May 9, 2024
43 min
Episode 69

TOP CMO: John Solomon, Therabody- 'From Garage Gadget to Global Wellness'

John Solomon - Therabody  00:00

We've just started to take a very audience-based approach. Repetition is reputation. You have to as a brand, think about what are your key brand assets.

Ben Kaplan  00:09

This is the podcast where we go around the globe to interview marketing leaders from the world's biggest brands, fastest-growing companies, and most disruptive startups.

Ben Kaplan  00:24

This is TOP CMO.

Jackson Carpenter  00:28

Hi, this is Jackson Carpenter and I'm speaking with John Solomon CMO of Therabody, a company known for its innovative wellness products popular among athletes, fitness enthusiasts, and anyone seeking relief from muscle tension and soreness. I am Cristiano Ronaldo, and I am F peribadi applet. John has over 25 years of experience in digital marketing, communications and strategy. He most recently served as Director of Global Marketing and Communications at Apple where he spent seven years. He's also worked as a consultant and strategy director for companies like Audi, Google, and Nike, and founded grew and sold innovate a digital strategy firm in China. In this episode, we asked how partnering with complementary companies can help you to reach heights that you wouldn't have on your own. We'll talk about how to think like a business strategist to align your executive team and get buy in for marketing campaigns, and how companies could expand beyond their initial audience and catch competitors off guard. We'll dive into this and more with John Solomon. John, for those who aren't familiar, can you just give us the elevator pitch on what Therabody is and what you're

John Solomon - Therabody  01:40

doing there? Sure, Therabody was started a number a number of years ago, and by our founder, Dr. Jason, and he was in a motorcycle accident and was looking for ways to deal with the pain he was struggling with didn't want to go the normal path of surgeries, pharmaceuticals. So he literally took a jigsaw out of his garage and put a tennis ball on the end of it, and kind of created the first percussive therapy device. So we originally theragun was the company who was actually Thera guns with a Z at the end him that he had come up with his kids, which they quickly decided that probably was not a great thing to have this relates to the peel Dizzy off, and then became theragun. And then that obviously had a tremendous growth, especially during COVID. As people are unable to go to their, you know, massage therapists or chiropractors, and really were able to, as they were building their home gyms really wanted to bring that therapy back into their own homes, we had a tremendous growth. And then quite a few companies started developing a few other different lines, product lines, eventually evolved to be therapy body, which we are today. And we basically have a number of products that we say helps you live healthier, longer lives, and it's all through technology.

Jackson Carpenter  02:53

And in the time you've been at Therabody, you've experienced tremendous growth, I believe I saw that you've raised like $165 million launched is like eight SK use. Tell me a little bit about what it's been like to be a part of that. hypergrowth. Tell me about what that's been like as a marketer, and how you've had to adapt in order to keep up with that?

John Solomon - Therabody  03:14

Yeah, no, it's a great question. You know, we're a product led company, right. And so our engineering teams and product development teams are constantly finding exciting new technology to solve all sorts of different pain points. So I think as a marketer, that that can sometimes be challenging, because it's like, wow, how do I explain all of this? How do I allow my consumers to even understand which products to deal with, so the way you kind of how I've really developed our larger brands strategy is really by creating three unique verticals. And the first vertical is what we call performance. And that's kind of our DNA, that's where we started. That's where all kind of sport sits. And we have products that are connected to those with positioning, we have a kind of a look and feel for those. And we even have Wayfinders on our packaging, then kind of our second area we built out is called wellness. And this is a little bit more we focus on sleep, everyday aches and pains, and we have stress. And so we have certain products positioning and look and feel for that too. And our third area, which kind of our newest areas beauty, and we've gotten into this whole beauty tech space, and again, that has its own, you know, so that's how we show up at Neiman Marcus or Nordstroms to be very different from BestBuy or target or specialty store. So again, then we have our whole look and feel there. The challenge for marketers, my team is well then how does it all hang together? Right. So we've done a lot of work in terms of they can each have a little bit of their own worlds to plan but it all ladders up it all looks cohesive. And if you were to see any of it on a shelf together like sometimes we will merchandise beauty and wellness together, right sometimes will merchandise performance and wellness together. And increasingly we're seeing a lot of intersections between performance and beauty. Big As someone on my team said to me, she was like the WNBA draft was the biggest fashion show or beauty event of the year, right. And so you're seeing so many different types of people who having so many different needs. So it's really exciting that we can bring these things together and they sit together, they they sit together and separate as well. So that's how I've really thought about it. But it is an ongoing challenge when you are in a completely new category. And you have creating completely new products. And I and as I always say, to my team, education is our biggest challenge, how do we educate you on getting the right products? And then you post purchase? How do you get the most out of it?

