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#294 – Selling Strategies From A 9-Figure Seller

Today, we speak to a seller whose company has sold over 200 hundred million dollars on Amazon. She also shares the strategies she used to achieve that.

How does a 9-figure seller run their business? In this episode, we dive into the Amazon journey of Janelle Page, a marketing and brand development expert whose agency and companies sold over $200,000,000 on the platform. Make sure to listen to the very end as she shares her strategies on product launch, marketing, branding, listing optimization, getting more reviews, and more!

In episode 294 of the Serious Sellers Podcast, Bradley and Janelle discuss:

  • 01:30 – How Janelle Got Started Into E-commerce
  • 03:30 – Starting An Agency, Developing Products, And Selling Them On Amazon
  • 4:55 – More Than $100 Million Dollars Of Sales On Amazon
  • 7:00 – Joining A Nutraceutical Company To Run Their Amazon Brands
  • 12:00 – Pros And Cons Of Vendor Central And Seller Central
  • 20:00 – A 9-Figure Seller’s Strategies For Success
  • 24:00 – Launch Strategies And Updates From Amazon
  • 31:00 – Helium 10’s CPR Method And How It Affects Reviews
  • 34:00 – How To Get More Reviews For Your Products
  • 38:00 – Using “Tribal Marketing” To Target Your Audience

Transcript

Bradley Sutton:

Today, we talked to Janelle whose company has sold more than a couple hundred million dollars on Amazon the last few years. And she’s going to give us some of the strategies that she’s used to achieve that. How cool is that? Pretty cool I think.

Bradley Sutton:

Are you a six, seven, or eight-figure seller and want a network and a private mastermind group with other experienced sellers? Or maybe you want to take advantage of monthly advanced training sessions with Kevin King, and expert guests? Do you want to come to our quarterly in-person all day trainings at Helium 10 headquarters? Or do you want the widest access to the Helium 10 set of tools? For all of these things, the Elite program might be for you. For more information on Helium 10 Elite, go to h10.me/elite.

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 or Walmart world. And we’ve got a serious seller here. Janelle, how’s it going?

Janelle:

I’m awesome Bradley, good chatting with you today.

Bradley Sutton:

You too. Where are you located? I don’t even know.

Janelle:

I am in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Bradley Sutton:

Okay. Oh yeah. That’s right, Salt lake. Every time I hear salt lake, you know, I just I’m like, Hey, I need to go to the Red Iguana, and get me some good Mexican food, and some of the best Mexican food I’ve ever had there. Like you who’d have thought?

Janelle:

Yup.

Bradley Sutton:

In the middle of Utah is good Mexican food.

Janelle:

I know it’s funny because everyone’s like, you’ve got the, there’s a Blue Iguana, and there’s a Red Iguana, and I’m always like, dude, I eat at Cafe Rio. And so I don’t know if you’ve ever eaten there, but this is one of my favorite.

Bradley Sutton:

I’ve also hit up a really good Ethiopian food restaurant there in Salt Lake. I forgot what it was called, but that’s one of my favorite cuisines, anyways, but I’ll take you there, next time I’m there.

Janelle:

Okay, good. Cause I went to Ghana and my sister and I always laugh about how we didn’t enjoy the food. So I don’t know if I’ll have to try it again.

Bradley Sutton:

Oh, Ethiopian is amazing food.

Janelle:

Okay, awesome.

Bradley Sutton:

All right. Now we’re not here to talk about cuisine, otherwise I’ll be off my diet by the end of this call because I’ll get so hungry. So we’re here to talk about serious strategies, but first is I know very, very little about you other than I know you’re an Elite member and you are, have done some pretty amazing things in the space. Let’s just get a little bit of your origin stories. So like, how did you get involved in e-commerce? Like how far back does this journey go?

Janelle:

Yeah okay, well, let’s see, we probably need to start with my forte into sports nutrition. I took a role like probably just doing content writing for this company called Progenics. And it was early in the CrossFit days, there was this new fitness craze called CrossFit and this supplement company had sprung up and they were doing like sampling it, you know, the Arnold and some of these like fitness competitions. And they decided, you know what, we should go out to the CrossFit market. And that was their content writer at the time. And I was doing it freelance, but I ended up joining the team long story short, and I’m co-running the marketing department with a really intelligent, good marketer. Long story short is I helped them get on Amazon, and I also learned some amazing marketing tips, the guy who worked there as my co-marketing partner, he had started Billabong and sold it, and then co-founded Hurley and sold that to Nike. So that was my introduction to marketing. I feel like I got some really great brand development experience that most marketers probably don’t get just this private tutelage from this gentleman. And anyhow, I ended up leaving and starting after several years, starting my own marketing agency, and I was helping like doctors, lawyers and dentists and I play instruments. I’ve always played the drums, and piano and

Bradley Sutton:

So we’re talking like 2015?

Janelle:

Yeah 2014, 2015. And I was like, yeah, I should, I should import drums, that would be so cool, and so that’s how I got into Amazon. I started importing musical instruments that led to my business partner at my agency. My regular agency was like, man, I’ve always wanted to be a manager of a toy store. And I laughed so hard because like you go from being a COO to a toy store manager. That was just funny to me. So I was like, you could start a toy line. So we started toy line, and then I had so much experience from the supplement industry that was like, oh my gosh, supplements, like, let’s get into consumables. Cause we were selling toys. We were selling drums as like kind of one-offs. And I was like, you know, the dream of everyone was like, how do you make this kind of a recurring revenue model?

