#243 – Product Launches with Google Ads, Selling Your Brand, and More – Casey Gauss
One of the most interesting aspects of the e-commerce selling community is how even though the ecosystem has become enormous, particularly in the last year, the number of people at the heart of it can feel quite small.
Today on the Serious Sellers Podcast, Helium 10’s Director of Training and Chief Evangelist, Bradley Sutton welcomes an e-commerce pioneer and former Amazon selling software competitor, Casey Gauss. He’s with Bradley today to talk about his rapid rise as an online-selling visionary, beginning with him coding his first software apps wearing socks on his hands to keep himself warm in an unheated apartment.
Fast forward a few years and he’s become one of the more respected people in the sphere, and has taken his Amazon business acumen to Thrasio, where he’s helping the company determine value, later assisting them in scaling up the Amazon businesses that they acquire.
Listen in to find out the latest on Google advertising, product split testing strategies, and how to make sure that your Amazon business is showing its best face to interested investors.
In episode 243 of the Serious Sellers Podcast, Bradley and Casey discuss:
- 03:38 – After an Entrepreneur Visits College, Now Casey’s Path is Clearer
- 05:57 – Coding with Gloves on His hands
- 07:06 – E-Commerce Conferences are a Great Meeting Ground
- 10:27 – Adding Software Tools to Help Sellers
- 11:16 – Comparing Notes on the Competition
- 12:47 – Changes to the Amazon Selling Model
- 14:31 – What is Does it Mean Now to Sell on Amazon?
- 18:33 – Casey’s Google Advertising Clinic
- 20:29 – External Paid Ads and Google PPC
- 25:14 – Thrasio Really Cares About Post Acquisition Performance
- 29:34 – How is Thrasio Leveraging Their Position?
- 32:00 – Identifying a Great Amazon Brand
- 38:51 – Casey – Split Test Your Products Before Launch
- 42:51 – Casey (and Thrasio) are Taking the High Road
- 44:21 – How to Contact Both Casey and Thrasio
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 Podcast or wherever you listen to our podcast.
Want to absolutely start crushing it on Amazon? Here are few carefully curated resources to get you started:
- Freedom Ticket: Taught by Amazon thought leader Kevin King, get A-Z Amazon strategies and techniques for establishing and solidifying your business.
- Ultimate Resource Guide: Discover the best tools and services to help you dominate on Amazon.
- Helium 10: 20+ software tools to boost your entire sales pipeline from product research to customer communication and Amazon refund automation. Make running a successful Amazon business easier with better data and insights. See what our customers have to say.
- Helium 10 Chrome Extension: Verify your Amazon product idea and validate how lucrative it can be with over a dozen data metrics and profitability estimation.
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Bradley Sutton: On today’s episode, we’ve got one of the most respected names in the Amazon game, Casey Gauss, who’s going to talk about strategies ranging from product launch to Google advertising, and split testing. He also has a cool origin story that includes how he coded his famous software with socks on his hands, because it was so cold. 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’s a completely BS-free unscripted and unrehearsed organic conversation about serious strategies for serious sellers of any level in the Amazon world. We’ve got one of the most serious sellers of all time. Casey Gauss in the house. Casey, how’s it going?
Casey: It is going well, Bradley. Thank you so much for having me.
Bradley Sutton: Cool. Cool. Thank you for coming on. Are you still in Indiana? Is it?
Casey: I am. Indianapolis for now. Getting a little tired of it, but yes.
Bradley Sutton: Okay. What’s the weather out there right now?
Casey: Right now? It is like 55 and sunny. I just got back from a walk, so it’s okay.
Bradley Sutton: Yeah. For us here in Southern California, 55 is we better put on our heavy jackets and stuff. That’s pretty cool. But for you guys, it’s the opposite. That’s t-shirt and shorts weather almost. Huh?
Casey: Almost. Yeah. Sweatshirt, some joggers and I was very comfortable.
Bradley Sutton: Cool. Now, were you born and raised there in Indiana?
Casey: I was born in Louisiana, but I was raised in Michigan.
Bradley Sutton: Okay. So, you’ve been in different places when you were growing up, obviously it’s like, what did you want to be when you grew up, I want to start a software company is not usually the thing, but like what– did you want to be a firefighter or astronaut? What did you think you’d be when you grew up?
Casey: The real questions. Yeah. I wanted to be both an astronaut and the president, but definitely an astronaut, like space has always kind of been my thing.
Bradley Sutton: Nice. I think there’s a period of time where that wasn’t really a hot thing. Like I’m assuming like sixties and seventies, when that was kind of a hot thing. But then for the last 20 years there hasn’t been much happening in space, but now all of a sudden, all these news things about Mars and rovers and going back to the moon, like, I bet you, there’s going to be a lot more people wanting to be an astronaut. That’s kind of cool. Now, when you graduated high school though, did you enter college right afterwards?
