If you're having sleepless nights because your 3-week-old YouTube Ad is not pulling in leads or your budget seems too small to run a marketing campaign, this episode is for you! Join us now as your host, Jon LaClare, shares the unique processes, techniques and mindset that's helped Harvest Growth attract millions in revenue for many small businesses. It is a throwback to HG’s very first podcast - an earlier interview with LaClare by the business leader Carmine Denisco from the Investors Launchpad podcast.
In today’s episode of the Harvest Growth Podcast, we’ll cover:
A detailed explanation of Harvest Growth's "secret sauce" for successfully launching products.
Why marketing failures and flops are good for product marketers.
How to turn around stagnant marketing campaigns.
How to prepare effectively for a marketing campaign.
The right mindset to have if you're marketing a product on digital channels.
Why data gathering, analysis and constant iteration are central to marketing success in a digital age.
You can listen to the full interview on your desktop or wherever you choose to listen to your podcasts.
Or, click to watch the full video interview here!
Do you have a brand that you’d like to launch or grow? Do you want help from a partner that has successfully launched hundreds of brands that now total over $2 billion in revenues? Set up a free consultation with us today!
Prefer reading instead of listening? Read the full transcript here!
Jon LaClare: Welcome to another episode of the Harvest Growth Podcast, focused on helping consumer product companies, inventors, and entrepreneurs harvest the growth potential of their product businesses by teaching cutting-edge marketing strategies and interviewing successful marketers, as well as product marketing experts that share their stories to inspire you to achieve hyper-growth for your own business.
I'm your host Jon LaClare, Founder and CEO of Harvest Growth, and I believe that if you want to make your product the next household name, you just need to follow the right plan and that even the best products struggle to succeed when they step away from proven strategies that work. I believe that you can grow profitably, which means you don't need to be a Fortune 500 company or have access to venture capital in order to grow your business.
If you'd like to learn more about what we call the perfect launch process for marketing products, check out harvestgrowth.com. If you still have questions on how you can implement this process for your business, you'll see a link on our homepage to set up a free consultation with one of our product launch specialists.
Carmine Denisco: Hi, everyone, and welcome to the Inventors Launchpad Network. I am Carmine Denisco, your host for today's show of the Launchpad. With me, I have a gentleman I've known for, I'd say, many years, and we've been trying to get him on the show. He travels a lot. He's always out. He's helping brands. He's helping products. He's helping people, inventors, to help get their products out there. He's really a great guy. His name is Jon LaClare from Harvest Growth.
It's going to be a lot of fun today because he has so much in-depth knowledge on what to do with your product when you want to present it that we're going to have some fun. Hey, Jon, you over there? Let's get you going, man.
Jon: How's it going, Carmine? Great to hear from you. It's been a long time. I'm so glad we can reconnect again.
Carmine: Yes, man, it's been so long. I'm awesomely happy to have you on. I think what you do, and what you've been doing. You're not just some guy who was-- they had nothing wrong with a plumber and decided to do what you do last year. You've been doing this a long time. You know what you're doing. Nothing wrong with plumbers. Plumbers are great, but you're such a professional at what you do that does it make it sometimes easier when somebody comes to you-- We'll get into what you do.
When somebody comes to you, is it like, "Yes, we can help you." You don't even have a question, right?
Jon: Absolutely. We've been in this business so long. I call it the business of launching new products in various different fashions, and we'll get into exactly what we do today. We've done it over many forms with big companies, small companies, et cetera, for almost 20 years, I've been doing this. Now, it's fun.
As people, inventors, entrepreneurs come to us, we know what products have a good chance of working, which ones don't, what changes need to be made. A lot of it just becomes intuitive after being in the business for so many years, as you know very well, Carmine.
Carmine: Exactly. Sometimes it makes it, I want to say, fun, because really when the people walk into your door, you're like, "Yes, we can help these guys." It's not a question, or it's not a worry, and you know you can move them forward in the right direction.
Jon: Absolutely. I'll tell you just a little bit of my background. I know we'll get into this as we get through the story, but it makes sense with what you're talking about is, I love working with inventors and entrepreneurs. I've had a passion since I was a young kid of wanting to be an inventor until I realize that I'm not an engineer. I don't design products. I'm not good at that. That part, I don't enjoy. I finally realized, 20 years ago now, that the side of it that I really enjoy is bringing products to market. It's a different skill set.
inventors, entrepreneurs their mindset is about creation of something new, identifying problems that need to be solved, and what we do is help them get from that point is, now how do we introduce this to the masses? It certainly is a process. We'll go over the process that we use as we get through this interview, but if you follow that right process, we know we can help. We know we can help them bring their products to market in a very successful way.
The big difference, I would say, in the way I like to run my company, and really the reason I founded it now, about 13 years ago, that this specific company I founded was to help entrepreneurs and inventors launch their products without having to get a license deal. Now, license deals are great. There's a lot of companies out there that broker licenses. If you just want to invent and pass it on, that's perfect.
That's a great avenue, but for our clients, the ones that choose to work with us, they want to own the product, they want to own the business, but they're just missing a piece of understanding what to do next. We help them to wade through the waters of bringing a product to market, avoid the missteps and mistakes, and confusion that's so easy to get mired down in. That's why I started this company many years ago, and that's really what we've been doing ever since.
