Sellercast: The podcast that teaches you how to sell more products on AmazonDirect podcast MP3 download link

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Jo Barnes is on the show today and she shares what she's learned from building a single product Amazon business that does between 500 - 700 sales per day.

Jo's most recent sales period over the last 30 days totals $230,000 in sales and that's all from just one product.

Jo's attitude is that you shouldn't shy away from competition and that you should always be testing and daily be putting in the effort to grow your business. On the show we discuss a variety of strategies she's implemented to improve her business that. Take notes and then take action. Enjoy the show.

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Get involved and ask a question about selling on Amazon and Chris may answer your question live on a future episode of Sellercast. Also, if you think you'd be a good guest for the Sellercast podcast feel free to tell us more about you and your company here.

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Show Notes and Links

Podcast Transcript

Intro: Hello everyone, Chris Guthrie here, host of Sellercast. And in today’s episode, I speak with Jo Barnes, who has been selling on Amazon since November of 2014, had a bit of misstep, and then in February, picked a different product and did exceptionally well, to the tune of $200,000 in the last 30 days from the time we just spoke. And we’re recording this here in December. So 10 months or so, and to get one product at $200,000 a month, so insane numbers. And Jo is going to talk about the strategies that she used for getting reviews, getting keyword rankings, getting sales, and everything else she does in terms of testing to get those results in this episode. So make sure you listen to everything, take notes. And the show notes link will be Let’s start the show.

Chris Guthrie: Hello everyone, Chris Guthrie here. And with me for this episode is Jo Barnes. Welcome.

Jo: Thank you for having me, Chris. Great to be here.

Chris Guthrie: Yeah, I know I’m really excited to talk to you because you’ve got a unique story. You’ve been selling on Amazon for a while. I know you have a business partner that you work with together, and you’ve been doing well. So how long have you been selling on Amazon for? Let’s start with that.

Jo: That’s a good question. Realistically, the current product that we’re selling, our current main product that we’re selling, we’ve been selling since February in 2015. But the reason I kind of say that a bit vaguely is because I did have a little dabble starting back in November 2014 with a product where I made every mistake under the sun for about three months [laughs]. And it didn’t quite go as well as I wanted it to. And so we kind of started all over again, and we launched our current product in February. And that’s really when the business started to take off.

Chris Guthrie: Okay. Let’s go back to that earlier experience. Are you still selling that product today? Or did you pretty much just give it up and move on?

Jo: No, what we did is because we had a few thousand units to shift, we just reduced the price and just sold it off at break-even, really, over four or five months, because we didn’t want to just give up on it and make a massive loss or anything. So we just basically reduced the price and just sold it off as quickly as we could.

Chris Guthrie: What are some other mistakes that came up from that? You mean was it just too competitive? What do you think made that one not work? And then we’ll kind of work our way towards your current product, your current business, and we’ll talk about the changes and differences.

Jo: Yeah, okay. I think what it was is that it was the very first time I’d done it. And I wasn’t following any official training, only what I was reading in blog posts and webinars and videos I was picking up. So when I searched for the specific criteria – and we’ll get into this a bit more through the podcast – obviously, when you’re looking for a product to sell on Amazon, you’re looking for something that’s selling really well. You’re looking for something that’s already doing very well on Amazon, that you can kind of emulate. And I did pick a product that I thought was doing that. What I didn’t do is I didn’t look at its history. So I didn’t really look and see has it been doing well for a really long time, or actually, is this just a bit of a spike? And as it turned out, as it came into the New Year, the demand just fell off. I couldn’t convert it, so it just died a death, really.

The other challenge I had though is that I didn’t do my due diligence on the actual product and the supplier properly. So what I thought I was ordering and what actually turned up were two different things by way of colors. So I ordered one specific product, and five colors turned up. So all of a sudden, I’m stuck with having to do a variation listing and have all these different colors of this particular product. And I’m trying to sell of the different… And one color was really popular, while the other colors were just dying. So the whole thing really was just a complete balls-up [laughs]. 

