Take your Amazon game to the next level!
Today we explore deep into the Amazonian jungle. But it will be OK, because we have an expert as our guide. He’s our guide, he’s our guy, he’s My Amazon Guy — Steven Pope. His 300 Amazon Tutorial videos are evidence of his expertise. All of that and more can be found at the My Amazon Guy website.
Steve brings his insights to our questions about:
- How to successfully launch a product on Amazon and accelerate its growth on a shoestring budget
- How to optimize everything about a listing without hiring someone
- Why made in the USA is about to surge on Amazon
- How Amazon sellers can stay ahead of the game in the midst of the changing Amazon landscape
- The biggest culprits of a failed product launch, and how to quickly recover from it.
We may need to order extra brains, on Amazon, to keep up with it all. Listen in.
Jesse: Happy Friday again, Richie.
Richard: Happy Friday, is that time again?
Jesse: It is, it is, yeah. We’ve been doing a lot of pods lately. We’ve got to get these live. You know, we’ve been talking a lot about different
Richard: Yeah. Yeah, I think I’m going to try to learn as much as I possibly can today. I mean, we know a lot about selling on Ecwid. Why not take advantage of learning to sell on the biggest marketplace on the planet?
Jesse: It’s the big one. You cannot ignore it, particularly if you sell items that are the
Steven: Guys, thanks for having me.
Jesse: Yeah, welcome aboard. You are actually the founder of My Amazon Guy.
Jesse: You got it. All right. And happy Friday right back at you guys. I think it’s a good time to be selling on Amazon these days with everything that’s going on. No doubt about it.
Jesse: Yeah. So, I mean, you have clients, you sell on Amazon yourself. Is it blowing up as much as the rest of
Steven: Absolutely. I would say
Jesse: OK, yeah, I saw a notification recently about their little inventory score or whatever you would call it. They bumped up the numbers to five hundred, which I didn’t meet that level, but my own personal store.
Steven: One of the side household brands I have to kind of test things out. It’s called Momster. I sell wine glasses with funny sayings on them. Mr. Right, Mrs. Always Right, that kind of thing. And my scores for
Jesse: Got it. So, yeah, I saw that email. I sort of ignored it a little bit because I’m not a huge Amazon guy. But taking it from your point of view is like, OK, guys, one, that’s a signal you might have trouble with storage limits, but also it shows like Amazon knows things are going to blow up this Q4, and they just want to make sure it’s the best people that are in there that they’re storing.
Steven: I thought this announcement would have hit in like September. Right. So it’s coming super early, which tells me either one or two things. Either they are already overwhelmed, which is probably true, or they actually got their act together and did some forecasting and realized that, wow, every brick and mortar business out there needs to rush to
Jesse: Love that tip, actually, because during this kind of this past, COVID 1.0 I actually was in a situation where I started selling a lot of products. And next thing you know, it’s like it’s disappearing and I’m happy. But then I’m like, OK, well, I’m going to run out of inventory soon. And so I did raise my prices towards the end of it just because I could, I guess.
Steven: You’re price gouging. The weirdest thing happens when people raise prices, and they always do. Right. So this is a decade long common best practice on Amazon. Right. And all of a sudden, they started hitting people for price gouging. It was nuts. Yeah, they actually suspended listings and all that stuff. A lot of troubles that happened in April and May timeframe. To prevent this in the future, raise your prices in 10 percent increments. That’ll prevent it in the future from getting a listing suspended for
Jesse: Sure. Well, there were a lot of bad stories about whatever if you’re hoarding hand sanitizer and don’t do that, but don’t take all the toilet paper. Somebody, we need that stuff. Come on, guys. Yeah, yeah. But if you’re selling your average items and you’re running low on stock, it’s a best practice to raise your prices because if you don’t, then you stock out, then you lose your Keyword rankings. Yeah, that’s damaging to your listings. So it’s best not to stock out.
Jesse: OK, so for people listening here, like what the heck is stock up. Right. Steven, you’re showing that you know what you’re talking about because you’re bringing in some good Amazon terms here that a lot of people might not be familiar with. So we want to pick your brain on like, hey, there’s a lot of Ecwid users out there that are selling. They’re doing fine. They know Amazon’s a thing that they should probably be looking into. You know, like what would you say is the first step? Like, research. Just start selling. Where would you go from somebody that has products there? Want to explore Amazon?
