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Scott Petersen is the Executive Director for The Rollins Center of Entrepreneurship and Technology at Brigham Young University (BYU). The center has been ranked in the top five for entrepreneurship by the Princeton Review for the past 10 years, and this past year, they ranked third. 

The Rollins Center has helped hundreds of students launch products and scale innovative ventures. Although they have found success with dozens of huge software companies that have sold for billions of dollars, Scott and his team have helped brands like Fuse, Myostorm, Owlet, FiberFix and others, some of which have got to the point where they’re selling thousands of units per week. Scott is also a published author and an award-winning mentor.


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

  • How Scott Petersen started the company Best Vinyl and how it grew to $35 million in 5 years
  • Maximizing component pieces of a company in order to make it grow
  • How Best Vinyl distinguished itself from its competitors early in the game
  • The importance of highlighting the unique features of your product on Amazon
  • Scott talks about how he instituted a process for responding to negative reviews left by their customers
  • Why you need to have compelling answers to objections you receive from client feedback
  • The best practices for validating a new business idea or product before ordering in mass quantities and taking it to the market
  • Why Scott says that  ‘success reaches beyond the bottom line’
  • Where to learn more information about BYU activities

In this episode…

According to Scott Petersen, building a company requires an entrepreneur to look at so many factors in order to get to his desired end result which is to have an established brand in a rapidly growing market. You have to look at sales, marketing, branding, administration, finance, and a whole bunch of other things to make sure that things are going as planned. And the one thing that business owners should never miss doing is to highlight what sets their product apart from others.

Scott Petersen of The Rollins Center of Entrepreneurship and Technology at BYU says that for a business to thrive and survive, it actually needs to get to know its competition, its market, and the things that make customers tick. Because catching customer interest is one thing, keeping them hooked is quite another.

Join Eric Stopper in this episode of the Buy Box Experts Podcast as he talks to Scott about how to run a successful business both on and off of Amazon, the strategy he used to to make his company grow to over $35 million in less than five years, how he manages customer feedback on Amazon, and how he validates whether a new business or idea or product is good enough for launch. Stay tuned.

Resources Mentioned in this episode

Sponsor for this episode

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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 in the marketplace–not only producing greater revenue and profits but also reducing or eliminating your business’ workload. 

Buy Box 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

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Episode Transcript

Intro 0:09
Welcome to the Buy Box Experts podcast we bring to light the unique opportunities brands face in today’s e-commerce world.

Eric Stopper 0:18
Hi and welcome to the Buy Box Experts podcast, this is Eric Stopper. This episode is brought to you by Buy Box Experts, takes ambitious brands and makes them unbeatable. We’ve got a team of consultants, I am one of them. Please call in we would love to talk with you about how your brand is doing. We have virtually every reporting tool and can give you deep insights into low hanging fruit for some of your best selling hastens on Amazon. So if you are an Amazon seller or a vendor and you want to make more revenue, then go to Buy Box click on the free analysis button. It’s completely free. No strings attached right now, but we will start charging for it in a couple of weeks. So go and get on that. And come and talk to me or a member of my team. Today, we are joined by Scott Petersen, the Executive Director for the Center of entrepreneurship and technology at Brigham Young University, my alma mater. They’ve been ranked in the top five for entrepreneurship and the Princeton Review for the past 10 years. This past year they were ranked number three, and they have helped students like me and hundreds of other ones, launch products and scale innovative ventures. Now although they have found success with dozens of software companies, huge ones that have sold for billions of dollars. Scott and his team have helped brands like fuse and miles storm and outlet and climate and fiberfix and many many more, some of which are run by good friends of mine he’s he’s helped them to the point where they’re selling thousands of units a week I think some of these guys I mean Allah and fuse I’ve seen their Amazon accounts personally and these guys are doing great and Scott and his team laid the foundation for that. He is a published author, an award-winning mentor and a friend. I brought Scott on the show to get his insights into how to run a successful business, both on and off of Amazon. Scott, welcome to the show.

Scott Petersen 2:14
Thank you. Thanks, Eric.

Eric Stopper 2:17
So, there is a lot that I would love to talk to you about. You have lots of different things that you are involved with. But this the specifics of this podcast, virtually everybody listening is an Amazon seller or a vendor. And one of the things that they struggle with is reviews and the strategy around getting reviews. So I’m gonna go deep into the archives with you for a second. All right. All right, um, you started a company called Best vinyl. Right?

Scott Petersen 2:45
Yes. When did you start that? That was actually my third company. And I started the company with a partner and about 2002 ish. And we grew the company from a start-up to about 35 million in about four and a half or five years. And we harvested the company in 2007 to a private equity group out of Newport Beach, California.

