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406 : Kiri Masters – Developing a team that’s focused on Consumer Direct Marketing

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Wouldn’t it be nice to get an answer to a question right when you need it? How many times have you had a question, asked someone on the web and dropped the idea, issue or problem because you waited too long for an answer? Did you even get an answer? Kiri has an approach to have a silent member join your team: The Marketplace Institute. The Institute offers tons of “How to’s” and best practices but an Amazon hotline is the real key to helping you advance at the moment you need to behind their success. Great informative episode on what brands are doing, what teams brands are building and how you can build one to.

 

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Here is transcript- It is automated so it is not perfect but it does seem to get better over time.

Kiri:                                        [00:00]                     It’s industrial products and machinery and medical supplies and supplies for dental offices, like people buy everything on Amazon. And so I think the original question was, oh yeah, Amazon doesn’t work for me. Well, you know, I certainly think that there are some products that won’t work on Amazon, which, which we turn away. And that is very high end products like Tiffany jewelry.

Cool voice guy:                  [00:30]                     Welcome to the e-commerce momentum podcast where we focus on the people, the products, and the process of ecommerce selling. Today. Here’s your host Stephen Peterson.

Stephen:                             [00:44]                     Hey, wanted to take a second and talk about Gaye Lisby and Gary Ray’s Amazon seller tribe and their daily lists that are put out, um, and incredible stories that you can read if you go out and check out a amazing freedom.com forward slash momentum hyphen arbitrage. I know that’s a lot to put in there. Amazing freedom.com forward slash momentum dash Arbitron and you’re going to get 14 day free trial, no money risk, no, no challenges. You don’t want it when you’re done, you get out. But imagine getting list. I’m as grateful as like to call it mailbox money. I love that term, mailbox money. It’s where you can work from your house, buy things online, have them deliver to you and then sell them on various marketplaces. But imagine you can have somebody else do that for you. So you want to buy time, you want to control, uh, what they’re buying.

Stephen:                             [01:40]                     Well, you take these lists and you can join multiple lists if you’re interested. And then you can segregate them for the merchandise you want and send them to them. They can make purchases for you on your behalf. Have it delivered to you or delivered to them for prep. Boom, sent into these market places and you could sell. How about that? Wouldn’t it be awesome? I spoke at their conference and there were so many million dollar sellers just using online arbitrage. It’s still available. And again, 14 days. The only way you’re going to get 14 day free trial. So if you come through my link, um, it is an affiliate link. Uh, they do pay me, so I don’t want to mislead you in any way. Um, I would appreciate it, but I’d like to see you try the 14 days. I’ve had so many people that have joined have so much success.

Stephen:                             [02:23]                     It’s very exciting to me and you know, quite humbling to me, um, that they trust me to recommend this group and I 100% recommend this group. I’ve seen the results. These are great people that will also teach you to fish. This isn’t just a, hey, here’s the list. You’re on your own. No, this is, hey, here’s why that wasn’t a good deal. Or here, hey, there’s another opportunity and you get to join their groups. And it’s just a phenomenal group of people. Um, just great, great, uh, leaders in that group and these lists are phenomenal. So again, it’s amazing. freedom.com, forward slash momentum, hyphen arbitrage, amazing. freedom.com, forward slash momentum hyphen arbitrage. Use that get two weeks free. Try it. You don’t like it, drop out, but give it a shot if you want to add that to your business. Welcome back to the ECOMMERCE momentum podcast.

Stephen:                             [03:13]                     This is episode four oh six Kiri Masters. Um, very cool story because Kira, he does not deal with sellers like us. US meaning me and most listeners. Um, she generally deals with brands and not just any brands or significant brands. And it’s so interesting to hear her perspective on, um, what happens going through a brand and what they go through, you know, and, and at the end we get into some of the details, but you want to keep this in mind that, that one of the big takeaways that those big brands are like steering a shipping or giant cruise ships. It takes forever for them to turn, um, your ability to quickly, um, and accurately and on a dime change and adapt, um, gives you an advantage and you absolutely should take care of. Yeah, they have bigger cashflows, but that doesn’t mean anything if they can’t get an agreement on what to do, you have that opportunity and she really helps walk you through it.

Stephen:                             [04:11]                     Um, very cool. She really, uh, walks through a lot of details about how to do certain things and I think it’s just smart advice. Her, her tip about getting unstuck is, is great. Um, all in all, and she has a podcast which I like. Uh, anybody who has does a podcast, e-commerce brain trust podcast and where you can learn more about these things. And I just think there’s a lot of value. Smart Lady. I’m just a great, great person to talk with. It’s getting into the podcast and welcome back to the e-commerce by minute podcast. I’m excited about today’s guest. Um, a different kind of guest. Somebody who I normally wouldn’t talk to other than her PR agent was very, very persistent. I will give her that. Um, however, I normally wouldn’t talk to her because it’s not necessarily relevant to my audience, which are generally newer sellers.

Stephen:                             [04:53]                     Uh, who, you know, probably started selling books or started selling on Ebay and started growing maybe selling retail arbitrage, online arbitrage wholesale private label working their way through, but they haven’t hit the 10 million plus scale that normally, um, my guest would be speaking to because she runs a digital agency called bobsled marketing and they represent brands, um, in the 10 million plus range key. Remasters welcome, Carrie. Thank you so much. It’s great to be here. I did represent that well, right? I represented you well. Okay. Just want to make sure I’m clear on that. I think that was great. Thank you. But what I like is that we’re going to turn the conversation to something more relevant to those who listen. And Steve, me, um, about, uh, one of the kind of new ventures that carries into is helping companies create their own Amazon while you call it an all star Amazon team. I like that. I mean, that’s really what would it look like for a small startup versus a larger company because you say in our pre-call that not everybody can afford a spectacular agency like yours. Right? And so this is kind of a, like, it’s called an institute, right? So it’s, is it kind of a, like a, a whole, uh, a course and, uh, outline that a companies would use to, to build their team?

