E255: The Secret to Building a Long-Term, Sustainable Ecommerce Business with Scott Voelker of The Amazing SellerJune in Ecom-Crew-Podcast
Today we’re joined by Scott Voelker of The Amazing Seller podcast. Scotty’s not just a personal friend but a comrade-in-arms in a number of ecommerce projects, the most recent being season one of the 5 Minute Pitch along with Steve Chou and Greg Mercer.
Scott and I have many similarities when it comes to our background and how we’ve grown our respective ecommerce businesses. So, after hearing his presentation on ecommerce business sustainability at this year’s Sellers Summit, I got him on the show solo.
Not everything works forever
Ecommerce is a dynamic industry. It’s constantly evolving according to the latest market trends and who’s dominating it (big “bad” Amazon).
Strategies that may have worked will lose their edge eventually. As Scott puts it, “Things that worked yesterday may not necessarily work today”. Innovation and a good understanding of the market are crucial for being successful long-term.
Grab their attention
“Attention is the new currency.”
Speaking of marketplaces, what we’ve found that does work is capturing the market’s attention. How do you that? By being genuine and bringing something valuable to the table. After you’ve identified a target market, you’ll need to create a plan that grabs and sustains their attention. This usually involves putting out content in some form or another.
But offering valuable content is only half of the picture. You also need to establish that trust with your audience. Do so by proving your expertise in the subject and your willingness to guide people who may not experts themselves, but are working towards getting on that level.
Tune in to the full podcast episode for more insights on how you and your brand can navigate the changing tides of ecommerce and remain relevant in the years to come. And check out the resources section of this page for more information on an ecommerce event Scotty’s putting together in September.
We have a book and we’re giving it away for FREE. If you want a physical copy of our tried-and-tested Amazon launch strategy complete with examples and screenshots, get yours here.
Want to get advice from Mike and have your business featured on the podcast? Sign up for the EcomCrew Roadshow today!
Join season two of the 5 MInute Pitch by filling out and submitting the application form.
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.
If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below. Happy selling!
Full Audio Transcript
Intro: This is Mike and welcome to Episode number 255 of the EcomCrew Podcast. So glad to have you guys along with us today. Today, I have a special treat for you guys. And honestly, it’s not just a special treat for you guys; it was a special treat for me. One of my good friends in the industry, Scott Voelker, finally came on to do a one on one podcast with me. And we wanted to save it for something that was profound, and I think we have that today. There’s an unfortunate set of circumstances out there in the information providing arena. I think it’s not just in that, I think I see it in politics too, which is most interesting and only keep that in mind.
And so what ends up happening out there is you get people that are just talking about a bunch of crap or they’re doing well with one thing and they want to hold on to that and continue to talk about the same thing. But one thing that I’ve tried to work really hard on here with EcomCrew is not to do that to keep it very real, to constantly talk about new things no matter how much it’s in our best interest or not. We never think about things in that way. And Scott Voelker is the same way.
And one of the things that came up at Seller’s Summit was his presentation talking about how the industry is changing. And this isn’t a situation where tomorrow you’re going to wake up and find that your Amazon e-commerce business just is not worth anything. But I do think that over time, just like I always talk about with Who Moved My Cheese, which is one of my favorite books, the cheese is moving, there’s cheese to be found elsewhere, maybe bigger and better blocks of cheese. And if you aren’t constantly thinking about how things are changing and you just keep doing the same thing because it’s been working and get complacent, you might wake up one morning and find that there’s no cheese there any longer. And I definitely think that’s the case here.
So that’s the crux of what we talk about here today. And a lot of it comes down to creating an audience, creating attention and leveraging that for your e-commerce business. Now before getting into the interview, I do want to mention that Scott Voelker is running his own conference called Brand Accelerator Live that is going to be in Fort Worth, Texas this September. I encourage you to go to Brandacceleratorlive.com and check this out. It’s going to be a great event. It’s a great time of year to go. I’m always preaching about how meeting people and consuming knowledge and taking time to get out of your business so you can just clear your head and learn new things is really important.
And Scott is going to put together an amazing event. There are some amazing speakers coming. I don’t say that just because I’m going to be speaking there, but because there’s a lot of really amazing people coming there that I’m personally looking forward to meeting and spending time with and I cannot wait for the event. So go over to Brand Accelerator Live, grab your tickets today before the price goes up. And besides that, let’s get into this conversation with Scott Voelker from The Amazing Seller.
Mike: Scott, my friend, welcome to the EcomCrew Podcast.
Scott: What’s up, man? How are you doing?
Mike: I’m doing awesome. And I was actually looking back in our library of shows where we’re way less than you were like 250 and I realized that you’ve never been on this thing solo which is kind of crazy.
Scott: Yeah, I haven’t, have I? I thought I was but no, you’re right. I was supposed to be or something and then…
Mike: Yeah, we had talked about at one point and it never materialized. And we’ve done some collaboration stuff with Steve and Greg, but I don’t think that you’ve ever been on here one on one.
Scott: Yeah, well I just would have thought that you would have tried a little harder to get me.
Mike: It’s always my fault.
Scott: Because Mike you’ve referred to me as Steve too many times.
Mike: I did. I got it right today, though. I know it’s crazy.
Scott: You probably wrote it down.
Mike: Yeah. For those of you out there that are listening that must be under a rock that don’t either listen to our podcast now because I’m always talking about you Scott, I always call you Scotty. So Scotty, I always talk about you because of 5 Minute Pitch and just everything else. We’ve become pretty good friends. I always look forward to our time together. But for those of you maybe that might be new to my podcast and have never heard of you, just take a minute to talk about who you are and what your podcast is. I mean, you’ve done some amazing stuff and you have like the number one podcast and e-commerce.