Steven: So step one, you need products, right? So if you’ve got products, you’re ready. If you don’t have products, go source them. And there’s a lot of different ways you can source products from Alibaba to wholesale locally. But I’m going to speak about that next step. So I’m assuming you got the product. What do I do next?
So launching Amazon does require a little bit of investment, both in time and in money. But if you’re just getting started, you need to protect that finance. You don’t want to go too deep in investing before you know it’s going to work out. Right. So recently, Amazon’s required proof that you have permission to sell your own brand. So most people do not have a trademark at this stage.
And if you’re trying to list on Amazon for the first time without a trademark, without a brand registry trademark, you get a brand registry with Amazon; then, you’re going to have a picture of your product that shows your brand name. So these are two things a lot of sellers don’t have. They don’t have a brand name fixed to their product. They may not even have UPCs, and they haven’t filed a trademark. So those are kind of the things you need to be prepared to tackle if you don’t have a trademark, you can get one filing with USPTO. My Amazon Guy does offer trademarks. I’ll give you a link if you want to put it in the show notes. It takes six months, though. That’s the kind of the downer on this; it takes six months to get a trademark.
Once you’ve got some of these basics in place and you start to load on Amazon, you’ve done your product research, you’ve got the right items, and you’re like, hey, I’m going to launch my items. Here’s what’s called the first two weeks, a honeymoon period on Amazon. You want to do whatever it takes to sell as many units as possible in the first 14 days. None of this conservative Let me see what happens and put my listing up, and I’ll just kind of dicker around with it. Don’t do that.
The honeymoon period is so important that you will leapfrog your listing into the Amazon world, gaining rankings that you would not normally have if you just spend a few grand in ads. Now, if that budget’s too much, spend whatever you can; 10 percent of your sales should be spent in PPC, in my opinion. Pay per click Amazon advertising. If you do this, you get your listing optimized from head to toe. Send your inventory into FBA, so you’ve got a prime badge, get your title, your bullets, your
Number one, you need to focus on growing your traffic. And number two, need to convert as many people as you can that get your listings. And these are two best practices I’m sure you guys talk about all the time because they’re not specific to Amazon.
Richard: You know, that actually brings up a question I’d ask you. Normally, I wouldn’t drive business away from my traditional
But if you took your audience that already loves your brand, and maybe you say for a limited time only, it’s going to be on Amazon because I’m trying to do a store over there. And you could; since it’s on your side or you’re communicating via your email, you could say, hey, we’re going to still be in business, we’re still doing this, we’re just going to test out Amazon, and we’re going to give you X deal or something like that. Is that something that you’re referring to as far as, like trying to push as much business to Amazon in those first 14 days as possible?
Steven: If there ever was a time to utilize external traffic into Amazon, it’s in the product launch phase, that honeymoon period, or the first 14 days. I completely understand that people want to own their customers. Right. And when you sell on Amazon, you do not own your customers. And so when you sell through your site, you own them. You get their email address; you get there, you actually get their address like a physical address, which Amazon took away. I’m on record June of twenty nineteen, predicting prophetically, if you will, that I think that Amazon was going to move to an external traffic necessity platform. That prediction came to fruition by the end of twenty nineteen. We have seen that Amazon is giving relevancy scores and more traffic and more keyword rankings to listings that bring customers to Amazon.
So the nice thing is that COVID caused a whole new population of people who would never have bought online, let alone on Amazon, and force them to buy online and on Amazon. So this new customer base was great. Amazon is super happy they acquired new customers. All that’s great. But you have to bring people to Amazon. You can’t just rely upon their platform to serve you. You must now serve them a little bit to get your foot in the door. If you send traffic in those first 14 days, you send a signal to the algorithm that, hey, these guys are legit, they’re going to bring people to Amazon. Therefore, I’m going to reward them with additional traffic, additional sales, and get them off the ground.