Jackson Carpenter  05:38

I guess if I think about where I first saw a Therabody product, I was at the gym, there are these big group of power lifters, you know, sitting around and between sets, they're like, you know, rubbing out their muscles, right, and they're pumping just huge amounts of weight. And using this product. And so in my mind, from a really early kind of my first introduction to the brand, I always thought of Therabody as an extreme performance product and something for people who are operating at kind of the highest levels of their respective sports. But I've seen more recently that you've had a really innovative ad campaign that focuses on kind of a slice of life and how the product in particular I think, the theragun product, but but really the product catalog ladders into people's ordinary lives. And can you tell us a little bit about that ad campaign and the strategy behind it? Yeah, well, it

John Solomon - Therabody  06:29

really started with, you know, consumer insights work we did at the beginning of last year. And so we really wanted to understand, you know, we know the best athletes in the world use our products, right? And we, you know, from Ronaldo to Man United, you know, to all sorts of different, like you said, we were big in, you know, lifting CrossFit. So we knew that that wasn't necessarily the challenge. We were we wanted to understand from more other consumers who could benefit from our products, what were their perceptions of the brand? And a lot of them a lot of the feedback was this product feels really techie, this product feels from our packaging was kind of that stark, White Apple packaging that, you know, everyone went to over the last 15 years. Right? It was like, How do I even use this product? What are the benefits of this product? And also just feeling like, hey, some I feel like that, you know, I'm not a professional athlete. So do I need this? Or can I go on Amazon and get $60 knockoff? Right. And so we spent a lot of time really understanding our those consumers. And so that led us on a path of completely rethinking our brand, starting with the packaging, right, and really thinking about what is that experience when you see it on shelf when you open it up? And how do we really bring you into the product, we were assuming a lot of knowledge previously, right. And it was really that early adopter we're going after. So we really thought about, okay, we need to talk to another audience. But it's not necessarily that same product, right? Our top line product is great for an elite athlete, but it might not be what a mom or a grandparent needs in terms of features on it in terms of the speed of it in terms of the death. So we that led us to create a series of different products and models. And so how do we really, you know, we came up with this note very simple paradigm. Right? It was like problems solution, you know, I go back to my favorite campaign that beats that we did was hear what you want. You remember back in the day with a Richard Sherman Colin kapernick. Right, it was like, people are hating on you, they're screaming at you, right and inputs, the product, right noise cancelling, you block out the noise, you know, hear what you want, right? For us, it was kind of a similar approach of like, your workout looks like this, right. And in showing all sorts of different workouts, you know, it's like your recovery really should look like this. And really educating people on the benefits of theragun the bringing a lot of awareness to new audiences, and then having that kind of full funnel campaign to bring them down and start to as they went from awareness to consideration to sales, that were having those different, you know, proper education points. So that's a campaign I'm super excited about, you know, we're continuing we're even thinking of what's the next chapter of that, you know, for this fall. But we've gotten a lot of great feedback where people have said, hey, I can see my I can see my I'm that I'm that dad, or I'm that grandparent or I'm that, you know, nurse or I know is someone or my sister is and so it's really been able to expand the aperture of the brand. And we've seen a lot of great results from a business standpoint as well.

Jackson Carpenter  09:41

So tell me a little bit obviously, many of our listeners are marketing executives CMOs. It sounds as though you have managed a lot of change in terms of audiences and segmentation during your time at Therabody. One frustration that you often hear from marketers is that they have these great insights Maybe they had these great strategic ideas, and then they struggled to sell them through internally and get buy in from the business. So tell us a little bit about how you managed to get by and get everyone on the same page singing from the same sheet of music here.

