Kevin Harrington – Takeaways –
- People are cutting the chord from television. Marketers need to go where the eyeballs are.
- How to become a key person of influence in your industry
- If you are going to be in business, or sales you have to be prepared to face rejection
- “What is your IP you? The intellectual property of you?”
Doug: Welcome back listeners, to Real Marketing Real Fast, today I’ve got a very special guest joining me, I’ve got Kevin Harrington. Kevin Harrington has been a successful entrepreneur for the last 40 years. He is an original shark on the ABC hit, Emmy winning TV show Shark Tank. He’s also the inventor of the infomercial and the As Seen on TV pioneer. He is a co-founder of the electronic retailers association and co-founder of the entrepreneur’s organization. Kevin has launched over 20 business that has grown over a hundred million dollars in sales each and has been involved in more than a dozen public companies. During this time, he’s launched over 500 products generating more than five billion dollars in sales worldwide with iconic brands and celebrities such as Billy Mays, Jack LaLanne, Tony Little, and George Foreman.
Kevin has extensive experience in business all over the world, opening distribution outlets in over a hundred countries worldwide. Success led Mark Burnett to hand pick Kevin to become an original shark on Shark Tank where he filmed over 175 segments. Kevin currently operates a private consulting firm where he works with companies to increase distribution, analyze electronic retailing opportunities, and effectively market on digital, social, TV, or radio or print, in addition to sourcing manufacturing and celebrity relationships. Kevin regularly opens his Rolodex and has been able to more than ten times the stock price of several public companies that he’s been involved in.
In today’s competitive world, companies can’t operate the way that they have in the past. And, because of many advancements in technology and the digital marketplace, so Kevin provides advice and expertise on how to navigate the changing distribution and marketing outlets. Kevin also brings his Rolodex and relationships to all companies he works with, including helping in financing like he did with Russell Simmons in Celsius. Kevin got his start as a young entrepreneur in the early 1980s when he invested $25,000 launching Quantum International. This turned into a 500 million dollar a year business on the New York stock exchange and drove the stock price from a dollar to $20 per share. After selling his interest in Quantum International, he formed a joint venture, Home Shopping Network, called HSN Direct, which grew to hundreds of millions of dollars in sales. Entrepreneur magazine has named Kevin top entrepreneur of our time.
Aside from speaking to audiences across five continents, Kevin’s influence has reached more than a hundred million people through his multimedia presence and industry dominance. A prominent business thought leader, he is often featured and quoted by business leaders in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, USA Today, CNBC, Forbes, INK magazine, Entrepreneur, Fortune, the Today Show, Good Morning America, CBS Morning News, The View, Squawk Box, and many more. He’s a regular contributor to Forbes dot com and INK dot com and has published acclaimed books like Act Now: How I turned Ideas into Million Dollar Products as well as a bestseller, Key Person of Influence. He is the founder of the entrepreneur’s organization EO, which has grown to 150 cities and 45 countries and thousands of members, generating over 500 billion dollars of member sales.
In 1990 he co-founded the Global Direct to Consumer organization, and the Trade Show, the Electronic Retailers Association known as the ERA. Today, the ERA is the exclusive trade association to represent global 350 billion dollars direct to consumer marketplace. There’s a case study at Harvard MIT, and has been taught there for over a decade. The true value of Kevin is not only the 40 years of his experience and business building but what he can do with other companies in many industries with his global Rolodex and his ability to solve problems. So welcome to the show, Kevin.
Kevin: Great, thank you.
Doug: I wanted to start off with a question that I saw here in your bio and it said that companies can’t operate the way that they have in the past because of advancements in technology and the digital market space. So, can you expand a little bit and just share with our audience what you mean by that?
Kevin : I look at a lot of major companies and even my own operations, I’ve had the last number of years, if you look, there’s been a huge disconnect, cord cutting they call it, 50 plus million people have cut the cord from paid television, so if you were using TV and newspaper, I call it old media, to generate leads for your business, there’s a lot of companies that still do this, and that’s great, it may be continuing to work a little bit, but there are new opportunities out there. I say where have those 50 million people gone? Well, they’ve gone to Facebook and Instagram and Google search, et cetera, YouTube, and so you need to follow the eyeball. I hear the term you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but if you’re an old dog in business and you’re doing business the same way you’ve always done it, you could be much more efficient and doing much better if you morph into this digital age.
And I’ll say it one more time in one more way, maybe. If you don’t change, the guy across the street from you is going to figure out how to steal your customer because there’s a targeted way to go find customers out there and so what’s happening to people, they’re seeing their sales drop, and they’re like, “I don’t understand, why are my sales dropping?” Because your competitors are stealing your customers in a very sophisticated fashion. You got to be on top of things today.
