EP 8: Dan Saunders – Amazon Agencies vs In-House Amazon Talent

Narrator: (00:01)
Welcome to the process to e-com profit podcast where we know top line sales, just isn’t enough to have the business of your dreams, learn to run a profitable business online that doesn’t run you.

Robyn: (00:16)
Welcome to the process to e-com profits podcast. I’m really excited because one of my favorite people is on today. And I know I say, I said, you know, other guests, one of my favorite people, but Dan is amazing. He is the in-house, for Amazon for, for, black and Decker for the UK. And, you know, he he’s, he’s done a lot of things. He’s been a reseller; he’s worked in an agency. and so, he’s gonna share a little bit today about his experiences and kind of what we can learn from that and take, to kind of apply to our own situation. So, Dan, thank you so much for coming today.

Dan: (00:51)
Thank you so much for inviting me. I know you probably get this from a lot of you guests, but it’s so lovely to speak to you again. for those that don’t know that Robin and I speak a lot on a few different webinars because, the Amazon to find a real, real Amazon expert in this world is so few and far between. So, we all tend to get to know each other quite well in the meantime. And Robin’s positivity is just something that is unmatched in this world. if you get to see any of the other webinars that we’re in, she’ll always dropping a, a phrase or comment. That’ll just throw me off guard completely, you know, years and years of speaking to people publicly. And I just lose, lose it completely when I’m speaking with Robin, cuz it’ll always be something that I won’t know and it’ll take me completely off track and throw me massively. So again, thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate it.

Robyn: (01:35)
Oh, I love talking to you and I love leading webinars with you cuz it’s so much fun and I do love it when I throw out something and I can see you like trying to not laugh like cuz I said something like it’s, it’s kind of like now it’s a kind of like a life goal. So, but so can you tell us a little bit about how you got started? You know, how does one become, you know, the inhouse for a big brand, you know, kind of what does that path look like for you?

Dan: (02:00)
it’s a really, really complicated story actually. So, you know, I started out in real estate,  state agency for the, the UK view is real estate for the us views. and I, I dunno if this is universal, but we got paid really, really badly, you know, we’re talking like less than minimum wage, but because we got a lot of commission, it sort of bounced the things out. So I had a side hustle, selling iPhone charges on Amazon and I’ve been selling on Amazon. Oh God now like, yeah, since 2012. So nearly, you know, nearly 10 years now it feels like a lot, lot longer time than that. but from my perspective it’s yeah, it’s back when you could say I sell iPhone charges, iPhone charges that do this iPhone charges that do that. you know, very few people will remember that Robin. I think you’ll remember when we used to be able to get away.

Robyn: (02:53)
You could, well, you could do anything. It was it was like living in a Western movie

Dan: (02:58)
yeah, exactly. so that was the, the, the big way forward and it’s just been advancing everything, across the way from there. And that, yeah, that’s where, that’s where I am now. start, went into agency side with things which was interesting, got to see quite a, variety of, different accounts. And then, then building from there, to see, you know, you do anything from, there was one that was, STD checking online all the way down to, you know, down to, to phone cases as well. There’s the massive change, of those. So the variety you got to, you got to see all sorts of different elements and building from there. So it was my job to sort of look over our 120 clients and then look where the growth opportunities were.

Dan: (03:46)
I that’s where I got my commission basis from it as well. So I got very good at estimating as much as I possibly could as well. you’ll probably heard him, he just came in. he wanted to see what he, daddy he was, is up to. And, I thought his mom would be back by now, but it’s, his grandma’s just brought back in. I had my little boy and,  agency life, just didn’t Sue, everything that I was looking for because, a lot of my agency profile was going around the world, speaking, which, you know, I’m never gonna criticize. It was an amazing life. I got to live and see, so many different cultures and experience it. But when you’ve got a family, I just couldn’t do that. you know, like prior to COVID, in the six months, well, prior to COVID, prior to before COVID life, the six months before then I probably spent about two, three weeks full weeks at home.

Dan: (04:38)
so it wasn’t fair on my little boy. the opportunity came up with, Stanley black and Decker. the, global V P of eCommerce reached out to me and said, you know, Dan, you know, you’ve pitched me a few times. I like what you’re doing. You ever thought about going in house? I’m like, yeah, you know what I have actually thought about going in house? So here I am now I hang up the, the marketing team for the UK side of things always have my sites on, on more, but it’s, yeah, always interesting to see what we can go from there.

Robyn: (05:05)
You know, cuz I I’ve heard that going from agency life to going to in-house life can be a little bit like exiting off the freeway. Cause you know, with agency life, it’s like that guy, that guy like, like as soon as you’re like, all right, I’m caught up and they’re like, boy assigned you for more clients or you know, like it just can be a lot and you know, and at every client is important and every client dollar is valuable and every client looks at you as their one point of contact. So they’re like, well, why can’t I have those images today? and so to go from 120 clients to one client that had to be kind of a big adjustment.

Dan: (05:41)
Yeah. It was  you know, agency, life, like you said is exactly that you are constantly on, you know, the world is constantly on fire. You have to do this, this, this, this, and this. And then you’ve got the new business side of things to go forward as well. So I’ve gotta plan this, I’ve gotta plan this. And then you’ve got all the interpersonal side of things that come into it, which people just don’t appreciate enough that it’s not just about the products you sell. It’s about how you are as a person. And even to this day, I’ll still believe that people buy people over products a hundred percent of the time. It’s probably why, you know, it’s probably why you are doing so well. on the, but like I say, when you come in house, what I found was there’s always a lot of processes now.