Casey: Yeah, I like, and I always had ideas and always wanted to be like an inventor. And so I think that’s pretty much stuck with me. I didn’t think it was very practical to get a job kind of in the astronomy world. And so I was kind of debating between engineering. That’s where my dad is and just like, I guess, business. And so, I was always interested in marketing because you got to be really creative and yeah. I mean, to be honest, like I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do. So business was general enough, so yeah, I went to college right after high school, ran track. I went to a small Christian college in Indiana. That’s how I ended up here.
Bradley Sutton: What event did you do in track?
Casey: Pole vault and 400 hurdles.
Bradley Sutton: That’s an interesting combo right there.
Casey: It is.
Bradley Sutton: Some people do long jump and then triple jump, or the four by 100 relay, then the 200, but when did the pivot happen where you’re like, man, this Amazon thing is a thing.
Casey: Yeah, it was this– so my freshman year of college, this entrepreneur came and spoke in my class and kind of introduced this concept of entrepreneurship. My dad is very kind and plays by the rules. Like it’s an engineer, you kind of like, just follow the progression. It’s been at the same company since he graduated college as an engineer still to this day. So yeah, this guy came, spoke in my class and was talking about all these like, just interesting novel ways that he was like making money in college. He bought a printing press, like a shirt press and was like making shirts and selling them out of his dorm room. He would like to get people interested in having a piece of pizza. And so he’d collect a dollar from 10 people, or eight people and then go buy a $5 pizza profit, two bucks and have a free slice of pizza. So like, it just got me going on ideas to make money. And so all my ideas were like app ideas, like who hasn’t had an idea for like, Oh, it’d be so cool if there was an app that did this. And so, I didn’t have any money, didn’t grow up with much money, so I didn’t have money to like hire someone to do it. So I just taught myself how to code, dropped out of college, building these like iOS apps and a friend of mine, his name’s Jordan Decker. He was selling on Amazon and he’s like, dude, like if you just throw up this website, we start collecting emails, we can start running giveaways and we could probably make like $10,000 a month. And you could use that to kind of like fund whatever else you’re interested in, and use this as a side hustle.
Bradley Sutton: What year are we talking about now?
Bradley Sutton: 2014. Okay. So like, what was your– how were you sustaining yourself? Did you have a nine to five or something at that time when you were having these talks?
Casey: Yeah. No. So, I just– I left college, moved back home, my younger brother, he was like, yeah, delivering pizzas. We moved to Indiana from Michigan to like going back to the college town. I had a girlfriend, now wife, at the time wanting to be around my friends. My brother wanted to get out of town essentially. So he was kind of like paying for stuff with this construction job. Like we really didn’t have any money. My girlfriend and now wife, she was like paying for stuff and it was part of the story is like I coded Viral Launch with socks on my hands. Because it was literally so cold and in the apartment that I couldn’t type– my hands, like literally couldn’t move and we couldn’t afford heat really. So I Google how to one when it’s cold and they suggested cutting holes on the end of some long kind of gym Nike socks. And yeah, it was, I called them hacker gloves, just wearing a winter coat, candlelight, hacker gloves.
Bradley Sutton: Cool. So, then you, did you start selling on Amazon yourself at all this time? Just to kind of like understand it or you just made the jump right to doing this software?
Casey: Yeah. Good question. It was pretty easy because I just focused on the software. I didn’t know anything about Amazon and my co-founder Jordan. He knew the Amazon stuff. He was like talking to kind of like initial customers and he was contributing like a lot of those initial ideas. And like, I never sold because especially back then, like the concern was that people were afraid to use viral launch because they’re like, Oh, you’re just going to see what products I’m selling and then you’re going to go sell that.
Bradley Sutton: I’m not sure if I ever told you, but did you know that you and I actually met, like, I want to say, it might’ve been like 2016, like you guys weren’t Viral Launch wasn’t that big yet, but I was just getting started as a consultant, but I had really wrapped up and it was in LA and I forgot what com, it was like one of — what did you say?
Bradley Sutton: That might’ve been it. Yeah. And then I recognize you. And at the time I was like, Oh yeah, I’m like Zonblast biggest customer. Like I do 10 things a day. And then like, I just introduced myself and you were like, trying to somewhat persuade me to come over to the Viral Launch side, but I was like, nah, I’m good. But we just had a talk. It was kind of like, after that, that you guys kind of like blew up because still at that time, people were mainly using ZonBlast for a lot of these launches and stuff, but it was– I always thought back to that. I was like, man, I met this guy, like before he made it really, really big.
Casey: That was the same event that I met Manny and Gui for the first time too.
