Get Acquainted with Daniel Harmon
If you’ve heard of Poo Pouri, Squatty Potty, Purple Mattress, Chatbooks, etc., you may know the incredibly hilarious and viral campaigns behind these companies. These companies, which had decent growth, took it to the next level by adding a little touch of Harmon Brothers magic.
Daniel Harmon, CCO of Harmon Brothers, has been behind some of the most successful commercial campaigns to date. His touch of ingenuity brought entertaining, long-form commercials into the limelight.
We chatted about the successes they have had in creating these viral videos as well as need to pivot as they faced an ever-changing landscape. We also discussed about what they look for in future business partnerships as well as Daniel’s first venture in creating original content. Enjoy!
About Harmon Brothers
Daniel Harmon is the creative director at Harmon Brothers. Daniel and his brothers have created a booming agency with their creative minds, putting out some of the coolest videos on the internet. They have the mind for creating viral content for marketing purposes. With their methods of marketing which blends humor with direct sales, they built a thriving advertisement and marketing firm which has propagated brands like Squatty Potty, Chatbooks and Purple Mattress, to mention a few. Daniel and his team have had massive success in creating these viral videos but also see the need to adapt to the fast-paced marketing world.
Daniel Harmon has the reputation for making business profitable by creating content that is entertaining, memorable, shareable, and hugely-profitable. Listed below is an example of the power of just one advert created by the Harmon Brothers:
- Squatty Potty, which was their first breakthrough, boosted internet sales by six times the first year.
- Lumē went from 1.5 million in sales to over $20 million in sales in one year.
- A single Harmon Brothers ad was able to catapult Purple Mattress to generate $300 million and more.
From door-to-door sales to becoming giants in the advertisement space, you would wonder how the journey has been for Daniel and his brothers. They didn’t grow up playing with cameras or with all the privileges you would expect them to have to reach the height of success they have been able to attain. So how did it all become Harmon Brothers?
Career highlights and history
His entrepreneurial journey started when he and his siblings went door to door selling potatoes from his uncle’s farm. After that, he did alarm sales for an authorized dealer. He did some window washing and some other business-to-business sales. During this period, he was learning how to sell and how not to take no for an answer. He was training in sales in order to pay for his college tuition.
As this was going on, he knew he wanted to go further with his ambition. Daniel’s brother’s professor decided to try him in marketing a product in a marketing class at Brigham Young University. They tried their creativity in this area and realized that their messaging and humor worked for selling products.
He and his brothers quit their former jobs to start Harmon Brothers. They launched their first campaign in his brother’s kitchen, starting with a brush for bad breath called the Orabrush. Finding initial success with their work on Orabrush’s marketing, they were confident enough to take on their next challenge. It wasn’t a smooth road for them. At one point, they were so broke that their recent CEO had to drive an Uber. Their breakthrough came when the folks from Squatty Potty reached out to them.
The Harmon Brothers stumbled upon something that was not common in the advertisement space at the time. They didn’t just make their videos hilarious, but they added a free-flowing, playful feel that makes you want to watch over and over again.
Life Goals and Values
Daniel devotes his life to helping brands increase their sales by creating viral ads that convert. He and his ad agency aim to partner with other brands to create not just ads but experiences. His marketing style aims to marry branding to sales of direct response. When you think about some of the most successful marketing campaigns that grab your attention, you usually don’t think of the whole testing process. A key element Daniel values is the testing of his ads. He believes in not taking yourself too seriously when creating ads. He believes in seeking feedback and adjusting your approach accordingly.
Daniel encourages making content that resonates with your target audience. He believes in the willingness to help your audience get where you want to send them. He believes in an unconventional approach to marketing. As the saying holds true, if you want something you’ve never had, you must be willing to do something you’ve never done. He always tries to go the extra mile to produce the best content for his clients.
Apart from creating viral videos, he likes to mentor upcoming marketers and business owners on creating the right ads that fit their brand, resonate with their audience and convert. He teaches what it takes to make your business stand out by grabbing attention on the marketplace, how he and his brother create captivating videos, what it takes to create a good call to action, challenges they have along the way, and much more.
Daniel Harmon Podcast Transcript
Charan: Hey guys, welcome to Lemonade Stand podcast. I’m your host, Charan Prabhakar, and I am with my good buddy Daniel Harmon, who is truly a legend. I’ve known the Harmon Brothers for a little bit of time now because, I’ve worked on some projects for VidAngel. Bur Daniel and I, we actually met at a Sundance party I believe. It was in-
Daniel: Yeah, I think you’re right.
Charan: … it was in Park City, I believe, right?
Daniel: Uh-huh (affirmative) yeah, it was. Yes.
Charan: If you guys are not familiar with his work, if you’ve seen really funny videos like the Squatty Potty commercials or Poo-Pourri, those are some of the commercials that you spearheaded and made go super viral, and brought a lot of money to businesses, and they’re still doing some amazing things. So Daniel, thank you so much for even taking the time and hanging out with me and chatting.
Daniel: It’s my pleasure. It’s just fun to hang out with you. So, if it’s in a podcast, I’ll do it that way.
Charan: All right, okay. Well, I guess that’s what I took. Well, thanks man. No, I really appreciate it. The Lemonade Stand podcast is all about business owners becoming business owners. So, from the very get-go, like when they decided, “Hey, I want to go and become a business owner, or I want to create my own first go at whatever we want to do, our first ‘lemonade stand’ story,” right?
Charan: I would love to dive in with you and figure out when you decided, “I want to go into business and I want to make marketing my thing, and make these awesome videos of thing,” because I honestly don’t think until you guys showed up around in Utah, I’ve never seen that viral video go the way it did. I was really impressed. I think I’ve seen some stuff in California, like some Old Spice stuff, but then when I saw you guys do what you do, I was so blown away. So, can you walk me through that path, that journey that you took?
Daniel: I think it mostly starts with Idaho.
Charan: This is actually what Jeffery said, by the way, who is your brother.
