Scott Harkey’s agency is turning the heads of brands and holding companies alike with its passionate, agile work, focused strategy, and innovative analytics. Under Scott’s leadership, OH Partners has become one of the largest, most-decorated agencies in the southwest — expanding alongside its award-winning sister companies, digital agency, Nomadic, and production company, Matter Films.
TheHarkeyGroup.com – Learn more about The Harkey Group.
Rebrand Pod – Hear the stories of the world’s most impactful brand campaigns, as told by the agency and in-house marketers who built them!
3 Value Bombs
1) Resets are key to success.
2) Figure out how human beings connect and understand you and your potential customer’s values.
3) Partnerships are the key and the most undervalued opportunity for entrepreneurs.
**Click the time stamp to jump directly to that point in the episode.
Today’s Audio MASTERCLASS: How to Build a $100 Million Marketing Empire from the Ground Up with Scott Harkey
[1:48] – Scott shares something he believes about becoming successful that most people disagree with.
- He believes that resets are key to success.
[3:19] – How did you get to where you are today?
- He was a street hustler and did not finish college.
- He was passionate about marketing and advertising.
- He had a rough journey, but 15 years later, he now has 15,000 employees and works with some of the biggest brands worldwide.
- Focus on your daily growth.
[6:05] – What were the most significant obstacles you faced while building your company?
- About five years ago, they acquired a strategic marketing company.
- He was in the board room announcing the partnership and acquisition – and also that he was going to rehab.
- He had a lot on his plate, and he needed a reset to make a change.
- He spent four years in therapy.
- After years of therapy and lessons, it kickstarted him to betterment.
[9:24] – A timeout to thank our sponsors!
- RocketMoney: Stop throwing your money away. Cancel unwanted subscriptions – and manage your expenses the easy way – by going to RocketMoney.com/fire!
- HubSpot: Learn how HubSpot can help your business grow better and get a special offer of 20% off on eligible plans at HubSpot.com/eof!
[11:57] – What do you think we need to know about what lies ahead when it comes to marketing for entrepreneurs?
- It is a fun time, yet a scary time to be in the marketing business.
- A massive convergence is happening, and you must emerge and breakthrough.
- To exist digitally in the consumer’s mind, you need 20 impressions per month.
- Figure out how human beings connect and understand you and your potential customer’s values.
[14:36] – What advice would you give to the next generation of marketers?
- The belief economy is rising.
- As the belief economy grows, you must command belief in your business and customers.
- Define the contents you are creating and the channels you are putting your content into.
- Be mindful that every platform is different
[17:53] – Scott’s takeaway.
- Partnerships are key, and the most undervalued opportunity for entrepreneurs.
- You have to be great at collaboration and partnerships.
[21:45] – Scott’s call to action.
- TheHarkeyGroup.com – Learn more about The Harkey Group.
- Rebrand Pod – Hear the stories of the world’s most impactful brand campaigns, as told by the agency and in-house marketers who built them!
[23:16] – Thank you to our Sponsors!
- HubSpot: Learn how HubSpot can help your business grow better and get a special offer of 20% off on eligible plans at HubSpot.com/eof!
Boom, shake the room, Fire Nation. JLD here and welcome to Entrepreneurs On Fire brought to you by the HubSpot Podcast Network with great shows like The Salesman Podcast. Today, we'll be breaking down how to build a $100 million marketing empire from the Crown up to drop these value bombs. I brought Scott Harkey into EOFire Studios. Scott's agency is turning the heads of brands and holding companies alike with its passionate, agile work focus strategies and innovative analytics. Under Scott's leadership, oh Partners has become one of the largest, most decorated agencies in the southwest, expanding alongside its award-winning sister companies, digital agency, nomadic and production company matter films.
And today Fire Nation will talk about the biggest obstacles Scott faced when building this company. We'll talk about how the marketing industry is at an interesting time and what lies ahead. And then we're also gonna be talking to you, Fire Nation, the next generation of marketers and what you need to be on the lookout for. And so much more. And a big thank you for sponsoring today's episode goes to Scott and our sponsors. Success Story hosted by Scott D. Clarey is brought to you by the HubSpot Podcast Network. The audio destination for business professionals success story features, convos on sales, marketing, startups, and more. A recent episode on how to disrupt an industry is a must. Listen, listen to success story wherever you get your podcasts.
