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An Amazon mastermind: Why You need one- part 2 (episode 205)

“So are you suggesting I just set my own Amazon mastermind group up?”

Absolutely, you can. I’ve set up my own Amazon mastermind myself, as I mentioned earlier.
Here’s the thing – it’s really hard work. If I were just selling on Amazon, rather than also running a podcast and coaching, I simply wouldn’t do it all again. I’d just plug into an existing group.

But, if you want to create something from scratch, I can give you a ton of reality checks form from personal experience:

Finding new Amazon seller peers for your Amazon mastermind

Firstly, and most importantly, you’ve got to gather together a set of people who are worth being peers with in an Amazon group in the first place.

When I first started out on Amazon, and formed my own peer group of Amazon sellers, I looked through the Facebook group of a course that I was in, and searched for people who lived in or near me (in London). I then tried to check out what they had been posting, to see how active they were, whether they were moving forward with the process, etc.

That took a lot of time and effort. Trouble is, that was just a beginning!

Think about it.

Amazon mastermind hurdle 1- Facebook Monkeys

Facebook Groups aka “The tyre kickers’ Club”

There are a lot of people out on the Facebook groups, even within paid courses, who don’t have enough money, don’t have enough time, and don’t have the right attitude.

They hope they can make some money on Amazon. They’ve often been pitched into the idea that they can easily replace the day job within 3 months (if that’s you.

Sure, it happens- but it’s pretty rare. Sorry to burst your balloon. It’s not a business-like attitude. It’s based on hope. Which, as we all know, is not a strategy…).

What I’ve just described sounds, in fact, like a typical Facebook group of Amazon wannapreneurs.

Which is why my first effort to create a little Amazon mastermind faltered. I had found a bunch of would-be Amazon sellers who lived in London and posted a bit online. Not surprisingly, most of them proved to be very much non-action-takers, and the meetings ended up being people fantasising about starting a business, instead of doing it!

Filtering out the tyre-kickers

What you need is a filtering system. And, guess what, that takes time and effort to build. What I do these days for the masterminds for Amazon sellers that I run (through Amazing FBA) is have an application process for each Amazon mastermind.

I ask every single applicant to fill in a form with questions that I’ve honed over a year of working this process. Then in some cases (all cases, for applicants to my $10K Collective Amazon mastermind ), I have a 20-30 minute interview in which I ask detailed questions.

Why bother? Well, see above. What happens to you if you create (with some effort) a peer group of  under-capitalized, time-poor un-focussed people? Oh yeah…

Finding people to put through your filter

Of course, if you are going to filter people out, you need a way of finding possible people in the first place. If you’re going to manually do that, you need to be going to a lot of physical meet ups and other big groups.

That’s great, but there aren’t a whole lot of good ones in the UK. There’s a fantastic Amazon meetup in London once a month, run by the excellent Andy Geldman of Webretailer. Then there are various other meet up groups, some of which might be good, but many of which, I suspect, are run by wannabes not business owners.

Amazon mastermind meeting venue

Finding an Amazon mastermind meeting venue

Once you’ve gathered your troops, you’ve got to find a suitable venue for your Amazon meet up.

Firstly, it needs to be reasonably accessible for your members. So the geography and transport links matter. Then it needs to be affordable (money is whole other issue we’ll discuss). This all takes quite a bit of time and effort. Even in London, I found it took hours, and we have a ton of business meeting venues in this place.

You need a space that enables you all to think clearly. You could use your own house, of course, if you have the space- and the headspace. But do you really want  the kids -or your husband/wife-interrupting a crucial business point? How conducive to clear thinking is that? It’s cheap but brings its own issues.

You could use a local pub but I’ve found (having been in an Amazon mastermind in the past who met in one) that the noise seriously disrupts your ability to hear crucial bits of information. So I can’t recommend that.

A quiet cafe is better – but although I find that works great for one-to-one meetings, it’s not really the right way for a group of people to work, as they have to basically take over the room to do it. And there’s always a screaming infant somewhere (and why should there not be? it’s a cafe!)

 Venue resources

You need decent wifi of course (although I think it’s less important than most people make it. But you shouldn’t spend your whole time online. You need to think clearly. Online is not the place for that).

I think a whiteboard or an easel with a flipchart is very, very helpful for brainstorming strategies, or capturing key resources (eg websites or online tools) for the group.

Coffee on tap is great -free, good coffee even better! Easily available toilets are a mundane but crucial part of a good venue. And finally, you ideally want somewhere easy for new members to find, not a cramped room hidden upstairs behind a noisy pub!

Why choose an existing Amazon mastermind

Conclusions – a reality-check on creating your own Amazon mastermind

I hope that the above experiences save you wasting months of hard work. Frankly, now I know from experience what I know, if I were just selling on Amazon, rather than also running a podcast and coaching, I simply wouldn’t do it all again. I’d just plug into an existing group. As indeed I did myself about 18 months ago!

The only reason I go to all the trouble it takes to create and run a Amazon mastermind (which I detailed just some of above), is that it’s part of my mission at Amazing FBA.

That mission is to help Amazon sellers and those in the process of establishing their own Amazon businesses to achieve REAL goals. Not just fantasies. And not to take 12 months on something that you could achieve in 3 months (or even 2) with some guidance from experience.

Even then, I couldn’t justify the time it takes away from my Amazon business if I didn’t charge a certain amount for all the efforts. The cost is pretty modest, by the way, if you compare it to the literally £thousands I’ve seen some Amazon trainers charge.

Often they turn out to be not true small group masterminds, but actually groups of 30-60 people. There’s nothing wrong with paying £10s of thousands if you get value in the £100s of thousands, but I’m pretty suspicious of the value most of those so-called “Amazon masterminds” can really deliver.

The “Amazing FBA” Amazon Mastermind

So, I guess that brings me fairly unavoidably to mention the Amazon masterminds that I run for Amazing FBA. Again, I don’t want to be self-serving, but it would be a bit strange for me not to mention them in the context of Amazon masterminds and  masterminds as a whole.