Carmine: It's funny some of the wording that you use I can relate to because I love that you say you have a process because it's not like, "Hey, this is the first time we're doing this." Over time, you've created this process that you can just drop people in wherever they are, what phase they're in, and you could hit the ground running. It's not like you're reinventing the wheel when they walk into your office.
Jon: You got it. It took a long time. It's not an easy process, I think, to come up with. A little bit of my background. I used to be a public accountant, believe it or not. I carry the famous moniker of being the only infomercial producer and product launch expert that is a former CPA, I think. I say that somebody will call me wrong, I'm sure there's somebody else out there, but that's where I started.
I was a CPA. I realized, "Hey, that's not really for me long term. I like to create." It's a great career for those that do it, but not for me. I transitioned over into business school. I went to Montgomery MBA at the University of Chicago many years ago, and my goal was now I want to learn how to create, to launch products, to invent, to market, et cetera. I took all the courses I could in new product development, new product marketing, et cetera. It goes down the list.
What I found at the time was most of the studies that had been done, all the work that had been done by academics was really around big companies, so how do big companies bring products to market, which is great? I actually used that as my experience when I went and did new product work at Kraft Foods for many years.
It was a great learning experience, but what I realized at the end of that is, if I don't have $2, $3, $4 million behind me, at that point, I didn't know what to do. Most inventors, entrepreneurs don't have that, or even if they do, really shouldn't spend that very quickly. You want to get the product proven out. From there, actually, I left Kraft and went to work for a company called Orange Glo International, which a lot of people haven't heard of. I see you nodding, you know the company, but it's the OxiClean company.
Everybody knows OxiClean as a brand, but the company was called Orange Glo. There was a wonderful opportunity to now work with the founders who had literally started the business in a garage, grew it to an amazing success, eventually sold the business off for $325 million, the Apple family, great, great family. It was fun to really work at their feet.
Now, alongside them, really, the people that had launched it from the ground up and now launching new products with bigger budgets and a lot of inventors have, by that point, but still, understanding, it all started in the garage. It's possible for everybody. After that company was sold off is when I started Harvest Growth, my current company.
We now help inventors, and we've developed this system over the last 13 years or so, similar to what we used to do at Orange Glo, OxiClean, but now with smaller budgets, the ability for almost anybody to be able to do this, but through a process that's now been proven over hundreds of launches to be very effective.
Carmine: Wow, it's amazing. When I think back to those days with Orange Glo and OxiClean, infomercials were out, but when you guys hit the market with some of those commercials, they were very, very cutting edge, as I recall.
Jon: They were. There was a couple of differences with Orange Glo, OxiClean back in the day. One, of course, was Billy Mays. May he rest in peace. What a great man he was. I know he lived not too far from you, Carmine, for much of his life. He was a great, great man. I still think one of the reasons that he was so successful and iconic as a pitchman is because he was genuine. That came through. You could tell. He was energetic. He yelled. He seemed very, very energetic in his presentations, but you knew he believed in the products.
That's part of the success story truly, is Billy Mays behind it, but part of it, too, was how we were able to parlay the success on TV into retail. That's really what grew the brand. Before that, all the ads seen on TV-type products for a decade prior to that were big successes and did okay in retail, but really, OxiClean was the first success to now take, "Okay, now we've got this huge engine that drives amazing awareness. How do we now use that to push retail sales?" Of course, the rest is history with the OxiClean for many years after that.
Carmine: We'll get into some of the process. What I loved, what you guys did, was that as you drove to retail, you constantly created new products that you could sell on the infomercial so that you could still make money on infomercials, but you were still driving the brand name to retail. When the customers walked into retail, they still recognize the name. Both processes, the infomercial, and retail were happy. [laughs]
Jon: That's very astute of you actually to recognize that. A lot of people don't. They think that the infomercial started and kept on going the same with Billy Mays for years, but really, as you said, once you get into retail, and everybody knows you're in every Walmart in America, every Target, every grocery store, they're not going to buy that same product on TV anymore.
What we used to be able to sell, it was a two and a half pound tub for $40 back in the day on TV. Once you get to Walmart, that price goes way down, of course. That product, it changed. We still make good margin on it, et cetera, but you're right, you have to on TV and now digital. What used to be only TV for many, many years, now you can do something similar on digital platforms, Facebook and Instagram, still through the power of video, and that coincides with TV.
Sometimes it's just digital. That can work very well, too, to really drive awareness, et cetera, but it's got to be innovation. If you're showing something, a product, a demonstration, whatever it might be, and it's not new and different, people stop paying attention, or they assume, "Ah, that's cool, but I'll go buy it in retail or whatever." Now, all of a sudden, your advertising is no longer paying for itself because you're not getting, what we used to say, the phones to ring right. Surprisingly enough, people still phone in orders. Most of its course over the web, and even over Facebook and Instagram through retargeting, et cetera, and other means.
Carmine: Yes. No, it's awesome, man. Just on a side note, I met Billy Mays a couple of times. When I first met him, I expected him to be like, "Hey." He was such a quiet-- His persona on camera was a little different. He wasn't faking or anything, but it was just, I thought he would just be louder and crazier. He was just a great guy. [laughs]
Jon: Yes, he is super nice. Yes, not soft-spoken, but not the same yelling that you see. Being on set with him, it gives you a totally different sound. We probably did 20-25 videos together or so. Once those cameras come on, "action" is yelled, he changes his persona. It's still the same person. It's just, he's projecting his voice and getting your attention. That's one of the things that made them so lovable, and it really made it work so well.