Chris Guthrie: [Laughs] Oh good. So then at least you were able to get out the products at break-even. That’s a good thing, as opposed to having inventory, just sit there for a long time, and eventually hit up the storage fees or something.

Jo: I think that’s the really critical thing about this business though, Chris, that even when you make a massive mistake, because of the sheer amount of people buying products on Amazon, you could almost get away with it. You might’ve made a bit of a loss when it comes to the amount of time you spent, or if you’ve done extra marketing or things like that. But on the whole, you’re not going to lose your shirt because just with the amount of people buying, if you could at least put it down at break-even and just sell it off, then you can kind of get away with it. So it’s a great business model.

Chris Guthrie: Okay. And then February comes around. You think, “Okay, let’s do something different here.” And then you basically just looked at the mistakes you made previously, made sure you didn’t make the same mistakes. Is there anything else you did separately to try and ensure your success or to try and set yourself up for the best possible chance of success in February?

Jo: Well, in all honesty, Chris, probably back in February, it was still a bit more luck than judgment. Even though we’d made a lot of mistakes, one of the key things we did obviously is we made sure that we got photographs of our product from the suppliers before it left the warehouse. We were very sure of exactly what was coming our way. We sent it to a third party for quality inspection before it hit the Amazon warehouses. So we did all those extra checks just to make sure that we were absolutely 100 percent sure of what the exact product was going to end up at Amazon.

And the other thing that we did is we looked a little bit more at the history of the product. So has it been in demand for a long time? I’m sure you’ve done podcasts before when people have explained this, but just for those people who perhaps don’t know, the way that you look at a product’s demand is you look at its best seller rank. And you have a look and you see has it got a really good best seller rank, #1 being the best best seller rank there can be, 300,000 being a terrible best seller rank. So the higher, the closer to 1 the products in that particular category are, then the more demand there is for those products. So what we did is we had a look at history, just to see if it had been in demand for a long time. We were happy with that. And the main thing really, Chris, we did is we just made sure the numbers worked. Where are we going to make a profit on the various price points, i.e. from a low price point to a higher price point? Are we still going to make a half-decent profit with the seller fees coming out and everything? So it was more of a calculated guess but probably still more luck than judgment. It’s really been selling that product over the last 8-9 months and seeing the patterns evolve over that time that has given us the real clues to how we would source a product moving forward.

Chris Guthrie: Okay, that’s great. And which sources did you use to find the BSR history? I know a good site that’s been around for a really long time. So if you want to see really far back, it’s Is that the same one you used as well?

Jo: Yeah, absolutely. It’s a great little tool.

Chris Guthrie: Yeah, that site has been around since before really anyone… I mean, obviously, people have been selling on Amazon for quite some time, but before it became more popular in terms of business model for people to pick. So it’s been around a long time and definitely a good resource.

Okay, so then you mentioned your product as singular. Are you selling more than one product or just the one right now?

Jo: No, we’ve got just the one. We’ve only focused on the one, for a couple of reasons. First of all, when we first launched it, we obviously put quite a lot of hours into really making it work and to getting it up the keyword ranking and all that kind of stuff and getting the regular daily sales.

And at the same time as we were doing that, my main business is education, Chris. My business is And I do Facebook courses and online marketing courses and various training and education courses. So I was splitting my time with my business partner, who was mainly focusing on the Amazon side, and I was focusing on the education side. But we were kind of splitting our time on doing this. And at the time, we were also doing a bit of training on Amazon. With my training courses, I’ve always been a look over my shoulder and kind of learn as I’m learning. And I’ll share these opportunities with you. So we started doing a bit of that as well this year. And education courses, as you know, take a lot of time and take a lot of energy. If you want to give brilliant customer support and be excellent with your students, then it takes a lot of time and energy. So we felt really this year, we didn’t have the resource to start doing multiple products.

