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Attacking Amazon Head On With Advanced Marketing With Kevin King - Part 1
March 29, 2021
SRT 88 - Kevin King - Part 1
Part 1

Part 2

Things we mention in this session of Seller Round Table:

[00:00:00] spk_1: Mm. Mhm. Welcome to the seller Roundtable, E commerce, coaching and business strategies [00:00:05] spk_0: with and er not. And Amy [00:00:07] spk_1: Wiis. Mm. Hey, what's up, everybody? This is Andy are not with [00:00:16] spk_0: And [00:00:17] spk_1: this is still a round table. Number 88 we have Kevin King back. Kevin, you are one of the early You were in the number 10 was your last episode. So you're an o. G on the SRT. [00:00:27] spk_0: Um, And I made. And [00:00:28] spk_1: I made that rhyme too, which [00:00:29] spk_0: is, you know, good on me. Uh, [00:00:32] spk_1: welcome back. Thanks for being [00:00:33] spk_0: on. Glad to be back. Thanks for having me. [00:00:36] spk_1: Yeah. So if anybody in the Amazon world doesn't know who you are yet which I would find surprising, maybe they're just starting out. Give people a little bit of background. Uh, you know, go as deep as you want. You know where you grew up? What you did in the past past jobs. Kind of What led you to where you are now? [00:00:52] spk_0: Yeah. So I've been an entrepreneur in my entire life since I was about two years old. I'm not the traditional person who worked a corporate job and then quit to go work for myself. I've only held two jobs in my entire life that was delivering pizzas and working at McDonald's when I was a teenager. I graduated from Texas A and M degree in business, and ever since then I've been doing my own thing. I've been doing e commerce since before Google existed back when there's AltaVista and Yahoo and, uh, Alekos and, uh, stuff back in like 94 95. I think it's around 94. I think I sent my first email, but I was playing on the computers at Texas A and M doing back when the Internet was actually just between universities and scientific thing. So I've been doing e commerce, uh, pretty much ever since then. I've been dealing with Amazon since 2000, and one. I think I was back. PayPal first started, I think, 99 or 2000. So when they used to give you $10 per subscriber per person is referred into your accounts. I was referring people to sign up for PayPal, so that's how far back I go. Been doing it for the F B, A model on Amazon. Since 2015, I've got five different companies that either owner and partners in doing a whole variety of different things on Amazon. I also, uh, partners of products savants, which is a company where we help advance sellers finds and source products. I am the lead trainer for the helium 10 for their, uh, Helium 10 elite, which is a monthly coaching as well as I am the creator of the Freedom Ticket Course, which was recently voted the number one course for new Amazon sellers by seller Pole. And the big poll also hosts a billion dollars seller Summits. And I have another business that, uh, does direct to consumer off Amazon. So people clearly you're bored. I'm just we need to give you some more things to do all day, all day. I just sit around and nothing to do. That's awesome, Kevin. So, yeah, I've got my hands in a little bit of everything. I work. I don't have any idea or any employees, so I partner with people, so, like, uh, you know, that's that's how people say, How do you do all this? I do work a lot, but I also I work smart, so, like, you know, instead of creating my own cool. I could create my own course, kept 100% of the profits gone out and did all the Facebook ads and all the traditional things dealt with all the customer inquiries and people in the cancel and subscribe or get access to this. But instead of doing that, I just part with someone that already has an audience. So, like helium 10, you know, they're already out there with a massive audience. Probably second only Jungle Scout. Maybe they're above General Scout. Now, Uh, those two are neck and neck and let them handle all that and they take a cut and I get a get a piece, and it works really good. So that's That's how they would do so many things is by partnering and by by leveraging different, different stuff. Well, you certainly have a plethora of experience, and we're ready to pick your brain today. This is your second time on the seller round table, so I would love to know what surprises have you encountered since beginning your business on Amazon? Probably the biggest thing that I don't know if there's a surprise, but it catches a lot of people off guard is how much money it actually takes to be successful in Amazon. Yeah, that's that, you know? Yeah, like when I started 2015, you know, that's like, amazing was the top course and people were doing. And I start with 1000 bucks. 