#205 – Facebook’s Marketplace, an Amazon Selling Flight Attendant, Selling on eBay and the Maldives Honeymoon
Do you feel like you spend most of your time playing catch up? For an entrepreneur working in e-commerce, there’s never enough of your attention to go around. If you add a family, friends, and the occasional leisure activity on top of that, it’s easy to see why some of the best content out there in the Amazon ecosystem might go unread, listened to or watched.
Today on the Serious Sellers Podcast, Helium 10’s Director of Training and Chief Brand Evangelist, Bradley Sutton offers you the best way to do some serious catching up on last month’s most popular topics.
In this episode you’ll learn about a way to take advantage of Facebook’s Marketplace to add cash to your bottom line as well as how to sell open-box Amazon returns on eBay. There are also conventional PR tips that are perfectly applicable to the TikTok and Instagram era that we’re in.
Finally, after listening to this episode, you’ll understand more about a product launch strategy that was so powerful that the only way Bradley could do it justice was to fly 60 hours to unveil it in an appropriately extravagant fashion.
In episode 205 of the Serious Sellers Podcast, Bradley presents the latest Best of Everything:
- 02:45 – Taking Advantage of the Facebook Marketplace
- 04:20 – A Flight Attendant Achieves Soaring Amazon Sales
- 06:30 – Mentorship Helped Give Direction
- 07:45 – Playing Defense on Amazon
- 09:00 – Selling Returned Open-Box Amazon Items on eBay
- 10:00 – Building Equity through Customer Service
- 12:15 – How to Know When You’re Ready for a PR Firm
- 15:00 – What is the Strategy Behind the Maldives Honeymoon?
- 16:45 – Targeting Single Keywords in the Title
- 20:00 – Preparing for the Chinese New Year
- 23:00 – Sending Gifts and Building Relationships
Enjoy this episode? Be sure to check out our previous episodes for even more content to propel you to Amazon FBA Seller success! And don’t forget to “Like” our Facebook page and subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Google Play or wherever you listen to our podcast.
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Bradley Sutton: On today’s best of episode, we’ve got snippets that have strategies about Facebook marketplace, PR tips for the TikTok era, a story about a flight attendant who’s crushing it on Amazon, a product launch strategy, Chinese New Year strategy and more. How cool is that? Pretty cool, I think.
Bradley Sutton: Hello everybody, and welcome to another episode of the Serious Sellers Podcast by Helium 10. I am your host Bradley Sutton and this is the show that we are giving you the best of the last couple of months. So, what we do every few weeks is we give you some snippets from some of your favorite episodes, and also some things that you might have missed from our Helium 10 blog and also the AM/PM Podcast, and some other content pieces that we have here at Helium 10. Now, the first episode that I want to talk about, I’m going to give you guys some clips from is a Serious Sellers Podcast that was entitled Facebook Marketplace Strategies, and More from This Dynamic E-Commerce Teaching Couple. And in that episode, we were talking about how an Amazon selling family has made use of a cool Amazon Facebook marketplace strategy. Now, as you know, the e-commerce system that we’re in, or ecosystem I should say is made up of many different communities. Now here’s a few ideas from this couple on how you can use your network of friends and acquaintances to come up with money to start your Amazon FBA business.
Chelsey: Another like way, if that feels a little bit too stretching is just going on Facebook. We’ve told people in our community to do this during that challenge week is posting on your Facebook and saying like, what would you pay somebody a hundred dollars to do right now today? Or $500 to do right now today. And you’d be surprised by people around you that are willing to pay you like a hundred dollars, whether it’s like, Oh, fold my laundry, paint my like, fence. Just be thinking of things. What are you already doing right now? So, if you’re a stay-at-home mom and you do meal planning for your family, or you are really good at math and are able to tutor a couple students extra over Zoom, like going and putting that out there. And that I feel like as an easy way to build a little bit of cashflow or capital right now that can go towards your FBA fee. Another thing is like, look around your house. There are so many things probably that are sitting in people’s homes right now that could be sold to also build up that cashflow.
Bradley Sutton: Here’s a way that Amazon sellers can take advantage of Facebook’s aggressive promotion of their own marketplace.
