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From Poop To Gold – The Marketing Magic of the Harmon Brothers

Book Report

Favorite Quotes

“Miracles happen when you sell something you believe in.”

“Good ideas come from anyone, anywhere, anytime.”

“A successful culture is not just the people, but also the systems. Harmon Brothers systems maximize productivity and the humanity of imperfect people.”


Key Takeaways

Harmon Brothers Model for Advertising: – Marketing Magic

  • Outline the Problem
  • Make the Product a Solution
  • Add in some calls to Action
  • Lay on the Humor

Talk about the thing most people don’t talk about and go “Over the Top” – What if we went 180 Degrees from the rest of the Industry.

ALWAYS BE TESTING Strategy – Test a bunch different Ads with audience and see which one performs best, most views, clicks and converts.   With poo-pourri – Tested 6 different video variations on Youtube to watch statistics to see what converted best.  The title of the Ad came from one of the comments on the video – Girls Don’t Poop.

“A successful culture is not just the people, but also the systems. Harmon Brothers systems maximize productivity and the humanity of imperfect people.”

Create A Culture of Flexibility and Innovation.

How does Harmon Brothers Create Their Creative Culture.

  • Hire the Right People
  • Test Ideas in a Laboratory
  • Add Wisdom to Meetings
  • Give People Creative Space
  • Trust Your People
  • Make Time To Focus
  • Be Ready to Change
  • Celebrate the Successes
  • Only Work on Projects You Are Passionate About


  • Hire the Right People

-Hire people that figure stuff out.

-Interview process ask for life stories rather than simple answers.  Ask for an experience when they were under stress so they can hear the backstory.

Harmon Brothers opens by sharing the Harmon Brothers story and their mission and watch for their reactions.

-Job interviews occur after testing period.  Person is hired first as independent contractor.  If the team likes the person’s work, cultural fit and attitude then they can be hired on more permanent basis.

  • Test Ideas in Laboratory

-Built Hypo Lab where they host a weekly meeting where anyone can bring anything to the table to test and they usually start with 6-8 ideas and choose 1-2 to test.

  • Add Wisdom to Meetings

-Each week one person shares something they are passionate about or a hobby – something outside of work.  It helps people get to know each other really well.  Goal is to make people even more comfortable around each other so they can freely exchange ideas

  • Give People Creative Space

All Meetings are clustered on Monday to give the team creative space

  • Trust Your People

People keep track of their own hours and their contributions

  • Make Time To Focus

Power of Retreats – Harmon Brothers holds Writers Retreat and Partner Retreat.  Whatever the retreat Harmon Brothers has only one specific objective to accomplish at the retreat.  Also, no phone rule.

  • Be Ready to Change
  • Celebrate the Successes

Harmon Brothers hoses quarterly celebrations where they celebrate birthdays, engagements, anniversaries, new hires, new clients, campaign launches and other successes for the company.

  • Only Work on Projects You Are Passionate About

They have to be a fan of the product to work on it.


Compensation Model.

Share profits.  Harmon Brothers shares 50% of profits with the people that create them.

“It’s a lot more dangerous to lose the best people in the industry.

Your bonus profit share is determined by your peers. Each team members shares their contribution aka a brag session and the team votes.   The upfront and ad spend is how they generate their money.  The more the ad works, the more money they make.   They produce great work, they all make more.

The clients success is the largest determiner of compensation for the team.

How does Harmon Brothers determine whether the client’s product is a good fit?

  • Does the team love it?
  • Is there an obvious problem that this product solves?
  • Does the product differentiate itself significantly?
  • Are its customers enthusiastic fans about the product?
  • Is the product ready for market?
  • Is it scalable?
  • Are the people at the company reliable and do they communicate well?>
  • Do they trust us with creative control?

Thursdays are bad for launch days.  Mondays are bad for launch days.  Tuesdays and Wednesdays are best.


What Will We Implement?

  • MORE TESTING. Testing creative videos, scripts and campaigns and testing people.

-Test on Youtube, Facebook to see which gets more converstion.

-Test people with projects as interns.  Most of the Creative Team at Harmon Brothers began as interns.