2000 bucks. Yeah, there's people that have done that and gone on to be very successful. But it's those people are very few and far between, and maybe you do start off with 1000 bucks. But what people don't say is two months later, they got terms in their supplier or they they took a loan from their rich uncle. Or there's something else to the story usually, and that that was probably the biggest surprises. How truly cash intensive it actually is to make this business work, especially once you start growing. It's just extremely cash intensive. That makes so much sense because it is a scale game we have. We need to be able to keep reinvesting and getting more products and really build something in order to build something. You need money, and also we make a lot of mistakes. In the beginning, we spend too much money on advertising mistakes or sourcing mistakes. So I think we need some room for error and you need to start with a really great plan. So I agree there's money is definitely surprised there, um, other opportunities to grow on Amazon. And if yes, talk about that, and if not, why not? Are you said that? Are there opportunities to grow in Amazon? Yeah, some people say that it's like saturated now. There's no opportunities, opportunities. It's better than ever. Right now. It's the best it's ever been. But you have. It's not easy, so there's a difference between opportunity and easy. Four or five years ago, it was pretty easy. You could just go stick, go to Alibaba, stick your logo on a spatula and stick it up on Amazon and actually probably make some decent money. You can't do that anymore. Are there certain product categories that are saturated absolutely, doesn't mean you can't compete there. No, it just means you either got to come to it with a different look different, a differentiation or a lot more money to actually compete. But there's tons of opportunities, and the beauty about Amazon is that, um, it's growing just this year. It's up what I think 40% just because of Covid, and I don't think that's going to stop. I mean, the girls won't be as dramatic. It's gonna continue to grow. And what that does is it creates even more opportunity because don't compete on where you shouldn't compete is on the highest level. The big key words, the most search for keywords. But that increase in traffic and increasing people using it means there's a lot more depth at the lower end. So, you know, it's five years ago if you were selling black metal specialist for left, left handed, left handed people who live we like to cook pancakes. I don't know some really Mitch down thing. You know, there's like five or 10 people looking for that, but now, because it's increased now there's You can make a business out of that because all these really super niches and these keywords that have 500,000 searches or less you put enough of those together. You can still you can create something without all the competition out, all the without, all the saturation without all the headaches. So no, the opportunities are great. But you gotta. It all starts with the product you pick, Um, and so that's where a lot of people make a mistake. Is they? You want to grow too fast or they, uh they're anxious to quit the other job and get out of this. And so they make mistakes in the product they choose or or they don't differentiate it. Let's have students still in the Freedom ticket that were complaining about hijackers. Hijacker on my listing. How do I get him off? I've never had a hijacker in all my years selling on Amazon, and that's because I differentiate the products I'm not. So those are the people that are taking shortcuts. It's a great place to establish a brand to establish, to prove that a product if it's a brand new product, you know, to get reviews and prove it out before you take it to retail or something in the Amazon is is it's incredible what you can do. So no, it's not sad. It's not saturated, and it hasn't jumped the shark. I like it. I like it a lot. I completely agree. You know there is. There are saturated categories, but it is all about what you're doing with your products and differentiating and building a business, right? So it's a very powerful sales channel and there's a lot of opportunity, and I completely agree that it's just going to continue to grow so but we got to be on top of it. So, speaking of being on top of it, what is the most important thing in Amazon seller can be doing right now to maximize their sales and profit, maximize their Selves in profits, is using every tool that Amazon gives you. There's so many people that they throw up the product on Amazon. All right, I'm now I'm selling on Amazon. Let me go. Let me go start running Facebook ads or starting my Shopify site or I need to be on Walmart. I need to diversify off of Amazon, but all my eggs in one basket, yeah, there is risk that being just on Amazon and having all your eggs in one basket. But at the time and energy that you spend to go off of Amazon and the money that you spend to try to develop something off of Amazon typically is not worth your time. For most people It's a whole different business model. It's a whole different way, and you're better off taking that time and energy and focusing it back on Amazon and using all the tools that Amazon gives you. A lot of people aren't using video. A lot of people aren't using Amazon Post. A lot of people aren't using the live the new live stuff a lot of people aren't using don't have a store front page. A lot of do do all those little things that Amazon all these tools and things that Amazon gives you and that will help you. You