Daniel: Yeah. Learned to work hard on a farm in Idaho, a potato farm specifically, worked for a friend of the family. So, I think a lot of the work ethic came from the early mornings, the late nights, and changing irrigation pipe or picking clods out of potatoes, or driving truck or tractor or whatever it was. But, the first kind of jump into entrepreneurship for us, was in selling potatoes. So, we would get 50-pound boxes of potatoes, we’d get them from my uncles farm, or buy them a fresh from another source in Idaho, and bring them down in my uncle’s truck, and sell them door-to-door to the bigger families here.
Daniel: The pitch was pretty simple. It was, “Hi, I’ve just brought a fresh load of Idaho potatoes down from my uncle’s farm in Idaho, and I’m selling them to earn money for my mission or for college,” or some sort of a sob story.
Charan: Yeah, of course it’s amazing.
Daniel: “Do you eat potatoes?” Then when they said yes, we were like, “Okay, they’re 40 cents a pound. So, it’s $20 for 50 pound box. Do you want one?” They’d be like, “Sure.” I’m like, “Okay.” That was basically the sell. If they had any kind of hesitation or whatever, I didn’t know how to overcome objections or anything that. We did that for a while and had some success with it to where, when we would add up our numbers and our profits, we were making… We would look at it after the fact, and we were making probably anywhere from 50% to twice what we would, if we were to go just get an hourly-wage job, working as a regular 15-year-old or whatever it was.
Charan: So, you were about 15 at the time when this happened?
Daniel: I think so. When we first started doing it, I think we were like 15, 16, somewhere in that neighborhood. So, we made a little bit more of a regular business with it and had enough success that my uncle was like, “Quit mooching my truck. You’re running up lots of miles on this thing.” It was also subsidizing our profits, right? So, he bought a 15-passenger van, a white Ford Econoline van from a mine here in Utah. I think it might’ve been like the Kennecott Copper Mine, or whatever they call it now. Just this beat-up old van, and he said, “I got this at auction for 900 bucks, and you guys are buying it from me.” We did. We had the money from the sales, and we did. We bought it. So, that was the first vehicle we ever owned, was this van that we had together.
Charan: That’s amazing.
Daniel: We would load it up with potatoes, and we’d come down and we’d sell them. So, that was the first entrepreneurial venture that we had. It led into other sales experiences, things like window washing or-
Charan: All in Idaho?
Daniel: Yeah, some of it in Idaho. The window washing, we did a little bit in Idaho, and Utah. Also, at our school, we ran a little bit of a concession stand, that we did a business that way. Then later in college, we did summer sales programs, door-to-door sales for alarm systems, selling like ADT alarm systems. Jeffry and I did that together, Jeffrey my brother, and I recruited a bunch of people to come along with me and stuff. We had a lot of success with it. We were some of the most successful sales reps in the company, and learned a lot more about the art of a sale, the structure of a sale, taking people through their problem and their solution, and overcoming objections, that kind of thing.
Charan: With the whole structure of a sale, would you identify a problem that they would have and then identify the solution?
Daniel: Yeah. Usually with security systems, it’s not that they necessarily even understand that they have a problem, as much as it is citing things like statistics about what happens with break-ins into homes, or letting them know about a neighbor, someone in the neighborhood that had their… That was broken into a couple of weeks ago, and they’re like, “Oh my gosh, really? I need to do something about that.” But then, letting them know how the solution, in that case an alarm system, brings the peace of mind of being able to arm the home, and when you leave and at night, all that kind of thing.
Daniel: Anyway, we were very successful with that, and learned a lot of sales principles. That later informed very much what we have done at Harmon Brothers with the ad agency, in that, driving sales has always been a big part of it. A lot of advertising out there very much leans into branding.
Charan: Yeah. I was going to say branding, and maybe just awareness, but not necessarily into, “Hey, I just got a new customer.”
Daniel: Yeah. That’s kind of been our sweet spot, where we mix the, “Hey, I just got a new customer,” with the branding, with the fun, with the emotion and all that awareness, so that even when someone doesn’t buy a Squatty Potty or a Poo-Pourri, or whether or not they sign up for Chatbooks or VidAngel, you name it, they at least come away with a feeling towards the brand, a little bit more awareness for when it comes up the next time, or when in the store and they see it on the shelves or whatever it is. That’s been our sweet spot, is mixing elements of branding with really sound sales principles.
Daniel: That’s kind of I guess what came to be known as a Harmon Brothers video or Harmon Brothers campaign, with Squatty Potty, and Purple, and Poo-Pourri and so far-
Charan: So, Spotty Potty is your first one?
Daniel: No. So the first one we did as a business, Harmon Brothers, was Poo-Pourri.
Daniel: Yeah. Prior to that, we’d had success with Orabrush. Jeffery and Neal were co-founders of Orabrush, and they had pioneered the advertising for YouTube, of being able to pay $1 in and know that you were getting $2 back out or whatever it was, to the point where YouTube was coming to us and asking us how to change the platform for the better, and they were using us as a case study when they would go talk to companies like Coca-Cola or Pepsi or whatever it was. So, the success, and a lot of the tricks we had learned were from the Orabrush days. Then, we resigned to do the Poo-Pourri campaign.
Daniel: There was no intention at all of starting an ad agency at that point. We thought we would be part of Poo-Pourri, just kind of like we were part of Orabrush, because Neal was running operations, Jeffrey was running marketing, and I was on the video-
Charan: For Orabrush.
Daniel: For Orabrush. I was on the video team and the branding team and all that, and I was working as an art director there. Then, we just see they were going in a direction that we didn’t necessarily feel excited about, and so we wanted to do our own thing. Then, when Poo-Pourri came along, we had to come up with the company name, and Neal and Jeffrey were having a conversation, “What do we call this thing?” This is like a midnight decision, right?
Charan: Yeah, yeah.