Dan: (06:19)
There’s, there’s a lot of agencies out there with a lot of processes that, you know, I’m never gonna deny that. but there’s a lot of, this is how this is done. This is how this is done. and this is how we, we do these things. So my job at first I sort of went in with the sledgehammers, like, no, no, no, this is how we’re gonna do things. This is how I’m gonna do things. But when you knew you are, you know, the new guy, at the bottom of a, multibillion dollar company, that’s been around long before you, you are born and will probably be here around long after you’re gone as morbid as that sounds  you’ve gotta, you’ve got to appreciate those processes there for a reason. So sometimes when I’ve got my agency mindset and I’m like, right, cool, let’s go with this, let’s do this.

Dan: (07:00)
So when there’s low hanging fruit and I can see, competitors got a weakness, I can go, right. This is why I’m doing this. I’m doing this, I’m doing it quickly because of this reason, all the times, it’s sometimes better to go slowly and work through the processes because those processes are there for a reason. So at times it’s bank, it felt like I was banging my head against brick wall, you know, like trying to move, a cruise ship with a paddle board. but other times it’s been a case of, you know, what, when you get, you get it right, the, the balance, right. It’s it does have the same sort of feel at agency life. It does at the moment because everyone wants, everyone wants something at the moment, but you know, that’s life. You can probably hear all the emails pinging in the background because I decided to log on with my work laptop rather than my personal one.

Robyn: (07:44)
so like you’re available.

Dan: (07:46)
Yeah. Like, oh, guns online. Let’s see.

Robyn: (07:49)
Yeah. well, and you know, like I find, so somebody asked me, they’re like, why do you still like working with smaller companies? Why don’t you just work with bigger companies? And I don’t know if you’ve had this big experience, but bigger companies are great because they, you know, you can, you have, you have a bigger budget sometimes, you know? Like, but like, like sometimes like that shark tank size company, like I’m working directly with the founder or, you know, so like decisions are a lot faster. I would imagine with a big company like Stanley black and Decker, that there is just more layers of approval. And like, not as much of like, well, let’s not rush into this a little bit. Let’s make sure everything’s thought through and approved correctly.

Dan: (08:31)
Yeah, exactly. From a previous standpoint, this case of right. I’d look at a client and say, right, you need to sort these brand stores out. but if I say that here, it’s like, right, okay. I’ve gotta get head of brand on. Then I’ve gotta deal with, the, the trade team as well, because it’ll been built by the trade team cuz it’s been specifically for a promotion that we were doing. So it made trade sense. And the trades of what we do is still a lot of B2B activity. Yes. So these guys really drive that. So it’s, if I was to ignore their opinions, I’d be like, well, you know, you’re ignoring the reason why we do it. You know, they understand the margins. I don’t, I just say, oh opportunity. But, it’s, you know, you’re involving three or four people in a sense that normally, back in my agency side, I’d say right, do this.

Dan: (09:17)
Boom, it’s gone. And yeah, it’s it, it does have that, but like you said, you’ve got to have it because to be Frank I’ve never, ever had, because you work with, I’ve worked with so many clients, I’ve never had,  what’s the nice way of putting it. I’ve never had time for tone of voice and it comes, I’ve been, you know, I was targeted on growth and that’s what I got good at. the tone of voice would then, or the brands tone of voice essay would then sort of slip by the wayside. And then yeah, I mean, you’ve seen it when, that takes the drive. You have something that doesn’t, doesn’t look cohesive, you haven’t got that omnichannel experience, you know, I could be on one of our retailers websites and the whole idea is right. I go from the retailers’ website to Amazon and it’s still supposed to feel the same, but if I’ve had my own way with it, it wouldn’t in any way shape or form it. And it’s got to have that, especially in this, in this, in this industry, I mean in this world at the moment.

Robyn: (10:13)
Well, and there’s, you know, there’s just a lot more things to consider, you know, in, in the way that you’re presenting and the way that you’re being brand consistent and, you know, a bigger company is a bigger target for a lawsuit. So, you know, you do have to be a lot tighter on your legal, kind of going back a little bit, you know, you started as a reseller when you first went into the agency life, what were some things that surprised you from going to like managing your own account to managing multiple accounts?

Dan: (10:43)
Yeah. Oh, that’s a really interesting question. it was the first shock to the system because I started out with the sales element of it. It was my job to try and bring, more clients in. but then I became the, you know, when people saw the, I had the aptitude for it, I became the sub I expert for it. the other side of things as well is, I felt the initial impact was I, I was really, really protective over, over my account. So if someone had been into one of them, I’d wanna know, right. Why someone else come into these accounts? What’s everyone making changes for, but you’ve gotta have, you know, when you’ve got 120 clients you’ve got to, you’ve gotta let it go. Right. You’ve got to let other

Robyn: (11:26)
People that seems like an insane amount of clients for one account manager. That’s, that’s a lot, that’s a lot more, you know,

Dan: (11:34)
No it’s, and it’s one of those things you you’ve gotta get it. Right. And it’s because, I was, you know, so precious about these things and it wasn’t, you know, it was just, wasn’t just the Amazon side of things that, you know, it was, Google being, Facebook marketplaces and stuff like that. And it got to the point where you have to let it go and, you know, the team, since I’ve left has got a lot more people to it. And it’s good. Good to see that as well. but, but, and yeah, like, like you said, it’s just too much for one person and that was the big thing been so used to having just the one accounts look after and putting my heart and soul into it. But, I actually, I think you mentioned this on one of the webinars we’ve been on, you know, if you live and die by every single, mistake, you know, you’re gonna die a lot before you, before you’re happy.

