Podcast: Dealing with Amazon Effectively at Different Stages of a Brand

March 3, 2020

Shannon Roddy

Shannon Roddy

Founder of the Marketplace Seller Courses Company

Listen to the podcast

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • [01:08] James Thomson introduces his guest, Shannon Roddy
  • [01:58] Shannon talks about the types of brands he trains on Amazon and the different approaches he uses to help build the brand
  • [03:39] How Shannon differentiates the various approaches brands need to take to succeed on Amazon based on their life stages
  • [05:46] The importance of gaining and maintaining momentum on the Amazon platform for new brands
  • [09:51] How brands can clean up their listings on Amazon
  • [13:24] How Shannon helps brands see Amazon as a growth opportunity and as an important sales channel
  • [16:18] Where do small brands go wrong with their Amazon channel efforts and how does it differ from the mistakes of bigger brands?
  • [23:38] Shannon shares his advice to national brands who are looking to enter Amazon
  • [27:48] Shannon talks about the time he realized he was good working with and training brands and the mistakes he made in the process of building his business
  • [34:48] The downside of Amazon not publishing frequent changes and updates to its channel
  • [36:00] Shannon shares the best advice he received from his mentor that has helped him become a better entrepreneur
  • [37:58] Shannon’s advice to brands to become more effective in managing their Amazon businesses

In this episode…

Building a brand doesn’t always mean getting bigger fast, although that is the goal. What you would want to do is to make sure that your brand is meeting the goals you have in mind because a brand that’s reliable and credible is what keeps customers coming. But what do you do when you’re suddenly bombarded with negative feedback on your listings? How do you face competition when your brand seems to have lost its traction due to bad reviews?

According to Shannon Roddy, Founder of the Marketplace Seller Courses Company, deep cleaning your listings is a lot more effective in helping you maintain a strong presence on Amazon versus trying to outsell your closest competition.

In this episode of The Buy Box Experts Podcast, James talks to Shannon about the types of brands he typically works with on Amazon and how he helps them build their brand. He also shares the importance of momentum on Amazon, and the most common mistakes that established brands and emerging brands make on the platform. Stay tuned.

Resources Mentioned on this episode

Sponsor for this episode

Buy Box Experts applies decades of e-commerce experience to successfully manage clients’ marketplace accounts. The Buy Box account managers specialize in combining an understanding of clients’ business fundamentals and an in-depth expertise in the Amazon Marketplace.

The team works with marketplace technicians using a system of processes, proprietary software, and extensive channel experience to ensure your Amazon presence captures the opportunity on the marketplace, not only producing greater revenue and profits but also reducing or eliminating your business’ workload.

Buy Box Experts prides itself on being one of the few agencies with an SMB (small to medium-sized business) division and an Enterprise division. Buy Box does not commingle clients among divisions as each has unique needs and requirements for proper account management.

Episode Transcript

Intro 0:17
Welcome to the Buy Box Experts Podcast with your host, Joseph Hansen. We bring to light the unique opportunities brands face and today’s e-commerce world.

James Thomson  0:18  

I am James Thomson, one of the hosts of the Buy Box Experts Podcast. I’m a partner with Buy Box Experts and formerly the business head of the selling on Amazon team at Amazon, as well as the first account manager of the Fulfillment by Amazon program. I’m the co-author of the book The Amazon Marketplace Dilemma and co-founder of The Prosper Show, one of the largest continuing education conferences for Amazon sellers in North America. Today’s episode is brought to you by Buy Box Experts. Buy Box Experts takes ambitious brands and makes them unbeatable. When you hire Buy Box Experts you receive the strategy optimization and marketing performance to succeed on Amazon Buy Box Experts is the only agency that combines executive-level advisory services Expert performance management and execution of your Amazon channel strategy, go to buy box experts. com to learn more. 

Today our guest is Shannon Roddy. Shannon is the founder of the marketplace, seller courses company, and a consultant to brands learning about Amazon. He helps brands to set up, optimize and launch their Amazon storefronts and products as well as to promote and protect their brands on the Amazon platform. Today, he shares with us his expertise on the challenges that brands have in getting started with the Amazon channel. So welcome, Shannon. And thank you for joining us today on the Buy Box Experts Podcast.

Shannon Roddy  1:37  

Yeah, thanks for having me on the show. Appreciate it.

