E209: Growing a Business with a ‘Patent Pending’ Product (Under the Hood with Anthony Procopis)December in Ecom-Crew-Podcast
In this segment, I regularly come across ecommerce entrepreneurs who need help in getting their marketing efforts down pat. But once in a while, I get people like Anthony who bring a different concern for me to wrap my head around, and for all the listeners out there to learn from.
Like many people new to ecommerce, Anthony Procopis started selling products that he didn’t have an interest in personally. He was using Shipwire to sell mosquito nets online in 2008. But being a skilled golf player and someone who truly enjoys the sport, transitioning into the golf-related niche was inevitable.
A Patent Issue
Anthony has ventured into creating his own product and has recently improved upon a golf swing trainer that’s already available in the market. However, he has a few challenges in front of him. One is having to contend with copycats that have brought the price down for his product. The second and more significant one is licensing. He is looking at having a big golfing supply company distribute his ‘patent pending’ product.
Listen to the full podcast for more of Anthony’s concerns and my insights on how he can grow and expand his present ecommerce business given his unique set of challenges.
Under the Hood is a segment where we do an hour-long coaching call with one of our listeners. We take a look at their businesses, provide honest feedback, offer our best business advice, and answer whatever questions they have. In exchange for the free coaching, we will turn the call into a podcast episode so that our community can benefit as well. It’s a win-win!
Registration to EcomCrew Premium is now closed. But, you can still learn from us through our suite of free courses. You’ll find a total of 20 videos covering ecommerce topics like Importing from China and Building a 7-Figure Business.
Finally, if you enjoyed listening and think this episode has been useful to you, please take a moment to leave us a review on iTunes.
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Full Audio Transcript
Intro: This is Mike and welcome to Episode 209 of the EcomCrew Podcast. It seems like just a day ago, we were doing 200. It’s crazy how quickly these numbers keep taking off. We’re going to end up with 210 episodes total by the time the year 2018 comes to a close, which is pretty cool, going to hit the goal of doing 100 podcasts in 2019, pretty darn neat. This week, we have another Under the Hood to do. I’ve been trying to get these out the door because we recorded a bunch of these earlier in the year which makes it easy for me to get through the end of 2018 during the holidays here.
We have Anthony on today who does some golf training products. He wanted to talk about pros and cons of growing a business around a patent pending product and a whole bunch of other stuff. Pretty cool story. Really glad that Anthony came and did this with us. If you guys want to be on your very own Under the Hood, you can go to EcomCrew.com/UndertheHood. All right, let’s hop into this episode with Anthony and we’ll see you on the other side of this introduction.
Mike: Hey, Anthony. Welcome to the EcomCrew Podcast.
Anthony: Hi Mike, glad to be here.
Mike: Definitely good to have you. And we just had a couple of hiccups here. We don’t have that happen very often. Usually we do these in one take. But I can’t talk today evidently, I’m still getting over this cold and I feel like my tongue is twice the size that it usually is. So thanks for sticking with me.
Anthony: No worries Mike.
Mike: So Anthony, you hail from Australia, which is always cool to get someone that you’re talking to that’s a day in the future from you which is always cool. I’ve been dealing with that a lot now that I’ve been dealing with China and a lot of the Asian countries so I’m pretty used to that. But the reason Anthony is here with us today is for one of our Under the Hood calls which I love doing. It’s so cool talking to other EcomCrew listeners and just finding out about their businesses, and how we can help potentially make their business better.
So that’s what we’re doing today and what we do with Under the Hood. You get one hour of free consulting from us. We talk about whatever things you have in your business and try to have you leave with something that’s valuable. And if you’re interested in being on your very own Under the Hood, you can go to EcomCrew.com/UndertheHood to sign up for that. So if anyone has listened to these in the past, you know my very favorite question I ask first Anthony is how did you get into e-commerce?
Anthony: Pretty easy to find my sort of online curry into three phases. Ecommerce started after reading Tim Ferriss’s 4 Hour Workweek, invented as eight and I knew nothing about — I actually I don’t think I had a computer when I read the book and then I bought one. And so going into that, I spent way too much money on — I actually sold mosquito nets for online travel for people looking for mosquito nets online for traveling. So I bought a lot of nets and shipped them over to the states, and used Shipwire.com back then. They’ve been quite since, they’re sort of everywhere now under another, there’s a bigger company that acquired them.
So yeah, I had sort of products in a couple of American cities, Canada, and London but you just all paid for the one whatever space you had. You could have sort of only two pellets in six warehouses. It was a really good system back then in those down the road since – yeah, [inaudible 00:03:47] but I was just – I had stuff that the size of the market, the size of the sales that I thought I was going to get just with a couple of pretty couple of areas, so I thought I had sort of three more times the sales that I’ve got from the start from that.
