How to Launch, Grow And Protect Your Brand on Amazon With Shannon Roddy
Alex Ivanoff 0:00
Okay, welcome to our next episode of Mission Control. I am your co-host, Alex Ivanoff, and I am here with my partner and co-host, Dave Pancham. We have a special guest today. His name is Shannon Roddy from Marketplace Seller Courses and now Avenue 7. Shannon, thank you for joining. Welcome.
Dave Pancham 0:18
Yeah, thanks guys for having me, I was really excited to do this podcast. And Justin Coats also of Avenue 7 now referred us over to connect, and I am an educator at heart. And so I just love coming on and sharing really practical strategies about Amazon and sharing my own experience, to make everybody who follows my path make their lives better and easier. So thanks for having me.
Alex Ivanoff 0:42
For sure, absolutely. Thank you for joining us. And you know, you have a long track record of doing so. So I'm very excited to have you on and, you know, spend a lot of value for, you know, all the brands listening who are or not on Amazon, or you know, just in general trying to get their store launched. So why don't you tell us a little bit of background about what you do. You've been in the game for a long time, you have a lot of experience, I'm going to learn a lot just on this episode about Amazon itself. So super excited. But tell us your story and what you do.
Dave Pancham 1:07
By the way, I really appreciate you showing up, stepping in filling in for Jeff today.
Shannon Roddy 1:15
I don't know if he'd be the best podcast guest if he comes too close to the trees, you know. So anyways, um, yeah, I think he's off playing with rockets, as all boys love to do. So my start actually got started back about eight, almost nine years ago. And I was doing eCommerce. And as we're talking about just before we started this show, my wife and I had actually just returned from Africa, we've done some volunteer work over there. And my friend Eric Kooymans had a company called Harnessing Strengths. And he hired me basically, as a contractor to help with some of these eCommerce clients. And one of those eCommerce clients was an international apparel company, they needed help on Amazon, he kind of threw me in and said: "Go get it." And it was a pain. There were no resources there back then about Amazon. And so I kind of got thrown into the fire. But I learned quickly. And what I loved about Amazon versus Google is that Amazon was a closed system.
So Google, there's like a thousand things that can impact your rank. But with Amazon, there's only like, five. And so I felt with that sort of closed system, that there were many more ways that sellers had control to be able to pull the levers in order to increase their success. And I started, I had a single product that I had developed many years ago. My goal was like, I'm gonna get it on Amazon. And so I got it on Amazon. And I just lost money the first year, just absolutely nothing. And the second year, sold a few and got a couple reviews, but still not doing much. In the third year, I was learning SEO for web design at the same time. And I had the brilliant epiphany after you know, two and a half years. I wonder if Amazon's algorithm works the same as Google, similar in that it uses seo keyword research. So I did some SEO keyword research. And I realized there was literally one word that was missing from my product title that people were searching for that I was not providing to get in front of my customers. And the next year, my sales went up 1500%. I mean, it wasn't significant initially. But the trajectory certainly changed. And it's grown year over year after that, it was like, wow, if that principle can help increase my sales, what other things am I not doing that I could learn. And so that whole process and journey began. It started with Marketplace Seller Courses, and it evolved from the idea of, I want to learn everything I can about how Amazon works, so that I can teach brand owners, which is just sort of my passion of just empowering brand owners, anybody who creates a product or a brand or company to help them leverage their experience on Amazon to be able to have a better experience to be able to overcome the obstacles, avoid the pitfalls. And, you know, we sort of use the term launch, grow and protect your brand on Amazon, and achieve success to whatever level they can. And so that, for me is sort of my Inception story.
And like I said, I'm an educator at heart. So I love just getting up in educating and teaching the things that I've learned, knowing that if people hear my story and take those principles to heart, they can actually make their lives better and easier in many ways. And avoid those pitfalls. But they can also achieve more success, which means instead of laying people off, they're hiring instead of, you know, shrinking their business, they're growing and that's the stuff that gets me excited and wakes me up in the morning.
Alex Ivanoff 4:39
That's awesome. Go ahead, Dave.
Dave Pancham 4:42
You teased, it felt like you teased us a bit there. What was the one key word that you were missing?
Alex Ivanoff 4:47
How long ago was this and what was the product?
Shannon Roddy 4:50
This is 10 years ago. I won't tell you the product because, because we don't want comparison, we don't have people looking, but the keyword was chart. I was missing the word chart. People We're looking for the word chart. And since you know there's also other synonyms like poster and that kind of thing, but you know, the way I look at SEO, and we'll talk maybe a little more specific about it long term, but the way you have to look at SEO is it's like all this traffic coming down a highway. And if you don't know what keywords people are searching, you're kind of standing on the sidelines watching all of this great traffic just go by. But if you do the keyword research and integrate those keywords into your listing, you can actually get in front of those traffic and just have all this traffic coming directly to you, you know, to your listing. And that's the power of the Amazon algorithm. It's a search engine first, 65% of product searches start on Amazon, the ones that don't start on the Amazon, like on Google and Bing, and Yahoo, those lead to Amazon, because Amazon organically ranks for everything, and they run advertising.
So there's so many elements of Amazon where, in my opinion, true success on Amazon is the ability to organically rank for your products, top keywords. And I think that brand owners, a lot of times have to take this mental paradigm shift, and kind of forget everything that they know, because most of what people have learned about Amazon is a piecemeal approach, they got little bits and pieces. And most of it is wrong. It's incorrect. It's not, it's not complete. And that can be very dangerous when you approach Amazon with an incomplete paradigm or an incomplete mindset of how to actually leverage and capitalize on the platform.
Alex Ivanoff 6:30
That's really awesome. So hopefully, I don't know if it's possible nowadays to get a result like that from one tiny change. But you know, we'd love to see brand owners who are listening kind of, you know, learn from you and be able to take effect and see some type of result. Even, you know, a quarter of the result that you saw. So tell us more about Marketplace Seller Courses, because this was 10 years ago that this story kind of formulated into Marketplace Seller Courses, obviously ran it for many years. And now leading up to Avenue 7. How did that transpire?
Shannon Roddy 6:59
Yeah, so for me, like I said, it was just the desire to create something so that I could take all of my intrinsic knowledge and make it extrinsic, I'd studied lean, and I had studied efficiency, and I'm big on processes and creating resources that can help businesses, you know, grow and improve instead of declining. And so I created what became known as the Amazon brand Success Academy, right sort of, it is the essentials to launch, grow, and protect your brand on Amazon. And I provided a handful of, you know, sort of services within that. So there was the courses that people could enroll in. But I also did some on demand coaching, I would also take on consulting clients, where I would help them with different aspects of their Amazon listings, their business. And on average, we would help clients, you know, grow sales by 2 to 400%, you know, so it was just sort of indicative that most brands weren't really capitalizing on what was possible. They weren't capitalizing or tapping into their true potential. And so the Amazon brand Success Academy existed for many, many years. But the challenge was that even as I gave people everything that I knew, from an intelligence or knowledge standpoint, they still didn't have the resources or the tools or the team to execute on that. So they go through the entire Academy, and I coach them, they go, Wow, this is so great. And we got this setup, we got the plus Content Setup, and we got some, you know, some advertising things.
