How to Create a Video Ad That Goes Viral and Sells Like Crazy

When it comes to video advertising, there is perhaps no agency more heralded than the Harmon Brothers. They’re behind some of the most viral video ads of all time: Squatty Potty, Purple, PooPourri, FiberFix, and the list goes on. They are famous for not just making humorous videos that go viral, but videos engineered to take people from awareness to buyers in just the few minutes the video is playing.
Daniel Harmon, Chief Creative Officer of the Harmon Brothers, joined me on the podcast this week to talk about how to create videos that are specifically engineered for sales.
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Introduction: (00:04)
You’re listening to the video marketing podcast, helping you go a little more viral every day. Here’s your host, Matt Johnston.

Matt Johnston: (00:14)
Hey, welcome everybody to the video marketing podcast. I’m Matt Johnson. So excited about the show today. I talk a lot about viral video and how to make virality happen, but also how to actually turn that viralocity into revenue for your business, right? We don’t just want people to watch, we want them to convert down your funnel, right? And so I have one of what I consider to be the masters, uh, Daniel Harmon here. Uh, Danielle, if you don’t know Harmon in the Harmon brothers, um, I don’t know. You should. Uh, he’s, he’s co founder and chief creative officer of the brothers. Um, and uh, they, they’ve made some of the most viral ads in internet history. Uh, they’ve driven more than a billion views and $350 million in sales. You’ve all seen Squatty potty probably. Uh, you’ve all seen purple. And I’m proud to say that I have made a purchase from purple from that video.

Daniel Harmon: (01:07)
Thanks dude. Hadn’t heard of you before. Now it’s, I’ve realized you were just engineered to take my money, which is great, very happy, still using it today. Uh, Chatbooks, uh, which is a favorite of mine actually as a parent. Uh, FiberFix in Poopourri great stuff. Obviously they’re known for, for for humor. Uh, and, and having that work its way into virality. Uh, and also hosting creative teacher at Harmon brothers university. You guys have a lot of really awesome courses and we can talk about that later on, uh, as well. Cause there’s, I’m sure there’s a ton of value there. Um, as well as a, as well as a podcast, right. Poop to gold podcast, same title as the book.

Daniel Harmon: (01:44)
Yes, same title as the book.

Matt Johnston: (01:47)
Love it. Okay. So thanks so much for joining me. We are here to talk about, uh, really why your stuff has been viral because it’s one thing to get a lot of views. It’s another thing to get a lot of people sharing those views, which is something that I like to talk about a lot, right? Like, what is the thing that actually makes people take that action that says, I don’t just want to consume this and buy this stuff, but I want other people to consume this and buy this stuff. Um, so I like to just jump right into the value here, right? Like, so just, just tell me and you, you, you can take an example if you want, but when you’re approaching a new project, what is the core question that you ask yourself when you’re trying to figure out the editorial focus?

Daniel Harmon: (02:32)
The core question we asked, we asked ourselves is what sells me on this product? We start very much with that of like, if I’m sold on this, then it’s going to sell other people on it. And we don’t start with vitality in mind. Um, most of our clients come to us asking for a viral video campaign. And one of the first things we say to them is, you know, you probably want to go for viral. Let’s make it good enough that it doesn’t have to be viral by reality isn’t something you can necessarily control. And it is a flash in the pan. It’s not sustained growth over time. If we start with the fundamentals of the sale itself, what, what is going to sell me on it? And then we feel like if the S if the sell is sound, if that is very convincing in and of itself, then all of the branding and the comedy and the different things that we add to it are actually amplified because people will, we’ll share more quickly a clear message.

Daniel Harmon: (03:41)
Also, they ultimately, it needs to resonate with them in some way emotionally and that’s where a lot of the comedy comes in. And um, but it really does start with the foundation of a great sell around here. We always say sales first, art second, um, it is a close second, but that, that is what, that’s what it starts with is the sale. If the sale is really good, then as you put money behind that and you can predictably get money back, you know, we’re going to spend a dollar on Facebook and we know a dollar 50 is coming back for $2 or whatever it is. Then you have kind of a perpetual marketing machine and I’m a fly will an engine that can keep driving and then the shares come and then the reactions come and the comments and all that stuff come along for the ride and assist in the campaign, but it’s not based on them, if that makes sense.