The second thing was that this product just took off. Our product absolutely took off. And because we were doing some education, we wanted to do some experimentation with it. So we were kind of messing around with price points and messing around with different marketing strategies and things like that. So we were kind of focusing on that as well. And then as the last few months have come along, we decided that rather than launch a new product now with Christmas coming up, we almost took pretty much every single piece of profit that we’ve made this year and invest it back into the business to stock over Christmas, which we found has just… Oh, my goodness! The numbers are crazy over Christmas. So we’re really glad we did that, with the goal being next year that we want to build a team and have a team in place to help us grow our line and get some more products going.

Chris Guthrie: That’s awesome. I think there are a lot of things I’d like to dive in there from what you just shared. You mentioned talking about getting your product up and getting your daily sales going. Every person I talk to has some variation in terms of what they’ve done to get their product initially start selling well or just start ranking keyword-wise. What specifically did you do for this product? And if you think that that strategy has changed now in the current time point here at the end of 2015, what would you say you are doing differently? When did you start and then where do you see going forward?

Jo: I think what’s changed is that when we started, we tried quite a few strategies. And as we’ve grown, we’ve really honed it down to literally two or three. And that’s what we do all the time. So our main strategy for growing, and certainly when we launched, was simply discounted coupons and going out there and looking for people who are looking for products to review and offering them discount on our product for an honest and unbiased review, and just getting those people to come and search for our product and use the coupon and help us by writing those reviews and helping us rank for our keywords. So that’s one of the main strategies.

Alongside that, we’ve use Amazon ads from day one. So what we tend to do is we set up automated Amazon ad campaigns at the very beginning. And then we run those for two or three weeks. That then gives us the data that we need to really start focusing on the keywords that convert. And then we can start running manual Amazon ad campaigns on those specific keywords. And that’s something we continuously do. So we continuously go back and run automatic campaigns for a bit to see if any other keywords are popping up now, anything else that’s suddenly being searched for that we can then use in a manual campaign and start a bit aggressively on those keywords.

And then lastly, press releases. So without fail, we do a press release every single week on our product and distribute that out amongst all the different press networks. And they are kind of the main things we do. That’s pretty much it, the reviews, the Amazon ads, and the press releases.

We did dabble. Because of my background, one of my instant reactions was to dabble in Facebook ads. I thought, “Oh, this is going to be an absolute no-brainer, using Facebook for this.” But actually, I found that because of the low price of the product, the conversion rates on Facebook actually didn’t do what I wanted them to do. So we kind of dabbled in that, and we haven’t done much since. Now I’m not saying that Facebook doesn’t work. I know that for many people, it works very well. But there are easier ways of ranking your product. So it’s one of those ones that maybe later on, if you’re trying to grow your product and you’ve got a bit of time or money or whatever to spend on testing and measuring, then that’s one of those. But we found Amazon ads quicker and easier to convert. So that’s pretty much.

So what we were dabbling at the beginning with the different Google and Facebook and Twitter and all the different things that I’ve learnt through online marketing, we actually found the most effective strategies were the reviews, the Amazon ads, and the press releases. We do still dabble a little bit with Google and just play with those keywords a little bit but not very much. We’re talking really minimal spend.

And then the other thing that we have done over time is go out to people with big YouTube channels, bloggers, and ask them if they’ll do blog reviews or YouTube reviews or whatever for our product – which then goes out to their community, and then obviously links back to our product on Amazon. And we find that that works in two ways positively in that it’s obviously going out to a community of people interested in that niche, thereby more likely to buy our product. And secondly, it gives Amazon a little bit of loving from outside of Amazon, which I can’t tell you categorically whether it has an effect. But we kind of hope and think that that does help our ranking a little bit.

Chris Guthrie: Yeah, that’s definitely the same approach that everyone kind of… They think that it can help some way. But then it’s tough to say for sure if it does or not. But I also kind of believe that that extra traffic can help. It certainly can’t hurt, unless I suppose you’re sending tons and tons of traffic that kills your conversion rate or something.

A few things I wanted to get back to, so Facebook ads, were you trying to do discount-type promotions? Or were you trying to do full-price sales for that?