Janelle:

Oh, consumables, like supplements would be huge. So we started a weight loss shakes fellow. And so, you know, over the years as we develop these and we’re doing well, I started noticing in my agency, I was talking more and more about e-commerce marketing and we got a lot of clients coming to us. And so I spun off and started a second agency called e-commerce Wranglers where we were helping a lot of Amazon sellers know, speaking a lot and just doing really, really well, and we sold some brands. That’s kind of basically how I ended up here.

Bradley Sutton:

Were you selling brands before? It was like all the rage to sell brands

Janelle:

Where people were getting like four and five times multiple when we were one and a half or two tests. Multiple. Yeah, that was when I sold. That’s awesome

Bradley Sutton:

Were you manufacturing your supplements there in Utah?

Janelle:

Yes, here it is in Utah.

Bradley Sutton:

What is it about Utah, and supplement manufacturer? I swear I’ve worked for a few companies and they always made it there.

Janelle:

It’s true. It’s funny because I have two siblings that are in the supplement space as well, and they all either run a manufacturing plant or, you know, have started their own supplement company. So yeah, it’s a Utah thing for sure.

Bradley Sutton:

Yeah. All right. Well cool. All right. So, correct me if I’m wrong, but I saw one of your bio somewhere. You’ve pretty much been responsible or you’re responsible for, you know, over the last few years, well, more than a hundred million dollars of sales on Amazon, right?

Janelle:

Yes, that’s correct.

Bradley Sutton:

That is so cool.

Janelle:

Yeah, I know it’s a different, it’s funny because I ran my own businesses for so long, my own brands on Amazon and we’re talking like, I think the toy line had the most SKUs. We may be at like 35 SKUs with, you know, some variations, some of the clients have variations. So going from that, you know, complexity, which I wouldn’t even call complex to now managing over 4,000 SKUs is pretty intense. It’s a totally different game. I mean

Bradley Sutton:

Let’s talk about that a little bit, but let’s talk about what are some of the main differences because you know, the, I think a lot of people I’ve seen other people, you know, do that kind of path. Like they started out on their own. Maybe they did, you know, 10, 15 SKUs. They actually, you know, exited maybe with an aggregator and instead of re-going into, going back into, you know, making their own private label, I’ve known a couple of people who kind of took your path with it. They, they like started working for a larger company. So I’m just curious, like, what are some of those main differences of having, you know, running your own account with, you know, 30 SKUs as opposed to working for a bigger conglomeration, I guess that has thousands of SKUs.

Janelle:

Cool. Yeah, I’ll answer that. If you don’t mind, I’ll back up a minute. Just tell you how I ended up in this situation. Cause I would’ve never thought I’d worked for corporate world. I mean, I’m an entrepreneur for so many years, I would think I’d never do that, but this is what happened. My business partner, he got diagnosed with glioblastoma. However, you sit at brain cancer, like stage four, it was terrible. And he died pretty quick, but he managed all the employees and I did not enjoy that part of the business. You know, we had at the time almost 25 employees. And when I realized, oh my gosh, I’m going to have to take over all this. And, I hadn’t like vocalized that it was just weight on my chest, that I was, you know, sleeping, trying to sleep at night with, I was approached by one of the largest nutraceutical companies in the world.

Janelle:

And they were trying to hire my agency to take over their Amazon business. They were manufacturers, I guess didn’t have an Amazon business at the time, but they wanted to go direct to consumer. And this was back in 20, what four years ago would that have been 2017? And I was like, you know what? I was on the phone with the gentleman that had called us being super nice, kind of a free consult. And I just said, you know, you really ought to build this team in house. I mean, you’re, you’re so massive that to outsource this, you’ll just get far better results if you build, it in-house. And I was giving them that advice. And finally, I didn’t realize the CEO was actually on the line and, he at the end of said, well, what if we hired you and had you built our in-house team?

Janelle:

And you know, I immediately, it was like, no, I’m not interested. Like not at all. And then I just, after I hung up, you know, we hung up the phone cause you know, it didn’t end with that. He was pretty persistent. He was like, you know, well, I won’t give you all the details, but basically I got off the phone and I just thought, and I thought, you know what? This could be kind of a nice change. I don’t want to run these. I had at this time two agencies, three brands and I just lost like my right-hand man. And I was like, this could be a really, really cool opportunity. And I’d never worked in the corporate world. They had just been acquired by a private equity group. So they had a lot of funding as you know, how that is. It can be a nice situation.

Janelle:

And then there was a really nice offer that was put together and I thought it’d be cool to work with the board and see how to scale. Like I’m all for learning something new. So I ended up that’s the long story short. I ended up there and that’s when it was like, Hey, we’ve got 70 brands, we’ve got 4,000 SKUs and help us. And a lot of, a lot of the people that I had at my team at the agency wanted to come with me to build up the agency there. And I sold the remaining parts of my KickFire e-commerce and took over the people who wanted to come and those who needed to stay to help the other agency run. And that’s how we ended up here. Now, the complexities, you can only imagine, like I started from zero, and that part was easy.