James Thomson  1:39  

So we like to think that this is a nice friendly podcast, but we do ask tough questions. And so let me start with a fairly straightforward one. Please share with the audience some of the details of the types of brands that you typically deal with when you’re training brands about Amazon.

Shannon Roddy  1:58  

Yeah, so it’s interesting It’s really anybody from startup. People who are not yet on Amazon that can be emerging brands. In some cases, they’ve been around for five or 10 years, but they’ve never exploited the Amazon opportunity. In other cases, their brands that have been around for several years, their products are already being sold on the Amazon platform. And they just haven’t been selling on Amazon correctly or at all, in which case, there’s a lot of cleanup involved. And so both of those are really great opportunities. So not yet so many Amazon, whether they’re a new emerging brand or been around for a little while, or companies that have been around for a long time, and he have either not exploded Amazon, or have massive cleanup issues. Those are some of our favorite case studies and companies to work with.

James Thomson  2:48  

So you like the sick patients coming in the door.

Shannon Roddy  2:51  

You know, I was at fancy Food Show recently and talking to some of the companies like they’re like our Amazon is a mess and For me, I get, you know, big eyes because for me, that’s the best opportunity. One of the companies that we worked with, you know, clean up seven years ago when I started. Those are the golden opportunities because there’s a way to do the cleanup. And it means you get to capitalize on it. If you’re starting a storefront from scratch, it means you’ve got to slowly build and you know, grow your brand equity and everything. But clean up means there’s already sales on Amazon. All you got to do is clean it up so that they all go through year right.

James Thomson  3:31  

So brands of all sizes and maturities have had challenges getting up to speed of what it takes it takes to succeed. brands of all sizes and maturities have had challenges getting up to speed on what it takes to succeed on the Amazon channel. You and I have talked about frameworks that brands need to think about in order to deal with Amazon, depending on the stage of the brand. Share with me how you differentiate different approaches the brands need to take depending on where they are their life stage.

Shannon Roddy  4:00  

I think that for a lot of companies, you know, the the podcast that we did together, for example, Amazon and the single seller model, that is a principle that I think brands at every stage should take, again, whether you’re brand new emerging, or, you know, multinational company looking to clean up Amazon. I think the biggest thing is really learning to leverage the Amazon flywheel. And the way I described it for brands is optimize, launch and analyze. And so wherever you are, you want to go through and make sure that your listings are fully optimized from the product images, features, the copy a plus content videos, and then that you’re fully leveraging your opportunities to launch those products correctly using Amazon campaigns internally, anything off Amazon that you want to direct with social media, that kind of thing, and then you’re able to fully and completely analyze those listings The sales, the keywords that are converting into re optimizing the listings. And again, that is a principle that’s applicable to a company that’s just launching, who’s looking to do it correctly or company that’s been on Amazon for 10 years, because there’s a good chance that their listings aren’t optimized that they haven’t been, you know, cycling through that flywheel and actually leveraging, you know, keyword data from Amazon campaigns to make changes in their title, for example.

James Thomson  5:25  

So for brands that are emerging on Amazon, let’s talk about the types of momentum. You see Amazon providing those brands. Yeah, if you think about, you know, Amazon is not a place where if you build it, they will naturally come. But But how do you get brands to a place where they can do some of the initial legwork and get themselves spinning their own flywheels?