know, each one of those might add a small percentage, but they're gonna be It's gonna be a bigger number at the end of the day. Then you taking time to go develop, uh, try to send traffic to Shopify site. Do you need a Shopify site or stand up and say, Yeah, you should. It's just, you know, there are people that will google you to see if you're legit. If they never heard from you need something, but don't put a lot of effort and energy into driving traffic to it. You're better off if you want to expand off of Amazon us that say you're selling us, Go to Canada, start selling in Canada, there's two different systems. Usually, if your account gets shut down for some bad reason in the US, it's not gonna affect your account in Canada. You know, diversify that way because you already know how to play the game. You already know how Amazon works. It's very similar in those other countries. You're better off doing that. Canada, you can add, depends on your products, but you can add 5 to 15% to your bottom line really fast. It's way less competitive. I agree that you know there's so many new ways to take up real estate on the page, and we're in e commerce. If you want to get found, you need to make sure that you're taking advantage of all of those real estate offers that Amazon is giving you, um, like your storefront and video ads. And yeah, I'm astounded every day when I see new clients that are trying to increase their sales and our brand registered and are not taking advantage of those things, and he was the first one to yell at me and say Amy video ads. They're available now. I get it. I don't care if it's ugly. Get it out there. Video. He stays on top of me getting taking advantage of that. Need to go shoot some fancy. You can hire a company and shoot a nice product, video and all that if you want to. But if you can't afford that or don't have the time and just take your best images and create a slideshow, you know those people on fiber that will put it to music and put some graphics to it, Uh, and just get that up and start running that that that alone. Like you said, the real estate. You know, those things take up like the spot of four product listings on the page. It's just it's incredible. And now you know, Amazon just recently introduced when people ask a question, you can answer with a video. Um, I started doing that. It was really cool. Yeah, that's just those little things can. There's just so much that can be done that most people don't don't do so. What is your favorite part and least favorite part of being an Amazon seller? At least they were. Part is, you're playing in Amazon's playground, so no matter what you're selling you you never know what's gonna happen. You never know if they're gonna classify your product is adult all of a sudden because some complaint or they're gonna say this product is about pesticides. So you need to provide these documents and dealing with Amazon so big it's they're not doing it on purpose. But they're just they're so big. And it's just you can't get a straight answer and a good answer from someone that actually has a clue a lot of times. So that's the most frustrating part. The best part is this the opportunity. I mean, you just the amount of people in the amount of eyeballs and amount of traffic that you can get in front. It's just it's a There's never been a business like it, probably in history. I mean, it's been you're gonna have this many people that are anxious with their credit cards out, ready to buy right in front of you that you can get in front of overnight. I mean, it's incredible what you can do. Love it. So I'm curious about this one because you're a pretty open book, Kevin. But what is something most people don't know about you or something that's most people don't know about me. Um, um, that's what most people don't know about me. I'm pretty open the, uh what did they not know? Um, that, uh, most people don't know that. I was saying one of the top 40 marketers under 40 when I was 22 years old, which is a long time ago, and I was featured. I did a little business back when, when, uh, strip clubs actually started becoming a thing. You know, there's always been a strip clubs that are out there, you know, it's always you see all of the movies and there's seedy part of town of the gross little, nasty little places that guys go back around. 19, 1991. That industry started changing and you would have, especially in cities like Dallas, Houston, Atlanta. These, like $5 million clubs opening up with marble floors and crystal chandeliers and prime rib steak lunches and all this kind of stuff. And they became like these palaces. And that fascinated me when I was, like, 23 years old. So I actually started a magazine, Uh, that had no new T. It's just about the business of this business. Uh, there's no nudity or anything. It's just about the club's opening. And I had all this data about, um, all these clubs everywhere. And so I created this magazine and I had no money. I started this with, like, five or 10 grand. I was robbing Peter to pay Paul, you know, convincing the printer and Chicago to print this on terms because I couldn't pay them. And to get pressed, I sent out a press. I sent