Stephen: We have a crazy strategy that people are doing right now. So this is just a reward for people who listen all the way to the end of the podcast. You get the gold at the end here. So, we in our community, we’ve been doing this crazy thing, which is drop shipping Amazon products on Facebook marketplace. So Facebook marketplace is such a hot market right now that Facebook is actually really promoting, actually offering free shipping right now for a lot of products and really encouraging people to sell more than just the stuff around their house on Facebook marketplace. So we had a guy come into our mastermind group who trained us on this. And, basically what we do is you find hot sellers on actually, you can go on your Facebook marketplace like app, like the Facebook app. You can click on your profile and look at, they have this little insights tab. It’s not as advanced as Helium 10, but they will tell you categories that are hot sellers in your area. And so we look at those things and then we go to Amazon, find hot selling products there, and then just list them on Facebook marketplace for a slight markup. And the results of this have been crazy. We actually taught this two months ago and I just made a post in the group to say like, Hey, how much have you honestly made profit on Facebook marketplace in the last pretty much a month and a half. And the numbers were like 1000, 2000, 3,000, 5,000 7,500. And the highest one we had was $8,500 in profit, which is insane. Just leveraging a resource of Amazon and Facebook marketplace.
Bradley Sutton: Next up is a blog post from one of our Helium 10’s own writers, entitled seller spotlight. Former Flight Attendant Takes Off with Six Figures on Amazon in Her First Year. And this detail’s a conversation between that Amazon seller and our brand evangelist. Karyn Thomas. Now for many beginning Amazon sellers, the first year involves battling through obstacles as they learn the ropes. So in this recording, from that conversation, Karyn asks Christina about what kept her going.
Christina: I made a really big commitment to myself that I wouldn’t quit because typically, you start these little adventures and then it gets hard or you have a setback and many people just decide to give up, but with this, there was something different. And I just made a really strong decision that no matter what happened, I was going to keep going. So, and I still feel that way today. I still feel like there’s lots of challenge in Amazon and things are very dynamic and changing, but no matter what happens, it’s just, you just have to keep taking small pieces of action. I’ve always been driven when I like something I tend to go all in. So, yes. But I also have lived a lot of my adult life in fear. And so I think that there’s some self-limiting things that I had to kind of get over. But once I started and I realized that I actually could do this, I think it just gets a little bit easier the more you keep moving forward,
Bradley Sutton: It’s hard to plan for everything. Here’s what Christina says about her first year in e-commerce.
Christina: Coming up November will be the year mark. And I still just have this one product. Scaling this product has been a challenge. It’s not necessarily a cheap product. And when I first started, there are certain things I didn’t, I really wasn’t aware that to scale a brand to this capacity do need a little bit of capital. And I really didn’t start. I started with $3,000. So, that has been a unique challenge of its own. So I still have one product. The goal is in early 2021 to get a second. So, I don’t want to be a singular brand forever.
Bradley Sutton: On Amazon as with a lot of other businesses, it’s sometimes helpful to have a mentor.
Christina: I relied on PPC. The first two weeks ran a bunch of, the manual campaigns to collect the data and then kind of streamline my PPC campaigns after that. And that was at the time where I really decided that I needed mentorship because the PPC aspect of the business was so important and I was having a hard time grasping it. So that’s when I found somebody to kind of work with. I’m actually a freelance copywriter. I’ve always written and done some blogging here or there, but not necessarily to this capacity. And I realized with some mentorship, obviously I work heavily with the Amazon mentor, as I said. With her encouragement, I decided to open a little freelance writing business. And so I focus on Amazon listing creation as well as blogging and a little bit of media content, I guess. So, yeah, it’s been great. I love the creative aspect of writing. Like I’ve really realized as an individual that the creativity is where I excel.
Bradley Sutton: Now in this next story from a Serious Sellers Podcast, titled These Strategies Have Helped Two Elite Sellers Generate Millions of dollars on Amazon. Two different e-commerce sellers. Huy and Ankit, part of 10’s Elite members group offer tips on what their experience has been and how they each found their way to Amazon. Now, when it comes to making money in e-commerce, it’s necessary to go out and aggressively pursue success. But at the same time, you can’t forget about playing defense as well.
Huy: We’re selling on Amazon US or amazon.com. We’re selling in the UK Germany. We’re also– we dabbled in Amazon China when that was still around, but that was a pretty epic fail for Amazon in general. And in addition to Amazon, we’re also selling on Walmart and now we’re also selling on eBay. We’ve taken a look at eBay, not because we wanted to sell there necessarily, but it was more for brand protection. A lot of people take our product. And as I mentioned, everyone was selling on eBay. And so we do sell them the health supplements and beauty category. So there’s– it’s a very competitive category. That’s obviously very popular. And there’s a lot of competitors, but one of the things that’s really important in marketing health supplements is– so that you don’t get in trouble as a brand. And also for you to protect your brand is, you can’t make certain health claims and you need to control your marketing.