Janelle:

It’s like, we all know how to set up a seller central account, right. But imagine getting 70 brands brand registered and trying to get ungated and all the different categories that took about a year of my life. And banging my head against the wall because, you know, it was just when Amazon was more starting to crack down in the supplement space and the beauty. And so I can tell you, that part along about made me want to gouge my eyes out with this spoon, the complexities, really, for me, what’s so complex is just ASIN’s going down. And when you’re, especially in the consumables, anything that goes in your mouth sellers who can relate or on your skin, if there’s one complaint, the bots, just flag and ASIN and restrictions, you have to have someone full time. That’s just completely on top of your ASINs.

Janelle:

What’s instructed what’s down. And I guess the nice thing about a big portfolio is you tend to have a little more diversification if one ASIN goes down, well, if it’s a hero ASIN, it is painful. It’s not like you’re out on the streets because all your income. I do think the hardest thing for me personally, is managing the ad account. There’s just so much going on, and in corporations too they do budgeting. And so you get like, given it’s, it’s so hard for me because when I ran my own company, I would be like, oh, I’m gonna put 18 to 20% back of top line into Ad spend or whatever. I kind of have like a moving budget that I would use as a tie to top line sales. But in the corporate world, it’s really hard. And I guess, I shouldn’t say corporate world, I don’t have, I don’t know how everybody does it, but at this company we have a budget and we set it at the beginning and you kind of have to like stay in line with that. And that’s just feels so like handicapping to me in a way, like, I want something to be like dynamic where like, I feel like individual sellers, they can be more nimble than sometimes we are able to function just because of the layers of, you know, EBITDA. We have the P and L’s and we have, I guess it’s how you run a real business, but it’s very different than how I ran mine. I was more flexible. That makes sense.

Bradley Sutton:

So like yeah, you mentioned like all these different brands that are these all in one account? Or they have multiple Amazon accounts?

Janelle:

That’s a good question. So some are in the 1P program, you know, so their vendor accounts and then in the, our 3P account, we have 29 brands running through there and Amazon preferred it that way. They didn’t want me to set up like some of the brands, you know, their distinct brands. They were like, no, just put it through one seller central account, which, you know, made me nervous at first because there’d been, you know, back in the days, you hear stories about accounts getting shut down and thought I’d rather have different accounts than if one got shut down, have another one, but they know if one account goes down and you were selling products in that account and you moved to over to another account, they’ll shut that one down too. So there was no benefit to having multiple accounts per Amazon. And I actually spoke with Andy Jesse, he’s the new CEO, but at the time he wasn’t, he was a good friend of our former CEO. And, you know, it was just knowing that I had that resource, that dial of a phone that made me feel so much better because it’s a lot of money and it’s not, when you’re running a company’s Amazon business and you’re responsible for that much income, I guess you don’t want to screw it up.

Bradley Sutton:

Yeah, absolutely. Now you mentioned something there that I think you know, a lot of people are curious about you know, vendor, vendor, central competitor to seller central, and you are literally with the same company, you have some of each, can you talk a little bit of about pros and cons of each? And like, if you had to do it over again, would you have done all in one? Would you have done it all in another? Would you keep the split that you have, you know, et cetera, et cetera.

Janelle:

And you’ve got, yeah, there’s definitely pros and cons to both programs is anyone who’s been in. Either of them can tell you some of the things I love about 3P is the ability. And I don’t know if Amazon really likes us talking about this, but the ability to kind of interact with the customer, right? You can you, get customer data on a three-piece sale that you don’t get in 1P so that’s difficult, and you can, you know, do promos and you can do, I guess they actually let’s talk about what happened this week, right? Like rebate. Kate is no longer Elite sellers. Like, so I guess some of those things will be going away, but you didn’t have that API type access in the backend for vendor that you do with 3P. And if, if, if all of this doesn’t make sense to anyone rather, you know what I’m talking about, or I think everyone’s Elite on this podcast, they might, they, this is probably common sense. But in the 1P program, you basically, you’re selling your products to Amazon. They own the inventory and they sell it and you don’t get any customer data. In fact, it’s sometimes a black box in there. You get some analytics where you pretty much what you get a break.

Bradley Sutton:

Black box, no pun intended?

Janelle:

That’s right, so, anyhow. Yeah. That’s the thing that we find most difficult with 1P, if you have omni-channel, there gets to be issues with pricing, anyone who’s like selling in retail, even on walmart.com. When you sell that inventory to Amazon, they will be the low price leader online. So if there’s an offer anywhere else online, that’s cheaper, then they will lower the price. And then because that price, if they can’t realize a profit, you’ve probably heard the acronym C.R.A.P., or, you know, the word crap. That means can’t realize a profit they’ll restrict your ability to advertise. So my recommendation to companies large and small is if you’re Omni channel and you don’t have really good control over your distribution, you should not go 1P because you will have so much pricing issues, your ads will get suppressed, will be eligible for advertising. Amazon will come up, come back and renegotiate your costs and cost is what, the price that they buy the product from you.