Robyn: (12:18)
Well, and you know, so I was thinking like, if I was gonna hire somebody in house, you know, it’s one thing for somebody to manage their own private label account, or for them to like, be a VA on like one account. But like, I think having somebody that has agency experience kind of helps you to say, okay, they’ve been able to produce results on multiple products. It wasn’t just because they were looking, you know, they had a product that, you know, was, was gold, you know, that they got lucky on. It really kind of helps you isolate. Okay. They can perform on multiple kinds of products.

Dan: (12:49)
Yeah, definitely. And that’s,

Robyn: (12:51)
Do you think that that’s, that’s true. Yeah.

Dan: (12:53)
Yeah. I think that definitely gave me the advantage coming into this place that, you know, I can say, look, from a history, look, this is what I’ve done with X, Y, and Z, you know, under NDA. So I can talk about which clients had done, what for buck can say, look, you know, for this, wholesale brand for this brand, I did this, this, this, this, and this. And they can see for themselves, the, the impact that it had and it just spoke for itself. And, one of the big things I always used to say, when I was working in sales is, you know, you’re only as good as your next sales. So the other side of that is, you know, I can say, oh yeah, I’ve done this fantastic work. I’ve done this fantastic work, but unless you produce that fantastic work on that side of things, you know, things to come, then it’s not really worth your dime. And it’s about digging yourself up because not a lot of people do that in a correct fashion, you know, they’re all talk, but then instead producing the results on the other hand as well, which is something that set again, having my own store before I came into, really helped me along the way.

Robyn: (13:49)
You know, I think that can lead us into kind of, you know, if somebody’s looking to hire help on Amazon or really any place, Facebook ads, you know, their SEO, like when is it good to hire an agency versus when is it ha you know, time to bring somebody in house? Because for me, I, I think that when, you know, an agency is really good when you don’t have the budget for a whole person, you wanna get, you know, good quality talent. and I’m not saying that there’s not, like you said, people who really know Amazon are really rare and there’s a lot of people out there that are Amazon experts, but I can tell from what they post, they have not sold on Amazon. They don’t have a lot of experience. And I, I, I get a lot of, clients that come to me after they work with those and the accounts are just a mess. so what would you say some of the advantages are of, of hiring in-house versus, you know, hiring an agency?

Dan: (14:46)
So the hiring with the in-house side of things, you can be more reactive. You can do some of the more cool stuff, as long as you know, what you’re doing with it. you can monitor your competitors a lot, a lot more closely. You know, we, as an agency, you would always have, processes and procedures in place to look after them. But if you, if it’s your job, day in, day out to look into this account, you look at these things in such a granular detail that you get to the sort of predictive analytics level. And that’s where we all want to be. conversely, you know, what, if you are looking at the same thing, day in, day out, you can’t see the woods for the trees sometimes. And then you might find an example say, you know, like I said, I I’m DIY now, but I could, I might have found something in, home and beauty,  on one of my accounts there that actually impacts DIY.

Dan: (15:35)
And I would never have thought about it in a million years. So it’s a trade off in there as well. I’d say if you’ve got the time,  yeah, if you’ve got the time, definitely do it yourself, bring it in, in house. And, you know, if you’ve not got, the time to fully understand it, even as an interim, have an agency and because it’s time versus effort versus revenue reward, if you look at it and you think, oh my God, this is terrible. I have no understanding, right. That’s when you bring the agency in, if you then learn how to do it inside and out, and you’ve got the time to do it, then yeah. A hundred percent do it yourself, test and learn. But if you don’t have the time to do it, if you’ve got those big decisions to make you then need an agency to do it, because this requires so much time and precision it’s, you know, it’s not like the old days where you could just set these things up and just leave it. Amazon in itself has so many different elements now for then just SEO and PPC. It’s, it’s, you know, it’s down to even up, you know, it’s down to the granular details, like email marketing, all the way up to TV marketing. So if you’ve not got an expert in this field, you are gonna miss out massively with it. So it’s always, that’s where the benefit of having the agency comes through there.

Robyn: (16:47)
And, you know, I find a lot of, you know, even companies, you know, especially like the, when you’re working with like a founder, they don’t have time to monitor Amazon seller central to say like, oh, look, they decided to change that policy and not tell us, you know, they, they just don’t have the bandwidth. It’s not that they couldn’t do it. It’s just that if they do that, they’re not what monitoring their supply chain and their product development. And that’s the thing that they only really they can do. So I think there’s a cost that’s pretty big there. And if you bring somebody in, if you’re like, oh, well, I’m gonna bring in an SME, a subject matter expert to, to be our in-house. It’s just really expensive to get somebody good, like six figures plus, you know, my husband got, headhunted and then we’re offering like one 50 to 180, you know, and it’s just a us dollar, you know, and, you know, we, we didn’t really pursue it. So, you know, sometimes those things are kind of like Trojan horse and like, oh, well, we get in there. There’s some, you know, half of that’s, you know, commission or something like that, but yeah, yeah. you know, it, it, it’s, it’s expensive to bring somebody, somebody in house mm-hmm

Dan: (17:50)
, it is. And it’s, and like you said, we, like we said, right at the start, the experts are very few and far between, so it’s a case of when you get the right person, you know, they’re not gonna be cheap, but you’re buying the experience. You know, I always say to people, look, I have made every mistake Amazon had to offer. I didn’t read Ts and CS properly. I didn’t go down to FB. You know, I didn’t check my FBA stock. You know, I’d set a born to run campaign on something that didn’t really need to be born to run or something along those sorts of lines, but, you know, incidentally as well. I dunno about you, but I’ve heard born to run in the last two weeks more so than I’ve done my entire Amazon career. I don’t know how, how much has come up with you lately, but like the texts just coming around there and the, the buzz for it. It’s just something that, like I said, in the last two weeks, I’ve heard more than I’ve done it in the last 10 years around.