Carmine: Yes. Awesome, man. As you know, I know you've been listening to the podcast a little while, our listening base is mostly inventors, entrepreneurs. Some of them are successful. They're selling. Some of them are in different phases of their products as entrepreneurs and things like that. How does what you do-- I don't want them to think that, "Man, I can't do that. Why is he even on the show?" I love the way you have, I don't want to say packages. You're able to really fit what you do into almost any budget, right?
Jon: Absolutely. Actually, I'm a big believer in education, so I like to be on podcasts. Thank you so much for allowing me on your show, Carmine. I love being in front of your audience and, of course, reconnecting with you again, after so many years. This is great. What I love to do is to educate. A lot of the work I do is free. We do a lot of blog posts and articles and video trainings and things like that we want to get the word out and help people to launch products.
Some people have a very limited budget, and they want to do it on their own. We want to help them at least get as far as they can through instruction. I'll tell you, it's a system we use that can be helpful for that. For others that need a little bit more help and have a little bit of budget to do it, it doesn't have to cost what it used to be. Years ago, if you did a TV launch, even 20 years ago, it would cost at least $100,000, $200,000, and on up. Very, very expensive to get involved.
Now with a change in the digital landscape, still, there's a cost to it, but it's a significantly lower cost to be able to get started. A lot of our clients, for example, will start with advertising on Facebook and Instagram. We'll do a simpler video than we might do for national TV and then prove out the concept. In the meantime, it's not just a test. We're also getting revenue in. They use that to then fund a bigger launch later on, potentially go into TV, other platforms, et cetera. Starting small but in that test, really bringing in revenue.
Let me teach your audience one quick overview of what we call the perfect launch process. It's this process that we've developed over the last 13 years and really before that with my education and big company background, et cetera. It's a combination of culmination of all that I've learned and all that I've done and all the many launches we've done over the years. Again, we call it the perfect launch approach because it's something that can be dropped in on almost any consumer product, which is really what we do.
We're not really a business-to-business marketer, but we sell consumer products. It could be a $10 item. It could be a thousand dollars item, and it almost any category. It's a process that works for everybody. It's really three key steps. We call it prepare, produce, and then profit. I'll go over quickly today, and we've got more information on our website at harvestgrowth.com. Feel free to call us anytime at our office. There's a link on our website they can go in and meet with one of our product launch specialists to get a lot more detail-specific advice.
The preparation part is one that I view as maybe the most important and often left out, especially with new inventors, new entrepreneurs, they think they just have to either get to market or go slowly. Some get stuck in the patenting process, which is important. On many categories, it's good to have a patent, but you don't want to spend all your money and then be stuck and not be able to market the product. This other piece of what we call preparation is it's essentially testing.
A big part of it is market research. We do a specific way of surveying consumers. There's a battery of questions that we ask to understand how likely are they to purchase the product, what should we price it at, what color should it be, things like that really just to prove out the concept. Then also, something about features and benefits. I know you've talked about this with some of your other guests over the years, but its features are essentially the facts of a product, color, size, descriptions, et cetera.
Benefits is how it helps you. It's the benefit language that's used. Getting both of those and understanding each product, what's most important through research. What we find is, back in my Kraft Foods days, we would spend six figures, often $200,000 or more on market research. Crazy. Inventors can't or shouldn't do that. Even if you have unlimited pocketbooks, there's no need anymore to do that. Again, big companies are just different, but for a small company, it's can be almost free.
It's in the hundreds of dollars thing to do it, right? One of these types of surveys on your own, to ask these questions and get these answers. What you do is now you avoid tens of thousands of dollars in mistakes. If you go to market the wrong way, you adjust, you tweak, you modify. It's just funny to that. There's a cost to that. Getting that testing done upfront is such a crucial step.
The other piece of it, I'd say, so as market research, we talk to consumers. The other piece of it is now looking at the competition. I had an old boss many years ago. I used to work with her. She used a phrase that I've loved and used many times called borrow with pride. I tell this down, my employees and with new clients we work with, so this is not about copying your competition. It's about getting learnings in two ways, from their wins and their losses.
We learn if they're doing something right, it's okay to get some learns like, "Hey, this is the way they talk about their product. Okay, that's something I hadn't thought about. Let me not copy that, but learn from that. Maybe this is a type of feature benefit that I should talk about in my messaging." Then also look for losses or what I call opportunities. If there's something either they're not talking about or their product doesn't include, what makes your product better when you take it to market, look for that in this competitive analysis.
Then beyond that, I would say, high-level analysis of competitors through Google searches, through viewing their products on Amazon, looking at their website, their retail packaging, et cetera, beyond that, there's a lot of tools that we use where we can now analyze, "Okay, what are they using as keyword tools? What keywords are they using on Google, on Amazon?" Behind-the-scenes stuff that with some software tools, we have access to, we know some of these "secrets" that they're doing. We can, again, learn from those.
Those are the two components of prepare, I'd say, is the consumer research and then the category review or analysis that gets out there. Then the next step is--
Carmine: Before you go--
Jon: Go ahead.