Scott: I don’t know about the number one but it’s up there. And it was one of those things that I just wanted to kind of document the journey and I’ve been on this journey for a long time as you have and you and myself have traded stories. And it’s just interesting how you start at one place, and then you kind of get led to another and then you get led to another and I think that’s the entrepreneurial bug, or you know what I mean? It’s like, we’re always kind of chasing that thing because it’s exciting. It’s fun. But yeah, I mean, just a little bit about me. I’m someone that right out of high school, I never went to college. And you and I had that in common I think.
I was raised by my father as far as what am I going to do when I get out of school? He came from a farming family, so it was kind of like you’re going out and getting a job. That’s what you’re going to do. So that’s basically what I did. And then from there, I worked for him as a construction worker, learned how to really run a brick and mortar business at a young age, thought I was going to own it. And then from there, he ended up — him and his partner had a falling out after about 18 years, and I had seen the writing on the wall and I’m like what, I’m not going to own this business so I better think of something else.
And I was young, I had a new baby at the time who’s 23 now. But then my wife and I decided to go into photography and create a photography business. And that’s what we did. We started a brick and mortar in photography, didn’t know anything about it, self-taught, and built that into a six figure business that treated us well for about, I’d say, about eight to 10 years. And that led me to the online game where I started to really learn about digital marketing, and then also the online space by dabbling with eBay and stuff like that.
And that’s how I got introduced to digital products and in the e-commerce world, back when eBay was alive and well, which is still is but it’s kind of where I cut my teeth there. And then that kind of led me to Amazon because I was like, well, you know what, yeah, if I can send stuff in, I don’t have to fulfill it, I’m in. So that’s where I discovered FBA and started a podcast kind of documenting that journey. And the rest is kind of history, but that’s kind of it in a nutshell.
Mike: Yeah, and like you said, we have very similar backgrounds. Every time we spend time together, we realize like how we’re like two peas in a pod. And it’s one of those things I think that we’re very much again, two peas in a pod with is, I think that you and I would get by in any environment. You like, drop us off in the middle of nowhere with no money and we’d always find a way because I think we’re both scrappy, we’re hustlers, we work hard and adapt to things.
And I think that it’s a perfect segue into the main thing that we want to talk about today because you talked about this as your main presentation at Sellers Summit, which is the thing that really inspired me to want to have you come on the show like right now and talk about, because I think we’re at this crossroads where things are changing again. The way that we have learned how to make a living over the past five years is changing. And I think that if you continue on the same path that we’ve all been on moving forward, the window is going to start to close in and things are going to get harder. And eventually when the musical chair stops you may not have a chair any longer.
And that’s one of the things we want to talk about today is kind of like what we think the outlook of the future of e-commerce is in terms of building — I think this is the key — in terms of building a sustainable business. Something you can have a moat around that it’s protectable and it’s something that you’re not just looking to make money like today but to build something that you can be proud of, that has a long term value to it, that isn’t one of these things where you’re having to look at the forums or be on Facebook groups and having to think of the latest tip and trick and scheme and crazy thing every day, but actually building something that’s real, I guess it’s probably the best way to put it.
Scott: Yeah, that’s real. And I think like you said, things are changing. They’re always changing. I mean, you remember Mike like when Google right, it was the big thing to go out there and create these niche sites and then just run AdSense and people were making thousands of dollars per month and it was awesome. And it was like the Gold Rush, yay. And then all of a sudden, Google said, well, wait a minute, we see that people are kind of manipulating the search results. And they’re getting ranked, and they’re buying domains that are exact matches. Let’s fix that. Let’s give everybody a quick little slap across the face. And then people lost their businesses overnight. I don’t know if the story, but Joe Valley that happened to him, from Quiet Light.
Mike: I do know the story because I’ve been through the same thing. So him and I have talked about that over a beer when I was drinking. I had to have a shot I think, as I was having that conversation because it was definitely a painful day when I woke up and realized that our mid six figure business was wiped off the face of the earth.
Scott: Yeah, right. It’s crazy. And actually, my father has a similar story. He actually — this is kind of random, but I think it’s important for people to understand the things that we’re talking about. Things were working, but they’re not always going to work. But the principles are always kind of there. But my father, he was kind of seeing what I was doing with the online space. This is going back probably like six, seven years ago. And he got into the AdSense game. And he was basically taking like YouTube videos like Johnny Carson and like all these funny videos and he would just embed them on a Blogspot, like literally a Blogspot. And that’s just a free blog blogging platform. I’m not even sure if it’s still a thing.
And then he would put it there and he put AdSense on it. Well, those videos and they were just random. I mean, you can embed those videos, nothing illegal about it. And he was getting — they were getting shared. I think he started sharing with his navy buddies and stuff and they started to get some traction. They started getting like 300 to 400 people per second on the actual page like thousands, right? He was doing like $20,000 a month on AdSense. You know how hard it is on AdSense and we’re not talking like insurance or like high tickets, we’re talking like a funny comical video that’s getting virally shared.
And it wasn’t just one, he had multiple ones 20k like a month just coming in, coming in and I said to him, I said dad, just enjoy when you can, this is not a business. And he’s retired. So sure enough that day came. And they literally — he had about $22,000 in his account ready to be dispersed and they held it and they said, sorry, we’re not going to disperse it because you’re putting AdSense on a commercial video. Well, it was embedded, nothing in terms of service really, I mean, maybe the fine print but anyway, it went away. So, made some good money while it lasted, but gone immediately, like traffic source gone.