Robyn: (18:35)
Yeah. It’s crazy. How in Amazon, like land, like, there’s like something that like, people are like, oh yeah, I know that. And then everybody’s like, did you hear about this program? I’m like, it’s been around for five years. Why are we just talking about this now? But yeah, there’s been a lot of taco about it lately,

Dan: (18:50)
But, yeah, it’s exactly like you said, you know, to get the right people they’re expensive, but they, you know, it’s, you’ve gotta look at the, as you return on investment, you know, if, someone’s, you know, giving someone, given someone a pounder they’ve given you 14 back. Yes. No. Well, you know, there we go. That’s gives you your answer. Could you have done that? Maybe you could have, but have you got the experience to do it versus like exactly, as you said, Robin time versus effort, you know, as a founder, you’ve gotta be dealing with all the other stuff that nobody else, you know, I, I just don’t have the bandwidth to, to think about in any major detail it’s, massively difficult to think about, you know, getting just the supply chain in the flywheel around these things. yeah. It’s enough stress dealing with the marketing.

Dan: (19:31)
That’s a full time job in itself. And some people just don’t appreciate it as that. They see it as, oh, it’s just something, you know, I can do it when I’ve got five minutes, I’ve got 10 minutes. It’s, it’s not, it’s a fulltime job in itself. And that’s why there’s so many, people that, claim to be an expert in what we do, because there’s a lot of good money going to people that aren’t doing a good job. And then they come to people like you and me and say, oh, you know, Robin, can you save me some, some falls mess my account and, not set up any negative Ad Word or something simple. Like

Robyn: (20:02)
Yeah. I mean, look, we’ve, we’ve taken over accounts, like even for like larger agencies and there was no negative matching and I was like, who was running? And so the only thing I could think of is that they scale cause because our space has been growing so fast that instead of like bringing people in and mean like, this is the process that we run ads, it’s been more like, you know, to brought around, okay, here’s five accounts, go do what you want. And so some people are good and some people are bad and it’s gonna take them time to weed those people out. But in the meantime, if you are the brand, you just gotta sign the person that is just really good salesperson. you know, that, you know, but doesn’t have the stuff to back it up then that that can really hurt you. And it can create a really negative experience around agencies, in the Amazon space overall.

Dan: (20:47)
Exactly. If all it takes is one, but one bad experience that compounded with another and you’re like, well, you know, none of these guys know what they’re doing.

Robyn: (20:54)
You know, every ad manager has accounts that they do best on, you know, so, you know, Nate’s really good at, you know, doing a lot of different kinds of ads, but you know, sometimes people are just good at sponsored products or they’re really good at me too products. Like if somebody really like was born and bred in the private label, sometimes going to a bigger brand, this in brick and mortar, they haven’t dealt with, you know, buy box suppressions and, you know, you know, all of the things that come with that bigger retail distribution. so, you know, even, even if you get somebody who knows what they’re doing, if they don’t have the right experience too, it’s not always a good fit too.

Dan: (21:32)
It’s like we said, you’re buying the person over the products, ins and outs. Mm-hmm you, you, and you often don’t get to meet the people that you’ll be dealing with day in, day out until after you sign the contract. Right. So that’s, that’s the trouble

Robyn: (21:42)
if you were talking to somebody that was about like the size of like dragons down or shark tank, what would, would you recommend that they, I mean, what would you recommend that they do if they’re like Amazon sales have been doing well, but we’re, we’re looking to grow them. but I’ve been trying to do it and I just, you know, it’s just a lot to learn and I can’t, you know, I’ve got, I’ve got the basics of it, but I don’t really know what the next steps should be.

Dan: (22:07)
Yeah. To, to me, those, those people should definitely be looking at bringing in an agency, support because, you know, if you’ve tried to do it yourself and then you’re not getting anywhere, if you bring in, you know, if you bring somebody in, who’s fairly new to Amazon ads, you’ve gotta try and teach them. But if you are teaching them what, you know, you’re still not being able to grow. So in that instance, you’ve got to have an agency because you’ve got the potential, you can see that, you know, for every, you know, every dollar you’re spending in ads, you’re getting a return, but you know, there’s more to go for that than what all, you know, what surely the agency fee versus, your ad spend versus your, a, your revenue justifies that.

Robyn: (22:48)
And, you know, a lot of companies at size, they, they just can’t afford. but the, you know, the, the problem that agencies can have sometimes is that they don’t have, you know, if somebody’s got 120 accounts, it’s hard for ’em to be thinking. And I like, oh, you know, we should just really reshoot those images. I wonder if that’s AB test these things cuz they, you know, what do you, what would be some tips that you would give people on how to get the most out of the agency that you’re working with?

Dan: (23:11)
the best way to get the most outta the agency, would be, you know, know your own KPIs. Now, if I, if you’re not a founder, and say you are, you know, you are couple down below, marketing director or head of marketing on the sort lines you’ve got to know what your, your KPIs, what are you gonna be judged with? What’s the yard stick that you either can be protected or beaten with. and that’s what, you know, that’s what I I’d always say. Right. Okay. what’s what is gonna get you, your, your promotion, what is gonna make you look good? if it’s as right, here’s a plan, that’s gonna show you how to get the best as, and then challenge the agency to say, look, I am only gonna get what I want out of life. If we hit these KPIs and it’s best to be honest with them, right at the start, even in the initial meeting stages to say them, look, this is what my KPI is. How can you help me hit, hit that?