Shannon Roddy  5:46  

Yeah, so this is really the first case study that I wanted to talk about a little bit. And it’s the importance of momentum on the Amazon platform and how important that is for a brand especially as you’re getting started. So To the company last year, and they were just getting started, we help them optimize their listings, send their products into FBA run campaigns, they did a little bit of social promotion, hey, we’re live on Amazon, you know, directing some of their email traffic, and really got ramped up and going, and all of a sudden they a rat ran out of stock, and then be ran out of money and were unable to do campaigns. And you look at that stop and go, it just crippled them. And, you know, for several months, it took them so much time to even begin to regain some of those initial sales. And I’m not sure if you’ve had this experience, as well. But what I’ve found is, it’s actually 10 times more difficult, maybe not that but at least three or four times more difficult to to regain momentum for a brand that exists that had momentum and then dropped. Then to relaunch a brand new brand and new products. It’s almost like Amazon says, we already gave you a shot and you failed. As opposed to your new, let’s check this out. So working with a company, that that was launching their new line of products on Amazon, and I was in an advisory role. So I was able to assist with some of the work. But again, all I was providing was consulting. So I’m offering suggestions. And they would take it or leave them as a soffit. And one of the challenges they had was decided how they were going to use Amazon. And it was at first we’re going to sell all of our products on Amazon, then we’re not going to sell any of our products on Amazon, to we’re only going to sell our best sellers on Amazon to we’re not going to sell our best sellers on Amazon. And what wound up happening was they stuttered through month after month of stop and go. So at first they lost, they listed all of their single products. And then they decided against that because they want to increase the average order value so then they listened multipacks but they stopped all the single packs. So all the reviews all the sales velocities on those initial acent guys Stop, and now they’re launching their two packs. Well, they did that for a few months, realize they want to increase average value more. And so they stopped all the two packs, and they listed all their bundles, and it was literally stop, go stop, go, then we get product reviews that would then be on dead a sins that were no longer active. And eventually, you know, so much of the company just completely fizzled out because they were not taking advantage of the momentum that they had the opportunity game, they were getting momentum. But when you throw the truck and reverse halfway through and change direction, again, going back to that flywheel concept, it really really hurts Amazon and understanding that the campaigns plan to that in the exact same way that if you’ve got campaigns that are running, you don’t want to just throw the brakes on. I worked with a company trying to advise them on this. Their campaigns were literally set up as July campaign and then they had an August campaign and then Like a holiday campaign, so they were literally running a campaign for one month, almost like it was a promotion and then shutting it down and then starting a new campaign. And the campaign never had the ability to generate momentum, and generate, you know, sales and keyword. We basically cleaned it up, we created new campaigns, we let them keep running. And we doubled their sales in five months.

James Thomson  9:21  

So let’s let’s take a different type of brand, one that is already being sold on Amazon by a bunch of mysterious probably unauthorized third party sellers. Now the brand decides, wait a minute, we’re going to do something about this. We’re going to own this channel. We’re going to clean up our branding, maybe clean up our distribution. What have you seen brands like that do and both things that work well, but also common mistakes they make in terms of thinking somehow that they can just swoop in and fix fix everything?

Shannon Roddy  9:51  

Yeah, so one of the first companies actually worked with was this exact scenario. It’s how I learned Amazon. Clean up. In fact, if you search the term, cleaning up You’re listening on Amazon, you’ll see a 4000 word article that I wrote on skewb on his blog a couple years ago, that really is the most detailed analysis of what it takes to clean up. And it is a lot and it a lot has changed over the last couple years. That the number one benefit is you already have sales velocity going through your brand, even if they’re counterfeit listings, even if it’s a trademark infringement, even if it’s an unauthorized seller. So if you can begin to clean that up, and you know, you take for example, a company that has duplicate listings, you know, so maybe you have three or four a sense for the same product, somebody Turn it up with a different UPC code or resell UPC code, what have you. You’re essentially parsing out the sales velocity between for a sins when it should be one. So with the company that we did this three or four years ago with, there’s about $15,000, using Jungle Scout to look at their sales estimator and get an idea of what the traffic was through all these lists. And all these resellers, they had about 135 authorized resellers on the listing, and something like 40 to 50 duplicate listings, trademark infringement, counterfeit infringement. And it was just going through the process of cleaning it up, we were able to because we had new iterations of the product, create new optimized listings under our brand using Brand Registry. So that was actually very, very important to be able to create new listings, you can if you’ve got a UPC code that exists and the products there, you can take control of an existing acent using Brand Registry and be able to clean up whatever images or product features were there previously. So it’s really taking dominance over the agents themselves, and then creating a distribution enforcement system that allows you to remove this and other unauthorized resellers so that when people search for your brand or your product, it’s going through one listing per product, and it’s going through you as the seller. And you know, in that case, we were able to ramp the brand up to a million dollars in sales. The first year and we were able to achieve number one new releases and number one best sellers. Because again, we took what was being scattered from all these different listings with followed up with poor quality products and poor customer service and provide, you know, high quality products from the manufacturer with superior customer service. And I mean it paid off and as you and I talked about in our podcast as well. Once you clean up the listings, it’s much easier to maintain that there’s only so many people who will attempt to sell your brand or product. And once you kick off a majority of them, you may have new people coming on every so often, but it’s much easier. It’s just like you know, weeding your lawn, it’s a lot easier to have everything weeded out and then do a little maintenance every week and then to let it get really really bad you know, after three or four months we the whole thing and then let let it get really bad again. The idea is that ongoing maintenance is little investments over time is much more effective than trying to do everything You know, once every six months, for example,

James Thomson  13:02  

many of our prospect brands have a very poor attitude towards the Amazon Marketplace. They don’t have proper control of branding or distribution. I’m interested in hearing from you what techniques can you offer our audience on how to get brands to view Amazon as a growth opportunity that can be leveraged as an important sales channel?