Carmine: Before you go to the next step-- This is awesome. I'm writing all this down. A lot of times, and I'm glad to do this, a lot of our inventors and myself, sometimes, I'm scared to ask people if they like my product or if they like the color or if they like things because I don't want negative feedback, but what you're saying is leave it up to someone else probably if I'm too emotionally attached to it, right?
Jon: Absolutely. I love that you brought that up. Thank you. What happens oftentimes is we get that reaction in a survey, for example, that, A, either people hate the product or don't like it in its current form. There's two ways to take that answer. Three, I guess. One is you could ignore it, which we see happen sometimes. You're so emotionally involved and attached to your product, you just ignore any feedback that comes in. Don't take that road.
The two right ways to approach it, one is to, "Okay, maybe I should stop and look for another product. The feedback is bad enough. Maybe it's not as unique as I thought. Hey, I love this product. There's something already out there that's just as good or better." You'd rather learn that upfront and move on to something else that's going to be your big home run, as opposed to pushing something that's going to maybe never work or never to the extent that you'd hope it to.
The second way is often missed. The second way is to adjust. If you've got a product, and you get some feedback, that the response is low, and what we call purchase intent score is low, you can change it. What do you change in your messaging? Maybe your pricing. Maybe add some features that will bring more important benefits to solve a different problem. It's getting those learnings and adapting.
Carmine: I like that. You can make changes, so it gives you the ability before you go spend a lot of money and go to market, you're changing for what the public or your target market wants.
Jon: Absolutely, adjust and optimize throughout the process. This is something that it comes not just to the product but to your marketing. Down the road, as you actually start to bring this to market, the same thing happens. You may see some poor or lower-than-expected results early on, and that's okay. Some of the biggest home runs that we've worked with, the first few weeks, or even months sometimes are struggling. They're not making money because we're testing, tweaking, optimizing until you turn that corner.
Sometimes it's not just the product but the way you talk about it. It's the messaging. It's the pricing. It's really the marketing approach that you take. The nice thing is once you dial that in, once you get it optimized, now you can grow it and scale it very quickly, and it's predictable and scalable, are the words we like to use. You get that dialed in. Now you can just keep doing more and more behind marketing the same channels, with the same messaging to the same platform, but in a bigger way. That's really how you grow your business.
Carmine: Cool. What I like about it is because you have the experience, you're warning or letting the customer know how it's going to go. You're going to be like, "Listen, we're going to start here, and yes, we're not going to have a lot of sales till we launch, till we do this, till we make these tweaks, till we change it," because a lot of people, as soon as you put it out, they're like, "I didn't make a million dollars last week," and they want to give up.
The way that you're explaining it, you have a process, you're letting them know, "Hey, listen, this is how it works." I think that really helps people be more relaxed and calm and expect the unexpected kind of things.
Jon: Absolutely. That takes me to the next step of our process. After the preparation piece, now it's time to, what we call, produce, which really means, okay, now we've got to produce our marketing materials. For us, oftentimes, that's video. Video marketing is still the most efficient powerful form of marketing that's out there for almost every product category. We produce, and we do a lot of this in-house. We've been doing it for many years, national TV ads, but we do a lot of digital Facebook, Instagram, website videos as well.
It's about producing that but taking your learnings from this first step, this market research, not just on the product, but on the messaging, so how do we script the right video or videos. You're going to do different formats typically for Facebook and Instagram and all this kind of stuff, making sure that you've got the right approach. Producing the video and then also producing the ads themselves. On TV, the video is it. You put it up on TV, it's the commercial. That's what you get, and you're driving people to your website.
Of course, you've got messaging copy on the website, et cetera. In a Facebook or Instagram ad, you've got the video. Many times, even in the most successful campaigns, people may watch 3, 4, 5 seconds of the video, and then click. If you get their attention, you get to the website, that's okay. They can watch the rest of the video once they get to the site or read copy that's similar to what we're saying, but there's another piece to it. It's called ad copy.
Above and below, for those of your listeners that have been on Facebook and Instagram, most of them, I assume, is you look at the written copy above and below these sponsored videos. It's a quick sentence, often a testimonial or a quick feature and benefit. It's identifying those. It's amazing how the same video can have a different sentence above it and completely different results. It's getting that messaging just right dialed in.
Again, doing it from your learnings that you got in stage one, that preparation phase, your research, understanding your audience, it makes that process much easier. Then getting to the website, whether it's from TV or from digital platforms like Facebook or Instagram, making sure that those copy points are also included on the website as well. It's making it consistent throughout finding out what your target market cares about and then talking to them in the right way. The rest is a lot easier.
The last step is the easiest is profit. We call it the easiest, but it's once you've dialed everything in in the first two stages, now it's just about repeating and scaling. It's about, "Okay, now I've got this working. Now I just scale up my spend." For example, we start off with maybe $500 a week in the first spend test on Facebook and Instagram, for example. If that works, we're generating two, three, four times that in revenue. Great. Pour some of that back into the business, scale it up, and it becomes a repeatable business.
The interesting thing about this process is if you start to hit a snag, or your growth starts to be stalled at some certain point, you can go back through this process again. "I've got my marketing. It's stopping working after a year, two years, whatever it might be. Let me go through again the same process, prepare, produce, profit." Research again. "What more learnings can I get to maybe target a secondary audience? What do they want to hear, and what's the messaging they want to get? Then adjust the marketing messaging accordingly as we target them."