But I still need somebody to run the advertising because it's so complicated, and I just don't have the time. And so, you know, at the same time, Amazon's complexity continued to grow exponentially every year. I mean, the advertising platform in the last three years has just, you know, become a bonanza. And make no doubt about it. Amazon is a pay-to-play platform. So advertising, if I search a keyword, a primary keyword on Amazon, everything you see above the fold, is ads. And you scroll down a little bit, you can see a couple organic listings, and then we've got editorial sponsored. And then we've got video ads, and then we got more sponsored products. I mean, the amount of advertising on Amazon is just insane. So you have to be able to advertise to play the game. But there were other aspects of Amazon things like the catalog and brand registry, and Amazon would make a change that would flag your listing as a pesticide or take your listing down and suspend it. And, I didn't as a sole practitioner have the capability to keep up to date with all the things Amazon did. But I also couldn't execute on all those things. I simply didn't have the bandwidth. And so people would say, I need somebody to handle my Amazon business. And I had tried referring out to different agencies, some more successful than others. Most of them are not successful, they would come back after six to eight months and it just didn't work out. They weren't handling my account. They weren't monitoring things. Things got worse. You know, it's like they took over my account and things went downhill. And that was just a lack of education and training on the agency's part.
They didn't have systems in place, they weren't using best practices, or they were taking on too many clients to be able to handle each one appropriately. And so at the point that I was introduced to Avenue 7 Media, which was at a Seller Velocity conference in Boston, 2021, I approached them. And I said, I love what you guys are doing. I met Jason Boyce, the founder and CEO, and Dale Dabbs and Angela Murphy, the President and COO. And I just said, my business model is only going to be sort of viable for a year or two. Because again, the complexity is rising. And everybody that I talked to goes, it's great that you taught me all the stuff that I need to know. But I needed somebody to just do it. And they were building an agency that was just going to do it. And that's what, that's what I got excited about. And I just said, you know, let's work together. Let me use my education to help other brands out there. Let me take over the social media. Let me handle biz dev. And, you know, we actually, we look, we're launching the day2 podcast in a couple of weeks here. So all of those things were really exciting to me, because I could work with a bigger team, where we had the capability not just to educate the brands about what they needed to do, but actually take all of that off their plate and handle it for them.
Alex Ivanoff 11:16
Really awesome. So for, you know, brands that are listening, most of them, probably not most of them, but many of them are maybe not even selling on Amazon. And you know, they just have their own website they're selling on Shopify, WooCommerce. A lot of people hear things in the news, right in the media, they're just scared of selling on Amazon for XYZ reasons. Why should they?
Shannon Roddy 11:36
Why should they sell on Amazon? First, just to comment on Shopify and Amazon, I don't understand that there's a conversation about Shopify versus Amazon. Yeah. And I kind of don't even understand that argument that's happening is like, should you sell on Shopify or Amazon? And the answer is always yes. There's a few exceptions, you know, from an Amazon standpoint, but you know, Shopify is your direct to consumer website, it's where you own and control the real estate from an SEO standpoint, you own the contacts and the leads that come in, you're able to retarget to them, you're able to create your cut, fully customized brand experience. And every branding, especially in eCommerce should have their own eCommerce, you know, website, you know, today, Amazon is so important because it does over 50% of all eCommerce sales. And like I said, it acts as that entry point. For product searches, you know, like I said, 65% of product searches start on Amazon. And so what I tell brands is to think about this correctly, you have to consider that Amazon has a branding platform, before it's an ecommerce platform, you're going there for brand awareness and brand equity, and I talked to a company last month, and you know, they were very kind and sweet, you know, raised little money and said, we really want to focus on PR, you know, we want to focus on PR first before we get into Amazon. And there's a couple cases where that makes sense. But I'm like, Look, if people are searching for your product, the best PR that actually has ROI attached to it is to be front and center on Amazon in front of the customers who are ready and willing to buy, I can't think of a better way to generate that sort of, you know, PR otherwise, you're sort of like, it's a shotgun approach to sort of blasting it out to the world. It's like putting a sign on a picnic, picnic, you know, park bench or whatever. And so there's an element where, you know, Jason Boyce, our founder and CEO, he says, like, if you're not on Amazon, you're not online, like you're just invisible. And, and so there's this element of, if you have a consumer product that can be sold on Amazon, you know, making that decision is going to be really critical and key for your business. But here's sort of the caveat and warning, Amazon is an all-in platform. Okay, so brands who are like, Oh, that sounds interesting.
Let me dip my toe in the water, let me test this out, not gonna work. You have to be 100% committed to that platform. Or you're just gonna waste time, energy and money on your own team's resources. You've got to understand the platform, you have to be able to leverage the platform, and you have to be 100% all in, because Amazon is the most sophisticated eCommerce platform in the world. And it's fully integrated from the search engine. You know, the search results, the A9 algorithm, the FBA, the fulfillment by Amazon fulfillment network where an Amazon employee delivers that product to the customers doorstep, and the advertising platform, all fully integrated into one system. There's never been anything designed like it in history. And so the ability to leverage that is significant. But you can't come in sort of like let's test it out and play around with it. It's not gonna work, you got to be 100%. And if you want it to succeed,
Dave Pancham 14:50
Can I, I want to take a step back and ask you to expand a bit on your slogan because it makes me think of, when we talk about like, why is there a division or a separation of Amazon versus shopify, and you talked about launch, grow, and protect. And protect is what stands out the most to me in that. Can you expand on that a bit more? Because I have my experience from being on Amazon. I believe I know what probably brand owners are concerned with. But I'd rather hear it from you.
Shannon Roddy 15:15
Yeah, I mean, look, one of the great myths is, you know, I've heard Amazon is a nightmare. I don't want Amazon to control my brand. So I'm not going to sell on the platform. That's my answer. I'm just going to ignore it. And what I tell brands all the time is if you don't display your product, or present your product, well on Amazon, someone else is going to do it poorly. And so what happens is, we look at brands that have ignored the platform. And you do a branded search, like you go to Amazon, you search for their brand, what you get is crappy reseller listings that people took these terrible photos and sort of cut out the background by hand, and minimal copy. The pricing is all over the place that product reviews are bad. I mean, I did an audit of something like Spanx a couple years ago. And it was like people were getting, you know, a Spanx product that was stored in basements for months, and then reselling on Amazon for like, you know, below MAP, and the reviews were terrible. And you also had all of their competitors bidding on their brand name, literally just stealing chunks of market share, we're talking about 10s of millions of dollars every single year. And this is what happens when people ignore the platform and go, I don't want Amazon to control. So I'm just going to ignore it. So ignoring doesn't work. If you want to protect your brand, you have to protect your brand equity, which means if somebody searches for your branded product, Dave, on Amazon, you've got to own that real estate brand out at the top first thing they see, first and foremost, relevant products, boom, boom, boom, boom, sponsored product ads, and a video ad, all on the first page. And then your products have to be well optimized, the primary product image, the additional images, the A+ content, the video, all of that stuff has to be optimized.
Because even if people aren't looking to buy on Amazon, they're doing the research on Amazon. I was in Target a couple of weeks ago looking at a scooter. And there's no reviews on the target shelves. And so I took the products and I plugged each one into Amazon. Sometimes you can scan the barcode, sometimes you just search for it. But I was looking for a sort of trick scooter for my son. And I wanted to make sure that it wasn't just some cheap product that was sort of a knockoff me too. I wanted to make sure it was durable. And I found a scooter that looks really great. I looked at one of their videos that they had on their listing. And it showed all these kids about my son's age doing tricks on the scooter and it let me know, wow, this is a great quality pop product, they've invested in a really great lifestyle video. And the whole listing is designed and geared towards one thing selling the product to the target end consumer. And I bought that product in Target because of a video that that brand had placed on Amazon. So again, it's not just protecting your brand on Amazon, it's protecting your brand equity everywhere. And so step one is really ensuring that anybody who looks for your brand, hears about your brand, that you're owning that real estate, and that the product reviews are good and reflect the product, because you're maintaining channel control, you're maintaining the price control, right, so MAP pricing, or minimum advertised pricing. And there's all these different pieces that you have to control, the other part that you have to consider is that you also have to protect your brand from Amazon. So you have to make sure you're not getting suspended, you have to make sure your listings aren't getting suppressed. So you have to know exactly what the Amazon terms of services are. You can't ask friends for product reviews, you can't manipulate product reviews, there's, you know, again, all these myths that people sort of buy into to try to, you know, purchase rank. And so the aspects of protecting your business are really external, you know, customer facing, but also internally, you have to make sure that Amazon's not going to shut you down at the end of the day, because you violated something, or you did or didn't do something that you weren't even aware you're supposed to do, because of the complexity of Amazon and just people were overwhelmed. And they didn't have the information.