Kiri:                                        [06:16]                     Yeah. So I thought about a course, but as you, as you and everyone listening to the show knows, you can’t sit down, learn about Amazon for two weeks in a course and then know exactly what to do to your life. Well, it’ll change the day after. Exactly. It changes all the time. Not all of that information is relevant because in the Amazon ecosystem, we’ve got brands selling to Amazon on a wholesale basis as well as resellers as well as sell is selling on using FBA and seller fulfilled prime and [inaudible] like this. There’s so many different ways to um, to work with Amazon. And so sitting down and learning about the whole system is not necessarily helpful and a better way of actually learning, um, about such a complicated system and exactly what you should be doing is more of the blocking and tackling approach of, of, uh, finding help when you need it.

Kiri:                                        [07:13]                     And I think that that’s a way that a lot of sellers and vendors currently learn today is googling, um, uh, what is seller fulfilled prime? Is that a good fit for me? And learning about things as they go because it’s really your drinking from the fire hose with Amazon, you need information that’s relevant at that point in time. So instead of creating a course, the main foundation of the marketplace institute is a knowledge base which has all the searchable content, which is driven from processes that we’ve developed at bobsled marketing over the last five years. Working with these larger brands, um, checklists, debriefs of different programs, and one of it, they’re a good idea for you. Um, so that’s one piece. That’s the knowledge base. The second piece is PMR masterminds and a lot of, um, whether you’re an e-commerce director at a really big brand or, or your, uh, or you’re an entrepreneur on your own, everyone wants to learn from their peers and understand what’s working well in other companies similar to them.

Kiri:                                        [08:19]                     So that’s facilitated peer masterminds that we’re going to set up. And then the final piece of the marketplace institute that people love to hear about is the first and only Amazon helpline where you can schedule a call with an Amazon expert, 10 20 minute call about a specific topic and get, you know, a director person, a real person who knows what they’re talking about. Oh yes. So that, that’s what, when I, when I was researching this and talking with brand, um, e-commerce managers and directors at brands, that’s what they kept saying is there’s no health plans. This no Amazon health plan. I thought, well, I’m going to make the Amazon health plan that that’s what people want. So, um, yes, I’m, I’m really pleased to be able to offer the marketplace institute, which is, you know, to much smaller companies as well as the larger companies that we’ve historically worked with at bobsled marketing.

Stephen:                             [09:15]                     I, uh, there’s a couple of them and unpack that. Um, there’s [inaudible] there’s a lot there. Um, yeah. I mean I do love the idea of actually having somebody who will answer a specific question cause that’s one of the biggest challenges. Most of it’s intuitive and you’re going along and then all of a sudden it’s like, Huh, I can interpret that two or three ways. All right. Now that’s when you start down the rabbit hole and if you go and use Google or youtube, you’re going to get 50 different answers to that same thing. So the thing that you thought were two or three or now 150 and you’re like, what do I do? And so to have an expert that’s been through it, I think that’s, that’s a great idea. And I think it’s way, way past you needed. Um, the other thing that I was thinking about as you were talking is I’m thinking that you’re s you’re taking experience from these larger companies and then broke it down because I assume this is Steve’s assumption whose worked, I’ve been in, I’ve been a CFO and a bunch of companies, so I’ve, I’ve kinda been involved in this stuff.

Stephen:                             [10:11]                     We would expand as we’re expanding, we’re growing, we’re, we’re building out this team. And then once you hit, you know, when the team starts to work in all the processes, my job to come in and was to squeeze out the profits from that right and squeeze down the processes. And I’m pretty good at that unfortunately. And that usually meant eliminating positions and things like that. But it’s the truth. And so what you’re saying is that, hey, here’s what the team really will end up looking like, here’s the blueprint of what it’s going to look like and so therefore you can fill it in and it gets rid of that fluff. Right. Is that, is that fair when I’m saying it that way, that is that, am I correct what I’m saying? There’s a couple of,

Speaker 4:                           [10:50]                     well

Kiri:                                        [10:50]                     yeah, I think there’s a couple of reasons why you’d want to have your internal, an internal team that’s handling Amazon. It’s not often it is related to cost and it’s just like, well if we can get rid of an agency or consultant, then we should consider that and, and some of it is driven by cost, but sometimes it’s also just driven by efficiency within the company and the fact that you want to keep your institutional knowledge in house. And for us as an, as an agency up at bobsled there, we try and be as full service as possible and really manage all aspects of the Amazon channel for our clients. But there’s some things that we just don’t have visibility into. Like, we don’t always have item level profitability information and be able to make a call on what our ad budgets should be for that particular Asen.

