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Our guest today is Scott Voelker. Scott runs The Amazing Seller and on this episode he covers private label product strategies that you can start using today. Whether it's product research strategies to decide what product you should sell on Amazon or how you should implement Amazon sponsored ads you're going to love the strategies shared on this episode.
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Intro: Hello, everyone. Chris Guthrie here, host of Sellercast. And in today’s episode, I’ve brought on a good friend of mine. His name is Scott. I’ve known him since early 2015. And he’s been selling on Amazon. And he also has a very popular podcast. So if you’re listening to this podcast and you’ve been out there looking for other Amazon-focused podcasts, odds are you’ve probably stumbled upon his show as well. It’s available at theamazingseller.com. So be sure to check that out as well. Let’s go ahead and start the episode and see what we have to say in this conversation.
Chris Guthrie: Hello, everyone. Chris Guthrie here. And we also have Scott from theamazingseller.com on the podcast as well. Thank you so much for joining us, Scott.
Scott: Hey, no problem, Chris. I’m really excited to finally be on your show. I’m a long-time listener and a follower of your blog, so thanks for having me.
Chris Guthrie: Yeah, thank you so much. I’m very curious to see. You started this blog, your podcast. You’ve got massive audience on Amazon. But how far back did you first started selling on Amazon?
Scott: Going back for Amazon, October was my first day I went live with my first sale, I guess you would say. But I really started getting the idea around probably early September. Or maybe late August is when I really kind of started seeing that this might be something that I would want to entertain and kind of look into.
Chris Guthrie: Okay, and what were you doing before that?
Scott: I won’t go too far back, but basically, my wife and I owned a photography studio, a brick-and-mortar one, probably going back 12-13 years from now. And we did that and did it pretty successfully. But then we found that we were really just spending a lot of time with customers. Not that it was a bad thing, but we were tying up a lot of our personal time, our nights and evenings and weekends and stuff. So we wanted to diversify, went ahead, and started seeing how we could maybe make some extra money doing something online. Long story short, decided to teach people what we did to get our business off the ground for photographers. And the launch changed my life because I didn’t realize that you could actually make over $10,000 in a day and a half doing a launch. It doesn’t sound like a lot of money to people that do these massive launches. But to me, it was an eye-opener. And we created a course, teaching people how we got started. And built a little email list and launched it. And started running that, and we’re still running that, actually, and doing really well at that and have been. But I’ve always been wanting to once I decided that I could actually do this this or you could do digital products or whatever, it was really the best thing because you didn’t have to have inventory and stuff. So I didn’t want to have inventory because I didn’t want to have the hassles. And I didn’t want to have to ship things. So this Amazon thing, what attracted me was FBA, which is fulfilled by Amazon, which you know, your audience probably knows. But it was really where they do all the heavy lifting. They take of all the customer service. They take care of the refunds. They take care of packaging. All you’ve got to do is ship the inventory in, and then it’s in their hands. And I really liked that model because again, as an entrepreneur, as you are and I am, I just wanted another revenue source. And I thought, “What the heck, I’ll give it a shot.” And seeing that I kind of knew what I was doing online, I said I’ll just adapt marketing stuff to this and see what happens. Long story short, here we are, and I’m doing pretty decent. I mean I’m not doing like $100,000 a month like some people you hear. But I’m doing pretty good. I mean for just starting in October till now, it’s life-changing for a lot of people. But that’s pretty much my story in a nutshell.
Chris Guthrie: Yeah. I actually want to latch onto a few of those points. First of all, since people are naturally financial voyeurs, when you say pretty good, can you give a recent time period in terms of your sales?
Scott: Yeah. Actually, I recorded this and everything on my podcast. But basically, the first 90 days from basically launching my product to the 90 days, I believe it was around $47,000 in generated sales. And the cool thing about that was the first month or month and a half might’ve been maybe $8000-$10,000. But then as the momentum started to build—and that’s what happens with this business—it really started to escalate. And that’s where I came to the $47,000. And again, I just want to be clear that that’s not profit; that’s revenue generated. And a lot of people will say, “Oh, I did $100,000.” Yeah, but how much margin is it and how much did you actually make? And my margin at that time was probably around 38, maybe 40 percent. My goal was to get it to 50 percent. I’m still not at 50 percent. But just to give you a kind of a snapshot, since then, every month has been pretty much over $30,000 since the first of the year. And I think my last month was – I really do kind of give it all away on my podcast, kind of like the Pat Flynn model where I kind of give my income report away. I think my last month was around $34,000. And I think this coming month, I’m going to beat that, which actually, in a summer, you probably know this too, Chris. It’s slower in the summer, it’s supposed to be. And I’m actually going to have a better month than I did last month. And we’re heading into August.