  • Continue Waitlist and Waiting Phenomenon – ‘People value things they have to wait for.” Acquiring something instantly is great fun but for something special, the anticipation is part of the enjoyment.”

Make things worth the wait.  Anticipation is huge.  Our Waiting List.  Waiting to Get Into The Stadium.  Pregame – waiting for the opening ceremonies, promotions, opening son etc.

  • Develop a consistent creative process.

Does your company have a defined creative process?

Do you have a place that encourages creative flow?

Do you budget the necessary time to generate ideas?

Do you know the steps needed to mold your rough ideas into something polished and useful?

Do you have a deadlines to motivate you to action as well as conclude your creativity?

Do you leave space for creativity in non-creative projects?

  • Dedicate time for Scripts – Set up writers retreats for new campaigns and announcements


Prior to the retreat, each writer on the team independently develops an entire commercial two – five minutes, something like a comedy sketch.   They then each read their scripts in front of the clients and the team.

Need a creative director that really loves the campaign announcement to lead and help cast and make ultimate decisions.

Every line, every word on every line matters for Harmon Brothers when it comes to scripts.  Always asking which word is funnier?  Which one lands more?  Snicker or giggle?

  • Importance of Deadlines

Harmon Brothers – “We are dead serious about deadlines”.  Deadlines are the secret to keeping the balance between creative freedom and work.   We set a date of delivery and then schedule backwards and so these mini-deadlines become set – and everyone knows exactly what needs to happen and when. “

  • Develop Brain Trust

Harmon Brothers has one Brain Trust for each project with each member chosen by the Creative Director.  The Brain Trust has only one goal – to point our problems.   The key is to poke holes and make suggestions.  The function is not to solve problems but to point them out.

They meet to review final script, point out any jokes that fall flat, and note where the flow needs reworking.

Mantra Is “Sales first, art second.”

  • Charge by the Awesome – What Harmon Brothers says when asked how much do they charge. How could we charge by the awesome?  Charge what we are worth!
  • Create Waiting List To Work For Us

Harmon Brothers Question End of Book – “Do you have a waiting list of people wanting to work for your company? Do they want to work there badly enough that they’ll take less than standard wages or even offer to work for free to prove themselves?

  • More Check-Ins with Team & Even Anonymous Surveys

Harmon Brothers Question End of Book – Does your culture encourage people to want to stay? Do people feel validated, valued and feel like they are progressing both personally and within their career?

On a scale from 1 to 10, 1 being “No, not a chance” and 10 being “Yes, seriously, always.”

Surveys – Great questions to ask:

  • I speak my opinions, even if there contrary to direction of company?
  • I voice objections or disagree with my coworkers on projects without someone getting offended
  • I can prove I’m accomplishing my work without a time card?
  • Our company’s meetings are valuable to my particular job?
  • I will definitely be staying at this company for another year?
  • Our office space makes collaboration and asking questions easy to do?
  • When a problem arises on a project, people focus on solutions rather than blame?
  • I feel like my work is valued.
  • I feel like I am progressing in the company, both personally and within my career.
  • The company accommodates my personal situations without risking my job?
  • My coworkers are honest with both money and time on the job?
  • What is not working here at the company?
  • What is working here at the company? (We need to know what to keep – we don’t want to ruin anything that’s going great here)
  • What is your favorite number between No and Yes.

No 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Yes


How does it fit the Fans First Way

One of the keys to Harmon Brothers is Prioritize Quality over Profit.  They will spend their own money to make better ads for clients and even have done reshoots because they weren’t happy with results for one company, Zerorez, only generating one dollar for every dollar in.  So they took on all the costs to create a better Ad.

This is Fans First.  Quality experience – all you can eat food, no fees, the better experience wins.  The more fans enjoy the experience, the more successful we will become.

We have to continue to be Different in how we create for our fans.  “The Marketing magic of the Harmon Brothers had to be crafted.  It took work.  It also took play.  The one without the other would have produced nothing of value.  But both together? In a sort of alchemy, the poop turns to Gold.”

We have to continue to bring on talented passionate people and work and play hard to create better videos, better marketing and a much better fan experience.