I sort of got better but it’s just you get you get thrown in the deep end and you start to work at helping our sale more and then finally your product is [inaudible 00:04:18] 60 bucks but three for the 90, get better pictures, get a customer testimonial page, had sort of cool photos coming in from people using the nets in Kenya, Mozambique and elephants in the background, it sounds pretty cool. But yeah, I did burn a lot of money because it wasn’t quite right but I’ve learned a bit about sort of e-commerce and shipping products and stuff. But it wasn’t a massive success in terms of coming out of it with profit but it was it was pretty good experience.
From there I just went into not much money, I had to go just turn to what I knew which is golf. And without any money, I did the sort of the email marketing, drive people to a landing page sort of beginning all this produce your own products and will sell affiliate products. And that’s what I did there from 2011, 12 to 2016, probably pretty a big piece slow and probably I sacrificed opportunity. The opportunity cost is doing things sort of over time because I think I was very passionate about golfing to a high level so I can sort of so that passion sort of fit into writing about what I was doing, helping people, maybe not as — maybe sort of a fright entrepreneur sort of thing [inaudible 00:05:47] where’s all the money, whereas also pursuing sort of a passion plus sort of the business side of it.
But again a good start and those were profitable either a few years I probably made sort of 130 grand in revenue and about half of that in profit, and then build an email list and went through the process of making products and developing them a little bit video content and all that sort of stuff. So yeah, that one not much money to get going but sort of in a couple of years there sort of I was just [inaudible 00:06:29] for me, so that is on the light side. So those two businesses now culminated in the third which is back to the e-commerce but this time with a golf product.
So you can see the mingling of the two, and I’m leveraging that second business the online golf digital products. I’m using that email list that I still had and I still communicate with every month or so for sale. So I still have, I’ve got a couple of 1,000 boys and another 19,000 others that I can launch my current product which is a new golf training aid too. So I’ve only said I’ve got some early sales which is such an asset to have. That email list is not sort of working that much the last year or so. It can still go back to them and you can still put out content to get sales whenever you want, really whenever you want to put in the time to write a few emails. So that’s about the state of play.
Mike: Cool. And so two things, I was taking notes here, two things I want to mention. First off, the first thing is just a statement just to kind of reiterate to the entire audience something that I’ve been preaching quite a lot on the podcast which is that email list sounds like it’s been a whole heck of a good asset for you, and something I’ve talked a lot about having an email list to launch products can be just a huge leg up. So I just wanted to reiterate something you said there just to reinforce it. But the only thing I want to ask is a question, I’m just kind of curious, so when you were selling in 2008, what platform were you selling on because I don’t believe that Shopify existed then. I think maybe like Yahoo store was around or was it something that was customized?
Anthony: Yeah, I think the site is up, you can go and check it out. It’s pretty dirty. It’s [inaudible 00:08:27] online.com. I knew nothing about online, so I hired a guy from Elance back in the day, a guy from India. I paid I think $500 and he got the site up, so there was like a PayPal button and yes it was a site, PayPal button, I got the orders and then I’ll just cut and paste into Shipwire. He could probably somehow got that working automatically, you got to do so with Amazon FBA now, so it’s sort of like that. It comes a bit like with digital products that I have where I set automatic at the field without you copying and pasting, like I did yesterday, actually for an eBay. So I just started on eBay. Yes, yes, that was nice, just pretty raw data to get you to sell and a PayPal button.
Mike: Very cool. Yeah, it’s neat to see that you were doing that stuff way back in the day with a very different technology stack than you have in 2018, 10 years later so very cool. So now we kind of got a background on you. And so to summarize, it sounds like you were selling a product online that you didn’t necessarily have that much of an interest in, but you wanted to sell something online which was a mosquito nets and realized that wasn’t something for you. And then got into more of a blog concept because that’s something you have a personal passion and then did that for a while to generate some revenue.
And now that you’ve gotten some traction with that over several years, you kind of got the e-commerce bug again and you have a new a new product that you’ve released that has some intellectual property based to it. It sounds like a piece that you mentioned the word patent which is great. So I don’t know how much you want to tell people about what the product is and why you’re able to make a patent and why it’s unique.
Anthony: I played professional golf early on and kept playing, so I know how to play the game. And I just sort of – yeah, I could sort of see how I could just make it like what you’re doing. If you get a product that you teach and everyone teaches on, I didn’t want to just sort of get something that is just a commodity and then we just sort of put in an extra widget and try and sort of make that work. I wanted to get something a little bit unique. But having said that, I’m using something that comes from a factory, the factory is all set up. I just got this product and just made it better in two or three ways that make it a lot better together.
