My First Experience with the “Razor and Blades” Business Model

When I turned 18, I had to register for the “Selective Service.”

This is the case for all males in the U.S.  And it’s just a fancy way of saying I had to provide information to the government so it could track me down in a worst-case scenario: a reinstatement of the draft.

Shortly afterward, I received a package in the mail.

It was from Gillette.

I found a brand-new, sleek “Mach 3” razor inside.  It looked like a spaceship compared to the disposables I’d been using.

And it was completely free.

What’s the catch?  I thought.  Why would a company give something away when it would cost me 20 bucks to buy it at the store?

Not finding any strings attached, I ran up to my bathroom and tried it out before the mailman returned to tell me he’d gotten the wrong address.

He never came… and I really liked the razor.

About a week later, the razor began to get dull.  I missed that smooth shave I got the first time I tried the Mach 3.

That’s when I began to understand the genius in Gillette’s strategy:

Give away something valuable for free… something valuable enough to make the recipients almost feel guilty for using it.

Load it up with one cartridge.

And charge a fortune for replacements after you have the prospects nice and hooked.

The genius of Gillette's strategy... and the culprit that cost me hundreds of dollars.

The genius of Gillette’s strategy… and the culprit that cost me hundreds of dollars.

It was a business lesson that’s stuck with me over the years.  Every time I threw away an old cartridge and replaced it, it stung a little.

I ended up spending hundreds and hundreds of dollars on those things.

The real genius in it: I wouldn’t have given the Mach 3 a chance if I didn’t receive that freebie that got the ball rolling.

There’s literally no downside to doing this, even if you’re just starting up your business.  Giving away something valuable: 

  • Sends a powerful message that you’re confident enough in your product/service to offer people a taste of what you’re all about
  • Builds your credibility as an expert in your niche
  • Is a great way to build a list of prospects to continue pitching to later
  • Helps people understand your unique value in a no-pressure, risk-free way

I’m of the firm belief that you should try to “give something away” in every communication with your prospects.

Since I like to put my money where my mouth is, make sure to download a copy of my free 26-page “Secrets of an Advertising Casanova” Report if you haven’t do so already.  It’s a crash-course for people looking for actionable advice to write better ads.  There are opt-in forms in the feature box, sidebar, and footer… just enter your email to grab your copy.

Are you offering people value in every ad you write?  Every email you send?  Just for reading them?  It might not be obvious to you, but you do have something to offer people for free.  Do it right, and you can take your business to the next level.

Need help?  Get in touch and let’s talk about how I can help.

You can’t afford not to give a little if you want to thrive.

Start today.

P.S. The reason I mentioned the selective service is I think Gillette must’ve been renting a list from the U.S. government!  The exact same thing happened to a lot of my high school friends.  They signed up for the service around their 18th birthdays and got the package a few weeks later.  I wonder if Gillette is still doing this now?