Bradley Sutton: Many times, you need to know how to manage challenges and sometimes how to make lemonade out of sour limits. Here’s one technique for dealing with the returns that are sometimes a part of selling on Amazon.
Ankit: ebay is also a big one. Big success for me on eBay was selling an open-box items because eBay’s mainly known for people to buy like a lower price. So they had that customer group of people who are always looking for a deal. And what we did is we significantly lower the price because in Amazon, our return is significant, I return monthly cost to somewhere between 30,000 to 40,000, since I’m in a electronics category. So, I mean, what are you going to do with that return? Right?
Bradley Sutton: One reason why Amazon’s FBA selling model is so popular is the fact that Amazon will do almost everything for you, including helping with customer service. But here’s a good reason why you don’t want to automatically leave everything to Amazon.
Huy: I think ultimately at the end of the day, focus on building a better business. So that means a business that’s not just a focus on Amazon, a business that can capitalize on the other marketplaces and moving to where your customers are. Just building customer equity. And that’s not always in terms of just sales, but you want to build out a community loyalty and ultimately provide the best customer service that you can. I think that’s one area that people lack or don’t think about is they think that just let Amazon handle the customer service, but you need to be extremely proactive. Go out there, respond to every review, respond to every feedback, follow up with your customers and just provide outstanding customer service. And then you’ll see more reviews because of that.
Bradley Sutton: Next up is an AM/PM Podcast episode, entitled Public Relations and Marketing During the Age of TikTok, a PR Pro Offers Tips. In it, Tim Jordan interviews, Megan Bennett, a public relations pro with 18 years of experience. Megan speaks about the importance of traditional media channels and how publicists can help bridge the gap between the story and the consumers. How does the traditional public relations business deal with the fact that we’re now in a world that revolves around TikTok and Instagram?
Megan Bennett: It’s totally evolved. When I started, I used to smile and dial. I grabbed like I print out a list of stuff from this huge binder of media contacts. And I get on the phone and pitch something and sorry, not interested and just get rejected, rejected, rejected. Then I’d have to take notes. I had like 15 binders of notes that I would take. And then everything went digital and email, and then it started to be pitching via email. And I had to start calling and start clicking on the emails. And that’s what it is now. It’s me reaching out via email things have evolved. More things are integrated. It used to be in a TV segment, which you still can get into TV segments. Like on the Today Show, that’s not paid for it’s you pitching the brand, but a lot of segments now we’re integrated where you pay a lifestyle expert. That’s going to go on and talk about your brand. So, that’s something that’s different, but what is still the same is getting those top media outlets to cover you. I’ll give you an example. And it’s now more digital than print. Everybody wanted to be in people magazine. Well now being on people.com is just as good as being in the print edition because people are looking at their phones. They’re looking at their tablets. Digital is where it’s at.
Bradley Sutton: So many entrepreneurs are used to working alone. How do you know when you might be ready for a PR firm?
Megan Bennett: You’re ready to start, or we’re ready to promote, or if you’re ready to self-promote, you got to make sure that first of all, you have got samples available. You cannot promote or start doing stuff unless you want to tease a brand. But with the media, we can’t send anything until you have physical samples that you can get into your hands. You’re a jewelry line. Like you can send a sample and then have a return envelope if it’s too expensive to send back, but you have got to have something to get into their hands. Number two, you have to have really good assets, high res photos, beautiful white background images, because the digital print, they all want to see beautiful photos that sometimes they don’t have time to take their own. And so they just pop them right into the story. You’ve got to have, if you’re going to hire a PR firm, you’ve got to have a budget at least for three months, I would say because that’s how long it takes to really start to see the press coverage and the placements come in. You need to have a method of getting the samples to the media. And most of the brands we work with, they have a distribution house. And like most importantly, you’ve got to have a stellar website that has information about the brand, Q and A. You need to have, if you have like an expert that you could put there, a story behind the brand and about us. And that is what is really going to drive people to look and get more product information about your brand.