Janelle:

And you’ll continually see your margins deteriorate. And they kind of have you by the throat. I like to say, because you have no power, like you either accept their price decrease, or you can’t advertise. And imagine what happens if you have a hero SKU that you can advertise, you’re going to slip off the first page, you know, in a couple of days. So those are the really difficult things that we experience here with the 1P program. We have spent a lot of time on marketplace management. That means having authorized reseller policies. And, you know, if you, if you sell the distributors, you have to have anti diversion agreements. And it gets very, very complex when I just had my own brands and I was a single point of distribution. It was a very easy to not worry about buy box. I never lost my buy box, you know? And you go omni-channel and that becomes probably one of the most difficult things to manage was. I guess, one of the things that I’ve experienced when you asked scaling into a large organization, you know, the ad management and the distribution, and omni-channel

Bradley Sutton:

Now, what about nowadays, you know, like before there something called, you know, vendor express and this and that, but like, is it invitation only? Like how, like, if I say I’m Joe seller, I’m obviously selling on my own account. Like, you know, is there somewhere I can say, Hey, Amazon, I’m interested in 1P or is it basically, I just got to wait for them to extend the invitation.

Janelle:

Yeah. I mean, I guess I don’t, I can’t say I know definitively, but in every case they’ve come to us. They want your products that they see profitable. They’ll find you and ask you to join. And this changed, you know, just the last few years you saw that there was more people on 1P, they basically got kicked out of the vendor program, they were told that they would no longer, I guess you could say uninvited. They were, they were told that they could sell on 3P, and that’s because vendor really, they need to be profitable. And in order to do that, they need to have high velocity items and that are in demand. So, yeah, you won’t be seeing, I guess if you already have a relationship with a vendor manager, you’ll get a vendor manager. When you’re in the vendor program, you can use that to like, we’ve had them take brands that I would say they would have never like invited, just because they’re interested in some of the other brands that we have 3P that we kind of use as a carrot to help get some of our brands that wouldn’t have been invited to 1P to 1P.

Janelle:

And what I say that is sometimes, one of the pros of the vendor program is there are products under like $8. I would say sometimes I would say even 15 that you cannot make a profit on 3P with us after your FBA fees and all that. It’s very difficult unless you’re moving serious volume to be profitable. And those ones, if you can get vendor to take, and obviously they have a harder time being profitable or things like glass and liquids, it’ll be more profitable for you as a person to go vendor versus a 3P program. So those are the ones where we’ve leveraged the larger brands as maybe a carrot. Like, Hey, you know, we’re considering maybe bringing this brand 1P if you take this brand first, we want to test it out. You know, you can kind of do some leveraging.

Bradley Sutton:

Okay. Now with 1P you have a lot less, I dunno, what’s the word I’m looking for, like, I don’t know, flexibility or control, maybe over your own listings and what goes on. Like, are you able to just go in and change your images and bullet points and completely run your PPC campaigns? Are there some things that Amazon is just trying to handle themselves on that?

Janelle:

Well, no, you can control your entire listening. In fact, I would say recently, it’s nice to have a vendor account because even though with the advent of brand registry, it was supposed to make it so that brands could update their content. A lot of people on this podcast are probably like, I never have problem updating my content. Well, when you get multiple resellers on the platform, even with brand registry, you’re going to run into so many issues trying to update your content, because they still have like this hierarchy that they say it’s in their backend. Like, oh, well, if you have brand registry, your content will override other contributions. Well, that hasn’t proved to be the case with us. Now, granted, when I first started here, the manufacturer’s products were being sold on Amazon. They didn’t have a direct presence on Amazon, but let’s say there were people that had their products listed and they took like pictures in their bathroom of the products.

Janelle:

It looks terrible, right? We spend a lot of time optimizing those listings, but our content wasn’t flowing through even with brand registry. And so that’s when I actually was working with Amazon probably about six months to try to overwrite that. And what we found out is the reason those are brand registered contributions were not uploading or updating to the detail pages was because someone had uploaded that content to a vendor account and vendor accounts actually have the highest priority. They call it retail contributions. And, you know, it was such a pain because, these people who had vendor accounts had set up and listed our brands in that vendor account. So their god-awful contributions were showing and we couldn’t override it after, I don’t know, three, four months of like I have over probably 500 cases. They were able to say that brand registry would overwrite vendor and it worked, it worked for probably three or four months, and then it’s, it’s not working. So I don’t know if anyone else listening to this podcast has had the same issue where your contributions aren’t flowing through. If you go into a vendor account and upload your contributions, that is what will be displayed on the details.

Bradley Sutton:

Yeah. I remember back in the day, having a vendor account was sometimes like God mode for,

Janelle:

Yeah. It really is. And there’s things that you can do. Like, I don’t know if you’ve noticed recently in the supplement space, like people calling out like maybe on protein powder, like, you know, how many grams of protein there is, or sugars or whatnot. And they’re, they’re kind of uploading it onto the content. Like just go type in something like, you know, protein powder or hydrolyzed whey protein isolate. And you’ll see what I’m talking about. And you can’t, if you try it in the 3P account, it’ll get suppressed, but it can go through in the vendor. It’s just interesting how I feel like vendor is like God mode in that it’s for content uploads and contributions.