Chris Guthrie: That’s great. For context, I don’t know if share specifically how many products you have. But are you able to share a range?
Scott: Yeah, absolutely. Right now, I currently have – And I have to figure the variations because I have one product that has four variations. So pretty much, let’s say, if you count those as individuals and then – I’d say seven. It would be seven SKUs as what we would call them. But most of the income rate now – because I just launched the one with the variations about maybe two months ago, maybe a month and a half ago. And that’s just starting to build momentum. But really, the first product I launched is doing probably close to 55-60 units a day right now.
Chris Guthrie: Yeah. It seems like most people I talk to that are selling on Amazon, their first product—even for a sizable time period after they first started selling—just seems to dominate their sales because that longevity of being up and selling on Amazon just starts to compound itself. Even when you’re launching products, you’ve still got some time to be able to get those up and going. That’s great.
The other thing I was curious about, you mentioned that you still run the other photography business. So is that something that your wife runs, and then you run the Amazon side?
Scott: Kind of. We kind of both do it. We’ve really taken that business to where instead of teaching people how to start a business, we started – And you know, this is kind of like how you start something and then kind of how it morphs into something else because you start seeing what your audience wants. We were teaching people how to use Photoshop and how to do edits and how to really do green screen type photography where you cut the subject out of a background, put them into a digital background. And we were kind of going down that road because it was just for people that were following us. They wanted a less expensive way to get started and actually add things to their photography that they already had, like edits and stuff. So we started going down that line where we were offering digital kind of like templates for them to use, and then showing them in Photoshop how to use them. And we actually created online membership area where we would deliver, and still do, a digital creation, basically a digital template, every single month. And we also have videos and resources and other card templates and collage templates, all that stuff, in this members’ area. And we have members in there right now paying us a monthly fee. So that’s still running, and we still tend to that. My wife does more of the creative, and I do more of the edits. She really comes up with – because that’s really how our photography business started. She really had the eye for the photography, and I kind of had the technical aspect of it or willing to learn the technical aspect of it. So we really were able to kind of piggyback on each other’s strengths. And now to this day, she still comes with the concepts and kind of like the ideas. And then we turn them into a digital item that then we can turn over and give to our customers.
Chris Guthrie: Yeah, that makes sense. And offline, we talked a lot, multiple different conversations of varying degrees on different types of topics and businesses and all that. So it sounds like you’ve got quite a bit going on. How are you managing your time? And also with respect to your Amazon business, is it just a matter of you focus on one aspect of your other businesses during one part of the day? And then in the evenings, are you working on your Amazon business because of the relationship with your suppliers in China? What are you doing in that regard?
Scott: That’s a great question. I wish I had an exact answer for you, Chris, because I think you know as well as I do, being an entrepreneur is really hard. That’s one of the biggest challenges, really disciplined and really coming up with a system. I’m still working on that. But really now, I try to theme my days. And I learned that from Kate Erickson from Entrepreneur On Fire. It’s John Lee Dumas’s girlfriend. And she’s got her own podcast called Kate’s Take. Little plug there for her. Really good if you want to learn more about systematizing and processes and really time management and stuff. She’s really good. I’m actually going to have her on my show in an upcoming podcast. Really, for me, personally, I try to theme my days. For me, personally, in the morning though, I kind of have structured now. My wife takes care of part of the Amazon business where she really deals with the customer service aspect of it, like going and seeing our seller feedback. And then she’ll reply to that seller feedback. And I have a little template for her that I gave her that then she forwards to all those people or emails those people to try to get them to leave us feedback and then reviews, or actually, reviews because it’s off of a feedback. So really, that’s kind of her thing in the morning. She does that for maybe about 15-20 minutes. And that’s really all she does with the business, other than she is always thinking of products. Now that we’re kind of in the same mindset, we’re always looking at product ideas and trying to build that up. My day really looks like I try to allocate time for the Amazon business, maybe an hour a day, an hour in the morning, really. I’ll be lying if I said I didn’t go back in it the rest of the day. I try to go and look at my Amazon pay per click because that’s a really big driver for me and I think that a lot of people don’t utilize. But really going in and seeing what’s going on inside there, tweaking, adding new keywords, and really just trying to refine that and trying to push that for more sales. So I spent about a half hour to an hour in there a day, depending on if I’ve got a new campaign or not running. And other than that, if I had an inventory I needed to order, then yes, I would have to email my supplier. And then I would usually just wait till the following day because it is a 12-hour difference. But to be honest, if I spend two hours a day on my Amazon business, it would be a lot. I would say some days it’s an hour. In the beginning now, that’s a different story. On the beginning, I spent probably eight hours a day trying to find the products and ideas and researching suppliers and packaging and all that stuff.