Bradley Sutton: Oh, that’s crazy. I didn’t even know they were there. Like, I didn’t even know. I wasn’t using Helium 10 in those days. I actually found out about Helium 10 later when I was using some garbage keyword tracker from this company that ended up going out of business. But then I had asked somebody in one of the . . . actually it was the ZonBlast Facebook group. I was like, Hey, does anybody know a good keyword tracker? But that wasn’t until like 2017. I didn’t even know Manny and Gui were there. It’s crazy. Small world. So, as some people may or may not, Viral Launch started out as strictly a launch service, and you guys were really good at it. At what point were you just like surveying the landscape and you’re like, you know what I want to do more than just launches, there’s a need in the industry for some software solutions.
Casey: Good point. Like, it was pretty linear, like obvious, next step kind of thing. So like, okay. We do a giveaway, but then some people wouldn’t convert well, and we’d go and we’d see, okay, your photos are really bad. So then we started offering product photography, obviously doesn’t have that great of margin and there’s a bunch of headaches, but like I wanted to help people convert better or we’d run a giveaway. And like, the people don’t have the keywords in their title or their listing even. And so we’re like, okay, we need to help write listings. And so then we offered some of those creative services. We did some other things like email followup, write-ups and testing for you. But most of that stuff fell away. And then yeah. Then the biggest problem was, okay, we can get stuff ranking, but these people are launching like the exact same thing as everybody else, or it’s just super competitive. And they don’t even realize that they just don’t have the budget to compete in, like, I don’t know about iPhone 10 case market or something like that. So then we’re like, okay, why are people getting into the wrong products? Okay. And Jungle Scout was like, pretty much the product for product research at the time. And so then we’re like, okay, well, there’s some things that they’re not doing. They’re not looking at historical sales volume. They’re not looking at market trends. So there’s like a bunch of opportunities to hopefully help sellers make better decisions. Because I think as software providers, we start to take on this, like, I don’t know, this sense of responsibility for people’s success. And like, so I just wanted to help people do a better job. And yeah. So that’s like, then we launched our Chrome Extension and then it was like, okay, well, people are still getting bad ideas. And so like, okay. Then we launched our research database and yeah. It was just like one logical step after the next.
Bradley Sutton: Cool. Cool. Now, in those days, do you guys have meetings about, Hey, what is Helium 10 doing or what is Jungle Scout doing or something? Because I was like, you know what? I just saw an ad from Viral Launch, like maybe a couple of years ago. And all of a sudden they’re saying that something about collagen peptides, I was like, I know they’re making, I know they’re kind of throwing some shade at me here for me, always mentioned collagen because who talks about collagen peptides, but was there any like, Hey, did you guys see that video? Because I will tell you right now, like, I’ll be like, Hey guys, did you see that video Casey did a while back? This is kind of cool.
Casey: Oh yeah. I mean, I think I see myself as more like this software tech guy and then you have Manny, who’s just really good at marketing, Greg, Jungle Scout, they’re really good at marketing. So, one, I was trying to learn from everybody. But yeah, two, you want to understand what they’re doing and you want to make sure that you have the best kind of offer, like one of the biggest ads for Helium 10, I’m pretty sure it’s Manny walking around with a neck pillow. Right. And so yeah, of course, we’re always taking inspiration and stuff and yeah. I mean, it’s always cool when you see somebody come up with a feature or something that you hadn’t thought of and you’re like, Oh shoot. I thought about it that way.
Bradley Sutton: All right guys, quick from this episode for the BTS, Bradley’s 30-second tip. Actually this is going to be a really quick one. I might actually keep it under 30 seconds, but you guys know how people’s Instagram profiles have link trees where it’s just one link and then it goes to like, there are different profiles. You can actually make one, we call it Button Tree, right within Helium 10. So, go to Helium 10 and go to Portals. And we have something called Button Tree where you can go ahead and make a link to all your social media profiles, or it could be something you use for your advertising. Like you could have a link that goes to your Amazon site, your Walmart site, your Etsy site, et cetera. So again, check out Portals and then go to the new button tree feature.
Bradley Sutton: We’re going to talk definitely about a lot of the things that have changed. But one of the biggest changes just as we’re looking at a high level in the Amazon world is three years ago when people were talking about getting on Amazon, it was always like, Hey yeah, let me get some great revenue and this and that. It wasn’t like, Hey, I’m entering to exit. But nowadays it’s like, that is such a hot topic. Thrasio was at the first game there and really made it trendy to like, Hey, you want to start building up an Amazon business with a goal in mind of selling it. And that really wasn’t– you wouldn’t see people talking about that. Like I still remember to this day, like how big of a news it was like, ah, maybe it was like three years ago where there was this one company, this supplement company that sold for 20 million, Xiao nutrition. There it is. And it was just like all over people were like, wow, like you can sell an Amazon business and get that kind of payday. But nowadays that seems to be all the rage.