John Solomon - Therabody  10:14

Yeah, no, it's a, it's a great question. question I get asked quite a bit. I always say like marketers are only as successful as the strategies that they exist within, right? Because you can point marketers in any sorts of direction, right. But if we don't have alignment at the top of what our overall goals and strategies are, you're, you're kind of just throwing darts. So I think for any marketer, it's really important that you seek clarity on what are the overall goals and strategies for the business, right? Like, it was very clear, when when our new CEO came in probably about a year and a half ago, where we kicked off law, this transformation, it was very clear that the goal was we need to expand the brand, right? And it was very clear that we need to go from being a dare to say the elitist brand, going after a very few to we need to like really democratize this technology and help more people. Right. So to me, it's like you need to start with if you have that, right, which I very rarely have had that. I in my career. I think most of the time, it's not always clear. And so I think that would marketers, I would say has a huge ability to do that. If it's not clear, I think the ability to work with leaders and work with your senior management, to try to push up and to say, and use consumer insights and data to say, hey, here's what I think a strategy could be right? Here is a market opportunity. And I think that what's being put on, on marketers more and more today, is they need to really understand business and business strategy. Because it's not just about hey, can I make a great ad or make great social content? Or it is really about what does marketing need to do to move the business, right? And so if we're gonna say, hey, we need to expand the brand, right? It's on me to come back and say, well, here's how we expand it by going after these audiences. Here's how we think about the positioning of our brand, our product, here are the stories we can tell about it to these audiences. So I think that marketing more than ever, as the ability to drive a lot of these conversations, mainly because they they tend to be the closest to the consumer, or they should be closest to consumer, so they can bring the ideas, the insights throughout the organization, right. I think it's very hard to argue when you say, here's what we heard directly from the consumer from a qualitative and quantitative lens. If you share that inside your audience, and inside your organization, it's very hard to challenge that. Right. It'll be on someone else to find some counter counterfactuals. So then I think that that starts there. And then I think it gets a line on strategy. I always say, you know, strategy is always you know, and it's some some great strategies. And Apple always said to me, like strategy is sacrifice. Right. So it's also as much as saying what you're not going to do, you know, and I and so I think that you have to say, here's what we're going to do, here's we're going to focus on. And here's also what we're not going to do, because I think right now it's put on marketing organizations is they want marketing organizations to do everything. Right. And so then you do nothing well, and so I think the ability to say, you know, here's also what we're not going to do, we're not going to do this year, because its ability to focus. And so I think, you know, so is that those insights, the strategies that really identify the market opportunities, the business, you know, and you need to be able to speak the language of sales, right, you need to understand what the sales teams need. You understand what the finance team needs for marketing, right? You need to understand what the product team needs, like we're now starting to influence based on our consumer insights, product development, Howler development. So those teams have to be brought on. So as a marketing leaders, it's it's a huge challenge. There's a lot of hats you have to wear these days.

Tom Cain  14:03

The podcast that dives into the minds of visionary leaders, so


Putin decides to attack Ukraine, the day we decide to go public, those lenders and investors are pretty upset group. I didn't even want to get out of my car to come into work. I'm not going to be able to run this anymore. We just were able to keep up they literally kicked me out of meetings.

Tom Cain  14:22

And I was miserable. podcast that tells the story behind the story of those who have faced the fire and come out the other side, introducing TOP CEO, the podcast that dives into the minds of visionary leaders.


I had this vision 15 years ago my business partner and I looked at those scenarios and said I could figure it out let's load up an inventory I think something's coming have a plan stay as focused as you can I call call the founders and said you're sitting on a billion dollar idea and I'm the guy who's gonna get you there. 

Tom Cain  14:55

TOP CEO, a masterclass in leadership and innovation avail Double now, wherever you get your podcasts, and

Jackson Carpenter  15:03

what do you feel that you had to sacrifice a Therabody in order to execute on the strategy you're pursuing now? I

John Solomon - Therabody  15:09

think what we've had to really sacrifices is just certain audience segments, right? We've, we said that we know that there are a ton of audiences that we can go after. But, you know, for example, we think first responders is a huge opportunity, right? If you think about people that are on their feet all day, you think about your fire police, do you think military, we saw that we thought the big first opportunity is was was nurses. So again, I think it was more of like, we're gonna pick a few audiences to start with. And then knowing over time that we want to go deeper and deeper, right. And, and I think that that's where we have chosen. So within those three verticals, I've laid out, we have a few audiences, and each that we're really laser focused on and if they don't kind of fit within that will probably say, well, we'll get to them, you know, in a little bit in in the future, right. That's how we're approaching it. And we're focusing. And then I think the other thing, too, I would say is, you know, partnerships that fit in with that, because we get a lot of inbound from people who want to partner with us. And again, if it doesn't rely on to those strategies, or those audiences might be really exciting partner. But it just is I always say to my team, there's no small projects, right? And so you always need to be thinking about why you're not doing as much as what you are doing.