Shannon Roddy  13:24  

It’s a great question. You know, again, you know, talking to so many brands, I’ve talked to over 100 companies this weekend, and the opinions are just across the board. People, everybody feels a certain way about Amazon. And opinions tend to run very high and it’s almost like politics. It’s like opinions run very high. But when it comes to Amazon, you know, what I’ve really experienced is that a majority of brands are making decisions based on partial information, bad information or no information. And so the very first step is Actually educating brands about Amazon how to think about Amazon because most of them again, the reason they feel a certain way about Amazon is because they heard something from someone, or we tried this and it didn’t work. And you know, it’s it’s the essence of throwing the baby out with the bathwater. I talked to one company and they basically said, Amazon such a disaster that we’re not going to touch it. And the problem with that hands off approach is it doesn’t get any better. And it ultimately has the ability to impact the brand off Amazon, you know, into retail and the distribution, certainly consumer perception of your brand and product if it’s not being represented well in the Amazon platform. So I you know, really my is the reason why I created my podcast as well is to educate brand owners to think about Amazon correctly. So again, Amazon is a brand new platform before it’s an e commerce platform. It’s saying we don’t want to be on Amazon is like saying we don’t want to be on Google and people have all these concerns. There’s so much fear around Amazon, people have so many, you know, decisions that they make that are fear based instead of education based, that people will say, Well, I don’t want Amazon to get too big and be too much of my sales, because then I’ll just have an Amazon business, well, that’s fine, the better your Amazon business does, you can take any revenue profits from that and use it to build out your other channels, be on my channel, you know, expand into retail, build out your business in other ways, so that you’ve got that leverage. And you’ve got that protection across multiple channels, so that you don’t have an Amazon business where if Amazon suspends the listing, or shuts your account down temporarily, that it you know, creates utter disaster and chaos. So the goal is really understanding Amazon. It does 50% of all e commerce sales, it’s not going away. People use it for product research, even if they’re buying in a store or on another website. So the importance of Amazon cannot be understated. And again, I think once companies are willing to, you know, as Jim Collins would say, look at the reality accept the reality of what the market is and what the conditions are, then you can begin to make educated decisions but if you’re not willing to accept the reality that’s that’s the first step.

James Thomson  16:18  

So let’s suppose I’m a small brand selling hundred million dollars a year today on Amazon. I want to keep growing both on and off Amazon. What Where have you seen brands of that size go wrong with their Amazon channel efforts.

Shannon Roddy  16:32  

there’s a there’s a couple different things and one of one of this, this these concepts come from a principle actually pulled from trick Kathy was a founder of chick fil a, and it’s this idea of better before bigger. So to play it back a little bit. There’s a marketing manager who’s in a meeting and all of the marketing managers at chick fil a were saying we have to get bigger because Boston Market with In the sort of fast food, chicken, you know, market was growing and expanding very, very quickly. And chick fil a is going we have to compete. And so you have all these marketing managers and all these advisors in the room saying we need to expand, we need to grow bigger, bigger, bigger, and tritt, who happens to be a fairly mellow guy started pounding his fist on the table and saying, No, no, no, no, no. And sort of like everybody in the meeting stops. And he goes, we have to get better. And if we get better, our customers will demand that we get bigger. And it was just a little bit of a different philosophy that everybody who goes you know, we want to get bigger on Amazon, we want to increase our sales off Amazon. If you don’t focus on getting better before bigger. it’s eventually going to get a play out into into have some pretty significant repercussions. And if you look at the model of what worked the year that chick fil a did a billion dollars in revenue Boston Market filed chapter 11 bankruptcy. And that’s the model of better before bigger. So working with companies that didn’t have the infrastructure in place, they did not have order management systems in place, they didn’t have customer service in place, or there was problems with the product. You know, we, you know, we have situations where I’m working with a brand. And customers are complaining about an aspect of the product that doesn’t work. That’s a manufacturing defect, and they’re not willing to fix that. And instead, they’re trying to push sales. I mean, you talk about pushing something, all you’re doing is pushing your destruction faster. If you’re trying to increase sales on a product that is guaranteed to get negative reviews, because you haven’t gone back and fix it from a manufacturer standpoint.