Bradley Sutton:

Yeah. Okay. So this is good. This is good to know now, regardless of, you know, what kind of account it is, you know, there are some things that pretty much are, you know, like, hey, great listing optimization, make sure you’re getting the best keyword. So let’s just talk about how you’ve been able to scale this business to, to be making, you know, to have made it, you know, a couple of hundred million dollars over the last few years. What are some of the strategies that you’re using that you’ve just, you know, found, continued success with?

Janelle:

Okay yeah great. Well, the basic stuff, I, you know what I have to give shout out to you guys, your Freedom 3.0 course is fantastic. It’s updated. So if you guys haven’t checked that out, you really have to,

Bradley Sutton:

I hope everybody just listened to this. You know, sometimes people think, oh yeah, Freedom Ticket. This is just for the beginners to learn how to sell, we got a nine-figure seller in the house who was saying that, that she was finding benefit from the Freedom Ticket. So I hope you guys listen.

Janelle:

Yeah, my whole team, it’s like go rewatach this, it has been completely updated. It’s fantastic. I mean, you guys really didn’t hold much back. In fact, I think I was kind of “like guys quit telling everyone about this”, you know what I’m saying? So I know really, really well done in Kevin always does a great job, Tim and you Bradley is great, and got to see Karen on there so it’s really cool. But, you know, the basics of the keyword research, it all starts with that, and then the optimize listing. And I feel like what sellers forget, because we’re on our desktops all day working is we forget that 70% of the shoppers are on mobile, on their app. And so, you know, really you’ve got to nail those images. Go on your phone, just grab it. I don’t actually shop a lot on my phone cause I literally am at my desktop all day working, right?

Janelle:

So we sometimes don’t have the same native experience that our customers are having and we’re designing and optimizing for the wrong crowd. So I always encourage my team and everyone I’m working with grab your phone, and now look at your listing. And that image storyboard becomes, you know, quintessential, the most important thing that you can focus on is the basic foundational. How can you convey in your images, everything that your product offers you, the problem solution, the features and the benefits and why they should buy. And if you can’t do that, you can lose that, you could lose the sale right there. So that’s a huge focus that I think some of us may just be missing just because again, we’re working on desktops, enhanced brand content. It’s funny. I don’t know if people out there have tried the managing their experiments where you AB split test your A+ content, or VCA or whatever they’re calling it these days that’s been fun to do, because what I’m realizing is like it, I mean, we do really good enhanced brand content. So I guess it’s just comparing really good to really good, but I’m seeing, there’s not big difference at all in what, you know, somebody is converting on my A+ content or not, but those hero images do matter. And I’ve never used PickFu, but I really stopped. That was it Anthony is his name?

Bradley Sutton:

Yup, yup. We just done a podcast as a matter of fact.

Janelle:

He did such a great job with his presentation. And his slide deck was available after, like I’ve got to start using that because who knows what I’m leaving on the table, because I don’t, I optmize may hero image, as you think of supplements a supplement, you know, a picture of a bottle of what could they do better, but I know we’re gonna really take a foray into that. But I think you’re asking me pricing, we’ve played around with coupons and promotions and advertising. I tell you what though, the basics of keyword research listing optimization, that’s been huge for our company. Where I’m focusing now is advertising with the DSP more like I don’t know if everybody here has the budget to do this, but I know the Amazon probably has the most powerful data. I don’t say probably they have the most powerful data right now of any advertising platform.

Janelle:

They know exactly who’s shopping for what, at any given time, what they’ve purchased in the past, what they’re in market for what they spend on the platform, and they’re giving me the ability to target those customers. That’s phenomenal. I mean, I freaking love Facebook advertising and, and, you know, it’s, it’s been a little more difficult after the updates, but that targeting and like YouTube video ad targeting then made me a lot of money over the years. And what I haven’t done yet is spend a whole lot of that money on Amazons’ owned placements, you know, outside of I’ve done DSP, but not the OTT and the video. What do they call that now where they can target people with your video ads? So I’m excited. We’re, we’re leveraging, you know, some budget there and I think we’re going to get really great results.

Bradley Sutton:

Awesome. Awesome. Now let’s just talk about, you know, just a few strategies. You don’t have to give it all away. I know you’re going to be speaking soon at the Elite workshop with some advanced stuff that you’re not, you know, you don’t give out too much publicly, but just some general things, as far as some of the basics, like, you know, when you have 3000 SKUs, obviously you are actively launching new products. What’s your launch strategy. Like, you know, are you doing it just with PPC? Are you doing it because you guys have a big brand and you have a bunch of brand awareness. So you leverage your existing audience or what’s your basic launch strategy for new ones?

Janelle:

Well, this is something that maybe we don’t want to talk on the podcast or not, but I actually would like to talk to the sellers, but after this week’s announcement about search, find, buy, and, you know, rebates, I wondered is that really like endangering accounts because I’ve never thought of it that way.