Robyn: (24:04)
I actually love clients that come in and say like, look, I, I know a three a row as is supposed to be good, but it has to be a five in order for us to be successful. So I know we can’t get there overnight, but I need to know when you can get me to a five. And if you can’t, I need to know that. Or, you know, we had a client that’s like, you know what? I launch a lot of products. I really need to manage tacos by product. And, you know, we were like, great. We can do that. That’s not a problem. and you know, it makes it easier for us to make, if, if, as an agency owner, I wanna deliver what every client needs, if, if they’re upfront. So I think sometimes people don’t wanna say like, look, this is what we need in order for it to be profitable enough. but sometimes if you don’t tell that agency, you know, a three Roaz or, you know, 20% a cost isn’t enough, then, you know, they could think they’re doing a really great job where you’re thinking they’re failing. And so you’re just gonna get more and more frustrated with them.

Dan: (24:58)
Yeah, exactly. Which is, you know, which is that’s tough life, but you know, it happens and it happens to a lot of people, but it’s about making sure we get you get it right. And you communicate it and not just communicate it, verbally that you’ve got an email trail as well, which, you know, we always, you know, when you start delving deep into the paperwork, you know, that’s that relationship’s gonna end well, but you know, it’s having that right from the start, you know, plastered over everything you do even like borderline TA across your forehead when you’re on the zoom meetings or something that, you know, something like that. it’s, it’s gotta be as clear as they, because if that’s something that you really care about, then your agency need to care about it as well.

Robyn: (25:36)
You know? And you know, so, and just knowing the metrics that are available. So if you’re working with an agency, you don’t feel like you’re getting a lot of reporting, you know, ask them what me metrics they’re measuring and how are they, you know, how are they because they should be able to tell you all right. So we really, you know, the way that we look at it is we look at unit session, percentage, and tacos, or we look at tr as, and, you know, sessions or whatever it is that they’re looking at and make sure that those, that their goals are aligning with your goals. and you know, sometimes even, you know, we’ve had clients that are like, well, this is what we need. And you know, if they, they wanna get a, you know, they wanna get a 12 row as on phone cases,

Dan: (26:15)
Mm-hmm, , it’s

Robyn: (26:16)
Gonna be pretty tough. , you know?

Dan: (26:19)
Exactly. And you’ve got, you’ve gotta, you’ve gotta have the honesty, even if it means like potentially losing the business, because if you are the one that’s honest with them and say, look, this is not gonna happen. And this is the reason why it’s not gonna happen when those reasons why don’t happen when they go to another agency that says it does happen. You know, some, you know, some people, you know, they won’t like the fact that you said, I told you so, but, in the other instances, I found that, oh, you know, what you said was gonna happen exactly happened. And that, and it’s, it’s, it is one of these things that, you know, you win some, you lose some, but I’d rather have a fully honest relationship and say, look, I can do this. We can’t do this. you know, you spend most of your time dealing with the, the people that you’ve, you’ve said, oh yeah, maybe we can do this.

Dan: (27:03)
Where, where the lines are gray. You spend more time dealing with them and you deal with the headaches. And is it as possible, for an agency to spend so much time with these people? Probably not. If they had just been honest at the out front and said, I can’t do this, you can’t do this. It can’t be done. Here’s why it can’t be done. Then you’re setting up the questions for when they go to the next person who says it can be done. They say, right, well, they said this, they said this, they said this, why, why can’t it be done?

Robyn: (27:29)
And then you have to ask them, and then they, you know, then you have something documented. And I would rather have a client be upset with me after an audit where I say like, you know, we just had somebody that, they had like a, a beverage and with Amazon fees, it just didn’t make sense. Their margin was not, you know, where it needed to be. and I was like, you know, I, I, you know, we could sign you up and we could run ads. But I think that in six months, you’re gonna say, you know, even if we didn’t met all of our goals, I think that you’re still gonna feel like this was a lot of capital investment for a very little return. And so I’d rather have somebody to be upset with me there than having put, you know, our retainer and the, you know, the ad spend, you know, percentage and the, the actual ad spend and the time that it takes to approve content and, you know, like all of that, and then be like, wow, I still don’t have what I was really looking for. And now I’m out how many thousands of dollars?

Dan: (28:26)
Yeah, exactly. And like I said, you’ve gotta take that initial punch, but it just gets worse. if you longer you leave it, we used to call it swallow the frog.

Robyn: (28:36)
Yeah. it’s so, it, Amazon advertising has been changing a lot, a lot more, ad types. And I, you know, we are doing a lot more creative on the ad types with sponsored brands, driving to, like pages within the storefront with, you know, more design that are more like CRO landing pages almost, which I think is gonna be a challenge for some agencies that have only, you know, they haven’t been doing listing optimization. They’ve only been doing ads, and that the very bottom of funnel ads, how do you see the changes in advertising, affecting agencies and even brand owners who are running their own ads in the next year? So

Dan: (29:21)
It’s become, you know, I hate to use this comparison, but goo, Amazon is becoming more and more like Google, you know, in any sort of agency, you wouldn’t just have, the person that deals with your BC, also dealing with your SRO. there might be a bit of an overlap between the CRO, but they wouldn’t be there, so their sole focus, you wouldn’t have that same person then doing the design or the creative assets for it as well. So you’ve gotta treat this as if you, from an agency side, you’ve gotta treat it, as if you, were servicing a client from a Google perspective. And this is why I see a lot of agencies that are in, in market as Google agencies or being agencies, doing, you know, struggling with the transition to, Amazon, because they’ll say, oh, you know, we need someone that can do this, this, this, this, and this.