James Thomson  18:46  

So so let’s let’s flip the tables a little bit. Let’s say I’m a really big national brand. And Amazon has traditionally not been one of my biggest channels. I get on to Amazon. Yep, there’s lots of demand for my brand. I’m doing really healthy sales. Were Do the mistakes for those types of sellers differ from smaller sellers when it comes to keeping their eye focused on getting things done properly on Amazon.

Shannon Roddy  19:09  

One again, it all it all comes back to education. So it I love a rereading Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. And he talks about leadership and management. And leadership is doing the right things and management is doing things the right way. And so again, having an understanding of how Amazon plays into your overall channel and knowing what the right things that you need to be doing are in terms of listing optimization, distribution enforcement, you know, advertising, that sort of thing, and then doing it well, having people you know, like you mentioned on your team who understand the best practices who are able to effectively use their time to pull the right levers and the right triggers, really are the most important things. One of the mistakes I see a lot of companies make sort of in that space is allowance of multiple authors. resellers. And we see this a lot in there say, Well, you know, we’re fine kind of selling on Amazon. But we’re also fine with all of these other people selling on Amazon. And they do not understand how splitting up the Amazon campaigns splitting up the customer service. Yeah. Again, all of these different aspects of Amazon that are done much better by a single seller, and in particular, the brand owner. That’s definitely an area that I see. That’s the most challenging. The second one really plays into advertising. Again, people have a lot of misnomers about advertising. I talked to a woman the other day, she goes well, I heard that if you’re not willing to spend a certain amount that Amazon isn’t going to give you any, you know, sales at all for the advertising that you’re doing, which is a complete misnomer. I mean, you can spend any amount of money and get sales for it. One of the biggest challenges that I haven’t the things that I spend the most time convincing brands to do is practice. Heck their own brand using advertising. And you may or may not be surprised you may deal with this as well. But companies will say we do not want to bid on our own brand name. In fact, they will, they will say I want to use my brand as a negative exact match in my advertising, because I come up organically and I just I don’t want to waste money for somebody who’s looking for my brand. And they don’t realize that at this point in time with brand ads and sponsored product listings 90% of the page of the initial above the fold, you know, ddo page when you when you do a search for a brand, it’s all sponsored advertising. And and you can get a situation where, you know, yes, somebody was looking for your brand. Are they really that diehard are like are they really that hardcore that they’re not going to click on a competitor list and go, this one looks good, too. This one has good reviews. And in some cases, I think feed visor study came out recently. It said most concern Rumors don’t even differentiate between paid and organic results. They don’t even realize that advertising is happening. All they know is that they searched and they got products that were displayed to them. So keeping that in mind understanding, you have to play the advertising game. I mean, very, very quickly. I just in the last couple of years, I mean, Amazon went from being next to nil to their advertising revenues, looking to surpass Facebook, and you know, the top three of Google, Facebook and Amazon now, and agencies are kind of getting caught, you know, a little wet behind the ears of, oh my gosh, we’ve got to figure out the Amazon advertising because, you know, we were just handling, you know, Google and Facebook, and all of a sudden, we’ve got to figure out the Amazon side of things. But understanding that you’ve got to protect your brand. You do have to do advertising. And when people say, well, advertising hasn’t worked for us 90 to 95% of the time, it means it’s not being done correctly, it does work. If you do a well if the listings are optimized, if you’re going out To the right keywords, the right product attribution.

James Thomson  23:03  

Let me change gears a little bit here. For a lot of brands that are national brands distributed in brick and mortar, they show up on Amazon, one of the big, big scary moments for them is when they realize just how many private label sellers, these metoo brands are also competing on Amazon and many of these media brands. They’re pretty good at playing the Amazon game, and often they’re better than the national brands. What advice do you have for national brands looking to enter the Amazon channel today? Where there is, you know, and the number of these hyper competitive pressures present in the marketplace, they don’t face anywhere else.