Doug: Well, I mean you’ve got 40 years of success and starting looking at TV and infomercials and walking right through the digital age, can you share with us a major breakthrough or success you’ve had with a specific marketing tactic? You’ve had success across so many industries.
Kevin: I mean, look, I’ll say this. We used to put everything up on TV. We’d get a product, we would do a commercial or a spot or a 30-minute infomercial, that was our test pattern. So, to do a 30-minute infomercial cost literally hundreds of thousands of dollars and you’ve got websites and you’ve got media, we can have two, three, four hundred thousand dollars invested in testing something, right? So, the bottom line is we finally one day said, “Let’s take products instead of going right into this big expense, let’s test before we invest.”
So, a guy came into the office one day and actually, there are two stories. One guy came into the office and another one grabbed me after a speech I was doing down in Miami. It was these two, young entrepreneurs, they said, “We got a patent for a night light for your toilet bowl,” and I was like, “Jeez, who wants that?” And they said, “Well, think about it. It’s four o clock in the morning, you got to go to the bathroom and you’re walking through the darkness and you’re stumbling and tripping and kids don’t get up because they’re afraid of the dark and bottom line is, this, you get within eight or ten feet, your toilet lights up, boom you can see everything, it’s great.” So, I said, “You know, I think I could use that, is this too niche of a product, is it for old guys like me?” No, mothers will buy it for their kids and all ages, people are getting up at any time during the night.
So, instead of going through tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars in testing in this and that, we went to a very low budget Facebook test, and we shot out some real crude, low budget video and sometimes the authentic nature of low budget video looks cool to the millennials today and the market that’s out there. So, we end up getting all this stuff done for under five grand, building up a website, a landing page, we bought media, we shot a video, we spent $5,000 and this thing shot like a rocket ship.
So, to make a long story short, we got to spend up to $100,000 a week and buy media and it was generating $300,000 a week in sales, do the math that’s a million dollars a month in sales in a digital way. So, we now let’s fast forward, it’s now at Wal-Mart, Target, it’s all over the place, we did a TV version, we did the print version. We created a business that tens of millions of dollars of sales off of a $5,000 investment.
Doug: Wow, that’s amazing. I heard you speak once before and I also heard you talk about the equipment that you started your business with and you spoke to the audience and you said to the entrepreneurs that we have more technology in our iPhones today than you started with, so your message again is to just get started and forget the high production stuff, do some testing.
Kevin: Yeah, exactly. I mean, I wrote one of my books was called Act Now: How I Turn Ideas into Million Dollar Products, and the reason I came out with that book was because I go to an event and I speak to a room full of inventors, let’s say there are 200 inventors there, and afterwards they come up to me and say “I’ve had this great idea for five years,” and I’m like, “What have you done with it?” “Well, nothing, what do you think of it?” I’m like, “Why haven’t you done anything?” “Oh, I don’t have any money.”
Well, you don’t need money to be successful. You can partner with the right people to be successful. You can find lawyers that will come in for a piece of the action and sharks that will come in, but the bottom line is that people say, “When is the best time?” The best time is right now because you’ve waited all this time and if you don’t act, then somebody else will and that’s one of the scariest things is that someone else is working on your idea if you are not.
The bottom line is that I say now is the time because it’s getting more sophisticated as it goes, so the sooner you can tune into what these opportunities are, the better.
Doug: Now, can you share a little bit about your influence. I’ve read a number of your articles and followed you for a while and you’re a big proponent of building an audience and having a good Rolodex and following up with those people, and you’ve got your book Key Person of Influence. So what would you suggest as people are starting to grow and expand their business in terms of influence?
Kevin : I would say this, I think first of all, folks you got to kind of set a game plan together and put a little plan of action and when I talk about the key person of influence, think of it this way, let’s say you’re a realtor and you want to get the best listings, you want to get the best customers. I have a buddy of mine that set forth a plan to go after all the ballplayers, right? And he lives in Cincinnati where I’m from, and he wanted to represent the football players coming in from out of town that just got traded to the Bangles and the baseball players, because they’re number one, they’ve got money, they’re bankable, they’ve go to have a house, they just moved in.
So, he decided to go after that end of the market. So he started hanging out at places where they would go after the games and things and meeting them and networking with them and then he started doing seminars and coaching and all of a sudden, he became what I call a key person of influence in the real estate business and people started taking notice and then he started getting the proctor and gamble executives and he was the big dog. He set out on a path to go after becoming the key person of influence in the real estate industry, and it’s not just one step, it’s various steps, but connecting in building your profile, building your brand, connecting in with the right people, building a dream team around you, and getting some kind of publicity activity, whether you hire a publicist or PR firm, you may not have the budget for that, but there are ways you can go about getting articles written about you, speaking at the local chambers, going on the local TV channels when possible.