0 (1m 28s):
Scott, say What's up to Fire Nation and share something that you believe about becoming successful that most people disagree with.
1 (1m 38s):
I love it. What's up everybody? Happy to be here. What a, what a great day, man. Let's start out with, with fire, obviously, you know, for, for me it's big failures. I call 'em resets and a lot of times people think resets are a thing that makes you have to start all over. But I believe resets are a key to success because for me, every time I hit a point where I have to reset, I have to go to that next click. And what made me successful up to that point isn't going to work for that next click. So people could say like, failure, you know, that's kind of cliche, but I, I think resets are, are, are the key.
1 (2m 19s):
And maybe a lot of people disagree with me, like everything should be, you know, all good and, you know, nice little path to the top. But I, I think the big resets are, are, are the key to success.
0 (2m 31s):
I think people are scared of recess cuz they kind of feel like they're going backwards or they're starting over and people kind of get a little nervous with that concept. But Fire Nation, it allows you to clear the deck and say, okay, let's start fresh. What's the next step? What's the next process? What did I learn from some of the mistakes that I made? And of course some of the successes and wins that I had going forward. And listen, we're talking about how to build a hundred million marketing empire from the ground up. So obviously Scott knows a thing or two about the power of the reset. And I wanna talk, Scott, about your journey. Share with us how you got to where you are today.
1 (3m 9s):
I'm a street hustler. I'm a college dropout. I barely graduated high school. I'm, I've been very passionate about the marketing business and the advertising business. I had been that way since I can remember as a kid, but it didn't start out all rosy. It was a hard journey. I started in radio. I started selling radio like 20 years old cuz I was pretty much failing outta college. I tried to play football in college, failed that. And I just started selling radio and I loved it. And I started to work with ad agencies and I'm like, man, I, I think I could do that. So 15 years ago we started our advertising firm, Owens Harkey and Associates.
1 (3m 51s):
And we, we started in, in my business partner and I, we started in his kitchen in Scottsdale with two cats and a small little condo in Scottsdale. And we were, we were, we, we would make excuses to meet people for coffee or lunch cuz we, we didn't have an office. We were, we were embarrassed. And 15 years later, you know, we have almost a couple hundred employees, five different ad agencies. We work with some of the biggest brands in the world, the Walt Disney companies, Virgin Wind Resorts, Amazon. And it's a, it's kind of been a, a dream come true, but a lot of freaking hard work, a lot of failures. There was a rehab STT in there for me and a, and a huge, you know, crash and burn.
1 (4m 35s):
There's, there's been divorce in there, there's been almost going outta business multiple times. There's been losing accounts, there's been a lot of crying. So it's been, it's been quite the journey and I'm just appreciative of, of where we are today and where we will continue to go and where growth can happen at any time. And sometimes it's painful and sometimes it's fun. But for me, I, I try to focus on, on how am I growing, you know, each and every day.
0 (5m 2s):
Fire Nation, are you focused on how you're growing each and every day? Because like Scott mentioned, there's gonna be days you're moving forward, days you're moving back. I like to say, hey, if you're moving forward at least four days a week, that means that overall you're taking the right number of steps forward. I mean, obviously we wanna shoot for 5, 6, 7 days a week, we're moving forward, but there's gonna be setbacks, there's gonna be setbacks every single week, month, year. But if over time, consistently you're taking the positive steps four days a week, five days a week, six days a week, over time, that's gonna compound into amazingness. And you also need to think about the reset, like Scott said at the beginning of the episode, because obstacles, challenges will happen.
0 (5m 46s):
And Scott, that's where I wanna move into next. The biggest obstacle that you faced while building your company. Tell us that story.