Well, actually, the traffic was there. He just couldn’t monetize it with AdSense. He tried doing ClickBank and stuff to try to get it back, but nothing was the same. So anyway, my point is this, things that worked yesterday don’t necessarily mean they’re going to work today. But the thing that has worked over and over and over again for me, and I think you as well is if you identify a market, a market that’s out there searching for content, that’s searching for things that they want to buy or things that they need, and you build up either content or just attention in that market, you can monetize down the line. I mean, that’s what I’ve done with the podcast, is what you’ve done with the podcast. It’s the same exact thing.
And I’ve done that numerous times out of just going out there, finding the market, establishing how to get in front of the market with useful content, building an email list, communicating with them getting to know, like and trust me, and then offering what they need on the back end. That is like it in simplest form. Still works, worked 10 years ago, still works today.
Mike: I mean, attention has always been money. You think about, you just said 10 years ago, I think of, let’s look at old media. You have just television, you got the more eyeballs you have looking at the screen, the more you can command for ads. The more cars that pass by the billboard on the highway, the more you can charge for the billboard. And what’s happening over the last 10 years is more and more stuff is coming online, more eyeballs are going away from television and going towards digital content, more eyeballs are leaving newspapers and magazines and going to micro influencers of people like us that build an attention.
So I think that we’re all positioned for the future that if you can build these types of sites that this is really where things are going and that they’ve already been going this direction. We’ve been working on some stuff ourselves, as you said, between our respective podcasts. We actually have been doing this with Tactical.com where you did an episode about this a while back. We’ll link to it in the show notes about building attention and turning that into e-commerce. But you had a couple of really great examples of some specifics that people were doing that. I think that people in the audience were like, holy crap, but we don’t curse on this show, but I think they were using the S word, just like wait a second here, maybe I’m not in the best position moving forward.
And as you said, just because it was working yesterday doesn’t mean it’s going to work tomorrow. And look at Amazon; I’m happy with how things have gone with us grandmas. I mean, there was a time where things were so easy, I can launch anything and be successful pre 2016. And now things are way different. And you look at just the trend of where things are going. You have Chinese companies descending into the marketplace. Wherever there’s money, there’s always going to be dirty tactics, you have a lot more black hat stuff happening, negative SEO, fake reviews, upvoting negative reviews, people paying Amazon employees to do things to sabotage you. It’s not just things you have to do for yourself and stay in your lane, but things are happening that are — I see stuff like this at the NDS [ph] group all the time happening.
And it’s scary, and I think that you can just kind of keep your head down and hope that Amazon is going to fix this for you and everything’s going to be okay. I think its kind of silly and I think that there’s still plenty of time. It’s still a great marketplace on Amazon. And this isn’t like one of these things where you should stop what you’re doing today but to start thinking about how you can best position yourself over the next 12 to 36 months to be in a much better spot. And that’s kind of what you were talking about in your presentation, which I thought was just dead on.
Scott: Yeah, well, and to kind of highlight some of those that I shared, because I feel that there’s a lot of people out there right now that have been content creators, bloggers, if you will, right, bloggers, people are like is blogging still a thing? It’s still a thing, okay. And there’s people still getting tons of traffic. And with that traffic now, what they’re able to do is before, all they were looking at was their affiliate commissions coming in from Amazon. They were like, oh, look at we sold $5,000 worth of these products.
Well, now what they’re able to do, because they’re smart, not all of them, but a lot of them and they’re like, what if I just launched my own product of that. I’m selling $500,000 in affiliate commissions of that product, what if I had that my — if that was my own product and I’m getting all the traffic. All I got to do now is switch out my own link to my own product. And again it can’t be like you’re talking about Nike products right. It’s about a generic garlic press. Let’s go back to the garlic press or the fishing rod right.
Let’s just say that that’s what we’re talking about right, and then all you’re doing now is switching out your link to your product in that article that you wrote two years ago, but that’s been getting all this traffic. That’s what this girl Alex from Travel Fashion Girl gets a million unique people to her website every single month, over 2 million impressions right. So she’s monetizing through AdThrive which is an ad network. She’s also getting affiliate commissions through various ones — sponsorships, I don’t know if she’s still running sponsorships. She had in the past, and then, now she’s launched her own product. Okay, actually, she’s done three now.
And the thing is in that space, travel space, it’s very competitive. If you look at that, you’d be like never, don’t do that because that’s going to be so competitive. You’re never going to make it on Amazon. Well, she launched it, she actually launched it on her Facebook Live and she let it run for like 10 days. She pre launched it without even putting any money out. She sold $17,000 of a product that wasn’t even made yet. And then she launched it, she’s never done Pay Per Click yet Mike, never done one Pay Per Click ad. And she launched it, went number one bestseller.
To this day, she still doesn’t to pay per click. Everything is through — if you search for packing cubes, you’re going to find her all right, and she is basically in search number one, she’s going to come up on a video on YouTube which has over 100,000 views on it now, right because she knows the content game. She knows it right? That is our new competition if all you’re doing is selling on Amazon and that was my presentation in a nutshell was like if you’re not one of those people right now, you need to become one of those people and start thinking about how can I get in front of the market and be a top resource in the market and just show up.