Daniel: Let’s just call it Harmon Brothers. Because, they needed a business entity to put the money into, in order to start the campaign. “Let’s just call it Harmon Brothers and we’ll change it later if we have to,” kind of a thing. Then, once Poo-Pourri started getting shared and picked up in the news, Huffington Post and all those kinds of things, they were citing creative agency, Harmon Brothers. We were around my brother’s kitchen table launching this thing, just looking at our laptops and seeing this thing go crazy all over the place and being like, “Harmon Brothers Agency—are we an ad agency? Yes, we’re an ad agency. I mean, we did a campaign for a client, I guess that makes us as an agency.” Then, the name just stuck. It’s a workable name, not a great name I would say.
Charan: No, it’s great.
Daniel: Yeah, it’s fine. It’s a little bit of an empty vessel. It is what it is. It’s worked until now, and now it’s been very much associated with Purple, Chatbooks-
Charan: All these things.
Daniel: FiberFix, all these things.
Charan: Right. Let’s go back to Poo-Pourri as well. What was, I guess what was the strategy to make that thing go so big? Because, it’s a great idea, but how are you able to take… Tons of people have tons of great ideas, but being able to take that great idea to market is something completely different.
Daniel: Right. The strategy was always about being able to drive their top-line revenue. So, being able to drive sales for them. We knew that things like views, comments, shares and likes and all that stuff, comes along for the ride, when you can, dependably spend a dollar on your advertising, and know that you’re getting more than a dollar back. So, what that meant was, the video had to be entertaining enough and engaging enough for people to watch through, and listen to the message. Then, it also had to be compelling enough for them to click through to the website. Then, the website had to be clear and compelling enough for people to click to buy, right?
Daniel: Then to go all the way through the checkout process. So, the strategy with Poo-Pourri was very similar to what it was with Orabrush. We knew that you had to have X amount of viewers to get X amount of click-throughs, to get X amount of landing page views, to get X amount of add-to -arts and so on. That, as long as we always knew that we could invest in the campaign and it could bring more money back than what we invested in, that’s like a perpetual engine to drive the business, and that drives retail and stuff because, for every person that’s not buying or for every person that is buying, there’s at least 20, if not more. It might be another 100 that aren’t buying, but they’ve seen the ad, they’ve been engaged, they’ve laughed.
Charan: Yeah. I feel like, it’s one of those things where they may not buy initially, but maybe down the road-
Daniel: Yeah. But then, when they’re in Bed, Bath & Beyond they see Poo-Pourri, “Oh yeah, you remember that funny ad with the British girl on the toilet?” That kind of a thing. Or the same thing with Squatty Potty or with Purple now, they’ve got retail presence with that as well, or-
Daniel: Yeah, Chatbooks. Chatbooks, well that’s an interesting one because, it’s all downloading the app, right?
Daniel: So, there’s no retail presence with it.
Charan: No hard inventory.
Daniel: But the same thing, they were able to lift their selves to a baseline that was twice what their original was, with the success of the campaign. So, much of it really boils down to having a great team to execute on that kind of stuff, where the customer can have their journey all the way through from the first touch point, which might be the video, it might be a static image or whatever it is, all the way to the last of the purchase, and good customer experience and all that.
Charan: It’s amazing, man, because I know what you’re saying. I feel like so many times, people are focused on marketing, but marketing in the sense of just getting awareness out there, but not necessarily in terms of getting to actual sale. That’s huge. If people don’t actually make the sale, then you’re not going to have more clients. Clients aren’t going to come back.
Daniel: Yeah. There’s a lot of companies laying in a graveyard somewhere, that were part of, for example, the dotcom bubble or that were part of even leading up to the crash of 2008, I think we’re going to see more leading up to COVID, where they got ahead of themselves a little bit with their messaging, in that, they weren’t clear enough in talking to their customer about how they were different, about what made them unique, about what they offered that no one else did. They jumped quickly to the sexy stuff of all the, this is what advertising is supposed to look like, and these clever concepts and all that kind of thing. You can do that if you have a sale that’s interwoven throughout, but a lot of people, like for example Outpost.com was one that went and bought a big Super Bowl ad. It was a very funny ad, but I don’t think it drove a whole lot of people to like Outpost.com. They ended up going out of business.
Daniel: I think that’s kind of putting the cart before the horse a little bit of, you’ve got to get the clarity of your message across first, and you’ve got to… A business lives and dies by sales. Once you get that sales engine going, then you can start thinking about how-
Charan: Like the funny stuff of just awareness.
Daniel: Yeah, awareness. Awareness and brand differentiation becomes more and more powerful and more and more needed, when a company gets into more maturity, because by the time they’re getting to maturity, they have other competitors.
Charan: Absolutely. That makes sense.
Daniel: They have to be able to stand out. They’re not going to stand out as much in their service or their product offering, because there’s other people doing Me Too, they’ve seen the success of it and are jumping into that pond to compete, but they have to be able to stand out with the story that they tell.
Charan: I think about brands like Coca-Cola for instance, who they aren’t doing messaging to sell more Coca-Cola products, right?
Daniel: Right. They’re not going to sit there and be like, “We’re so different because we’re using aspartame for Diet Coke,” and other people are also using aspartame for their diet soft drink. They can’t do that, right?
Daniel: It’s not about any of that stuff, or that like, “Our flavor is better than other people,” because there’s so much subjectivity in all that. It really is just, we’re different because we’re Coke. That’s really what it comes down to.
Charan: Yep. It’s just the story right now. The story of the brand. That’s an interesting thing. I think that’s such good advice. When you’re doing marketing, initially when you’re trying to get stuff out there, it really is to push out your product, and that’s where it needs to be. Then down the road, when it’s more mature, then it’s like, “Hey-
Daniel: Let’s add in those other elements, the branding, the awareness. Let’s get a little bit more into whether that’s being funny. I think before you get into all of that, a lot of what people buy on is the emotion that they feel toward exactly what the product does, rather than the story you tell around it. I think story can always be an element of it. It absolutely can, but it just can’t come as… It can’t be a distraction.
Charan: From the actual usage of the product, right?
Daniel: Yes, that’s right.