It's going through that process over and over and over again in a repeated fashion is how to best grow your business for the long term.
Carmine: That's what you've done with all of these brands, all of these products. If people go out to harvestgrowth.com, they'll see the products that you work with. You've built them over time. You didn't take one product. You took the product. You ran it through this process. As it slowed down, you went back, you ran another or updated it, or it was a different version. By having somebody like you to bolt on with that experience, it's not just about making a video, guys, all my listeners out there. It's not just about making videos.
There's so much more to it. You're bolting on so many things, but it's not scary, or it's not something that you should shy away from. You just need to have the right process.
Jon: Exactly. There's really three [inaudible 00:24:08] you can change beyond. Sometimes it's creating a whole new video. Sometimes it's, like you said, bringing out an additional product or the deluxe version or the new and improved, but it's not always that. Sometimes it's really pulling one of these other three levers. It's the offer. It's the audience or the message. Those three levers you can pull, now after a year, things have stalled out.
Well, we can change the offer. Maybe we decrease the price, now we give free shipping, or now we buy two, get one free or add in something with it, or potentially change the product as well. That's the offer you can change. The audience, rather, is who we're talking to. Now on TV, that's the stations we choose. If we previously were targeting this certain version of our ad with a female audience aged 45-plus, for example, that one's saturated. Now, how do we target males 45-plus or whatever it might be, depending on the product, so talking to the audience?
Now, on Facebook and Instagram, you can get much more laser dialed in on exact audiences, exact people, really. On TV stations, it's types of people. It's an average of maybe this station is on average women 45-plus. You and I might watch it, too. We're in that mix. On Facebook, you can target only women within a certain age bracket, for example. What we do is they have something called lookalike audiences, where anyone who's familiar with Facebook is probably familiar with this to some extent.
Now, it's very focused. It's not just about age, but it's about people that are like the buyers of your product. They are very similar in certain psychographics. Now, all of a sudden, we can get this laser-focused audience, and it just improves over time. That's where we see ROIs or return on investment or profitability really go up over the course of a campaign because we can laser focus and down these in. The last piece is the messaging, which we've talked about.
It's changing the video. It's changing the ad copy. It's really how you talk about it. Maybe changing the website, but focusing on those three levers, you can further enhance your campaign or correct a campaign that might be going off course.
Carmine: 90% of those things that you just spoke about are things that can be changed fairly quickly. I don't want to say, it's easy, I don't like that word, but because you're ready for it, it's digital, it can be changed, and the other part that I love is that testing these things from the early 2000s to now, it's so nice to be able to test ad copy, test ads, test different things so quickly and get feedback. I know that when I have an idea, I think it's the greatest idea in the world, I automatically think, "This is my market," and 9 times out of 10, I am totally wrong on who I think the market is.
Jon: True. Frankly, even with research. Research, I would say, puts us in the right direction, but we still want to fine-tune that through actual results, the actual launch. What I love about the new frontier of marketing of really direct response marketing over the last several years is it really has made this testing process faster, easier, and cheaper. I think back to my Kraft Foods days. My first true career in launching new products, we would spend, as I mentioned before, $2m to $3 million on any new product launch.
The harder part is you wait. We did a campaign on a new honey-made line of snacks, or I launched part of the 100-calorie snack packs for Nabisco back in the day, as well as was part of Kraft Foods, and you'd wait. You do all this work up front, a lot of market research dollars in advertising, and you wait for months before you have any idea if it's working or not.
What I loved about my transition in the infomercial space, direct response TV, is, now all of a sudden, that that period of a lot of money but also a lot of time to prove out, now we can put something on TV in a week when we have results back, and then we make tweaks and changes and go on air for another week on national TV and adjust that. Now that's changed. Now on Facebook and Instagram specifically, we're still talking directly to the consumer. We're still marketing directly to them, but we get responses back in a day or immediately.
We can change it every single day. We can do these split tests where we got two different websites with different offers, and you're getting these answers back much more quickly. Even for our bigger clients that are going to TV, because TV still works. TV infomercials are still the best way to scale a business and really drive retail.
A lot of our clients end up going there, but even those that have very deep pockets, we still start with the digital approach because we can test, tweak, change, modify, improve back and forth almost constantly through the process, get it dialed in, and then go to TV. We're saving a lot of time and a lot of money in the long term.
Carmine: That must be so much fun. Again, I know it's a work business, and it's serious business, but to see whether your idea works or not and being able to change that or change one word or change an ad and actually see it work so quickly, it must be just so much fun to say, "Okay, this is it. We hit it." Then you just blow it out.
Jon: It's exhilarating. As I mentioned before, I'm an inventor at heart. I'm just not a good inventor. I'm not an engineer. I don't know how to make products, but that's my passion. I share the passion with our clients that are inventors and entrepreneurs on helping them bring their products to market. We only work with people we like and products we like, we believe in. They're good products. We turn away, just simply because we don't have the passion for it because it's such an important part of what we do.
You're exactly right. It's a lot of fun because I share that passion. When they have success, I feel it, too. It's my success. I mean, it's theirs.
They own it, but I get to share a part of that emotional reaction with them, and it is so fun. What I've loved to see is on the TV side of the business, the infomercial side of the business, for years, it was maybe a 10% success rate as an industry. Ours was higher because we use this whole process, but it was tough.