Casey: Yeah. Yeah. I feel like that’s interesting that you bring it up in that context because yeah. I remember when they sold and yeah, 20 million, like they’re only like two years old, like they had just really done it well, so something around two years and yeah, that number is insane. And now, comparing that with some of the deals out, we see, Thrasio, and just across the board, I mean, there’s people exiting for a hundred million dollars that have like– not even been around for that long. It’s pretty amazing. Yeah. Like the thing is everyone, a lot of people looked at Amazon businesses back then as this long-term passive income business. I’m going to build it up. And then I’m just going to retire on this. And this is going to be my revenue stream for so long. But I think a lot of people didn’t realize that the market was still in its infancy and was going to mature so much, which means a lot more competition. And if five of your competitors aren’t hanging out at the beach and they’re constantly trying to figure out how to improve sales and overtake your position, like when you’re on the beach. I mean, it’s going to be difficult to really maintain that position. So I think exiting is the best way to like, take your chips off the table to reduce risk. Obviously I’m biased cause I’m at Thrasio, but like, and then you can take that money and you can do a lot with it. You can set up more passive kinds of streams of income, but you can start another Amazon business with some money and use the rest of that to do pretty much whatever you want, but you’ve taken that risk off the table. And yeah, you’re out of the rat race, if yeah.
Bradley Sutton: Yeah, absolutely. Now, going back to kind of like take your past and your present right now. I look to you as one of the experts on the– especially the history and the evolution of how to launch products and get them ranked in things. And there are some things that everybody can see that kind of shifted in the industry. Like everybody was doing discounted giveaways, two-step URLs, longer back people were doing super URLs and this and that. And now, it’s kind of moved to a lot of a search find buy in different things. I saw you did a crazy, crazy advanced, cool presentation and the billion dollar seller summit. Obviously, we can’t go into detail on that. We’re all under the NDAs and stuff, and you don’t have to reveal that stuff, but just in general, what can you talk about as far as the state of launching nowadays? Like what do you see in the industry and what do you guys do at Thrasio like, do you think most people nowadays, are you mainly using PPC? Are you still doing some kind of search find buy? Are you utilizing existing audiences? Like what’s the pulse of the industry right now as far as when we’re talking about launching on Amazon?
Casey: Yeah. It’s a great question. Like the secret sauce of Thrasio is that there’s no silver bullet. Like we’re just able to do a bunch of things well. And I’ve kind of always said, like, there’s no silver bullet, you need an arsenal. And like, that is kind of the crux of the secret sauce at that. It was like, we just have enough people in the teams that allow us to do a bunch of things well. And so like, yeah. I mean, the basics are still just so incredible. So like having an optimized title, like back in the day, you used to not be able to update the title. It would usually drop your ranking and drop your sales. Like now actually a lot of the time when we update our title, it wasn’t like perfectly optimized. We’ll see an increase in ranking just from making that update, which is pretty cool. Yeah, I mean, in terms of the actions that we’re taking, I mean, external traffic is the name of the game. We’re now spending like a lot of time and money on external traffic, not everything I can get into but probably the biggest lever that we’re using right now is external paid ads. And a lot of the time we’re doing this profitably, so you can run profitable Google PPC campaigns to your Amazon listing and into like actually like really significant ranking effects from that.
Bradley Sutton: Could give an example? I’m not sure how you are with Project X, but we did this like coffin shelf. All right. So this is just a general home product, it’s a coffin shelf. So then, it’s not a humongous account. I’m not a millionaire or it’s not a millionaire behind this account, maybe there’s a decent marketing budget of, I don’t know, let’s say a thousand dollars a month or something like, what would you do? Like, I’ll just say right now, we’re not running Google ads right now. So, to send more traffic from outside, what would be step one, like, I’ll tell you right now, I don’t even have a Google ads account. I don’t know anything about it. So please teach me as a complete noob on this, what general step-by-step would be.
Casey: Yeah. So, Google PPC doesn’t work for everything, which I think is kind of important to note like, so basically what happens is there’s ads on Google, someone searches like nightlight, let’s just say on Google or they’re looking for the best nightlight. And there’s ads running. And so someone will click on one of those ads and it will take them to Amazon and they’ll purchase. So they’re purchasing at full price or whatever coupon you have on your product detail page. But these are people that are interested in your product and are making that purchase. And so like, so the coffin shell, for example, I don’t know how much of a market, like what, I don’t know if there’s enough kind of demand or search volume for related terms on Google that’s going to allow you to get the, like, I don’t know the product market enough, don’t allow you to get the volume. So we can’t use Google PPC for all of our products, but we can use it for a lot. And so essentially we go set up a Google, a campaign on Google to target a bunch of related keywords. Let’s say, we’re doing a nightlight again, you’re going to be searching for a nightlight for kids or whatever, plugin night light, battery powered night light, like there’s, I don’t know the keywords for a nightlight, but you can imagine. And so we set up this Google PPC campaign and we send it to you. Like, you can do it a couple different ways. You can send it directly to the detail page, which like, again, you can just drive like good sales volume, sometimes like pretty good sales volume profitably from Google to direct to your detail page. And so we do this out like very significant scale after SEO, great revenue and profit driver for us.