Shannon Roddy  23:38  

Yeah, it’s so funny because I was having that exact same conversation, you know, the Mewtwo brands. And look, look at Amazon, you know, they’ve got all the data, they have all the data and they hold all the cards when it comes to information. They know exactly exactly how many product searches are be done for which keywords. They know exactly how much it costs, cost per click advertising and they can be Build or buy private labels left and right. But we also know that a majority of those haven’t worked and I think that understanding why that is actually leads to that. Brands biggest opportunity, which is building an emotional connection with your customer. And really the advice there is Be sure that you are telling your brand story be telling your brand story on social media, be telling your brand story, you know, with inserts in your in your in your product, packaging it retail, be telling your brand story on your listings on your A plus content and feedback emails and product inserts with Amazon. If you can create an emotional connection with your brand, and in some cases, create a premium product where everybody else I’ll just private labels they’re going down. They’re looking to create a meet to brand and knock it off by five bucks and compete on price. You create an emotional engagement in connection with your customers and increase the price five dollars and set yourself apart. And so again, working with so many companies where the temptation is, oh my gosh, we’ve got to lower our price. The answer is no, you have to increase your brand equity. And I can’t understate enough the idea of creating an emotional engagement with your customers. You know, I think Coca Cola, you know, probably has done it better than any company in the world. And we know that only because of the fiasco of new coke. When new cake coke came out and they and they discontinue classic coke. They were receiving 8000 calls a day and hate mail from people who are just mortified. They pulled this product that they love off the shelf and it wasn’t just because of the taste of Coca Cola, obviously that was a part of it. It was the emotional connection that people had with the brand. So if you’re willing to invest in that aspect of it, I mean some of the some of the newest brands out there, you’ve probably seen them. They have such a diehard cult following either They’re way more expensive and it could be a footwear product. It could be, you know, a food product, obviously, you know, these things are very, very personal to people. And they have such a cult following. Those people would never buy a me too product ever, because they love the brand. And I think the last part of that is brands that fail to leverage and utilize customer service. I did a podcast with another company that provides customer service for brands in the Amazon. And you talking about the idea? How often do you as a brand owner, get to engage with your customer, like you’re not hanging out at Target waiting for them to walk in and say, Hey, how’s it you know, do you have any questions or can I answer anything? And similarly, you know, when they reach out to you on social, you know, just having a Social Media Manager reply to them, that’s great. They better be capable and willing to have an engaging conversation with them. That creates an emotional connection. I think Customer service is one of the most underutilized aspects of it. And if you look at Zappos and how they built their brand and were bought by Amazon, it was by hiring the best people giving them free rein. They don’t outsource their customer service. They said, We This is our core competency. We are going to provide the best customer service experience we can and stay on the phone as long as that we need to provide free overnight shipping. People come back and remember that in the end, the brand has grown like gangbusters, because they leverage that connection at every opportunity.

James Thomson  27:34  

I want to ask you about early days for you when you started training brands. What was the point of inflection where you realize that you are good at what you’re doing? You were good at helping brands think about this Amazon channel?

Shannon Roddy  27:48  

Good question. I don’t know. I mean, I think it’s more of like the sun rising than a light switch flipping on. But really pretty quickly because my background was web design and So I knew SEO. I knew, you know, we write product titles, your descriptions, images. My background before that was film production. So video, and, you know, understanding some aspects of SEO and how that plays into campaigns. I’ve learned a lot more about campaigns in the last few years, but I think it was, you know, once you help a company, really within the first three or four companies that I helped, and they’re like, we’ve been struggling with this problem for six months or a year or we’ve never been able to resolve this. And then, you know, a couple hours or half hour call, you know, whatever the, whatever the length of the problem is, you’re able to resolve it and help fix it. It gives you that confidence. You go, oh my gosh, you know, the very first company I ever worked with on Amazon was seven years ago, and they only had 25% of their inventory list and they had 70 unauthorized resellers. They had tons of duplicate listings and parent child variation issues. And I spent Three weeks on hold with seller support and I would go to bed with that song playing in my ear because I had listened to it all day. And there was no resources about how to clean up duplicate a sins or how to reintegrate a parenthood’s had been broken up. And I figured out a few things. In fact, the original article that I wrote after doing that experience, I still have on my website,