I try to practise what I preach, basically. I said at the start of this article that I believe that a mastermind needs to be interactive; needs to be focussed; and needs to lead its members to action, which leads to their progress.

The secret sauce to a successful Amazon mastermind

From the (sometimes painful) experience of trying many approaches in Amazon masterminds (both as a member and group leader), I’ve found the formula to combine all those good things. Like a lot of good formulas, it’s pretty simple. In fact, that’s partly why it’s so effective.

The secret sauce that I’ve found to combine all those outcomes, is the “Hot Seat”.

I’ve found that to be so effective that we’ve made it the overwhelming focus of each Amazon mastermind meeting.

Amazon mastermind hot seat

The Hot Seat Secret

Here’s how it works:

Each participant gets minimum 30 minutes to focus on their own business. Specifically, to focus on ONE thing. Even more exactly, the ONE roadblock that when they break through it, it will really move the needle. Will really move their business on -substantially. 

So it’s very focussed. That’s one secret. It’s also interactive. Because once the member in the hot seat has outlined their issue, all other members are there to bring their experience and thoughts to the issue.

Of course, it’s very helpful if the other members who don’t have anything valuable to bring can keep schtum. That way,  others who do bring value can help.

But it is excellent business training to encounter business problems and brainstorm solutions. That is the real training we all need as business builders. Not an obsession with the latest trick or grey hat technique (useful as they are, of course). But business thinking and mindset.

There is a huge bonus of having a genuine peer group in an Amazon mastermind. A lot of the people in the group share the same set of problems. So by listening to solutions to another person’s problem, you’re hearing the solutions to many problems of your own.

Win-win. 

Implementation is the ultimate test of any Amazon mastermind

SO, the group members can almost not fail to move their business forward. Provided the participants go away and implement this stuff (another crucial word), they Job done! Isn’t it?

Well, almost. The implementation piece has proved to be a real challenge for many Amazon mastermind members. Which is why I’ve recently added in a simple extra process to make sure people are held to account. In other words, to use peer pressure in a very positive way. To get you to do what you said you were going to do!

KLT

Ensuring members do what they say they will!

We’ve simply added in a quick video call check in once a month. The aim? Simple. To make sure people are implementing what they’ve said they would.

It’s early days, but the results already look promising.

It’s fairly obvious where I’m going with this, so I’ll just come out and say it:

-if you’re convinced of the value of being in an Amazon mastermind

-if you’re not wanting to go through the pain, time & effort of creating your own Amazon mastermind,

-AND if you live near London (or can get there)

then obviously I think you should consider the Amazing FBA masterminds!

I’m not going to make a huge pitch for them here; if you want to check them out, there are now two levels:

The Zero to Hero Mastermind, which is geared to those who have not yet launched, and to those doing just a few thousand $ a month (or equivalent) on Amazon (we may form a separate mastermind for the latter as it grows)

The $10K Collective, which is for those doing at least $10K a month on Amazon.

Conclusions about any Amazon mastermind – done properly

The thing is this. Now, you have a process that means you focus on the biggest win in your business right now. You can get the collective mind to break through blocks and find the actions to get that win. You  have a means to hold you to do that action. 

Now you have a really powerful driver to move you forward.

Like I said,  that may be why nearly all the successful Amazon entrepreneurs I know are part of one.

Wherever you live in the world, I’d encourage you to look for a face-to-face mastermind you can regularly commit to.

The word commit is a key one here too. If you put little in, you get little out.Your peer group will massively impact your wealth and well-being. So Choose wisely who you associate with.  

But once you’ve chosen well, commit to your Amazon mastermind. The more you sweat to rearrange your schedule to get to meetings; spend money on trains or planes to get there; in short, the more you put in- the more you get out.


I can give you a promise from my experiences as an Amazon seller and from running groups. The rewards of a really quality Amazon mastermind are truly many times greater than the effort. And the ROI (for the right group) many times greater than the cost. 

To find out more about the regular monthly masterminds for Amazon sellers led by Michael, click here

Amazon masterminds: Why You need one (episode 204)

Amazon masterminds

Why Amazon Masterminds?

Want to double your revenue? Find the latest tactics and stay ahead of the curve?

These sound like a pitch for the latest high-tech software, right?

Well you’d be wrong. I’m talking about good old-fashioned face-to-face, interactive Amazon masterminds here.

Through Amazon masterminds, I’ve personally found an amazing Amazon business partner, learnt many tactics that have made me $1000s extra, and been offered deals worth $100K+ a month of revenue.

But let me you how I got here…

My background with Amazon masterminds

First, I should give some background and confess. I’ve been a member of a private Amazon mastermind of my peers (Amazon sellers) for about 18 months now.

I also set up and ran (free) peer-group Amazon mastermind meetings myself about 2 ½  years ago, which ran for a while. That sputtered out because the people weren’t really committed. And I was wanting to focus on selling on Amazon, not running a mastermind for uncommitted people.

I took the learnings from both Amazon masterminds and created something better.

 So I’ve been running a successful (modestly) paid Amazon mastermind meetings for about a year via Amazing FBA (I recently set up a new  Amazon mastermind for new sellers, i.e., those who haven’t launched yet)

The reality of Amazon masterminds

First thing: yes, of course I’m going to mention my own masterminds, at least in passing . I run two Amazon masterminds each month. I’m writing an article about how important masterminds/masterminds are. It’s bound to come up! But I’m here to share my experiences of masterminds, not to pitch my own (if you do want to read the pitch for my masterminds/masterminds, of course, click here!)

Second thing: there’s a reason why I run an Amazon  mastermind each month. Because I believe it’s one of the most powerful ways I can truly help Amazon entrepreneurs.

Third thing: from everything I can observe of truly successful Amazon entrepreneurs – it’s (still) true that every one of them is a member of some kind of Amazon mastermind or mastermind!

I guess as a person who needs interaction and inspiration, I’m biased. But…

Coincidence? I don’t think so. 