out a press release. It was like, I gotta do something to get subscribers. I got 12 subscribers. What can I do? So I said, uh, I was getting the business cards from the fish bowls from different places and sending out stuff. This is the direct mail is pre Internet days. And I was again, uh, sent out a press that I got all this data because I've flown all over the country. My mom worked for American Airlines so I could fly for free. So I flew all over the country doing research on these clubs. It wasn't just go sit in the club and get drunk and spend money. It was actually I was going and going into the club, seeing how the lighting was set up, how the situation is set up now. The business side of it was set up, and I go to the library and say, Atlanta or Seattle or New York and pulled the microfilm about all the stories that have been written about these clubs and some some states that the alcohol sales or public information. So I gathered all this data. I had all this data, so I created this list of Here's the top 20 cities in the United States for strip block. Dallas has 42 in Atlanta has 36 this is how much money they do. You know that it's a whatever it was $100 million business in a year business in Dallas and, you know, aggregate. It's a $3 billion a year business, blah, blah, blah. All this stuff, and I actually had a fax machine. The facts that press release to entertainment tonight to the AP and somebody else I can't remember next day. Entertainment tonight was that my little one bedroom apartment in Austin filming me Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous flew me out to California to interview me. Um, because I became the de facto expert about this business in this hot new trend. And I got I was on the cover of The New York Times and from Front Page, New York Times and USA Today and Read Book and Vanity Fair. And you name it. I became the experts. You know, it's a little 23 year old kid, uh, in Austin. Uh, so that's something a lot of people don't know. That's fascinating. Wow. I [00:17:05] spk_1: love it. I love it. So why didn't you become a partner in one of these bustling adult entertainment [00:17:11] spk_0: industry? Actually, I tried to, you know, I saw this. I was like, This is a cool idea. So I actually put together, like 100 page business plan, like, you know, like this With the business plan, people have won awards, You know, if it was in some sort of competition, very detailed business plan to open line. Austin. It was like, I don't know anybody in the business. So how how do I find out what I should pay people? What people were like. So I put in a newspaper ad in the local Austin American Statesman, 1991 92 somewhere in there and saying New Club opening soon now hiring bartenders and managers and there's no club. I just want to resume. So I just wanted to meet people and talk to people. So people were sending me resumes at one of the people that send me a resume was one of the current managers, one of the current clubs. So I called him up and we met, and I can't claim to him about what I was doing. He was like, Hey, let's partner up And so we actually tried to raise money to actually open one and just nobody wanted to really give us. I think it was three million bucks for trying to raise, and we really wanted to give some kid with no experience three million bucks open a club. But you did prove like the power of the press right there and the power of just putting your story out there like you went. You started with nothing, and then you got all this recognition because you put some really cool data together And you know, whenever you can craft a story in a way where it might be attractive to the press or somebody who wants to get your story out there, you proved the power of that and that it also brought the bad stuff out because as a result of the press, I got a phone call from a guy in Detroit who saw me on entertainment tonight, and he tracked me down somehow and said, Hey, I want you to be a consultant on the fly. You up here to Detroit and I think about opening a club. So he flies me up there. Um and then at the time, I was still trying to be the magazine. He's like, Hey, you need some help with the magazine? I was like, Yeah, he said, What do you need a $10,000 investment right now? You know, it's just a lot of money. Back then, $10,000 really help. So yeah, here you go. Here's 10 grand and I moved to Arizona at that point because I thought I had a business partner that was going to help me out there, so I just packed up and moved I was doing whatever I needed to do, uh, had a U haul truck that I moved in and I didn't have a car, So I didn't return the U Haul truck for, like, three months. That was my local car. I was driving around, um, and but one day I locked the keys in it, and I was like, I don't want my ride. Um, so it was It was not good, but, um, this guy turns out that he ended up moving to Arizona or running a hotel in Paris, and it turns out he was old old school mafia. Uh huh was running all kinds of stuff. And, uh, they would run out the top of the Phoenician resort in Arizona. The top CEOs from some very big fortune 500 companies would come in and they would have, or