The other cool thing is if you’re able to monetize the audience or the attention through other sources, whether that’s affiliate links now, maybe you don’t sell kayak bass fishing boats, but you sell kayak bass fishing gear, well, you can sell the boat as an affiliate. Now all of a sudden, you get extra revenue coming in the door without you really competing against yourself. And that’s really what she’s done.
So that’s really what I was trying to get my point across in this presentation was, listen, you can go out there right now, even if you haven’t started, if you’re listening to this, you haven’t started because you’re afraid to pull the trigger on a product. Pause on the product for a minute, start building out the content, start building the attention, start building the list, start communicating with the market, then fill it in with products. To me, that’s the new way and that’s the way that will work.
Mike: Yeah, and I mean, like you said, this has been working for years. I mean, we were just doing in a different way back before e-commerce with our old affiliate sites. And I think that looking back at least in my history of the things that I’ve been involved in, the ones that were the most successful for me were things that I had a personal interest in. I think that it’s hard to fake it moving forward. I mean, for me to go make a fishing blog, and then you’ll get attention that way and eventually sell fishing products would be really difficult because I’m not really into fishing. So it’ll be really tough to write that content. I’m not a subject matter expert.
But everybody that’s listening is a subject matter expert in something. Everyone’s got an interest in something and I think that that’s really the place to start and that’s what I’ve been really focusing on moving forward. Some things I haven’t talked about on the podcast yet but what does my life look like moving forward and what do I feel like I’m a subject matter expert in and what can I do that will be effortless? And then what are the products that can be in that sphere.
And everyone’s got something, even me as a minimalist because I’m not really into a whole lot of things, there’s still things that I feel like I know more than the average person out there. And when someone that is making searches on YouTube or Google, they’re going to be like a neophyte in that thing, and then I can help them. And the same thing has been applied, as you said to e-commerce, and what we’ve done in the e-commerce space. If you were to go on your podcast and recommend a product or a service or whatever, you would sell a whole bunch of that because people trust you and know that you know what you’re talking about. And you have the audience and the attention to be able to move that needle in an ethical way to generate revenue. And the same thing can be done in this space with physical products without question.
Scott: Well, and I think also the other thing that a lot of people aren’t thinking when they’re in because may be someone got brought into this world of e-commerce with physical products, maybe it was the buzzer about Amazon and all of that, right? So they came in with this thing like I got to be someone that sells physical products, I need to be a physical product brand, but what about digital products? Why can’t you be a digital product creator as well? You know what I mean? That’s another source of revenue that if you can bring that into your business, now you can do a hybrid of the two.
And to me, that becomes even more diversified because now we’re not just relying on physical products, if you run out of inventory your whole business isn’t shut down, right. And yes, you could have multiple products, which you should, but that’s the other thing. So many people are thinking to themselves, I’m an e-commerce brand and that’s fine, but what about that other side of it? Like you said, there’s– in the bass fishing world, if that’s what your brand was, well, you can easily go out there and create content all day every day about that.
You can probably teach someone if you’re an expert at this or if you know someone that is how to win their next bass fishing tournament, the ultimate guide to or the video series on how to do this. I guarantee there’s products out there right now selling that. And again, it’s just another thing that people aren’t because they’re so closed minded on I need to only sell physical products. Do you see that yourself?
Mike: Oh, absolutely. And we’ve been in this — I mean we were doing it with ColorIt; we had a digital product we were selling. And I think that people get caught up in the whole like revenue being vanity and profits being sanity problem where everyone is always talking about oh, I’m a million dollar seller. That’s a lot more exciting than saying; I sold $100,000 in digital products. But the reality is, it’s the same thing because it’s 10% margins in e-commerce, yes. And selling $100,000 in digital products is literally the exact same thing with a lot less stress. And we definitely enjoyed that part of our business with ColorIt and something that we’re working towards doing for Tactical.
It’s the perfect kind of niche to be able to write content around tactical stuff and do digital courses and things like that around it and then also have a physical product tied to it. The problem for me that I’m facing is that I’m not a subject matter expert in that niche. I’m having to hire out for that which gets costly in the beginning. I mean, we’re capitalized enough to do it. But yeah, I mean for me, I look at diversification as a way to, just to sleep better at night. So if 25% of our revenue is coming from physical products and 25% from digital and 25% from ad revenue and 25% maybe from sponsorships, it may never obviously didn’t work out that perfect, but certainly a lot better than having all your eggs on an Amazon basket where they control the purse strings in every way, shape and form.
Scott: Yeah, and I think the other thing is having just multiple products, whether that’s digital or physical or bringing the two together. And that’s the other thing, I see a lot of people do like, they base their decision around a product, like a product and that’s all that they have not thinking to themselves, what are the other two or three things down the line that we’re going to need? Or what are the three things that we’re going to buy together? And you know this Mike. I mean, if you could sell to that same customer versus going out and finding a new customer, what would be easier?
Mike: Yeah, always the same customer.
Scott: Right. You talked about that in your presentation. You have a whole process for getting them either re-engaged or coming back or maybe they abandoned the cart and now you’re bringing up. It’s easier to sell it because if I’m in the store and I’m buying some fishing gear, you come up and go hey, there’s these other lures, you should probably try these out. I caught a whole bunch of fish last weekend, you should probably try, they’ll be like, okay, throw them in my cart. Like, I’m there and ready. So it just makes so much more sense.
And so many people are so one product focused, and not thinking about the second, third or fourth that would allow them to sell more and not have to really go out and find more product. Because again, Amazon is finding them for us, right? I mean, that’s what everyone is thinking right, they go on there and then they’ll just have floods of traffic which there is, don’t get me wrong. But like you said, if that’s all you’re doing, you’re at risk.
