Since 2010, I’ve interviewed Jeffrey Harmon more than half a dozen times about everything from using funny YouTube videos to sell a million tongue cleaners in a year, to Girls Who Don’t Poop to serving up frozen unicorn poop to launch the Squatty Potty.
But, until I attended VidSummit 2016, I’d never met Daniel Harmon, a bro-founder and the Creative Director of the Harmon Brothers. Daniel is responsible for some of the companies biggest viral hits like Poo~Pourri’s “Girls Don’t Poop”, which has generated nearly 38 million YouTube views. Prior to Harmon Brothers, Daniel was art director at Orabrush, where he helped create over 100 branded videos product.
Daniel gave one of the keynote presentations at the summit, titled “Creative to Conversion.” I interviewed him about some of his opinions about online video.
Greg Jarboe: According to BoingBoing.net, your video for Squatty Potty is “the greatest viral ad in Internet history.” Can you share what you did and how you did it?
Daniel Harmon: Pooping unicorns were already a popular part of Internet culture, so we just tapped into that, expanded on it in our own way, and applied it to a Squatty Potty product demonstration that made it not so gross and added a lot of humor (because we were dealing with a gross area of the body). Apparently it worked :)
Greg Jarboe: Your brothers and you left Orabrush in 2013. What lessons did you learn while you were there?
Daniel Harmon: We learned a lot about what it takes to make a healthy company and creative culture. Specifically, you can’t put the cart before the horse when it comes to growing a company. You have to nail a sustainable business model first, and then scale up. Also, we learned how to create a transparent environment where everyone is accountable and bought in to make things much more fun, less stressful, and ultimately more successful.
Greg Jarboe: Although Harmon Brothers have marketed many different products and services, in various industries, you don’t try to be all things to all people. What kind of products and services lend themselves to your methods?
Daniel Harmon: Differentiated products that solve a real problem. We like innovative things that sometimes require more education to understand.
Greg Jarboe: You’ve developed processes and steps for creating strong content that actually converts. Can you share how you balance art and sales in your messaging?
Daniel Harmon: We are salesman first, artists second…but it’s a close second. Sometimes we come up with crazy fun ideas, but we always have to ask ourselves, “Will it actually make the customer more likely to buy?” If the answer is no, we don’t do it. No matter how cool or funny it might be. Our number one objective is to increase sales while simultaneously providing strong branding.
Greg Jarboe: At VidSummit 2016, you discussed another video that you created for FiberFix. Can you retell our readers that story?
Daniel Harmon: We launched a car off a cliff with a roll cage held together entirely by duct taped joints. Then we did with a car held together by FiberFix. The duct taped car got wrecked, and the FiberFix car survived with flying colors. Not a single break or crack in the FiberFix. We figured it was the most dynamic way to show that FiberFix is as strong as steel and 100X stronger than duct tape. The video went super viral, hit over 16M views, and then Facebook somehow accidently deleted it when they had the bugs hit several Ad Manager accounts. We had to reupload and now it has over 7M views.
Greg Jarboe: Recently, you launched a new video for Chatbooks, a startup co-founded by Vanessa Quigley, a mother of seven children. Can you tell us how that is going?
Daniel Harmon: We’ve been blown away with the success. Over 9M views, 119k shares, 30k reactions, and that’s just on Facebook. More importantly, Chatbooks broke even on their investment in just 2 days (when calculating the lifetime value of their new customers).
Greg Jarboe: Are there any other strategic insights, critical data, tactical advice, or trends in the digital video marketing business that you’d like to share with our readers?
Daniel Harmon: Always launch your video on YouTube and Facebook simultaneously. Facebook will get shared more out of the gate, but YouTube will get embedded more in press pickup and will also be searched more overtime. YouTube is still the #2 search engine in the world. In sum, don’t ignore either platform for longer form ads.
Greg Jarboe: During your keynote, you told the story of how your brother Jeffrey and you sold Idaho potatoes door-to-door when you were teenagers. Can you share that story with the readers of Tubular Insights?
Daniel Harmon: My brother Jeffrey and I hauled truckloads of potatoes from our uncles’ farm in Burley, Idaho down to Utah, and sold them door to door in order to earn money for school and an LDS mission (we are Mormon). We charged $20 per 50 lb. box. The pitch was pretty straightforward: “Hi, my name is Daniel and I just brought a fresh load of Idaho potatoes down from my uncles’ farm in Burley.
My brother and I are selling them to earn money for school and for a mission. Do you eat potatoes?” That was pretty much it. Tons of potato eaters had pity on us, and bought our product. After gas expenses and food, we were making about $15 per hour, which was way more than we would have made doing minimum wage jobs. After borrowing our uncle’s truck to make the trip a few times, he bought a $900 15-passenger Ford Econoline van at an auction and made us buy it from him so we would stop freeloading and skewing our true overhead :)