King of Shaves boss's cheeky approach to fundraising

King of Shaves boss Will King is raising a £5m marketing war-chest by selling bonds direct to customers.

Last Updated: 06 Nov 2012

Entrepreneur Will King, the man behind King of Shaves, has come up with a novel way to boost his marketing budget: he’s issuing 5,000 ‘Shaving Bonds’, priced at £1,000 each with an interest rate of 6%, and plans to spend the £5m proceeds entirely on marketing his brand. Selling bonds to raise money is hardly uncommon in the City, of course – but the difference in this case is that rather than selling them to institutional investors, he’s trying to flog them directly to customers via his website. And since this doubles as a neat little PR exercise, it’s a marketing double whammy...

King is offering punters the chance to ‘save and shave’ by buying up to five 3-year, non-transferable savings bonds, paying out a respectable (if not spectacular) 6% interest rate - at a time when the Bank of England has shaved the base rate to historic lows. ‘You simply won’t get that from most High Street banks, or the Back Street ones for that matter,’ King points out helpfully. And that’s not all: you’ll also get a ‘limited edition mirror finish’ certificate (we're guessing there'll be about, say, 5,000), plus a selection of free KoS products for the duration of the bond (so it might even pay for itself, if you’re particularly hirsute). The offer is open to all UK residents – including non-customers, says King. ‘Those with facial hair are also welcome to apply as are those who, for some reason, still use our rival brands.’

King is being very specific about what he’s going to do with this £5m – he says it will be used solely for marketing and promotional purposes, i.e. TV ads and online campaigns, and absolutely not to buy the directors ‘any form of luxury transportation, nor… any helipad maintenance or lavish pension schemes’. He argues that a lack of awareness is KoS’s biggest problem, so this will help him compete against the big boys like Gillette and Wilkinson Sword. ‘My word is my shaving bond,’ King insists, which sounds very nice even if we’re not entirely sure it makes sense.

It looks like a clever move by King, for several reasons. For one thing, he’s continuing to foster the idea of a little British entrepreneurial business taking on the big boys (a nice line, even if his company does do £20m in sales these days). From a marketing point of view, he’s not only building closer ties with his customers but also adding to his promotional budget at a time when many are cutting back (he founded his business in the early 1990s recession, so he clearly knows what he’s doing). And of course, he’s building this budget via a neat PR stunt, so he gets even more bang for his buck. It’s the kind of innovation that will help entrepreneurs stay ahead of the game…

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