Mike: Yeah, and talking about Amazon and the flood of traffic, using that attention is always money thing again, and Amazon had the attention, not you right? Not all that says as e-commerce stores, Amazon want to have the attention. And it felt like we were the only child. And you first start selling in 2015 or 16 when we were getting involved in these particular niches in the products we’re selling, it felt like I was an only child, because I was really the only one selling it. Now I feel like I’m living in the Octuplet house right? It’s just like the attention is being divided versus thinking of it in a way of how you can get the attention. That’s your attention, that you own that attention.
I mean, we got to be realistic about who owns what in the Amazon game. And the reality is that we own nothing. I mean, on Amazon, there’s nothing that we actually own. I mean, they have the attention, they have the traffic, you are one of many people selling the same thing. So you mean less to Amazon at that point because they’re not losing sales if you aren’t a part of that game, and we’re just talking about a way where you can flip the conversation on its head to where you can have an unfair advantage again versus the way things are starting to pan out from here on out.
Scott: Yeah. And the other thing, I had a couple of people come up after the presentation and they were like, I felt like you were speaking to me because at the very end, I was talking about people like you or I, reaching out to an influencer in the space that has no idea about selling physical products or their own products in general. And then you reaching out to them with your knowledge of this and presenting either partnership or maybe we go in and we develop a product for you and for your brand.
And I had this one woman come up to me and she’s like, I felt like you were talking to me. I have the attention; I just don’t have the skill set to create the products to bring in. I can do affiliate outreach and links and stuff like that, ad revenue, but not the other side of it. There’s a huge opportunity there. But there’s a huge asset there that if you have the attention, you have so much control of being able to go out there and either have someone partner with or go out there and start serving products, whether it’s as an affiliate or as a partnership. So to me, the attention is the new currency I believe. It’s been but I think now it’s even more important.
Mike: I think it’s definitely more important because I guess I mean, if you look at trends, again, I was mentioning eyeballs on TV, more and more users are becoming eyeballs on streaming whether that be YouTube or other mediums, eyeballs on newspapers or magazines are turning into online readership. And I mean, not turning, they’ve already turned, it’s just going to continue to progress in that way. I mean, certainly things are just obvious about how the future is going to play out. It’s hard to predict the future but some things are also easy to predict.
If you could look at the percentage of sales of e-commerce, that’s not going to go down. I mean, people aren’t going to suddenly wake up one day and go, you know what, I really miss going to the mall, I want to go back to the mall and deal with the crowds and the crap versus the convenience of just ordering something off my phone and 1, 2, 3 it’s done. That train is not going to reverse; it is just going to continue. As the population changes, for the older people that are unfortunately going to die off that are always afraid to kind of, adopt new technology, well, the people that replaced them are going to grow up through this technology. And that’s the only way they’re ever going to want to shop.
So I mean, these are things that are just not going to change. People are getting more and more distracted and the attention spans are getting shorter and the micro sessions of watching things are becoming more and more popular. And that really bodes well to people who are influencers that are putting out content that are just more short snippet type stuff. And yeah, I don’t see those types of things changing. And this is one of these things where you’re still able to get in really, really early and then build the ultimate defensible business because this can never be taken away from you.
I mean, EcomCrew will never be taken away from me. The Amazing Seller, that’s you right? I mean, like that can never be taken away. You built there, the only way it can be taken away is by you screwing it up, by you doing something really trashy or dirty or slimy and people just like, they lose faith in you. But as long as you’re who you are and you stay true to your values which I know you’re an awesome guy which is why we’re friends, that will never be taken away from you. You will always have people that are following you and believing you and realizing that they can be inspired by you especially with like your take action stuff.
And that’s worth a lot, that’s worth a ton. And if you can do that in something that you like I said that you’re a subject matter expert now. I mean, for me, it’s things like tennis or scuba diving, these are things that I really enjoy doing, diet and stuff because I’m always trying to eat better even though I don’t stick to it as much as I like to, these are things I think that I’ve spent my 10,000 hours on doing. And everyone’s got something. I think for you it’s fishing or pressing garlic or something like that. But you got things that you’ve done; your photography business was another great example. And these are things where you can build an audience.
And the example that you were using, this lady has her 10,000 hours in traveling. I mean she’s an expert in traveling and people that don’t travel as much as her look up to her for answers and for advice to make their trip better. And now instead of sending that traffic off for the packing cubes because packing cubes definitely, I can tell you from personal experience make my trip better. I travel with nothing but a backpack now and packing cubes are a part of that.
And so she probably is teaching that and saying, hey, instead of buying random XYZ companies packing cube off Amazon, check out my new packing cube that is not only a great way to save space and organize your stuff while you’re traveling, but I’ve made improvements over all the other ones I’ve used over the years because I know what I can do to make it better. Go buy mine. And now she’s not going back for a packing cube on Amazon.
Scott: That’s the ultimate. It’s the ultimate, and the crazy thing is and you know how this is because you’ve done it. To launch a product, not use giveaways, review groups like back in the day, like none of that stuff. Everything has been organic through her audience, her doing a Facebook Live pre selling, and then having a rush of sales of her own, didn’t even hardly discount it. And from there, right out of the gate, no pay per click, hasn’t even run one ad because she’s afraid that if she turns on pay per click, she’ll run out of inventory even faster. So she’s like, I’m good right now, we’re just going to let the thousand that I ordered go and then I’m going to reorder and, and go.