Jackson Carpenter  16:30

Tell me a little bit about your channel mix. What channels have you found a really driven growth for Thera buddy?

John Solomon - Therabody  16:36

And with that, maybe,

Jackson Carpenter  16:38

which channels did you think were going to perform? Well, that you might have had to kill or scale back?

John Solomon - Therabody  16:43

Great question. I think the biggest challenge we as marketers have is, you know, if we all had the answer to that, we would, uh, you know, we would probably be having sleep better at night, it's, it's really tough, right? It's to have a full, a full attribution model as much as people try to sell it. It is challenging, it's getting easier, I think that we were really rely on as we started as a DTC company. So we were very reliant on, you know, paid social paid search, to drive our business. And I think we became too comfortable with that channel, when we were a huge win, especially because people are sitting in COVID scrolling endlessly, and looking for stuff to buy. Now consumers are, you know, they're out and about, they're all over the place and wanting to travel more, they're wanting to do experiences. So we started to go into, you probably have decreased our reliance on some of the social programs. And we've started to invest more in things, you know, connected TV, television, you know, experimenting with out of home more, we do a lot of event activations, we've just started to think a lot about, again, what those audiences and where they are, and where they're consuming media, right. So a grandparent might be more on cable news still. Right, and someone who's really into beauty might be more on Tik Tok. So I think you have to like really, again, look at what your audiences are, and then think, look at what are the channel opportunities out there. And I think that not to be everyone is so tied to Google and meta platforms. You know, there's a reason for that, right. And they're hugely successful. But I think that you have to experiment outside of that. And you can't be just so dependent on those platforms, especially to build a brand long term.

Jackson Carpenter  18:30

What would you say is the biggest challenge facing their bodies marketing team today?

John Solomon - Therabody  18:35

I think the biggest challenge is kind of some of the things I talked about that there's so much that a marketing team, you know, has to execute on from a day to day, right, we're, we're entering like, Mother's Day right now. Right, then we're doing like Father's Day, then you have Prime Day, then you have, you know, no shortage, then you're gonna ramp into Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Pei holiday, right. So I think there's so much blocking and tackling that you just have to do to drive the business every day, as I think that how do you do that work? Which is so critical, because we're also such short term thinkers now, right? Of like, how's the month going? How's the quarter going? Right? That then how do you drive bigger ideas? How do you go deeper with these audiences in between all these, you know, moments that we have to flex up on? So I think resourcing is really, really a big challenge as budgets are always kind of scrutinized, and they have been, you know, for the past couple of years, as a lot of people focus on profitability. And, you know, I think always we're being challenged to do more with less. So I think I just go back to what I said before, you know, before is like, and I'm, I'm bad at this too, right? Because I'm like, oh, like we should be doing this and what about this and what about that? You know, just giving the team more and more. And I think really, that that focus is so, so critical. But I would be remiss to say if we had completely solved it, because of the demands that I think marketing has was so much of coming into coming on the shoulders of marketing to solve, from a business strategy, pricing, promotional strategies, all the assets need to be, you know, executed on so many platforms globally, in a consistent way. So huge, huge challenges going on right now. Yeah,

Jackson Carpenter  20:37

definitely. I'm certain that that is familiar to many of our audiences having more opportunities than they have people and dollars to resource them. So and I

John Solomon - Therabody  20:47

would say just one thing is, I do think that having a better sense of our good ROI, and I know everyone, I'm not a believer that everything in marketing can be so tied to ROI. But I think what a lot of marketers don't always understand is what is the true cost of things, and the true cost of things in terms of like, hard dollars, but also on time and opportunity cost, right. And I think, again, that might be a shiny object to go after fun, sexy event, but is that really going to move the needle as I wish to put our time and cost? So I think, really thinking about holistically, you know, cost and also cost some people's time. And what else they could be doing is also really important