1 (5m 54s):
Man, there's a ton, but the one that sticks out the most is, I want to say it was five years ago. We had just acquired a company and I was super excited about this company. It was like a strategic marketing company. I knew the founders for a long time and I'm in the boardroom and I'm announcing this, this strategic partnership and acquisition, and they're gonna move in with us. And it was kind of our first, you know, path to owning and, and having other agencies in our group. And well, that same day I thought I was making an announcement for this new company and I actually was making an announcement to our staff that I was going to rehab.
1 (6m 36s):
I, I I, I had such a weight on my shoulders and the stress of, of building a business and traveling and trying to get clients and trying to keep a marriage together and kids, it, it, it got to a point where I needed a reset. I needed a big one to make the change that I wanted to have happen. And that was really tough. That was tough on my family. That was tough for me personally. I had to rewire my, my insights and that was a, that was a four plus year journey of therapy and group therapy and learning and self-discovery. It was my master's degree in, in, you know, kind of how humans connect with one another.
1 (7m 21s):
And it's the best thing that ever happened to me, but it was also the worst thing that ever happened to me. But after that, my business, you know, 10 Xed because I was a human being that understood how other human beings operated and worked. And I had a different level of empathy and it just, I don't know, it was, it was, it was a, it was a, a serious learning lesson, but it, it, and it, and it's kick started this curiosity to life and betterment and just really diving in deep to myself to figure out kind of how I tick. Whereas past me was, you know, just a grinder, you know, like I was just gonna get up and grind and it was probably coming from maybe an ego point of view or is coming from an insecure point of view.
1 (8m 10s):
And it, it got me to some good levels. But like I said to my point earlier about the resets, it, it, it, it, it could only get me so far for that next level. I needed to think smarter. I needed to understand things at a, at a deeper human level. And that was, that was a huge challenge. But the biggest opportunity,
0 (8m 27s):
I'm a human being who understands how human beings work. I mean there's a lot that I love that Scott just shared with Fire Nation. Think about that sentence. I mean, it seems obvious a human being understands how human beings work, but you know, what's obvious isn't always practice. So few people are always thinking about that possibility that hey, there's a human on the other side of this interaction. There's a human on the other side of this equation. And how can I make this a human to human interaction? How can I treat people like they want to be treated in a way that's gonna be beneficial for everybody involved? And we have a lot to talk about around this topic, the marketing industry and so much more when we get back from thanking our sponsors.
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Hubspot (10m 16s):
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0 (11m 17s):
Scott, we're back and the marketing industry is in an interesting time right now. What do you think that we need to know about what lies ahead when it comes to marketing for entrepreneurs?
1 (11m 30s):
It's a really fun time to be in the business and it's a really scary time to be in the business and, and we're seeing everything kind of converged together. I mean, influencers and celebrities owned brands, agencies are, are, are starting brands, brands are starting agencies, influencers are starting agencies, media companies or influencers and brands. So it's just all this content noise of people and brands and things. And so how do you stick out and, and how do you break through? Whether you're an entrepreneur, early stage or an entrepreneur scaling up or you're an agency or you're a brand.
1 (12m 13s):
There's so much out there and you know, I always say this, that, you know, the average American consumer today sees 5,000 plus promotional messages a day. Wow. Google put out a study and they said to even exist in a consumer's mind digitally worth with advertising, you're gonna need 22 impressions on that consumer a month to even be on the radar. Which is why we've seen Instagram and Facebook ad sales go from 7 billion to 20 billion in, you know, less than three years. You've seen TikTok go from 5 billion to 12 billion in less than 12 months. Brands want to exist in this world.
1 (12m 53s):
And so as, as, as a, as a, as a brand or an agency, I like to say let's get back to the basics and let's figure out how human beings to connect to one another. And once you can figure out that, once you can understand you know, what your values are and what your potential customers' values are, you can stick out because then you really mean something
0 (13m 17s):
By our nation. There's a lot of power when you understand that right now it is a fun time to be in the marketing game, but it's also a scary time. Fun and scary. It seems a little contradictive, but this is what we bite off as entrepreneurs and this is where we can really make some massive impacts. I mean, you've heard the stories of the companies that do the best during the worst times cuz they're the ones that grow stronger, they become anti-fragile, they survive. And some of the biggest and best companies right now in this world were started during the scariest times in this world. So think about that now, a lot of my listeners, Scott, their next generation marketers, I'm talking about the fact that they are Fire Nation, the next generation of marketers that are entering this world, that are currently existing in this world.