Matt Johnston: (04:29)
It does. Yeah. I’m really interested in digging into this emotional resonance idea. Um,

Matt Johnston: (04:36)
how do you [inaudible]

Matt Johnston: (04:38)
pinpoint what will emotionally resonate when you’re approaching a, I assume you know it’s there. There’s a, there’s a few things at play, right? It’s not just the product. In fact, the product is second. It’s really the persona of the buyer, right? So like, who is, who’s the audience, what do they care about? And then how are you going to emotionally resonate with them? How do you tackle that problem?

Daniel Harmon: (05:01)
So generally we tackle it first and foremost by trying to become the customer ourselves. So when a client approaches us and they say, Hey, we want to partner up on a campaign, the first step is always, okay, well let’s, let’s dive into your product. Let’s experience your product or service ourselves. And then we can have those kinds of key insights of what it’s like to be a customer of what that sort of tipping point or that aha moment is of like, Oh, I get it. That’s why this is so valuable. That’s why this is, this is going to make my life so much better. And so, um, that, that’s very much the starting point is putting yourself in the shoes of the demographic so that you can kind of understand more of where they’re coming from, what’s going to be relatable to them. It, as far as I’m understanding, the pain of the problem of, of capturing that frustration in a way that’s extremely relatable and then how to provide the, the product or the server service as that, um, as an elegant solution to it.

Daniel Harmon: (06:03)
So, um, if you haven’t ever read the book, um, the user method, I highly recommend it. Um, it talks in there about how somebody’s great entrepreneurs have come up with fantastic inventions. Not really, cause they were actually trying to go out and solve any kind of problem in the marketplace as much as they were just trying to solve a problem for themselves. And they ended up coming up with a product or a service that would do that for them. And then by extension, that ends up solving our problem for a whole bunch of other people that they’re going to represent a much larger demographic as a whole. And then it can be extended out to a much larger, larger market. And, and we actually feel like, um, products or services that work are very similar to key messages that work in that same way that you really kind of start with, okay, does this, does this make sense to me? Does this solve it for me? And all, we always, you’re checking that against other people, you know, um, like it’s people within the demographic. Um, especially like for example, the products for a mom. And, and I’m not a mom, I am a dad, but still, I, I have, I’m married to a mom that is going to have insights on that and I’ll ask her about those things. But I’m rambling now so you can take over.

Matt Johnston: (07:19)
Yeah, mate. Actually, one of the things that I was thinking about there was a, I thought about the fiber fix video. Uh, but it actually reminds me, my, my mother, you know, she, she, she, she had, she was high stress at times and, and she would always, they was like a to do, to go places, right? So she would say, you know, like, Oh, first I got to get first I got a w. okay, so I’ve got to go pick them up. Okay. So first I got, Oh, I gotta go, I gotta walk out my front door. Then I have to go down my steps, then I have to walk down my walkway. Then I got to take a left just to get to my driveway. I walk on my driveway and get to my door handle. I pull the door handle, then I gotta open the door.

Matt Johnston: (07:57)
Then I got to sit in my seat. Then I got to start the car like it’s this laundry list of items and it actually, it made me very, when I was watching the FiberFix video, it’s very silly, but that’s like a pain point for her. Right? Like if you talked to her about that moment, that moment would emotionally resonate for her. She would automatically feel this frustration and exhaustion of this moment, right? Yeah. You could sell her a service that would solve that problem. And the fiber fix thing made me think about that, where he’s just going on and on about having to go back to the hardware store to get stuff. Then that doesn’t fit. Then he goes back and then he tries it again and that doesn’t fit. Then he tries this and that doesn’t work. And then finally it made me think the same thing. And I think in a way you’re probably thinking very much about the advertising yet. These are ways of describing pain points and spring emotional resonance through comedy, right?

Daniel Harmon: (08:45)
Yeah. So it, it is, it’s very much written from a place of reality. And when you go to that, like you said, it has that relate-ability there. I put the up post up on LinkedIn the other day describing some of the inspiration behind the moment and the chapbooks video where she says, Jeffrey get off the roof. And then her son goes ahead and he jumps off the roof with an umbrella in hand trying to parachute down. That was actually born that it was born out of inspiration from my childhood where I jumped off my own roof using a bed sheet as a, as a parachute. And it did not work at all. I just thought right on the ground, you know, practically knocked my air out. Um, but that, that’s what that moment was kind of born out of in the same thing for that sequence and fiber where it’s describing very clearly that nuisance problem of having your Saturday sucked up by trying to chase around chase around different parts that you’re trying to, you know, fix a thing in the house for the yard and you’d go and all of this is the right part and no it’s not.