Daniel Harmon Talks About Harmon Brothers’ Creativity Process
Charan: Let’s say a new business comes up and says, “Hey, I want to use the Harmon Brothers.” What do you guys look for in future businesses that you would represent and do marketing for?
Daniel: Something that we feel passionate about, first and foremost. We have to have a creative director here, that believes in the product or service. That’s the first and foremost. I always say around here, “Nothing sells better than the truth.” I think there is truth in that, that when you have that passion for it and that belief in it, that that comes across.
Charan: It’s authentic.
Daniel: It’s authentic.
Charan: It’s not a false messaging, right?
Daniel: That’s right. So, that’s our starting point, is something that we are passionate about. That usually means for us, our “Why?” at Harmon Brothers is to share better stories. Part of that is sharing stories that make the world a better place. Part of that is sharing stories in a better way than we have in the past, of always improving in the way that we’re doing it. So, that’s the starting point, is something that we feel passionate about. Then, I forget the original question. What was it? Sorry.
Charan: It was just like, you were just saying, let’s say we’re looking for a business that we want to represent as Harmon Brothers.
Charan: Because, you’re putting your name out there as well, right?
Charan: So, obviously something that you’re very passionate about, you’re excited about, but what else?
Daniel: We also look for someone usually in an earlier growth stage. It doesn’t have to be super early. We’ve worked with all kinds of ranges of people, that have been around for years and years, have been established for decades and have all kinds of sales, and then people that are just barely getting their footing underneath them, where they’ve got some sales traction, now they’re really wanting to accelerate their growth. We do really well with companies that have already found what message is working for them, and then we can turn and add to that messaging with a lot more story and branding, and really amplify it.
Daniel: So, that’s a lot of what we look for, is someone that’s in an earlier growth stage. It doesn’t have to be, like I said, we’ve worked with much more mature companies as well, but that’s one of the things. Then, someone that’s kind of nailed their product or service down. That there’s not a whole bunch of customers… It’s not like a majority or too big of a portion of the customers to ignore, that or are not liking it. That we can see it’s something that not just we like, but the market likes it.
Daniel: Then from there, we’re looking for companies that are providing a real solution to a real problem that people face in some market, that is not so niche, it’s not just so specific to one little market that it doesn’t have the ability to scale and expand some degree. I love some of those things that are solving very specific problems for very specific markets, but it’s just not as much what we do. We’re looking for something that can apply to millions and millions of people, rather than necessarily just like, “Oh, it solves just for this.”
Charan: Just for a small, little group of others.
Daniel: There can be exceptions to that. There can be a lot of business and scalability, even with a smaller customer base for a business to business solution. We’re open to those kinds of things as well. But-
Charan: I think like a ClickFunnels type of situation, right?
Daniel: Yep, the ClickFunnels is a great example. They’ve had very successful campaigns that we’ve done together. But I would say, it’s usually… It’s more often than not for consumers, rather than business owners, but, it doesn’t have to be. It matters less if you’re selling a product or a service. It matters more if you’re selling a solution to a problem. It matters less if it’s to a consumer or a business, and it matters more that you’re selling to just a person. It’s people that buy at the end of the day, right?
Charan: Yeah, exactly.
Daniel: People like you and me.
Charan: It’s interesting because, I look at products like Purple for instance, they had such unique technology with their bedding and whatnot. What’s crazy is, I feel like after Purple did that huge, massive campaign and just blew up, every time I went on YouTube, I kept seeing more and more mattress commercials.
Daniel: Yeah, for sure.
Charan: They’re all like, “Well, this mattress does this, this mattress does this.” I was just thinking, “I would never have thought mattress would be able to sell online.”
Daniel: Isn’t it crazy? When we started the Purple campaign, I think to our knowledge, there was five or six bed-in-a-box kind of companies out there like Casper and some others. Then, by the time we finished the campaign, I think there was a dozen. Then now, there’s over 200 of them. Some of them have already come and gone, they’ve already gone belly up, because so many people flooded the market, and I can’t even imagine what it’s done to someone like Sealy or one of these older brands that have just relied so much on retail sales.
Charan: Yeah. The world is changing. If they’ve only relied on retail, it’s going to be very tough for them to compete. You know I mean?
Charan: Let’s say this business comes and you’ve found the business and you’re like, “Yep, these guys, we’re going to go with them and we’re going to help do their campaign.” Do they have to come up with a certain budget or do you guys look for a certain budget in mind when you’re like, “Yep, I want to do it?”
Daniel: Yeah. It’s more modeled towards their needs. In the past, Harmon Brothers, we were known for doing bigger budget kind of stuff, like our Hero campaigns that we’re known for, half-million dollar kind of range.
Charan: That included the production as well as the marketing, correct?
Daniel: Yeah. Well, that was just for the production, and then there would also be an ad spend commitment behind that, and those types of things. We’ve gotten to now to where we have packages that are more around like $100,000, we’ve got packages that even start at around $35,000, $40,000 that kind of thing. We even offer consulting because, we’ve just noticed the people that are coming to us, we… Here’s the truth. Out of 100 leads that would come to us, we would only be taking 1 or 2 of them. That’s all it would be. We kind of prided ourselves on that a little bit for a time of like, “Oh, look at how high of demand we’re in, for every 100 that come, we…”
Daniel: Well, the truth of the matter was, probably 80 to 90% of them couldn’t even afford it, for a long time. Then, there were all these others that maybe had really cool stuff, but we didn’t have a way to really help them out. So, we’ve tried to respond more to the market, of meeting the businesses where they are.
Charan: I like that.
Daniel: I think we’ve got a lot of packages to help with that, all the way, like I said, down to consulting them through-
Charan: What they should do on their own, right?
Daniel: That’s right, on what they should do on their own. So yeah, we’ve got ways to work with even much, much smaller companies that are trying to prove themselves out, or that are entering a new growth stage and want some help with their marketing or with their creative or ad binder, whatever it might be. But yeah, we’ve got ways to help all different kinds of companies now.