Even my Kraft Foods days, you'd spend $2M or 3 million, 10% success rate. Most products fail. It's just the nature of new products. What I love about this new frontier, this new landscape of digital marketing to launch a product is our internal success rate has gone up 10 times. We have 10 times more success now than we did even just a few years ago with TV. Even though we were successful compared to the industry before, but now things have changed.
I love that because I share that passion. There are downs when a product doesn't work. It's frustrating, but now, what I love about it is, as you mentioned, you can now dial it in, so even if the first week it's, "I'm down and frustrated. What do we do to fix this?" There are things we can do. We can go out there and make tweaks and changes. Then week two or week three, it turns around, it becomes a success, a home run. It's so invigorating. It's absolutely exciting.
I'd love to share that excitement with the inventors and entrepreneurs we work with.
Carmine: I could tell, man. I could tell you're having fun doing it and being able to, as technology evolves, as the web evolves, having those weapons in your arsenal to just make things better. You don't have to be some super computer geek, obviously, but you just have to use those tools in the right way.
Jon: Agree. Exactly. It's understanding the process, dialing in the process in the right way. Again, we like to teach the process. We can't teach everything we do because it changes every day, all that kind of stuff but the basics so enough that people could try this on their own, et cetera, but of course, we'd love to work with these people on their products. We can walk them through the process, hold their hand through the process, and teach them these nuances but really help them to take advantage of them, so they can have success with their business.
Carmine: For all you listeners, enough to know that you really don't want to do this on your own. [laughs] Jon's not saying that because he wants you to try it or look into it. If you want to be successful, you have to have a team. There's just no doubt about it. Obviously, know enough about it, and that's what I love about Jon. What you're doing is you're educating enough so that people can try certain things or try certain aspects, and they can get a good idea.
At some point, if they come to you, you'll know that they're a little bit more educated and knowledgeable. It's easier to move them forward.
Jon: Absolutely. One of the things we teach, and a lot of the content we write is how to do these market research tests. If they start off on their own, even just to see if it's a good idea. If they want to start in that process, and they come back like, "Hey, we got some good results on this. Now we want some help. Awesome."
We might redo the market research because there's a way that we do it right, just to prepare the campaign, but it's enough to at least get that early indication of which of these fried products that I've got in my head should I work on. Let's say, it's a good focus to work on.
Carmine: I just got a question come in from our studio, from our waiting room area, the conference room we broadcast our show. Do most of the clients that come to you have product or a certain amount of inventory or just maybe few hundred units or whatever? Do they need to have product, or is it better to? Obviously, you can do dry tests, whatever, but what's the best way to do it?
Jon: Most of the clients that we work with at least have product almost ready, at least. Our process takes typically two to three months, so we coach them that you want to have inventory at least two to three months away from today. Because we're shooting video, usually, we need a physical sample that we can shoot a video with and prepare a website, take product photography, but you don't need tens of thousands of units of inventory.
You can get away with a few hundred, depending on the price points and that kind of thing, but relatively small levels of inventory to start. Prove this out because again, even if you have deep pockets behind this, when we launch the campaign, you may find out that, "Man, I wish I would've added this feature to it." The last thing you want is to have 10,000 units of something that you wish were a little bit better.
Start off small. You can always get more inventory replenishment, and with direct response marketing, meaning you're marketing directly to the consumer, you can start and stop it. If you hit a snag like, "Hey, we really want to need to change this," you can turn off your marketing campaign and come back to it later on if you need to adjust.
Now that being said, we do, as you mentioned, there's dry testing. It's Kickstarter or crowdfunding campaigns. You can do pre-order campaigns within a Shopify website for example. We have a client we are just brand new working with that it's very expensive to make the molds for their particular product, and their goal, ultimately, they want to get a license deal, but they want to prove the concept that there's sales behind us. They want to start that process.
What they're doing is, actually, we don't have any sample. The product is very expensive, even to make a sample, so we're doing an animated video for them. It's a really cool product that solves an everyday problem. It's confidential at this point, but when the story comes out, we'll certainly share with you in your audience. It's super cool. We can show that in animation now and bring people to the site, collect pre-orders. That's an option.
I would say, 90% of the work we do, you obviously are selling. You've got inventory. You ship it out. With Shopify websites nowadays, some of our clients even start shipping on their own because literally, the orders come in, you click a button, it prints out a thing, clap it on a box, and you're good to go. It makes it really easy. Once you get good volumes, then you hire a fulfillment house, at least, a third-party logistics, they call it. They're inexpensive.
It's not expensive to do, but that's down the road. A lot of this you can start very simply and easily on your own.
Carmine: I love the Shopify platform. You're exactly right. I agree. It's a great platform to utilize, like you said, not only just to start off, but I've seen some pretty large companies running on Shopify.
Jon: Absolutely. We have clients that are in tens of millions of dollars a year in revenue and still using a Shopify platform. There's pros and cons. It's not as flexible as some platforms, but it is something an inventor, an entrepreneur can do on their own. They can make tweaks, adjustments, changes to it pretty relatively easy. You don't have to be a coder for it. There's some limitations, but the other nice thing is so much of what we do is about data.