Daniel Harmon: (09:44)
And you’d go back and forth and rather than just having something in the garage that you can pull out, you know, wrap it up with FiberFix and boom, you’re done, and not have to worry about all that. Yeah, it was very much, um, born I think out of a real frustration, at least like you said, I, I relate with it. I don’t particularly care for going to the store at all. I’d much rather pick up something on Amazon, you know, then then try to run over to home Depot or something like that. And, um, yeah, that’s, I, I think that resonates for a lot of people. [inaudible]

Matt Johnston: (10:17)
it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s interesting. [inaudible] excuse me. It’s, it’s, it’s interesting because we often see in direct response advertising and even in video form these days, especially as a, you know, you just have a lot of direct response advertising, uh, advertising happening on, uh, the social channels, Facebook, Instagram, et cetera. And it’s very raw format. So you’re seeing a lot of people sort of describe these pain points in very clear terms. Right. So I’m what I’m, what I’m sort of interested to get your take on is what you think the emotional power or even just the, the, the advertising power is of the way that you tackle these pain points in this video content versus someone. I mean, because you could have done the fiber fix video by simply having them relay the same pain points in a different way, right? I mean, you could have easily just had somebody say, uh, you know, Hey, are you sick of going to the hardware store and wasting your Saturday away getting all this stuff to fix your sink when all you really want to do is go home and watch football? Listen, I’ve got like, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. It’s the same pain point. But what do you think is the difference between the way that you’re able to deliver it through this video format?

Daniel Harmon: (11:28)
It’s just storytelling at the end of the day. Um, rather than just communicating a message, um, straight forward and clear clearly. Um, it’s incorporating elements of character development and world-building and branding and storytelling. And so much of that for us comes down to comedy. A comedy is a fantastic tool in that it makes the boring interesting. It makes the controversial safe and then it also, um, makes your brand memorable and shareable. And I’d add to that, it’s a really good comedy is a great tool or canvas to paint with when you’re trying to make something that’s really complicated, simple. The comedy itself doesn’t usually actually make the thing simple. You have to think of different analogies or different ways to clarify things. But using comedy keeps people’s interest long enough for you to get through that complex description and in order to simplify it for people. And so, um, so much of what we’ve tried to do is entertain people and make stuff may make, make things stick in their head so that in the event that they don’t become a buyer right there on the spot with their video.

Daniel Harmon: (12:44)
We designed our videos very much to take people from zero exposure to the product to sold by the end of like, you know, two minutes, three minutes, whatever it is, zero to sold. And in three minutes let’s say. And um, but for those that don’t, we want that to resonate emotionally in the storytelling elements so that then as they’re walking through home Depot or Lowe’s, um, or a hardware store of any kind and they come across FiberFix, they’re like, Oh yeah, I remember that stuff that had that funny, that funny ad with the, with the guy, you know, the manly man in the mustache and all that kind of stuff. And then, um, it’s the same thing for Squatty potty, right? That you obviously was tremendously successful online, but then also there was a huge uptick in retail. I mean, when the, when the campaign launch, I think there was something along the lines of like a, a jump in like 400% or something in the, in the sales and bed bath and beyond.

Daniel Harmon: (13:39)
Um, and so that, that is, um, the power of having branding and not just not just going, like you say directly to the sale and only the sale. But if your, all you’re doing is asking something from a customer without giving them something back, which in this case I think would be branding, entertainment, comedy, all those kinds of things, then then people can kind of tune out and it’s not something that they’ll, if they don’t feel compelled enough to pull the trigger on solving, solving the problem right then and there, then they won’t necessarily remember it as a brand later on.

Matt Johnston: (14:17)
Yeah, it’s a really, it’s, I’m glad that, I’m glad that you mentioned it. I think it’s an important thing to say because there’s a bit of a, at least as I’ve, as I’ve sort of noticed, is that there’s a bit of a, uh, what’s the word I’m looking for? You know, short, short attention span with this kind of, uh, with this, uh, from the, from the advertising side, at times you have this platform, these, these platforms that allow you to run advertising where it’s like, Hey, I can just spend $1 and make $3. I’ll just repeat this over and over and over. But they’re not willing to play the long game because they’re just looking at that return. Um, but storytelling is the way to play the long game.