My own wins from Amazon masterminds

I personally have got so many results directly from being in masterminds. I’ve found an amazing Amazon  business partner; sold thousands from secret techniques shared within the closed walls of a mastermind; and been invited into strategic partnerships to do deals involving $100s of thousands in revenue.

These results are not chance. But they equally would never have come about simply from networking on the superficial level(valuable as that is) at Amazon conferences.

Amazon Masterminds meeting

“What do you mean by ‘Amazon masterminds’?”

First, let’s start of by defining our terms.

‘Amazon’ as a business opportunity can be exploited by a huge variety of business models.  There could be around 14 business models, according to some authorities. That sounds about right. Certainly common ones include Retail Arbitrage; Online Arbitrage; Drop-Shipping; Wholesaling.

When I say “Amazon”, my particular focus here (and that of the podcast/blog and coaching programmes) is selling Private Label products via Amazon FBA.

Secondly, what are we talking about with a ‘mastermind’?

When so-called “Amazon masterminds” are not really a masterminds

I think it’s almost easier to say what masterminds are not. They are NOT, as far as I’m concerned, a mass meeting of 100 people where someone from the front discusses or teaches a lesson.

Don’t get me wrong. Big meetings can be very valuable -and by the way, Andy Geldman of Webretailer runs an excellent London Amazon meet up most months, where they have really helpful speakers. I’ve spoken there recently and was very impressed with the setup. It’s a great place to learn new strategies and tactics, and to network. But to my mind, it’s not a mastermind (and nor does Andy claim it is, just to be clear!)

Andy charges about a fiver to enter his meetings and, while I think that is super-cheap (and he could arguably charge up to £50 or so), he’s not charging hundreds, which I think is appropriate.

I think there are various aspects of Amazon masterminds that make them unique.

Firstly, to be really powerful, they need to be very interactive. So all participants have to think hard and engage their brains in a very active way. It develops their business thinking on a deeper level.

Secondly, they need to be focussed. Generalised excitement has its place, but I would argue that place is at a larger conference-type meeting.

Thirdly, they need to move the participants on in their business. How many times have you been to a large group meeting which inspired you to feel excited about business… and when you got home you did…er…absolutely nothing except talk about how exciting it was (it’s embarrassing but we may as well  be honest with each other – I did that for decades).

I don’t believe that really serves anyone long-term. I think the success of a Amazon masterminds is measured in how much action their participants produce and therefore how much progress they make towards their goals.

Which brings me to another question I’ve been asked a few times recently:

“What extra value does this offer compared to online research? Why bother being in Amazon masterminds?”

I love this question because it so clearly illustrates a number of things. This is a really important question.   

My simple answers: Time; Certainty; Motivation; Action; Progress

Amazon masterminds save time

Amazon masterminds value your TIME

Of course, since the invention of Google (and in more recent years, Facebook groups), in theory you can piece together all the knowledge you need to do anything.
The problem is- reinventing the wheel takes a lot of time.


Let’s say you are researching Product Research methods. Let’s say you manage to gather all the information you would get in a 30-minute hot seat at one Amazon  mastermind meeting by taking a week of Google research.

Great. So you saved yourself £49 (or £97 or whatever the mastermind costs). Let’s say you multiply that over 4 different areas of business.
You just spent 4 weeks doing something that could have taken you 4 days (in fact, more like 20 hours – including travel time!).


If your future Amazon business is going to generate say $10,000 a month in profit in a few months, you’ve just incurred an opportunity cost of $10,000.
For the sake of saving £49 (or £97 etc.) 

“Penny wise, pound foolish” is I believe what they used to call that!

If you don’t value your time, you won’t make serious money. Period. 

Amazon masterminds give you certainty

Amazon masterminds give CERTAINTY

Here’s a simple one: how do you know, out of thousands of Facebook posts, which ones are from a solid source, and which aren’t? The answer is that it’s hard to know! And doing much research on that would take even more hours. 


In an Amazon mastermind, you know who you are dealing with; because of non-disclosure and non-compete clauses, you can find out super quickly who to really follow. 

Assuming you’re smart enough to make sure there are NDAs and NCA’s of course (I really, really  would check this. There’s obviously a lot to be gained for an unscrupulous member to exploit others’ product ideas. Make sure there’s quality control about who the members are, and make sure that someone is responsible for policing this stuff).

More importantly, you can judge over time who is being successful and actually implementing stuff, and who is just spouting theory they “read somewhere” or from some guru. There is some value in the latter; but the former is WAY more valuable. The ability to really be able to differentiate between the two is really one of the high values you get from small groups where you can really get to know each other properly.

Amazon group

Masterminds give MOTIVATION

Be honest – how long have you been  “researching” the Amazon private label opportunity? After a couple of months without even buying a small amount of inventory, I’m afraid that “research” is cover for “fear/being lost”. That’s okay, honesty is useful – but why stay lost?

If you’ve been selling but way below what you know you’ve targetted, again, that’s just called being human. But if you do nothing new about it, nothing changes.

Being with human beings is hardwired into us. We’re group animals.  It should therefore be no surprise that your peer group (who you hang out with most of the time and compare yourself to) has a massive impact on everything about you. Your attitude. Your health. And, of course, your wealth.

Getting yourself a peer group and stay actually excited instead of being isolated behind your laptop is simply following fundamental principles of human (indeed, primate) social psychology. We violate those principles at our risk. Why fight nature? It’s so much more powerful to go with our instincts than to delude ourselves that we can ignore them…and frankly, to stagnate.

Build Amazon businessBuild Amazon business

Amazon masterminds promote action

Masterminds create ACTION

This is the kicker. If you’ve been “researching” for over 3 months without buying something, that isn’t going to change unless you change something.

I’ve lost count of the conversations I’ve had with people who are painfully obviously using the word “research” as a fig-leaf for “Fear”. There. I’ve said the four-letter word.

Fear is FINE. It’s nature’s way of flagging up risk. Awareness of risk –  contrary to the happy-clappy, “everything is gold” school of Amazon thinking (which is just BS, apologies for being blunt) is actually GOOD for business. What’s not good is going in circles, or not assessing the risk objectively.

