DSCGoogle recently told one of the startups I advise, ZipFit, that they should consider adding a YouTube video ad to their online mix to increase their overall click through rate. That’s easy for Google to say, but ZipFit has almost no budget for marketing of any kind. However the ZipFit team figured that if Dollar Shave Club could throw together their hilarious viral video for what was surely only a few hundred dollars, then so could they.

ZipFit quickly enlisted a videographer friend to film their video for only $500 and they figured they were in business. I aided and abetted by connecting ZipFit with a friend of mine, an amazing Swiss Army Knife kind of guy (creative/director/producer), who is between jobs and who was game to accept $300 (plus some free jeans) for directing and script development. The final piece of the ZipFit plan was for someone from the team to star in the ads for free, just like Dollar Shave Club’s founder had done. Easy peasy, right?

First, let me say, that I would be ecstatic if ZipFit is able to pull this off for $800 + free merchandise. This would provide me with another fantastic example of scrappy, smart bootstrapped marketing. But I must admit to being a little skeptical.

So I Googled “Dollar Shave Club viral video ad cost.” What I learned both surprised and vindicated me. First, the surprise: Dollar Shave Club’s video was amazingly inexpensive. It cost only $4,500 instead of the tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars many professional videos cost (even the low budget ones).

While my corporate friends will be awed by the frugality of the $4,500 price tag, at almost 6x ZipFit’s budget, it is an astronomical sum to Z.

But, like I said, researching Dollar Shave Club’s video costs also left me feeling a wee bit vindicated because the $4,500 figure is a little misleading. It does not take into account two key factors in the creative/talent department.

1. “Free” Amateur Talent: Mike Dubin, Dollar Shave Club’s founder is no amateur. He studied both comedy writing and improv for TEN years. So yes, he was free talent, but in my experience most entrepreneurs are not trained comedians.

2. Thrown Together Script: As mentioned above, Mike Dubin is a trained in comedy writer. Even better, he has some pretty accomplished friends who were willing to help him for next to nothing. The spot’s director, Lucia Aniello, studied improv with Mike and has directed comedy shorts for the likes of Audi and the Emmy Awards.

Most entrepreneurial companies, including ZipFit, do not have access to that level of free talent.

The good news is that the objective for the ZipFit video is not to go viral and generate millions of views. Their goal is much simpler: to increase click throughs to their site. Google believes this is doable even with a less “extraordinary” video. For ZipFit, it was worth investing $800 to test this, and we’re all excited to see how it goes. If the video is successful, who knows, we may be able to generate enough revenue to invest in a more professional video. This would be similar to how Dollar Shave Club has now “graduated” to more conventionally placed TV ads.

The ZipFit video was posted to YouTube and Facebook the last week in January and, while the jury is still out on click rate, the video has already logged close to 15,000 views!