Dan: (30:09)
And it’s like, well, you know, that one point at the start is a full time job where, you know, where are they gonna get the time to do this? and that’s why you really need, especially someone that understands that, you know what, actually, you know, what my skillset doesn’t,  involve this, this is what I’m good at. We need to speak to somebody else that can deal with it. And it’s, it’s the same thing with a, with the founder. Look, you know, you, you know, I, let me say, you know, if we’re looking at, if you, you know, you’re putting up your own website rather than going on Amazon, you, you’ve got your products, you know, what you’re gonna do with it. if you imagine you didn’t put it on Amazon and you just put it up on your website, you know, you’d find yourself having a copywriter, a technical SEO, you know, someone, dev to maintain the site, et cetera, the name of, for you. And you’re looking at three, three, maybe four different incomes there on min. You know, even if you put them on minimum wage, which you should never do for these people, but if, even if you did, there’s a massive outlay of costs there. So it, that to me is down to if the person who has the products wants to sell more, then they need to scale up in the right way. And you can’t just sort of bond all five or six jobs together. And then just say, yeah, here, this is, this is all you.

Robyn: (31:21)
Yeah, that, that’s a good point. You know, even if you bring somebody in house, it’s not likely gonna be one person, the same person that’s good at opt bid optimization is probably not gonna be good at creative. so you’re gonna need somebody that does that. And I think that if you’re working with an agency asking, you know, do they have a different team for creative? how do they collaborate? Because like our creative team and our ad team will get together. You know, we have like, you know, we have meetings where we go through and they say, well, these are the ad objectives that we’re trying to meet. or this is the buyer we’re trying to at attack. And then we’ll say, all right, well, you know, we had a product recently that was really kind of their primary customer is, you know, a specific subset of the, of the population, like a very specific group.

Robyn: (32:04)
And we said, you know what? We should change these images to make sure that they match the buyer, you know, and so that people can see themselves, if we know we’re specifically targeting, and this is the only demographic that’s converting, it doesn’t make sense to have a wide variety of people. We just wanna have this group of people that are represented really strongly in the primary images. And we can add those other folks in the, a plus content. but making sure that, you know, but if we, you know, if we weren’t working together as a team, if it was just, you know, things that projects that people were going through as then, I think it would be difficult to kind of meet those objectives.

Dan: (32:40)
Yeah, definitely. And it’s that insight right there. That’s worth its weight in gold that, you know, for someone like yourself to look at the data and say, actually, you know what, we’re only confirming, and you, we’re only converting with one particular demographic. the rest of them, you know, are negligible in comparison. And, you know, it’s a hard call to me, but it’s like, you know, you spending money in these five different graphics, but only one of them are converting them or why are we focusing on the other, oh, well, you know, they might turn ourselves, well, we don’t deal with mics. We wanna deal with actual numbers. We wanna deal with yeses rather than hammering on the door for repeated nos.

Robyn: (33:13)
Yeah. Hammer. Like, there’s, there’s lots, there’s always lots of different buyers. and you know, people know whether they’re kind of the fringe buyer for a product or not. So it’s not like you’re gonna shock them, you know, it’s, but it’s making sure that your, your target customer knows. what else would you say is, you know, something that’s, I, what would, if you could go back and like, one of your best friends was gonna hire an agency, what would be like the top, like one or two pieces of advice that you would say, like when you’re shopping around,

Dan: (33:45)
the first piece I would be is have your own KPIs in mind? I think we, we said it a little bit earlier, know what you are gonna be judged on. those will be different if you’re a CMO, if you’re a founder or CFO, you know, everyone’s got their own, their own judgements on these things, make sure you know, what your own KPIs are and then people that you report into, what KPIs are they interested in as well. So the CFO, you know, are they gonna be interested in a cost and ROAS more than likely, your CMO? Are they gonna be, interested in new to brand and, you know, and impressions more than likely there as well, but, you know, one doesn’t always preclude the other? yeah. So know your KPIs and know what your boss and their boss’s boss wanna have.

Dan: (34:34)
It is the, is the first thing before engaging with any agency. These are the, those are the first things that would have, second point as well. I used to have a very make yeah, make sure your goals are aligned right at the start as well with the agency. You’ve got to make sure that, you know what they’re gonna do. They know what they’re gonna do. a lot of agencies. Okay. You know, we can also do this for you. Like, no, no, that, that interest me any way, shape, or form. But if they come to you, you’ve gotta be strong and say, oh, well actually, no, this doesn’t apply to what we’re doing. This is the key laser being focused. a lot of agencies say, you know, we wanna be part of the team we wanna be, built further and that’s, you know, that’s really good to win people over and win the more business, but you then sort of say, you end up in the routine of, oh, do you know anyone that could do that or do that for us? And they’ll say, oh yeah, well, we sort of do that. And you end up saying with a lot of projects that have, yeah. Sort of we’re good at versus what we are actually good at as well.

Robyn: (35:32)
We get that a lot too. They’re like, can you run our Facebook ads? I was like, you know, I mean, I, I could, you just don’t want me to, like, there’s better people that you could hire that, you know, and, and I don’t, I don’t want somebody to pay me to learn their account, you know, like I would rather them, you know, hire somebody in our space that, or, you know, in the digital marketing space that I know is really good, you know, so I’ll send them to a referral. I think that’s a really good point cuz sometimes like, yay, I can, I can do et see. And you know, you find out later like, oh, this was your first ETSC account. Okay. Well mm-hmm

Dan: (36:05)
yeah, exactly. Yeah. It’s it is what it isn’t like you say, you they’re paying you to learn at that point. It’s like, there’s a famous quote from, Richard Branson that is, say yes to the opportunity, even if you don’t know what it is, which is, you know, it’s a very good entrepreneurial spirit to have, but in some cases, you know, if you are wanting results, that’s not the, that’s not the best, best way for it. If you think you can do it and you’ve got, and you’ve got confidence in yourself that you can do it, then yeah. Do it. But if you haven’t done it before, or you’ve not been successful and it before just cause you’ve dipped your toe in, doesn’t make you an expert. You can’t just put on LinkedIn, Amazon expert, Google expert because you know, you finished, you finished Amazon’s,  free ad campaign, you know, that’s day one stuff.