If you don’t have proven strategies (and the latest Amazon hack is NOT a strategy, it’s a tactic. And that’s fine. But knowing the difference is everything).

You need people to inspire you by showing you what’s possible, and hold you accountable. If you’ve not done it till now, why will that change?

Some people seem able to work in isolation and still succeed with Amazon. I can think of about two people who were really doing that on a big scale. Guess what? They are now collaborating with other Amazon sellers to get to the next level.

Amazing FBA Amazon Masterminds

The “Amazing FBA” Amazon Masterminds

So, I guess that brings me fairly unavoidably to mention the Amazon masterminds that I run for Amazing FBA. Again, I don’t want to be self-serving, but it would be a bit strange for me not to mention them in the context of Amazon masterminds and  masterminds as a whole.

I try to practise what I preach, basically. I said at the start of this article that I believe that a mastermind needs to be interactive; needs to focus members; and needs to lead its members to action, which leads to their progress.

It’s fairly obvious where I’m going with this, so I’ll just come out and say it:

-if you know the value of being in one of the Amazon masterminds

-if you’re not wanting to go through the pain, time & effort of creating your own Amazon mastermind,

-AND if you live near London (or can get there)

then obviously I think you should consider the Amazing FBA Amazon masterminds!

I’m not going to make a huge pitch for them here; if you want to check them out, there are now two levels:

The Zero to Hero Mastermind, which is geared to those who have not yet launched, and to those doing just a few thousand $ a month (or equivalent) on Amazon (we may form a separate mastermind for the latter as it grows)

The $10K Collective, which is for those doing at least $10K a month on Amazon.

To find out more about the regular monthly masterminds for Amazon sellers led by Michael, click here

154 Time Management for eCommerce with David Aggiss Part 2 of 2

The great thing about running an Amazon business is the freedom it allows in your personal life. You can go on holiday as you want and you can take a day off as needed. You set your own schedule and make your own deadlines. That also creates one of the more difficult aspects of your job as an Amazon seller, time management. Today on the show we have David Aggiss and we’ll be discussing time management techniques when you’re running an online business.

Time Management for eCommerce

If you are first starting out, the challenge is finding enough time to work on your business. You have your full-time job, maybe a spouse and children, then your Amazon business on top of that. It’s going to lead to some late nights and long days. That’s the struggle of it. It’s important to set aside time-blocks for specific tasks. If you start working without this, you’ll end up working on a number of things and accomplishing nothing.

Customer service is a daily task. You’re probably going to be in Seller Central a lot anyway, which is a good thing so you can respond to customer questions and other issues as they arise. Once a week, you want to look at your listings. See if there is any way to improve them. You should take a look at your PPC and keywords to make sure they are performing how you want.

Time Management when Expanding Your Business

Expanding your business is an evening job. If you are looking to research new product lines or find new suppliers, make sure you have a few weeks available where you can put in some serious evening hours. You’re going to have to work everyday with emails back and forth with your suppliers, especially if they’re in China. Unless you can get on a Skype call, this process could take a week or more because of the time difference.

Skype is recommended to help speed up this exchange. However, keep in mind that if you’re looking into several suppliers, that Skype could get overwhelming. It is easier to maintain all the information if you limit it to email since that has understood, built-in limitations. Also, you will have a record of everything discussed.

Outsourcing

If you find that you don’t have the time to handle everything that you need, consider outsourcing. Be aware of what your strengths and weaknesses are. Focus on your strengths, outsource your weaknesses.

If you are making enough money from your Amazon business that you can afford to outsource, then you are probably pretty proficient at the day-to-day Amazon tasks. Then you’ll want to continue to handle those. If your background is in web design, then build your website yourself.

If, however, you don’t know the first thing about building a website and you have no idea how to work on social media, outsource those. Chances are you can find someone that will do it better and faster. If a task is going to take you a week, but someone who is an expert can do it in a day, pay them to do it. The task will get done several days soon and you now have that week to work on something you’re an expert in.

Focus Management

While time management is important, focus management is as well. Like I said before, you have the freedom to make your own schedule, but you don’t have a boss to keep you on track. It’s easy to lose focus and let your business suffer because of it. You have to keep in mind why you want to run your own business. Whether it’s to have a luxury house, nice cars, or to simply spend more time with your family. Whatever it is, whether it changes over time, always remember that and let it be your motivation to stay focused.

112 JFDI – the Everyday Secret to Being Productive

JFDI -it’s nothing fancy; it’s a London saying. But it works…

If in doubt – stop making excuses. If you know you need to do something, Just Do It! It’s like Nike said (but with less swearing).

Sounds simplistic but it’s the  mindset that gets stuff done: come what may, whatever it takes, whether you’re in the mood or not, inspired or feeling flat…do it anyway.

#85 What the sea can teach Amazon entrepreneurs about time management

#85 The sea…and Natural Rhythms

It’s funny how interacting personally with basic natural forces reminds you of some Business basics for Amazon. Here are a couple of thoughts that have struck me while swimming in the sea off the South-East coast of England:

There is a natural rhythm to everything in business. Just like the ebb and flow of the tide, it’s almost like a force of nature. If we learn to recognise hear or see those rhythms, we can work with them not against them.

Examples of natural rhythms include:

  • The economy of a country which has an Amazon marketplace: consumer spending ebbs and flows with the economy, which tends to follow the Business Cycle of around 11 years.
  • The seasonal ebb and flow of product demand in retail – especially on Amazon! Late November and December are normally epic demand for most products; January is often quite dead. BBQs sell better in the summer, and so on. Plan accordingly
  • So you need a marketing calendar: Feb: Valentine’s Day; Mother’s Day; Independence Day (USA) or Bastille Day (France)
  • You need to reverse engineer from this to your procurement (buying/sourcing) calendar: when do you need to place an order for products in order to get a product launched and ranked for Christmas sales?
  • Your own business will have natural rhythms to growth process – at what point do you need to outsource prep? (so you don’t have a living room or garage full of boxes!) When do you take on a VA?
  • Your own personal rhythms are also important: when are you at your most productive? When do you need to build exercise into your day and/or your week?