And so that’s her thing now could she scale? Absolutely. But to her, it’s just another revenue stream that’s kind of just, kind of going, but just so effortless because the attention is there, right? And she’s doing a launch, you can put a banner ad up at the top of her website that gets a million uniques a month and say, hey, 30% off for this week only boom, she’s got automatic eyeballs, and it’s pretty powerful.
Mike: I mean, we’ve done it with ColorIt. We were able to and every product that we launched for 18 months was a new number one bestseller. No coupon. I mean, we did run PPC, but like none of the shady stuff. And then I can tell you again from personal experience, we talk about this on a podcast of how we were struggling mightily with the other brands because we don’t have that, and we’re still building that audience. And so it’s harder for us to sell tactical stuff because we don’t have the same community and audience that we built with ColorIt. So we’re just the same as everybody else out there in the sea of everyone else trying to sell the same widgets.
And it’s very difficult without that attention versus where we put more effort into building that attention. It was effortless. I mean, it really was just so much better launching products there was a lot more exciting and a lot less nerve wracking. And we were able to ultimately compete in niches that we had no business being in like gel pens. I mean, for crying out loud, we are in the first page or I think ColorIt still — we sold it on the first page for gel pens, which is one of the most competitive niches in all of Amazon. But yeah, we were able to break into that because we had that attention.
And this is something that we’ve been working on for a while but hadn’t — I mean, when you did the presentation just the way that you’ve said it specifically that attention is the new currency, I was like, that is why I want to get you on the podcast, because I think that that’s so eloquent and exactly in just so few words really spelling out the solution. I wouldn’t even call it the problem but the solution is attention is the currency. Currency equals money in your pocket, boom, done, like drop.
Scott: Yeah. Well, and you and I had a conversation at dinner and I’ve actually shared this conversation with some people, because here’s Mike Jackness who’s built multiple businesses and successful right. And you’re thinking to yourself, okay, Mike had a great presentation as well, very detailed, you’re very smart as far as like getting in there and just creating these funnels and creating these systems and all that stuff, right? You’re really, really good at it.
But we sit down at dinner, and we’re talking about a new venture for you possibly, and you’re saying the criteria for me is this. I got it. Number one, I got to enjoy it. I got to be into it. I can’t just be forcing myself to be there, to be into this brand. I want to be so into it, like effortless like you said. And you go and then create a blog or content on a website, publish maybe some YouTube who knows? And just document and then make some offers here and there if I see fit, and then we’ll just keep building the audience, build the email list, maybe Messenger. And then from there, we’ll just — we’ll backfill with some products when the time is right. That’s the strategy, right? Like, that’s it, it’s that simple.
Mike: It really is that simple.
Scott: You’re basically saying, you’re just going out there, you’re going to serve a market, you’re going to get attention for serving the market, period. That’s it, right?
Mike: The reality is that whatever niche we go into, based on things that I have that personal judgment, I mean, we’re going to do well. I know, we’re going to do well like I said. I know, because we’ve already done this for over a decade, and the people that we’re disrupting won’t see it coming. And everyone that’s listening to this, that’s going to be you if you don’t start thinking about this stuff yourself, and how you’re going to position yourself moving forward, because over time, there will be more and more Alex’s of the world — that was her name, right, Alex?
Scott: Yeah, Alex.
Mike: There’s going to be more of those coming up and you’ll never have a chance. I mean, how are you going to compete against that if you don’t have the attention yourself? Just throwing up a product on Amazon, even if it is better, it isn’t going to make a difference. It just won’t make a difference because you don’t have something, some way to move the needle. And that’s really the key.
Scott: Yeah, well, what would you say to someone that is like, well, it just takes too much time? If you put a product on Amazon, you do some research and you find a product that you can sell 10 or 20 a day and you can get it up there and you can rank it, maybe use a deal site or something and get it ranked and maybe run some pay per click. I can get it there and I can still see sales coming in even though you and I both know that they’re going to be probably either losing money, hopefully breaking even but probably losing money on the first shipment or two, because you’re going to be reinvesting in inventory and all that stuff. But what would you say to the person that says it just takes too long, doesn’t it, to build up that attention?
Mike: Yeah, but I mean that’s the defensibility part of it because most people give up too early. Then there isn’t really no such thing as easy money. Whenever there is, like I mean, I do think that Amazon really wasn’t easy money gain when I first got into it without doubt. But when I say there’s no such thing as easy money, because whenever there is something like that, the gap closes quickly because it’s easy. Everyone else can do it really, really easily. You’re not building a business, you’re just building a way to make money today, which I don’t prejudge anybody. In different parts of my life, I’ve had to think differently about that.
When I was 20 years old and I didn’t have two nickels to rub together literally, my way of thinking about the world and how I was going to approach business was completely different. I needed to eat that day. It’s a different world. I mean, I think that we come from the same boat. So I mean, I had to pay rent and I didn’t have anybody to give me anything. So I knew that there was no fallback plan, my fallback plan was me, selling an organ. So when you’re in that environment, you’re going to approach things a different way. And I don’t begrudge anybody listening for taking that approach. But if you’re in a position to take at least a part of your time and invest in your future, this is the type of stuff I would be doing.
And for me, I’m going to be switching by next year, by the end of this year and you and I talked a little bit about this at dinner. We have some things that we want to get ironed out in terms of our current business and not leave money on the table for what we have, because it’s doing really, really well. But moving forward in like 2020, basically 90% of my effort is going to go into this type of stuff. We’re working on building a business that’s sustainable for like a long term future rather than focusing on like how much I can make today because like, I know it will come. And that’s the hard leak. I mean, it was the hard leak that we made with ColorIt.