So you leapfrog the rankings by doing this instead of just ranking organically for like three or five keywords, you’ll rank for hundreds, if not a couple of thousand if you do the honeymoon period correctly. And the last thing I mentioned on this, there’s a setting inside a Seller Center where you can go in there and pick your launch date. So before you launch, before your item goes live, have everything, everything ready, everything from your title, bullets, pictures, design, your store, FBA launched, have it already before you go live with your item. If you do this, then your two week period will start on that offer release date, and then you’ll have a way more successful time.
Jesse: All right. I really like that, and I hope for people listening, this is where you take the notes. That 14 days being super important because, in the
The external traffic, I think we’ve mentioned this on some other parts, but I think that’s very important that external traffic could be an email offer to your base. Like, hey, I’m launching a new product on Amazon. Here’s the link. Bring it there. I know you can advertise to Amazon as well, which is extremely painful for somebody that does advertising that would pay to advertise to go to Amazon and then pay Amazon 15 percent. You got it. It pains me, but the margins. Yeah, you’re going to lose the money there.
And I know that’s just part of the Amazon product launch strategy or whatever it it’s it’s a launch strategy where you’re going to be paying that first couple of weeks. I think it was great to help us learn about that. The steps prior to that, you said trademark take six months, a lot of people have trademarks already. Does that kind of speed up that process?
Steven: Yeah, so that trademark gets you what’s called a brand registry. Brand registry is Amazon’s way of saying, hey, you’re an authentic brand. The government recognizes that you have a mark, intellectual property if you will. And this is really fundamental because Amazon has thousands of
So if you’re an Amazon seller and you’re frustrated by somebody mucking with your data, it’s probably not your direct competition in the state over in the US, it’s probably a guy in China. And guess what? They are trying to fight tooth and nail for dinner on the table tonight. They are not fighting for a shirt on their back for tomorrow. And that means they’re going to fight dirty and you have to do whatever it takes.
Amazon’s trying to recognize some sort of 80/20 rule to help protect sellers and, quite frankly, buyers. That’s the real intent, right? Amazon is a buyer’s platform. They don’t give a crap about you as a seller, which is why agencies like My Amazon Guy exist. It Is because we go in there and we care about sellers. We take care of their problems and solve them when Amazon won’t solve them for you. Amazon is literally the most siloed organization in the world. The left hand has no idea what the right hand is doing. And so you have to be very protective.
By the way, I’m a
And so you’re going to see brokerages going like crazy with buying and selling. And COVID caused a spike in sales for a lot of businesses, but for other businesses that just completely destroyed their model and their supply chain. And they probably are going to sell and go bankrupt, if not sell. So there’s a lot of different things at play right now. And although we’re kind of bouncing all over the place from basics to Amazon’s complicated and you got to be careful.
But the long story short, to kind of wrap that up, Amazon has a lot of things happening and the catalysts that are happening. And you have to accelerate with Amazon. You have to play differently on this platform than you ever have in the past, or you will not succeed. And you’ve got to get that trademark and brand registry in place. You have to optimize that content. You’ve got to spend more on ads. And you’ve got to grind it daily and understand all the technical aspects that go into selling on Amazon.
Richard: Yeah, you had quite a few good points there. I’m just going to pick and kind of riff off of one when you were talking about. So actually it’s a combination of two, the brand registry part of that. Even though they’re encouraging that because they have to help people, since they’re mostly a buyers platform, it’s also encouraging, though, because the one thing we can do that Amazon can’t do other than be a brand of Amazon is they can’t be a brand of that product.
So still creating great content and social stuff and having your community engage in a hashtag, in your brand name and whatever, all the number of things you can do is still super important because even though they’re trying to do brands. I don’t want to go down it too deep, but they got data on everything, so if you’re not brand heavy and they start to realize in this data that a brand doesn’t really matter, voila.
Now you have an Amazon basics cable for your new recording studio or you, you know, whatever. The thing is, I think Amazon basics is going to make Costco’s Kirkland look like chicken feed as far as the new products are going to have.