If you can schedule things in these various levels of business in a way that works with the natural rhythms rather than against them, you’ll find you are riding the waves rather than fighting against the tide!

This episode is one of the **Summer Series** of bite-sized chunks of Amazon Strategic Goodness!

#75 Prioritising Tasks – Overcoming Amazon Overwhelm Part 3

  1. WHAT TO WORK ON
    1. What you work on (effectiveness) is way more important than how well you do it (efficiency).
      1. Prioritising is absolutely critical. It is probably the single biggest factor after. This takes discipline, courage and energy. If you lack those, work on your mental and physical state. Go for a run. Phone a friend (Briefly!). Have a quick coffee. Whatever works for you. Then crack straight into it.
    2. How to identify what to work on:
      1. What worries you most?
        1. What are you avoiding that you know you need to do?
        2. Which area of the business feels most neglected? If you’re just starting out, it’s going to be product selection. If you’re next down the line, it will be finding suppliers etc.
        3. What keeps you awake at night?
      2. What great opportunity are you neglecting?
        1. e.g. a new product line;
        2. a new sales channel (eg eBay);
        3. building an email list;
        4. new marketing channels (eg Facebook)
  2. WHAT TO WORK ON FIRST
    1. COVEY GRID: Urgent vs. Important projects and tasks
      1. Urgent things are driven from outside you. I use an exclamation mark! to mark these
        1. external to your business e.g. HMRC (tax man in UK!); suppliers; Amazon
        2. internal to your business e.g. a VA or business partner
        3. They can fill your days but it’s reactive not proactive so it’s not a way to grow a business well. If you’re short of energy and time you may have to just deal with these however for now.
      2. Important tasks – are driven by long term impact. I use an asterisk * to mark.
        1. it can be avoiding large negative impact e.g. getting corporate tax return in on time to avoid fines and legal issues
        2. it can also be gaining long term opportunities e.g. more revenue from another sales channel (eg Shopify site or eBay)
      3. Tasks can be both urgent and important.
      4. Work on Cat. I tasks as a top priority
    2. The Covey 2X2 grid: classify your thoughts/projects/ worries:
      1. Cat. I urgent and important matters- things that have big impact and have to be done, e.g. getting corporate tax return in on time to avoid fine and legal issues.
      2. Cat II: Important but not urgent. Things that have a big impact but not driven from outside. Eg. for me, creating and gearing up email marketing, setting up a Shopify website; Exploring Vietnam as a place to source from
      3. Cat III – urgent but not so important, e.g., responding to an email from a potential supplier who needs to know from you before Chinese New Year closes factory for the month.
    3. The Covey Grid: prioritise
      1. Do Cat. I urgent and important first. Once done, try to avoid this being a crisis next time.
        1. example:tax return: put the date for annual corporate tax return in your iPhone calendar with a date 4 weeks before to get in touch with your accountant.
      2. Make time each day to deal with III urgent crises. Again, try to find a way to make this systematic so it doesn’t end up driven by urgency so much.
      3. CRUCIAL: Carve out a sacred time to work on Important but not urgent tasks.
        1. 3 hours a day is ideal if full time; 1 hour is good if part time; even 20 minutes is effective if you’re cramming it in very part-time.
        2. After you have dispatched the most urgent tasks or projects, go straight to your most effective ones.
    4. The Lee/Schwabb nuclear method:
      1. If you’re really overwhelmed, this is the most effective single method I’ve ever met:
      2. list your biggest worries/urgencies etc.
      3. [star the important and add ! exclamation marks to urgent] [my addition]
      4. prioritise ruthlessly from most important on
      5. limit strictly to 7 tasks. 5 is better. 3 is more realistic.
      6. Work on the most important/urgent task until it is done or pushed as far on as you can
        1. example: getting Freight Quotes.
          1. Email 3 potential Freight Forwarders to check what info they need
          2. Gather obvious info like weight, dimensions, supplier address from supplier. Check the product value frm supplier emails. That’s one email but a crucial one.
          3. Check receiving address in USA e.g. EZPrep. One email.
          4. Check which duty category your products are in. One quick look up
          5. That may be all you can do in one day. But you’ve moved the task on as far as you can.
          6. When you check email in the afternoon/evening, if you have all that info, collate it then send it the FF.
  3. TIME USAGE
    1. Lack of time is lack of priorities. Worth reiterating. Always aim for an outcome/goal!
      1. if you can’t plan for a year, try a quarter
      2. If you can’t think that far ahead, try the next two weeks
      3. If your energy is low and your brain is mush, plan the next hour at least! What do you want done when you stand up in an hour from your Mac?
      4. One hour of great work is probably worth more than a day of nonsense activity. I’m ashamed to say I still end up doing the latter too much. Forgive yourself and move on.
    2. Multi-tasking is BS for any important activities. Turn off all distractions when working.
      1. Don’t read business emails in bed. I’m bad at this but have learned it doesn’t help your relationship and also you worry about things you can’t change at midnight.
      2. If you need to talk to your supplier at 1 am, do it. But don’t kid yourself you’ve turned in for the night. You’re working. You’ll need to get up a bit later, next day, probably, at least after a day or two of this. That’s okay. Plan accordingly. Just don’t do it in bed or you’ll end up not sleeping because you’re thinking about business. Time to sleep is time to sleep, even if it’s just 4-6 hours a night for a bit.
      3. DO NOT check social media while you need to compose key emails etc etc
      4. DO NOT get seduced into checking email inbox when you just need to send an email out. If needed, compose your email on Word/Notes/ etc etc and then get in and out as fast as possible in the actual email programme. (I’m bad at this but I’m learning…gradually)
      5. It sounds obvious but don’t do a Pokemon Go and walk into the path of traffic while Skyping your chinese supplier. Confession. I’ve come close.
        1. Don’t even think of texting while driving. So tempting. So illegal and so dangerous. Listen to a podcast and accept you’re driving. Or, pull over and take care of it there and then.
    3. However, certain tasks can be LAYERED.  Examples:
      1. Listening to this podcast while running for example.
      2. Taking care of phone calls while walking to the PO to collect a parcel from Amazon with a supplier sample which you weren’t in to collect (guess what I’ve just been doing!)
      3. Reading and replying to emails while on a train. (Don’t do it walking down the platform in London. It’s full of fast moving people. Don’t embarrass me by asking how I know not to do this)
  4. STAYING POSITIVE
    1. Do a gratitude list every evening before going to bed. It’s amazing how effective this is. I’ve been doing it for several months now and it really does help you stay positive.
    2. Remember to build in exercise, at least some sleep and at least some decent nutrition. If you’re overwhelmed, remember to take care of your body! Nothing beats physical energy. 
    3. Only Connect – isolation is a dream killer! Get yourself into some kind of mastermind if you’re not already and find out how others cope with real life as an entrepreneur.