So I started productgolf.com, you’ll see the original and the original’s copycat out there and it’s sold everywhere. It comes out of the same factory. There’s a brand name, we’ve made that work that we’re getting 20 sales a day on Amazon. And then there’s now these copycats come out of the original factory. The brand name produces in the states, but I still know that the factory still produces 500 a month units, so they’re being used by copy cats. The product is fine. It’s just that if you look at mine and there’s, mine has got what you can do with the first product plus two or three things.
It’s like basically you can use ions only in the first product, mine you can use ions and woods and a couple of different – and in terms of the design, to get that done, there’s a few different — I had to change the shape of the trainer a bit and then add obviously, there’s full [inaudible 00:12:11] swing through the slot to hit the ball. And if you hit either [inaudible 00:12:16] too far from the inside or the outside and you go swing, the path is too much left to right. So I had to add sort of a different angle post to the driver because the driver and the longer clubs are in a flatter plane and might be at 45, 50 degrees whereas the [inaudible 00:12:34] might be 62. So I have added a few polls and Chinese [ph] to shape and I’m not getting too much into the running of patent which I did as well. I’ve provisional patent application.
Yeah, I followed that in all the golf playing nations and the number for around the world. So, yeah, if I go out and make it in Africa to sell this thing, pretty much it comes from the copycat’s end. I’ve had the perception of being copied; I wish I’ve got a patent. And if I want to go to another company to sort of use existing distribution channel, a platform, that a company that’s doing World Golf Company, still might want to take on. So that’s about where I’m at.
Mike: Got you. Okay, cool. So with that background in mind, let’s kind of turn the tables and let you ask some questions that you might have, and things we can do to maybe help you out here.
Anthony: Yeah, okay. Well, yeah, so we got the products, we got the products in — this is the products based on the data from Jungle Scout and I use [inaudible 00:14:06] these days, so it has changed a bit. The copycats came in and they were sort of, they windowed that price down competing with the brand name because I think they sound the same thing. And now just adding a little bit instead of the four basic poles you need to use the training bay, one added another two, so an extra of one. So, obviously, people gravitate towards that. And they bought the price down to sort of 60, $65 and I could see that Amazon — and this is the other thing. The other thing that’s a big point is Amazon sold the products not the brand. It says amazon.com not by the brand.
Mike: That could just mean that they are on vendor central or something now, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s Amazon necessarily competing directly in that space.
Anthony: No, it’s not – okay it says other brand and then it says shipped [overlapping 00:15:12].
Mike: Shipped and sold by Amazon, but that could just mean that the brand is selling to Amazon through vendor Central. And it’s not necessarily Amazon directly buying it, like them going — because they have a different team that goes out and buys it and you can’t differentiate that. But yeah, I mean, it sounds like it could be a bit of a problem.
Anthony: So that had Brand Registry on Amazon. So that’s a bit annoying. You only have sort of five, six photos in the description. So hopefully that will change a few things when that comes up. What do you say on that, it might go from sort of, without brand registry to a product with brand registry all things being equal, that would give you a bit of a bump, wouldn’t it?
Mike: Yeah, I mean, we’ve definitely had a lot of success with enhanced brand content. Being in Brand Registry allows you to add video to your listing, and video content does incredibly well. So you lose one of the images that you have but you get the video which is pretty awesome. Without Brand Registry you can do it by adding it as a short video, but it’s not nearly as impactful because a lot of people don’t know to look down there for that versus it being at the very top and being part of the main image gallery. And then in addition to that, you also get access to additional content down below with more imagery and a couple of templates. And it’s definitely made a pretty big impact for us. I mean, we’ve seen — it’s interesting, some listings that doesn’t do as much as others but overall it’s been a very noticeable difference when we’ve added enhanced brand content.
Anthony: Yeah definitely. I think also, my product, if I could compare it to the — I’ve been sending all my list to my website to then click through to Amazon. I begin to see that it’s such a strong argument about videos everywhere. I’ve got sort of pictures, [inaudible 00:17:12] and even just doing at eBay, just on eBay for the first time to see happen, I’m going through the same process of similar people there to buy something and get a few reviews and just see that platform with a bit of feedback. But eBay, you can put in like I don’t know, you can put in like 10, 12 photos and I can put a sales page in there. It just sort of seems like I can use that sort of — that sounds mission speed up, so hopefully on Amazon we can do that.
So yeah, I guess broadly speaking, right down it says, three things I’m dealing with that in mind one is how do I make to get the advertising cranked up on Amazon? Can I make it work? And then can I make it work against a brand name that’s sort of I’m not having any luck in bidding on their keywords for the brand of the specific model? Amazon was semi no traffic even after going for like $4 [inaudible 00:18:18]. So I’m left with the keywords of swing trainer, go swing trainer. That’s what it is. And I’ve actually did start every time, I did have a couple of sales a day, then I did $5 which is good and then sort of just pitted out a bit and I was spending quite a bit sort of a person came right up and the clicks were sort of up just under $2.