Casey: But then you can also switch out instead of going directly to the detail page, you can actually send to a two-step URL, which then helps you drive keyword ranking for that particular term that you’ve targeted essentially. And so the crazy thing about Google, like it’s actually pretty wild, how potent or effective each sale is at improving ranking. So, like we have this example of where, I think it was like a 200,000 searches a month keyword. We are in position a hundred plus. And within like three weeks, we go from hundred something to position 11 by driving one sale every other day through Google PPC. And we lost a $300 net that includes cogs, every Amazon fee and everything. It costs us literally $300 to take a product from kind of nowhere to position 11 for a keyword with 200,000 searches a month, no honeymoon period like this product’s been around for awhile. Just as an example.
Bradley Sutton: So, is that a fully organic sale, or you just put that ad and you’re just hoping that somebody clicks on it and buys?
Casey: Exactly. I mean, you can do it like having a coupon on the detail page is going to help conversion, having Amazon’s choice badge or bestseller rank. Like all of those things that work well on Amazon are going to impact the conversion rate of your Google PPC campaign. And again, like, it just, it doesn’t work for everything like the coffin shelf, like probably won’t work. In which case, okay, if we can’t get enough volume, sometimes you just can’t get enough volume, or any volume through Google PPC, then you can try Facebook ads. Facebook usually isn’t as profitable, but it does kind of open up the range of products that you can drive this sectional traffic for. So again, you run the same process, run Facebook ads, you have to have good creativity, so it’s a bit more kind of involved. And then again, you send to the detail page and use attribution program to track performance, and then you could target keywords if you can start getting enough volume. And again, like those sales from Facebook are as potent as Google PPC, but they are still very potent, like we drive a surprisingly few number of sales, but see some pretty exceptional results when it comes to ranking.
Bradley Sutton: Cool. What about your PPC strategy around launch time compared to a more mature– obviously at Thrasio, you guys are taking mature products, but then I would assume also you, maybe you’re launching and expanding the brand. So you have two different sets of strategy. So, what are those like kind of two basics– you don’t have to go into detail, but general methodology there for PPC.
Casey: Yeah. Our sophistication on the PPC side around like launch and the interaction between like the SEO team and the new product launch team and PPC for new product launches or like is still kind of developing. So, I mean, right now, essentially we just, we are really aggressive in willing to lose money on PPC, especially focused on our primary exact match keywords. So, like basically we’re just willing to ramp up PPC spend and spend a bit more aggressively there. We’re really aggressive on price. I mean, and we do run giveaways. So like Google PPC doesn’t usually convert super well on brand new products. Because again, like if you’re sending someone to a brand new listing, they only have a handful of reviews, customers may not convert. And so like we still run giveaways, we use some vendor or whatever to help drive ranking. Like we use giveaways on products that are not, that don’t do very well. Sometimes Google PPC doesn’t give us enough sales or any sales or Facebook. And so then we have to kind of resort to some other tactics or giveaways.
Bradley Sutton: Okay. Interesting. Interesting. Now, going back to the Thrasio side, something that I’ve just been curious about because I really, I’ve never just gone in-depth and really just trying to take a look at how aggregators work like Thrasio, but just from a layman’s viewpoint here, like I’ve, I’ve said before on podcasts and things, all right guys, Hey the more you do, the more you can make your brand valuable and do some great social media build a list and have great listings and more and more and more you’ll be, you’ll be more attractive to somebody who might buy. But then I was like, thinking like, wait a minute, what if they’re doing so well? Right. That now wouldn’t you guys like, Thrasio talking to me here, like say, Oh man, there’s not much we can improve on. There’s not much upside here. Or where’s the line there? You want to have a good brand, but then you still want to kind of show that there’s room for improvement so that you guys are even inspired to buy the brand, or how does that work?
Casey: Yeah. I mean, it’s a really good point. And so, yeah, just for context for the audiences, like, so Thrasio buys Amazon brands and like the thing that we’re just hyper-focused on is performance, post acquisition. So, we have like a bunch of different teams. We have an SEO team, we have brand managers that are assigned to the product. We have international teams, direct to consumer team. It’s like so many people all looking at these products focused on driving performance on the backend. And that’s why Thrasio has been able to be successful is because we’re able to drive such growth post acquisition.
Bradley Sutton: Should somebody literally do every possible thing that they can, or is there an actual point where that could work negatively where now all of a sudden, maybe you look at them and like, dang, they’re doing stuff just as good as us. I’m not sure that there’s upside here.