#74 Overcoming Amazon Overwhelm Part 2 – Energy

  1. EPISODE #74 : Your personal “state” – assess your personal energy/focus?
    1. how is your health/physical energy?
      1. If you’re exhausted, you may simply have to rest for a day, a week etc to recharge.
      2. If you’ve been living on takeaway food for 6 months (guilty), how about a week of decent eating?
      3. If you gave up on your exercise regime for lack of time, consider working out at least 3 X a week. Someone once asked Richard Branson what to do to get more done. His answer? “Work out”
    2. how is your mental focus?
      1. Lack of priorities means you haven’t really genuinely made big picture decisions (see part 1 episode). Make some. They will mutate, which is fine, but get a clear direction. Then work on the priorities as below.
    3. Be realistic
      1. You’ve just started another business, quit your day job, had a new baby on top of your existing young child? (you know who you are…!) Of course you’re exhausted. You’re going to have to outsource heavily and/or accept that progress will be slower. Doesn’t mean you won’t get there. Just don’t kid yourself you can work 20 hour days for months at a time. Won’t happen.
    4. Get help.
      1. If you have a mentor, reach out.
      2. If you are in a mastermind, reach out.
      3. If you have an accountability partner, reach out.
      4. Don’t isolate. Equally, don’t connect to lots of randoms on Facebook. Connect to chosen people who are focussed and helpful people. Ignore moaners and bullshit artists. HOWEVER…
    5. Cut out information overload. “Increased output necessitates decreased input”  (Tim Ferriss again).
      1. If you’re on Facebook groups about Amazon every ten minutes, cut that out!
      2. Stop reading the news. Especially if you live in the UK. Brexit and other nonsense will carry on whether or not you read news/listen to Radio/use Youtube. 
        1. NOTE: I’m not doing as well at this as I should. I used to think it was “irresponsible”. I no longer do. If you can’t use the information, it has no practical value. When you had to vote, there was practical value in politics. But the referendum is over. You have little control over politics. Ignore it – OR join a party and demonstrate! Choose. Just don’t passively fill your mind. If you are not overwhelmed, by all means follow events. We live in interesting times. If you’re overwhelmed, it’s a toxic luxury.
      3. Cut out social media. Totally.
        1. Facebook is like Crack for addicts. Youtube is even worse for me personally. Twitter not. etc.
        2. Note: These things are designed to be addictive. They are monster business successes because of this. Learn from their example but stop being a victim. Be the creator of addictive products, not the consumer of them.
      4. Replace online crap with exercise for 20 minutes a day
        1. Run, yoga, whatever it is. Exercise is way way more powerful than yet another bit of info. Get into your trainers and listen to this podcast while you run!
    6. Minimize email time.
      1. Tame your email checking times
        1. NEVER start your business day with email. Start with urgent matters followed by business growth tasks.
        2. Limit email to twice a day max. If you’re really busy – once a day max.
        3. Try to take care of it while commuting on a train etc. Or in spare moments. I find I get emails done 3X quicker on my iPhone on a train than sitting at a desk. It’s harder to type for starters! That’s a  GOOD thing. Limit the undesirable!
      2. Put the timer on!
        1. When you check emails, put a time limit on. I generally find in a full 8 hour+ day, I can check emails for 30 mins in am and 10 mins pm and I’m done.
        2. When composing an important email, put a time limit on. I find 3-5 minutes enough for most.
        3. If you spend 10 minutes plus,  because it’s crucial and the info needs to be accurate, make it a template you can re-use. e.g for getting supplier quotes etc.
      3. Be ruthless and systematic when you do touch email
        1. Delete things from your inbox first. Most things simply need deleting. Don’t read obvious nonsense
        2. DO NOT read interesting but irrelevant emails. Archive them and look at them in your mythical “spare time” later
        3. Respond to crucial emails first. If you don’t get to others for a few days, tough. They’ll live.
        4. develop the art of polite concision. Ie without being rude, be simple and very direct
        5. Give clear fundamentals e.g. what, when, how, why etc. – e.g. “I need X,Y,Z pieces of info by A deadline for B reason”
        6. especially, use numbered lists. e.g.
        7. “ Dear Supplier, I need info for my freight forwarder.  Please tell me the following info about product X: 1 weight of each carton in kg 2. Dimension in cms; 3. total value of the consignment; 4. Your address. Please let me know by Friday 22 July latest. The quicker I get this, the quicker I will place an order with you.
          Thank you very much in advance! I appreciate your work. Best wishes, Joe Bloggs”

#56 Marketing Mastery Mini Course: Principle 3: optimize!

Problem #3:  Low Conversions

Result: Wasted Ad dollars, lower sales, lower profits.

Solution: OPTIMIZE!

To find your conversion rate for each product on Amazon, there are two sources of info:

  1. Overall Conversion data:
    1. Go to “reports” on top menu
    2. Click on  “Business Reports”
    3. On left find “By ASIN”
    4. . Click “Detail Page Sales and Traffic”.
  2. For Amazon ads conversion data:
    1. click on “Reports”,
    2. from drop-down menu click “Advertising Reports”,
    3. at the top middle, click on “Search Term Report”.
    4. If needed, click Request Report button
    5. Under “Check Report Status & Download” if needed on the right click “Refresh” button
    6. on the right, click on “download” button next to latest report
    7. Open report as a spreadsheet
    8. Search for “Conversion percentage” .