So your first part of this process, I think, is the longest. Then once you get things rolling, then it’s a matter of maintenance and really just figuring out what else you’re going to add to your product line.
Chris Guthrie: Yeah, that makes sense. Earlier, you were talking about Amazon ads. Can you dive in a little bit deeper in terms of what you do? Are you primarily running manual campaigns? Are you running automated campaigns? What Amazon ad products are you using?
Scott: Yeah. Well, it’s a great question. To me, it’s really about start. When you start out, I always use an auto campaign. I kind of teach this to people that either listen to podcast or in my class. Basically, I always tell people to start with an auto campaign because the auto campaign is then going to take your product, and Amazon is going to position that in front of keywords that they feel would be a good fit for it. So I let that run for like seven days. I put an ad budget of like $25 a day. I never spend $25 a day on that particular ad, but I like to put it higher so I’ll get as much as I can as far as clicks. And then I’ll put like a 75-cent per click bid on it. I’ll let it run for seven days. I won’t even look at it. And then I’ll go ahead and I’ll take the data from there. And then I’ll compile all of the stuff that looks like it’s good, like if it’s got impressions, if it’s got clicks, if it’s got sales. It’ll tell me all that. And then I take a lot of the keywords that are winners, and I’ll put them into a manual campaign. And then I’ll run that for another seven days at the same budget and the same cost per click. That’s like the starting part. Now once you get past that, you can do a ton more by scraping keywords or going into Google AdWords and going after seed keywords, Long Tail Pro. You can use all of those tools to then get you more ideas to throw them into a campaign and test and see what’s going to work and what’s not going to work, and then just kind of like pause the losers and add more money to the winners. That’s it. It’s simply easy as it is.
Chris Guthrie: Yeah, so just mass amounts of keywords, basically. And then once you find that it isn’t working, get rid of it. And if it’s working and doing well – Are you usually raising the budget on the keywords that you see are getting a lot more impressions and clicks for? Or maybe you’re not having a setup. I’m guessing on how to phrase this because I’m thinking about the seller central dashboard right now. Do you have all your keywords in one campaign? Or are you separating out multiple different campaigns and separate budgets for each of those?
Scott: It’s funny because they make it so easy to throw in new campaigns that you can literally have hundreds of thousands. And it’s funny because there’s a buddy of mine who I call pay-per-click ninja because he’s in a lab just going over these keywords. He just got a notification from Amazon that there’s a limit to how many keywords you can have in your account.
Chris Guthrie: [Laughs] What’s the limit? I’m curious.
Scott: It’s a million keywords. And he went over a million keywords because he was just slapping them in there like 800 keywords from Google AdWords under one search. He was exporting and throwing it into a campaign and doing a $25 a day budget, 75 cents cost per click, and then just letting it run. I’ve taken your software, AmaSuite. And I’ve used the keyword tool. And I’ve put in some seed keywords or whatever. And I’ll go ahead and I’ll get a whole bunch, a whole list. And I’ll slap them into a campaign and put my budget on it and walk away from it for a week and come back and look at the data. And then I literally will just pause the ones that are failing and just keep the ones that are winning. And then from there, I might raise it to $50 a day. So that’s the thing that people don’t do in the Amazon space. They go after the obvious keywords. They’ll put in like one campaign. Or they’ll just run an auto campaign, and that’s it. And they’re losing so much potential because here’s the thing: if you test something for like a couple of weeks and you figure out finally that you’ve found some converting keywords – because let’s face it. They give you the data. They show you impressions, clicks, and sales from certain keywords. So the ones that are performing well, that are converting well, they’re the ones that you want to throw money at because you know that it’s getting you sales. So to me, it’s like finding the winners. And then once you find a winning campaign, you start raising the budget until you see that it’s not converting the same, and then just back off a little bit, and now you’ve got a winning campaign.
Chris Guthrie: And so for these sales, are you at all even concerned about them being profitable sales? Or are you just thinking, “I want the volume?” Ideally, maybe it breaks even or makes some profit, but you just want the sales for the velocity.