Eric Stopper 3:12
Do you feel like the foundation that you said at that company had a strong culture and has been able to maintain to this day

Scott Petersen 3:21
certainly had a strong culture while we were there. And you know, I don’t keep track of, you know, companies in a detailed way after we leave, but this I’ll say one of the interesting things about company building is that is the way you look at how you build your company, brick by brick from the ground up, for example, I would always say that building a company is a lot like maybe being a successful basketball player like for example, to be a great basketball player. You’ve got to have a good shot, good free throw. Good passing good dribbling Balancing defense, good athletic condition. What I’m saying in all of this is that you can break each of these parts and pieces down into bite-size tool pieces that you can then say, I can practice dribbling, for example, using cones and drills. And I can really become isolation, a great dribbler. Or I can just practice shot after shot after shot from the spot after spot after spot or rebounding and all the different things that I need to do. Well, the same is true of business only this time, it’s sales and marketing and branding. And in the case of best vinyl, it was fabrication and installation, customer service, administration, finance, legal, all kinds of different things. And we could look at each one of those independently and say, we’re going to be a juggernaut and every one of those so if you were to evaluate a sales pitch for example, from a Vinyl representative versus its competitors, it would be just greatly different so that customers would not see just modest differences, but great differences. And then it would help them to say, I’m going to choose these professional people because they have really

taught me you know, the value that they provide.

Eric Stopper 5:26
So that’s what I would do. That’s, that’s great that’s a big a great backdrop. So breaking down your business into its little component pieces and, and just hitting them a piece at a time becoming an expert in website design, setting up a good website, setting up a good distribution network. These are things that you would tackle just one piece at a time.

Scott Petersen 5:48
Yeah, one piece at a time. And for example, when you think about Amazon customers, I’m thinking about, well, product development is top of mind because if I have a fantastic product, then people are gonna Talk about my product. If I have fantastic service, then I’ve eliminated you know, any customers being unsatisfied because I couldn’t keep my promises of delivery or product quality or the customer service, you know behind it if there’s a problem with the product, but again, it starts with the product and then you’re right branding and marketing and marketing goes into many different layers, as you know, because it’s not about just having a good website, then it’s about having good you know, PPC, having good SEO and SEM and, and really being able to distinguish yourself from the noise that is out there with all their competitors. They have to separate themselves differentiate themselves, and it can’t be generally a little bit it’s got to be meaningful or material or they won’t be able to charge what they want. Wanna charge they won’t be able to get the perceived value.

Eric Stopper 7:05
So these brands are desperately trying to rise in the ranks on Amazon, and they are just the same exact thing as everybody else, right? They’re just another widget that they sourced from China and they threw a brand on those people. Do you feel like they can still compete by having the other dimensions of the business really nailed down? Even even though it’s so crowded on Amazon,

Scott Petersen 7:31
it’s super hard as we always talk about the difference between the blue ocean and the red ocean. If you’re a red ocean product, meaning you’re a commodity you’re out in the ocean, you got you to know, thousands of sharks and they’re all feeding on the same fish supply versus being out in the blue ocean where you only got you to know, one shark family and they get to take care of the whole ocean and, and, you know, it’s a paradise for them. So whenever you have pigeon-holed yourself, with everybody else it is very hard to compete. So the way that you do that is just like we did say at best vinyl, where we were providing a commodity of vinyl fence, nothing sexy, but at the end of the day because we separated ourselves and how we could distinguish ourselves on sales on marketing, for example, this is sort of pre the iPhone and all the different traditional, you know, methods of marketing that we use today. But, you know, people would have thought that best vinyl was as well branded as ups and then you go into little things like our the way that we installed and fabricated and could distinguish ourselves from our competitors. We try to find niche areas of our product that would allow us to take and capture value and We were able to actually charge 10% more for our products, because of everything else.

Eric Stopper 9:06
So in these processes, and so those who are selling in Amazon are listening to this, right, like you’re selling a commodity and you’re trying to stand out, you’re trying to make sure that you get the sale. As soon as somebody lands on your listing, you’ve only got your title, your bullet points, you’ve got seven to nine pictures and you’ve got your video. If, you know you’ve got all these things that are different about the way that you manage things about your packaging, you know, there’s a lot that you can throw in there. Do you think that it’s important to walk the customer through what those value points are? And to really just say, look, this is why this is great. This is why this is great, and almost like list them out and as pretty a format as possible. Or can you trust customers to really derive that value out of just, you know, the pictures of the product and people using it?