Analysing Amazon ads data is a big topic in its own right. If it’s overwhelming you, just start with the global conversion data.

    1. PHOTOS
      1. Main product shot is CRUCIAL!
        1. try to differentiate from competition main shots
      2. use the first 7 shots (including the main) for most important things as last 2 are hidden unless shoppers click on them
      3. Have at least 2, maybe 3 shots with a model using the product, preferably in a logical sequence, or if it is is not totally obvious how to use a product.
      4. If you have more than one product, have the 7th shot show a composite picture of your other products, preferably with the ASIN code under each and a little text telling shoppers to put the code in the search bar
      5. Use the last two shots for little product details
      6. Many sellers also put text on their images, effective mini bullet points. It may be against ToS – but it seems to help. Your choice how far you want to push it!
    2. KEYWORDS
      1. For Amazon’s algorithm
        1. This matches customer searches to keywords in your listing
        2. Use Amazon Ads data if you have it: which keywords give best ACoS? Best sales in absolute volume? 
        3. If just starting out, use AMZTracker or other to examine the competition.
        4. Also keep an eye on competitive listings
      2. For Humans:
        1. Make sure the relevant keywords are woven into the copy
        2. Try to focus on those words that convert well if you have data
        3. If no data yet,
      3. Three places to optimize:
        1. Title (obey Amazon’s rules eg 80 character limit
        2. Bullet points – bear in mind features into benefits
        3. The Keywords tab in Seller central>Manage inventory>[Product]>Edit
    3. TITLE:
      1. Get most important keyword first
      2. Ideally get your product title in next
      3. Your brand is least important as most people have never heard of you!
      4. Check Amazon’s latest ToS – including length (may now be limited to 80 Characters)
      5. If you have data:
        1. you can match up best converting/least expensive/most sales keywords with your title. It may not be what you think.
        2. Your best converting keyword may not be the one that makes you most sales. Likewise it may not be cost effective ie profitable
        3. SO analyse your data carefully!
    4. BULLET POINTS
      1. Turn Features into Benefits, e.g. This light has Xenon 214.B lenses – so the light is more focussed, brighter and more visible at night.
      2. Keep sentences short. Keep words short. Assume 8-10 year old reading level!
      3. Be clear! Always answer the “So what?” question.
    5. DESCRIPTION
      1. Flesh out your bullet points
      2. Use simple HTML if possible: <b>bold</b> etc.
      3. Again features become benefits
      4. Don’t spend too much time on this because
        1. The Amazon algorithm doesn’t index it any more
        2. it appears below several offers from Amazon of your competitor’s products! It’s too late!

Product Example A

Sales Price  $15

Total Landed Cost $5

Amazon fees $5

Gross profit $5

Amazon ads costs

100 clicks @ $0.50 a click=$50 ad cost

Relationship between conversion rate and profit per unit

example A1 (sales price $15, gross profit $5)
At 20% conversion rate:

20 clicks out of 100 result in a sale.

Ad cost total=$50

20 sales @$5 gross profit=$100 gross profit

Profit after advertising (for 20 units)=$50

So profit after advertising per unit=$50/20=$2.50

Example A2 (sales price still $15, gross profit still $5)

At 10% conversion rate:

10 clicks out of 100 result in a sale.

Ad cost total SAME= STILL $50

10 sales @$5 gross profit=$50 gross profit

Profit after advertising (for 20 units)=ZERO!

So profit after advertising per unit= ZERO!

Relationship between price, conversion % and profit

In practice, conversion rate is strongly affected by price. The lower the price, the higher the conversion rate tends to be.  NB This is not always true if higher price gives a perception of a better quality product- test your prices!

compare with example A2 above.

Product example B1 

Sales Price  $14

Total Landed Cost $5

Amazon fees $5

Gross profit $4

Amazon ads costs per 100 clicks (average): $50

At 15% conversion rate: (Sales price $14 , gross profit $4)

15 sales @$4 gross profit=$65 gross profit

Overall Profit after ads costs=$65-50=$15

Profit per unit=$15 overall profit ÷15 units=$1
Although the price is $1 lower ($14 instead of $15), the profit is actually greater per unit ($1 a unit average over zero) and greater overall (15 units sold at $1 profit per time instead of 10 units sold at no profit)

Split testing

To find the price at which you optimise overall profit, you will need to do some form of split testing.


Simple/primitive method: You can just run the listing at one price for 7 days (or longer) then change the price and repeat. Then compare results. Without software, that’s the best you can do on Amazon.

All other things being equal, that will tell you what effect price has on conversion %, overall sales and overall profits.

However, all other things may not be equal e.g. if the demand for your main keywords happens to drop off that week due to say a national holiday, good weather, etc.

To get a more reliable result, you need to use split-testing software. In the USA, I’ve just started using Amzsplit= Splitly

Sadly it is not yet available for the UK, although they keep promising jam tomorrow! I’m exploring a UK equivalent – if it works, I’ll let you know in the Facebook group – don’t forget to join if you haven’t already!

HOW TO SUBSCRIBE TO THIS PODCAST

A podcast is a free downloadable audio show that enables you to learn while you’re on the go.  To subscribe to my podcast for free, you’ll need an app to listen to the show from.

For iPhone/iPad/iPod listeners – Grab your phone or device and go to the iTunes store and search “Amazing FBA”.

This will help you to download the free Podcasts App (produced by Apple) and then subscribe to the show from within that app.  Every time I produce a new episode, you’ll get it downloaded right away.

For podcast enthusiasts – If you already listen to podcasts and have a podcatcher that you prefer, the feed you’ll need to add is: http:// amazingfba.com/feed/podcast.

For those who don’t have a mobile device – You can always listen to the show by clicking the audio file at the top of this page.