Coming back from our TV days, you want to see, again, who's buying, what stations are working, all that kind of stuff. Now on Facebook and Instagram, we want to see what audience is buying, what ads working, et cetera. When you have a good website, and Shopify's not the only platform that does this, but they're one of the best ones, where you can connect them really successfully and effectively to Facebook and Instagram so that you're not losing that data.
For example, when you launch a product on Amazon, you lose all that because it's not your website. Amazon's a great tool. We use it for almost all our clients. We want to get there eventually, but to get learnings, it's a difficult platform to use for a new and different product especially that's people aren't searching for is because you go to Amazon, no matter if we send them to Amazon from a Facebook ad, we don't know which ad they saw, who bought, all that stuff.
With Shopify websites, you get all of that data, you'll get all those learnings, and then some people are going to go over to Amazon. We use it as a secondary vehicle in the very beginning because we want to get learnings, which we get on Shopify, and then have Amazon, for example, as a secondary platform. I'm a big Amazon shopper. When I see an ad, that's where I go first. There's a lot of people like me. You want to have that availability, but you want to try to keep as many people as you can on the site itself.
Again, purely for data in those early days, especially.
Carmine: It's a data-driven world. Like you said, you want that information. If you're trying to help your clients out, you want to have that information. It's very super important. We're running a little bit low on time. I know you have a book out. Why don't you tell us a little bit about your book?
Jon: I wrote a book a few years ago actually called Sell On TV. It's one of the bibles of direct response TV. I wrote it in a fashion of education, really. If TV is the route that you want to go, then it's a great book to get started, just understand how it all works. Actually, you can get a free copy of it on our website so if you go to harvestgrowth.com, it's Harvest, H-A-R-V-E-S-T, growth, G-R-O-W-T-H.com, they're down at the bottom of our homepage. There's a link you can click and get a free copy.
It's a PDF version of the Sell On TV book, or you can get it on Amazon and other platforms as well. The intent of that book, and really, what it's done for us over the years is really just to give you, okay, here are the steps to follow if you want to launch an infomercial campaign, whether you hire us or not, but just make sure you avoid those stumbling blocks. I've got another book in the works now on the digital platform because we're doing so much more on that.
A lot of those, even if digital's your way to go, it's a great book on videos. I don't understand what videos tenets to use as you launch a campaign to make sure that you're going to be successful as you go out. Thanks for the plug on the book as it were, but again, it's free. If you want to go to our website harvestgrowth.com, you can download a free version of the book.
Carmine: That's why I mentioned it, too, because you do give it away. It just shows that you're really just pushing education. You want potential clients or people that are looking to do this to be successful. That's what I love about it is that you're not saying, "Here, buy my book." Obviously, if you want the actual version, you could buy it, but you're giving it away, which is awesome.
It's crazy how years ago when we first met, the camera seemed like it was the most important piece of equipment. Now it just seems like there's so many little nuances and little things that the camera's just such a small little piece, right?
Jon: It is. It's funny. We, of course, have one of the expensive cameras, whatever, but you can get away with the quality of even a phone for some videos. If you're starting off with a product video, you can have good quality. There's some features you can't do. You can't change lighting as well. You can't do what we call creep zooms. A lot of these things are going to make the video feel that much more premium, but the quality of the image is very similar, even from a iPhone or a Samsung Galaxy or that kind of thing.
As a starting point, it's an okay place to be. Eventually, move on to a more professional video. The more important part, frankly, is the scripting. It's the messaging. It's how you're talking about the product, what you're saying. Those elements are becoming more important because it's a level playing field on the actual visuals. There's some certain tricks that we do to make it look even more premium, but the real value we provide for our clients, for example, is the script because that makes all the difference in the world.
The way you talk about this is what's going to make it go viral, make it convert, so people aren't just watching, but they're getting to your website, that they're interested in purchasing, that they're pre-sold on the product before they even get there.
Carmine: That's cool, man. We're closing up on, and you don't have to name names, is there, as you look back over your career, is there a certain shoot or commercial or something that you did with a client or something that just sticks out in your mind, whether it was bad or good? You don't have to name names, but is there something that you just remember that as being something that sticks out?
Jon: It's interesting and great question to bring up. I'll mention the names. We have a recent client that's in the last six months or so, product called CampMaid, C-A-M-P-M-A-I-D. For anybody in the audience, it's a Dutch oven user. It's not for everybody, but if you're a Camper Dutch oven cooker, especially in the outdoors but also works indoors, it's like a Swiss Army knife of products for a Dutch oven. They also sell Dutch ovens, but they're more about the tools that go with it.
We're taking off lids to turn your Dutch oven into a pizza oven, to a steamer, to a roaster, to a smoker, to a grill, all this kind of stuff. Go to the website of CampMaid if you want to learn more about the product itself. The shoot, it's very memorable because to this day, in 13 years of doing this, probably the most difficult shoot I've ever done. The client is fantastic, so I hope if they're listening to this, totally upfront, but they're awesome to work with. I love them. Family-owned. It's a father and daughter that run this business, and they're awesome to work with.
The difficulty on this shoot is, as you can imagine, you've got to now cook something, prepare, and it can take 45 minutes to get heated up, so you get that perfect steam shot. We're doing that over, and over, and over again, I think 20 or 25 different recipes over the course of two days. It was a lot of work to get that done, but shoots can be hard to do them right. It's not as easy. You look at a video, and that video ended up being two minutes.