Kiri:                                        [11:39]                     So we have to go back to the client, say, what’s the ad budget for this? Whereas if we’re an internal part of the internal team, we might already have that item level p and l and understand what we should be spending on ads for that particular product. Um, we don’t always know what’s in the product pipeline. We have to come up to speed on who’s their target customer, what do they care about. And so there’s some, you know, when you’re, whenever you’re outsourcing, there are some inefficiency in trying to get that agency or consultant or you know, contractor up to speed with what your company’s all about and how to do certain things. So sometimes companies, and I’m even talking about 5,000, $500 million companies, they often work with an agency, but they also want to have some portion of that handled in house as well because of that efficiency. Um, in just keeping that knowledge internal don’t have to translate everything out. Don’t have to manage external providers. Um, but having said that, there are still some areas where it will make sense to outsource. So I’m not sure if we’re going to get more into like, you know, what should that team look like and when should you outsource or not. But that’s, it’s a real conversation have happening at the $500 million company level and at the $500,000 company level, everyone is thinking about the same stuff.

Stephen:                             [13:04]                     You know? Uh, as I sit and listen to that, I’m thinking about, um, how complicated what you described, right? So if you’re a one skew operation, you have one product, what you described, it’s easy, right? I mean, it is not easy is relative, but it’s, it’s, it’s easy to understand. Everybody’s on the same page. We all know we’re going, we’re selling Steve’s water bottle, right? That’s what we’re doing. But the minute you get two or three, like you’re saying is that, you know, what do we focus on? How do you, how do you as an outside company get the pulse of the company and into their customers to know that it gets impossible and especially when you get to scale. So that that is a reason. Um, well I was thinking about like what I like about like your, some of your pre information that I was able to read through. Um, you talk about this Amazon team and you get specific on who should be on your Amazon team. Can you give us a little peek into what, what the really successful companies are or what their, who they’re finding to run the Amazon team. It’s not some old 55 year old white guy named Steve. Is it not?

Kiri:                                        [14:05]                     Not necessarily. It is. Yeah. Um, so the, the caveat is always is it depends. It depends on the capabilities of the company and who’s involved with the Amazon channel already. So some brands that we’ve worked with, the head of the ecommerce division or in some cases even the owner has a real strong grasp of pay per click advertising. And so they have already have a really good grounding in that. And so that’s one area where they have a lot of insight. They know what they’re doing, they want to be in the driver’s seat. And so that’s great. In other companies there isn’t, they’ve hardly spent money on digital advertising and that’s an area that they need to come up to speed on. So putting that aside and the fact that some companies are going to have, they’re going to have different strengths and weaknesses. I look at four main areas of, um, critical capabilities with Amazon.

Kiri:                                        [15:09]                     The first is operations and this is all the unsexy stuff that happens that you need to do to make sure that your products literally show up on Amazon. So that includes staying in s in stock, right? If the products aren’t going to show up in search, organic or paid if you’re not in stock. So you need to be doing inventory forecasting, you need to be responding to Hazmat reviews, you need to be all of those seller performance related. Um, workflows need to be handled by someone. And so that is, uh, in the case of bobsled where we’re working with larger brands where often doing all of the heavy lifting with that, but then we have to be working with a really competent warehouse.

Stephen:                             [15:52]                     The manager at the, within the brand. Okay. Yeah. Can we stop it? Yeah. In each one of these things, I want to go a little bit deeper on that because I was sitting here thinking about when you go to a company, where do they find that person? Is it just the person, the person run in the warehouse has got a lot of issues here. He’s got people not showing up. In my town, for example, we have five Amazon warehouses. You can make $28 an hour working in one of these warehouses. However, there are, there’s 50 million square feet of warehousing in our town. And so there are more warehouse. There are so many options. Their turnover at all these places, enormous. Isn’t that guy got enough? Proper Lady, they don’t have enough problems and now you’re going to dump that operation’s responsibility on my overworked guy. Curie, what have you?

Kiri:                                        [16:33]                     Uh Huh. Well. Yeah. So, so maybe the, the title is not necessarily always warehouse manager. It might be, and depending on the company as well and the size, it might have a supply chain manager or supply chain specialists. They might have different, you know, an operations manager. But the point is who within the company’s responsible for inventory planning and management and dealing with the operational requirements that come up. So it doesn’t, you know, this, it’s just table stakes, whether it’s done internally by an employee or a contractor or a freelance or, or someone like that, or whether an agency is handling it for you. This just has to be done. So

Stephen:                             [17:18]                     do they have different skill sets? I mean, so like they’re used to doing what you’re describing for retail stores, right? In some ways. And depending on the old model they would sell it shows and all that kind of jazz. And the orders were six months to 12 months ago. It’s way different now. Right? I mean [inaudible] are most people, let me ask you this, from your experience, are most people able to adapt to it or have you seen that? Who I thought was going to be the right guy. I curious. I’ve got the right guy, he’s my guy. And then we bring them to you and then you’re like, he’s a nice guy, but he’s not the guy you need somebody who has

Kiri:                                        [17:50]                     this other skillset. Is that what you’ve seen or know? A yes. And that is a question of management. So as a manager, are you, um, do you have your lists of requirements, role, roles and responsibilities of what that person needs to do in the skills that they need to have? And then if, if you’ve identified someone and it’s not working out, then this is a, a question of management, what are you going to do to either get them to the right level of capability or just decide that they weren’t the right fit for that role to begin with? But yeah, it happens. Yeah. Alright. Interesting. Absolutely. Okay. All right. We’ll go onto the second one. I’m ready for the next person. Okay. The next person, and it could still be part of some, all of these things could still be part of someone else’s lodge or rural, right.