Jackson Carpenter  21:30

for marketers to be thinking about today, John, a recurring theme in our conversation seems to be about helping marketers to kind of get beyond their myopic view of what they do, right? Getting out of this hyper focus on marketing activations, and into a headspace of thinking about the business holistically what the business objectives are understanding what is actually driving revenues for the company, and where the company's strategy needs to be. And I suspect that for a lot of marketers, that's actually a hindrance to them as they're looking to move up and advance their career. So what advice would you have to a marketer who's looking to gain a more business minded approach to what they do?

John Solomon - Therabody  22:14

I would say that, you know, mentorship is essential, I think that you need to find people in your network who are doing different functions than you are. So I spend a lot of time you know, with our sales leadership, I spent a lot of time with our finance teams, operations teams, and then also look for mentorship externally, right, it was, you know, one of the things that, you know, we are owned by or we're majority invested by private equity. And I kind of wanted to learn more about, you know, how does that, how does that model work, right, and especially from a marketer, and so, you know, I talked to my CEO and just said, you know, hey, we'd love to get some more learn from some other portfolio companies that you might have, that could be in different verticals, not even the same of us just just to kind of get to know and learn more. So I think you have to go outside of marketing, I think you have to find those tangential functions, businesses that you should be really partnering with and offer, you know, Giants sit down and learn about, you know, how does retail marketing work? You know, how does, you know, how does the sales process work? How does product development, you know, an r&d work? How does you find, I think one of the biggest things that marketing can do is really get to be a lot closer with finance teams, how do they think about, you know, the challenges they have, right, which is, they're usually on a ton of challenges as well, to make sure we're hitting our numbers, keeping budgets in place. So I just constantly being curious, constantly, you know, going out and talking to other functions. And I also think you have to just get out of the office and get out of your house. I mean, I think, I think that so many people are sitting at home, or going off a couple days a week. I think it's really healthy to come in the office, talk to people have meetings, go to other people's offices, meet people for coffee, go to a conference, touch grass, man, yeah, I think we're fooling ourselves that we're just going to all sit at home and think we're going to understand consumers and we're going to grow. So I think that, you know, especially some younger employees, so that's been their kind of like career, right has been because of COVID. I think you really have to push yourself to get out. Because, you know, we live in culture marketers are, you know, you have to be part of culture, you have to understand what's happening. You have to understand why consumers think the way they do you have to ask questions. So I really encourage people to also just get out and meet people.

Tom Cain  24:51

Okay, so here's what I'm thinking. It's a Western. But with a sci fi twist But there's also a film noir plot running in the background. And dinosaurs because why not right? Take the dinosaurs down a little bit. Okay, no dinosaurs. But a little bit of romance is always welcome.

Tom Cain  25:27

And zombies. Yeah, we had to throw some zombies in there. Your vision, our craft, can listen to the first draft again, back to the show.

Jackson Carpenter  25:43

So you had a fantastic career even before their bodies. I recall you mentioned earlier, you'd worked for Beats by Dre. And you started there, if I remember, right, like, two weeks before they were acquired by Apple. Yeah. Tell me a little bit about that experience.