Out of two days of work, plus a lot of beyond that even, but two primary days of shooting, 10 hours, a day two days solid to get two minutes of footage at the end of the day. It's working really well. They're selling on TV now, they're selling on Facebook and Instagram, so it's great to see their success. They're such good people, and the product's fantastic, but to me, that stands out. It's a good example of it can be hard, this preparation phase of a business, getting things ready, but doing it right is so important.
We could have gone out there with an iPhone and shot really quick videos on just, "Hey, here's the product. Here's what it looks like in, I don't know, two hours and had a okay video, but it wouldn't sold. It was worth going through that extra effort, and that's my advice to every inventor and entrepreneur out there, is spend some time on this upfront piece. Whether it's your marketing collateral or getting the product just right and dialed in is, it doesn't have to take months or years on whatever stage you're at, but be careful with it.
Be studious with what you're doing, and make sure you're doing each step of the process right. If you need some help along the way with different vendors, like with a patent. We don't do anything with patents. We always advise if you're getting a patent make sure you work with somebody that knows what they're doing. It's going to make the process shorter, but it's going to get it right, too. Just every step of the way, make sure you either know what you're doing or working with somebody that can help you.
It doesn't have to be crazy expensive. Each of these vendors, they're good and bad ones, and they're expensive and inexpensive one, and it's not always the expensive ones that are the best ones. Just look around, and find out what's the right fit for you.
Carmine: I agree, man. I think it's great, Jon, that you say that it's not easy. Professionals like yourself, it takes time to get the right shot. It takes time. When people see the videos that you create, they're like, "Oh, Jon, make me a video." They think you're just going to whip it up. It takes time because, with today's high-definition cameras, people expect this high level of quality when you're pushing a product like that. I think that, like you said, if you're shooting with an iPhone, you can do it, but if you say to yourself, "That's okay," then it's not good enough.
Jon: Yes, you're right. I'd love to be back on the show some other time and talk about we have some tenets of video, I don't have time to go into today, but one of the tenets of doing a good video is credibility. One of the pieces of credibility is that premium look and feel. I always say, it's okay for your audience, as an inventor, your target market to know that you invented your product in a garage, but they don't want to feel like you're still making it in a garage.
They want to understand that what they're getting is high quality. Part of that's going to come out in how you present yourself with your video, with your website, and other materials to really make sure it looks premium. It looks like something they can trust.
Carmine: Awesome, man. Listen, this is usually a half-hour show. We can keep going. This could be turning into a three-hour show. I'd love for you to come back on. I think that, as we spoke about before we started filming, this is super needed for not only an inventor, even business owners for anyone who has a product, a service, an inventor who's looking, even if you're looking for investment money, creating good video, explainer video, this is so important.
As I mentioned before we started, I said this is going to be a great lead-in to-- hopefully, we'll do some more shows, because I tell you, Jon, this is great. I know all of our listeners right now are going, "Man, you're writing this down like crazy."
Jon: Well, thank you, and I really appreciate it, as I mentioned, the time to be on the show. I love to teach. I love to educate and get the word out on how to launch products. I'm a huge believer in the power of innovation really to drive our country and our world. If we can help inventors and entrepreneurs to be more successful, there's a million great ideas out there that are struggling along because they don't know how to bring them to us.
They don't know how to bring them to market, so just getting that part of the process right if we can help educate in any way. I'll mention, if you go to our website, one of the great tools I offer, get our free book, of course, so go to Harvest Growth, harvestgrowth.com. There's a link on the bottom. You can connect and actually set an appointment up to speak with one of our product launch specialists, so a member of our team can actually answer specific questions.
The book is meant to be great to give you some direction advice, et cetera, but if you've got specific questions on your product that we can just answer, let us know. Go ahead and set up one of those free consultations. There's no cost for it, and they'll be glad to walk you through. I joined some of those calls, but we have our team that's very well-versed. We've all been here doing this for a long time and launched hundreds of products together, so they know what they're talking about as well. Again, we'd love to help out wherever we can.
Carmine: Well, we appreciate it, all of us. Our listeners, myself, all of our team, we really appreciate any information, especially giving out the free consultation is huge. That is taking time out of your guys' day, but it's beneficial for our listeners. They want to have questions. They don't just jump right into things, and let's face it, some of us are nervous to move forward, so it's great that you can do that for a free consultation. It's awesome.
We are going to close up the show today, and as I said, all of our listeners, go on out to harvestgrowth.com. All of this information will be available on our show notes page for Mr. Jon LaClare. I thank him for being on today. If I could ask our listeners, it would be awesome if you could go out to Google Play or iTunes, leave us a review. Leave us an honest ranking. It would be great, and if you have a suggestion for a guest or a title for a show, please send it over to us.
Again, I appreciate you listening today, and we'll catch you next time on Inventors Launchpad Network. You all take care.
Jon: I hope you enjoyed the latest episode of The Harvest Growth Podcast, where we seek to teach the latest strategies and trends to profitably grow your consumer product business. Be sure to check out harvestgrowthpodcast.com to see other episodes that we have recorded. If you liked this episode, and you want to learn more about how Harvest Growth can help your business, check out harvestgrowth.com, and you can book an appointment with one of our product marketing specialists right from our homepage.
If you'd like to hear more shows like this, please be sure to subscribe to our show, and leave us a review at iTunes or Google Play.
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