Jo: Well, I tried a couple of different strategies. I initially tried the discount promotions via a kind of a middle page. So basically, what would happen is people would come, they’d sign up, they’d get a discount code. So I was kind of building an email list at the same time, if you like. But that was okay. But the price of the ad was just too high for it to be profitable for us. I then tried just sending people directly to the page that killed our conversion, like you were just saying there. Sending too much traffic with lower conversions is going to kill your conversion and ranking. So that killed our conversion.

And then the last thing we tried, which was actually reasonably successful for the point of view of a campaign. But in the end, unfortunately, Chris, as you know, it’s very difficult to measure results on Amazon. So we couldn’t ever really get to the bottom of whether it worked or not. But we just had to surmise from the general sales we were getting versus any extra sales that it probably didn’t work very well. And that was a big competition. So we ran a big competition. And we got an awful lot of entries. And we did some discounts and stuff out to those people. But we just couldn’t determine whether that was successful enough to run again. Because we were getting a really good volume of sales from the main strategies that we were using, we just decided to give that up for the time being until we could get a more accurate measuring system in place.

Chris Guthrie: Okay. I think that the best part about all of your answers so far… Because you’ve been diving down and really talking about the different things you’ve tried. Especially for people who are listening right now, maybe they’re newer sellers. They’re just starting out. They’re struggling with getting more sales. You can tell what you’ve been saying that you’ve been testing a lot. You try a lot of different things. Because ultimately, if you don’t try, you don’t know for sure if it’s going to work. And some people say, “Oh, I try just this. Or I tried Amazon ads once, and it didn’t really work for me.” But you’re saying that you’re running Amazon ads, find what works, splitting those ads off into manual campaigns, presumably so that you can control a bid price for those keywords independently of the others, and doing just a lot of stuff as opposed to trying something and giving up or not really trying a lot of different things. So I think that’s great.

Jo: Yeah. I mean it’s like anything, Chris, isn’t it? You get out what you put in. So you’ve got to get in there and test and measure. The fact is with this business model, I’ve said this many times to my students and subscribers. Without a doubt, it’s one of the easiest business models online at the moment because you’re leveraging the trust value from another site. But by easy, I don’t mean any less work. You still have to get in there and do the work. You still have to get in there and test. And Amazon are going to send you a certain amount of traffic, but you need to show them that you’re willing to send traffic too. You’re willing to do the work too. And together, you’re going to increase that traffic and get more sales.

Chris Guthrie: Yeah, okay, cool. Another thing you touched on too is you’re reinvesting a lot of your money into Christmas inventory. And you kind of alluded to the fact that it was doing really, really well. Are you comfortable sharing numbers for your business?

Jo: Well, our highest day was some time last week. And I think we did something like 965 sales in a day. I was really gutted because we just missed the thousand mark [laughs]. So we’re kind of waiting for that to occur. At the moment, we’re doing anywhere between 500 and 700 sales a day of one product. And it’s just mad. I mean that is just crazy. So basically, here’s a quick stat for the last 30 days in product sales for one product: 230 grand.

Chris Guthrie: [Laughs] That’s fantastic. That’s awesome.

Jo: I mean that’s just mad, isn’t it? [Laughs] Absolutely mad.

Chris Guthrie: Obviously, I’m not going to ask you what product it is you’re selling or anything like that. Roughly, what margins are you see for your product?

Jo: With or without the stock reinvestment? At the moment, if you include the stock reinvestment, then very low because we’ve literally taken everything and reinvested it back. But obviously, your stock is an asset. So including that into our profit margins, we’re sitting at around 45 percent.

Chris Guthrie: Okay, it’s awesome. The other thing that you talked about too… And we’re going to kind of jump around here because some of the answers… You talked about different topics.

Jo: Sorry.

Chris Guthrie: No, that’s fine. I think when I do these…

Jo: I do tend to go into detail, Chris [laughs].