John Solomon - Therabody  25:59

No, it was literally I was living in San Francisco. And I was preparing to drive down to LA that weekend, and literally got like a text message being like, hey, it's rumor that, you know, apples gonna buy beats, I'm like, man, like, am I gonna have a job? Am I gonna, like have to move back up to California after getting rid of my apartment and everything. And it was. So I kind of went into this frenzy of, you know, because if, if people remember, there was a leaked video of Dr. Dre and a few other people in the studio, that they're kind of, you know, gloating about this deal. And, but it wasn't signed or done yet. So I think all of a sudden, it became like everything your apple and very quiet, it was like this very unnatural thing, right to like, leak anything or talking about anything, right. And so it was very tenuous, but they got the deal done. And two weeks later, it was I remember having to work on what was going to be the Instagram post to announce that it was happening, right. And, and what was like, the perfect thing to do that. And it ended up being someone holding up, I think it was like an iPhone and beats headphone or something like that. But, you know, it was it was very surprising, because, you know, Apple didn't really buy brands, right? They bought technology. And so it was a really extraordinary journey to go through. They, they were fascinated by how beats was approaching marketing and especially was more kind of in culture and of the times, whereas Apple was, you know, a little bit more traditional, and how they did their marketing, which, which, you know, and they left us alone, and still to this day, or this pretty much the piece alone. But eventually they came knocking and said, hey, we'd like to understand how we could bring and infuse a little bit more, you know, social digital content driven marketing to apples. So about after about four and a half years, on the beat side, I went over, went over the apple side and really started to think about how do we, you know, evolve all their thinking, and then how they go to market and a lot more 360 way really thinking a lot more towards you know, digital, and I was lucky to be parts of things like, you know, Instagram, they're launching that shot on iPhone, their very first you know, social handle all the way to helping launch, you know, numerous products, including some of the digital products being, you know, fitness plus, and Apple TV plus, and getting all those which were very, you know, because their digital products really relied on, you know, content, digital social, to bring their, you know, subscribers and so it was a great opportunity. You know, I was a huge fan boy as a kid growing up in San Francisco and having a, you know, Mac in my basement as a teenager and just, you know, being a little nerd. And so, but eventually, I decided that I really loved the more you know, startup, you know, entrepreneurial vibe that beats had. And so when their body came along, and they were kind of in a similar state, I was really excited to be able to jump on to that you

Jackson Carpenter  29:07

were one of a number of people, if I remember correctly, who made the move from beats into various parts of kind of the bigger Apple machine. And I know Jimmy IV has a really high profile example of that was instrumental in shaping. I think it was Apple Music, and I'm sure you're sort of part of a whole cohort of people coming from beats and making that impact on Apple. And could you just tell me a little bit about what impact you feel that core team have on the broader Apple brand? And if any of that persists today? Yeah.

John Solomon - Therabody  29:42

I think that it was definitely you know, music streaming was a big part of it. Right? I mean, if you remember at the time that you know, Apple didn't really have an answer to, you know, Spotify, and a bunch of different ones at the time there are out there, right. So I think it was really fascinating what at what beats was joined was, you know, hardware and software. Right. It was it was the, it was a Beats headphones. But then there was the Beats Music, right, and to kind of bring that ecosystem together. And so I think that, you know, they, they successfully got a very profitable hardware business, which I think allowed them to learn a lot about music technology, which, you know, sound technology, I should say, which ultimately led to air pods. And I literally in the headphones, you know, that the you see today, I think it really helped them get a leg up there. And then I think, obviously, to turn into Apple Music, and really have that be an anchor of, you know, what has become so such a big part of the services side of their business. And I think it was just dip people that had a different way of thinking, right, I think it was just bringing some bit more entrepreneurial spirit energy into a company that was very cautious for so many reasons, it has to be probably, you know, push things, break things a little bit, make people feel a little uncomfortable. I think that's all, you know, very, very healthy. And I think even, you know, to this day, you know, there are a number of people that from beads that are on a number of big high profile teams. And then I think bead still gives Apple an ability to really, you know, an Apple Music to really play in culture, as you see what they did with, for example, like the Superbowl, and Rihanna. And, you know, I think they just got a lot just closer to kind of more modern day, culture and marketing, which I think is paid off for them. And

Jackson Carpenter  31:41

I'm sure, I'm sure you could tell us a little bit about this, that your work at beats, and in particular, maybe for the more sports focused products, power beats, for example, I'm sure ended up impacting your thinking at Therabody. And I'd love to hear if there are any lessons that you you look at as particularly near and dear to your heart that you use today. Yeah, I