gs and all kinds of crazy. I was never invited. He's like, one day, maybe you'll be you'll be good enough, but cocaine and it's just crazy. I was like, I don't want any part of this, you know? I got to be where he was, like, you know, a model wants to be on the cover Uh, yeah, they're gonna have to do something. I'm like, I'm not, You know, this is this is not me. I don't want any part of this. So I left. And, uh, and I believe with a police escort out of the city because he said Guido is to break my legs to keep me from leaving so I could write a whole book and it could be a whole movie on it. But we've opened a can of worms here. I love it. That's fun. So there's a good story that no one has ever heard that. Excuse me to the SRT. I like it. I like it. This is we're going to change the title of this episode to be like, Did you know Do you know who wants to break Kevin Kings list? [00:20:57] spk_1: No, no, [00:20:58] spk_0: no. Absolutely [00:20:58] spk_1: No. The titles. Just strippers and blow. That's [00:21:01] spk_0: the talk stories. For hours, about I could tell you crazy stuff. I was like, uh, well, speaking of you talking stories and telling us crazy stuff, let's get back to crazy stuff. On and off of Amazon. What other selling platforms have you looked into? Which ones do you like? And You know I'm so long. I've sold in Wal Mart in the past and Shopify in eBay. Those are pretty much the only ones that yeah, we have Shopify sites for all of our products. Right now, I also one of my one of my brands That's direct to consumer, and we actually still I still get checks on them. And I think this year, you know, we did a healthy six figures in business and I think 2030 grand of it was still checks and money orders being sent in the mail so that business is not dead. Um, but that one's not on Shopify. That's on like a proprietary platform just because we customized a lot of stuff years ago and just don't want to move it. But those are the ones that off Amazon that, you know, I sold Zulily and a touch of modern and don't hold sell different places. But focus is primarily Amazon. EBay adds a little bit. Wal Mart wasn't a I did Walmart like, three years ago, and I really haven't gone back to it, so we're not doing much there right now. I hear it's better now than what it was. But yeah, it's slowly growing like we just started in Walmart a little while ago, and it's a lot better than it was like years ago, because they're really putting effort into their online presence now. But compared to Amazon, like you said, it's just it's very small. So it's a growing opportunity, though, and I can see that it's growing every day, so that makes sense. So what about on Amazon? Do you use mostly fulfillment by Amazon, or do use outside services for packing, shipping, customer service? And what do you think the pros and cons of each option are for? People just starting out with FDA? With all of those limitations on shipping, well, the new limitations for even if you're not just starting out, even if you're established seller introducing a new product, you have limitations. So there's 200 maximum to send in is a problem for something that sells, you know, if you're shooting for 10, 10 15 20 sales a day, that's a that's a serious problem. So you have to have a third party fulfillment. You have to have an F B M option, and so I have. I try to get FDA on everything as fast as I can, because just the the economies of scale and the costs are just dramatically lower. But I have, uh, from one of our brands. Or we have two different two different uh three pls one in ST Louis and one in Washington State's that handle that for us, and I also, I live in a condo here in downtown high rise condo, and we have in the parking garage levels. There's actually garages that you can wrap for, like, 200 bucks a month. So I have two of those that are one of them set up as a fulfillment center. I I got to have to go down and describe. There's no Internet down there, so I have to go down. I have a whole Mac computer with a label printer and ship station and all this stuff set on it. All the boxes and tape and everything you need and to get to connect to the Internet. I have to use a hot spot on my cell phone to connect, but I have that set up just for some small stuff. But luckily I you know, it's not a lot that goes out of there. But luckily I have that because one of my product brands just, uh, this year. This past season, all FDA selling really good numbers every day into the thousands of dollars. A couple of these items. It's a seasonal item. The calendars. Actually, these calendars and the calendars were doing well. And then come black Friday and cyber Monday, I noticed the sales just went up slightly. They didn't go up two or three or four, except they have in the past. I didn't think a whole lot of it at the time. I was so busy I didn't look into it. I was like, Yeah, maybe maybe it's just people are ordering earlier. The sales are spread out because of covid or whatever, and then I started about a week after early December around the fifth or 6th December somewhere around, and I was like, I better look into this actually and see what's going on. It turns out