Alex Ivanoff 19:11
That's solid stuff. That is really solid stuff. I mean, that's, that story with the scooter is super important for any brand thinking about like, oh, you know, what's happening here, right as, as a marketer go, as a as someone that's marketing my product in a certain channel, it's like what exactly is happening? It's a great example, right of what exactly is happening. Cool. So what kind of brands are the most successful on Amazon? Obviously, there's so many different kinds. And what would you say are the least successful? Obviously, you mentioned earlier, there's a couple of scenarios where you can't even sell, you know, give us some examples of that. Like for those that are listening, it's like, Oh, I've got to get into this because that's I have a high probability of succeeding, or, you know, just not even possible to do.
Shannon Roddy 19:54
It's a great question. I think there's a couple of sort of key attributes that we look for, either in potential client It's, or if you're just to ask me, you know, if somebody was to book a coaching call and say, audit my company, what are our chances of success on Amazon and there's some great tools, I mean, Jungle Scout and Helium 10 have some great tools to kind of research the market and see what other people are doing out there. And a lot of people sort of make the excuse and go, Well, you know, Amazon just doesn't work for my business. And you're like, but it's working for all of your competitors. So obviously, something's wrong if obviously, figure something out that you haven't. So you can't just make that blanket excuse. I'd say a couple of things, Alex, one is that if you don't have a successful business model off Amazon, you're not going to have a successful business model on Amazon. So again, people go in with a faulty assumption. And I had, you know, I had a client call the other day, a potential client call. And they said, you know, we've got our website, and the sales are okay, they're not great. So we really want to get on Amazon, so that we can really grow. And I'm like, Look, you know, when I asked them what their value propositions were, and I asked them who their target audience is, because even looking at the website, I couldn't understand I couldn't, you know, discern, oh, this is who your target audience is, and this is what you're selling, it was very unclear to me, taking an unclear value proposition with a product that's not clearly targeted, marketed off Amazon, and putting on Amazon is not going to achieve any more success. And so if, if you've got a you know, a contrast that with another client who has like, absolutely crushed it, you know, they're running TikTok videos, and Facebook and Instagram, and they've got a direct to consumer website, and their sales are just phenomenal, and they're looking to get on Amazon, it's like, you have proven your model off Amazon, you've used social media and eCommerce to fine tune and refine who your target audience is. And now you're taking that and putting that on Amazon, you're translating that, translating that into the Amazon platform. And that's where they're able to dominate so, so understand that if there's sort of a value proposition, target audience funnel, you can't just sort of guess with Amazon, it used to be that you could sort of build it up on Amazon, and make changes, but Amazon hasn't become so much more competitive.
That's no longer the case, you really have to have a successful business model off Amazon, in order to be successful on Amazon. The other things that I think we look for our product defensibility, do you have a unique product? Does your product have a trademark? Does you does it have intellectual property, you know, copyrighted images, do you have a patent or utility patent on your product, all of those things create some defensibility, because the challenge with Amazon is, you know, upwards of 30% of new sellers are selling direct from China, which means anything that you can create, you have competition that can undercut you in pricing that can knock out a product in less than a month. And if you don't have intellectual property in there to back that up, you're gonna have a really hard time competing against somebody who can basically sell the exact same thing at a lower cost. And so being able to sort of protect that brand equity is really critical. And I'd say the last piece is, you've got to, you got to have funding, you got to be fully funded, you can't, you can't sort of bootstrap it on Amazon, I've never really seen that work.
I mean, five years ago, maybe 10 years ago, you could, but now, to create a single listing on Amazon to do that. Well, I mean, it's like you've got to invest in primary product images, you've got to invest in copy, you have got brand ads at the top, you've got sponsored products, you know, ads, and then you've got, you know, your product organically ranked. And it starts with optimized primary product image, additional product images, you've got to have really well optimized title and product features, you got to make sure that you know, the product that's being delivered to customers is authentic and not a counterfeit or a knockoff. And you have to maintain channel controls so that you've got MAP pricing and all these different pieces that sort of protect the integrity of your brand on the platform. And a lot of that comes back to being the sole seller of your product on Amazon, you don't want a bunch of resellers selling your product on Amazon. And at the same time, you also have to protect your brand internally, from Amazon shutting your account down or shutting your listings down anything along those lines. And a lot of that has to do with one proactively knowing what all the terms of service are, and understanding what Amazon's policies are, what keywords could trigger a listing to be suppressed or taken down. But at the same time understanding that even if you do everything right Amazon's algorithm can still get your you know, kept your account or product up. And you've got to be able to quickly request reinstatement and know how to do that. So there's sort of like a customer facing side of brand protection and then also an internal side of protecting your brand, really from Amazon.
Dave Pancham 24:54
How do you protect it from resellers? That was definitely a problem we saw back in the day like you'd have customers that would buy it in bulk from you like on a discount, then all of a sudden, you're like, Who is this selling my products? Like?
Shannon Roddy 25:05
Yeah, I mean, so having a clear line of communication and channel visibility to maintain channel control is absolutely essential. When you have these sort of, you know, great customers that buy your product in bulk, you really want to know where they're selling it. And so sometimes those easy sales are actually just resellers who are turning in selling that product on Amazon. So make sure you know, if you're not using a distributor, make sure you know who your sellers are, who are buying in bulk and where they're selling that product. There is a way to enforce distribution and sort of the high level strategy without getting some of the technical and legal details which I'm not an attorney. So don't take this as legal advice. But there is a way to use a registered trademark and a product warranty to create a material difference between your product and the product of an unauthorized reseller. So if I have a warranty for my brand, and my product that says, Look, if this product is purchased from an authorized seller, on any given platform, then this warranty applies whatever that warranty is, and, and it has to have a registered trademark because it becomes a trademark violation if somebody sells that product on that marketplace. And if they're not an authorized seller, then the warranty is not valid. And that creates customer confusion. You know, in the mind of the customer, they're looking at the product on Amazon, they see a warranty listed on the website or on Amazon and they go, Well, if I buy this product, I'm gonna get this warranty. And the caveat as well, not if you buy it from this unauthorized seller, but only if you buy it from me. And because in the eyes of the law creates a material difference between the product the reseller sells and the product the brand owner sells, you actually have legal recourse as long as that infrastructure is set up correctly from the beginning. So you can't just sort of throw it together. And there's some great companies out there. Ie enforcers, one that we highly recommend. Brand Gardens and other buds. You know, there are companies that can help you set that up at the beginning.
And we look at it from a standpoint of prevention versus intervention, right, it's much easier to prevent something than to wait till it becomes a huge debacle and mess, you know, two or three years down the line, and have to go back and intervene and fix and clean it up. But there are ways to do channel control. And it's really important to monitor the channel not only against unauthorized resellers, but like I said also counterfeits based on the product, obviously CPG products and you know electronics are much more likely to get knocked off than, say a food brand. But food brands are notorious for unauthorized resellers, particularly because the distributors don't care and, and they'll sell to anybody who will buy the product including unauthorized resellers. So you've got to really have that mindset. You know, before you sell on the platform, I've got to control my brand on Amazon, and I've got to be able to control all these different parts. And I got to be fully resourced to be able to do that.
Dave Pancham 28:09
Got it. So it almost if I'm a DTC direct to consumer brand, it does bode well for me unless I've been wholesaling my product out, which probably if you were wholesaling your product anyway, you're probably running into some issues, you're like, how did my product get onto Amazon without me actually, you know, authorizing it.