Daniel Harmon: (14:54)
Yes. Immediately. Yeah, very much so. That is the way to think about it is that, um, I think Ryan dice once said, it’s like if you’re always asking for the sale, always [inaudible] never like adding anything of value back. Like with that storytelling then ultimately it’s like constantly, um, it’s like constantly withdrawing from the bank account without ever making deposits back into it and people just get tired of it and you won’t be a long lasting brand over time. I mean, just imagine all of Nike’s ads or Apple’s ads all being buy-now ads. Like how would those be longterm trusted brands. So Snuggie Snuggie fell into this, I think a little bit of this trap where they were very successful with their direct sales and in their messaging about it solves a real problem for people, right. To be able to wear this blanket slash hoodie thing while you’re watching a movie or doing whatever it is you were doing.

Matt Johnston: (15:58)
Yup. People really liked that. But then they never really built the brand above and beyond just the straightforward problems and solution it solved. And so they kind of faded it a little bit into obscurity, right, where they haven’t built this beloved brand over time. Like someone like Nike or Apple or, or you know, Ford or red bull or any number of others that have done so because they just kept bleeding into just this whole thing of like by now and if you’re not interested, Oh well. Rather than really trying to capture their, capture people’s imagination and attention with a brand and emotionally, emotionally resonate even above and beyond what the product itself could do for them.

Matt Johnston: (16:47)
I think this is really good advice. Uh, for other, if any marketers are listening, I’m sure, I’m sure there’s plenty of them. Um, to not be afraid to step into the shoes of the customer avatar. Um, just to have a real sense of what the pain points are. I think if there’s anything that we get lazy on, and I’m speaking from experience here, it’s really understanding who the customer is and what they care about. Cause that’s where you build yours. That’s what you build your stories around, right?

Daniel Harmon: (17:18)
Yes. Um, in fact, that’s one of the things we focus on very heavily in one of our Harmon brothers university university courses. Um, it’s a, it’s a 14 day writing challenge and um, is how much you need to, how much time you need to spend getting to know your customer. And for us personally, nothing replaces going and just talking to people that are in the demographic and getting insights in that way from them as opposed to trying to just do everything behind your computer. Just the more you can do to put in those shoes. I think, um, the internet has made us, it’s made us extremely powerful and also very lazy with doing some of the work that matters. And, and some of the best insights you can get are just going out into the real world, experiencing the product for yourself and, and talking to real people about their problems and their issues and, and, and things that they like and the insights that they can give. [inaudible].

Matt Johnston: (18:16)
So what’s the biggest challenge that you face? Usually when you hit one of these campaigns, I mean these are big, these are usually pretty big campaigns. I mean it’s, it’s very high production value. So a lot goes into the preproduction process obviously. Um, and uh, and then you get to production and uh, there, there’s obviously a lot of moving pieces and you’re dealing with clients and those of us that work with clients all know that that can be a thing. So what would you say are the biggest challenges, uh, creatively, not creatively or whatever that you tend to hit in these campaigns and how do you overcome them?

Daniel Harmon: (18:54)
Luckily for us, one of the challenges that we don’t face as much it was when it comes to create a control, we set that expectation pretty properly up front with the client that they’re looking to just hire us as a production company and they’re not looking for us to do something that they can’t do themselves, but just to do whatever they’re asking. Then that, that’s just not a good partnership from the beginning. And so that’s not the one that we struggle with as much as sometimes some of the biggest struggles come from, um, the client not knowing their customer or their market well enough themselves. Um, and so kind of assuming that and maybe getting into, um, a bigger campaign and maybe we get it right. Maybe we don’t, you know, I mean, luckily for us, most of the time we have got it right.

Daniel Harmon: (19:40)
We’ve been able to get to the bottom of that, but we’re very much more of a scale it company rather than nailing it. And if the, if the client hasn’t nailed it themselves, we have entered into a couple of those partnerships where it just didn’t go much of anywhere because they didn’t have their product or service really quite nailed down yet. They didn’t know exactly who they were talking to. They didn’t, they didn’t in some cases, didn’t even have a product that worked well enough for it, for any customer to like justify putting the marketing behind it. So that’s one of the biggest, um, that’s one of the biggest obstacles that we’ve, we’ve had overcoming than the other one is just again, people coming in with too high of expectations, right? They’re seeing the success of Squatty potty. They seen that they’ve seen the success of purple, they’ve seen the success of FiberFix and Chatbooks and so on Lumi and all these that are kind of home run type campaigns and they come in with like, okay, I’m, let’s knock it out of the park.