Kiri:                                        [18:38]                     You might not have a dedicated person for each of these, but these are the four capabilities that you need to have represented by someone within your company or outside. The second role is brand protection. So I know that not everyone listening to this show has their own brand, but when we’re talking about brands on Amazon, what they are concerned about is having control over pricing and content and the buy box. And so if a brand is on Amazon selling directly, that’s what they’re concerned about. And in that case you want to have someone preferably with the aid of some software as well, monitoring product listings to see you capturing the buy box. Most of the time do you have other sellers selling at a significant lower price point? Because from a brand standpoint, that really hurts your relationship with other retailers who are selling your products.

Kiri:                                        [19:37]                     If customers can buy your products on Amazon cheaper than they could in the store. So that’s a big part of brand protection. And then the other component of brand protection is re responding to customer reviews. And this is something that a lot of particularly larger brands with big catalogs just never get around to doing, but it’s such an important thing to just respond to those negative reviews and offer a solution or correct someone if someone’s misguided, correct them gently like it’s, it’s such an easy thing to do. That gets missed a lot, particularly by bigger brands with large catalogs they’re not used to wearing about that. Right. I describe that right. If you went into, let’s use the Mecca of retail goods, Kmart, that beautiful place it was if you went in there and the snoopy lunchbox, I’m dating myself, wasn’t up to snuff. The brand never knew about it. It just got returned and nobody ever, nobody ever saw it. Right. It just, it got consumed in the system. That store got a credit. Everything was fine. Now people were buying that snoopy lunchbox on Amazon directly

Stephen:                             [20:48]                     based on those reviews, and so that’s a real different conversation for that brand. They never paid attention to that. Right. Where do you, where does that mostly lie? Where do you find people taking it? Because when I think of brand protection, I’m thinking of the lawyers, right? I’m thinking of the lawyers that would be the ones sending those nasty letters out to resellers saying, stop selling my stuff. You don’t have to authorize blah blah blah blah blah [inaudible] but reviews, where does that happen in a company or what? Where have you found it to be placed now?

Kiri:                                        [21:18]                     So as an agency we place the into that brand protection bucket as a, as a concept, what do you need to do to protect your brand on Amazon? It’s of course about resellers and the impact that resellers can have on pricing and content. But it’s also what are people saying about your brand on Amazon? And that’s really comes into the reviews area. So, and this is, this is why I’m saying maybe for each of these areas, one person might take on the roles of operations and brand protection. That kind of makes sense that both very process oriented roles where there’s a big long checklist of things you do every day. And there’s a big long checklist of things that you do every week and, and your monitoring and your, you know, doing lots of communications with customers. So maybe one person who’s handling both of those things.

Kiri:                                        [22:09]                     But as a, as a category of, um, of, of work, we would put that review management and to brand protection. Who’s responsible for brand protection in your company? Even if you do get to the point where you know, you’ve got such persistent issues with, um, sellers who are, who are causing issues for you, that you engage with a lawyer, there’s still a few steps before that point. You don’t just call up a lawyer at the, uh, at the drop of a hat. You need to assess the situation first and figure out how serious it is.

Stephen:                             [22:44]                     Yeah, I think, I think brains are getting that where they used to be much more reactive. Now they’re being, man, maybe it’s their lighter at it, eh, there was a heavy hand for a long time and then all of a sudden a lot of retailers are pushing back saying, wait a second, legally I can do whatever I want. You don’t have rights to do that, um, you’re the responsible for your brand and you’re not representing it right. Blah, blah, blah. Now the brands getting smarter about it and they’re handling it more delicately. But I like the idea now that brand, I mean like you’re describing that role of I’m the operations person handling the review part. They also have the ability to fix the issue right when they start to see, cause they probably never were close to that. Right. Th that, that stuff never made it back to those people. Right. You know, or it would take through eight layers and it would be filtered and slanted the way that person wanted by the time it got back there. Nothing ever. So this is, that’s a, that’s a real selling point for a brand, isn’t it?

Kiri:                                        [23:40]                     Yeah, exactly. And you know, if, if you’ve got someone within your company reading through all of the customer reviews and they’re noticing a pattern of, well, everyone’s talking about this feature that’s missing, then you bring that back. Yeah. Think j day. Yeah. You take that back to whoever is then responsible for improving the products. And, and making design updates and the amount of intelligence you can get from just reading reviews of your products. That is a huge opportunity.

Stephen:                             [24:11]                     That’s how most of us could find new private label products to create. Because when I read the review of your brand and we had carries missing the boat on this one, boom, we fix it and vote with magic. Wow. We have a product.

Kiri:                                        [24:22]                     There you go. That’s exactly the same. Okay. Alright. Let’s go to number three. Okay. Number three is organic marketing. And so what goes in this bucket is SEO content and making sure that you’re staying up to date with all the different promotional programs and tools that Amazon’s always testing and rolling out. So, um, the foundation [inaudible] Amazon is search and cause that’s, people don’t necessarily go to Amazon and start clicking around on categories. They go to Amazon and they type something into the search bar cause they are looking to either they’re in the latest stage of their research journey with the product [inaudible] store and they’re looking at a product and they’re like cheaper on Amazon, right? Yes, exactly. So you want to make sure you all have the search engine optimization factors that are involved. Keyword research is really keyword optimization is really important. And then for going further down the customer journey as well, what kind of content do you have? Have you optimized your bullet points and descriptions and photos and have you built a store front? Are you running promotions during Black Friday? Have you set up lightening deals, periodic, you know, like creating that kind of calendar and strategy and managing the content of your product assortment. That is what the, uh, the organic marketing category requires. You know,