Shannon Roddy 28:28
Yeah, and that's, you know, that's a good differentiator. Some people, you know, will look at it and go, you know, this person listed my product on Amazon, I don't want my product on the Amazon, and they use my product photos, and they still copy from my website, and you can file a copyright infringement to get that listing taken down effectively. But the challenge is, Amazon considers distribution enforcement, a you problem, not an Amazon problem. And so they say We respect your right to do distribution enforcement, but we're not going to enforce it. If somebody takes their own photos and writes their own copy, you don't have any legal recourse. You know, the right of first sale doctrine basically says if I buy the product, I can resell it anywhere I want for whatever I want. So you've got to have those channel control elements in place before you get to that point. And like I said, you know, for just from a brand owner standpoint, you have to be educated, you've got to understand the pitfalls and the opportunities that the platform has available, so that you can leverage them appropriately.
Dave Pancham 29:31
How often are you finding, let's say, I'm an established brand, you know, at least an established, smaller, medium sized brand, and I'm gonna go jump on Amazon. I'm like, Alright, I want to go develop this sales channel. But for some reason, I'm not going to take anybody's expertise. I'm like, I feel like I know this Amazon game. I buy a lot of stuff there. What are the mistakes that you see there? A lot of them make because they are not properly educated?
Shannon Roddy 29:53
Yeah, so the number one reason is you know, the number one reason brands fail, specifically new brands is They don't know what they don't know. And they use the piecemeal approach. So they watch a bunch of YouTube videos, saying that I've learned everything I need to know, because I watch YouTube videos, it's just a catastrophe waiting to happen, because some of those YouTube videos are two, three years old. And all the information is completely outdated. Or people are representing these great strategies, but they're actually total and complete hacks that are going to get you suspended. So the piecemeal approach never works, because you never have all the information in one place. So people watch a YouTube video, they listen to a podcast and a webinar. And those are great for additional information, but not for laying the foundation, you know, the groundwork of what you need to be successful. And, you know, I think, again, just under estimating the time and energy that the platform takes to be, you know, successful, is enormous. And so, you know, like I said, you can't say, Well, I don't want to sell on Amazon, that doesn't work. You can't say, Well, let me just sort of try this out, I'm going to dip my toe in the water, that doesn't really work. We've really only seen it where brands have a proven offer, they've got defensibility, and they're fully funded and say, I'm going to find somebody who really knows Amazon who's going to help me do it. Because it's simply too much you got a business to run, you know, any other channel, you can learn.
Shopify you can learn, you know, email, eCommerce, you know, social media, you can learn, Amazon is not only almost impossible to learn, but it's changing every day, how are you going to keep up to date with that, and that was the challenge that I faced, even in my own business. It's like, if I can't do this by myself, after eight years, you know, what, what are the odds that a new brand owner has no prior education or experience coming into a platform that is going to provide that level of complexity. And, you know, don't, don't be misinformed, believe and understand that, if you get on Amazon and Amazon starts doing the majority of your sales, they have the ability to shut your company down, because they can suspend a listing, they can suspend your account. And we've watched companies, you know, in some cases, go out of business. And, and that's never a position you want to be in. So there's always this element of, yes, you want to leverage Amazon and be present there. But you never want to put all your eggs in one basket, you know, we've got companies that we work with that are doing, you know, hundreds of 1000s, or millions of dollars on Amazon. And it's a great take, and we've got a lot of things in place to help protect their account. But at the same time, you also want to be on new channels, you want to be selling in more than one place. So that you've got diversity in terms of the traffic to your, you know, sales pages, whether it's your own eCommerce site, or other channels, you know, in, in a brick-and-mortar and retail, look, it's still great, there's still a ton of opportunity there. The most important lesson is to be diversified. And be prepared to know what you're getting into before you get into it.
Dave Pancham 32:56
So what are some of the simple things that I mean, outside of really jumping in with some experts to really make my life easy, right? What are some of the things that someone well, first off, what's that reasonable timeline to be successful? Right? It's not an age, that's honestly an overnight thing. I'm sure if you have a humongous brand. And if you have a humongous brand, people are already searching for it over there outside of that, right?
Shannon Roddy 33:18
Yeah. Great point.
Dave Pancham 33:20
What is that reasonable amount of time to be successful? And if someone was at least just doing it themselves. What are the things they should be doing? Should they jump right into FBA? Like, how, what is the best approach?
Shannon Roddy 33:30
Yeah, so timeline. So your opportunity for success depends on a handful of things. And, you know, to your point, one of those things is your level of brand awareness, how many people are searching for your brand, or your specific product on Amazon, because obviously, the greater that number is, the faster you can leverage that and trigger the algorithm. If you're starting with a generic product with no branded searches, you're gonna have to start from scratch, you know, driving advertising to your listings, and it's gonna be really challenging to get those first few conversions and those first few reviews before things start to take off. So certainly the level of funding and level of brand awareness are really, really critical and really key. We talked a little bit about this in the prep. But, you know, your podcast is called Mission Control. And one of the analogies that I use for launching on Amazon is really the idea of launching a rocket. So what I'd like to do is take a couple minutes and walk through that analogy, because I think that'll be helpful for the audience. And it really sort of creates the expectations, the paradigm of what you need to do and in what order to be successful. So, you know, the first step to launch, grow, and protect your brand on Amazon is lay that foundation, that's, you know, I call it building the launchpad, right? If you don't have a firm launch pad, that rocket is going to take off and the whole thing is going to come crashing down. And so the idea is you have to have infrastructure built in, and that's making sure that your systems are in place that you're operating in line with Amazon Some terms of service, that you have all the integrations, if you're doing, you know, what we call merchant fulfilled, you're filling products directly that those are integrated, that you've got customer service people who are trained and you got systems in place to make sure that you're checking Amazon every day. You know, you've got a registered trademark that is really critical, and also a GS1 UPC code. GS1 UPC codes are the standard. If you're buying your UPC codes from anywhere else, you need to stop and you don't need to go buy, you know, legitimate GS1 UPC codes from GS1 US or licensed them from GS1 US, because those are the ones that are actually going to be validated on Amazon. And that allows you to lay the infrastructure because again, if you don't have a registered trademark, if you don't have patents, if you don't have copyright on your product images, if you're buying reseller UPC codes, the whole thing can just crash and burn, basically. So you've got to lay that solid foundation, that solid launch pad, the next stage in launching your rocket is listing optimization. And I call that aiming the rocket. And the way to think about that as your, your listing can only achieve the level of sales that you've angled it to. So if you're trying to, you know, shoot the moon, you know, you've got to really optimize in order to achieve that level of success. And a lot of people when they don't do the due diligence to properly optimize their listings, they're basically launching the rocket sideways, like horizontally across the horizon, they're never going to achieve the sales. And they're sort of surprised by this. But as an Amazon consult, and I'm coming in and doing a quick audit, I'm like, because you're never going to achieve the sales that you want to with this kind of listing, you haven't done the SEO keyword research, your primary product and it sucks, you haven't built out, you know, bullet points or a plus content, you're not doing anything, right. So of course, if the law, if the rock is launching sideways, you don't have the opportunity for that exponential growth. And so that really comes down to understanding that you cannot simply copy the listings from your website and put them on Amazon. That's like a guaranteed way to fail.
Dave Pancham 37:04
That was literally my next question.