Chris Guthrie: No, no, that’s fine. And I do these conversations. I like to just kind of have a rough idea that I know you’re selling on Amazon, and then that’s about it. I like to just kind of go and see where it takes us. You mentioned that your goal is to start a team and really try and scale up, and then probably start doing additional products. So obviously, at 200,000 plus in the last three days, it is December time frame now. But obviously, it’s still huge amount of sales. How are you going to go about doing that? Are you looking to hire people locally? I guess I didn’t even ask where you are based right now.

Jo: Oh, that’s very exciting. So I’m based in Phuket, in Thailand. And basically, myself, my partner, and my daughter. I’m from the U.K. He’s from Australia. And we’ve been traveling around for the last few years, mainly between Australia, Thailand, and back to the U.K. every now and again. But I think we are probably going to actually base ourselves now, moving forward, in Phuket, in Thailand. But over the last few weeks, we’ve been flying back-and-forth to the Philippines. So my partner went over to Manila for a couple of weeks to check out the resources in Manila. And then we went over to Cebu to have a look to see whether Cebu was a place where we can a) set up offices, and b) actually live as a family. And I think we’ve actually decided that we don’t want to base ourselves as a family now in the Philippines, just simply because we know Phuket very well, and we’re very comfortable here, and there are some really good international schools and all that kind of stuff. So we think we’re going to stay here. But it’s only a three-hour flight from here to Manila.

So we’re going to set up an office in Manila. They have what I call BPOs over there, which are basically already setup structures and offices with computers and recruitment teams in place and interview teams. And they also manage the staff for you. And they have kind of everything in place, which makes up a whole office. So all you do is you go over there, and you actually interview the people that you want to employ. And then you essentially lease a set in these offices. So we could go over there and start with, say, two people in January, February next year and lease two seats in these offices. And those two people will have all of the office structure. They’ll have an account manager, people that actually look after them, and all that kind of stuff. There are what I call pantries, or what we might know as refectories or canteens, whatever, on the site. They have medics and nurses and stuff like that on site. It’s really good. So you basically, lease the seats and you hire a couple of people to sit in those seats, and they become your team, and then you can grow that.

So our plan is to start with a couple and then grow that, over the next sort of few months, into a full-blown little team. And then you can actually get a little office within these big offices. You can get your own little sort of section and a team leader. So our goal is to start with these guys, train them up, get them to understand the different facets of the business. We’ll start to source more products between now and January, and try and get some products launched through sort of February, March next year with our new team members in place. 

Chris Guthrie: That’s great. It seems like you found a good fit where you can slowly expand out, where you can start small and then just keep going as you have more team members. I’ve talked to a lot of people that have set up offices in the Philippines. Actually, we should talk offline afterwards. But I’m not sure if they did the exact same structure as you. But they started with a team and then went from there. They’ve been doing pretty well with that. So that’s great.

The other question too is you’ve been selling now. You’re based in Thailand. And you’re going to be potentially traveling back-and-forth every now and then to the Philippines. What are the challenges in running your business from Thailand as opposed to in the U.S. where you’re currently selling?

Jo: Do you know what, Chris? I would say none. I don’t know. Maybe time zones, simply that. But then again, you see in the Philippines, when you employ the teams, they’re so used to working for American companies, a lot of these offices don’t open till 10 o’clock at night from our point of view, which is when the U.S. is awake and alive. Other than that, as long as you’ve got an Internet connection and you can get on there and answer your customer service email… One of the most important things we found running the Amazon business is really keeping our seller account top-drawer. And to do that, you need to be making sure that you are dealing with your customer queries super fast. So really, that’s our main ting. Every day, we log on, and we get back to our customers. We deal with any customer queries. We deal with any challenges, any issues. But as far as challenges of running over here, as long as you’ve got a decent Internet connection and you can get on to your account and everything, really no challenges. I don’t see any challenges. 