So it’s very hard to make that work if I want to sort of, I want to be at it in 15 bucks let’s say for an ACOS really if I’m selling an ideal product. Amazon takes $20, it cost me 36 to make it and ship it and get it to the states in the warehouse, so anything more than sort of $15 sort of it’s not going to work. So yeah, that’s the Amazon, that’s the deal making this work and I don’t know too much about the giveaways and promotions. It’s obviously absurd to promote to my people to get some reviews and then I crank up the advertising. I don’t know what other strategies there are there. That is the one, and the distance hustle. This might grow over time, and with the Brand Registry, that’ll help as well I’m thinking.
And then the other idea is just because of the product, and I’ve got that it’s solid and it’s got these patent pending things. And I can go either to a golf company that has a distribution and I’ve researched a couple on — a few on Amazon that sort of probably the size of say your company and employee, quite a few people in America to sort of 6, 10 million dollar companies. And they got sort of hundreds of reviews, five star reviews, they’re doing a really good job on Amazon, maybe to get with them or to actually get straight to the brand name who sort of copied but improved upon their product, and say, hey guys, this is it. And your product is much better, it’s all ready to go and sort of use their distribution because they are on Amazon, obviously, they have about 12 a day of sales.
But they’ve also got their website and they’ve got hundreds of players, PGA Tour pros are endorsing the products, they have a training end not so much more but my style of product. And then they distribute through a lot of I think retailers and they have a whole style part of their website we can buy. So they do a lot of wholesale. And I have been in the backend there and so checking out how much a certain product is if you buy 30 or 150, or 100. And they [inaudible 00:21:18] with the pros, the pro golfers and then those pro golfers sort of using their training and they also sell them to their golfers. So that’s something that’s, I can’t do that online and for Australia and I’m going to have all those connections.
And so they have that stuff set up, and if they can they can agree that yeah, this is a better product and they can sort of maybe supersede the other one or add it as a little higher value product, that’s going to be — they’ve got the brand and distribution of the sort of the patent pending products, pretty reasonable opportunity there maybe, because they’ve got Amazon or got these other companies that have distributions happening.
Mike: So I think, to kind of answer that question, the first thing you do is ask yourself that question, right? Are you more interested in being the entrepreneur that takes a brand all the way yourself or would you like to be in the back seat and let someone else do most of that and just collect the check?
Anthony: I think, perhaps I maybe do both?
Mike: Yeah, I think it’s tough to do both. I think the reason being is like in the early going, it might seem like a good idea, because you have this wide open lane to do what you want to do and then you ham up the other part of them. But as you continue to grow, at some point, your interests crossover. You might want to start getting as you get to bigger and bigger company with the brand you’re building want to get into distribution but you would be locked out from that. You’re going to be competing against another brand that’s already out there in the marketplace with a different name that’s really your technology. So you could definitely do it. I mean, there’s definitely no question.
But I would think that you’d be better off in the long run, picking one or the other, and not trying to do both. Because again, I mean, look at the life cycle, but let’s just say, like, you’re doing this on your own. This new product, it’s a patented product, it’s a training product, you’re going to start out small. You’re going to start by just running some Facebook ads, and having that go to your website. And maybe you expand the web to Amazon or vice versa in that regard. But the next natural step is retail and those types of things for that product as it gets bigger. And you’re kind of locking yourself out from doing that, because most of these licensing agreements would preclude you from being able to compete against them in that channel, I would think.
And so at some point, you probably would regret it. And I think that you’re probably better off going the licensing route, where you just say, hey, like, you guys go off and make this product and pay me the royalty and you now can go off and do something else with your life that isn’t going to eventually end up in a conflict of interest situation or be like, you know what, I want to do this on my own. I’m at a point where in my career, I have some e-commerce experience, I have this leg up with my golf blog, this is a product that I really know and I really have a lot of passion in, and I want to make this like the next eight figure product, just this one skill.
And if you think that it has the potential to do that, you’re probably better off playing that long run game yourself, in my opinion, if that’s what you want to do. But I think it’s one of the other. I think that eventually by trying to have your cake and eat it too, that usually doesn’t work out real well in most aspects of life. One of the other things I’d be thinking about, like when trying to decide which way to go here, I mean, it sounds like you have the technical chops to do this, you’ve done it before, you know how to do e-commerce, you know how to do Google ads, Facebook ads, get the thing listed on Amazon. One of the things I’d be thinking about though is the cash that this takes.