Bradley Sutton: Now, we recently had a milestone episode here on the podcast. Our 200th edition. Now what I did was I actually traveled 30 hours each way for a 24 hour stay, just to record this podcast, which was entitled The Latest Amazon Product Launch Strategy, a Maldives Honeymoon, but this long trip, wasn’t just about celebrating the 200th episode. I traveled all that way because I’ve been working on a very special product launch strategy. And I want to go somewhere extravagant to record the episode. Now, if you Google extravagant honeymoons, what are the first things that pops up is the pristine nation of the islands in the Indian ocean called the Maldives. But what’s all this talk about honeymoons when it comes to selling on Amazon. One of the most important moments is the period just after the initial product launch. And it’s commonly referred to as the honeymoon period. And now there’s a lot of talk in e-commerce communities, just about how much extra juice Amazon gives to brand new products. Now, of course, it’s an Amazon’s best interest that products and sellers are successful, right? That’s why they seem to give new agents a little extra ranking push. And sometimes even in addition to the normal honeymoon push, all right, now, one of those ways that you can get that extra Maldives honeymoon push is by waiting until the moment that my Amazon product is ready to go live in order to create that listing.
Bradley Sutton: To me, this is the main, one of the main keys of the Maldives honeymoon is all of these case studies I did, or most of them, what I did was I did not create the listing when it was being manufactured. So I can put the FN SKU on the first shipment. No, I had everything manufactured with no sticker and sent to me in California. And then basically what I did on all of these, including the Project X one, was I created the listing the day that I was ready to go live. So I created the listing just to get my FN SKU stickers that I put on my, that are in my warehouse. And then we sent it that day. But then I also turned the fulfilled by merchant listing on that day and started getting sales the next day on the search find buy campaigns and organic and PPC. I was actually getting sales too. But to me that’s like a key factor of my theory of the Maldives honeymoon, is I am like starting. I mean, these listings are literally created and within hours, maximum 24 hours they’re getting their first sale.
Bradley Sutton: We all know how important keywords are in our listings. The Maldives honeymoon method shows the power of a single keyword when it’s used cleverly.
Bradley Sutton: About a month and a half ago. I’m like, you know what? I’m pretty confident here that I kind of have a lot of the formula down. I don’t have like exact numbers, but let me try an all-out test on this one project, another Project 5k product that I was going to launch from scratch. And let’s see what kind of results when I kind of put all of the things that worked on these, all these things I’ve been doing for the last year, right? So I launched a keyword for just one. This is crazy guys for just one keyword. All right, this is the main keyword for this product. Main keyword for this product. Imagine if it was a coffin shelf, which has not been a keyword, would’ve been coffin shelf. So I was like, I’m not going to do one search find buy on any other keywords except this one. And I’m going to go a little bit heavier on it. All right. Now this keyword at the time had 4,500 searches about. All right. So I sent 20 units over six days, 20 minutes over six days. They still well, well under what the CPR number says that you would probably have to give away. Well, well under that, all right, but it’s kind of almost overkill if you compare it to those numbers I was doing before. Right. But my theory was, I’m just going to go all in on this one keyword that’s right part of my title. And I had, there was one other competitor that had this product and I analyzed very carefully the keywords that they were performing well, and their main keyword obviously was his main keyword as well. So I’m like, okay, if I really show Amazon that I’m crushing it with this keyword. And I have these other keywords in my title as well. Then Amazon definitely is going to maybe give me the benefit of the doubt based on their analysis of the only other competitor out there and their performance. So that was my theory going in. All right. So 4,300 to 4,500 search volume. I gave 20 over six days, I went from position 100 when I barely launched, I already was on position 100, two page one, position one, even beating the main guy within three days of my launch, page one position one. Now here’s the thing, these other keywords, I started getting some activity. All right. One of the keywords, nobody had it in the title. All right. So check this out again. Title to me was important. So I was like, okay, this keyword, I’m going to put this keyword in my title. I’m not going to target it. And guys, check this out. This keyword does not share even a one keyword with that main keyword. I did. So imagine if we’re talking about a coffin shelf, it would have been like Gothic decor, like completely unrelated as far as not sharing any similar keywords. So, but I put it in the title and nobody else had that keyword in the title. I don’t know why, but at the time nobody had the keyword in the title, but this was a keyword that had 1500 searches a month, 1500 searches a month. Now let me just preface this. I did not have it in the title from day one. There was one word missing. I was index for all of it. So I was actually page one position 40 before I put it to the title. So like two of the words were in the title. Okay. So check this out on the eighth of– what month was this? This is the 8th of September. I think it was the 8th of September. I was like, wow, I didn’t do anything on this keyword. I got to page one position 40. What if I just add that one missing keyword, which was already my bullet points, but I’m going to add it to the title so that now it’s in phrase form. All right, now it’s in phrase form in my title, this keyword with 1500 searches. Within two days, I went from position 42, page one, position one without even one search find buy.