Chris Guthrie: It feels like the word for the podcast, so far I keep saying awesome. But one of the strategies you’ve been talking about and the depth of testing and the ambition to scale and really try and grow, as opposed to staying in a comfort zone, is awesome. So that’s why I keep using it. But let’s talk a little bit more too about the sourcing. We really kind of talked primarily about some of the marketing strategies and what you’re doing to grow your business in that way. You talked about how you had the first mistake with the product, showing up in five different colors. And in the second one, you made sure you got your photos and everything. Are you primarily finding your suppliers through Alibaba? Or are you using some other sources like 1618 I think, .com or some of the other ones?

Jo: Yeah, I’m glad you’ve touched on sourcing, actually, Chris. Just a couple of things which I would really love to get across on this podcast because I think it’s really important, something we’ve learned a lot over the last few months. And just to answer your question, we’re only using Alibaba. I only intend to use Alibaba. There are some great suppliers on there. And when you start to negotiate with suppliers, I think it really frightens people to begin with. It certainly did me, and I’m a super confident person. But when I first contacted suppliers and everything, I found it quite nerve-racking, and especially with the language barriers. If you’re going to Alibaba, primarily, the suppliers you’re going to be speaking to are going to be Chinese. And you’re going to find there’s going to be a language barrier, and that’s going to be a little bit scary. So a couple of tips with that: First of all, when you start sourcing your supplier, when you find a couple that you like the look of, try and move them from Alibaba onto Skype as soon as you possibly can so that you can have live chats with them on Skype, text chats, but you’re just literally talking back-and-forth. Don’t feel really committed to having to phone and speak to them because that’s where the language barrier is going to become more difficult. Do it. I mean if they want to call you, great. If you want to have a chat with them over the phone, then fabulous. But if they feel more comfortable text-chatting with you on Skype, then do that. And always remember that there is a language barrier. So if they come back to you with something very obscure, don’t think they’re being rude or anything like that. They’re simply not understanding exactly what it is you’re asking for. So it’s your responsibility as the English-speaking person, just to try and word your question in another way.

But the real key I find with suppliers is just chat away to them like you’re having a coffee with a friend. There don’t need to be any barriers. Just talk to them, be nice, be chatty, be friendly. And I think what works very well for us when we ever talk and negotiate with suppliers is that talk to them like you’re looking for a long-term relationship. This isn’t something where you’re just having a look back. Actually start like this is going to be a long-term thing. We want to become a larger-volume buyer. We’re initially doing some tests. We plan to expand this line. And we’re looking to do this in the future. We want to work with you, and blah, blah, blah. And if you just talk to them, just nice and friendly and all the rest of it, then you won’t go far wrong.

Chris Guthrie: Great feedback, great strategies. About your supplier too, you said over 200,000 sales in the last three days. At this point, have you already met your supplier? Have you been to China? Or have you done anything? I’ve talked to some sellers that are at that level. And at some point, the supplier comes to visit them or vice versa. Have you done that yet?

Jo: No [laughs], no. Not yet. I’m sure we will, but obviously, we’re not that far away here in Thailand. So it’s not a huge leap for us to head over to China. But no, it’s just not something we’ve done yet.

Chris Guthrie: Yeah I love it because you’re like, “Oh, we just need Internet, and we can run our business from anywhere.” And then, “Oh, I don’t need to visit my supplier.” I love it.

We’re coming near the end here, but I did have one other question. Was it something that came up when you were talking about some of the testing that you did for getting your product to start selling and doing really well. Have you set up a website for your brand yet? Have you been trying to drive traffic externally from your own website? Or were you trying to rank it in Google and then driving sales in that manner, or not yet? 

Jo: No. We do have a website, but we literally set it up just as a … I think maybe we did it for brand registry. And we do kind of keep it maintained. We do add in some posts and things like that all the time. But it’s certainly not something we spend any time on at the moment. Now would we consider doing that in the future? If we grow our brand, if we’re really looking to grow our brand, and we think that it would be beneficial to set up some kind of shopping cart over on that website and start to try and drive some traffic that way, then maybe. Or even not a shopping cart but just links through to Amazon because you can fulfill via Amazon anyway, even if you set up on your own website. So if we feel that it’s going to add value to our brand moving forward, then maybe it’s something we’ll focus more on.

