Check yourself before you wreck yourself...
That’s just a sample of the attention grabbing messages the Movember Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to helping men live healthier lives, wants you or your father, brother, or husband to take seriously and act on. The foundation raises money to prevent and stamp out, among other maladies, prostate and testicular cancer.
Why the crass language from a charity?
The jaw dropping messaging is aimed at getting men to drop their guards and their drawers to begin discussing a topic many do not; their health. Unless this silence is broken, men will likely continue neglecting their health, going undiagnosed, and dying earlier than women.
“Men just don’t talk about their health like they should,” Brooke Bastain, the Movember Foundation’s Head of Global Merchandise says. “If we can break the silence we can get men to do self-exams, go to the doctor more often, and save lives.”
Easier said than done though.
The strong and silent manly traditions that have formed over generations are often praised and rewarded. Overcoming this culture of silence, a life and death matter, will surely take more than daring messaging that garners a bit of laughter, right?
It’s why the foundation turned to its secret weapon: the moustache...
The Ultimate Conversation Starter
The idea was hatched, as co-founder Adam Garone tells it, in an Australian bar 13-years ago…
Garone, who would ultimately become Movember’s CEO, noticed the moustache had all but disappeared from Aussie fashion trends. To see if the ‘stache could be brought back and made popular again, Garone persuaded thirty friends to grow moustaches and gauge the reaction to them.
What happened next would ultimately transform an experiment among friends into a multi-million dollar charity that now spans the globe. Turns out moustaches are the ultimate conversation starters. When a guy who normally doesn’t wear a moustache walks into a bar suddenly sporting one, other guys won’t be able to resist asking him about it.
The Movember Foundation was born...
Rather than waste those conversations on small talk, Garone wondered if he might be able to use the moustache as an opportunity to coax men into talking about their health and ultimately save lives. To take the idea to the next level, Garone formed a small team, registered the foundation as a charity, and partnered with the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia to prompt potentially life saving conversations like this:
“Hey, what’s with the moustache, bro?”
“Oh, I’m growing it as part of a campaign to raise awareness and money to fight prostate cancer. You interested in helping, bro?”
Thirteen years later more than 5 million men in 21 countries worldwide grow moustaches every November, now known as Movember, and have raised more than $650 million the foundation has used to fund world class men’s health programs in four key areas:
- Prostate Cancer
- Testicular Cancer
- Mental Health
- Physical Inactivity
“For a girl in her thirties I sure do know a lot about moustaches and prostates,” Bastain, the foundation’s third employee in North America, says with a laugh. “The idea behind Movember is that we’re getting guys to change their faces so we can change the face of men’s health.”
Thanks to the friends, family members, and colleagues who have donated to moustache-growing loved ones, the foundation has funded more than 1,000 breakthrough men’s health programs around the world. “It’s just amazing when we hear from men we’ve helped,” Bastain says. “They’ll tell us they went to the doctor because of our outreach, found out they had cancer, but caught it in time to save themselves.”
Moustaches in November are life savers…
But what about the other eleven months?
Introducing Movember 2.0
“We used to be active just a few months out of the year,” Bastain says. “We really didn’t want such an important conversation to die at the end of November so we’re coming up with ways to focus attention on men’s health issues year round.”
Think of it as Movember 2.0.
To drive conversation the other 11-months of the year, Movember is not only coming up with creative ways to get men to talk about cancer but also began funding projects that promote mental health and active lifestyles:
- The foundation sponsored a project designed to help Canadian war veterans address the depression and suicidal thoughts associated post traumatic stress by hand crafting a tribute pole in honor of fellow service members who died in Afghanistan
Image via: Movember
- The foundation also supports the MOVE campaign which urges women to help the men they love become healthier by leading more active lives and finding new ways to encourage physical activity to reduce the impact of increasingly sedentary lifestyles
You can also expect to see the Movember Foundation front and center at functions such as:
- World Cancer Day
- Testicular Cancer Awareness Month
- Suicide Prevention Day
- Men’s Health Week
“We’re giving men permission to open up year round” Bastain says proudly. “It’s just an exciting time especially when you consider that last year when we started addressing mental health many men came forward and told us they were battling depression but had never told anyone until we came along.”
The foundation’s achievements are far beyond what was imagined in that Australian bar more than a decade ago; men are talking about their health like never before and lives are undoubtedly being saved.
But it just wasn’t enough for a team this focused...
Ecommerce Fuels Social Change
“I can’t imagine not being on it,” Bastain says of Shopify Plus, an enterprise ecommerce platform for high volume merchants.