Daniel Harmon: (20:40)
It’s like, well, let’s just get on base. Let’s just focus on getting on base. That’s, that’s, that’s a great thing. If we get a double awesome, we get a triple even better, you know, if we get a home run, fantastic. But getting on base you to realize that that’s a huge achievement in and of itself with any kind of a marketing campaign. Right? And so, um, that, that’s a little bit of the adjusting of expectations is even some of those campaigns in the past were done in a different social media environment than we have now. Where by reality was allowed to spread a lot more than it is now, where Facebook and all the algorithms and stuff are favoring the paid media as opposed to people just sharing it like wild. Like if all, if all videos could just go viral over the internet all the time, then it kind of ruins Facebook’s business model, right. Or any of their business models that ultimately at the end of the day, they need advertisers to pay for eyeballs. So

Matt Johnston: (21:34)
dude, I’m, I’m curious, do you ever make alternate versions or alternate pieces of the video based on the data you see coming back and then make swaps?

Daniel Harmon: (21:43)
All the time happens all the time. Um, people get really hung up on like, Oh, we’re, this video is launching, this is it. It’s like, well, it might be for like a week or two and then we might switch over to something that works much better. Um, but yeah, we have different cuts of the video. Uh, we’ll test different openings. Like different hook. Yeah, different openings. The first three to five seconds or, or hooks are, are, are some of the most crucial because if, again, it has to hook or grab your audience’s attention right off the bat. And so we play with those all the time. Yeah. It happens. It’s very rare. It’s a, it’s a very different, um, media landscape than it was even when we launched the, when we launched Squatty potty, where so many of you went to one video and now it’s much more across a campaign of a whole bunch of different assets built around that central story, that central branding, that central character.

Matt Johnston: (22:35)
Right, right, right. Yeah, that makes sense. Yeah. I mean, and, and you have to plan this stuff in pre-production, I think is one of the important things I always sort of have preached that you have to be thinking about the finished product when you shoot. Otherwise you’re kind of like, you hit this point where you’re like, Oh, well we have to pivot this part. Well, you’re like, well, I don’t have that [inaudible]

Matt Johnston: (22:55)
and you’re like, no, very much though. Here’s another thousand dollars. Yeah. Right. We’re always shooting more than we ended up needing. Um, just as a general rule because we’re really committed to quality and also because we want to give ourselves options when it comes to the testing. Um, that’s, that’s really important to us. And so the clients, um, kind of know that going in that that’s going to be the case.

Matt Johnston: (23:21)
What do you feel like is the biggest mistake you’ve made that you [inaudible]

Matt Johnston: (23:28)
biggest mistake we’ve made that we’ve learned from, but I would say again, one of the bigger, just coming back to one of the biggest challenges that we have is just taking on clients too early where they haven’t necessarily nailed everything. We’re not, we’re not necessarily in, um, there are like some small accepts exceptions to the rule, but we’re not necessarily in the business of helping clients nailed their product or their service. They kind of need to do that themselves and then they need to come to us when they need to really scale, scale up. And so taking, taking clients on too early without them having, um, enough momentum has, has burned us, um, a few times in the past. And I’d say that’s one of the biggest, um, the biggest mistakes we’ve made is getting in the hammered with a concept rather than an actual finished product. And, um, yeah, that’s, that’s, that’s been one that, uh, if I, you know, could have a time machine and go backwards, there’s a couple of those. I, I, I’d avoid that we took on in the past.

Daniel Harmon: (24:38)
No, same here, especially early, early in the career. You’re just like, you’re, you’re, you’re looking to bring things in and you’re saying, okay, well I can see this for myself, but if the company doesn’t see it for their, yeah, I understand that. And of course this happens a lot. Um, I mean, I’ve, I’ve been in video all my life too, and I’ve often had somebody come to me for video concept type stuff, right? And so there’s one side, there’s the client, the client’s desires, which are based on something that may not even be sales oriented. It’s something they saw or whatever. Like, can you re can you do this? And then it’s very easy to go down this path and say, Oh yes, I can make the next dollar shave club ad or something like that. And then, yeah, and then you end up in this incongruities because at the end of the day, emotional resonance can come in many forms.