Scott: Yup, 100 percent. I’m going to tell you the other reason why. You want it because you want ranking. I’m going to give you a little story here. And I shared this on one of my workshops I did. If you think about it like this, if you think about someone searches for a keyword and they buy through your keyword that you’re advertising for, you then put up like a flag or a signal to Amazon that says, “Hey, someone just bought from this keyword ‘stainless steel garlic press’, and they clicked on that person’s ad. They bought through that ad. So now we should probably start considering ranking them for that keyword. And the more sales you get through that keyword, even if you’re paying for it, even if you’re at a loss, you’re then going to show up organically, and then it’s game over, because now you’re starting to get all this organic traffic. And I’m just going to give you a quick example. And I use this example because it’s a great example. I spent $1300 one month, and I only generated 110 sales from that $1300. But overall, on top of the 110, I produced another 1500 sales from organic. And I believe that that was done because from the start, I’ve had that same mindset that I don’t care as long as I’m going after these keywords that I know that I want to rank for on front page, eventually, it’s going to outweigh what I’m spending in pay-per-click.
Chris Guthrie: Yeah, that’s great. I have a buddy. Last time I talked to him about it, it was about six months ago. But he was spending like $2000 a day on ads. It’s just insanity. So he’s a pretty high-level.
Scott: But if it’s making money…
Chris Guthrie: Yeah, that’s exactly what we’re saying. I’m just trying to get the sales velocity so that I can rank for organic. I believe he’s in a more competitive categories too though.
Scott: It sounds like it because I don’t even think I could spend $2000 a day. I don’t even think that the volume would be there. And I think that’s what you’ll find too. And I’ve got another little tip too for your listeners. You can do this two different ways. The first way, let’s say that you take and you scrape some keywords in your tool. Let’s say you take all of those keywords that AmaSuite produces for you. You go ahead. You put it into a campaign. And let’s say that you start with that campaign, and you want to start it like 20 cents a bid. And then if you don’t start getting impressions, it’s most likely because you’re not bidding enough. But you might start to see that you’re getting some impressions on these keywords that are like low-hanging fruit. So now all of a sudden, you’re starting to see that you’re getting maybe out of that batch of, let’s say, 100, you get 10 keywords that are getting traffic from a 10-cent or 20-cent bid, extract those, put them into a separate campaign, and know that those are like low-hanging fruit. Then what you’re going to do next is raise the bid up to 40 cents, start seeing where you start getting impressions on other keywords, extract them, do the same thing, and just keep repeating that process until you can see that you’re not overpaying for keywords, but then you’re also finding the low-hanging fruit. Does that make sense?
Chris Guthrie: That’s awesome, yeah. Since we’re on the topic, when I first – it was like, “Hey, let’s do a podcast together,” because this is clear that you know a lot about it. But that’d be great for Salesbacker people. Are you doing anything else for paid advertising off Amazon? Are you doing any type of Facebook advertising, anything else like that? Or are you just relying on Amazon’s ecosystem right now?
Scott: Right now, I don’t think anyone that’s starting, even at my level, should be even looking at any type of outside ads or Facebook ads. I mean you know as well as I do. Nothing is going to convert better than Amazon traffic. Inside of their ecosystem, people are there to do one thing, to buy stuff. And if we’re interrupting someone on Facebook, your conversion will be less. Can you still get sales? Absolutely. But are the numbers going to be the same? Probably not. They’re probably not even going to be close. So I’m saying if you’re on Amazon, you could potentially be converting as high as 25 percent or even more, depending on what kind of market you’re in. But if you’re converting at 15 percent, it’s pretty darn good. And off of Amazon, if you’re doing Facebook ads, you’d probably be lucky if you can hit 5 percent. So I would rather take my money and invest it in pay per click and just keep refining that and mastering that until I feel I have exhausted everything, because think about this too. If someone finds you from Facebook and let’s say that you have an ad running there, and then you point them to your listing and you get the sale, you don’t get credit for the keyword that they found you on. There’s no recollection. They don’t look at that. They just look at, okay, you got a sale. That’s cool, good. You got a sale, good. This person got a sale. But we have nothing to tell us why they got the sale. But in Amazon, if you advertise pay-per-click and someone buys something, they know that they bought through keywords, so that’s going to help you rank for that keyword. So I don’t do any outside traffic right now. The only time I’ll ever do Facebook ads is if I’m trying to run people to a promotion. So this way here, I can maybe get some sales to start getting reviews in the beginning. And then I’ll build a little email list, like a VIP list of people that are interested in my market.