Shannon Roddy 37:08
Yeah, and you're guaranteed to fail. And that's what everybody does for the first time. So you're talking about like rookie mistakes, it's I'm just gonna, this is what I use on my website, I'm just gonna copy and paste in the Amazon. Amazon is like a finely tuned engine, that I think a lot of people are surprised and blown away by the level of detail and nuance that we get into exactly how we optimize the product title with the brand name and the most highly searched relevant keyword terms and the value proposition and the correct information all within line with Amazon policy, Terms of Service, best practices and their style guide. I mean, it's like a work of art, you know, and understand the product features and exactly what you tell and how you say it in the order that you put them in, there is nothing left to chance, when you see best sellers, nothing is left to chance. And by the way, just copying what the best sellers do is not going to achieve success either. Because they have a slightly different product, a slightly different brand. And everybody has a unique audience. So again, copying and pasting without understanding why something works is also not going to work for you. The last stage of launching that rocket is the launch phase, right, the most exciting part which is driving that targeted traffic to Amazon. And so a lot of that can happen internally with Amazon using Amazon advertising. Like I said, it's such an important and critical part of the platform these days. But you can also do external traffic, you can drive google ads to your Amazon storefront, you can drive social media traffic, you can use affiliates and influencers. You can even leverage some of your email lists to drive traffic to Amazon, all of those are great ways to jumpstart the algorithm for Amazon to recognize your product as being a great option for customers who are looking for your specific product. And so, like I said, there's so much that goes into it, the level of sort of intimate detail and intensity of how you optimize a listing is so critical. You know, I take two to three hours to do keyword research for one product, that's just one product. But then you also have photos and images and copy and all these other pieces of it like, you've got to have that same nuanced level of detail for everything about Amazon. And you know, again, Dave, a lot of people say, Where's the silver bullet? Like, what's the one thing I need to do to be successful on Amazon? And what we tell them is, there's not one thing that you can do to successfully sell on Amazon, it's actually 128 things and you have to know what all of them are and you have to do all of them, right? Yeah, your eyebrows went up for those of you who are listening, Dave's eyebrows when I was like, Whoa,
Dave Pancham 39:39
Is that an arbitrary number or do you actually have a 128-item checklist?
Shannon Roddy 39:42
we actually have and we have a checklist that will make available for your audience for download, you know, that you can download and see what those 128 things are mapped out. It is a lot you know to be able to do on your own as a first timer and So that's where we said, like, you know, 5, 10 years ago, you could do it yourself, the complexity is growing so much, it's so much better to partner with an organization who can do it for you. And so, like I said, we start from a place of education, we want people to understand the platform, and what they're getting into. And we want to provide a viable resource that they can go to, when they need help launching. But, but but you're so much better, you know, launching off Amazon, if you're, if you got a brand new product, you're like, I want to start on Amazon, five years ago to say, start on Amazon. Now, I would say build a Shopify website, it can be a single page, landing page and get your social media going, get that social proof, make the iterations make the mistakes. Now, when you're smaller, and it doesn't mean, you know, if you make a mistake, it doesn't mean your accounts are gonna get shut down. Right? So. So there's that, you know, you've got to lay the foundation you optimize and you launch. And then there's this ongoing process of as you optimize your listings, as you launch targeted traffic, you're also going to enter into this phase of analysis. So we're going to analyze the feedback. What's our conversion rate? You know, how effective is our advertising? Where are we organically ranking? What are the product customer reviews saying? Where are the questions that we're getting? What are the comments that we're getting in the product returns, like, there's so much data that you have to then interpret and go holy cow. But if you take all that data, you can interpret and go, we've got a problem with our product data, or we've got a problem with our fulfillment, or we've got a problem with our packaging, or people aren't understanding how to use it, we need to make sure we have an assembly video on our listing, we need to call this out, right? There's something that's missing. And we got to fix it. And we take that analysis, and we put it back into listing optimization, we put it back into advertising, because there may be keywords that you think are really relevant for your listing, you turn on the advertising, you realize that's not relevant at all. And I'll give you a really sort of funny example. But it's a case in point, I was working with a blender company, right. And we did all the keyword research for the blender, which is fine. But they also had a brush that would clean the blender. And I thought, Okay, well let me use Helium 10, I'm gonna do the keyword research and figure out what I come up with. There were like 2000 searches a month for blender brush, I'm like, I had no idea what a popular search is, we're gonna crush this. Well, the way you validate keywords is you actually plug them back into Amazon. And so I plugged in a blender brush, and if you're not familiar with this, like I was, blender brush is actually a brush that women use to blend makeup in their face. So a blender brush had nothing to do with it, if we didn't advertise on that term, we would have gotten devastated and just spent, you know, hundreds of 1000s of dollars, you know, in the wrong direction. It turned out that the correct term was blender cleaning brush, much lower search volume, but much more relevant. And so this optimized launch analyzes the flywheel that you have to get caught up in is the way to organically grow. And there's like I said, there's great tools out there you can use to sort of track the organic ranking of your product because your product may be indexed for hundreds of keywords. But if you're not ranking in those top three to five positions, you're kind of invisible, you know, so you really got to be near the top of page one for your most relevant keywords. Sometimes they're longtail sometimes they're more, you know, generic, but when 80% of search terms on Amazon are unbranded that is your Mega space for growth. Right? Most people are not going to Amazon looking for a brand. And I'll tell you another thing, Dave, a lot of people, you know, sort of myths or sort of mental hurdles people have to go to, they go, I don't want to do defensive brand advertising. I don't want to spend a dime to advertise my own brand. Because people can scroll down to my organic listings, why would I pay, they're already looking for my brand. The problem is customers don't realize that. And if I search for a branded term, I'm probably going to click on the first thing that pops up. And you also don't know why a customer searched your brand. Maybe a friend told him about it. Maybe they saw it on TV, or they saw a social media thing. And let me check this out. You have no idea how invested they are in purchasing your product, you know, and so if they see a competitor advertise on your brand name, they're just as likely to buy that and I can tell you work because we advertise on our competitors brand names. And it works. It drives generate, you know, and drives revenue and traffic. So there's all these sort of mental hurdles that people have to get over to go. How do I actually leverage the Amazon platform? How to actually maintain success? How do I actually protect my brand and integrity and keep my account from getting shut down and keep my listings active? It is a full time job for sure.
Dave Pancham 44:44
Yeah, I remember my days of Amazon, and we actually had a pretty big brand in there and obviously the biggest nightmare is your account getting shut down, suspended, providing 24/7 Customer Service, you mentioned tools, what are some of like the top like underrated tools that, you know, you probably use, or you very, at least like suggested brand owner implement for, you know, their Amazon game?
Shannon Roddy 45:11
Yeah, you know, there's a handful of tools that we use, there's a handful of tools that I like and have used, you know, Marketplace Seller Courses. And now at Avenue 7. The one thing that I want to bring up, Dave, is more important that tool than the tool is how you use it. So, you know, if I'm a machinist, or a carpenter, or an engineer, I can have all the greatest tools in the world, if I don't know how to use them correctly, they don't mean anything they're worth, it can be a $50,000 machine. And it's not worth two cents, if you don't know how to effectively use it. So I like Helium 10 for SEO, keyword research. But it's not enough to just have a great tool, you've got to know how to do the keyword research and validate that keyword research for your product, and be able to integrate it into your listing. You know, Jungle Scout is great for estimating sales volume. So there's just a simple chrome plug in, and I can go on search for a competitor and say, on average, what is this company or brand doing in monthly sales, their estimates, it's not perfect. But generally, it gives you an idea of how much sales are doing based on their best seller ranking. FeedbackFive by ecomengine is a great tool for automating some of that feedback. So whether it's request review, or a customized feedback email, they've also got a handful of others as part of their suite. But, you know, those are definitely some of my favorites. And then, you know, I would say, AMZAlert is another one, you've got to have sort of an alert tool that alerts you if your listings go down. And more and more of these tools are sort of building out their suites. But I kind of had my preferences based on, you know, tools that did this thing really well. And I really love this and this tool, you know, did something else that was really great. I like to pick and choose, but, you know, maintaining your advertising, you know, you've got to have a tool that will help you do that, even for the best of advertising experts, it's usually too overwhelming to just do sort of manually, especially once you get past a certain product count or keywords. And there's a ton out there. But another great example, it doesn't matter if you have the best advertising tool in the world, if you don't have a great strategy, you haven't done the keyword research, set up the listings, it's not going to achieve the success that you're looking for.