Casey: Yeah. I mean, yeah. So, it’s a great question. And the main thing that we are looking at and kind of judging your business on is what the trailing 12 month profit is. And so like, if you are going to slow down profit overall, so that you can try to like, learn how to build your data site, your Shopify store, like you’re actually hurting your evaluation, like in general, at least for Thrasio, but you don’t really get bonus points for having a website even. You don’t get bonus points for selling internationally, you don’t get bonus points for having a strong social media presence. Like sometimes you do, like if you have a really strong position in any one of those, then you then like, you definitely can’t especially DTC. But you’re your own website, but like for the majority of sellers just going in like spending a bunch of time to get an extra $5,000 a month on your website is honestly, probably not a good thing, because that means that you’re spending focus away from your core area of expertise. And so yeah, the old notion used to be like, Oh, you got to do everything. And like, and I think people were kind of buying for that, but for Thrasio like, yeah, to your point, we love seeing that upside when we are looking at a deal, even if it’s like a more expensive deal, but you have one brand that is going to be really easy or like set up well for us to push on DTC on a Shopify store. Like, we’re just geeked about that. We’re really excited to do the deal. If you’re not selling internationally and there’s like a good market for your product, that’s really exciting to us. If you’re not spending that much on advertising, like that’s super exciting for us.
Casey: So yeah, like we’re definitely assessing some opportunity for growth but we’ll still do deals if you’re super well optimized, like I’ve been in conversations where we’re looking at doing a deal and they say, alright, Casey, what’s the opportunity on the SEO side. And like, sometimes I come in there and say like, well, shoot, like there’s honestly pretty much nothing. Like we’re ranking the products are ranking, like top two for every keyword. We already have editorial placements or ranking, well on Google, like it’s still interesting to us because then it’s a good product. And it’s very unlikely that we can’t optimize in one area. Like we, again have a big team just focused on our website. Like we have a team focused on getting placement in affiliate, like blogs and websites. We have teams dedicated to all these things, which allows us to have this success and allows us to build upside post acquisition. Like last summer we bought a brand that was doing like, I believe like $30 million a year, top line. In the first 30 days, we had to set it on pace to do 60 million. And that brand is going to do significantly more than that just because there was a great opportunity to improve it. And the $30 million brand is pretty legit.
Bradley Sutton: Yep. Absolutely. Wow. That’s impressive. So what– obviously you guys are doing, you have teams of professionals where a lot of these really top level sellers, they probably are really, have a guy who specializes in one thing, or they have some keyword expert or some PPC expert, but basically you guys have experts in almost every field, but when somebody is already doing things well, like you said, that doesn’t mean that you’re not going to buy them. You know, uh, if it’s a good Amazon business. Sure, you can still still make some profit, but what are some things that by being so big, like you guys are that you’re, even though there’s maybe not much upside, you guys can still become more profitable. Is it like, are you guys combining shipments and things logistics from all the different brands and saving money that way? Or what are some of these other things that you guys are doing to make sure that you guys are always staying ahead?
Casey: I can’t speak to a ton of expertise on the supply chain side, but we do have a lot of superior buying power. And we have, again, it’s like extreme experts on sourcing and in working with manufacturers and we’ll go through and try to consolidate how many vendors, suppliers you’re working with while both like decreasing costs and improving product quality. So like, we go through where we’re testing products and we’re working to make sure that, Hey, this products at the quality that we’re hoping for, sometimes we get some like pretty serious wins where we’re able to, where let’s say in the bedding category and we buy another bedding related brand and now we can consolidate suppliers and actually get better deal for both products or both brands. Obviously, yeah, consolidating shipments and moving inventory, like on our 3PLs like here in the States, getting great deals because we’re so large. And then, yeah, again like the marketing side is where things like really, we get to like kind of really flex our power. I mean, the partnerships that we have, like a decent amount of it, like I can’t exactly talk about, but like we have some really strategic partnerships kind of, let’s just say I’m a marketing or traffic acquisition side that allows us to just pump look really great traffic that’s buying out full price or small discounts to our listings, and that helps ranking. And that helps our review velocity. And that helps sales. And yeah, man, I mean, it’s pretty cool. And again, really follows, they’re like we don’t have this really killer hack that allows us to just put ourselves at position one and gain 5,000 reviews overnight. But we just have, I joined the company in early April employee, 126 and in the US we have nearly 800 now and like globally about, I think over 1200,
Bradley Sutton: I’ve talked about this a lot of times on the podcast before with different people who have had that talk about buying Amazon businesses. But I know we have a lot of new listeners, so just, I know there’s not one exact answer to this, but as a rule of thumb, like somebody out there wants to kind of plan out a little bit in the feature or know what is needed or know what they can look forward to if they ever do have an exit with a company like Thrasio. So, first of all, like what are the minimums that kind of like activity that somebody has to have on their account in order for you to consider them. And then just, again, I know that every account is different, but if there’s like a baseline or a general rule of thumb for how somebody can have a rough, rough estimate on what kind of payday they would have on an exit, like how would they calculate that? So it’s kind of to do a stage question there.