But right now, Chris, we’re really trying to just keep things really super simple, as simple as we possibly can, using the trust value of Amazon because the one thing you have to remember is that as somebody who’s had six, seven years now in online marketing strategies, if you are going to set up your own website and start to drive traffic through your own website, that’s a whole another set of resources and time and effort and money altogether.

Chris Guthrie: And a different skill set, right? I mean it’s much different building up a website, ranking it in Google, than it is creating listing on Amazon, trying to drive some traffic, doing some sponsored ad campaigns. It’s much, much different.

Jo: It is. Yeah, it is a totally different skillset. No, we’re just keeping it super simple. I know we’ve just come up to the end of time, Chris. But I did just want to touch on a sourcing tip that I really wanted to share.

Chris Guthrie: That’s what I was going to ask. If there’s anything else specifically that I should ask, but yeah, go ahead, dive in.

Jo: Yeah, just a sourcing tip, just from experience now over the last 10 months or so. We’re now starting to source products for next year for our team. And when I go into Amazon, I start looking for products. When we first started looking for products, we based it on the BSR, whether it had a really good BSR, depending on what category it’s in. So the more popular a category, the lower the number of BSR it can be. Let me give you an example. Let’s say you’re going to go into Kitchen & Dining. It’s a very, very popular category. So if you find products with BSRs around the 2000s or 3000s, it’s still very popular, still quite a lot of demand, because it’s such a popular category. But let’s say you went into arts and crafts, and you were looking at products that were in the 2000s or 3000s. You would want to find products that were closer to the 500 to 1000 mark because it’s not such a popular category. So you need your BSR to be that much lower to show you that there’s a demand, right? I’m sorry if this is a bit over your head, but it’s just an important point I kind of want to get across if you’re listening to this.

But the fact is when we started, we were looking for that number, that magic BSR number. We were also looking at the competition. So how many reviews did a product have? And could we compete with it? We were also looking at sort of all these different criteria. And moving forward, when we source a product now, the only thing we’re really going to be looking at is that demand, because it really doesn’t matter whether there’s a lot of competition. It really doesn’t matter all the kind of different bits and pieces. The most important thing is if that product does not have demand, then you won’t sell it. You will not shift it. So that key thing is that demand. When you’re sourcing a product, in my advice, in my opinion, make your #1 priority. Does that product… When you type in the keyword on your search in Amazon, and you look down that first page of results, do all those products that are on that page 1 have really high demand, as close to 1 BSR as possible, as many products on that first page with as high BSR as possible? And if you find products like that, then those products are likely to be winners. That’s my little tip.

Chris Guthrie: I hear different strategies from different people. And I love that your approach is I don’t care if there is competition. Bring it on. I will take them down [laughs].

Jo: [Laughs] Pretty much like that, yeah. Forget the competition. That’s irrelevant [laughs].

Chris Guthrie: Yeah. One other thing I wanted to ask you too because you mentioned that reviews were so important as well once you start going. I know you’re using Salesbacker, and you mentioned the discount approach to get reviews. Are you doing anything else for getting reviews?

Jo: Oh, Salesbacker is brilliant for us. Do you know, Chris? We get about 98 percent success rate using Salesbacker. Basically, we set up Salesbacker. Your listeners will know what Salesbacker is, right?

Chris Guthrie: Yeah.

Jo: Okay. So we set up Salesbacker. And so we’ve got a little system in place that every single time somebody buys our product, a little email pops out saying, “We hope that you’ve received the product, and we hope everything is good.” And I can’t remember how many we’ve got set up now, maybe two emails. I think probably two, maybe three at the most, and just saying, “Please, could you leave us a review?” And we have a massive success rate from organic sales on our reviews, huge.

Chris Guthrie: That’s fantastic. And in terms of your campaign structure, have you done something different? One of the things that we do at Salesbacker is we pre-create campaigns for people so that they can just get started pretty much right away. But did you create your own custom campaign?