Charan: That’s awesome. So, you find these companies that you’re like, “Yep, we can work with you guys.” Then, do you go and say, “All right, let’s go ahead and brainstorm your ideas and what your messaging is, and let’s come up with a storyline that fits it.” You guys come up with your own creative and then present it to them?
Daniel: You’re talking when we’re doing the campaigns for them?
Charan: Sure, yeah.
Daniel: Yeah. We usually will bring on three or four writers, and then we’ll kind of give them a brain dump on the competitive landscape of the market, what’s the “aha moment” of the product itself. Usually, we ask them to become customers of the product as much as they can, sending them product and things like that, to try out and see how that really works because, you speak a lot better to customers when you become the customer, right?
Charan: That’s true. You’re more authentic.
Daniel: You get insights. Yeah. So, as we go through that process, the writers will come at the problem with different concepts. Then, we get together with a client and it’s two days in a cabin up in Sundance, and we’ll do a writing retreat, and we’ll check the cell phones into a box. You can’t touch them unless you want to pay like 10 or $20 into a raffle, kind of a thing. You can take a call, but it better be worth like 10 bucks, in order for you to make that call.
Daniel: The client’s there with us, and they are able to hear the different concepts from the different writers, the different ways they’ve approached it. The writers don’t cross-pollinate in the early stage, because we want truly different thinking from each of them. It’s interesting. Sometimes they cross over on a lot of stuff, just because it seems like a logical way to solve the problem. But then, the client is able to see the different concepts, and then we’re able to choose a concept together, and they’re bought in. Then over the next 48 hours, we take the best elements of each of the scripts, mix them together into one, and have a script by the end that we’re ready to go and run and produce.
Charan: That’s amazing.
Daniel: But then, they’re bought in and they’re helping problem solve, rather than us going in, trying to sell something to them.
Charan: Yeah, I like that, because then they become part of the solution. They become part of the script writing process. So, they take ownership of it, right?
Charan: It’s like, I work in film and a lot of times with investors and stuff, we like to have them be a part of… We don’t want them to over control the actual project, but at the same time it’s like, “Hey, we want you to be invested not just monetarily, but know like, this is a script that we want you to be passionate about.” I feel like that might also translate into your world as well.
Daniel: Yeah, for sure. Yeah.
Daniel Harmon Talks About Pivoting in the Face of Challenges
Charan: That’s amazing. Let’s just shift gears just a little bit. In all of these things that you guys have done, entrepreneurship has its own pitfalls, right?
Charan: It has your own struggles and it has things when you have to constantly pivot, that’s the nature of the game. Have you guys had to pivot quite a bit or-
Daniel: For sure.
Charan: … has there been times when you’re like, “Man, that just did not work out.”
Daniel: For sure. One of the things that we had to pivot from was just always focusing on those big Hero campaigns, and just realizing how much that limited us in the type of clients that we wanted to serve and take care of. So, we had to pivot to having smaller offerings, and not everything being this-
Charan: Glamorous, huge-
Daniel: Glamorous, big-budget thing. That we could solve problems earlier on and do it for cheaper, and still do it in a way that was a win for the client, it was a win for us, and then a win for the end customer. So, that was one of the pivots we’ve for sure had to make. Just had to incentivize different members of the team to go and innovate on some different stuff, and try some different things, rather than just always sticking to what we knew. It was a really good thing that we did that because, I’d say especially leading up to this recession or depression or whatever you want to call it that we’re in the middle of, with COVID, is that it positioned our business to be much healthier in being able to take care of more businesses through this period, rather than just focusing in on those big fish, if you will. So, that’s one pivot we’ve had to make for sure. Then let’s see. What’s some other ones that come to mind?
Charan: What about campaigns that may have not gone as well you would’ve thought? Anything like that happen?
Daniel: Oh yeah. Yeah. We’ve seen some circumstances like that. Generally, when we’ve had a campaign that hasn’t worked, it’s usually been because there’s been some sort of an offering with a product that was not quite right, or that maybe their funnel, their website and stuff wasn’t working quite right. We’ve rarely had times when… I should have gone back and looked through all the campaigns, we’ve rarely had times when they haven’t done what we’ve set out to do.
Charan: Right. Which is get a massive amount of people to their service, to the site.
Daniel: That’s right, to their stuff. But, if there’s stuff that’s wrong in that area, it can be problematic. So, yeah. For sure, there’s times when you have to tweak the offering on something. Maybe it’s a different price or a different bundle, the way that you’ve got to put it together so that it makes sense from a value standpoint for the customer, to where they’re like, “Oh, that’s enough perceived value.” Usually, we hope that people have sorted through that stuff, and again, that we’re more helping, especially if we’re going to a bigger campaign. But the smaller ones, you can do a little bit more of that type of experimentation. Yeah, for sure that happens. Any company now that’s not testing and pivoting, making little pivots in their marketing all the time, I just don’t think is really set up to survive.
Charan: No. I made this example the other day. In the world of filmmaking, when I first got into filmmaking, I remember so many people were just so married to 35-millimeter film, which it’s an amazing, beautiful format, right?
Daniel: Yeah, yeah.
Charan: They’re like, “We will never go to digital. We will only do 35-millimeter.” It’s like those people aren’t doing filmmaking anymore, or they’ve switched. It’s all about pivoting. It’s all about being adaptable because, the landscape that you live in is constantly changing, constantly.
Daniel: Yeah, and it always will be.
Charan: It always will be.
Daniel: As long as it’s a business that relies on technology, and almost any business now does, you have to be able to adapt. So, the pivots are just part of it. I think one of the things to remember is not being so precious about your ideas. Your ideas, aren’t you, right?
Daniel: That you can put them out there and experiment with them and see how people respond, and there’s always more ideas. There’s always other things that you can try.
Charan: Yeah. It’s funny that you say that because, I had a filmmaker friend of mine, he has made his business just making movies. He self-funds everything, he makes all the money back, and he’s always able to do stuff. I was asking them, I said, “Dude, how have you been able to do it?”