If you have any queries, just go to www.amazingfba.com/ask

 

2

#39 Thinking like your Amazon Customer

Episode #39 Show Notes

This is another bigger-picture podcast. Yes, we all need to measure our numbers and do analysis. But always remember that any number is a measurement. Behind it is a customer’s actions and ultimately feelings!

It’s all about Your Customer:

1. their motivations to shop and buy

2. Emotions driving them: Inspiration (desire) or Desperation (solve a painful problem!)

3. Extrinsic motivation (other people) e.g. peer pressure vs. Intrinsic motivation (inner, personal reasons) e.g. desire, curiosity

4. They start with an image (or sound or feeling) in their mind

5.  THEN they try to find the words for that

6. Only then does the customer start to connect to your marketing with

Keywords.

Your customers are not searching for your product. They are searching for the image they have in their mind.

If your product image chimes with this (or is better), that’s when they will click on your listing (if the reviews etc. look right).

In order to show up in response to a search, though, you need to get your product showing. That means optimizing your listing for, and advertising for, keywords.

This is biggest area to explore.

Most customers are not expert. So the keywords your customers may use are NOT necessarily the “correct” or “logical” words especially if they are not very expert in that product type or area.

So think like a customer. Preferably actually BE a member of your target market.

Every week or month, search for products LIKE yours as if you are an ignorant but desperate customer!

You’ll stumble across important keywords to test out. Crucially, you’ll also be in touch with your customers’ mindset.

We’re aiming for a blend of your instinct & feel for your customers and the analysis of numbers.

Upcoming Guests on the show:

Greg Mercer of Jungle Scout (Product selection)

Will Tjernlund (Strategy)

Manuel Becvar of Import Dojo (China sourcing & Freight)

Mark Carpenter of Avalava (US Sales tax)

Penny Lowe of Wellington Consulting (Accountant)

HOW TO SUBSCRIBE TO THIS PODCAST

A podcast is a free downloadable audio show that enables you to learn while you’re on the go.  To subscribe to my podcast for free, you’ll need an app to listen to the show from.

For iPhone/iPad/iPod listeners – Grab your phone or device and go to the iTunes store and search “Amazing FBA”.

This will help you to download the free Podcasts App (produced by Apple) and then subscribe to the show from within that app.  Every time I produce a new episode, you’ll get it downloaded right on yt sentence.

For podcast enthusiasts – If you already listen to podcasts and have a podcatcher that you prefer, the feed you’ll need to add is: http:// amazingfba.com/feed/podcast.

For those who don’t have a mobile device – You can always listen to the show by clicking the audio file at the top of this page.

If you have any queries, just go to www.amazingfba.com/ask

#29 Keeping your Amazon Business Ticking When Super Busy

This Episode, #29, has been prompted by my own life recently! Another Pure Tactics, Nitty-Gritty on Keeping your Amazon Business alive when you are very busy with other things, whether work, family or health issues.

SHOW NOTES FOR EPISODE #29 –  

A. Principles:

      1. Mentality
        1. Never say die- fall forward!
        2. remember your “REASON WHY”
        3. respond to reality – clear the desks/eliminate work or activities to run your business if you need to (or make a hard choice and stop doing the business!)
      2. Time – 80/20
        1. if time is short, 80/20 is even more important
        2. daily checkin is vital unless you’re actually ill or something.
        3. Use email templates

B. Daily tasks

  1. check sales stats – no. units, price
    1. are Amazon ads running?
    2. Has a sale on a product just finished?
    1. if sales drop off a cliff, investigate
  2. check customer service emails
  3. chase up any supply chain issues
  4. emails
  1. double check price
  2. do you have a sale on? If so make sure it’s still on sale!
  3. check amazon ads still running
  4. check amazon ad spend.
    1. If in launch mode, ACoS>100%, take bid down or just Pause campaign or ad group
    2. if in profit mode, ACoS>Gross Profit  =same action

C. Weekly tasks

      1. double check price
      2. do you have a sale on? If so make sure it’s still on sale!
      3. check amazon ads still running
      4. check amazon ad spend.
        1. If in launch mode, ACoS>100%, take bid down or just Pause campaign or ad group
        2. if in profit mode, ACoS>Gross Profit  =same action

D. Firefighting

  1. MARKETING
    1. giveaways/voucher codes (emails)
    2. Amazon ads – if not running, check re card
  2. SUPPLY CHAIN
    1. product not being made by supplier on time
    2. defects discovered in large nos by FBA Inspection or other
    3. Held up at FBAI
    4. UPS handoff mistakes by FBA Inspection or other
    5. Amazon Hazmat – seller central
    6. Problems getting products ready to sell by Amazon  – seller central
  3. CUSTOMER SERVICE
    1. product defect big problems
    2. 1 star reviews
    3. other
  4. FINANCES
    1. Almost out of money for the whole business?!
      1. Analyse why. Out of money=game over so this is the #1 issue of any business!
      2. get a loan, OR  inject equity capital
    2. not enough money in the account linked to Amazon ads
    3. Meeting payments on loans etc.

HOW TO SUBSCRIBE TO THIS PODCAST

A podcast is a free downloadable audio show that enables you to learn while you’re on the go.  To subscribe to my podcast for free, you’ll need an app to listen to the show from.

For iPhone/iPad/iPod listeners – Grab your phone or device and go to the iTunes store and search “Amazing FBA”.

This will help you to download the free Podcasts App (produced by Apple) and then subscribe to the show from within that app.  Every time I produce a new episode, you’ll get it downloaded right on your iDevice.

For Android listeners – Download the Stitcher Radio app (free) and search for “Amazing FBA Podcast.”  Or, if you have already downloaded a podcasting client, follow the directions in the next sentence.

For podcast enthusiasts – If you already listen to podcasts and have a podcatcher that you prefer, the feed you’ll need to add is: http:// amazingfba.com/feed/podcast.

For those who don’t have a mobile device – You can always listen to the show by clicking the audio file at the top of this page.

If you have any queries, just go to www.amazingfba.com/ask.