Chris Guthrie: Yeah, that makes sense. Let’s shift gears a bit here then. Are you doing anything with your own website? Do you have a store for your site? Or are you selling the same types of products? Or are you kind of on the same niche? Or do you have things in a lot of different areas? Maybe you have separate websites for each brand.
Scott: No, actually, right now, I believe that a lot of people should do it this way, or most people should try to do it this way. I would stick with one product line, at least up to five products if you can, because I think it’s easier to then sell the other product because one product is going to help sell the other. There are different things you can do for that, whether it’s an external promotion that actually populates onto each listing to kind of piggyback on each other. In Amazon, will also say recently bought together and all that stuff. So no, I personally think that people, and myself included, should stick to that.
Now with an outside website, I have a website. I don’t really have anything that they can buy on the website other than a link pointing back to my Amazon listing because right now, I’m just trying to keep the sales volume and everything focused on Amazon. But I do want an external website that if people wanted to go to, they could, and they could get resources and information about the product, and maybe even a little bit about the brand. But right now, I have not done that. Is that in the future? Yes, absolutely. I think everyone should be trying to do an external channel with a Shopify site or something like that because then it’s going to help also diversify and protect you. If something happens with Amazon, you’re going to have a customer list that you could always drive people to that storefront and get organic from SEO, like Google and Bing and Yahoo and all those. But as of right now, I’m not even focusing on that. I just have a basic, generic blog with a little bit of content.
But in future, I want to have even a content writer, so I’ll post every few days and put it up there and have it be pointing back to a storefront. So that is the future. But in the beginning, I think that people, including myself, should focus on really just getting the Amazon thing really going because that’s where I think your time is going to be well spent.
Chris Guthrie: Yeah, I completely agree. I think early on, the part of the problem that I see with a lot of people that start out is maybe they’re going for just one product early on. But then they don’t necessarily know what they should be doing. And so they end up trying to do shotgun approach, a bunch of different things all at once and just kind of seeing what sticks rather than focusing on one area, for example, just Amazon. So I was just curious to see where you’re at in that lifecycle, I suppose, you could say.
We’ve talked about the other business that you started, why you got into selling on Amazon, some of the pay-per-click strategies that you’re using. What are you trying to do? What’s your system for deciding what products you want to sell? You mentioned you had seven products right now. Are you trying to just grow the ones you have now? Are do you think that you can add more? I’m curious if you’re trying to do 50 products that all do x amount per month or if you’re trying to get up to 10 and then keep those and try to make those – make about the same as those 50 products combined to go.
Scott: That’s a great question. When I first started this, my goal was like every product I released, I wanted to sell at least 20 units a day. That was like my benchmark. I’ve since changed that towards now more around 10 a day. I’ve kind of adopted this little strategy called the 10 by 10 by 1, which is 10 units a day sold at $10 profit for 1 product would be $100 a day profit. Times that by 5, you’ve got $500 a day profit business. So that was kind of like my new thing. And I think it’s easier. You and I both talked on the side about this as well. We kind of both agree that it’s a little bit easier to go after that. You’re not having to do this constant blast to get reviews. You don’t have people trying to spam your reviews and bring your account down and stuff. So that’s really, I guess, my focus. I guess my goal right now would be to have a nice, solid suite of like 10 or 15 products that are doing 10 units a day consistently. I think that would be beautiful. But right now, I’m still trying to build out this brand and really add products that will complement each other because I think it’s definitely easier for that than to start completely another brand.
And I’m actually pretty excited. I actually have found another product recently that I’m going to be rolling out here soon. And it’s going to be U.S. based. But it’s a little bit more of a pain in the butt—I’ve got to be honest with you—because I’m really taking and finding pieces that it’s going to almost make this work without giving it away. It’s kind of like I’m buying from different vendors to make this one product. But in the end, it’s going to be a little bit easier because I’m going to be able to source from the U.S. I’m going to get things in like three days. I’ve got a 17-year-old son. I told you that. So then I’m going to hire him actually just to test the theory. I’m not going to tire him full-time to do this because I don’t want my house to be a factory. But we’re going to do maybe 500 units and just kind of test it. And if this does work, which I think it will by just looking at the numbers, I’ve got like four other products that I can do the same thing with that would be very complementary of this product that I’m going to roll out, but also ties into the first product I ever released. So I’m kind of excited about that because it’s going to be a little bit easier to get. But it’s going to be a little bit more of figuring out the logistics of it. But to answer your question, my goal is 10 solid products doing minimum of 10 units per day at $10 profit each. That’s kind of my goal. I think I’m going to do it, I do, I really do.