Dave Pancham 47:17
So how does a brand, you know, profitably run their own advertising? if they're not deferring to experts, which we always suggest doing, but how do they, you know, execute a successful PPC strategy, especially if they have a lot of products?
Shannon Roddy 47:31
Yeah, there's a lot of ways to go about it. So let me give you some high level principles, because I like principles, because they can be leveraged by anybody. And they're much more practical in terms of takeaways. So you know, the number one thing is consider the Pareto Principle, right, the 80/20 rule. On Amazon, it's usually more like 90/10. So 10% of your products will bring in 90% of your revenue. So the first rule of thumb is focus on your top 10. And people may have 30 products in their lineup, start with one, start with five or three, like keep it really simple and focused on what you know, sell well off Amazon, before you spend tons of money optimizing all of your listings and running advertising for all of your products. And then at a high level for advertising, you have to understand, fundamentally, that the Amazon algorithm is different from Google. So I don't care if you've got great Google advertising people, the structure and the algorithm are different. And so when you take these Google advertising practices and try to transplant them, you know, in the Amazon, it's like, you know, taking the heart of a goat and implanting it into a monkey. Like it's not gonna work. And we just see really bad campaign structure. Where, you know, I think some of the key ones that I see, Dave, you know, are people who they're advertising within a campaign with tons of products, which means we're not telling the Amazon exactly which keywords go to which product, and it's really hard to see sort of what's converting. And I'll give you an example of sort of the worst case scenario, because it's, it's actually easier to break down what doesn't work, then what does because what does work could change brand new brand, but I coached this really sweet company, overseas company, based in New Zealand, and they said, We need help shutting down our Amazon account. And I was heartbroken to hear that, like, that's a horrible thing to hear, like, Yeah, we're gonna have to shut down our account. And I said, why? And they said, because we were on Amazon for an entire year and it didn't work. And I said, Well, let me take a look at it. Like before we get to shutting down the account. Let me do a little bit of analysis. And honestly, in 15 minutes, I was able to get in. And I said, your conversion rate is really good. It was like 34%, which is insanely high. And I looked at the advertising, and a majority 75% of their budget had been spent on an auto campaign, which is basically sort of broad match shotgun approach to harvest new keywords, and two campaigns, both with a single broad match keyword, it would be like advertising on hat, or baseball with no concept of exactly what the customer is searching for. And that's where 75% of their money had gone. And they had no idea because they had sort of blindly outsourced and trusted an agency to manage this for them. And they didn't have enough education or visibility into the account to go, I actually know what's going on. And you have to know enough to keep whatever consultant, contractor, employee even accountable for the work that they're doing. And so I will say this, if you've hired somebody to manage an aspect of your Amazon business, whether it's advertising, usually advertising, listing, optimization, full service, agency, part time consultant, whatever, and things aren't going well. And they just keep telling you, you know, just hold on, we're, we're, we're doing research, and this is just, you know, some analysis or, you know, this is just the sort of the launch phase or whatever, like, yes, there's a launch phase. But if it's gone on month after month, and you kind of have that feeling in the back of your mind that things aren't going the way they should be, but you don't have the ability to articulate it. You're probably right. So just a key takeaway, like, if you've got that sense, in the back of your mind that an employee or contractor or an agency is not working out and it's not performing. You're probably right, even though you don't have the technical capability to get in there and go, Why are they not? You know, why is it not working? Where's the gap? Where's the missing pieces? I've just seen that most of the time, brand owners have an intuitive sense. They know they should be making money at this point. Yes, there's a discovery phase of which keywords convert and how it converts. But you know, just dumping money into Amazon month after month and paying somebody to mismanage it. Not, you know, not a good strategy. So, you know, the main thing with advertising is, you've got to advertise specific keywords against specific products. And, and you don't want to put a bunch of branded keywords, which are gonna convert very highly with a bunch of generic unbranded keywords, and a bunch of competitor terms all on the same campaign. Because again, you can't control the budget for those, you know, you can control the bid, but you can't allocate and say, let's be really aggressive on our brand ads and do some generic, you know, testing, but you know, maybe moderate our competitor advertising. So just being able to break out, some of that is probably the biggest high level, you know, advice that I can give. Because most brand owners, most agencies, it's like, they kind of throw everything into a pot, and see how it all pans out. And it doesn't usually work well. If
Dave Pancham 52:48
You know, if I'm a brand owner, and I am working with an agency, what's the easiest way, or probably the quickest way for me to bridge that knowledge gap of being able to at least, like audit kind of what's going on. And now I'm like, This doesn't look right. Like I have a gut feeling. How do I confirm that? You know,
Shannon Roddy 53:06
yeah, I mean, it certainly starts with a conversation. And it's why, it's why we offer, you know, on demand coaching, even when I, you know, sold Marketplace Seller Courses was acquired by Avenue 7, we left that up on the website, because we wanted brands to be able to come to us and say, can you just do a 30-minute audit for my account, you just take me through the back end and poke holes in it and see what you find. Because a lot of people don't have that. I know not everybody has the ability to do that. But the first thing is to really start asking questions. And if you're not getting the right answers, or you're getting the same answer, and it feels like they're putting you off, that's probably an indication that they don't know what's going on either. And that there could be a problem. I like to say there's three levels of execution. And the first level is knowing what to do. The second level is knowing how to do it. And the third level is being good at doing it. And for brand owners to be successful, they mostly play and level one, they need to know what to do. They don't need to know how to do it, a brand owner doesn't have time to know exactly how to do the advertising strategy, exactly how to do listing optimization, exactly how to do the fulfillment, but they do have to understand what needs to be done so that they can hire appropriately. So they can, you know, have some level of understanding to vet. But even for people who are like I know what to do, and I know how to do it, it doesn't mean you're gonna be good at it. So you're gonna have to find your weaknesses somewhere. And a lot of it comes from asking questions. And you know, we still have the Amazon brand Success Academy live, we haven't been focusing on that as a primary sort of revenue stream. But, you know, those are things that people can do to educate themselves. You know, make sure you're going to get qualified resources. You know, if somebody is doing a lot of hype and yelling to sell, it's probably fluff. It probably is what it is. People can usually tell within a few minutes if the information that they're getting seems sound and seems accurate and seems reliable. And like I said, you have to be careful where you get your information. But, you know, with Amazon, there's so much out there, and most of it is inaccurate or just out of date. You know, like I said, you read a blog that's six months old, Amazon's changed their policy by now. It's a different ballgame.
Dave Pancham 55:20
Yeah, yeah, there's FBA courses left and right, being fed to you, you know, like, making money at home, like all that kind of stuff. So it's definitely another area where there's just a wild west of information. I feel like you've hit on, on so many places where someone can get tripped up in the Amazon game, what do you think are some of the biggest mistakes that you know brand owners are making when they get in? Is it just not being not choosing the path of education first, before I go take on this?