John Solomon - Therabody  32:02

think the one of the greatest strategies beats had was to go into sports, right? I mean, if you think about the layup for beats was the music might It was started by people in the music industry, right? I mean, literally, Dr. Dre, right. So it was so easy to take that path. And they did do that pop music was a big part of the brand. But what they the insights they really were able to glean onto was the fact that athletes were using, you know, music, to get into their, you know, the mental state, especially before games, right, and that they could really create a completely new behavior, about, you know, wearing headphones warming up, but you know, whether it was LeBron, whether it was, you know, Richard Sherman or Tom Brady, you know, music became integral to sports. And I don't think that anyone, I mean, obviously, a lot of people copied it boasted an NFL deal, you know, jumped onto it. But you know, having a head plastic headphones around your neck was something beats created, right. And I think they were very, very smart in, again, the campaign I talked about before, which is hear what you want, which is a great message for anyone who's going to be a competitor to the game before the game, right? And getting into that, that mental state getting prepared, and how music drives that. And we and I think that that's what really was the flip to say, Okay, we're gonna go out in this space that we're not traditionally done is, is music, art. And I think what I've taken from their body, right, as for us, the layup is like, we'll stay in sports, right? I mean, that's, you know, people started in sports, people loved your brand new sports. And it's like, of course, we need to stay in that because they love us. And we help a lot of the top athletes in the world. But the flip is, I think more going into how do we help other people, right, and how do we go into all other parts of culture? So it's almost the other flip like, I want to like talk about the musicians who are on tour. You know, I want to talk about the roadies. You know, I want to talk about all the people that are using their bodies to make festivals go make mega concerts go right, or hospitals go right. So I think I've learned that you really have to take the flip and not, you know, always go down that obvious path because that's how you can grow, share. And that's how you can really catch you know, catch your competition off guard.

Jackson Carpenter  34:21

Well, prior to Apple and beats, you were an agency guy. You mentioned that earlier. Tell us a little bit about that. And I believe you actually built a massive agency of your own that was a huge success and exited from that. Is that right?

John Solomon - Therabody  34:36

Yes, I did do that. Yeah, in in China, saw a big opportunity there with a couple of expats and we did build I wouldn't say you're generous to say massive but we did build a healthy business that was that was sold on to a larger group. And then I went they came back to us and joined AQa, you know, I love the agency world. I love that you can work across so many there. For clients and business challenges, when I was brought on, they had just recently won, Anheuser Busch, and we're trying to help bring them into more digital age. And so we did a lot of exciting things with Budweiser, Bud Light, lime, Marieta blood, like platinum, I mean, use the whole portfolio, right. And I loved my, you know, the clients that we were working with, and travel to St. Louis a lot. I think for me, it just became down to like, I wanted to be that, you know, I wanted to be the ones on the hook to make the decisions and execute them, and not always be the ones who are like, You should do this. And then they like may or may not do it. Right. And I had some people love that, because they're like, we get to just come up with so many ideas. And we, you know, great culture. And I think that that's where the agency world so fun, right? He's just have some amazing creative people you get to work with every day and there, but I, for me, it was more about how can I really want to be the I want to prove I could do this, I want to be on the hook. But I could also see myself one day, you know, going back to agency like because it is the people you get to work with. It's it's so fun, right? It's just so fun. So exciting. So I'm a big fan. You know, I've been a big fan of both. And hopefully I get to continue to have the, you know, the privilege to potentially go back and forth in the future. Well,

Jackson Carpenter  36:17

for listeners, who are maybe currently on the agency side, and they think the next step in their career is to go in house, what advice do you have for them in in making that jump?

John Solomon - Therabody  36:29

I think, you know, build really good relationships with your clients. You know, I mean, at Apple, we had a lot of people that came in, you know, from our agency Media Arts Lab. And I think that is one way, right? If you're really impress your clients, and agencies don't love this, right, you have to be very careful about it. And you have to do it the right way. But I mean, I think that's one way, right, is that you really get to know a brand of business, and then there's an opportunity comes up when you raise your hand. And I think and I think both both sides to be supportive of that. Right. I think that that's healthy. And that, that that that that does happen. So I think that's one way to really do it. And then you know, I think, you know, and I think that other ways is just like I said, Build building relationships, within, you know, different, different, you know, through networking and getting out there, I think is really, really important. Do kind of even informational interviews, you know, letting people know that you put them on the radar should an opportunity. I mean, I have conversations with people and sometimes an eye roll come up, you know, a year or two later. And you know, we'll reach back out to them. So I think you have to cultivate a lot of relationships for a long time. And also don't just think that they're going to remember, right, I mean, check back in, you know, hey, this is what I'm up to, this is what I'm doing. You know, I think like having a lot of light touches with a lot of people in the industry is really, really important. Because once you know, for you to ultimately stay top of mind, what you're trying to do as marketers, you have to do that for yourself as well.