0 (14m 6s):
Give some specific advice to this next generation of marketers.
1 (14m 10s):
I believe that we're moving into a belief economy for forever. Companies were valued based on, you know, revenue and multiples of revenue and ebitda and there was a lot of financial equations to, to value of companies. We've seen it with tech platforms where they built incredible pans, whether that's been Airbnb or Uber or Lyft or you know, Facebook and all of these San Francisco, you know, tech brands that, that, that based on an idea and a belief. And if you look at all their taglines and how they connected to people's values, they, they built enormous companies and they weren't based on sales anymore, it was based on the belief that they were going to be something incredible and they were gonna change people's lives.
1 (14m 58s):
So as we move into this belief economy, it it's, it's a, it's a great time to be an entrepreneur and it's really scary because if you're have a lot of b going on and, and you don't command belief with your employees and your customers, then you're not going anywhere. So that's really hard to do to constantly level set and see if you're aspirationally commanding belief of your customers and your employees. It's really hard to do, but it's a huge advantage to large brands if you are an up and coming brand. I believe a couple of of of you know, real life takeaways and, and, and strategies and tactics that every business should be thinking about.
1 (15m 43s):
Number one is how you're creating content and what channels you're putting content on. And the commitment to the creation of content is huge and understanding that platform by platform is different and that the, the measurement of success of your marketing from a content perspective, an organic content perspective is gonna be really tough to measure. But it's, it's table stakes at this point in business. So I always advise people to take a percentage of your sales, projected sales and you put it into marketing and know that 50% of it's gonna work, 50% of it is gonna be, you know, testing and learning opportunities. But creating content on channels that your customers exist and finding a reason for people to believe in what the hell you're doing is the differentiator in the marketplace.
1 (16m 33s):
It's not just product differentiating anymore, it's tonality, its personality and its belief as a differentiator in your space
0 (16m 41s):
Fire Nation. How can you get people to believe in what you're doing? That's the key phrase that Scott just shared. Get people to believe in what you're doing and you have a chance. And not everybody, not everybody's going to believe in what you're doing and that's fine. In fact, you wanna be polarizing, you wanna be a little combative in certain scenarios in certain ways cuz you want people to really believe in what you're doing or to not, or to not even care. It's, you want that kind of polarizing vibe right there because that's how you're gonna get your 100, 1000, 10,000 true fans. Now, Scott, how to build a hundred million marketing empire from the ground up. That's the theme of today's episode.
0 (17m 21s):
What's the big takeaway you want Fire Nation to get from this theme, from this topic?
1 (17m 27s):
I think partnership is really the key and probably the most undervalued opportunity for entrepreneurs. And look, you're gonna get burned in partnerships. You're gonna have partnerships that don't work out. You're gonna have partnerships where you're providing more value at times. But to really scale and to really capitalize on different expertise and different audiences, it's all about partnerships. So for, for me and for our agency, I, I could have kept just, oh partners, our full service ad agency, over a hundred employees, some great clients and we could have kept growing at a, at a decent pace and doing some really cool things or just luckily I knew a lot of people in the business and they came to me and wanted to be a part of what we were doing.
1 (18m 8s):
I and I couldn't figure out why. So I kept adding more agencies whether I bought 'em fully and those entrepreneurs became, you know, team members and, and W2 employees, but were still paid at a high level. Or there was other agencies where I took Minority investment or other agencies. I just use their services cuz they do create freaking work or freelancers that used to work at our company that now we, we freelance with. For us, the way we've beat the big guys, I mean some of the biggest companies in the world in our space, I mean there's five advertising agency holding companies with hundreds of thousands of employees and then the other ones are the biggest consulting companies in the world like PWC and Deloitte. So we have to be great at what I call collaborations and partnerships and we have to have deep relationships with these other agencies or other partners, whether that's agents or celebrities or content creators or website builders.