Shannon Roddy 55:49
Yeah, I mean, I think ultimately, just not being prepared. It's interesting. And I learned this with my own business, you know, I brought in a company to do click funnels, and to help set up a funnel so that I could sell the courses and I could sell more more coaching and consulting. And I made the mistake of just sort of relying on them too much. It's like, okay, hey, I'm not good at this. So I'm just gonna hire you, and you're gonna do it. Same thing with social media. And same thing with email, I would just hire and say, Look, I'm not good at, I just need to hire you. And you're going to be good at the best and most successful brand owners that I know, who have leveraged Amazon, social media, website, eCommerce, email, etc. have done enough learning self-education and research to get to the point where they understand high level what the strategy is, and how it needs to work. And I had to do the same thing with my business. And so for me, a really key critical read was building your brand story by Donald Miller, a great book, highly recommended. Because he talks about the ability, you know, the ability to build a funnel, to, excuse me, he talks about the ability to build a funnel, that's going to reach your target audience and convert them. And he takes all the complexity out of it. And I think for me, that's one of the most gratifying things when I talk to a seller even for a few minutes. And they're like, wow, like, this makes sense. You've helped me understand something that has felt so completely complex and overwhelming for all these years. And in 15 minutes, you explained it in a way that made sense to me. I mean, that's what we have to get to. And sometimes we have to try multiple resources to get there. I mean, it took me two and a half years, almost three years ago. I felt like I cracked this social media code. You know, and my friend, John Harada, was a significant part of that. My friend, Lindsay, she had also done some coaching and training on social media. My friend, Danielle Boltzmann, and I learned, you know, different things from each of them. And I tested and tried different things. And even if you don't end up doing everything yourself, it's like, you've got to get your hands wet, and your feet dirty, to a point where you can engage and have an intelligent conversation about something. And so I think that's true of every area of business. I mean, you know, I'll use sort of a prime example, Steve Jobs, you know, people sort of pitch him as like, yes, he was a brilliant innovator, I think, you know, in our society is one of the most brilliant innovators of the past century, based on his impact. And the fact that his company that he built, is the biggest company in the world, it says something. But he didn't start off that way, the first product, the first computer that they sold, had no package, it didn't even have a case, it was a board. And, you know, you look at over time, he'd go to the Aspen Institute, and if he'd go to these, these trade shows where he learned about design, where he teaches himself about product manufactured, he teaches himself about the different elements that he needed to that, that were his weaknesses, that even though he wasn't designing the products himself, he could speak intelligently to them. And he could work with people like Johnny Ive to design the products that he wants, you know. And so there is an element where, if you want to be successful, you have to be fluent enough in the languages, right? It's like hiring a translator, you never just want to hire a translator, to translate all your business deals, you need to know enough of the language to be able to get some of those keywords and go, you're not communicating what I'm saying, you know, or you're not understanding what I'm saying. And so I think that that's just sort of the threshold and level that brand owners have to be willing to, you know, engage and invest in if they want to be successful long term.
Dave Pancham 59:33
I actually want to bring up one personal problem that I ran into and I can imagine if I'm a, you know, a seven to eight figure brand that's now going to jump into Amazon for the first time ever. Again. There's so many things that I can screw up and smoke such small things. That can be a headache, and one of the smallest headaches that we ran into initially was syncing of inventory across multiple channels, right like you sold on the website. Amazon sells shows one, someone bought it and Now we're getting negative customer feedback. What are some of those basic tools? Or if I'm a brand, that's you're like, alright, let's make this venture over here. How do we make certain things like that sync up?
Shannon Roddy 1:00:12
Yeah, that's great. That's a great question. Actually, let me because it's not coming to mind real quick, I'm gonna actually going to grab that resource real quick, so I can mention it. Okay. Yeah, inventory is a huge, huge issue. And I think you had asked us or alluded to this earlier, but people say like, should I use FBA? Should I not use FBA? The answer is yes, if you can use FBA, you should use FBA. Because the click through rate the conversion rate is so much higher. And the main thing that people have to remember is going into the platform, there's 150 million Amazon Prime customers. 80% of those prime members will filter by free two-day shipping. So whether they're on the app or on the desktop, they'll click that little Hey, only show me offers with free two day shipping. If you're not FBA, you're invisible, you're gone. And those prime members like myself, spend two to three times more than non Prime members. So if you have the ability to do FBA, you have an obligation to do FBA, right, your competitors are doing FBA, you're not gonna be able to survive. There's a handful of categories based on the bulk of the product, the size of the product, you know, maybe it's a frozen product, refrigerated, you can't do FBA, it's understood. But if you have the capacity to do FBA, you need to. Even for things like meltables, like chocolate, you can do FBA during the winter months. But then in the summer, you're going to switch over and do merchant fulfilled, right because their warehouse are just going to overheat and all the chocolate,
Dave Pancham 1:01:42
I would have never thought of that.
Shannon Roddy 1:01:43
It'll reach your customer's doorstep totally melted, right? So many bad reviews that will happen. What we recommend, Dave, in that instance, is what I call dual fulfillment. FBA is your primary offer. And then you offer merchants fulfilled as a backup. If your FBA inventory has issues if you happen to run out of stock. If you know Amazon takes your FBA inventory off the shelf and goes, Hey, we're gonna examine that for a few weeks, well, we'll let you know when it comes back in stock. So having a primary offers FBA, and a backup as a merchant fulfilled is really critical. One of my favorite tools for inventory syncing across multiple channels is called Skubana. And it's a great company based out of New York, we used their initial tool years ago, and helped provide some iterative feedback in those early days. But it not only allows you to sync all of your inventory across all of your channels, but they also have the ability to add intelligence, meaning you can put buffers in there and say, Look, if I think I have 100 units in my warehouse, and I'm listing on these 13 channels, I'm going to tell Amazon that I have 10, less or 20 less than I actually think I do. So that way, if all of these eCommerce channels get an order at the same time, and it takes a few minutes to sync up, I still have a cushion right on Amazon. So having built in systems that are fully integrated, that sync quickly, not at the end of the day, if you've got a tool, you know, I mean, we use CartRover and just had a horrible experience. Sorry, CartRover, I'm not trying to bad mouth or throw it on the bus. But their system was really antiquated, it did not update as often as it needed to be, you need something that's updating all the time, you know, with really fast API's. And so syncing your inventory across all of your channels is really important. But if you use that strategy of FBA, first merchant fulfilled backup, it's actually a much better system. And you may only need to use merchant fulfilled couple days out of the month, you know, or a couple of weeks out of the year, if you're using it well. So it all goes back to strategy. And I'll just say this, you know, a strategy is I'm here. I want to get there. How do I get there? And so you have to map out the strategy, the idea of getting on Amazon is not a strategy. The goal is saying, I want to achieve $50,000 A month by the end of six months. That's, that's a goal. And the strategy is okay, now what are all the individual steps I need to get there, so having clear goals and strategies is the most important part. And then being able to execute that strategy is critical, because again, you can have the best strategies in the world, but you also have to execute it.
Dave Pancham 1:04:13
Makes sense, makes sense. You know, let's, I want to shift it to a little more business personal to come in for a landing this year. You, Avenue 7, you guys merged not too long together, like what are some of the biggest challenges you guys are facing right now as an agency?
Shannon Roddy 1:04:31
You know, I think, I think they're all exciting challenges. So one, you know, Avenue 7, hadn't had a capital raise and acquired three companies. There's a very exciting challenge of bringing foot now four separate companies together under one umbrella and being able to pick and choose and and sort of delineate each of the best practices for all the different things because each of us had an area of expertise and skill, and all of us had a gap or an inherent weakness, right? Otherwise, there would have been no acquisitions. You know, either way, it's like you're either acquired or wanting to be acquired, or acquiring, because of the need to fill that gap. And so what's really exciting is, we're bringing in all of these agencies together, and all these individuals and talent, and creating the most sophisticated best-in-class system. And it's really exciting. But of course, it's a lot of work to bring all those pieces together. And to go through every, every single thing that each of us has learned over, sometimes, you know, eight to 10+ years of Amazon experience, we're bringing that all together and saying, Okay, we've used these different processes in these different systems. And without, you know, giving away any of the secret sauce, there's an element of, you know, how can we fine tune and even out of three or four companies, we can even find something better than any one of us individually did before. And so far, for every single thing that we've been through, we've been able to accomplish that goal. That's incredible. And that's the power of synergy, you know, where one plus one plus one equals, you know, exponentially more. So, you know, I'd say it's a challenge. But it's an exciting challenge, because we know at the end of the day, what that's going to mean for our organization, but mostly, what it's going to mean for the brands and clients that we work with, they're going to get the best-in-class services, because we know all the pitfalls. We know the challenges. And for the tools and technology that we partner with, that don't satisfy all of our needs. We're building proprietary technology in house that we can use to complement that so that we can build the agency that we would want to hire, you know, as a brand. And you know, Jason Boyce, our founder and CEO, top 200, Amazon seller for 17 years, before he built Avenue 7, he built the agency to improve the lives of sellers and brand owners, because he cared so passionately about helping them because he knew what it was like he he'd made all the mistakes, you know, he'd had all the, you know, pitfalls. And he knew what it was like, the difficulty and challenges to find a really good agency that really genuinely cared about providing the best-in-class for their clients.