Chris Guthrie: Yeah, I think you touched on several key elements. I like the 10 by 10 by 1 that you mentioned. I also think that there’s a lot of wisdom in the sense of going out your strategy where you’re using a U.S. supplier, because I think that in general, a lot of people see what’s working, what the majority of people are doing, and then they go do the exact same thing. You can think about, hey, maybe there are U.S. suppliers that you might traditionally think this is something you go to China for. But if you can make it work in the U.S., then you solve a lot of those logistical problems that you run into that I’m sure you probably have products running out of stock before when you’re dealing with Chinese suppliers.
Scott: Yeah, I’ve got to be honest. I haven’t yet. But—there’s a but there—you’ve just had Prime Day not too long ago. I don’t know when this is going to air. But July 15th that was Prime Day, which was a crazy day, by the way. My sales were tripled that day. And since then, one of my biggest competitors ran out of stock. And because of that, now I started scooping up a lot of his sales. And I didn’t plan for that. So I’m kind of panicking here a little bit. I already put another order in for 2000 units to be shipped as soon as possible, but they’re not going to be able to get into me for about another 30 days. So I had to slow things down. And you know as well as I do, to slow things down, a lot of times, you’ve got to pause your pay-per-click a little bit. You’ve got to raise the price maybe a little bit and to try to slow the velocity. And it’s been working. But you don’t really want to do that. It’s like, “Man, I could be doing like 80 units a day, but I’ve got to scale it down so I can only sell 60. But yeah, I’m making a little bit more on the margin, but I don’t want to lose this by any way.” So I haven’t yet, and I’m hoping I’m not going to be able to. I kind of got it planned out to where I think I’m going to be able to do it, but I might be out. But I have heard from others. I have someone in my class right now that ran out of stock for like two weeks. And then he got stock back in. And now he’s back to where he was. And he’s actually doing a little bit better. So I don’t think it’s the end of the world, but definitely, if you can do something in the U.S. that you have more control of, it’s going to help you. But like you said, and I think we should point this out, if you can find or if you can put something together that isn’t just bought from one place, it makes it harder for someone else to jump on that with you, because now they’ve got to go and find the exact pieces in these different locations. The problem with that is logistically, you have to then try to figure out a way to get them all together in one package and then ship it off to Amazon.
Chris Guthrie: Yeah, it’s an extra challenge.
Scott: There are some challenges. But you know what? With challenges, it makes it easier or harder for them to actually come in and do what you’re doing. So it’s just something else to figure out.
Chris Guthrie: Yeah. Most of your products that you’ve been selling before, were they sourced through something like Alibaba or using another type of source to find the suppliers?
Scott: Yeah, pretty much all Alibaba. I was just talking to another gentleman today about this. Alibaba is great to kind of get your start. But to me, it’s like finding that supplier or that agent. And that’s really what Alibaba is. For those of you that don’t know, agents are usually working for a company or multiple companies. And then you go through those. But it’s a great way for you to kind of interview and see how they’re working. And from there, you can then piggyback on that and say, “Hey, I’m looking to add this type of product. Can you get that?” And if they can’t, a lot of times, they can either point you to a place, or they’ll go get it for you, and they’ll just be the middle person. So that’s kind of what I’ve done there. I’ve really kind of used Alibaba to get my start as far as finding an agent now from there. I just go directly through them, even just through email. I don’t even go through with the Alibaba interface or anything like that.
Chris Guthrie: Yeah. For the most part, when I deal with suppliers, I like to just get them on Skype and talk just back and forth, rather than dealing with the back-and-forth system with Alibaba. So then have you thought about hiring a full-time buyer agent? Or if you’re going for 10 products, maybe that’s not something you would need to do. Once you have your 10, you’re just focused on maintaining those and growing that sales base.
Scott: Yeah, pretty much right now. And again, I deal with things as they come. And right now, that’s not necessary for me. But it’s not something I will be opposed to because obviously, you have to make changes as you grow. But I think with 10 products, it’s manageable. And I think to find them – And like I said, I think I have more product ideas right now than I could actually roll out right now, because with this business, it is a little bit more challenging because every time you roll a product out, you’ve got to send a chunk of money down too. It’s not just like you’re going to just say, “Oh, let’s put a digital product up. Let’s go put a website together and put it up.” It’s like you’ve literally got to put some money out. So it makes it a little bit slower. And again, it’s riskier. I’d be lying if I didn’t say every time I launch a product, I don’t have a little bit of a doubt in my head that says, “Hey, this might not work. What if it doesn’t work?” But I think that’s with anything. And without that, you’re not going to grow. You’re just going to sit there and be paranoid.