Bradley Sutton:

For me, my personal opinion, and this is not the, you know, what’s my disclaimer, hey, this does not reflect the Helium 10, this is just my personal being. Cause I’m an Amazon seller myself, nothing has changed in my opinion, but like what happened has nothing to do necessarily with search find buy, because when you look at the terms of service, they haven’t changed as far as what Amazon doesn’t like, which is number one, the absolute number one thing is incentivized reviews. And the other thing is sales rank manipulation, which a lot of people, when they hear the word ranking we as Amazon sellers, we have made rank mean keyword rank, right? But Amazon has never referred to rank as far as keywords, never once have they ever said that in any documentation, it’s always the BSR.

Bradley Sutton:

And so if you’re, you know, you’re old school, you remember how back in 2016, 2017, what sellers would do when Amazon had the ability to do 100% off coupon codes, they would just blast out these a hundred percent coupon codes so that it was a $0 value transaction. They didn’t have to pay a commission Amazon just to be able to get to like bestseller. You need to get that bestseller badge or top 10 bestseller rank in a category. And then that’s when Amazon changed the rules and said, first of all, no, there is no more 100% off coupon codes. You know, and number two, they put black and white, you know, do not try to, you know manipulate sales rank, you know, because we’re referring to that and, and that’s still there now. I’ve always said that, Hey, one day Amazon could say, rebates are, are bad and easily.

Bradley Sutton:

Just like one day you could do incentivize reviews, and the next day you couldn’t do incentivized reviews. You know? I mean, Amazon could change, but so far it hasn’t changed like my personal opinion. Like I hate speculating, you know, even Rebatekey themselves. They didn’t know what exactly was at the time. You know, like who knows maybe by the time people are listening to this episode, there’s more data out there, but, you know, I talked to the owner and he, and he had no idea why he got blocked. So it’s kind of ridiculous for you. Like for me to go and try and say, oh, this is why they got blocked. But you know, to me, it’s, it’s gotta be about, you know, review views in my opinion, because I’ve always told people like, Hey, if you’re using search, find, buy or rebates or something like that, that’s on you. But personally, I would absolutely 100% make sure, trying to make sure that these people could not leave me reviews because if somebody got a rebate and they left a review and for whatever reason, Amazon knows about it, if I was Amazon, that looks to me like incentivize reviews, like I gave them a rebate to get a review. So like, to me, that’s what it could be about. But who knows?

Janelle:

And I appreciate you sharing that intubate. Cause yeah, I saw some people in the industry that, you know, I respect saying kind of do staying it. And I was like, gee, I just don’t see it that way. And as someone who manages so much business and I still have my own personal brands, I planned fully continue on my own brands, search, find, buy, because I believe it’s like that. How else? When you want a product, are you to get Amazon to recognize your product and let everybody know about your product. I’m not trying to game the system. It’s just like paying for retail slotting fee and do that in retail all the time, I’d buy shelves by level. Like there’s no difference. Right?

Bradley Sutton:

I’ve been using rebates since I was seven years old buying cereal, I’d never would have bought anyways, just so I can get my Star Trek, shirt as a rebate, or, you know,

Janelle:

Right. And they do that at Costco, Sam’s, and Whole Foods, when you walk in, you get a free sample or, I mean, you know, you can try it before you buy it. And I’m like, I just think that’s just, that’s called trial in this space. You gotta let people try to buy. So anyhow, I, yeah. I’m glad to hear you say that because that is part of our launch strategy is we do, we have a nice list that we’ve built up over the years, and I hated that they maligned many chats. I think many chat messenger flows were fantastic to drive like a Facebook ad, advertising your product that’s new, talking about some of the benefits and asking people if they’d like to try it, we never asked for reviews, but yeah, we’ve got to get the product in people’s hands.

Janelle:

We’ve got to get some feedback and why not ask them to go buy it on Amazon? I feel like Amazon is very grateful for those efforts. I’m sending traffic to their platform and I’m like, if it’s a good product and I’m sending traffic, it’s going to stick a rank. You and I both know if I do a search, find, buy and I get on the first page of Amazon. It’s not going to stick if it’s a product, I’m sorry. Like it’s not. Yeah. So like, if I’m Jeff Bezos, or now Andy and I have sellers doing this on my platform, like, that’s what we call a product lunch. Companies for years before Amazon, I was launching products in retail or like, you know, with Progenics we launched just native to wads and box boxes, sorry, not wads boxes or like gyms and CrossFit.

Janelle:

You go and you sample at all. So it’s when you plan launches, you have to have this big, I guess, you know, Blitzkrieg to market, and that’s what we do on Amazon with the launch. So yeah, I definitely think that, you know, many chat messenger funnels have been great to get people to go buy the product. We do have these rebates and it’s not, we never asked for a review. In fact, I don’t even think Amazon lets them review. I’ve noticed, like, I don’t want to say like, this is my personal, so I don’t know if it’s true. I feel like they throttle reviews when you first launch a product because we see nothing coming in and then like all of a sudden 30, 45 days in boom, all these reviews start showing up. And I know like people say, well, that’s the nature of supplements.

