Half a million dollars … that’s what it would cost you to hire business renegades The Harmon Brothers to craft a viral video for your company on YouTube.
They may be the best in the business, and they are willing to share the 4 multimillion-dollar principles that got them where they are:
Just how good are they?
They have made more than 100 YouTube videos for companies that average over 1 million views each.
That’s almost impossible to do … especially for business. Viral videos are the holy grail of marketing online and data-driven business.
I just got to sit at their feet for two hours and ask them any question I wanted.
I had been busy interviewing YouTube greats Lindsey Stirling (800+ million views) and Devin Graham (Extreme YouTuber Devin SuperTramp) to learn their formula for success on YouTube. After mentioning the Christmas mistletoe kissing prankster Stuart Edge, both of them said I better be starting my series on video social media by talking to Jeffrey and Daniel Harmon if I really want to know how to film successful YouTube videos for entrepreneurs.
Jeffrey Harmon is the mad scientist behind the Orabrush videos that have become the poster child for selling a product on YouTube and driving purchases through every Walmart in the United States. He turned what was rejected as a measly 8% segment of a market that would probably buy a brush for your tongue to cure bad breath into millions of dollars and a whole new industry.
Neal Harmon is the technician behind the curtain that codes Jeffrey’s vision into reality. Daniel Harmon makes you love their work with his designer’s eye.
Benton Crane is the only non-Harmon on the team. Benton makes sure they hit budgets, proposals, timelines, and deadlines. The Orabrush campaign is taught as a case study in business schools all over the world and recognized in the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Mashable, Huffington Post, and hundreds more.
PooPourri came to the Harmon Brothers after being rejected by multiple large ad agencies when they tried to turn a poo product into a dinner-table conversation across America. The campaign ran from August 2013 to January of this year and increased web traffic by 13,000%, selling out inventory and creating back orders for weeks. It more than doubled annual revenue in what seemed like overnight.
Their college-level potty humor struck a nerve worldwide:
They are courted by politicians and scheduled for speaking engagements for the likes of Startup Grind, VidCon, Google, and Video Fest YouTube conferences internationally.
When asked for the simple principles of success, Jeffrey said it only happens when you can yoke content with distribution, which agencies and big brands are only now getting a small clue about. He said if he were going to recommend one key thing to do, it would be to watch other really great YouTubers do what they do for at least 2 straight weeks. Don’t watch the big brands or companies, you won’t find many who even know what they are doing.
Jeff coaches specifically to watch Kickstarter and Indiegogo and look at every video that actually gains real crowd funding success and then practice crafting even better calls-to-action for each one as if you were in charge.
Then learn to test. He says if you only pick one thing to do well … it’s all about Call-to-Action. That’s it. OK, there’s a bit more.
Jeffrey turned to Daniel to share what they call the 4 C’s: the principles of YouTube viral secret success. (I’m blown away by how closely my 6 C’s of Social Media coincide.)
C #1 – Content: Find your passion; pick a niche, something that people think is genuine to you. Tap your genius and deliver great content.
You can’t deliver crap and hope people will watch it … well maybe hot girls with a British accent can.
The Internet rewards the two extremes: Stack it deep and sell it cheap like Amazon, eBay, and Vitacost … or a unique boutique niche like a dancing violinist, a brush for your tongue, your pet’s tongue, a blender grinding an iPad, wheatgrass kits, or potpourri bottled scent for the loo.
Then you test everything: the message, the thumbnail, the first seven seconds, the headline, the call-to-action …
Tested content is king.
C #2 – Consistency: You have to be consistent in your style and your release times.
TV learned this a long time ago. It’s one show, like “Friends,” on the same night every week at 7 p.m. You don’t vary from that. We all miss the consistency of “Happy Days,” “Gilligan’s Island,” “Starsky and Hutch,” or “Seinfeld.”
Viewers want to tune in and watch; same bat time, same bat channel.
The difference with TV is that they say a YouTube Channel is not like a TV Channel with lots of shows.
A successful YouTube Channel is a show … one show.
The other portion of that consistency isn’t just the release dates and times but the kinds of content, your brand. It always must feel consistent, the same.
They mention “Studio C,” consistently gaining viewers as perhaps the funniest family friendly comedy show on all of YouTube. But it’s bundled on a channel modeled after traditional TV channels with other shows.
Many warned BYUtv, probably the pioneer of online video by a major university, not to bundle “Studio C” into the BYUtv Channel with other great but vastly different shows like “American Ride” and “Granite Flats.” Those in the know say to break it out on its own or you would have to undo things later anyway with lots of expense, time, and confused viewers.
Hilarious “Studio C” content like the Top Soccer Shootout Ever with Scott Sterling, with nearly 16 million views in the last month,
or their incredibly creative episode The Hunger Games Musical: Mockingjay Parody – Peeta’s Song,
or my favorite (and funniest of all) episode, Drivers Ed,
it continues to beg the question if “Studio C” should stand alone.