Dan: (36:53)
You know what I mean? That’s yeah, exactly, exactly. Yeah. I did the learning consult, you know, I did, Sam Rush’s, email marketing campaign,  course, you know, I’m now an expert and you know, I sat on, Robin’s course and did, my, my Amazon training, which, you know, actually I did, after I got that, I still actually learned quite a lot there. So you would be on your way to being an expert by, sitting on Robin’s Sam rush course there, but you won’t be a complete expert because there’s different factors in there that Robin doesn’t talk about. Right. So it’s, it’s just because you’ve sat through the training, doesn’t make you an expert. It’s the years of adversity and things coming outta left field at you that makes you the expert.

Robyn: (37:36)
Yeah. Cuz you know, like there’s, there’s a lot of things that change, you know, like you used to be able to say great customer service. Now your store page will get denied because of that. You say antimicrobial now it’s pesticide. You know that there there’s a lot of pieces. Yeah. That can be a little tricky.

Dan: (37:53)
You could end up, you know, for not knowing those little bits of detail, you end up in a massive feedback loop with Amazon. It’s like, right. I changed this. I changed this. And it’s like, no, it’s still not good enough. No, it’s still not good. And you get to the point where they say, actually we’re not dealing with this anymore. You just can’t have it. So that’s where the expertise comes through in because the time to know that little detail could, you know, things that you couldn’t, you couldn’t even put into Google say, why is this not working? Because it’s not Amazon’s platform is not built like that. It’s the case of actually, you know what, I’ll ask an expert and you know what, I’ve gotta pay the expert prices cuz you that time you’re doing it may take you 10 minutes to fix. But for someone that doesn’t know what they’re doing, that could be four or five days worth of work.

Robyn: (38:30)
And you even with an expert, sometimes that happens where like they changed the policy and they didn’t tell, tell us anywhere. And so they’re like, something’s wrong. You’re like, okay, hotter, colder. Can you tell me what paragraph, what module it was in? but it at least reduced that, you know, if somebody was looking to go in house, they’re like, look, I can’t deal with this agency life anymore. Like I am tired of always feeling like I’m running. what would you say? Like things to consider before they make that move?

Dan: (39:04)
the, one of the things that I had to consider was how, my own pace of work is and how I am personally. the role that I’ve taken now is, fully remote, which is good for me because, our head office is probably about a four hour drive from where I am now. and the reason I came in house was because of my little boy and I wanted to spend more time with him. So this fits in perfectly for me. whereas somebody else that’s used to working in a team, speaking on teams, collaboratively, et cetera, et cetera. you you’re gonna lose that, by coming in house because you’ll speak to, you know, I speak to my boss every day, but in some instances there’s people that wouldn’t speak to their boss every day, you know, you’d lose that sort of interaction.

Dan: (39:47)
and then be prepared to have to dig and learn things yourself because you know, you don’t have the, that straightforward. Oh, you know what? I’ve seen it on this account. I’ve picked it up. We want to learn. It’s a case of you’ve got to learn and you’ve got to see and you’ve got to test and there’s gonna be nothing to fall back on it. It is all on you. I mean, depending on the role that you’ve got, but there’s no way, there’s no way to hide you. Can’t just say, oh actually, there’s, this is somebody else’s problem. This is, it’s always, always at the end of the day, it’s your head on the block and you’ve got to be, are you ready for that responsibility?

Robyn: (40:20)
You know, I like some ways I think it would be so much less stressful, but then also so much more stressful because like that product launch doesn’t go. I mean, it that’s a problem, you know, like it’s, it’s a, I mean, you’ve gotta be a lot more vested in each product. Do you find that you have to, I was thinking about people who’ve only done Amazon, you know, like maybe they grew up in private label, they got picked up by an ad agency and you know, they’ve only been running Amazon ads. Do you, do you think that if somebody’s thinking out they should take the time? Like I was, I was wondering if they would need to know like the more traditional marketing terms, like, you know, and how traditional, like Google marketing works to be able to explain kind of like why Amazon is the way it is,

Dan: (41:03)
You know, what I’ve only ever explained Amazon, via Google terms. Cause I speak to people like yourself that have, that know both inside now as well. yeah, that is, that’s a tough one. I honestly, you know, honestly I wouldn’t know how to speak to somebody unless they’d, they’d had a bit of Google experience about Amazon. I think that’s more down to my own personal failings, but if you were like, I did, starting out with Amazon before you have any Google experience, there, yeah. There’s, I, I, you definitely would need to have some sort of training course versus just to understand, you know, the phrase, you know, even like just the basic, acronyms, ACOs, ROAS, CCR, CPCs, things like that, you know, which, you know, when we’ve worked in Google before these things. Yeah. We know what these mean, but it’s I suppose it’s like putting this someone in a fourth year medical degree, that’s not even done the first year. Yeah.

Robyn: (41:58)
Yeah. Well, and it’s just hard to explain or, or would they come to you as something that’s new in the Google space? Cuz they read about it. Like, I had a client who was like, tell me about, you know, Mer and Amazon. I was like, wow. I mean, if I was on PPC chat, I probably cuz that’s not a term that we use in the Amazon space. Mm-hmm , you know, like you would, you would look like you didn’t know what you were talking about because exactly the vernacular is so different and like even be able to say, I know that like on Google PPC, you know, S SCM and SEO are not, not tied, but here they are tied. Like I think you would be difficult to get buy-in from the team if you didn’t have at least like the foundational pieces to have that conversation.