Stephen:                             [25:56]                     when you went to retailers, I’m apologize for interrupting cause I’m just thinking about this though. When this is what they used to do, right? They’d put out those, uh, you know, the, the promotions for the year too. We do a promotions calendar for several years out. We know what holidays are. We kind of have a plan. Then we’d give the store plan and we’d come out with what product, how different is it? Because I’m assuming when you go to a company and say this, they’re like, oh yeah, we already do this, Carrie. Yeah, we got, we got, you know, Steve handles that. He’s, you know, he puts out the store planners, he does all that and you’re like, yeah, that’s cool. That’s not what we’re talking about. Right. I mean, that’s gotta be a,

Kiri:                                        [26:29]                     a problem conversation for some companies. Yeah. And, um, it’s, I think for companies who’ve really only that their marketing team has only ever dealt marketing to retailers. Um, it’s, this is where the, there is a big, um, need to, to develop a new skill, which is, right. Yeah, exactly. So maybe there’s a, you know, it’s definitely more common in like the B to B space or for, um, for products that typically was sold first to distributors or other stores. It’s more about trade-marketing rather than marketing direct to consumers. So that direct to consumer marketing skill is not always present for these brands. And so that keyword research process and copywriting for consumer, um, those are all things that need to be, those are capabilities that need to be present. So in some companies they just don’t have that capability and that’s where it makes sense to outsource product page development, copywriting, maybe you need all new photos and things have videos made, things like that. So what this is a particularly good want apps because you might not need to have a, a uh, ada on off all the time. You might only need a content create, uh, the two times a year that you’re launching new products. So this is a particularly common one to actually outsource to an agency or a specialist

Stephen:                             [28:14]                     provider, the marketplace institute.com. It is the site where you have this, um, kind of think tank on how to do all these things. Are, are these outlined in there where somebody can kind of go through and start like a checklist approach to this to sit back? Because I’m already, I mean, you know, we’re described only three, but I mean, from those three roles, there’s, you know, 15 roles, right? I mean, really.

Kiri:                                        [28:39]                     Yeah. Yes, that’s, that’s exactly the point of the knowledge base in the marketplace institute is that there’s, there’s some things that you need to join Amazon, which have very process oriented and sometimes those processes change a little bit over time. Like there’s steps to be added or taken away, but there’s a lot of processes and then there’s a lot of best practices which have a chain. You know, Amazon is not always, they’re not going to tell us what’s in their search algorithm that’s top, top secret sauce locked away in a vault. They’re never going to tell us that. But there’s a lot of agencies and consultants in smart people who study how things show up on Amazon, what are the inputs and things like that. And we’ve sort of figured it out, not me personally, but in the whole ecosystem of Amazon experts, people have pieced it together and said, okay, we think these seven factors make up the primary driver of the, of the algorithm.

Kiri:                                        [29:39]                     So if what frequently is Amazon is part of someone’s job in a larger company that often also managing walmart.com and our relationship with target. And they’re also managing the E-COMM store. And Amazon is just part of their job. So they can’t spend eight hours a day researching changes in Amazon search algorithm that are cutting edge. And that’s the case also, even if you’re not a large company, if you’re a one man show, you don’t have time to ride all these processes yourself, update them whenever the smallest thing changes, and then as you grow, outsource those in a reliable way. So that is where certainly being out of plug into existing processes and best practices is helpful because you don’t have to reinvent the wheel and you know that you’re using the latest and greatest best practices there. If you miss one, if it’s something slips through the cracks, I mean it could derail the whole thing and then you’re like, look here.

Kiri:                                        [30:45]                     Yet it didn’t, Amazon didn’t work for me. I mean, how many times have you heard that way? We tried to sell there and carry, it just doesn’t work for us. You know, we’re different, right? We’re different. Oh yes, yes. I’ve had the wedge if I’ve heard were different a lot. Um, and there are some categories if I may be so bold as to say our chronically behind the eight ball and those are um, prestige beauty who really held out against Amazon for a long time cause they did as a guy, I don’t even know what that means. Well like luxury, beauty items. So really high end brands. Okay.

Kiri:                                        [31:24]                     So they were always like, we don’t want to be in the same shuffling cotton, someone’s toilet paper. And so, but now it’s like, okay, that’s not how people buy. If I have bought, if I went to Sephora and tried 20 different lipsticks and I found the one that I like, I don’t want to go back to Sephora every time to buy that lipstick. I know the brand, I know the color, I know the size that I want. I just want to buy it on Amazon and have it the next day with your toilet paper. Cause you don’t care. You don’t care. I mean, yeah, it’s, um, so anyway, those, those brands that are sort of behind other ones who said, well, we’re different and people aren’t going to buy a luxury lipsticks on Amazon or people aren’t going to, we’ve got a client who sells, they’re a manufacturer of steel t balls and steel beams and they sell steel beams on Amazon, like nobody’s business.

Kiri:                                        [32:19]                     So like, you know, these industrial products and machinery and medical supplies and supplies for dental offices, like people buy everything on Amazon. And so, um, I think the original question was, oh yeah, Amazon doesn’t work for me. Well, uh, you know, I certainly think that there are some products that won’t work on Amazon, um, which, which we turn away. And that is very high end products like it, Tiffany jewelry, Louis Vuitton, purses like this, they don’t have any need to really be on Amazon. They’ve got such prestige around their brands. Um, and then also very high end clothing. No one’s going to buy a $400 a bathrobe from Amazon. You know, like th there’s some things where, yeah, it doesn’t really make sense. Um, so those really sort of independent, high-end apparel particularly is, is really difficult or anything that’s like significant priced, very, very significantly high above. Um, what else is for sale on Amazon that can often be challenging?