Chris Guthrie: Yeah, that’s a good point. On that, have you had products that haven’t gone out and done well? Or have most of them done pretty well?
Scott: I have one. I have the second product I ever launched that didn’t do that well, and I know exactly why. Want to know why?
Chris Guthrie: Yeah, I’d love to.
Scott: Well, again, failing to look at all the data, and the data was the depth of the market. I didn’t see that the first two listings were selling, yes, but the 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, and 10th weren’t. They weren’t selling good enough. They were selling like maybe, I don’t know, 3 or 4 a day. But the two top ones were selling probably 30-40 a day. So the problem with that is I need to come in there in the number one or number two position in order to get sales, and that’s a lot harder to do than if you find the top 10 and just find a way to get yourself in the 10 somewhere to where you can get the 10 or 15 sales a day. So I didn’t look at the depth of the market. I looked at the first two and thought I had a winner. Again, I say it wasn’t a success. It’s a failure. A failure is like selling 5 a day. That’s a failure. It’s still making money. I guess still just order inventory, replace it, maybe 500 units at a time, replenish it, and it’s selling still 5. Some days I’ve had 7 or 8 a day. And I think that it also will do better at certain times of the year. It’s not a seasonal product necessarily, but there are different times of the year that it would definitely be more in demand. But in the summers — usually a slow month anyway — but again, it’s not a loser, but it’s not a winner to me either. But it’s not a loser at all.
Chris Guthrie: So I think it’s good then. Obviously, you know what the problem with that one is. So in your future products, it sounds like you learned from that mistake and improved upon that process. Are there any other strategies that you’ve used during your product launches? I know that we talked about Amazon pay per click, and that was a big component of your launch strategy. But is there anything else now that we’re here talking about product launches?
Scott: Not really. It’s pretty much the same now. I’ve refined it a little bit, of course. But really, I look at it as getting the listing optimized, obviously. You want good images, good title, bullets, description, get all that stuff built. And those are things you’re going to refine over time. And you can tweak them. But getting that up and running, and then initially getting your 10 or 15 reviews if you can from family or friends. And some people listening might be like, “Well, Scott, I’ve heard that that’s not good because those reviews will probably go away. And they might not be as good, or they might not be verified and all this stuff. And I don’t really care because in the beginning, I’m just doing it for a base of reviews. I’m doing it for the initial social proof. And I don’t care if they go away in a month. That’s my philosophy. A lot of people don’t want to lose reviews. I don’t know if you’ve heard this, Chris, but I just heard just in my own Facebook group, there are a couple of threads going that seems like Amazon is coming in and starting to slap some listings. So people are complaining that they’re losing 25-30 reviews at a clip.
Chris Guthrie: Oh, definitely. I think the biggest thing that people should be aware of – and this is for any business that you build. Any business is built on some reliance on another large company. So if you’re talking about websites, then it obviously changes to Google’s algorithm. It would be the biggest impact there. But when we’re talking about Amazon, then there are things that they will change and strategies that might work today, may not work, or you might need to tweak them. And I always kind of assume that Amazon would do some of the things like placing weight on the most recent reviews. So people can’t just go out get a bunch of them at once and then sit back and do nothing. And also just the fact that they’re probably looking at your relationships that they have between your friends on Facebook. So if you’re connected to your Facebook in some way or they know who you are, then they can look that up as well.
And I’m not too worried about that either. I think that over a long haul, if you have a solid strategy for what you’re going to do for your business and how you’re going to continue to innovate and trying new strategies, then you’ll be fine. But if you don’t try new things and you aren’t learning constantly, then that is something to be concerned about because Amazon is going to throw those curve balls. It’s always going to be changing.