Dan: (42:36)
Yeah, exactly. And it’s, the easiest thing for me to, to explain to people is, oh, you know, what’s it like, doing Amazon BC? It’s like, yeah. It’s like doing Google PPC like five years ago. It’s yes. Well, that’s, I think it’s

Robyn: (42:51)
To know Google too is because people are like, why do you care about Google? I’m like because we’re following Google’s evolutionary path. And so if I wanna see if I wanna sneak peek in what the next chapter is, I, I just go look over here and there’s the next chapter.

Dan: (43:05)
And that’s it’s to be fair. It’s what I do in the UK because the UK, Amazon market is basically the, is the, the result of what’s worked well and what’s worked badly, in the us. So I see, I can say to, you know, we need to be prepared for this, this, this, and this, and like, well, it’s not even on our radar as well. It’s not now, but it will be in six months. Yeah.

Robyn: (43:27)
You know, and it it’s an advantage, but then also you also don’t get the fun, new toys until everybody’s already learned a little bit about them.

Dan: (43:34)
Exactly. And they’ve then gone into the variations of a, of a minute detail and you’re like, oh yeah, this is, they know this bit inside and out. And I’m kind of not even on the, the big part of it yet. It’s kinda like, you know, I’ve got the, I’ll have the, so how out of play I am at the moment. I was trying to think,  you know, I, I was gonna say iPhone 13, but I’ve just been given the iPhone 12 or something like that.

Robyn: (43:59)
Yeah. It’s but you know, I, I, I love, I think that, you know, you have such a great perspective on things and sometimes you can see kind of our marketplace with a little bit more objectivity because you know, you, you’re not kind of like in it all of the time. So I mean, and you’re still really active in everything. So I, I always love getting to talk to you if people want to reach out to you, what’s the best way to do that.

Dan: (44:25)
best way to get hold of me, is either on LinkedIn, I’m Dan Saunders on that. I think I’m the only done Saunders on that. I’ve done well better be, I know I’m the only done Saunders that comes up when you, you Google me now that you used to be an Australian bartender that got eaten by a shark, that used to outran me, but I’ve done my best to, to catch that. Well, you know, just to prove I didn’t, I didn’t, so I’m here piece, even though know it’s you could probably sell that I’m not in Australia because I’m wearing like a massive duffle coat sort of level jumper. or, and you just said jumper and dance Saunders, 86. Yeah. Jumper. There we go. Yes. That , instead of sweatshirt, which actually says on the back of this actually a sweatshirt. but yeah, also on Twitter, at Dan Saunders, 86,

Robyn: (45:11)
Thank you so much for coming. we’re, I’d love getting to talk to you. I can always am so excited when we’re gonna lead a webinar together. So if you’re not following like the SCM rush webinars, make sure you’re on that list. So you can, you can get it into those as well. we’re gonna go ahead and go into our five minute fix, and we hope that you have a wonderful week. This is Robin Johnson with your five minute fix today. I wanna talk to you about price elasticity on Amazon. a lot of times, you know, manufacturer will come to us and say, okay, this is our price on our other channels, and we need to match that price. But we’re concerned that maybe the FBA costs are too high, or we wanna see, you, maybe our competitor’s price is too low.

Robyn: (45:52)
and I wanted to talk a little bit about how do you test pricing on Amazon? So the easiest way that we recommend doing test, price testing is, when you’re moving up to move up slowly in increments, the reason for this is if you move too quickly, Amazon will sometimes suppress your buy box, which means that, the, it will be more difficult for customers to buy your products. so I would do small increments on the way up. And if you’re testing a lower price, rather than lowering the price for a period and then raising it back up, this can cause, buy box suppression issues that we just talked about. so what I would recommend instead is to use a clippable coupon. The thing about clippable coupons is they do cost 60 cents per redemption, but they show up in your ads.

Robyn: (46:35)
They show up on the, search or the search engine result pages. So, you can see, you know, it can help with, click through rate and it can help with conversion. so, it can provide a little extra incentive and you can see how much faster things move when they’re on that discount. The same thing when you applies, when you are pricing things up, when you’re trying to see if you can increase the price to cover maybe an increase of cost to you as the manufacturer or the, the reseller. Now, the way you would do that is, is you’re is you’re slowly increasing the price. You may make sure you mark down what days you increase the price and at what increments. And then you also wanna be watching the detailed sales traffic by report by child. And you wanna see at one point, do, do you start to see traffic drop?

Robyn: (47:19)
At what point do you start to see conversion drop? So, at once you start to hit those points that tells you where the PLA price elasticity is for your specific product, especially if your product is in demand. And there’s not a lot of other alternatives available. You might find that you’re, you have a price elasticity of maybe 20 or 30% where you can mark it up significantly over the retail value, especially during peak seasons. However, if you’re in a commodity where a lot of, the buying decision is going to be based off price, you might find that you have a lot less, price elasticity. So, as you’re testing price elasticity, we, we recommend that you start with clippable coupons, to go down. And then when you’re moving up, increase that slow, slowly, over a period of several days.

Narrator: (48:02)
Thank you for listening to the process to e-com profits podcast. Make sure you subscribe to get updates for new episodes, leave a review, and one lucky winner each month will win a one-hour call with your choice of our hosts. A value of over $300. Keep listening to hear the winner announced on the first show of the month. You can contact our hosts by using the contact us form at process to e-com profits.com. You can also find the contact information of our hosts and show guests in the show notes for each episode.

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