Unknown Speaker  29:23  

but I did that,

Shannon Roddy  29:25  

you know, and over the course of six weeks, we kicked off the unauthorized resellers, we got the remaining 75% of that inventory up, their sales increased by 400% the next month, and this is coming from a guy who sold one product in the Amazon and I had no formal training. But my probably my best gift I was homeschooled for a good portion of my years growing up. I was never given formal education. I was just allowed to be curious and investigate and figure out what I wanted to know by being very pro And so, all my education has been diving in as deep as I can, every time I get a software, I’d never used the manual, you literally just go through every option on the menu and figure out what it does. So I think early on, there’s an aspect where it really clicked. And that’s where I decided, you know what, I’m going to shut my web design company down, I’m going to focus on Amazon because, you know, again, sort of the Jim Collins philosophy of discover what you’re passionate about, discover what you’re you know, good at discover what you can do better than anybody else in the world. And I believe that aspect of helping brands understand and leverage Amazon was something that I could be really, really good at and do better than anybody else, you know, in that capacity.

James Thomson  30:37  

Okay, so the other shoe drops here. When I asked you to tell us a story about a big mistake, or big pitfall that you ran into building your business working with brands. Oh, my gosh, was there a door slamming where you realize, ooh, there’s a bunch of stuff. I still need to learn about how to run a business and how to help brands.

Shannon Roddy  30:57  

I think there were so many how many stories do you want

You know, I think early on, you know, it’s it’s again, it’s amazing to think about how much I, when I started putting together marketplace seller courses, you know, I’d been doing Amazon consulting for several years before that. But when you have to teach something, you have to learn it to a whole new level, it’s one thing to know it enough to do it, but to know it enough to teach it, it requires two to three times that level of knowledge. So I remember working with a company and they said, we’ve got this guy selling our product, it was sort of a, you know, manufactured product, sort of a commodity product. And, you know, we’ve got this unauthorized seller, and I remember, like spending several hours and, you know, charging them for the time and stuff. And I had zero knowledge of how to do distribution enforcement, you know, and it you know, it ended it’s like, I tried my best we kind of did some of the photos and stuff but hadn’t had no idea what I was doing. And, you know, I think, you know, some of the other companies that I worked with, I worked with silk bedsheet company from Hawaii. And, you know, the initial launch was like, Okay, we got your listings optimized, and the photos look great. And the SEO is there and your launched,

and they didn’t have featured merchant status. And they weren’t winning the buy box. Yes. And they had no sales and like, how do we rank for Celsius, we’ve got the best silk sheets on Amazon. And I didn’t understand or know the strategy of when you’re not able to run campaigns because you don’t have featured merchant status. And you don’t have brand awareness because it’s a brand new company, the strategy of driving off Amazon social audience to your Amazon storefront. To kick that in. Again, we’re talking about the flywheel. You want to start that momentum of once you get a sale, then all of a sudden you have the capacity to get featured merchant status and once you get you know more sales, then you have the ability to get reviews and once you get sales and reviews, you have the ability to organically rank and once you’re organically ranking You’re getting more sales, more reviews and high ranking. So just not knowing all those things that took me seven years to learn. And, you know, then I take it, I turn it around, and I put it into a course so that anybody can start off Amazon brand new company. And it’s like, here, here’s seven years of Amazon knowledge broken down to the simplest steps that I can come up with, to make it really simple and accessible so that you can know the expert strategies that have taken me this long, because I promise and guarantee you, you don’t want to take seven years to learn this stuff. It’s too long of a learning curve. Here’s the good news and

James Thomson  33:39  

I feel your pain. Now, Amazon doesn’t typically publish, hey, we’re making these changes and you should all pay attention and here are the implications. And so there’s a blind spot that we all have somewhere when it comes to Amazon and it’s very frustrating. When you’re used to succeeding as a brand and traditional channels. You know how the game is played. Along comes this channel that you don’t really understand the rules and the rules change. And when they do change, nobody publishes a book that says the rules changed. You, you, you know, one day everything’s great The next day, why did the lot of my products no longer show up in first page what’s going on and understand now that that kind of stuff really is frustrating for all of us. And you know, quite frankly, if I think of where I see brands falling down the most is they’re not used to having to be flexible with the channels in which they sell and quite frankly, if you’re going to get serious about the Amazon channel, you’ve got to realize that there are hiccups all over the place and you can’t stop them from happening. It is super frustrating. So anyways, um, and there’s two, I’m sorry yet.