Janelle:

People probably wait 30 days slavery. And I’m like, well, I do think that maybe part of it, but I’m also like, I do think a new product when you’re sending activity to the platform, Amazon is probably suspicious of what’s going on. They’re throttling reviews, and then they realize, oh, this traffic isn’t stopping. And I think that’s the genius in the CPR method that you guys have in Helium 10 is that it can’t just be one or two days of sending traffic, it’s not going to do anything for you, but that consistent, sustained approach. And if your, if your product’s not good, you can’t trust me. You’re gonna have to have really deep pockets to sustain that for 30, 45 days. Amazon’s built into their algorithm a way to prevent the abuse that you know, these manipulated sellers are trying to do. Like you would have to have very, very, very deep pockets to keep doing that. And if you have very, very deep pockets and, and a really great product, then I think you should be able to do that. Because guess what?

Bradley Sutton:

Amazon probably loves that, hey, keep giving us that 15%. Don’t threaten me with a good time.

Janelle:

And you know what? I want to find that product one day. And if that company doesn’t do that, it will be beholden to page 20 of the Amazon search results. There’s so much historical I guess, built into that Amazon algorithm, anyone knows is go try to unseat someone’s bestseller badge. That’s been on the platform for the last 10 years or whatever. Very, very, very difficult. And so without these launch efforts and some money behind it, you would have no chance. I don’t think that’s was unwanted either. They want the best products at the best price for their customers.

Bradley Sutton:

Yup. Yeah. Now that you’ve talked about, you know, reviews there, so what about you guys? Like what are you doing in order to do reviews, like are using follow up to do the request to review? Are you putting product inserts or what are you doing?

Janelle:

The tool that automates it, The request to review. Now that’s one of when you asked me about the pros and cons of 1P versus 3P. 3Ps, nice because you have that request to review feature. Now one people will tell you, oh, we send those emails out on your behalf. Like, I don’t know. I’ve never seen them. Right. But mostly you may see him if you buy a product that was in the 1P where Amazon emails you and asked for a review, but that’s one thing that everyone needs to do. They need to have some type of you take advantage of that request to review feature. I don’t do any more of the automated emails where you like typed up your ones. Stop that.

Bradley Sutton:

Yeah. Unless you really are good at that. Or like, no, you know, like Amazon is so picking. I still do have a few of those because I think I’ve I know what Amazon likes and doesn’t like, so I haven’t gotten suspended or anything, but if anybody out there has doubts about like, Hey you know, should I do this? Like, for example, let me just give you guys an example of how picky they are. I’ve seen things where people got the 30 day ban that the email said: “Hey, I hope you guys enjoy your product. You know, we’re a small time business. I would love to get your honest feedback about this product. If you like to do that, please click here.” Now somebody might say, wait a minute, like honest feedback, you know, but just because at the beginning of the email, they said, we hope you enjoy your product like that to Amazon is like, you’re trying to say only leave a review if you liked it. So it’s, they’re so picky, you know,

Janelle:

Like grooming you groomed him for that. No, I see that. No, I think there’s so many. I, I really like whenever I see someone presenting on like review generation strategies, cause I feel like that’s something where we all can improve. It’s such the most important part sometimes after listing optimization of the game, it’s a review game, right? Cause you always say like, the median is always going to trend towards like three and a half stars. If you don’t have some proactive in place because your happy customers, most likely won’t leave a review. It’s really off ones that are for sure, going to leave a negative review. So, you know, every product, if they’re not doing something to proactively generate like good reviews, he’d probably all end up at like three and a half or worst stars. So, I think really the packaging making it a cool experience, like you can’t have crappy packaging.

Janelle:

I remember back in the day when people just threw everything in there, polybag with their FNSKU, like right there, that’s just a bad impression. I think those little efforts go a long way. If you at least made them smile with some type of packaging or a messaging, that’s just like, makes them happy. They’re going to be less likely to get all mad. Even if something was broke, they would be more likely to reach out to you. So yeah, a proactive insert that just says, Hey, hope you liked your supplement or whatever in, you know, let’s say with our toys, you know, it was like instructions on how to use it, how it would help. We did their toy line. It was like kick fire, classics, classic toys, and we positioned it to grandma’s cause we figured like who buys grandmas and moms for their kids.

Janelle:

They want to get them off, you know, electronic devices. So we did an old fashioned fun, you know, classic. And it would have an insert, like here’s some videos on how to use your toy to go use it. And they, they love that. We give them a free library of like someone teaching them how to do the hacky sack and the helicopter. And we have toys that are not really easy to use, like juggling. So then they got tutorials from Phil’s juggling skills on how to juggle and then people just love that they would like, I don’t think anyone ever left us a negative review, even if like what heaven forbid, like they’re juggling sack from Pakistan leaks, some beans or rice or whatever in the middle. They would email us first because we had sent so much Goodwill and like extra goodness in that package.

Janelle:

Like, Hey, you know, here’s this to help you learn how to juggle. And less than five minutes that they were already felt like we were just delivering such a kick-ass service that they wouldn’t want to go, like give us a negative review. They liked us, you know, from opening the package. So that’s one thing I always tell sellers, like what can you do to make them like, like you from the minute they get your package, they open up and this company’s cool, you know? And then they give you the benefit of the doubt. Like if there was something broken because Amazon can break things and maybe not ship it in the most kind way. They’re gonna reach out to you first and just let you know, instead of like smearing you all over on the, on the Amazon’s review detail page.