Jackson Carpenter  38:04

What are the core principles that this replay into your marketing strategy, regardless of what brand you're working with? For me?

John Solomon - Therabody  38:13

I mean, I think one of the core tenants is, you know, consistency, right? And I think that a mentor of mine once said, you know, repetition is reputation. And I think that you have to as a brand. Think about what are your key brand assets? What are your things that for us, it's the triangle. So I think really being consistent across every touchpoint is just table stakes. And it's very, very hard to do. But really, really important to invest the time. And then I think, you know, another thing that I really learned from Apple is, you know, just simplifying. And I think marketers always want to make things really complex, right? We want to have these, these, all these frameworks, all these strategies, all these long decks, right. And it's like, you have to boil it down to some very simple things, you're going to do very simple things we're gonna talk about an A very simple message that you're wanting your consumers who have walk away with because they're not really gonna remember much about you. Steve Jobs famously said, right. And then I think the the, I would say the third big thing for me is just ideas. Creativity, I think is we're in the job that is our job. Right? We are we are storytellers, we're creatives, and, you know, ideas, big ideas have exponential return. So anytime anyone wants to, you know, you can be in the weeds, you can be in the optimization and everything, but the power of a big idea, you know, and so I always what I'm trying to bring back to my team is something we did really well at beats, which is every time use pitch and I idea. There's three simple things you should have or even three simple slides, you can one site, it's insight, idea execution, you should be able to very easily say, what is the insight about this audience? What is the idea? Very simple, and what are the key ways you're going to execute? Right? And if you can have, you know, if you can get everyone aligned with that, it's a very clear way to continually be drumming into the teens. What is the idea behind this is I think that sometimes we get so into execution and tactics, that we forget that we need to always have an overarching idea. And the CMOs beats and, you know, by all bosses, I will get so frustrated, because I'm like, it's a new color headphone. But the idea but having everything tie back to an idea and a story, I think as marketers, it's just so important. Apple did that so well. And so that's another thing I'd say that's probably the the key third thing for me,

Jackson Carpenter  41:03

John, for the last couple of minutes here. It's all right by you. I'd like to ask a few rapid fire questions. Ask your question, and maybe we just get a succinct answer in a couple of words. Sure. What do you think is the most important trend in marketing today?

John Solomon - Therabody  41:18


Jackson Carpenter  41:19

What is the most important trait a CMO needs to have humility? If you could market for any brand other than Therabody, which would it be presidential candidate that could almost be a podcast unto itself? That's great. What's your favorite marketing book?

John Solomon - Therabody  41:33

How brands grow? Byron sharp?

Jackson Carpenter  41:35

Where outside of marketing do you look for inspiration?

John Solomon - Therabody  41:38

The outdoors

Jackson Carpenter  41:40

What is your favorite marketing campaign of all time,

John Solomon - Therabody  41:43

so to a really love shot on iPhone, Apple shot an iPhone campaign consistent over the years, there's never strays from that. Second one I've talked about before was Beats by Dre. Here what you want great campaign is straight out of the what my team developed, creating the straight out of meme. One of the big biggest viral sensations in marketing in the last 10 or so years would be would be third. That's a

Jackson Carpenter  42:09

fantastic campaign. John, thanks for that. And it was your favorite TV show.

John Solomon - Therabody  42:15

guy that's I mean, I go back and I'm like a huge Seinfeld Curb Your Enthusiasm, a huge Larry David fan, not because he just had a theragun and one of his lessons the last season's Halt and Catch Fire is an amazing show, if you love kind of old school computer, where it all started. Wonderful. John,

Jackson Carpenter  42:35

anything we haven't asked that we should have asked anything you want to add here at the end of our time together? No, I

John Solomon - Therabody  42:41

mean, we've covered a lot if anyone is continuing to listen, thank you. I hope you're able to take a few things away. If you want to reach me, I'm always happy to help. Best way to do is through LinkedIn message me and I'd be happy to talk further about anything or or help with any questions you have about either marketing or marketing

Jackson Carpenter  42:59

careers. John Solomon, thank you so much for joining us today.

John Solomon - Therabody  43:02

Thank you Jackson.

Tom Cain  43:07

This was brought to you by TOP Thought Leader. Find out more at

New episodes will always updated regularly

Waste of resources our competitors are jumping the shark.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.