Scott: Yeah, absolutely. And just to let your audience know too, this is what I’ve kind of gathered from just hearing people talking about it in the group of ours. People were saying they were being removed because they didn’t have the disclaimer in there. So if you’re going and you’re sending out your product for promotions or whatever to a VIP group or something, if they don’t disclose that they received it at a discount for an honest review, they’re going in and immediately then going to remove that. So that’s one thing. That’s one little tip. The other thing is a little one-liner reviews like great product. They might have a character thing that says if it’s under 100 characters, remove it, done. So they’re probably building filters that are going to automatically come in here and clean things up. And I’m a fan of that because it’s going to level the playing field. And I look at it like I said if I’m going to do a blast, if I’m going to do any type of promotion. If I’m going to give away 50 units or 100 units to try to get my initial reviews, I’m doing that just to get on the map. And I’m looking to then drive organic sales through pay per click. It’s going to help me rank organically and start giving me organic sales that’s going to then turn into a solid feedback and a solid review using a tool like Salesbacker that actually can automate the process for me and then really just start driving these organic, natural, real reviews. And then from there, they’re going to stick. Those are going to be the ones that are going to stick. And I also think too. I’ve got a little bit of a new strategy in mind, which I haven’t shared yet, but I’ll share it here: rather than even doing a crazy like 100-unit giveaway, maybe just reducing my price to where instead of it being $20 being $19 or $9, maybe $9.95, because then it’s a true sale. There’s no discount code even used. And this way here, I’m going to have a real sale, and I’m going to be able to send them – As soon as they buy, they’re going to go through my Salesbacker sequence. And then from there, they’re going to turn into hopefully a review or a feedback for me. So that’s my strategy really moving forward with the launch—really just that initial base for social proof, turn on pay per click, start getting some organic. I might have to play with some pricing, and then from there, start slowly raising the price.
Chris Guthrie: Yeah. I don’t know if I told you that when I launched my first product, that’s sort of what I did. I did a really low price because I thought, “You know what? Even if I lose money on this first shipment, I don’t care. I just want to get some rankings.” And that worked pretty well. I think that that makes sense, especially if you combine that with some of the other strategies you talked about from pay per click and other elements to get that initial base going.
Now I’m looking at the time, and I think we should probably wrap it up. It’s easily one of those things that we can come back and do another episode, just based on changes, changes in the strategies that you’re employing and changes in what you see on Amazon. The review thing we’re talking about right now, it might be completely different six months from now.
Scott: Yeah, true. I don’t think as much as far as the whole going after pay per click is what they want. And I actually think this too, Chris. Maybe I’m wrong. But I think also if you’re spending money on pay per click, I think Amazon might give you a little bit of a nudge. I think they might say, “You know what? This person spent a little extra money with us. Let’s give him a little bit of a bump in the rankings.” I don’t know for sure, but maybe, they’re saying, “They’re doing a little extra here. Let’s give them a little bump. I don’t know, but I think what you said too. And I mentioned this on the podcast that I interviewed you. And I mentioned that what you said really resonated with me. And you said, “If you just think about this one thing, how can I make Amazon more money, and they’ll take care of you.” It’s as simple as that. Figure out a way to make them more money using their system, and they’ll pretty much reward you. So again, by getting real reviews from your customers by either lowering your price or giving them incentives like buy 2 and get 1 free, whatever it is, inside of their – that’s going to help you in the long run because you’re doing everything naturally and organically within there, rather than trying to keep buying reviews or feedbacks or whatever through these review groups—which I think is great for initial, for social proof. But then it’s a matter of automating through, like I said, Salesbacker, and then automating that sequence. And then it’s just the follow-up and then repeating the process: sales, reviews, feedback, sales, reviews, feedback, and just keep going round and round.
Chris Guthrie: Awesome. I think that’s a good closing spot. Thanks so much, Scott for coming on the podcast. I really appreciate your time. And thank you so much again for sharing your ideas and feedback with everybody else here.
Scott: Yeah, no problem. I really enjoyed it. Like I said, we can definitely come back in the future and probably hit on whatever else we’re testing and whatever we see that’s changing. I’ll definitely be in touch with you.
Chris Guthrie: All right. Thanks, Scott.
Scott: Yeah, no problem. Thanks, Chris.
Outro: All right, that’s the episode with Scott. Thank you so much for tuning in. And if you’d like to look at the show notes to see some more information on the resources that Scott mentioned, you can go to Sellercast.com/5, and that’ll get you there. And additionally, I’d love to see some more reviews on iTunes as well. So you can do that by going to Sellercast.com/review. I really appreciate the feedback. It helps us improve the show and make it better for you in terms of both the people that we bring on and also the variety of topics that we discuss. Thank you so much for listening. One other thing I want to mention is you can also go to Sellercast.com/now if you’d like to get a free 60-day trial of Salesbacker. It’s a tool that we built to help you get more reviews on Amazon. So let me know what you think of that as well.
Thank you so much for tuning in. See you in the next episode.