1 (19m 0s):
We can't do everything ourself. And that's how we've been successful. Cuz brands will come to us, they know we know what we're doing, we pass the smell test. We've, we've got some big brands on our portfolio now and they know that we will get shit done with a network of creators and creators love working with us cuz we treat 'em good and we pay 'em on time and we treat 'em like a partner, not like a vendor. And just the little things like that has helped us grow to the agency that we are, I mean, there's no reason why a little agency in Phoenix and Las Vegas base should have some of the biggest brands in the world. It doesn't make sense, but they come to us because they know they're gonna get great damn work and it's gonna be fast and there's gonna be a lot of independent creatives and people that are gonna make the work great and it's gonna appeal to their customers.
1 (19m 51s):
And, and that's the differentiate for us. It's nothing, you know, really that special, but it is those little things that are special, but I could never do it. We could never do it alone. We need those partnerships and I think other businesses need partnerships. Even the biggest brands in the world now are doing collabs. They're seeing Vans collab with, you know, artists and creators and musicians and, and you're seeing brands collab with our brands. I mean, my friend at Rocket Mortgage just did a commercial with Mattel and Barbie. The biggest brands in the world are, are collabing because if you love Barbie, you know, now you might love Rocket Mortgage and if you love Rocket Mortgage, now you might love Mattel. Like when, when you love a company and they're partnering with another company, it it's almost like a a, an endorsement.
1 (20m 36s):
It's better than like a normal brand endorsement or a celebrity endorsement. So when two companies partner, there's amazing power. Now it's super messy and you have have to get your ego out of the way and you can't get caught up in keeping score just like if you were in a relationship. But you can unlock one plus one equals 10 with really great partnerships.
0 (20m 59s):
Scott, love everything that you shared today. I mean this, this co-mingling, this collaboration. I mean, Fire Nation is the wave of the future. You need to be thinking about how you can participate. If Fire Nation wants to connect more with you, Scott, with your company, what's the best way to do? So what's your call to action?
1 (21m 17s):
We're launching this January, The Harkey Group, which is our, our agency that's putting together other five owned agencies under one platform and we're looking for more agencies in the platform and more brands to connect with agencies in our platform. So the harkeygroup.com is our website. You can find me on Instagram. You know, Scott Harkey, I put out a ton of content. I have a podcast called Rebrand where I have some of the top marketing people in the world talk about their brand and then also a book coming out called Reset, which we, we talked a little bit about. So find me anywhere Scott Harkey on Twitter or Scott Harkey on Instagram. All the all the channels rebrand.
1 (21m 58s):
Definitely check out that podcast. We're pretty excited about the, we just had the CMO of Rocket Mortgage talk about some Super Bowl ads last week. So love to connect with any entrepreneur or marketing people out there. I I try to make time to make sure we're given back to the entrepreneurial community and just appreciate any sort of support moving forward.
0 (22m 17s):
Fire Nation, you're the average of the five people you spend the most time with. You've been hanging out with Scott and JLD today, so keep up that heat. If you have any direct questions for Scott, find this episode on the podcast listening app, Podopolo, post a comment, start the conversations, and of course, eofire.com. Search for Scott in the show notes page. We'll pop right up with links to everything that he just shared. Scott, thank you for sharing your truth, your knowledge, your value with Fire Nation today. For that we salute you and we'll catch you on the flip side. Hey, Fire Nation, a huge thank you to our sponsors and Scott for sponsoring today's episode, Fire Nation. What can 3000 of the world's most successful entrepreneurs teach you?
0 (22m 60s):
How about how to achieve financial freedom and fulfillment? My first traditionally published book, the Common Path to Uncommon Success, is a revolutionary 17 step roadmap that will lead you to the lifestyle you've been dreaming about. This book took me 10 years of accumulating the genius of the world's top entrepreneurs, and you can get it all in one place when you visit UncommonSuccessBook.com. I'll catch you there. Or on the flip side.
Hubspot (23m 27s):
Success story hosted by Scott D. Clarey is brought to you by the HubSpot Podcast Network, the audio destination for business professionals success story features, convos on sales, marketing, startups, and more. A recent episode on how to disrupt an industry is a must listen, listen to success story wherever you get your podcasts.
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