Dave Pancham 1:07:05
Yeah, yeah, that's kind of one of the things that Justin told us like you guys all had, like, I guess you say, the care characteristic was the one thing that you guys all had in common. What's something that has surprised you about this partnership so far?
Shannon Roddy 1:07:20
Less about the partnership. I mean, I think, again, I had worked sort of as a sole prop for many years, I'd hired contractors, I'd hired a couple employees. And you know, whether it was VAs or executive assistants, or you know, some interns and that kind of thing. The biggest and best surprise is the ability to work with a whole team, because it takes the pressure off of I have to know everything, I have to do everything. And so for me, that's certainly the biggest benefit. I would say the surprise more from a personal standpoint is I was kind of surprised how it ended, right? Or how that, you know, segment of the journey happened. I didn't imagine six years ago, seven years ago, when I started Marketplace Seller Courses, after I'd been doing consulting for a few years, that it would end with me being acquired by and working for an agency, I just never would have thought that. So I think sometimes just having an open mind and saying, You know what, this is my goal, these are the things that I want, these are the things I want to accomplish. But being open and having an open mind because it might not turn out the way you expected it to. And I'd been in conversation with other companies to be acquired by them or, you know, just have different opportunities come up and everything kind of fell through. But this one was the right one. And so I think the surprises, you know, and how it ended, and how the next phase of the journey began.
Dave Pancham 1:08:44
I think, I think we're, you guys coming together, sounds like a dream situation. And I know that when I spoke to Justin, he kind of felt the same way like you didn't you first off you usually don't start a business to go work for anybody else. Right? But he's like, working harder. And I'm sure you are working harder than you've ever worked before. But it's because it's like I'm working with an all-star team right now. So where can people find out more about your all-star team? You know, where can listeners get more information about you guys? In any way?
Shannon Roddy 1:09:20
Yeah, absolutely. I'm it's funny, you bring that up, because at one of our key leadership teams, I actually talked about that. And I said, you know, because we are the dream team. I mean, they did talk about the men's, you know, sort of the cumulative NBA but then a Olympic basketball team, with some called the greatest sports team ever assembled, not just basketball, like ever have some of the greatest athletes in that genre in that category in history. And when they first started, they played against each other because they were all used to doing their sort of thing. And it took time for them to learn to play together as a team. But, as they bought, it ended. And as they work together, they become the dream team. And you know, that was the challenge and the opportunity that we had of like, you know, you pay the price for greatness. And we were all, every single one of us was willing to do that and to come together and create this dream team. So you can find us online at avenue7Media.com. That's Avenue, number seven, Media.com. Building out LinkedIn and, and Twitter and a handful of other social channels. But like I said, we'll make sure that your audience gets a link to download, be able to download that checklist, which I think can be incredibly valuable, sort of a first place to start if they're not selling on Amazon yet, interested in selling on Amazon, or already on Amazon, and looking to take next steps and ask the question, what, you know, what am I missing. And then, as I mentioned, of course, Jason is launching the day2 podcast. And so today, number two, podcast dot com, that's going to have all those episodes, released here shortly. So really excited about providing that education, you asked where people could get educated, subscribe to the day2 podcast, you can find it on Apple, podcasts and anywhere podcasts are found. That's a great way to get some education first, to be able to make informed decisions. Because, you know, we don't care if you work with someone else, or hire another agency or us. We care more that sellers have a really, really good experience.
Dave Pancham 1:11:19
And remind us why did you call them the day2 podcast?
Shannon Roddy 1:11:24
Because Jeff Bezos at Amazon had always said it's day one, right? We're always innovating. It's always the first day, you know, you get these entrepreneurs, startups. And, you know, day one is really exciting. And you're trying new things, and you're innovating. And then you get to day two and day three and stuff, and you get more bureaucracy and hierarchy. And certainly Amazon has that as well. But basically the idea was, it's no longer it's no longer day one. Amazon certainly is in its heyday. It's now day two. And so we actually, if you subscribe to the podcast now you'll actually hear in the trailer, Jason explains the reason behind the day2 podcast name.
Dave Pancham 1:11:59
I love it. I love it. Well, we'll make sure to link all of that in the show notes. And we like to always end up excuse me like to always enter podcasts off with our signature question, which is related to mentorship. And I know you have an all-star team that you already consult with probably on a daily basis. But if you were to start, you know, your morning off with a group of mentors, they can be dead or alive. Who would they be? Sky's the limit of how many you want to include.
Shannon Roddy 1:12:24
Yeah, I mean, so again, probably not a lot of names that people would recognize for me. I had several mentors in high school that mentored me that made a profound impact on my life. And so guys like Tony Stein, and Greg Garner, and Derek McNeil, these were men who had profound impact on, you know, helping me define what it looked like to be a husband to be a father to be a business owner, or to be a good human being. And then, you know, some of my two closest friends, Jared Monson and Phil Mahre have just been great inspirations to me. Of course, my friend Eric Kooymans who got me started in eCommerce, but those are the people that I'd want to have around me, if I could have breakfast every morning, and meet with those people. That would be the team that I would meet with, you know, no famous names yet. But, but again, the relationship and the quality and the content of their character is what has always inspired me and helped me become great in any capacity I can claim. So that would be my dream team. That would be my mentor circle, if you will.
Dave Pancham 1:13:29
I love it. That's the first time I've heard someone name a whole bunch of people that we don't know. But I feel like it's probably the most actionable group that you can get, you know, they're not so far ahead that you're like, Okay, this is real nice philosophical stuff that I can't use. These are people that have been impactful for you. Yeah,
Shannon Roddy 1:13:45
everybody. Everybody can build theirs, everybody can go out and build their own group, I call it the 3G, greatness grows in groups. And you start by finding people in your life who inspire you. And together, Phil, and I started at our businesses, by meeting for coffee, you know, for breakfast, once a week, every other week, and we would make our lives better and our businesses better by challenging and encouraging each other. And from that, that group grew and grew and grew. And now I you know, I've built a sort of, you know, intentional community around me, that's larger than that, that's helped me expand and grow because you double your network, you double your skills, you double your strengths, you double your knowledge. And so I encourage people anywhere to build that mentorship network, because it's huge and it pays off in dividends, not only what you can get out of it, but what you can participate in and what you can give to collectively as a group.
Dave Pancham 1:14:36
It's awesome. Well, let's bring us in for a landing. It's been an awesome episode, Shannon. Really appreciate you coming on here. It's been super, super insightful for myself, I'm sure for brand owners that are probably already in the game on Amazon are looking to make the leap into it. I think they provide a lot of actionable advice. And I think if anybody wants to learn more, check out the show notes. You guys are definitely something to keep in touch with. So thank you so much for your time. Shan.
Shannon Roddy 1:15:02
Yeah, thank you guys so much for having me, Dave, Alex. It has been a real pleasure and, you know, love to be on again if there's any more value I can provide but appreciate your audience taking the time to listen to this episode.
Dave Pancham 1:15:12
We'll be free. We'll be, we'll be sure to take you up on that offer. Take care everybody.