Scott Petersen 9:56
Actually, I think you cannot expect them to as I call it, connect the dots, I think that you have to term I called taking credit. If you take credit for what you’ve done, meaning you point out these unique features, advantages, and benefits, then you know, they, they can clearly see I’m not expecting them to do the hard work. I’m expecting my team to do the hard work. So I like to say it like this if, if you’re building a company, and then you look at what’s available today, and we’ll just take these products that we’re talking about. And so you list each of the products and what they’re doing so your team is really understanding the strengths, the features, the benefits, the weaknesses of every one of their competitors. And then as a team, we develop what I call again, the holes or gaps in service. features that we have that others don’t serve us things that we have that they don’t warranties that we have that they don’t product quality that we have that they don’t certain features about our product that they don’t. So what I’m trying to do is capture value that distinguishes ourselves from competitors, when even though if you were just to look at the products side by side wouldn’t look like there’s too much of a difference, but to a discerning eye. And with education, you can point out that indeed there are differences. And I think you have to learn how to not only take advantage of the one or two or three distinguishing characteristics that make your product unique, but also what I call in the selling process, learning how to make mountains out of molehills. In other words, you know, it’s not that big of a difference, but it’s a difference, but the way that you pitch it with using sharp angles, you’re able to make it look even more valuable than perhaps it really is. But you still have to rest on actual reality that your product is got to one or two or three things that really do make it stand out.

Eric Stopper 12:09
Yeah, I’m reminded of you know, the original snake the snake oil salesmen of you know, the past couple of centuries. It’s all fluff, right? They’re selling something that is not good, but they’re really good at it. If you have

Scott Petersen 12:22
nothing I call that the Emperor with no clothes.

Eric Stopper 12:27
If If you are if you’re selling in a crowded if you’re selling in a red ocean, and you’re not using all the tools possible to help guide your customers through this through their buying process, then Then what are you doing? Right like you didn’t learn from Sylvester McConkey? McBean right in the sneetches book, and you’re just in the ether, right and nobody’s gonna pay attention to you.

Scott Petersen 12:54
Yeah, I always call it the law of the jungle, the law of the harvest the survival of the fittest the law of natural selection. So if you are not distinguishing yourself in the way that I’ve been talking about, then you set yourself up for failure because it’s competitive out there. And people are getting up every morning, you know, wanting to eat your lunch. And so there’s the example of the, I believe it’s the cheetah and the gazelle. And you know, every morning they both get up and one knows that he has to run the cheetah knows that he has to run faster than the slowest Gazelle and excel knows he has to run faster than the slowest lion or Cheetah and, and so no matter who you are, you know wants to get up in the morning. You better be running.

Eric Stopper 13:50
Right? Yeah. Now I originally had prompted this whole discussion based on reviews. I went to the best final website And you’ve not involved the business, let’s be really clear about that. But I want to talk about a theory of review response and customer service with you, from the perspective of how best mind model is managing their customer interaction. So, to put this in context, there was a, there was a customer that came in, and they wrote this super long, horrible review, one star, and just dogging on the cut. Like they called out the person by first and last name that dealt with them. They were just saying all this horrible, all these horrible things that happen. So, and for Amazon sellers, you’re probably aware of the fact that when somebody leaves a negative review, and you respond to it, the odds of them actually reading your response are essentially zero. They don’t care. They left you with that review, and it’s a tag that you’re going to wear for the rest of your time selling on Amazon. And typically, I’ll see like, Oh, you were sorry that you had a bad experience. You know, Like, please reach out to us at this email and then ever reach out, right? So that was totally, that was a waste. You use that review and you wasted it. Here’s what best vinyl did okay, and Scott, this is totally This is totally raw. So you’ve never heard this before but the best vinyl fence and Dec responded to this review and said, just a couple of additional facts to help all who read this review understand the rest of the story. Ben not Brad spoke with the homeowner and never said we couldn’t do the job. Instead, a refund was requested and we processed it the same day. It then goes on and it says on four nine The agreement was signed on for 28. There’s a caveat added to the agreement for 20 for this and it goes on and on and on through and addresses every concern in the review. And as I was reading that I realized this person on the customer service team, my best vinyl, they took a really really negative experience and they spun it and I am now looking more at this route this response than I am at the original review because they were very meticulous about it. Scott, the question for you is, first of all, that, you know, is, is this a company culture thing? Did you Institute this kind of thing? And the and the second is, is this how review response should be done? Should it be more of a conversation with the customer who’s going to read the bad review?

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Scott Petersen is the Executive Director for The Rollins Center of Entrepreneurship and Technology at Brigham Young University (BYU). The center has been ranked in the top five…