Daniel Harmon: (25:23)
It doesn’t need to come in a $30,000 production video. Right. It just, it’s much more about the writing. I always preach this, it’s the editorial, it’s the edits, the writing, right? It’s the, it’s so much more than the production value. So how did you, how did it start? I mean, you know, was it just Warner brothers took off? Well it was, was it just sort of one video that took off and all of a sudden it became like this big agency or how did you, how did you get your, get into the point where you could say, okay, like we’re a real business that’s cooking with it right now from the entrepreneurial realm.

Daniel Harmon: (25:59)
So it started with oral brush, which was a tongue cleaner for bad breath. We, my brothers, we’re co founders of that company. They created a video that has I think over 25 million views to this day on YouTube that to tell how to tell, uh, how to tell if you have bad breath and this tongue clean and the oral brush. Um, from the success of this video, it was the first ever video on YouTube where you could predictably spend a dollar behind it and do your, we’re getting more than a dollar back. It was the first one that PR proved out that business model and YouTube used it all over the place to, you know, go to pitch, pitch places like Pepsi and like forward and these different companies. And um, from the success that we had there at aura brush on my, my brothers brought me on later, um, to make a bunch of video content with or brush.

Daniel Harmon: (26:53)
And I was the art director that there and over the course of two years we made over a hundred different videos for our brushes. It was a crazy weekly release schedule. And, um, the, the CEO of Cooper, he reached out to my brother, Jeffrey, um, for a campaign cause he, she’d seen the success of the orb brush campaign is like, I need that done for, I need that done for my product for Cooper RI. We ended up resigning from aura brush to do the Poopourri campaign and then it launched and kind of blew up and started getting shared all over the place. And the decision to actually, um, we needed a place to put the money for the pooper campaign. We needed a business entity. And so it was like a midnight kind of decision where my brother’s on the phone together. Like, what are we going to call this thing?

Daniel Harmon: (27:39)
We’re like, Oh, I dunno, let’s just call it Harmon brothers LLC and then we’ll, we’ll change it later if we need to. And that was, that was the naming yeah, we’re, we’re branding guys and this is how it happens. Right. So, um, anyway, uh, like the name just ended up sticking because the press started citing, um, in the footnotes and stuff of the pooper campaign, creative agency, harm brothers. And we were like, we were just around my, my brother’s kitchen table when we launched this thing and looking back and forth at each other, just being like, are we an agency? I guess we’re an agency. I mean, we did like some work for a client. I guess that makes us an agency. W I mean we weren’t thinking in terms of like building it up big or anything like that. And from there we had a number of like small little videos that we did for people and um, it wasn’t until Squatty potty where we took that model and we’re able to really truly replicate it in a way that mattered.

Daniel Harmon: (28:42)
Um, and that’s when all the leads really started coming in as Erwin Squatty potty blew up then it was kinda almost no turning back at that point. Like we were an agency that we were doing a ton of client work. I mean from there we got, you know, purple and Chatbooks and fiber fix and camp chef and on and on. Um, it went and um, that’s, that’s kinda the way it started. The name, the name was very much on accident. And if we were to go back and do it all over again, we probably would’ve named it something different. It works, right? People are, it like it connected with it. Like it’s, it’s, it’s found its way into, you know, um, marketing branding at this point and stuff. But yeah, it at the end of the day it was accidental.

Daniel Harmon: (29:28)
Yeah. There’s, there’s, there’s no turning back now. Yeah. I think I, and I, I want to sort of end on a,

Matt Johnston: (29:38)
I always like to give as much value as possible. We can. Right. So you

Matt Johnston: (29:41)
mentioned this model. I want to get into this, dig into this model just a little bit here. So you guys, I mean, when you, when you see a Harmon brothers video and someone who wants to replicate some sort of success in some way or the, or learn from it, right? They’re trying to learn from others saying, okay, how can I bring what made this successful? The core concepts that made this successful into my business and my video. You know, I can’t afford to have some big agency do it or whatever. Um, and they could get daunted by it because, you know, literally there was, I remember I was watching the FiberFix video the other day and I was like, okay, yeah, okay, all right. Yeah, I could see it. And then all of a sudden like these two fricking cars get destroyed rolling down a Hill. And I’m like, all right, this is a high budget, a high budget thing here. Um, so I, I think it’s kind of easy to get intimidated by that. However, I don’t mean to put words in your mouth, but I’m guessing you would say that the core thing that makes all of these successful is sort of more universal, more repeatable than you might think. Um, if you would agree with that or in some way, what would you say are the core principles that make these videos successful? And how would you approach that if you’re someone in the audience?