The brothers claim that Google algorithms reward YouTubers for consistent content; day in and day out. And whether you can crank out content daily, or take time for more epic projects, you need to deliver on cadence daily, weekly or monthly.
Shaytards YouTuber Shay Carl Butler struggled four years into his seven-year run with flat search rankings in a two-year lull when his heyday seemed to peak. His ambitious goal of an episode of family life filmed every single day at the Butler home was getting penalized until Google woke up and started rewarding this principle of consistency with higher rankings than ever.
Now Sontard, Princesstard, Babytard, Rocktard, and Mommytard have settled into a 5-day-a-week schedule for the sake of sanity, but their near daily schedule viewership hasn’t dipped below 600,000 to 800,000 views per episode more than once or twice in a month.
The top YouTubers dwarf the The Tonight Show.
Where’s Johnny Carson?
So I ask them how I stay consistent writing for Forbes when I have no time as a crazed founder of a hyper-growth company.
They both grin … good luck.
C #3 – Collaboration: No YouTuber is an island.
You pair up with people, especially people above you who have distribution. Usually a new content developer doesn’t have the money to buy distribution, and paid doesn’t do very well anyway for subscribers.
You are building an asset, which requires a following. Paid distribution doesn’t tend to build a following.
A respectable Cable TV station has 400,000 subscribers. These YouTubers basically own their own Cable TV stations, the new Cable TV networks. But in the mind of the viewer, it is a show, not a station.
YouTubers have learned the value of a cameo appearance or a little luv from another YouTuber, hopefully with more, but similar, subscribers. I promote your channel; you promote mine. We cross-pollinate and both do better … the ultimate online win-win.
Perhaps that is why YouTubers become a community that cares for its own. The top three YouTube communities globally reside in London, Los Angeles, and Provo, Utah; and they tend to stick together. With my corporate offices right here in Provo, I’m only 10 minutes from some of the best in the world.
Both Lindsey and Devin mentioned the same thing; it’s all about “Collabs,” as they call it.
And right next to collaboration among YouTubers, is what they call “Covers.” This is where YouTubers in the know tap into a river of existing traffic given off by a big brand and draft off the wave already created by the much bigger brand or community. This is another form of collaboration, though usually covert; there isn’t a single big brand that minds the added lift from derivative work that gives a little luv and backlink collaboration along the way.
Lindsey confesses it was when she played her violin in a Zelda medley, dressed up in a fairly authentic Link costume from the record-breaking Nintendo video game, and danced her way to 20 million views, that her independent music-recording career was assured. Even after “America’s Got Talent” voted her off in the finals. Nobody thought there was a market for a dancing violinist.
Her own top music video “Crystallize” at 110 million views done onsite in another form of collaboration with my friend Brent Christensen and his now world-famous ice castles, as well as her recent world tour, suggest otherwise.
Years ago I predicted huge success for my scrappy friend Brent Christensen in an article called Buzz Marketing: Beanie Babies, Flying Wrenches, and Ice Castles.
That same ice castle became the setting not just for Lindsey, but also for my friend young diva Lexi Walker who collaborated with Alex Boye and drafted a cover of “Frozen” by Disney to 57 million views:
C #4 – Call-to-Action: This is the one principle above all that makes the difference between success and failure in a business that actually makes money.
Jeffrey and Daniel have tested this more times than they can count, and the answer is the same.
People only know what you tell them; they only do what you ask them.
And keep asking.
In fact, keep posting your single most important call-to-action for the entire last 30 seconds of your video if you really want results.
Orabrush was putting calls-to-action in every single video.
Old Spice, who didn’t follow suit with consistent calls-to-action, though their content and viewership crushed the small plastic implement, got schooled by Orabrush with 3x better subscribers per view … because of calls-to-action.
“Studio C” took advice from the brothers Harmon and took off with subscribers when they pioneered putting the actors themselves at the end of every episode asking, pleading, or begging (if necessary) for subscribers.
They specifically coach aspiring YouTubers to have a character from the content, both verbally and visually, make a plea to subscribe, follow, buy, or try.
They have tested and discovered that you want one verbal and visual call-to-action if you are selling a product. If you are driving subscribers, you can have a few visual cues, but still have one verbal call-to-action for best results.
You don’t want a call-to-action to be an afterthought.
Jeffrey and Daniel pause here and remind me that my “Forbes” readers will gain a lot of value from these 4 C’s. They get paid a lot of money to share what they just shared, and a heck of a lot more to actually do it.
Because it works … and it works for business.
And when it works, it works better than anything else on the web.
Stay tuned for more on how entrepreneurs use YouTube for business.
Team, we’re getting a YouTube channel!