257 Building a BIG ecommerce Brand with Rick Cesari Part 1 of 2
On today’s instalment of Amazing FBA, I’m delighted to bring in a heavy hitter in the marketing world, Rick Cesari of RickCesari.com. He’s launched, among others, Sonicare, OxiClean, The George Foreman Grill, and GoPro. Rick’s story is as impressive as his resume. His marketing career began almost by accident after he graduated from college with a degree in biology. Rick took some time off after school, got into real estate, and started learning about direct to consumer marketing by promoting real estate seminars; this led to Rick’s first business, Trillium Health Products. Today he’ll be talking about building a big ecommerce brand.
Trillium Health Products developed the Juiceman juicer and Breadman bread machine. Rick and his team taught people about how to eat a healthier diet through their marketing of these products. The market conditions, marketing strategy, and product niche were perfect for Trillium Health Products, and the company grew from zero to $75 million in only four years. Rick sold his company to a retail consumer company in Chicago called Sultan Housewares–best known for developing the George Foreman Grill. Next, Rick and his team took on the task of marketing the George Foreman Grill for Sultan Housewares, and the rest is history.
How Direct Response Marketing Differs from Traditional Brand Marketing
One of the differences between direct response marketing and brand marketing is that in direct response you’re able to measure every single advertising dollar that you spend. You can then quickly see whether that advertising is paying for itself. With direct response marketing, you try to create a climate in which each dollar spent in advertising produces two dollars in revenue regardless of distribution channel.
The distribution channel in question for today’s discussion is obviously the Amazon marketplace. The marketing channels, however, could be anything from Amazon PPC to Google Ads or Facebook Ads; all of these fall under the umbrella of direct response marketing.
For those looking to grow their sales through marketing, the more you learn about direct response marketing, the better. The principles of direct response marketing developed decades ago when the primary mediums were print and mail still apply today; the human psychology side of the model still applies. It’s only the conduit through which the marketing channels run that has changed.
For More on Direct Response Marketing, Check out Rick’s book Buy Now
The Principles Direct Response Marketing
One of the most important ways to differentiate your products on Amazon is to establish a unique selling proposition. What makes your product different and better than everyone else? If you make a product that can provide health benefits, focus on those benefits. If your product has a feature that none of the others do, say so. Educate your consumer base about what makes your product special.
If there’s one consistent theme for every successful product Rick has launched or marketed, it’s consumer education. From the George Foreman Grill to the Sonicare Toothbrush and everything in between, informing the consumer was paramount in selling the product. Often the biggest hurdle was finding the best distribution channel pre-internet. Now with tools like Amazon, Facebook, and YouTube, and ecommerce solutions like Shopify and Weebly, the distribution platforms have come to the masses.
Take one of Rick’s clients Pluggable for example; they’ve become the number one seller of docking stations on Amazon. What they did, from an education standpoint, was build their website and optimize it for video distribution designed to educate their consumers about the Pluggable product. Their site and its content not only funnel sales to Amazon as a sales channel, but Amazon funnels traffic to the website when consumers feel the need to do more extensive product research. They’re selling through the Amazon marketplace to the tune of seven-figures. For Pluggable, even their level of customer service sets them apart from the competition. For ecommerce brands like this, something as simple as a demonstration video can generate better customer reviews and stronger sales numbers.
The key to a successful direct response marketing strategy is identifying the features and uses unique to your product or service and producing ad content and sales funnels that educate the consumer about the exact benefits that can be gained by using your product.
The Shadow Cast by Amazon and the Amazon Marketplace
Five years ago, a marketing company could expect to see 10-15 percent of conversations coming from Amazon. Today that number is closer to 50 percent. Amazon’s reach and distribution is growing more and more it seems by the day. 64 percent of households not only use Amazon but have a prime account.
With this vast sales channel in mind, it can be easy for some sellers to get stuck in the Amazon and Amazon only mentality. For sellers just starting off, that’s fine, but for more established sellers it can be a good idea to diversify sales channels. It only takes one intellectual property claim to damage even the most established Amazon brands. It’s vital as sellers grow to develop direct to consumer sales channels and off-Amazon marketing principles. Just as you’d never want to focus all of your entire marketing budget on Facebook in perpetuity, scaling Amazon-based businesses should look to diversify their sales channels as well.
At some point, the market is capped in the Amazon sphere. Diversifying your sales channels can not only provide a safety net that can keep businesses afloat in the event of intellectual property claims, but it can also provide an avenue for growth beyond Amazon. Having a bigger vision is crucial for sellers in a direct response mindset.
You can find Rick and all of his ventures at his website RickCesari.com.
Stick around next time for the specifics of video marketing in part two of my interview with Rick Cesari.