The idea behind creating an ecommerce store was to build on the success of the Movember movement and develop a brand the foundation could use to sell items that would extend its reach and further impact men’s health issues for the better. The Movember Collection, which includes t-shirts, hoodies, and hats, is sparking conversations outside of November and among men without moustaches:
Image via: Movember
“The ecommerce store is actually helping us build an aspirational brand with cool items people actually want to wear,” Bastain says. “The hats and shirts are starting conversations year round and exposing our brand to people who previously hadn’t heard of Movember.”
The proof is in the numbers…
Movember’s ecommerce store is performing at a level that could make even the best digital marketer blush:
- A U.S. conversion rate of 15.6% vs 4.6% prior to switching
- A U.K. conversion rate of 17.6%
- 43,000 web site visitors vs. 9,000 prior to switching to Shopify Plus
Sales are equally impressive and the Movember Foundation credits the switch to Shopify Plus with much of its ecommerce success.
“We have absolutely ridiculous conversion rates,” Bastain says proudly. “This is the first year the site has been successful and the only thing that changed between this year and last is the switch to Shopify Plus,” Bastain boasts.
Even better, expect the ecommerce store to make next November even bigger for the Movember movement. Bastain and the team identified thousands of ecommerce customers who were not in the foundation’s original database. It means the store is introducing the Movember brand to people who may be interested in growing moustaches and raising money for the foundation next year.
A New Member of the Team
“Thank goodness for Doug,” Bastain says of Doug Crowe, Movember’s Shopify Plus account manager. “Doug has helped us out so much he has become a member of our team.”
Despite the success, Movember’s ecommerce future wasn’t always as certain...
“It all landed in my lap,” Bastain remembers of the budding ecommerce store Movember had prior to switching to Shopify Plus. The developer on whom Movember relied to maintain the original site left the foundation in 2014. With a background in retail, Bastain was the default choice to be Movember’s new ecommerce chief.
“I don’t have a design background,” Bastain admits. “And I can’t code web sites or do the technical work that our designer used to do.”
However, that was before Bastain connected with Crowe…
During Movember’s transition to Shopify Plus Crowe noticed the foundation was using the wrong web site theme. After suggesting a new theme, Crowe provided Bastain with a 30-minute explainer on how to install it.
“The site basically built itself,” Bastain says. “In about six hours I changed over the theme all on my own and I can edit it whenever I want which is so much faster than waiting for a developer to make changes to a custom site theme.”
The Movember Foundation prides itself on customer service so it takes a lot to impress Bastain and the team. The one-on-one support Crowe delivers is timely and actionable. But so too is the live chat feature that impressed Bastain. “It’s instant which is fantastic,” she says.
Within thirty seconds, Bastain says, the instant chat feature provides answers to platform questions and valuable suggestions to make the Movember site perform even better. “The support staff actually said they were looking over our store and wanted to suggest some applications that might work well for us,” Bastain says.
One app that helps the Movember Foundation save time and focus more attention on its charitable mission is the Xporter app which allows merchants to automatically export ecommerce store data in customizable spreadsheets. Prior to integrating Xporter, Bastain would manually pull reports to send to the foundation’s fulfillment center.
The process was time consuming and less efficient.
“But now we don’t worry about anything because Xporter does everything automatically and sends the reports by 5 A.M. including weekends,” Bastain says. “It’s my favorite app.”
Charity + Ecommerce = A Bright Future For Men’s Health
The Movember Foundation’s ecommerce future is bright.
It’s already adding new products to the store and brainstorming more.
Want a sneak peak?
This April, which is Testicular Cancer Awareness Month, the foundation plans to begin offering boxer shorts with one of its signature messages printed on the inside of the fly; Check yourself before you wreck yourself!
It’s a message designed to piggyback off of the success of similar messages such as; Let the doctor touch it!
“It’s so exciting to release new stuff this year,” Bastain says. “We definitely want to expand the line to include mugs, golf shirts, and related items.”
Just in case you’re worried the foundation might one day lose its edge, it has one more attention-grabbing ecommerce product set to launch during testicular cancer awareness month; soap on a rope that’s shaped as a pair of testicles.
“The best place for men to check themselves is in the shower and we think soap on a rope will be a good reminder,” Bastain says. “Your testicles ought to feel just like the soap does and if they don’t, that means you should go to the doctor and get checked.”
About The Author
Nick Winkler is a contributor to the Shopify Plus blog. He helps individuals & organizations generate new leads, make more money, and ignite growth with story. Get more from Nick here.