The presentation that you saw that we did where I talked about in 2018 we switched to doing all of our top funnel ads to be leads and not for sales. And that was a huge leap of faith. But I was able to make that leap of faith because in 2017, I had started tinkering around with the idea of lead ads and things of this idea of if you build, they will come kind of stuff where you just, you get people on your list and you start building relationship. And you’re not going to get as much out of them upfront, but you’re going to get more out of them long term. You’re going to build a better customer.
And so, it takes going through it sometimes before you really have a leap of faith to go and do it. I’ve had the luck to be able to be there when we’ve done this. I mean, we started in blogging and affiliate marketing, and then got into e-commerce. So I already know from previous experience what I can build there. And so for me, it’s just like you know what, I’m sick of playing this constant game of I just need to make money right now and the constant pressure and stress around trying to extract as much out of something that’s working right this minute while it’s lasting versus building something that is really sustainable for the long term.
And so that’s where we’re going. I mean, that’s what we’re going to be doing. And yeah, I mean, if you don’t have the time to do that, I would suggest taking even 5% of your time, 10% of your time, there’s always a little bit of time you can take to invest in this. Write one article a month, it doesn’t have to be a lot, but start building an audience around something that you know a lot about. So long term, you have the ability to do course revenue sales like you were saying to get ad revenue, and has something to send your traffic to for physical products because I do think that the physical products thing is an important component to it.
I think that that’s the part that I didn’t get before when I was just doing affiliate stuff. And again, everyone has something to do with that. And I get it, like if you are out there and you’re trying to make a living or leave your job right now or whatever, I don’t think that the Amazon stuff is over right now by any stretch of imagination. This is just more long term thinking. The old Wayne Gretzky, where’s the puck going not where is it now? And so I think that this is a multiyear thing that’s going to take time to develop. But if you can start now, by the time that window does shut completely on Amazon the way that we know it, you’re just in a better position.
Scott: Yeah. And again, it’s the long term, it’s the long game. And it doesn’t mean you can’t make money in the short term. I think there’s ways you can do it now quicker in amplifying the content and building the email list and letting the list know that you’ve just published and helping that with the algorithm. And there’s some things we can still do that are going to take less time to build the attention and the traffic and all of that stuff. But in the same breath, you are going to have to put in the work. Like you said, there’s nothing that’s there’s no work required, right? There’s always going to be work.
And just to kind of highlight that really quickly, I know that you’re probably going to want to wrap up here but I did want to just highlight that getting the attention has worked for me numerous times, whether that’s local business, brick and mortar, okay, we did it in our photography, business brick and mortar by basically doing photography sessions for like 50 bucks when we knew that we wanted to charge a lot more, but getting the word out there and then labeling all the back of our prints with our information, and then that presenting in referrals, and then us building out that network, spreading out the attention that we were the go to for the higher end at the time when we stopped.
We were I mean, people were paying us 1,000 to $3,000, not weddings, we’re talking family photography. And in our area, we were the top, but that’s because we built it up over time. I mean, we had outlook mail that we were building an email list sending blind copies because I didn’t know anything about auto responders back then. I mean, AWeber was just happening way back in the day, but I was still sending emails to like 500 past customers, and then I would sell out our sessions ahead of time, because we had the attention of they know like and trust, people liked our stuff. And then I was able to send them out a message saying hey, we’re going to be doing this for the holiday season coming up, make sure you get your spot before they’re gone. Boom, we would be booked in August for our Christmas sessions, no lie.
So the same thing works taking that same approach. Then taking it online, I was able to get attention by helping people with Photoshop which again I learned 10,000 hours type thing, again I learned it through a book not even YouTube and then taught myself, self-taught and then I started teaching other people online for free getting the attention. And then from there launching the course, that turning into my first ever we did like $12,000 in like two days of a launch from an email list of 1,000 people all because attention, got the trust of the market, and then gave them something that they wanted and that they needed, done, end of story. This stuff works Mike, you know it.
Mike: Yeah, no doubt. I mean, I can go through a similar history, but I think we’ve kind of convinced our — if we haven’t convinced you by now you’re not…
Scott: I think we hammered on it man, we hammered on this. It’s what people got to know out there.
Mike: So people are more interested in this because you have some stuff coming up going over these things and you also have an awesome conference coming up that I’m going to be coming to and speaking at which I’m looking forward to. So let’s talk about that stuff real quick. What’s the event you’re doing and if people want to find out more about what we were talking about today as well, how are they go find out about all this stuff?
Scott: Yeah, I’m glad you asked Mike. Well, we are having an event called Brand Accelerator Live. Again this is something else that I just kind of said, you know what, I’ve wanted to put out an event but I’m just not quite sure I want to do it now. But then I had some help being convinced by a now friend of mine. And yeah, so we’re putting out an event called Brand Accelerator Live. This will be yes, it will be catering towards e-commerce but it will also be merging the digital side of things and digital marketing and that’s really what I wanted out there is I wanted an event very similar like Sellers Summit is a great event for this. The same thing you and I both are friends of Steve’s and he has a great event, him and Toni have done a great job of that event.
So this is not to compete with that at all, but this is really is, Brand Accelerator is to take your brand right now currently and accelerate the growth. And if you’re not building out these, we call them these four pillars in PACE. There’s P-A-C and E, there’s preparation and foundation, there’s attention, there’s cultivation, and then there’s expansion. And those four pillars are what we’re going to be really driving deep into at this conference. It’s going to be in Fort Worth, Texas. It’s going to be in September, September 18 through the 20th. And yes, Mike will be there speaking.