Steven: Absolutely and honestly, I think Amazon is a brand killer, not a luxury brand killer, but a generic brand name killer. So this is kind of a fun game. I’m going to pick on Jesse here. So what’s the last thing you bought on Amazon? Hopefully, it’s not dirty socks, unicorn meat.
Jesse: Similar to your mount for your microphone. I bought a mount for a TV, like a desk. Mount for a TV.
Steven: What was the name of the brand you bought?
Jesse: I happen to know it was Mounted, but I’m an
Steven: So when you ask this question of one hundred people, generally three out of 100 will get it right. And so you’re one of the three in this case now. Now, here’s the next question. What was the name of the seller you bought it from?
Jesse: No idea.
Steven: Nobody ever gets that one. And that’s because Amazon has made it, so they are seen as the seller. Even though you are a third party seller on Amazon and the brand names, if they’re not a luxury brand or a super technical brand, perhaps the Mounted was in the technical category. They’ve kind of destroyed brand equity. So what does this mean? It means a couple of things. Number one, price competition is at an
I think some of this advice is probably pertinent to selling online on your website. Right. But tell your brand story. It’s more important to tell your brand story than it ever has been before because nobody cares about your brand, and you need to make them care about your brand. But you can’t just simply force them. You can’t use the forceful techniques of old age. Right. You’ve got to use power, love, and feeling. And here’s kind of the weird part of the podcast where we’re talking about
Richard: Yep, totally makes sense. It totally makes sense. Does Amazon make it easy for you to do that on Amazon, like in their videos, are you allowed to do? Because I know, as you mentioned earlier, they don’t even give you the customer’s email or their address or anything. So what’s a way that people could be doing that other than on social or something like that?
Steven: Yeah, so you can do a few things. Number one, in the images on your products, you can tell the lifestyle story. Right. So I was helping a client that sold hemp cream. Hemp is really big right now. Highly competitive, though. And so we had Mike Tyson sponsoring this brand, and we were advertising to competitive athletes. And we’re saying, hey, after a workout put on some of this hemp cream.
Well, it turns out if you looked at the data, the demographics, which, by the way, Amazon does actually share now, they will give you a female, male age, demographic breakdown in your brand dashboard, if you have a brand registry. It Was skewed heavily to women at the age of 45 to 60. So we had to rebrand this item. And instead of chasing sports, we chased older women with arthritis.
So what does that mean, and how does that relate to your branding question? It means the picture of a woman in there.
Other things you can do. You can send a
Richard: Yeah, that makes sense now.
Jesse: Good, good advice there and we have actually had Feedback Whiz on a while back. So, you know, definitely, once you get those sales, you spend all that time and effort and you spend money on off Amazon traffic, like make sure you do it, you’re getting feedback, make sure you’re getting those
Steven: All of that.
Jesse: Yeah, that’s what it sounds like. I mean, I’m scared now. I’m like, man, when I went on Amazon, it wasn’t that hard but sounded like it’s gotten a little harder.
Steven: Yeah. A decade ago, you could show up and succeed. Five years ago, you could show up and
But if you see ads on YouTube right now, you’re going to see like ninja guys talking about their Mercedes Benz and traveling the world. It’s all total malarkey, guys. There is no such thing as passive income on Amazon. It’s a lie. It’s a giant lie. I am grinding my account. I am grinding brute force for my clients every day. And there is a problem that occurs on Amazon every single week on your account. You have to solve problems constantly. If you don’t like to solve problems, don’t sell on Amazon. It is not the platform for you.
If you love to interact and solve problems and fight tooth and nail and also make a buck, it’s a great platform. But because the sophistication is going up, because we’re entering the maturity cycle of Amazon, you really do have to have some ammunition. And if you don’t have the knowledge, you need to hire someone that does. And if you want to gain the knowledge, there’s a good piece of news and a bad piece of news. The good piece of news is there’s an immense amount of information out there that you can go find. The bad piece of news is you can’t tell the good from the bad anymore.
For every ten pieces of information about how to sell on Amazon, what is good and nine are bad. So you need to be very picky about the sources of information you now go after. And you should listen. I’m obviously biased here but listen to the guys that are telling you it’s hard. They’re the ones telling the truth, and they’re the ones that have done it. And they’re the ones that have looked at the profit margins and tried to find that pathway to profitability. And they’ve had field projects.