Casey: Good question. So in terms of like a minimum book activity, or kind of revenue, or we’re buying larger and larger brands at this point, but we’re still looking at everything, especially if like somebody is struggling and wants to like exit as quickly as possible or whatever, and we see some upside potential or feel like we can help out in a situation like, we’ll look at everything. In terms of valuation, like price point, there’s kind of like a couple pieces to this. There’s three transactions that normally happen. There’s the upfront cash. There’s some kind of stability payment and then like some growth target as well. And so we, because we’re able to drive growth, like on average, so well, post acquisition, like there’s the cash up front, and then there’s an earn out component. The earn-out component is becoming increasingly meaningful and is like a very important part of our deal because that allows us more cash to kind of do more deals in general. So like all in, again, I’m pretty certain I’m able to say this, like we’re doing on average, it’s like five to seven times, trailing 12 month EBITDA that includes the up front cash and then the earn-out component as well.
Bradley Sutton: Okay, cool. Cool. Now just a couple more questions before we get into some quick hitting strategy from you here, but I’m not sure if you guys were the first, but you probably weren’t, but you’re the first kind of major player in this market. Thrasio, I’m talking about like in this market, but Oh my God, like, it seems like in the last six months, every month, I’m hearing about some press release that another company got some funding or, Hey, we’re doing this new way. So like, how has that affected what you guys do? Like, is it now that you find yourselves having to pay more money for brands because there’s more competition or are you guys just pretty much still businesses as usual?
Casey: Honestly, it’s largely had a net positive effect for us because there’s a lot of publicity at this point, around like acquisitions. And I mean, if someone is like, let’s say they get approached by another aggregator, a business does. Well, naturally they’re going to say like, okay, well, here’s the offer I’m getting from company X. So, let me go see what other kinds of offers I can get. And so naturally you’re going to look at Thrasio. We’re the largest player in the space. And so it’s actually really helping our pipeline. And we’re like crushing kind of like goals for acquisition. So it’s been helpful in that way. I mean, in general competition is good because it like forces you to step up versus so like there are areas kind of marketing wise where we are, I guess, maybe being a little more diligent to make sure that we’re like getting word out about some of the things that we’re doing, but like, honestly, it really hasn’t impacted us much outside of kind of doing so positively. Like one thing I really have to give like the founders and just the leadership team credit for is like, it’s like, we have done some amazing things, kind of like fastest company to profitably be a unicorn, just like the growth has been incredible, but there’s like the relentless about continuing to grow, trying to like gain new competitive advantages and like really just push the team in ourselves to be better and to be able to drive more results. And just to like really push the company. I mean, this is long-term, we want to be the consumer products company for the next century. And like that only happens if you are never complacent and just always focus on how we can drive more sales. What’s the new tactic like, I don’t know, pushing your DTC business or what’s the next new channel.
Bradley Sutton: Cool, cool. One last question before we get into strategy here, but completely unrelated to everything else, but people know me for always wearing hats. People know you for always wearing beanies and stuff. Everybody always has different ideas about why, and it’s not that interesting of a story for me. Like, it’s not like a big fashion statement or something for me, but for those who don’t know, like I have very coarse hair. And if I take my shower in the nighttime, I wake up with bed head, but it’s not like I can just comb my hair and it cooperates. So instead of taking another shower, I just wear a hat because I don’t want to have bedhead on calls. And that was kind of like, it just kind of like became a thing, all of a sudden, people like, Oh, he always wears hats, but what about you? Do you have any more unique story than that as far as why you’re a fashion icon in the beanie world?
Casey: No, man, that’s funny. I grew up wearing hats. Like my family, my mom, like, I don’t know. I just, I’ve always preferred the way that I looked at the hat, prefer the way I look with a beanie. And it’s kind of just my thing at this point.
Bradley Sutton: Cool. Love it. Love that. Now it’s kind of like you’re almost obligated because that’s how everybody knows you. Like now I feel like, Hey, if I do take a shower, but I’m going to Helium 10 social, I’m like, people might not recognize me with my hair. I almost have to put on a hat. But anyways, all right. Let’s do this thing. On every episode, we usually call it the TST, or the TST, 30-second tip. People give like these 30 second rapid fire strategies. So for you though, I’d like to, instead of just doing one, I want to do maybe two or three or four, depending on the length of each one. And the T now can stand for 30 seconds or it can stand for two minutes. Don’t think that you’re obligated to stay under 30 seconds. But if you can just give like maybe two or three different strategies here that you think are actionable and kind of unique for Amazon sellers out there.