Stephen:                             [33:34]                     Hmm. You know, one thing that I was thinking about too is industries still haven’t adapted to accept Amazon is the marketplace like you’re describing, you can buy steel beams on Amazon. I just heard last week that they’re going to be selling cars on Amazon some way. Now, I don’t know if it’s new cars. I don’t know how that’s gonna work, but how cool would that be to know that there is somebody who I can trust? Well, I tell this story. Um, we just were remodeling a home we just purchased and uh, we go and my wife was set on the farm since she’s watched all those shows, right. So it got to have a farm sink. And so our, our, our contractors like, yeah, it’s 12 weeks. You got to pick out your sink now 12 weeks we’d go hold up on Amazon. I literally am like, it says it’ll be here on Monday.

Stephen:                             [34:13]                     Is that the same sink? And she’s like, well yeah, I swear to God, we bought it on Amazon. It came within a week. And she’s like looking at us like we have a third eye it cause she’s used to 12 weeks. I’m like, Gosh, you guys are crazy to think that because, but that’s an established thing. Think about it, right? How many distributors, how many and how many limits, you know, and so it’s now I, I keep telling them, if you have hard to place items, just start buying them from Amazon. It’s just, and so she’s like looking at, like I said, we’re like their test case and then I’m like, our handles, I’m like, we can order these. Right? And she goes, Oh yeah, yeah. And it’s, it’s a very weird cause she’s pulling out these books. I’m like, I don’t want to look at a book I’m going online to like, so it’s such a weird, uh, transition, um, that I don’t take people accepted.

Stephen:                             [35:02]                     It’s true. Started. Yeah. Yeah. Love it. All right. All right, let’s go to number four cause I’m, I’m excited. Um, let me go back to organic marketing on that content because I do want to make sure I’m clear on that too. Is that also, are you taking brands because you know, in the old day, well, and I know this is, it’s so hard to relate for Steve who sells, you know, small seller to relate to these giant companies, but, but they use outside agencies to do all the writing and stuff like that and a magazine stuff, any of that. But now that brand, that lipstick brand really has to put out its own content in places like on Instagram at places like that. Right. Are you ending up having to coach them through that to help them sell on Amazon now?

Kiri:                                        [35:44]                     Um, do you know what I mean? At my grave when I say it? Yeah. In some cases because in some cases, I mean every, every brands at a different stage and every brand has different channels that work for well, for, for them work well for them. Um, and so some brands have grown up, um, Amazon first and digitally native. And so they really get it and they, and they’re really savvy with Amazon. They’re starting to branch into other channels but have no clue about brick and mortar retail. And then other brands have been brick and mortar retail for 60 years or a hundred years and they’ve got no idea what this Instagram thing is. So, um, and maybe they’re in a space where their shopper is not on Instagram so it’s irrelevant and um, they should continue to do their in store marketing cause the install marketing also helps to drive sales on Amazon. Right? Right. So it’s, it’s very dependent on who their customer is, what channels those customers are looking for information on and in, in some cases they’re looking for information in a store. And so why would you bother trying to like come up with a great social media strategy when those customers are not active on social media, for example.

Stephen:                             [36:58]                     Wait, you know, as you say, this is something else that I’m thinking about is like you, you’re saying that, you know, Steve’s in the store getting ready to buy something. I look it up on Amazon, not only for price, but also for reviews and for quality. And then I still buy it from the retail store. I mean, I, I don’t always just buy it from Amazon because I want it a lot of time right now I’m ready to pick it up, but I do make my decision, I’m looking at three different, um, water bottles and I’m looking at which one has the better reviews because in the retail store they can’t tell you that it’s sitting on a shelf. There’s, there’s a whole Miriam, right. So I think that’s really important for people to understand, to are brands to understand that that information is what we’re deciding in retail. And so that’s why it’s so important. It makes sense. So doctor smart, carry. You’re smart. I get it. Alright.

Kiri:                                        [37:42]                     Alright. Take me to the fourth place. I’ve just been doing this for a long time. Like you just too, too many hours spent on the air. That’s all it cut me a break. I saw you’re pretty sure I’m way older. All right, take me through the fourth one. So the fourth one is paid advertising and uh, this is an area, again kind of like developing content where it’s often an easy, not necessarily easy but a good candidate to outsource because it’s so technical and specific. So Amazon at bobsled marketing my agency, this is also how we’ve got our team set up. We have an account manager who does that, oversees the marketing and the operations and the brand protection. And then we have an entirely separate person, two people actually an advertising manager and advertising specialist just running the PPC for that client because the role is so specific, takes a very specific type of brain.

Kiri:                                        [38:45]                     I could not n I will will never manage anyone’s PPC. I did not have this kind of brain that calculates percentages and ROI at the drop of a hat. But, um, this is one area that requires a lot of experience, a lot of background knowledge, a lot of staying up to date with changes that Amazon is making every week. And um, this area really needs a specialist involved cause it’s very easy to lose your shirt with campaigns that shouldn’t have been created or using the wrong targeting or have the wrong bid type or have the wrong budget. Um, so this is one area where you really want someone who’s specialized to come in and manage, um, PPC for your brand.

Stephen:                             [39:33]                     Hmm. You know, I’m sitting here thinking about, you know, running our little business in our little private label stuff. We are doing all these roles and not necessarily, well excuse me. Yeah, it, it, it really is something to think about. So that small company, if they’re smart and they started a brand and it starting to have a little bit of legs, this is the place that they need to be looking at these four roles and then start identifying what they can do or can’t do. You start building that out and you could do it at, at even at that half a million dollar mark.