The journey that you’re potentially about to embark on of the stress of trying to create an eight figure brand out of one skill, I mean, you’re going to be constantly up against, like, I don’t have enough money to fill orders or to continue to grow at the pace that I want. And that’s probably one of the things that really is awesome about licensing because you’re working with a company that’s on a scale that we just can’t even comprehend where they basically have a bottomless pit of money when it comes to funding waters and producing inventory. They already have a logistics in place.
Anthony: Yeah and it is also let’s say, where does the money go from, let’s say I’m selling and I go okay, I’m making 20 bucks 20, $25 profit per unit from an $85 product, advertising and physical cost there, $25 in [inaudible 00:26:17] they’re really low 25 to 30. And on the other side you go with the brand and you’ve lost such a product there, let’s say you’re doing you know, you’re getting $10 per unit because obviously they’re taking a cake in there and they got others into it. But I guess we’ve been [inaudible 00:26:35] from a difference between 25 and 10 is I’m paying for the advertising people, I’m paying for the other relationships the 20s, I’m paying for all that sort of stuff and sort of outsourcing.
So we’re like a team in a way where money is paying for that as opposed to going my own route and potentially getting a higher margin, but then I’m sort of I have to create all those extra bits that I have to add to my team. I guess you’re buying a team, aren’t you really in that licensing; you’re buying a team with that less profit per unit.
Mike: I think you’re dead on with that, you’re definitely buying that. I would say though — and I’m not trying to sway you one way or the other here by the way, I’m just trying to play devil’s advocate through this stuff and let you think through some of these things. So I would say the other thing you’re buying for that money is an insurance policy because now you don’t have a bunch of money tied up in inventory, someone else is taking on that burden. You’re not having to take risk of dealing with cash flow and lending.
Our big issue right now is — especially United States is sales tax like having to deal with the infrastructure of how to deal with all that, that’s someone else’s problem, with logistics and having to deal with manufacturing and constantly being there every step of the way with QC, with getting the stuff in the container, with quality fade and all these different types of things that inevitably happen through manufacturing. And I think that you’re buying – nothing, all you’re paying for is freedom.
I mean it’s hard to visualize that now because you’re at the stage of should I do this or not? But as someone that’s been doing e-commerce for five years and I’m having to live, breathe and eat, drink, and sleep e-commerce 24/7, if someone else was running this entire thing and all I had to do was get off my butt and stop drinking my pina colada and go pick up the check out of the mailbox, that’s a totally different world, right?
Anthony: Yeah, that’s right. And I’m also being a little bit at a loss circumstances in those businesses that I ran, and sort of I had a promise there and you made sort of the automated sales that came from automatic follow ups. And it’s a beautiful thing that this is the online golf business that they’re coming from that is I made mistakes. So I’ve sort of I haven’t really got the home run. This one, maybe they might pay, instead of maybe working my ass off and making 150, 200 grand profit a year in a couple of years time, and I set something up with them and they might pay me 50 grand a year for nothing.
And then we’ve got 50 exact 50, it’s like a passive income stream. You’d have to make, I don’t know a million or $2 million to get that $50,000 a year in interest in that five or 7% or whatever. And then you’ve got your 50 and then you go off and do whatever. I can go do my golf website and still run ads to that and do whatever and make a similar amount working a few hours a day, golf, traveling, all that sort of stuff.
Mike: So one thing you haven’t mentioned here yet though and the reason that I kind of like this path for you over someone like me better because like I mean, I’m the guy that will go make the store and do it all myself because I love that and thrive on that. But the thing that that you have over me in this case, I mean you have a personal interest and passion in golf, so you’re into something that you just know inside and out that leads you to a place where you can create another item that you can patent. And you could do this same thing over again. So maybe the thing that you’re good at is embedding these items that you can get IP protection on.
Anthony: Yeah and I think people, it’s not like when I’m on some Uber [inaudible 00:30:49]. It’s just that that’s what I know. I actually didn’t go for training, the professional golf traineeship, the three year thing and I was four games away. I had to pay 40 games per year to play every Monday back in the mid to late 90s. You work 40 hours a week in the shop, you do your — it’s an exam, you run the golf training and traineeship works apprenticeship. And I was four games away and I got sick with [inaudible 00:31:28]. I got sick, glandular fever that hit, down for a couple months. And so I found that I actually — and then I went to travel and came back and then I didn’t pass my repeat in. And so I’m not a PGA member.
And then from that, I’ve sort of stayed in the personal training and then still playing and actually improving my game better than what it was, and now I’m even more better. So that’s what I know. I opened a golf website that had sort of got you get a customer success stories page, and there’s people that have done really and I was just sort of trying. I uploaded on what I do, and then that would help them with their games. And I’d sort of send out these 15, 20, 30 emails, like auto responders after they purchase, you work with tips. And so this is sort of, yeah, it’s an asset there. So, what I’m saying is I know that game, so I can see the — getting back to the point of it.