Casey: Awesome. Number one is split testing. You have to split testing your product photography, especially the main image, as well as the rest of your image set and your price point. Sometimes the photo that you think is kind of like intuitively or aesthetically the best does not drive the best conversions. And you have to use data in order to guide that decision. And honestly, like one of the like tips that people don’t think about is you should actually be split testing your like packaging and images before they even go live. Like you could use a tool like PickFu to do this testing upfront so that when you go live, especially if you’re doing some kind of like design for a label or packaging or something like that, like you walk away with the design, you like it, but you have no data to really support that. And like, how awesome would it be to have data to show that on average, your target demographic prefers your packaging before you’re over your competitors before you even go live on Amazon. So, split testing, pre-launch and post-launch are just so important. You’d be surprised at the amount of increase you can see in keyword ranking, or sorry, overall sales from having a firm split testing your main image. And so once you’re alive, you should be split testing on Amazon for that, and the split testing tools out there.
Bradley Sutton: I love it. I love it. All right. Here’s another one.
Casey: Another one. Yeah. Number two is just around like driving this external traffic. There’s plenty of traffic sources, whether it’s influencers where we’re spending increasingly more time there. I know everybody’s talking about it, but you have like external traffic is how you went on Amazon and you have influencers, Google PPC, Facebook ads, depending on your product, maybe Pinterest ads or YouTube ads. Like you have to have this discipline either through some vendor or in-house the ability to drive profitable or near profitable external traffic. It is the way in order to outrank, to outsell and to overall increase your sales velocity enough that you are able to gain the reviews and beat out the competition.
Bradley Sutton: All right, one more. I love it.
Casey: I guess thirdly is just around sourcing. Like I think that people are so ambitious to get their product out on Amazon and start doing all the things that there’s a lot of content out there for around keyword research and ranking and getting reviews and so forth. But you really, a friend of mine is– he says you went on the buy. And so if you have a great margin, you’re going to have more room for giveaways. You’re going to have more room for PPC. You’re going to have more room for price drops. Like you went on the buy, so you have to be relentless about getting the best price. And every single time you’re doing a reorder, you should be working to negotiate on getting a better price or better terms so that you have more flexibility on the backside of it.
Bradley Sutton: Awesome. I love it. We got three TST there, guys. So thank you so much for that one. The last thing here is it’s observations. Last question. But back when you were at Viral Launch, one of the things I always admired about you and the company was you guys were above board. There was other, even though you were a competitor, there were other competitors out there and they would do like these shady things like they would, I mean, just on the marketing side, they would always attack our own branded keywords and just do stuff that normally people don’t do and, and send out messages to affiliates and be like bad mouthing us, basically lying about what we can and can’t do. And then there’s other companies who have nothing to do with competition, but they would do like, they would offer services that kind of like would pretty much could get you in trouble with Amazon. And they would lie about their data points. And just try and mislead. I know you and I have talked about that in the past, but like, you guys never really did that. And that was that like– just because that was the way you roll or it was like, that was an actual active thing that you guys would have discussions like, Hey guys, sure. We can see these other people doing this, but let’s try to stay above board or it just happened that way?
Casey: Yeah. I mean, a couple of things, I like to kind of operate with integrity, that’s why I never launched Amazon products. Like I was originally a Co-founder of Thrasio and I gave up that role because I felt like there was a conflict of interest between my Viral Launch customers that I had access to their data and so forth and like just selling on Amazon for Thrasio. So like, I’ve always focused on integrity, Manny and I, like, we used to talk like every single day, spoken at Helium 10 events. And so like, so I always wanted to do right by Manny and Gui, and yeah, just, I think it’s better to play nice. And to play fair.
Bradley Sutton: Absolutely. I like that. And I’m sure you’re bringing that culture to Thrasio too, which is cool. And then I said, that was the last question, but one last one, I totally forgot about this. How has fatherhood changed you, if any?
Casey: Oh, man, it’s a game changer, I thought I was going to like the baby, but like, it’s crazy how just your brain chemistry changes and I’m like super obsessed and it’s been one of the like, coolest experience, every cliche that I’ve ever heard that I had just was like, they just say that because they’re like stuck with the baby. So it’s like, listen to the bias. Like it’s so true. And, yeah, it’s honestly just been an amazing,
Bradley Sutton: That’s awesome. Awesome. Really like that. Now how can people reach, either find you on the inter webs out there, or if they’re, Hey, I want to get some more information on what Thrasio can do for me, who should they contact?
Casey: Yeah. Great question. So, if you are looking, just to connect with me, Instagram is the place where I’m kind of most accessible. So it’s just my first and last name, Casey Gauss. And then, yeah, I mean, if you’re looking to, so you can message me there, Facebook somewhat like– I’m not the best at getting back to people and then yeah. Like email. So if you’re looking to sell to Thrasio, or honestly just have any kind of conversation, we have a form on there. You can fill out if you’re uncomfortable, like yeah. Just reach out to me on social media and I’ll make a connection.
Bradley Sutton: Awesome. Awesome. Well, thank you, Casey so much for joining us. I’d love to have you next year. You’ve been one of the top minds in the entire game, and I’m probably one of the top five people I admire in this industry since I got into it. So, keep on doing what you’re doing and wish you all the best of success.
Casey: Thanks, dude. Thank you so much for having me.
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