Daniel Harmon: (31:00)
Having a solid, clear sale is first and foremost that if you confuse your customer, they won’t buy. That’s always the case. The confused customer never buys. So at the end of the day, get rid of all the [inaudible]

Matt Johnston: (31:14)
too. And we know the problem it solves, right? Yes,

Daniel Harmon: (31:16)
that’s right. Given you get rid of all the crazy like production value and the, you know, the multi hundred thousand dollar budgets and all this kind of stuff and let’s boil it down to something that you can literally shoot with your iPhone and you’re going to be just fine. The ultimately if you get the cell right and you don’t get distracted too much by that other stuff, then that is the bet. That is the better starting point is understanding the fundamentals of the cell to understand from, from our perspective, we learned to do cells face to face over the phone, all that kind of stuff. Long before we learned to do it for online video, I was doing this door to door. My brother and I sold potatoes from Idaho, from our uncles farm in Idaho, and we bring them down to Utah and he’s 50 pound boxes and load them up to the point that we blew the tires on this big van that we had and everything.

Daniel Harmon: (32:09)
And Joe drove and bam, went door to door and sold them just like, and we had a basic pitch where we would say, um, we are selling these potatoes from, we brought these a load of fresh out of potatoes from my uncle’s farm in Idaho, selling them earned money for college to pay for a mission for our church. Do you want to buy some potatoes? It was very simple and um, people are buying. So we learned a lot about sales then and when we did it later, um, we became a salesman for alarm set sales. Like so for ADT security systems within ADT, authorized dealer, um, clear back in the day. And so we learned about overcoming objections and setting up a problem and a solution and, and, and doing all that kind of stuff. And so we learned so much of the good sales principles long before we were ever applying it to any kind of advertising and branding and, and storytelling and video in that way. So [inaudible]

Daniel Harmon: (33:07)
so the first thing you’re doing is laying out clearly here, here’s the product, here’s the problem that solves here. All of the main objections and here are all the main pain points that it solves. And having those be totally in a land [inaudible]

Daniel Harmon: (33:23)
that’s, that’s, that’s very much the starting point. That’s very much what we coach our riders on doing is if you get that solid foundation of the cell in place, then the creative concept and the kind of character you build around and the branding and stuff that will flow more naturally into it rather than trying to force it the other way around.

Matt Johnston: (33:44)
I think, uh, I like that you mentioned character and we’ve talked about storytelling a little bit in here. This is something that I come across. A lot of times I’ll talk about it. I’ll say, I’ll say, Oh yeah, this is a storytelling or whatever. And somebody a big okay is storytelling the kind of thing that you can describe. And I think this is like what is storytelling? Oh, just do storytelling. Just tell a story. Okay. So how, how do you approach this, and I’m guessing character is at the center of this, right? Is there a certain character, do you, do you look to first identify a hero type character that you can build some sort of narrative around? What are you looking for in that structure?

Daniel Harmon: (34:20)
Yeah, so with storytelling, I think a lot of it comes down to having an arc. And what I mean by an arc is that you have kind of a beginning state for a character that then goes to an end state where they’ve overcome some sort of a problem. They’ve transcended in some, some sort of way. They’ve, they’ve, um, they’ve, uh, trans transformed that. That’s what people want in story is, is that someone goes along a path of progress in some way. Now that fits very nicely into the idea of direct sells in that you have a problem and a solution. And then when that is, when someone is encountering this problem and they’ve got the solution, then they’ve, they’ve transformed in some way. Right. Um, but yes, character, character is a big part of it. And we try to, we try, we try to make the character memorable in some way and relatable in some way. Um, and if you can get both in one, like we did chat books, that’s fantastic. Um, where I think FiberFix does a good job of that, um, as well. And, um, but the idea being that

Matt Johnston: (35:30)
fall, would you say the character is, well, the purple with the egg test, you know, is that you have your host there. I mean, who’s the hero?