But getting back to that, that’s why I say it’s what I know. We all know a few things about little subjects, and that’s what I know, so I can say something and work on it. And yeah, I can make it better there. So it’s just what — we all know about stuff, you just have to sort of maximize what you know there, isn’t it? And fill that a lot with the business opportunity. Obviously, I think five, six years ago, we wouldn’t have been talking about licensing. I just used to offer myself, and so my ego was in trouble.
So now, I’m thinking, I’m over 40 years old and I’m sort of, I think I see things a bit more balanced. I can see, I’m not going to look for — I’m not sort of, I don’t have wet dreams thinking about this girlfriend. What I found is I went in to Amazon looking for a business opportunity. And obviously, I gravitate towards what I know, what I have knowledge on to make it half interesting, and that’s what I’ve sort of maxed out, that’s what I went with, so yeah.
Mike: But you’re in a unique situation, because you’re not quite the PGA level member and that guy is not going to be playing in this space because they’re focused on their PGA career. But I mean, the book Outliers talks about doing 10,000 hours in something to become an expert to become good at it. And you’ve done that. And so there’s very few people that have done that in golf recreationally. So you’re in this lane where you probably have more expertise than you realize. And you’ve been able to create something here because you’re just so connected to this thing.
And I think you could probably repeat that. I mean, the reality is if you spent the next year focusing on that next thing that you can patent and get the IP, develop another widget that doubles your footprint, you’re probably going to be better at that than trying to conquer the 30 disciplines that you need for e-commerce plus come up with all the cash that’s going to be necessary to fill that.
Anthony: And buying like a subway, buying on buying a team with that, the cut and the margin that I gave up buying, because I’m going to do it myself, just doing it and get a high, and instead of you’ve got skews and sort of a broad cross section. I can do better pay as they say, and I’m probably the best at sort of the sales and the copyright because I’ve got the passion to the product and I know the product. Again, it gets back to what you know. If you know your subject, your copy is different from them all, your emotion and you look at my videos, and the video is just solid because I know what I’m talking about even though I am a newbie, but the content is hey, this guy knows, he’s neat.
So yeah, I guess you’re buying that that team. But yeah, look, I was researching this brand and thinking about this expert. I was researching that brand, and the actual, the guy that sort of come up with this product, he didn’t patent that because this concept was around a few years ago. But it wasn’t marketed and packaged up as work that they’ve done. It’s a very light product that doesn’t really work. But that guy that runs that is in sales and maybe the head of Microsoft, but probably similar to me is golf sort of nearly sort of two level type guy. And he actually got 30 products. And what’s really happening is he invented them all. If not, he sort of made them this.
So he’s taking that sort of that point that you raised, that [inaudible 00:36:23] might be getting the products and making a really good, building better features into the product to distinguish it and then linking up with a distribution like a company that’s doing it in the space or gun marketers like yourself or something to sort of take it and go with it and support them maybe with new VA content of me using the product and me talking about the product or something like that. But yeah, if you look at it in a [inaudible 00:36:59] that’s what he’s done it in a big SEO and he’s been doing for 20 years. So that’s the route he’s taking.
Mike: Yeah, and if you think about how long it’s taking you to become like the expert in golf, think about like having to invest the same number of hours into e-commerce and trying to like get over because I have, so I can look at from that perspective of yeah. So for me it’s like that’s what comes naturally, but I could never make the product that you had. And very few products are licensable like this so you have to have that intellectual property component to be able that because if it was a product that is from Alibaba and you try to take it to a company to do this, they would laugh at you because they could just go do it themselves and cut you out.
But you happen to be in a situation because of the intellectual property where they need you just as much as you want them and then you can — it’s very rare that I would say to someone to go this route, but I think that just my hunch just based on what would bring in the most dollars for you with the least amount of aggravation over the next few years, that that could be a better way for you to go
Anthony: Yeah, I mean that’s the way I’m planning and then yeah we considered – we’ve [inaudible 00:38:16] the next few days and read this stuff the bosses fingers and I’m reasonably good at negotiations and so we’re getting the most out of. But also sort of you got to look at the point of view though working out what is in it for them? How are they going to win? Go through the numbers. I know there’s 500 of these copycats thing, so let’s sell the company. They’re doing, Amazon they’re doing 400 mark let’s say and then they’ve got their website, they’re going to do a few hundred and there’s retail. So there might be 1,000 or 1500 sellers that are flooding around with one product.
