This book…was the shit.
What do I mean by “the shit”? Glad you asked.
From Poop to Gold was written by the super duper talented Chris Jones. He spent a ton of time with the Harmon Brothers team which gave him what seems to be years of stories to tell. If you never heard of the Harmon Brothers then I pray you’ve seen some of their commercials they have produced and marketed. I dumped a few below. If you haven’t seen them watch before continuing because my review doesn’t flow as well as their commercials.
This magical book is a behind the scenes look into the noggins of the Harmon Brothers process while working on multiple campaigns. You move from one campaign to another. You feel their pain and suffering like it’s your own. You celebrate their successes. Your eye sockets well up with H2O when you realize how far they’ve come in such a short period of time. If this book could have a soundtrack I’d have an acoustic guitarist play Time of your life by Green Day…or Vitamin C “Graduation” because I want these memories engrained in my mind forever.
When I work on electrical projects around the house, I remember moments of wisdom my father gave me growing up. For example: After you join two wires together with a nut wrap electrical tape around the nut for extra safety. Seems obvious, but sometimes those extra steps save you from turning your house into a satellite office for HELL.
When you breeze through reading each campaign the Harmon Brothers work on, you pick up tips that can help your own success. I highlighted some to remember but since this book isn’t in the drawer of every hotel room I’ll dump my list here for safe keeping.
As a hobby filmmaker and past attempt at running an indiegogo campaign with a video… I’ve spent time in front of and behind the camera. I bought this book to find more pointers when I do an ad in the near future for my first physical product. Currently I’m working on designing and developing a robotic puppy pad cleaner because I’m sick of poop nuggets all over my house.
I’m writing the script before the product is complete so I can test it with different audiences. I’m giving the Harmon Brothers model a spin
- Outline the problem: Small dogs pooping and peeing in the wrong spots consistently.
- Make the product the solution: Dog does its duty and is rewarded after each export in the correct location.
- Add in some calls to action: I’ll be looking into https://www.clickfunnels.com/ based on what I read about them in this book and the commercial the Harmon Brothers created for them.
- Lay on the humor: Hopefully my jokes land well. If they don’t…revise and try again.
I’d like to extend my gratitude to the team + Chris Jones for writing this book which left me excited to get to work on my advertisement!
- (p. 21-22) they knew they could move product off the shelf if they pitched video correctly. Harmon Brothers had, in other words, a model:
- Outline the problem
- Make the product the solution
- Add in some calls to action
- Lay on the humor
- (p. 24) They went out of the gate with six video variations. The idea was to test them with unlisted links on YouTube, watch the statistics on each to figure out how well they worked, and determine which converted (which turned watchers into buyers) the best. Normally it takes two weeks to gather the data. But by the first weekend, whether Harmon Brothers would’ve picked it or not, The Huffington Post blogged about one of the variations, so that was thee variation they had to go live with. And it went viral.
- (p. 46) Benton was remembering the saying, ‘Put the right people on the bus and then find them a seat.’ “I didn’t know what kind of work Jake would end up doing, but I knew he belonged on the bus.”
- (p. 46) Harmon Brothers also has a special meeting called the Hypo Lab (short for HYPOthesis LABoratory) which is a weekly meeting where people can bring up any new product, system, idea, or structure, from the smallest tweaks to major refocusing of the company mission. No idea is too wacky for the initial brainstorm list.
- (p. 48) Then they meet (anyone in the company can participate as a tester), look over the list, and decide which hypotheses to test. A minimum of two and a maximum of eight ideas start out on the list, but usually only one or two make the cut for that week. After selecting one hypothesis, they figure out how to test it and what. resources the test will require.
- (p. 49) Over the last couple of years, the company has grown to the point that it’s impossible for everyone to know and understand what their colleagues are working on. The All Hands meeting fixes that. Each team leader gives a brief, high-level report of what they accomplished in the week prior and then what they plan to accomplish ini the coming week.
- (p. 49) Furthermore, 5-15 minutes of the meeting is set aside for a Moment of Wisdom. The giving of a Moment of Wisdom is rotated, and the speaker gives a presentation on one of their passions or hobbies…
- (p. 49-50) Most of the time the topic is not work related –electric cars, Dungeons & Dragons, documentaries, censorship politics, or nutrition to mention a few.
- (p. 50) All the team meetings, department meetings, even meetings like the team lunch, are packed into Monday before real work starts It’s important to keep those meetings from interrupting the flow of work and breaking the creative focus. Compressing the time frame also forces the meetings to be conducted at warp speed and with maximum efficiency.
- (p. 51) ‘We value your abilities and trust you to manage yourself’
- (p. 51) People keep track of their own hours and contributions, incentivized to do so because of the bonus structure…
- (p. 56) Benton: “Staying small allows us to be selective about who we work with, who we hire–selective about when and how we work.
- (p. 67) Interestingly, it didn’t seem to hurt the brand that people had to wait–people will wait a good while for a truly outstanding night’s sleep. There is actually research on this–people value things they have to wait for. Acquiring something instantly is great fun (and addictive, thank you, Amazon), but for something special, the anticipation is part of the enjoyment. Think of Christmas here–counting down. slowly increases the impact of the day itself.
- (p. 72-73) The more local and immediate a reward is, the more impact it will have on behavior. Here’s a simple example: If I ask you to put in two hours a day building an ice cream stand and promise you that if you do that, when the stand becomes successful a couple of years from now, you can get a cone every day if you like, that might be attractive to you. But if I told you that as soon as you were done building the basics of the stand, you could have one ice cream every day we made a profit, how much better and faster would you work? How much more tightly focused would you be on doing productive work to get the stand to. profitability? That’s the model.
- (p. 89) Pressure and stress are killers, both of people and of businesses. Yet they often cannot be seen until the. crisis arrives, when it can be too late to repair the damage.
- (p. 90) First, the point person, a member of the HB Business Development team, scores a product in eight categories:
1. Does the team love it?
2. Is there an obvious problem that this product solves?
3. Does the product differentiate itself significantly?
4. Are its customers enthusiastic fans about the product?
5. Is the product ready for market?
6. Is it scalable?
7. Are the people at the company reliable and do they communicate well?
8. Do they trust us with creative control?
- (p. 138) Apparently, Thursdays is a terrible day to release a video.
- (p. 138) The launch was timed for the early afternoon.
- (p. 139) These days, most people read their videos.
- (p. 155) Members of the creative team headed to a nearby university with dozes of donuts and a couple iPads to show the ClickFunnels ad. They asked passing students, “Can I trade you five minutes of your time for a donut?” After showing the video several doze donuts’ worth, they knew what needed to be changed.