Bradley Sutton: Finally, since we have new year, right around the corner, we’re going to finish with a blog post by Kian entitled Five Things All Amazon Sellers Should Do To Prepare for the Chinese New Year. In it, he discusses common mistakes Amazon sellers run into before the Chinese new year. I’m going to go ahead and read to you these snippets of this blog, because it’s super, super important. As you guys start planning out your January and February and March supply chain.
Bradley Sutton: If you are sourcing products from China, there is one big holiday you need to be aware of and plan around Chinese new year. It’s a really fun time of year. If you’re Chinese, since it’s your longest holiday, but if you’re into sourcing and production for Amazon, then it can be a very challenging time. The purpose of this blog is to help you best navigate through that. To give you a quick background on Chinese new year, it’s a different date every year as they follow the lunar calendar, the upcoming new year date will fall on February 12th, 2021. And this year will be the Year of the Ox. The 2020 Chinese new year was January 25th, which is why you need to check each year as they can be quite different in relation to when your factories will be off of work and your production inevitably comes to a screeching halt. Here are the top five things sellers need to stay ahead of leading up to the Chinese New Year. The first thing you should do is email your contact at the factory and ask them two questions. Number one, when is the office closing for Chinese New Year? And number two, when is the factory closing for Chinese New Year? The two dates are different as the office is only likely to be closed for seven to 10 days as they are quite often local workers from the city. However, Chinese new year is a largest people migration event in the world with over 100 million people traveling across the holiday period for their Chinese New Year holiday, it is common for factory workers should take between three and four weeks off or a holiday. This means that no goods can be produced during that time. Number two, avoid this time to produce. If you can. Now, I don’t want me to be negative, but whenever I have had quality issues with an order, it doesn’t happen often. It happens on goods which have been produced right before the Chinese New Year. This is purely because workers are excited and in a rush to go back home. So the sooner they can finish their orders, the sooner they can go home as a result, they rush their orders and can sometimes take shortcuts. Number three, double check freight forwarders capacity and pricing as a result of the increased volume of orders going out just before Chinese new year shipping companies experience an increase in demand for transport containers because freight forwarders pricing is dictated by supply available cargo space on shipping vessels and demand. Number of containers being booked for shipment. This is typically the most expensive time of the year to ship goods.
Bradley Sutton: Number four, send a gift to your supplier for Chinese New Year. If you would like to send a gift, regardless if they send you one, I would suggest sending something that resembles your hometown, for example, a t-shirt from your local sports team, or perhaps your town is famous for hot sauce or local tea, and has some merchandise drift like that. These kinds of gifts are all greatly appreciated as they resemble where you’re from. It has meaning to you and to your supplier. Number five, give a forecast of your orders based on all of the above info, the best way to prevent potential quality problems, delayed orders, higher costs and inflated shipping prices is to plan ahead and give your supplier a forecast of your orders at the start of the year, depending on if your items are seasonal, you may want to give your supplier a forecast order at the start of 2021. It’s not a commitment, but a forecast. If you’ve been doing business with your supplier for at least one year, then they know if your forecast is accurate. If so, they will be inclined to support you based on that good relationship you’ve built and book your production slots for the year so that your items will be manufactured in those designated times, therefore avoiding the Chinese New Year’s rush.
Bradley Sutton: Well, there you have it guys this concludes the best of episodes. So remember, if you have missed any of these pieces of content, number one, the Serious Sellers Podcast, whatever you’re listening to this on. Go ahead and just search back at some of the recent episodes and you’ll be able to catch up. Now, if you like the AM/PM Podcast episode that we talked about, you can go find those episodes at ampmpodcast.com, or you can just type into whatever podcast device that you’re listening on AM/PM Podcast. And you’ll find the complete library of those episodes. For other blogs, such as this one that I just read about the Chinese new year. You can find those at helium10.com/blog. Well, guys, we hope you enjoyed this and found some benefit there. I can’t wait to give you guys even more strategy in the coming weeks. We’re going to have just one episode this week. Normally we have one on Saturday as well, but this week we’re just doing one for Tuesday and next week as well for the last episode of the year will just be a Tuesday episode. So, we’re going to be back to two episodes a week starting in January 2021. Anyways, guys, I’ll see you in the next episode.