Kiri:                                        [40:08]                     Oh, absolutely. I think, have you read the book that E-myth? I do. I love it. Michael Gerber. Love that. Yes, I probably read it before you were born, but it’s one that everyone listening to this show could go and read if they haven’t already in one concept that, uh, Michael Gerber talks about is draw your organizational chart and figure out what roles you need to have. In the beginning you might be doing all of those roles because I’ve, I’ve been there, I’m sure that you have as well, Steven, but at some point you need to do everything yourself, but at an at a new point, um, where you have a bit more cash coming in, then you can outsource your bookkeeping and accounts receivable to someone who’s much better at doing that. And then you can start outsourcing these roles and delegating roles that you’re not good at.

Kiri:                                        [40:59]                     Someone else would do better than you, et cetera. But the point is draw that organizational chart and figure out what are the roles and responsibilities for each of those positions. And in reality, one person could be doing five of those jobs or two of those jobs or maybe you just completely outsource one of those functions for awhile or for the foreseeable future, whatever it is. But the point is make that map, figure out what you need and what capabilities you personally have existing people in your team personally have. What should you outsource? What should look to ultimately bring back in house once you have the money? Um, so again, these four areas, they could be done by various people, but the point is that you think about what you need to get done in your company and you have a plan.

Stephen:                             [41:51]                     It was something that you’ve got me thinking about that I had not thought about. You also at some point might insource that meaning that it was out. And that’s what you’re saying is that like because you want more control and you want what you want to bring them to the conversation table and it’s not so easy as you described in the beginning of our conversation about bringing an agency and getting them involved in the day to day because they’ve got other clients. Right. And so at some point it’s not, each one of these things aren’t permanent right there. They need to live and breathe. Right. Because it’s things change. Hmm. Yeah. Interesting.

Kiri:                                        [42:23]                     Yeah. And that was, that was part of the reason why I looked at creating the marketplace institute is because at bobsled we had, um, uh, more than a few clients ultimately say to us, you guys have been great. We’ve learnt so much. So we’re bringing it in house now. Yep. Yeah, we love you. But Carrie, I love you, but you know, we want Sally to do this, Sally in e-commerce to do this now. And that is, I can’t fault business owner or president to to do that because yeah, in some cases it would be better for them financially and for that institutional knowledge to blossomed for them to do that. But I didn’t want to just let them go on their way because I know how hard it is to keep up with Amazon. So creating this resource for them to actually have the processes, have someone to call when they get stuck because everyone gets stuck on something eventually. Yeah. Yes. But that, that’s exactly it because I think that ultimately not all of these roles, but at least some of them you should be looking to keep in house. Maybe not. You know, PPC advertising is not the first candidate I think of for that. But you certainly want to think about what operational processes you can keep in house that makes the most sense to me.

Stephen:                             [43:42]                     And especially as their business is changing. As part of our pre-call we were talking about in my, my community is so many stores have closed. Well, those people in those corporate staffs or whatever had roles related to that and maybe they could transition to other things. And so as they, you know, I just think that, you know, I think the world’s evolving so quickly, the ability to adapt and, uh, what you’re describing at the marketplace institute, I think is, is a utility. Um, I love that consumer direct marketing skills. I’m taking that line. I love that. That’s a very specific thing that most people don’t have. Retailers don’t have that well at the corporate level right there, you know? Or they’re like you’re saying, especially with distributors and things like that. All right. Do you, uh, is this the kind of stuff that you talk about on the ECOMMERCE brain trust podcast?

Kiri:                                        [44:29]                     It is. It is you for mentioning that. Yeah. Yeah. That’s cool. Yeah. So the e-commerce brain trusts podcast, I’ve been doing it for about almost two years now. Awesome. Um, yeah, so Allister is listed as a generally sales and marketing managers at midsize companies, but we do talk about a lot of trends in Amazon trends, e-commerce trends. The most recent series I did was with Cmos, chief marketing officers from brands, um, in advance of my new book that’s coming out later this month called Amazon for Cmos. Um, there, that’s a much more sort of high level, uh, conversation about how to, what organizational design should look like and what your innovation budget should look like and things like things that larger companies might be thinking about that smaller companies, um, generally don’t need to think about a lot of the time cause it’s just me, myself and I, and you do the work that’s in front of you.

Kiri:                                        [45:41]                     There’s not a whole, you know, you can only plan so far ahead, but if people are interested in understanding sort of how lead is that these big companies are thinking about things, then it might be a good show for the folks to tune into. I think. Or d at high level does translate to small level in a lot of ways. Yeah. But we take it for granted because like you said, you do the work in front of you, but you don’t realize well that really is that real a hook. You know. I used to, I used to describe, I had payroll departments. I mean like I had teams that would do parents push a button, but that department would, they, they thought they were saving the world because they were every day, every week you got paid, you know, and that kind of stuff. It’s pretty important and important.