Jo: Yeah, I think we did. But it was completely around yours. We took yours and just sort of amended it and put in our own bits and pieces and all the rest of it. And it’s just sending a nice, polite email, just saying, “Hey, we hope you’ve really enjoyed the product. Could you do us a favor and leave us a review?”

Chris Guthrie: Awesome.

Jo: That’s it.

Chris Guthrie: So pretty much just Salesbacker, and then just the discount in exchange for an honest review, basically, okay.

Jo: And we’ve got thousands of reviews, by the way. We’ve now got more reviews on our product than any of the other products on page 1 for our product.

Chris Guthrie: That’s awesome [laughs], thousands of reviews. Well, I’m glad that we’ve been able to help with that in some aspect. And as we close up, thank you again too for coming on and sharing your story, one product, 200,000 plus in sales in the last three days, that’s fantastic. And it obviously sounds like you’re just getting started. I think you mentioned, or maybe your business partner mentioned that you’re looking to try and 10x your business next year.

Jo: Yeah [laughs].

Chris Guthrie: I love it. That’s fantastic.

Jo: Think big.

Chris Guthrie: You know... If you started from zero in February, well, roughly zero, and you had 200,000 in the last 30 days, there’s no reason why you can’t be at that point next year, right? You might as well.

Jo: Seriously, Chris, I just want to say to your audience right now. Guys, I’m in my early 40s. I’ve got a daughter. I’m not a technical genius. I’m not a 24-year-old, stay up all night, come up with the latest apps, tech-head, or anything like that. If I can do it, anybody can do it, seriously. And you’re just going to get started. The trouble is we put so many barriers in our way. We put so many reasons why things won’t work. And you know what? It’s just a case of getting out there and just doing it. And if it works, happy days. And if it doesn’t work, then just tweak it. Work out why it didn’t work. Keep going. Just keep moving forward. And the main message is just get going. Just get started, because if all the time you’re theorizing about it or thinking about it or talking about it, then nothing is going to happen until you actually just do it. So that’s my message of today. Just get out there and get cracking.

Chris Guthrie: Definitely, yeah, a lot of people spend too much time on day zero of their business, when really, day one is when you’ve launched something. And you’re getting sales or you’re trying to get that first sale, for example. And sometimes people just spend way too much time before that, just planning or not doing anything. So I think that element is really important as well. So again, Jo, thanks so much for agreeing to come on and speak. And I hope that everyone else took away as much as I did.

The other thing too is I definitely think that next year, we should sync up again because I’m sure people will be interested to hear how your success has gone in the Philippines, for people who might be considering doing that.

Jo: Oh, absolutely.

Chris Guthrie: I’ll have to let you know.

Jo: I’ll be happy to.

Chris Guthrie: Awesome, thanks, Jo.

Jo: Thank you for having me, Chris. It’s been great fun, thank you.

Chris Guthrie: Thanks again. 


Outro: All right, that was the show. Hopefully, you enjoyed that episode. I think it’s really inspiring to show that sometimes people are afraid of competition, but Jo really embraces it and is willing to go after any competitive category as long as there is demand there. So I think that’s great attitude to approach this. And as you can tell from the interview and from the questions that she answered, she really is focused on testing and trying lots of different things to help improve her rankings, to get more sales, to get more traffic. I think that’s really important, especially if you’re trying to go after that high-competition product set.

The other thing I want to mention is that Jo said in the interview that she was getting a 98 percent review rate from Salesbacker. That number is wrong. 98 percent is from all of the main reviews that she’s organizing. With Salesbacker, she’s getting close to 10 percent. So roughly 10 percent of all of her normal buyers on Amazon are leaving reviews because she’s using Salesbacker. So I just want to make that quick note to clarify that.

And lastly, if you have been enjoying these episodes, please do leave us a review on iTunes or wherever you may be listening to the show from. It helps us out and gets more people listening to the show. And then, of course, I can continue to find great guests to bring to you and help you in your ecommerce business. So thank you so much for listening, and I’ll see you in the next episode.