So we can sort of work out the existing customer base. I know through launching my products and launching the same updated products, you can say all the same thing, we’re an upgraded version to your existing customer base and they will buy if you give them the right offer, add an extra bonuses and a lot of processes purchase before. So, set it up for what’s in it for them? How are their sales going to increase in terms of, it’s a better product, it might be tapping into another market I think like a better golfer as well because of the way this product is set up. And yeah, just set it up so they’re going to win. And then you obviously absolutely, you can do a lot as well so before I again sort of engage them.
Mike: Yeah, cool. So any other thoughts or concepts to run through, or questions you may have about all this?
Anthony: Yeah, to make the Amazon listing work, I’m having a bit of trouble to PPC, those keywords that the brand name is sort of known for. I was actually writing this morning, I’ve actually put that into my title in Amazon. I see some of the copycat is going to do anyway [inaudible 00:40:20] but no one seems to be the brand name. I think I got the brand name just for Brand Registry and I knew that they’re enforcing it, and it’s not sort of like — it’s not super well known.
Mike: I think the keywords are no pun intended here, key for you are going to be the things that describe the product. Like if someone didn’t know the brand name, such and such a golfing aid, or trainer, I don’t know exactly what the product does but golf training aid. I mean, these are — I’m looking at the searches now. I mean, these are relatively high search terms. I mean, 15,000 may not sound like a lot, but the conversion rate on Amazon could be like 40%. So you could sell a ton of something like, I would be going after terms like golf swing trainer, golf swing training aid, making sure that those terms are in your back end keywords, making sure that’s in your title.
I don’t have the Amazon listing in front of me here, but doing things to illustrate how easy and simple it is to use this product and making sure that one of the images says that this is the original, patented version. Don’t be fooled by gimmicks or knockoffs, or whatever, putting that thought and people’s head right. I mean, I will put that on one of the images. So it’s like, yeah, yeah, and just kind of making sure people fully understand why it’s better as well. Like you said, you can use irons and woods. So making sure that’s one of the images.
And if you were to show me your listing before we have this conversation, now I understand the product more, but if you were just to show me the listing and told me, you got 30 seconds to look at this, then you had to close your computer and then read back to me or regurgitate back to me what the product does and why it’s better, does your listing accomplish that because that’s about all the time that you get someone in your listing, it’s like 30 seconds or less. So you got to be thinking about how can the imagery capture somebody that quickly, convince them that quickly? And if you don’t feel like your imagery and your title, because people will read the title, but very rarely will they actually read the bullet points. Does that get the job done? And if the answer is no, then you have room for improvement.
Anthony: In terms of [inaudible 00:42:53] it’s a bit soft only because of the Amazon Terms of Service. Like I can’t – if you get on my website, then it’s a bit harder, I do like I put up the two in comparison and it is like a bullet points yes, yes, no, no and you can sort of see it. But I mean, you can put that on – you can maybe do a light version in Amazon.
Mike: Yeah, we absolutely do that. We just put either the word other or competition. We make a table. So it’s like our version with our brand name, and a table of like, check, check, check, check and then x, x, x, x, or whatever.
Anthony: And it is one of your images?
Mike: One of the images.
Anthony: It’s just an image there.
Mike: it’s just one of the images that are there, not the main image, you can’t do that with the main image but you can do this with any of the secondary images. And it works. I mean, because for the products that we’re selling, and this is especially true in like, with actually well, a lot of our products really. I was like trying to think of one of our brands over another but a lot of our products are better – I mean that’s what we do, that’s like what we specialize is making them better and in some way than the competition. So we want to like really highlight that.
And if you do it with a chart where like you you’re checking off six out of seven things and the other brand only checks off one, you have irons and your check that off but the other brand is an x and then you do woods but the other brand does wood, so that’s a check for them. And then you have like patented, original patented design, yours is a check, there’s an x. You can just think of all the things. I mean, look at other brands that are out there. They’re all pushing the envelope on this and you want to make sure that your main image is on a white background, it uses up most of those space, that it’s you know, that’s against…
Anthony: [Inaudible 00:44:38] a little bit.
Anthony: Okay, I will put there.
Mike: I mean the worst thing that they’ve ever done in this case with this is remove the image. They don’t have of course the listing or suspend your account or anything for something like this.
Anthony: Yeah, so when I got in that advertising, I had [inaudible 00:44:57] setting over to sales and that was only after about 30 clicks on it, that was really exciting and getting 15, 20 sales to my PayPal before, okay, this in like one day as well. And then we had nothing sort of spinning, I was on 110 spend for two products with 170, so obviously that doesn’t work. The click was sort of up around net dollar, so it’s a lot. And I just shoot it back there for a couple of days. I’m trying going again with a couple of times putting the actual brand name in the product description and just sort of re-digging the ripe grapes a bit. So what is on that volume, what do you recommend that sort of getting 50 clicks to — $100, is that expensive or it depends on your conversion I guess.