Kiri:                                        [46:23]                     Right? People, we were heroes once a week, right? But then when the outsource did or consolidated, you know, I was the evil guy cutting that back. But, but it’s true. You can change that. It’s translatable. It is translatable. I think what, what’s really helpful for Solo preneurs and smaller businesses to realize is so much of what I, me and my coauthor put into this book was how to negotiate with other like heads of other departments and get people on the same page and get people talking to each other. And when you’re in a big company, like he said, there’s so much, there’s a lot of bureaucracy, there’s a lot of communication breakdown. There’s a lot of like silos. Yes. And so things move a lot slower because you need to get a budget approved for this. And you need to report back on that and then the board wants to know about this. And so that’s one advantage that you have as a small company is that you can move lightning fast whenever something changes or whenever you see some customer feedback saying that you know, this feature is missing, great, you can get a jump on that right away. Um, and so that is even with the other issues like cashflow and you know, other challenges of running a small business, that is one massive advantage that you have, that these cmos have multi million or billion dollar,

Stephen:                             [47:45]                     please don’t have that luxury of being able to move quickly. I think it’s still leveling. That’s probably the, the, the biggest leveling thing that’s going on right now. That’s why so many new brands have been created. Right. Where really you would expect it. Giant. We have R and D. Right? Can you read the R and d department handles that, right? No, there is nobody in rd anymore. And those companies are drug companies that have government that guarantee their funds. They don’t have to worry about it. Right. The rest of us all have to do it. And so that big machine like you’re describing, we used to, oh, you couldn’t get a decision right? And now, um, oh, I love it. Okay. So, uh, e-commerce, brain caste, e-commerce, brain trust podcast, the marketplace institute.com is where, um, you can learn those consumer direct marketing skills, which I think is cool time and bobsled marketing cause you’re not busy enough. Um, you’ve got a lot of things. How about if somebody has followup questions? Where’s the best way to get in touch with you? Yeah,

Kiri:                                        [48:41]                     uh, I’m most active on Linkedin, so if you send me a connection request on linkedin and, and particularly mentioned that you listened to me on the ecommerce momentum podcast and I’ll

Stephen:                             [48:53]                     definitely accepts your, uh, invite a few you mentioned that. Awesome. Awesome. All right. So the way I end my podcast is I always try to get people past that point of stuck. And because as you say that everybody, you know, we, your answer is going to be called the Amazon hotline, right? That’s your answer. Have A, that’s a reality. I mean that is true, but, but what do you do, uh, when you get stuck because you’ve got to hit that wall too. And how do you push past it and what, what would, what, what advice that has worked for you that you can help others understand?

Kiri:                                        [49:24]                     Hmm. Well, I think one thing that you asked me to look at, I’m not sure if this is the same thing, but like a process improvement. Would that be helpful to share? 100%. Okay, great. So one thing that I have found over the last five years running my company, we’ve got 30 employees now who are remote. And it was a big journey for me to go on personally to learn how to properly manage other people and delegate. And sometimes I would delegate and things went really well. Sometimes I delegate in, the thing didn’t get done at all. And then other times I’d delegate and the thing got done in a completely different way to what I envisioned it. So what I’ve found to work really well, and I can’t take credit for this, it’s actually from the latest ship, uh, expert Michael Hyatt who also has a great podcast.

Kiri:                                        [50:18]                     Yeah. So this tool is called an empowerment contract. And basically there is a frame that is different levels authority that you can give someone. When you delegate a task, you can say, if you, uh, I’m going to let you do some research and come back to me with all of your research or I’m going to let you do some research and come up with a list of options and then think about the best option and come back to me with that recommendation and I’ll make a decision. And then like the highest level is he is the situation. Go and handle it in the best way that you think possible. And just tell me what you did after you did it. And I’m oversimplifying it. I do recommend looking at Michael Hyatt and empowerment contract and getting the actual, I think he even has like a worksheet that you can download.

Kiri:                                        [51:12]                     But that really clicked for me because as small business owners, you just, you get to a point where you just can’t to everything you do need to delegate but do it in the right way so the person understands exactly what they should be doing, how much authority they have to make a decision, if at all. And you also get comfortable with different types of decisions and issues, like you’re going to want a different level of involvement in. So that’s one huge tool that I have recently more recently than I would have liked realized is, is really critical in delegating.

Stephen:                             [51:52]                     I think it’s powerful because, and you can work them up that ladder, right? As, as you, as Curie delivers. Hey, okay, let’s give her some more rope and give her some more hope. So that’s awesome. Love it. Love it. Love it. Okay, so again, um, so reach out, uh, the ecommerce brain trust podcast, a bobsled marketing and marketplace institute, um, for those consumer direct marketing, some telling. I love that. Awesome. Thank you so much. I wish I had nothing but success.

Kiri:                                        [52:18]                     Thank you Steve, great to talk with you.

Stephen:                             [52:21]                     So very cool. I mean, it just really neat. Um, neat story. And again, think about it from their perspective. This is what you’re up against when you’re selling. You’re selling somebody else’s brand. This is what they’re doing there. They don’t have you in consideration in any possible way cause they’re trying to survive. They’re trying to control their future just like you are trying to control your future. So what could you do? Could you add value? You heard the roles that are important in those those brands. If you want to work for someone, that would be an opportunity. Every one of those things because you have those skill sets. Or you go into a brand and say, hey, I can help you fill these roles because this is an opportunity. Or if you’re building your own brand, these are the, this is the blueprint that you kind of want to use. And so go check out the marketplace institute and, and see if there’s something there. I love this consumer direct marketing skills. That is a skill set that I wasn’t taught in Grad school. Um, consumer direct. Got to learn that. Love E-commerce, momentum.com e-commerce momentum.com take care.

Cool voice guy:                  [53:22]                     Thanks for listening to the e-commerce momentum podcast. All the links mentioned today can be found@incomersmomentum.com under this episode number, please remember to subscribe and like us on iTunes.

 

Stephen-Peterson

About the author, Stephen

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