For example, I sold hot sauce on Amazon. This was an amazing product, had great reviews. Everybody loved it. And it was a sweet hit, and I hit the competition because there wasn’t a sweet hit hot sauce on Amazon. I failed, the logistics completely fell apart; I was sending in my pallet of a thousand units into Amazon, and one mistake that I made as a supposed Amazon probe, I didn’t box my individual units for shipment. I thought, oh, Amazon is smart enough to send my item in a box. They are not, and they do not care about you as a seller. They were shipping my hot sauce, my four and a
I fought tooth and nail for hours on end, ticketing and calling Amazon, telling them to ship it in a frickin box, and they would not do it. So I’m telling you the things that you cannot fight, the illogical nature of Amazon right now, you have to solve the problem yourself. And in my case, I threw the talent on this product. But in other cases, it can be solved, and you have to seek out the solution. But the solution is not going to be obvious, and it’s not going to be logical. Most of the time, selling on apps.
Jesse: Yeah. Yeah, no, that’s really good stuff. Hopefully, people aren’t getting discouraged, but like, yeah, it’s hard. This is not like you are swimming with the sharks where if you’re just selling online, you’re making a few sales here and there. Nobody’s really messing with your site. On Amazon, you’re playing with the big boys right off the bat. So you have to have your
Like there’s a lot of it’s annoying personally. I mean like I get really annoyed that OK, I do this. I do that. So, be ready for it. Now for people that have been able to get past this first stage, maybe they didn’t do the best product launch because they didn’t know this information. But they’re making some sales, doing a little bit of Amazon PPC. What advice would you give to this group of people that just need to
Steven: You bet. I do apologize if I made it sound too scary. That wasn’t my intention. I’m being authentic, though, and I’m real, and that’s me, and I’m going to speak my truth as Gary V would say. But the other thing I would say is it’s never a better time to sell on Amazon because the amount of
Here’s a couple of
So let’s say you sell a dog leash or a dog bowl. Well, the word dog should be in your keywords one time, even though maybe some of the keywords that have high impressions are Big Dog Bowl or Red Dog bowl. Your keyword field should be Dog Bowl Red, followed by a series of related keywords, maybe the word dog in Spanish, maybe God instead of a dog because everybody is dyslexic and types it in backward, whatever it might be.
Make sure that your keyword field is completely optimized. And your quick hit hack today, two hundred and fifty characters. Put, misspellings, typos, no commas, and maybe a little bit of Spanish. Other things you can do is do the same thing we just described, but in the alt text field of your photos, in your
Jesse: OK, yeah, that is a good one, because I probably would have ignored that. As you’re doing your profile, it gets tedious. It’s very, very good. So, Richard, what else can we take this here?
Richard: You know, there’s quite a few, and we talked a little before like there’s a friend that I specifically I’m trying to figure out something for him. He’s a broker that gets products into stores. But you said something earlier that I’m going to try to tie them together and ask a question on how you think someone could do something like this. So you mentioned that there are ten pieces of information out there and only one of them is good, and so there are people out there that may have a really good knowledge base that really maybe their brand is almost more about what they know than a particular product.
So in this particular friend of mine’s case, he knows a lot about health and supplementation and all this. And he’s a rep for these companies. But that industry is changing a lot, too, like Whole Foods. Basically, they’re not even dealing with brokers or reps anymore. They’re like, you’re going to pay to get on the shelf. And it’s just crazy. So, like, his whole model is changing, but his knowledge base and what he could do to create the kind of tying these together, he could be that type of person that could pull in and know what that one great piece of content is.
I was trying to think of, like what he could possibly do and also still get people that are listening, Ecwid users, that they might have other friends that have products or they have other skews that they could access that are already out there. So if you know something about a particular subject but you’re representing other people, is there a good way or should people, is there a good way to sell that on Amazon, or should they just stick to traditional
Steven: Yeah. So there’s several different models that you could do to sell on Amazon. So if you’re just getting started and you don’t even have a website, retail arbitrage is the obvious choice just to get your foot in the pool, so to speak. Right. And what do I mean by retail arbitrage? You’re buying somebody else’s products low and selling high on Amazon. So the second would be buying wholesale and then retailing it, right? So you’re going to a reputable wholesaler, you negotiate a price, you buy in bulk, and then you sell retail on Amazon as well as your website.