And we’re really going to set this up that every single speaker is going to be talking about a specific aspect of PACE of where you’re going to actually go in and talk about how to get the attention, how to really cultivate the audience in a way that they get to know like and trust you, how to show up in front of your audience 12 months out of the year, versus when they’re just searching for something on Amazon. Really a lot of important topics we’re going to be talking about, there’s obviously going to be like-minded people there. So you get to network with people because we know the power in that. And yeah, and it’s just going to be pretty epic.
And there’s something else that I’m going to be revealing there, which I’ve been working on for eight months. I’m going to be revealing it at this event top secret, a little project here. And I’m going to be giving everyone access to it there live to all the attendees. So you know what that is Mike, but we’re not going to let the cat out of the bag, but it’s something that I’m working on and I’m really proud of. And I think it’s going to change a lot of people’s lives to be honest with you. So that’s Brand Accelerator Live, you can go check that out at Brandacceleratorlive.com for all the details. And yes, Mike will be there. Steve will be there. Greg will be there and a bunch of other speakers which haven’t been announced yet fully. So I’m super excited about the event Mike.
Mike: Yeah, I am too. I’m looking forward to hanging out with everybody. And like you said, if nothing else, the networking stuff is probably the most important. Every time I go to one of these things, it’s amazing the people that you meet and what comes out of that. And you can play connect the dots with so many things in your life, and I can play connect the dots even just in the short term with e-commerce too.
The first live event that I went to and the people that I met there and that leading to another, meeting another person, meeting another person and that being the thing that helped make me another million dollars in sales. It’s incredible, all these things you think back to and it’s all because of these in person relationships and coming there and taking time, getting out of your business for a couple of days and not just sitting behind the computer screen, talking to other people that have been through the same stuff that you can commiserate with.
And who are you going to talk about in your office about employee issues or about how Amazon is annoying and these types of things? No one really cares or understands it. But you come to an event like this Brand Accelerator Live and you’re around 100 other people that are going through the same things. And sometimes just venting about it to someone else that shakes their head in the right direction and understands can make you feel a lot better. I actually went through that in the mastermind that I held for Steve at Sellers Summit. There was a specific thing that came up and the person was like just hearing you say that you go through that too makes me feel like I’m not crazy. And sometimes you need that.
Scott: Good point yeah.
Mike: You feel like you’re the only one with that problem, but you’re not.
Scott: Yeah. And the other thing is too that I find is like you said, we all have been through courses. You’ve bought trainings, I’ve bought trainings, we have our own trainings, we understand the value in those things. But to be honest, whenever I go to an event, I kind of focus on just the event, right? I’m not going to be doing a course or like, if I’m doing a course I can do that maybe tonight I’ll get to it, or maybe tomorrow I’ll get to it, whatever. You’re at the event, you’ve paid money to get there, right? Travel, you’re staying in a hotel, you’ve paid for the event, you’re going to show up with your notepad, you’re going to be taking some serious notes. And if it’s a good event, you’ll walk out of there with an action plan, or at least some nuggets that you’re like these are the things I got to work on right now.
And that’s really the big thing for me that I’ve done and I really want to transfer that to other people because it’s so important that like you said, like-minded people, huge, the energy is up, everyone is excited. But then from there what do you do with it after the fact? And that’s really what I want people to do here is I want them to walk away with an action plan. So really excited about you being there, Steve and Greg, and like I said, I’ve got one person that’s going to be coming that I’m super excited about that I haven’t even announced yet. But by the time you listen to this it may be announced. So you can check all that information out on the page that I have set up for that. But yeah, man, I’m pumped. I’m really excited.
Mike: Awesome, Brand Accelerator Live. That’s a tongue twister, dot com. Go check it out Brandacceleratorlive.com. And I’ll see you in September my friend.
Scott: Yeah. Hey, I want to thank you once again. It’s always a pleasure and it’s always a pleasure hanging out in person. So I can’t wait to see you in September because we’ll be hanging out there in person, so thanks again Mike.
Mike: It sounds like a song I used to listen to back in the day.
Mike: I will try to sing it but I don’t want the audience feel like we…
Scott: Come on, we got to get Mike to sing it.
Mike: No, no. It will be horrible. All right chief.
Scott: Thanks, Mike.
Mike: All right guys, that is going to wrap up today’s episode. Again, thank you so much for hanging out with us today and supporting EcomCrew. It means a lot to Dave and I. Your comments never get old. I love hearing people in the halls of conferences and I love reading all the reviews on iTunes. It keeps me motivated to continue doing this. So if you do have a moment to send us a comment, whether it’s an email, or posting on iTunes a review, any of those types of things or just saying hi when you see me at one of these events, all that stuff does mean a lot. I really appreciate it.
So besides that guys again, just another reminder, Brand Accelerator Live, go check out that Brandacceleratorlive.com to check out Scott’s event coming up in September in Fort Worth, Texas. It’s going to be a blast. You won’t regret coming. And besides that, happy selling and we’ll talk to you soon.
Outro: Thanks for listening to the EcomCrew Podcast. Follow us on Facebook at Facebook.com/EcomCrew for weekly live recordings of the EcomCrew Podcast every Monday. And please, do us a favor, and leave an honest review on iTunes, it would really help us out. Again, thanks for listening, and until next week, happy selling.
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.