Charan: His films honestly aren’t the most creative films in the world, they’re kind of cheesy. But yet, they still work, they still succeed. He’s like, “Listen, man, I know my market, but I’ll be honest, in the end of the day, they’re just movies. They’re just movies. Some filmmakers, it’s like so precious, they have to hold on to their babies so tightly.” And he’s like, “No dude. Just go make your movie, and then just go make another one.” I’m like, “Well, good job, man.” Where other filmmakers are complaining, he’s making a profit and he’s making these movies.
Daniel: That’s right. He’s learned to satisfy the market, even if it’s not something that he necessarily even loves himself. But at the same time, he is doing what he loves, and making films, right?
Daniel: He’s got a business out of it.
Charan: He’s got a business out of it and he’s funding it himself. He’s not taking other people’s money.
Daniel: That’s huge.
Charan: That’s huge.
Daniel: That’s a lot of power.
Charan: Yeah, a lot of power.
Daniel: Good for him.
Charan: I think it’s fantastic, and it’s great to see you guys pivot. Speaking of pivoting, I know that you are also doing different things other than just doing the ads, right?
Daniel Harmon Talks About Other Projects
Charan: Now, there was a time when a university, you guys were creating your own Harmon University.
Daniel: Oh yeah. We’ve still got that.
Charan: Is that still going?
Daniel: Harmonbrothersuniversity.com. Yeah, that’s still out there. Where we basically, all the internal training that we give our own writers, editors, all that kind of stuff, ad buyers, you name it, we’ve made that available in courses that you can purchase there. I think it starts with the 14-day script challenge, is the one to take you from a blank page to a finished script that’s ready to film, and that can actually drive sales in just 2 weeks, in 14 days.
Charan: That’s amazing.
Daniel: Again, it’s the same training we give here internally. It’s where we very much open up our entire playbook. So, that’s there. I was developing, for the past, pretty much the past two and a half years, I was kind of head down developing that. I’ve now switched to where, for us, sharing better stories… Ad making and marketing is one aspect of that, and another one we feel like, is original content. So, we’ve partnered with Connor- Connor Boyack, who is the author of a book series called the “Tuttle Twins,” which are books that teach principles of freedom, and economics, and entrepreneurship, and human rights to younger minds, to kids.
Daniel: It does it in a really nice way where, it’s an illustrated book and everything, and there’s nothing like it out there. In fact, they’ve they’ve now crossed a million books sold.
Charan: Which is just crazy.
Daniel: It’s just crazy.
Charan: It’s crazy because, Connor, and I told you this, we were roommates in college and I never would have thought… We were always goofing around playing volleyball, stuff like that. You would never have thought. Wow. Like here’s this guy that we were always goofing around, and now he came up with this brilliant idea to teach incredible truths, and to have like a million in sales or over a million in sales. It’s amazing.
Daniel: Yeah. I don’t think he ever would have thought either, right?
Charan: I don’t think he did, yeah.
Daniel: But, he is now. Anyway, they’re just shipping out books like crazy, especially right now when there’s a lot threats or government overreach, a lot of people feeling like government’s overreaching when it comes to an emergency like COVID, and the pandemic and everything. So, just a lot of heightened awareness for it right now. The sales on it are really driving. What’s interesting about it is, when “The Martian” with Matt Damon-
Charan: Yeah, I love that movie.
Daniel: … when it struck its licensing deal to make it into a movie, I think they had sold something like 700,000 books at the time, and the “Tuttle Twins” is already up to 1 million books sold. So, we’ve got this-
Daniel: … we’ve got this really great following to be able to leverage off of, and we’ve pulled together enough money to fund a pilot for the TV series.
Charan: So, it’s going to be a series then?
Daniel: Yeah, that’s the idea. The big vision is to mix the comedy of shows like “The Simpsons” and “Phineas and Ferb” and “Gravity Falls” with the education and family-friendliness of “The Magic School Bus.” So, that’s kind of the vision for it. Again, we have funding for the pilot, we’re making the first episode of it, to then go and take to… Basically, to put out there for free for people to watch, and raise money for an entire season.
Daniel: Similar to what-
Charan: Like “The Chosen” did.
Daniel: … similar to what “The Chosen” did on VidAngel, very similar to that model. We feel like it fits into that because, a lot of what’s driving “The Chosen’s” growth, is the message of it. People really like the message of the gospel, and of a depiction of Jesus that feels very relatable to them. It feels very human, kind of for the first time, rather than this distant figure, right?
Daniel: It’s really, Jesus was also human. He wasn’t just a God, he was human, right?
Daniel: So I would say, the “Tuttle Twins” series also is based on these principles that a lot of people are very passionate about. Principles of freedom that they feel like are being taken away. So, that’s what we’re doing. We’ve just finished, and maybe this’ll date it too much, but we’ve just finished the third draft of the script, and are just moving into storyboarding.
Charan: That’s amazing.
Daniel: It’s really exciting, because this is 2D animated show. I’m in way over my head here on this.
Charan: No, I’m excited. How did you… Now, you mentioned earlier like, one of the first things that you care about is like, are you passionate about it?
Daniel: Yeah, and I am very passionate about this. The very first “Tuttle Twins” book, when it came out, I bought it immediately, I read it to my kids, and I’ve watched them read it off and on, we’ve bought all the other books as they’ve come out.
Charan: That’s awesome.
Daniel: I don’t like politics. I hate it, actually. I hate.
Charan: I want to know how this all came to be then. How did you connect with Connor and all this stuff?
Daniel: Connor and I go back aways. We worked on a project called “Life on Bitcoin,” which was a little documentary film with Austin Craig, who you know.
Charan: Yeah Austin, of course.
Daniel: We worked on that together, and I think I’d even met Connor prior to that. We bumped shoulders at different points and stuff. I’ve been an admirer of his work and what he’s doing to champion freedom and liberty like even here in Utah. Then, he’s been an admirer of our work as well, what we do at Harmon Brothers. So, it was just naturally a thing that we’ve wanted to do, to work together.