There’s also something called highjack marketing. When things happen in town … another friend of mine, he was a dog training expert and he did special cases for the FBI when there was bad dog bites and things like this, so when something bad in the market would happen, he would offer his services to the local TV stations to comment as an expert in the industry. This ended up getting him all over national TV shows, as the expert, the key person of influence. So, you’ve got to come up with a plan, execute it, and all of a sudden, sometimes this can turn in a year or two years, but this isn’t something that takes 10 or 20 years, to become the expert. As I said, I’ve known people who were able to do this within a couple of year’s time. It’s a simple process if you follow the plan.
Doug: So, what do you think the biggest myth is around that? I totally hear what you’re saying and I agree and I’ve had opportunities to do that with ourselves and clients, so what do you think holds most business owners back? They’ve got a good product or a good service and their business is running, but it’s not booming, it’s not doing these sort of numbers and having the success that you’ve had in the past?
Kevin: Well, I think I’ll say this, I think some people think that it’s too easy. I think that that’s part of the problem, it’s not really a no-brainer or something that happens just boom boom. You’ve got to be prepared to face rejection. A good example, I tried to get on The View, and I had a PR firm, I was paying them $5,000 a month and I said, “Can you get me on The View,” They said, “Yeah, we should be able to.”
So, they tried and tried and tried, I was on Shark Tank and The View is on ABC network, Shark Tank is on ABC, they said, “It should be a no-brainer,” but they weren’t giving them a real storyline as I found out. So, they came back after 6 months and said, “We’re sorry, it’s just a no go.” And then when I hired a new PR firm, they laid out the storyline that, “Kevin is going to come on, he’s going to bring the hottest products,” it was coming up for the spring season, “He’s going to bring the hottest products for the spring season and he’s going to do five products in a five minute segment and this is what that segment looks like,” they wrote a script for it, and showed it to the producer. “And then we’re going to give one of those products to everybody in the audience,” and the producer said, “How fast can Kevin get down here and do this?” Because he was solving a problem for that producer, the producer has to find 60 minutes of content every single day, and my old PR firm was just, “Hey, Kevin will come on,” and they’re like, “Who cares?”
The second guy came in and said, “Kevin will come on and he’s going to take the five minute segment, and here it is, it’s choreographed and produced and executed and here are the demos, frame by frame by frame,” and they had the vision of it and then we were on it. We did that with a dozen TV networks, so I was on MTV, The View, Good Morning America, The Today Show, boom boom boom, and these we played way beyond Shark Tank on all of these. So, six months of no, other people might quit. But I kept going, kept figuring it out, and then I got the right person to help me execute the plan.
It’s all about knowing who to go to, and I call this creating the dream team around you, and that’s why I help a lot of people out there do these kind of things, because at the end of the day, I’m an entrepreneur, I’ve had the door slammed in my face probably more than anybody that I know, and I just get up, dust myself off and go back at it again.
One last comment on this subject. Winston Churchill has a saying that success is being able to go from failure to failure without the loss of enthusiasm. And I think that’s me on a daily basis.
Doug: I don’t think I’ve ever met or seen somebody on stage with as much energy as you. It’s just amazing. But, it sounds like one of your keys here, you’re talking about serving the audience, so you’re not just going pitching saying, “Hey, get me on this show,” you came up and you thought about what does the audience, what does the producer need? And so you offered a service that helped them as opposed to saying, “Just put me on your show.”
Kevin: At the end of the day, just getting on a show, it’s never going to work. They get so many requests like that. What I like to say is you’ve got to take your speciality and your niche and this is another term that I use, we’ve all heard the term IPO, like an initial public offering. The company’s going to go public with an IPO, I say, “What is your IP you? The intellectual property of you?” Everybody out there listening to us right now has some type of niche and intellectual property and service that they provide that if you zero down to something that is unique, and what is very unique about what you do and how you do it, and that’s ultimately how you distinguish yourself and this is how you build this key person of influence kind of mentality of being able to take that special skill, that intellectual property of you and zero in on it number one, and then hit it hard and expand it and now take it to the moon with getting all that free publicity that’s out there.
Doug: That’s excellent. So, what are you most excited about today as it relates to your business, your consulting, or your marketing in general?