we have five skews. Once you was was still going strong. The other four were making sales, but Amazon had d index them all. They had moved them. Someone must have complained or someone was being malicious and they got moved into the adult category. So when that happens, you don't even index. So you type in the word, you know, pretty islands, and you don't come up anywhere. Uh, and if you even type in the adjacent, you don't come up like if you just type the ascent into the search bar. Just you're just going to check that you don't even come up, you don't exist. The only place you exist is on where you've gotten sales in the past, where you had people that whereby or have bought this product also bought this our customers reviewed. This also viewed that so those spots were still alive. So that's why I'm still making sales in those four other four. And I didn't The alarm bells didn't go off as quick as I should have. But when I looked into it, I was like, This is crazy, but it was too late. This is a seasonal product. People are buying calendars this time of year, and it's like selling eggs. You know, I can't save these and selling next summer. Um, they're no good. So I was like, What am I gonna do? I can't. I contacted Amazon. I contacted someone I know in Amazon. Uh, it's classified them as I kept getting answers back from seller support and catalog team. Sorry. You know, there's a vague answers like you're in the right place. There's nothing we can do. Basically, you're saying you're screwed. So what I had to do is create five new list for new listings all F d m. Um and so I created four new listings. I just I have a old school U P c code back in the day when you could just buy the prefix back from 20 years ago. You just get paid. I don't know what it was. 500,000 bucks. You get a prefix, and you can make as many you PCs forever. So it's kind of like a grandfather then. So I had that. So I just made up some new PCs even though they didn't match the product. I didn't get it. I don't give a crap because I'm not sending these Amazon. It doesn't matter. Put those new listings up as F B m because it was too late to ship them in. And if I did ship them into FB A. It would be cost confusion. Amazon might not like it because you get two of the same thing and the same seller account all this kind of stuff. So I was, like, just be the fbn listings And over And then I have a list of customers who bought these directly from me over the last 20 years. Been doing this like, 20 years. So I emailed them. This is on a Sunday, emailed them on Sunday and said, Okay, one day, flash sale Most. These guys have already bought, uh, but something happened. I said one day flash sale. These 1995 calendars are now 9 95 only today. So I got, like, 100 orders that day. 120 words. That seated algorithm with the keywords. And I don't go through a special, uh, to step u r l it got. And these are not highly competitive. Like I was talking about earlier. These are calendars for left handed, uh, red haired people or whatever. So, you know, So it doesn't take a lot to get them ranked. So I got him ranked and I got them frequently bought together together by doing this because those customers, by different three of them or something, so that I got to frequently bought together customers. You view this so that would help me down the road and then started doing f B M on it overnight. Start selling 100 day over last night. I actually shift 800 quarters. Um, so it's actually making up more than the FDA. So if I didn't have that set up and didn't have that option, didn't know how to do that, I would have left literally tens of thousands of dollars on the table. Is it a pain in the ass? Yeah, it's a pain in the ass, but that's like I said earlier. That's where you're playing in Amazon's playground and they make the rules, not you, and they can screw. But if you can adapt and pivot, it would be set up to do something like that. At the end of the day, Um, it can be they can save you. Yeah, that's exactly what we did during. Well, we didn't get flagged as adult product, thank goodness. But that's exactly what we did when the pandemic kicked off and Amazon said, Hey, we're not shipping stuff. We were like, We are get those F b m orders going and yeah, I I say, If we hadn't done that, you know, we we would have probably had a third of maybe even less of the sales that we shipped out during that time. And it was just insanity seller. These days you have to have F B M. If you don't. If you're selling something that's really mic'd and you're selling to a day three a day, you could probably get by with just FDA. But if you're if you're selling anything that selling 10 or more 5 to 10 a day, you're going to have to have an f B M option. Thanks for tuning in to part [00:29:49] spk_1: one of this episode. Join us every Tuesday at one PM, Pacific Standard time for live Q and A and bonus content after the recording [00:29:56] spk_0: at cellar round table dot [00:29:58] spk_1: com, sponsored by the ultimate software tool for Amazon Sales and Growth seller s c o dot com [00:30:04] spk_0: and amazing [00:30:05] spk_1: at home dot com

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