Daniel: What’s interesting is, so much of what we do at Harmon Brothers is that we take stories that are usually either some sort of a taboo, or very complex, and we break them down into a way that’s either safe or simple, so that people can understand them. Then, we add a lot of entertainment to it, right?
Daniel: Essentially, that’s all the series is going to be, is breaking down these complex concepts of economics and freedom and human rights and things, into a simple way that a child can understand it and the parent-
Charan: Or even people like me. When Connor was telling me, I’m like, “I’ve got to read the ‘Tuttle Twins,'” because I’m like you. I am not a fan of politics-
Daniel: I hate it.
Charan: Nor do I know like… Everyone has got their own narrative, their own agenda, and I have no idea where to even go with it.
Daniel: Well, I hate the team tribalism of like D versus R, Democrat versus Republican. I hate the special interest kind of garbage that goes on, I hate all the negativity hype that happens from it. But, I think having sound economic principles and having sound principles of liberty, that’s what made the United States great, was because it was the first country to really do that, to say, “No, we’re not going to have just a government that can do whatever it wants, depending on who’s in office, or who’s the leader, who’s the King or whatever at the time. No. We’re going to have a government that obeys by its own rules.” It was principles of right and wrong.
Daniel: So much of what we see out there, it’s kind of playing in the light of that, like, this is right versus this is wrong. But, so much of it is like, “If you have the wrong label in front of your name, if you’re on the wrong team, I can’t even listen to you,” and I hate that. I much more want stuff that is unifying, that is something that everybody can understand. That really goes off of common sense. So much of what we have now I think is over complicating things because, “Oh, we’re in this brand new technology world and stuff.” But really, things distill down to the same kind of principle, right?
Daniel: Like, you learn the fundamental principle in math and then it applies all the way up, no matter how complex it gets. I think it’s actually very similar when it comes to these types of things.
Charan: I think it’s beautiful. I remember I had a chat with Connor about the “Tuttle Twins” and some of the things that he’s doing. He was explaining to me in such basic terms, because I’m like, “Dude, I need you to go as basic as you possibly can with me.” But, it was so beautiful because, when the government that we the people have created, which is supposed to be a tool to help serve us, is now overpowering us, and now we’re giving our power over to it, I am just not-
Daniel: It’s a big mess.
Charan: It’s a huge mess. I see that all the time. I see that in religion, I see that in anything. When an organization gets too big and you’re like, “Okay, now the organization… We serve the organization,” rather than, “Well, we actually created the organization. Why are we allowing that to control us?”
Daniel: Yeah. I’m very excited to tell that story, especially because, in the same way that “The Chosen” is really telling stories and building characters over time in a way that people are like, “I’ve never been able to relate with Matthew, the tax collector in this way” or “I’ve never really been able to relate with Simon, the fishermen prior to that.” This is a similar type of thing that, I think some of these principles and stuff, just need more time for people to digest them.
Daniel: The long-term vision of this thing is really that this could go season after season, after season for year, after year, after year. Similar to “The Simpsons,” I think, is on like season 30, but this has that kind of legs of, these stories will… There’s always going to be another way to communicate these principles with fun stories. We’re going to do in a fun way. First and foremost, it has to be fun for kids to watch, and the adults will enjoy it as well. But then, it breaks things down in a way that like, “Oh, I actually learned something.”
Charan: I think it’s beautiful. I’m really, really excited about it because-
Daniel: I hope we end up getting a part for you in it some day to be honest.
Charan: That’d be fun.
Daniel: It’d be awesome.
Daniel Harmon Talks About What Brings Him Joy in Uncertainty
Charan: It’d be fun. I’m always into that. It’s funny because, I’ve had conversations with Dallas about “The Chosen. “He’s like, “Charan, I’m looking for the right part for you.” I’m like, “Dude, when it’s right, it’ll just appear, it’ll manifest itself.” Well, I’m excited about that. I just wanted to wrap up with a couple last questions. What brings you joy right now, Daniel?
Daniel: What brings me joy?
Charan: Yeah. The reason why I asked you that is because, no one expected 2020 to be the year that it became, right?
Charan: We have so much levels of uncertainty and we have our own personal struggles, we have our own challenges. What brings you joy during this time when things just seem very uncertain?
Daniel: I’ll get really personal for a minute.
Daniel: Christ’s grace brings me joy. 2020’s been hard for everybody. It’s been really hard for me because, we lost a daughter in March, basically when all the lockdowns and stuff started. Heidi, my wife, she was 39 weeks pregnant, and we had a vibrant heartbeat on a Wednesday, and then on Sunday there was none. Our little baby was stillborn. That was in the heat of all the pandemic and stuff. But to see—we actually named her Grace—but to see Christ’s hand in my life and to bring all this peace that we’ve enjoyed as a family in the midst of all that has been really humbling and really, really empowering. It brings me joy and hope.
Daniel: Just cherishing little things like my walks in the morning with my wife, are just awesome to be able to do that. I look forward to that every morning, being able to either walk or run with her, and just be able to talk and stuff, as we go along and have that connection time, and little moments of like tuck-ins with the kids. I have seven kids, six living. Being able to tuck them in is really something I’ve learned to enjoy more and more over time, to actually start learning not to just be a good father, because it’s the right thing to do. Because admittedly, I’ve done plenty of that, where my heart hasn’t been in it as much, but learning to actually really savor those moments a little bit more with the kids. I haven’t learned to savor it yet with teenagers, but I’m working on that one. There’s moments for sure.
Charan: I don’t know if it’s possible.
Daniel: But, that to me is it. I even saw a Facebook post from Benton, our CEO, his wife posted the other day that said, “People keep posting about how they’re losing faith in humanity and that kind of stuff, and faith in the world and hope, and all that kind of things.” What she said is that, “If you want to have more faith and more hope in people and what’s going on out there, then stop interacting with them online, and go interact with them in person.” I know that’s hard to do with COVID, right?