Shannon Roddy  34:48  

There’s two parts to that. You know, one is a lot Amazon comes out with a lot of updates that many times are frivolous many times are beta test many times are a B testing. It doesn’t mean you need to jump in in Invest ton of tons of time, energy and money. You know, Amazon just created this opportunity to do social posts on Amazon. We don’t really have data yet, if that’s even worth, you know, a brand’s time to invest in, will know over time, but as you mentioned, some of the new things that come out again, it’s sort of a surprise. And I remember in college, I learned from the high school kids that I worked with a game called now, where the first time you play the game, they don’t tell you the rules, you just get penalized. And if that doesn’t sound like Amazon, what does but it’s literally like, you know, you know, you say or do something out of turn, and you get penalized for these goofy rules that you learn by being penalized. And that’s how you play the game now, but it’s very similar to Amazon in that regard.

James Thomson  35:46  

Talk to me about your mentors and the kind of advice that they’ve given you with you running your own business. You have Have you had people that you can look to have helped you know, become a better entrepreneur be better at what you do in terms of serving others.

Shannon Roddy  36:00  

Yeah, Charles Lee from ideation has just been a phenomenal mentor and somebody who, even though I’ve known him for several years, we’ve only had a few points of me, I think we’ve only met up in person a couple times, and we’ve had a handful of phone conversations. But every time I engage with them, his advice is so pivotal. And I remember when I was first meeting with him, I saw a web design company. And I said, oh, we’re going to focus on branding and marketing and e commerce. And he told me, he just looked at me and said, You can be a jack of all trades. He said, but I’d rather be a meaningful specific than a wandering generality. And that was like a gut punch. And I was kind of angry with them, to be honest, I was, my pride was a little hurt. But I went back and I thought about it. And I sat down and really reflected and after several months, I came back and I was like, You know what, you’re right. And when I figured out the Amazon thing and realized that that’s what I wanted to pivot to, it really helped me clear the plate and I was able to go back and reflect on that. And he was also the one who said you If you want to, you know, really be a thought leader in your space, you’re going to have to do your own events. And that’s where we kicked off our econ boot camp event last year or, you know, at some point, you’re doing this as a solopreneur, you know, which I was early on. He said, you’re going to have to build out a team. And all of these things, I keep going back his vite advice, even though it was, you know, very short, very simple, it proved just to be, you know, wise and sage and, and I think about a lot of the growth of experience over the last three or four years or even longer to Charles, Liam his his mentorship early on.

James Thomson  37:37  

That’s great. That’s great. One last question for you. What advice would you give based on all of your experience training brands? What advice would you give to brand teams today to help them become more effective at managing their Amazon business?

Shannon Roddy  37:52  

The number one thing I’d say is educate yourself to the point where you can ask the right questions. And where you can audit the people who work for you, or the companies that you outsource to. And so what I mean by that is, again, your goal, your job is to drive the bus. And, you know, again, Jim Collins analogy of your goal is to get the right people on the bus, get them in the right seat, and then you figure out where you’re going to go. You don’t have to educate yourself to the point where you’re an Amazon expert and can do all of the things that you your brand needs to do on Amazon. You do need to educate yourself to the point where you can ask the right questions where you can have those high level conversations, where if you hire an Amazon person, you know whether it’s a single consultant or a full agency, you’re able to correctly vet them, you’re able to look at the storefronts that they built and you’re able to look at their case studies and sales and know what’s accurate. And if they’re running your advertising. You don’t want to just sort of take their word for everything and say, Oh, it’s going great or Oh, you know, sales are up This amount but you know, how about profitability, but what’s our conversion rate? You know, there’s all these different aspects of it, that you at least need to educate yourself to the point where you can ask the right questions, and you can make informed decisions, even if you’re bringing on other people and especially if you’re bringing on other people to help with the Amazon channel.

James Thomson  39:19  

channel, I want to thank you for joining us today. For those of you interested in learning more about Shannon’s Amazon training programs and consulting services, please visit marketplace seller courses calm. Shannon, thanks for joining us today.

Shannon Roddy  39:33  

Thanks so much for having me, James. It’s been my pleasure.