And then the third is to private label and go direct to the consumer, possibly manufacture it yourself. And so depending on each layer that I went up, it gets more complicated. But so do the margins improve. Right. Depending on what you want to invest in, the more product knowledge you have, the more successful you’re going to be because you’re going to be able to articulate your features better.
You’re going to be able to find better, higher quality products, and you’re going to have
So that way, other sellers don’t show up on those listings selling those same items. Alternatively, he could go to those same wholesalers and say, hey, cool, you guys have a cool brand, cool product. I like it. It’s high quality, but I want to stick my brand name on it. Let me white label it. And that would be another model that would kind of fit in between world two and world three.
And if you do that, then you can still sell those products on Amazon profitably in
Richard: That’s a good point. I’m just going to give him the link to this episode and let him know.
Jesse: And yeah, we’re going to use that quote from Harry Joyner, who I have run across him in the past, too. There were four, usually there’re three of those particular ones that Richie has used before. So let’s hear it one more time.
Steven: Sell more products to more people more often. And the fourth one that people forget is more money. So is that the one?
Jesse: I think that’s the one we haven’t really used.
Steven: You know what that translates to. Raise your prices. Higher average value. I’ve been trying to talk Harry into joining the podcast circuit; you guys should have him on.
Jesse: Yeah, I think we should.
Richard: Disneyland’s had that one for quite a while too.
Steven: They’re raising their prices?
Richard: They not only do they raise their prices but somehow or another, they’re so magic at their branding, no pun intended, that they’re able to get the kids to convince their parents to come back. Well, when you could actually go. And bring friends, and now you get the ears and the hats and so they’re literally getting you. They get it on full tilt. They’re getting you to buy overpriced things that are branding their product when you go home. Then they got ESPN and all these other cradle to grave content creation machines, too.
Steven: I like the South Park episode where they make Mickey Mouse this evil, evil business capitalist. And then South Park comes up, and they’re like, do they own us yet? They’re like, not yet. And so, yeah, that summarizes this conversation quite well.
Jesse: Oh, good. Well, hey, Stephen, we know you have an agency. Can you give us a little bit about the agency? Obviously, these are the services you provide. What’s the ideal client that you like to work with?
Steven: So we’re a full service. I’ve got two types of clients, the guys that want to buy a project and just hire us for a simple
We come in and do whatever it takes digitally to operate your Seller Center account, run your PPC, your SEO, catalog, design, all in house. We take care of them so that you can focus on sourcing products and focus on other things and operations in your business. If you want to learn more about My Amazon Guy, just go to MyAmazonGuy.com or simply google My Amazon Guy plus any Amazon topic. You should find YouTube videos on it. We’ve got three hundred of them. Any possible topic, we share secrets openly, we feel like we want to have value for the community. If you found some value and want to hire us, all the better.
Jesse: Awesome, that’s a good intro. For people listening, that was not meant to scare you, but if you’re scared, go ahead to Steven. You can’t do everything; there’s SEO, there’s PPC, there’s a web design, there’s Amazon as a specialty. You can’t do them all. If you’re ready and happy to provide resources to our listeners. Richie, any last questions?
Richard: I could talk to you for hours, I appreciate you being on the show, Steven. It’s obvious you’re a Gary V fan because very similar in the model. Totally different people, but similar: you keep providing content, transparent, as high quality as you can. If they can take that and run with it, awesome. If not, we’ll help you out. He’s got huge agencies helping too. Another way it shows he’s preaching and people are listening.
Steven: I’m a listener, I’m building my agency to hold recent decisions. It changed how it worked out everything. Now I’m thinking about how I can make people stay at my agency for five, ten, or fifteen years. A completely different way of doing business and how I make a buck today.
Richard: That was great having you on the show, Steven.
Steven: Thanks, guys.
Jesse: Perfect. All right, guys, get out there, make it happen.