Charan: Yeah, sure.
Daniel: But that’s the truth of it. We behave so much better for some reason as a people face to face. For some reason, some of the worst of humanity comes out online. You could still see some of the best, but I think if we get away from… If we allow “social distancing” to be too much social distancing rather than just physical distancing, and that we can still connect socially with people, whether it be calling up, or texting them or visiting them from across the room or whatever it is, I think the more that we can do of that and connect back with humanity, I think the better off we’re going to be.
Daniel: So, that’s kind of a long-winded answer, but truly it is. My joy right now is in Jesus, and what he’s done in my life as we’ve gone through this tremendous trial, and watching the power of the atonement take effect for me and my wife, and being able to grieve, and still feel peace on the other side, and feel purpose, and know, and have faith in the belief of eternal families, that we will see her again one day.
Charan: I appreciate you being vulnerable and sharing that with me. It’s interesting, I think during this time, when everything kind of shut down, like jobs shut down and everything like that, it gave me a lot of time to really think about my own life and what I’ve been doing. A lot of times, we get so busy with life and with our careers and things like that, that sometimes we go up the wrong ladder without even realizing that we were on the wrong ladder. It might not be a bad ladder, it’s just not the most important ladder, right?
Charan: I have noticed this for myself, that Christ truly makes all of my relationships so much more enriched. It’s interesting. He allows me to find so much more joy in this present moment, with whatever I have. Like, I just find so much more gratitude for the things that I have all around me. I think that’s so important. I met up with a friend of mine yesterday, and we had kind of like what you were saying. We had lunch, and then we went on this walk that I didn’t know how long it was going to take, but we ended up going for a couple miles. We just walked and talked.
Charan: It was so beautiful. I remember thinking like, “Man, this conversation, this moment right here is so precious and it’s so divine.” We talked about all kinds of things. We talked about spiritual things, we talked about work, we talked about anything like that. But you can feel that a love is palpable when Christ is present, right?
Daniel: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Charan: I have no doubt that Grace is still a part of your lives, even though physically she might not be, and that you can still feel her love. I think it’s a beautiful thing. So, I appreciate you being vulnerable and sharing that, because I don’t know. Just from my own personal point of view, I always talk to people about just that grace of Christ, because I’m like, “When you taste it and when you know you’ve tasted it, you realize all of life’s problems can be solved,” which is that right there.
Daniel: Yeah. What’s really I think sad to see sometimes is, people that have grown up being religious their whole lives, maybe even going to church, but have still never really tasted and experienced that for themselves. That is a different thing entirely, to where that relationship directly with Jesus, directly with Christ, is different than just going through the motions of church and God’s-
Charan: Yeah, the rituals.
Daniel: … laws, and commandments and all that kind of stuff. There’s all purpose in all of that, but it’s much deeper when you’re actually able to get to that level. So, I always hope and pray that people are able to find that.
Daniel Harmon’s Advice to His Younger Self
Charan: That’s kind of my mission. I feel like with all the content and stuff I want to create, I would love to show that love with people. If people choose to accept it and receive it, that’s fantastic. So, last question Daniel, what would you tell your younger self?
Daniel: What would I tell my younger self?
Charan: Tell the 17-year-old or the 15-year-old that’s selling potatoes, what would you tell that self knowing what you know now?
Daniel: I would say, accept failure as part of the process. I always have a little bit of a perfectionist in me. It is part of what drives me to make really great, quality content.
Daniel: For sure, there’s benefits to it of wanting to do really great things, but there’s downsides as well where, if you don’t embrace failure as a bunch of stepping stones to get to the right solution, or to learn and refine and just improve and grow, then you hold yourself back. I would tell my younger self to do that more. I have to tell my present self to do that more quite honestly because, you can really accelerate your own growth and you can accelerate your impact that you have on the world for blessing others lives. It can be something as simple as, when you have a generous thought, or something nice you want to say to somebody, or someone you want to reach out to on the street or in your neighborhood or at church or whatever it is, that you don’t suppress that.
Daniel: Sometimes we just second-guess those things because it’s like, “Well, what if they respond? What if I’m embarrassed or whatever?” Especially for people like me that are more introverted. But, if you can get past that and fail fast and just realize Heavenly Father has taken care of all that through his son Jesus Christ anyway, it’s not just for the sins, right?
Daniel: It’s for all of it. It’s for all the mistakes, that that’s all already taken care of. Then, that’s a way to live with I think faith and with hope in that. I don’t care if I’m wrong 98% of the time. As long as I’m still correcting all the way along, then I’ll be good, as long as I’m trying.
Charan: As long as you’re trying.
Daniel: Yeah. Don’t be afraid to try because of failure.
Charan: Because of failure, right. One way I’ve been trying to live my life is, I just say, “Hey you know what? God, I’m going to give you the outcomes. I’m going to let you take care of all that, because I know I’m going to mess up, and I’m going to make some mistakes along the way. So, I’m going to try doing the best that I can, but then I will trust that you can guide the ship to where it needs to go, because clearly if I tried doing it on my own, it would not be pretty.”
Daniel: Yeah. That’s awesome. I love that.
Charan: Well, thank you so much, Daniel. This has been amazing.
Daniel: Yeah, thank you for having me. It’s been a great evening.
Charan: I love visiting with you. I’m excited to see the “Tuttle Twins” become a thing. I’m excited to potentially work with you one day, whether it’s on “Tuttle Twins” or even if it’s just hanging out. I would love to do that.
Daniel: That would be awesome.
Charan: Awesome. Well, thanks again. I appreciate it.
Daniel: All right, thank you.
Charan: Thanks so much for listening to the Lemonade Stand podcast, and we hope you enjoyed this episode. Be sure to subscribe to the podcast on whatever platform you use, to be alerted when we release new episodes. We’d also love to hear your feedback and the reviews. If you or someone you know has an awesome Lemonade Stand story, please reach out to us on social media and let us know. Thanks so much, and have a great day.