Kevin: Well, I’ve got something very exciting, my mentor of many years back is named Zig Ziglar, you probably have heard of the master, he was the greatest salesman in the world possibly. And he wrote dozens of books in dozens of languages and trained 250 million people over his lifetime. He passed away about four years ago, and many of the people who may be out there listening today and many of the people that are the millennial crowd, they may say, “I’ve heard that name, Zig Ziglar,” but they don’t necessarily know who Zig Ziglar is, so I’m working with the family now and I’ve done a venture where we’re taking all of the IP, intellectual property of Zig Ziglar in the selling space and we’re relaunching it with up to date comparisons of how it works in conjunction with today’s digital and how I used it in infomercials, and we’re just kind of bringing it back so to speak.
So, to tell you how relevant Zig is, he still has four million-plus Facebook followers, four years after he passed away. This is all launching in January, I’m very excited about it, and maybe it’s just a little bit premature, but you asked me what I’m doing, it’s sometimes, I’ve been working on this now for several months, and when someone sees you in January, they’re going to say, “I heard about that back in November,” so we’ll give them just a little highlight that they can be looking for the Zig Ziglar program if anybody wants to get back to you through this whole process, feel free to come back and check with us in the first week of January when we launch this program, it’s going to be very exciting. We’re putting master classes together and coaching and masterminds on all of the old intellectual of the famous, and I call him saint Zig, Zig Ziglar.
Doug: Yeah, I’ve read several of his books, you’re right, there are masters that are out there and they’re just at the age where they’re retiring or they’re no longer with us and the content is great and those are books that many of us cut our teeth as we were starting our businesses.
Doug: So, what advice would you give our listeners moving forward today? You’ve got a lot of information, I know you’re running a busy schedule, so a couple questions and I’ll let you go. So, just a couple words of advice.
Kevin: Well, I get stopped in an airport, “Hey Kevin, just one thing if you had to tell me,” and it’s always tough because I don’t know where that person is in their life. But the one thing, if we’re talking one maybe a couple, but I’ll start with one, is that when I was a young entrepreneur, I thought I could do it all myself. I didn’t want to hire any fancy people or have any payroll with big people other than … I said I can do it, right? So, the bottom line is that the reality, I made a lot of mistakes because I didn’t have high-level financial people and operational people and we were making big mistakes. So, when I finally decided I’m not the expert in all these areas, I’m a great salesman, and I’m a great visionary, but I’m not the operations guy, the finance guy, the tech guy, the digital guy, this that. So, I started bringing a [inaudible 00:22:47] and he became part of my, I use the term dream team.
I highly recommend … because if you’re sitting there thinking, “Can I do all the stuff I need to do on my own?” And the answer is probably not, then I always say, “Go get some experts to join you and, this is what I do for people, I join their dream team and bring amazing transformations sometimes to businesses. I can’t be on everybody’s dream team, but there’s people in your local market that maybe could be and go for the gusto, go for some big people, don’t settle for second class opportunities when you can get the big dogs in many cases.
Doug: Excellent. That’s great advice. So, where can people find you? What’s the best way to find you online?
Kevin : Kevin at Kevin Harrington dot TV is a great email, or they can go to Kevin Harrington dot TV, check out the website, there are some things you can opt for there, but if anybody’s got a great idea, a great product, a great business venture, send it to Kevin at Kevin Harrington dot TV and if they mention the show that you and I are doing right now, we’ll definitely make sure we take care of them and be good to know that they came through you, Doug. So, I really appreciate you having me on today, I’m looking forward to continuing the discussions and maybe we’ll do another one after the first of the year.
Doug: That sounds good, I would love to promote Zig Ziglar stuff, a big fan of his, thanks so much Kevin. So, audience, I’d ask you, are you ready for a business breakthrough, are you willing to settle for more of the same, so you heard it here from Kevin Harrington, his information will be in all the show notes, we’ll link to his website and various articles on YouTube so you can get a good feeling of who he is and he’s giving you an opportunity to reach out, so thanks so much and wish you lots more success as you continue to change the world.
Kevin: Thank you, buddy, appreciate it, good luck you guys too, thanks for having me, Doug.
Doug: So there you have it listeners, Kevin Harrington has made a great offer to you, so those of you who have said, “Hey I don’t know how to reach out, I don’t know how to connect, I’ve got a great idea, I need to get it in front of somebody,” Kevin just offered you an opportunity to send an email to him, make sure that you mention Real Marketing Real Fast and Doug Morneau in the subject as he suggested, and he will take a look at your product, service or opportunity.
Kevin’s Book – Act Now: How I Turn Ideas into Million Dollar Products
Kevin’s Book – Key Person of Influence
Email: [email protected]