Mike: Yeah, I mean 50 clicks for 100 bucks, that’s easy math, I can do on the fly here, it is $2 a click. That’s on the higher end of what I’ve seen but not astronomical, we don’t really sell $100 product. So the click rate is going to be — the price per click is going to be a little bit higher for you. I would worry about the conversion rate. You’re selling one in 50, that’s really low conversion rate for Amazon. I mean, you’re going to want to see at least 10% conversion to have a chance of competing. So, I think that’s something’s just still fundamentally wrong with the listing.
And you’d be surprised; we talked about this before in Under the Hood. It’s interesting how often this comes up. We’ve got whole initiatives within our company goals for half a dozen employees that are working on nothing but this quarter after quarter, just improving, iteratively improving listings because you’d be surprised at how much of a difference this stuff can make. And it sounds like you haven’t made a compelling enough story to make someone buy your $80 widget versus the competitors’ $80 widget.
Anthony: Yeah, I could probably get a bit edgy on the photos; maybe take a few of the ones on the website. And I’ve got a video I did. Actually it is us versus them, I sort of lay into it. So this is really good, it’s a good product, it has been great reviews. But this is how we might get up. And so cool, but I just I wish I could put it on there.
Mike: You’ll never be able to get that on Amazon. Like when you get Brand Registry, then you can add video, the video can’t be that, they won’t…
Anthony: More of a inspirational bit of music.
Mike: Right, it’s about your product. It has to be factual. It can’t say that it’s like the best; it can’t say that’s on sale. Or you could talk about the features or functionality, the fact that it has patents, the quality of it. You mentioned people love it away. You can’t — I don’t think you’re allowed to mention the review ranking and things like this. There’s a whole list of things you’re allowed and not allowed to do with those videos. And yeah, so you definitely would never get away with doing an us versus them video on Amazon.
Anthony: Yeah, it’s not — we say – yeah improve the photos. And then like I said, the Brand Registry I think is going to have a nice big poster that I could put some banners and more sort of pictures and stuff.
Mike: Yeah, I mean, so Amazon is looking at conversion rate for everything, add to cart and conversion rates are the biggest reasons you rank. So if you are driving traffic to your listing, and it’s not converting, it becomes very difficult to get PPC to work because they won’t even show PPC ads in that environment because they want to run, they’d rather show someone else’s PPC ad at a lower cost per click, but then get the sale because it’s all about views to sale ratio in everything they do, and they want to show the most relevant stuff. So you’re going to have a hard time even getting visibility without making some changes, even with PPC no matter how much you bid. So I think that just take a step back and work on those fundamentals. And even though it might not seem like it’s going to make that much of a difference, I can tell you from experience what it will.
Anthony: Yeah, it’s a little a lot of volume as well intended clicks to get it real good because you can make two or three sales in a lot of 50 clicks. And then you can make none in the next, you can make three in one hour because I’ve already ran 100 clicks in that first 30, 40 clicks I got a couple of sales. It took a while, that wasn’t sending much traffic. I didn’t have much luck with the automatic setting; they sent me a few days, like six clicks and then nine clicks I got once. I was sending that volume, I was just sending them in my first initial sort of campaign and that’s been running, but I just sent no volume. So I had to sort of get a whole lot of keywords on manual, put them in there. I’ve done some exact and some broad and sort of got more traffic that way then doing the automatic stuff in my situation.
Mike: Yeah, I mean, so I’ve had situations where I’ve even bid manually on a keyword and not been able to get traffic because it’s not converting, so that can definitely happen.
Anthony: Yeah, maybe I just got a lot to implement.
Mike: Like I said, the 10,000 hours of knowledge and training to get to that point.
Anthony: Yeah exactly, that’s a good point.
Mike: Cool, all right. Well, I think I’m going to skip out of here. It’s late on a Friday afternoon. And I’d like to go for a hike after work. So I’m going to do that before the sun goes down because it’s our last couple days before daylight savings time.
And that’s a wrap folks. I hope you guys enjoyed the 209th episode of the EcomCrew podcast. That’s going to do it for this week. This is a reminder always go to EcomCrew.com slash the episode number to get to the show notes. So this is 209, EcomCrew.com/209. I want to thank you guys as always for supporting the EcomCrew Podcast. If you have a minute, head over to iTunes, leave us a review. We love reading those even the one star ones, we love all the feedback we get. It makes us a better podcast. We read every single one of those and appreciate your comments. All right guys, that’s going to do it for this episode. And until the next one, happy selling and we’ll talk to you soon.
Michael started his first business when he was 18 and is a serial entrepreneur. He got his start in the online world way back in 2004 as an affiliate marketer. From there he grew as an SEO expert and has transitioned into ecommerce, running several sites that bring in a total of 7-figures of revenue each year.