressed by the display that they stocked it too."
Sales jumped. It was time to pitch the product to the corporate folks at Walmart headquarters.
But getting on the shelves at Walmart nationally is no easy task. Companies spend a lot of time and money building a relationship and meeting face-to-face, trying to convince Walmart buyers to carry their products.
Orabrush tried something else.
The brand does most of its marketing through social media, and the biggest part of its strategy involves YouTube videos. It produced its first video featuring Craig ranting about bad breath. It went viral, getting millions of views in weeks. That video has had nearly 17 million views.
The company embraced YouTube, and created a channel with lots more content. According to Craig, Orabrush now is the No. 3 sponsored channel on YouTube, behind only Old Spice and Apple.
Much of the content has little to do with the product. A comedy series features a guy named Morgan in a giant tongue suit.
So, what better way for Orabrush to get Walmart's attention than by doing what the brand does best? Funny videos.
Orabrush sent the Walmart buyer a video that was custom designed for Walmart executives, including their names. In the skit, the Orabrush Guy (who is Craig) and Morgan the Tongue poke fun at Walmart. The sketch makes a sales pitch using videos of customer reviews, YouTube commercials, press coverage and more.
Then Orabrush marketers put up a Facebook ad, called "Walmart Needs Me!" It declared that Walmart employees have bad breath, and that really got the retailer's attention.
Eventually, Walmart sent Orabrush a request. There was no phone call and no flying out to Arkansas.
"We never met face-to-face," said Craig. "We did the entire thing over e-mail."
Photo credit: YouTube/AllThatGlitters21