Daniel Harmon: (35:38)
Yeah. So it’s Goldilocks, right? Doing it where Goldilocks is known in the ferry is known as the fairy tales as a bed expert. So, okay. So there’s, there’s an authority aspect to that, right? Or, or relatable like, Oh, she gets beds. Right. She had the one that she tried that was to soften. Um, that was kind of what it was. But then it’s just more in the, in the performance of the actor that you get a lot more of like the relatability, right? Cause it’s not, it’s not like any Goldilocks you’ve really seen in the storybooks like you get that she’s Goldilocks, but at the same time she talks more like you and me than anybody out of a storybook does. Right. And so, um, uh, that, that’s another part of it. But then I, I’d say for people that are looking, looking to really kind of dive into story, a really good primer on it is, um, how to build a StoryBrand by Donald Miller. If you haven’t read that, I’d checked that one out. It’s a really good book where he talks in there about, um, basically the story formula that so many of like Hollywood blockbusters follow and you can follow that same kind of storytelling format in your own marketing, in your own advertising.

Matt Johnston: (36:51)
Right. And he talks a lot in that book about, because I’ve heard other opinions on this and there is, there is some debate here, uh, well that has had, uh, about, you know, who the hero is that the story. Uh, and I think he’s pretty clear that the customer is the hero of the story, not you being the hero, right? Like your product being the hero.

Daniel Harmon: (37:12)
Yeah. Yup. Yeah. The, the idea being that the customer is the hero in their own story. That the PR, the, the, the product facilitates the, the transformation and it helps them through. It’s a, it’s gotten them through, but it isn’t actually the hero itself.

Matt Johnston: (37:30)
Right? So if you really want to replicate this, I mean, you’re really talking about laying out what you would call the sale and this is what are the, what is the product, what problem does it solve? What are the core emotional, emotionally resonant? I think pain points really that are key there. And then, uh, what I’m hearing you say is, is all of the objections and then sort of building a story that can take someone from point a to point B. um, through some sort of arc and transformation. Um, and that’s something that people can do. A, I guess it’s not something that you need $100,000 budget to necessarily do. You just have to think it through.

Daniel Harmon: (38:09)
That’s right. That’s right. It’s spending the real time in scripting to take what you have, go read it to people and see if it resonates with them. If it doesn’t do it in writing, it’s probably never going to do it in video, you know, and it’s just, um, it’s really taking the time to hash that out, write and rewrite and, and find something that works in the written form first.

Matt Johnston: (38:34)
Yeah, it’s good. Thanks so much,

Matt Johnston: (38:35)
Daniel a and D, let’s, let’s talk a little bit about the courses you all have, uh, because I know I keep seeing your ads and I’m like two seconds away from buying every single time I see you with that district and cell phone in front of your face. So you guys have a lot of great stuff going on right now. I’ve seen the 14 day challenge out there. Um, and I’ve seen, uh, something, uh, there, there’s a particular course on how to make your stuff funny, right? Or on how to look at humor. Yeah. It’s on how to make your ads funny is a course that we have that it talks about, um, the principles that we follow for adding humor into your sale. And so that one’s really good because it takes you through the writing phase. It takes you to the filming phase and the editing phase and goes, goes through, um, all the principles that we, that we are using there.

Daniel Harmon: (39:21)
And then, um, I’d say a for them to check out our podcast from poop to gold. Um, that’s um, obviously available on any of the, any of the places that you’re going to get your podcast. And um, but there’s the 14 day challenge as well, which is a, if you’re looking for the starting point for yourself, that’s, that’s the best way to do it. 14 day video script writing challenge designed to take you from a blank page to a finished script that can sell all within the course of those 14 days if you follow the activities. And exercises you will, you will come out on the other side with the script that you can go and shoot. So that’s what that’s for.

Matt Johnston: (40:02)
I highly recommend that folks. Um, definitely there, there, there is, there is a big focus right now on raw reality style way of doing this, but I think that it’s very easy to forget that there is an art and a science to this really that you can leverage as well. And if you can blend those things together, you can really have a lot of success. So, uh, starting with scripts I think is, is really important. It’s all, it’s all really there. Um, and definitely check out the pop, get the podcast poop to gold. Uh, thank you so much for being here. This is a great conversation. I learned a lot. I think everybody learned a lot. I re I really appreciate you joining me today.

Daniel Harmon: (40:38)
Thank you for having me, Matt. Appreciate it.

Matt Johnston: (40:40)
And thank you so much to everyone out there for listening today. If you got value from this and I certainly hope you did, uh, please do consider leaving a review. I’m told that helps us out a lot. And, uh, hope to see you next week on the show. Have a fantastic rest of your day. And we get.

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