Bradley Sutton:

Yup, absolutely. Now we do the something on the show, you know, we call the, the TST 30-second tip. So, you know, you’ve been talking about different general strategies, but what let’s do like maybe two or three of these were, you know, and you can take your time to think about it. If you need to like where you can say something within like 30 to 40 seconds or something, that’s an actionable strategy. No, it could be, I don’t know. YouTube marketing, Instagram marketing, it could be PPC strategy, keyword, research strategy, whatever branding strategy about anything you want.

Janelle:

Okay, yeah. Let’s do a branding strategy. That’s kind of where I get most excited because I feel like most people are just selling generic goods to generic people, and like the beauty of the internet is it’s given us this intimate connection. Like you can find a sub-Reddit group that anything that tickles your fancy, right? And so when you write your copy, as I always say, like, you know, Proctor & Gamble, they made generic goods for generic people. And now we have these brands, like, you know, dollar shave club or like the beard oils that they really speak to a segment. They narrow in like laser beam focused. They know exactly who their target audience is and they can connect with them with coffee because it can enter the conversation that client’s having in their head because they know their client like down to a T. In the supplement spacem, you know, if we just make a note nootropic for, for everyone, we’ve made a nootropic for no one, because now there’s people that are making nootropics. And if you don’t a nootropic gets things, it’s something that like helps you with your mind, right? If you make a nootropic for gamers, now you can speak a language to them. Like there’s probably a reason a gamer takes like a nootropic and you would speak about maybe it’s like when they’re, you know, in the last mile of their first person shooter game, like I obviously don’t play video games. So I’m probably butchering this, but you could use words that really connect with them versus like, “Hey, this will enhance your mind and cognitive ability and help you focus.” It’s like you would be talking about how they could be like the sniper all star, because they could shoot all their, you know, that’s what I’m talking about.

Janelle:

We did this really well in CrossFit. We, we picked that niche with our supplements and it was post-workout recovery. And again, it changed the whole nature of the language that we used. It was like, you talked about not a workout. You talked about a lot. That’s what they talk about in CrossFit. They don’t go to a gym. They go to a box and they don’t do workouts to do Fran and Grace. And they have, they have a whole language. If you haven’t read that book, it’s like tribe, tribal marketing or something like that. You, you have a language, you know, you have a group of people and people like us do things like this. That’s what Seth Godin would always talk about was like, you have to kind of carve out that, that community. And then you really going to build a brand of loyal raving fans, because people want to connect. They don’t want to be a generic, no one, they have actual likes and tastes and they want to belong. And so when you can position your product as a product that speaks to the needs of a certain segment of people, then you’re going to win on Amazon. You’re going to win. I’m just on Amazon, you to win as a brand because that’s what a brand is. It stands for something, it has a mission and a vision and a purpose that connects with people.

Bradley Sutton:

I love it. I love it. Any other strategies you can, you can give about maybe something else.

Janelle:

I think hiring good people for me. I mean, that’s something, cause I have obviously a larger business to manage, but the more that you can hire people that you can trust, and you can let them run with your vision. If you have to micromanage everything, you’re just going to limit your growth. Oh, and one thing I always say though, too, is we always talk about scaling everything and my mentor, Seth Godin, he said this, and it just sticks with me, especially not everything should scale. Like there’s things that, the reason why you’re going to really be good at what you do is because it can’t scale. If you give out exceptional customer service, like the kind of examples, those and was famous for that doesn’t scale, it’s empowering really good people to do the best for your company. And you know, there’s going to be a limit to what Zappos can do customer service wise, that won’t scale, but they’ll become a powerful million dollar brand, whatever, just because of that thing that they specialize in. So well. So I think sometimes we need to, obviously we can create systems, but not everything can scale. If you want to do it really good, but doing something the best is what actually makes you a brand and differentiate you in the marketplace that you can command people’s dollars for. So.

Bradley Sutton:

I like it. Alright, well Janelle, thank you so much for joining us. Look forward to getting to meet you in person at the workshop that’s coming up. If people want to follow you out there or maybe ask you more questions, are you open to that? Do you want to drop how they can reach you?

Janelle:

Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I’m pretty easy to find this. I have a website janellepage.com, and I think I’m on Instagram and social media. @janellepage11, 11 was my basketball number. So that’s how come everyone’s like, why 11 I’m like, oh, that’s my

Bradley Sutton:

Original page. Where did you play basketball at

Janelle:

Davis high? And then I was going to play in college, but I didn’t.

Bradley Sutton:

All right, well, Janelle when you come down here, maybe I’ll take you to, you know, I have a full basketball at my house that has a huge Helium 10 logo that we call the Helium 10 basketball court. We’ll have to shoot some hoops down.

Janelle:

Were gonna play pig.

Bradley Sutton:

Pig? What’s that H-O-R-S-E, but just with three letters?

Janelle:

See, it makes it shorter, but I’ll play H-O-R-S-E,

Bradley Sutton:

Okay. Okay. Got it. Cool. We’re on the same page here. There we go. I love it. All right, Janelle. Thank you so much. And we’ll see you soon.


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