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David Hernandez: Five non-intuitive things you need to know to run a very successful Amazon business

Understand how customers are looking for your products. Your key product pages should also be optimized based on Amazon, e-commerce, content marketing, and SEO best practices to ensure that they are being found by shoppers as well as selling themselves. Getting in front of the right people at the right time requires understanding how customers […]

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Understand how customers are looking for your products. Your key product pages should also be optimized based on Amazon, e-commerce, content marketing, and SEO best practices to ensure that they are being found by shoppers as well as selling themselves. Getting in front of the right people at the right time requires understanding how customers are searching for the products you offer and implementing these behaviors into key portions of your Product Detail Pages (PDPs). As Amazon’s reign continues to grow worldwide, it is more important than ever for brands to have a strong presence on the e-retail giant. Businesses who are not on the platform are simply missing out.


As a part of my interview series about “Five non-intuitive things you need to know to run a very successful Amazon business, I had the pleasure of interviewing David Hernandez.

With over 20 years of leadership experience in both retail and marketing, David Hernandez is co-founder and managing partner of lotus823, an award-winning integrated communications and marketing agency specializing in home and housewares, smart home, consumer tech and lifestyle, David’s passion and creative energy underscore the collaborative culture of lotus823. He has previously been a TEDx speaker and is a professional musician who has worked and toured internationally. David is married and a father of three sons living in Monmouth County NJ.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you share with us the “backstory” about what brought you to this specific career path?

Ibelieve communicating, marketing, building a brand and the influence that the right message in the right medium can have are rooted in my earlier career as a musician, songwriter, and producer. All of those core elements have to exist in your focus and energy in order to ‘deliver’ a song, assist an artist in producing a finished record, and in connecting with an audience in concert. To me, the disciplines required in my professional career as a musician are very much aligned and similar to those that drove me to start my own communications and marketing firm.

Can you explain to our readers why you are an authority about selling on Amazon.com?

Having founded an integrated marketing communications agency 10 years ago, I have seen trends come and go, but if one this is for certain it is that Amazon is here to stay. In 2018, my company lotus823 began offering Amazon Marketing as a service to our clients after a serious need by them. The numbers don’t lie: Amazon has 310 million active users, with 197 million people shopping on the e-commerce behemoth monthly, so a brand that is isn’t embracing Amazon as part of their retail and marketing strategies will not survive in the marketplace. One of our agency’s greatest success stories from marketing on Amazon comes from our client Twinkly. Looking to establish a presence on Amazon ahead of the holiday season, Italian smart home décor company, Twinkly, approached us seeking expertise on the platform. With the majority of their annual sales dependent on performance during Q3 and Q4, our team had a short period of time to launch Twinkly’s Amazon storefront and successfully generate six-figure significant earnings.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?

Building an agency from a bootstrap start-up has given many interesting stories. However, if I had to pick one that stands above all I would have to say that moving from the dining room table to opening our first office was the most interesting for me. As a young start-up, my co-founder, Allison Hernandez (also my spouse), managed every part of the process including the layout, furniture, and colors. It was a labor of love and we enjoyed every moment.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Early on we built out a trade show promotion for a client and I was ordering metal buckets that would be filled with the brand’s product and some promotional items. Unfortunately, when I ordered them, I failed to notice that they were miniature buckets! When our team received them, it was like a scene from This Is Spinal Tap! Everyone laughed at how tiny — and unusable — they were, and I must have turner purple. Luckily, we had time to order the correct ones and the client was none the wiser.

Are you working on any exciting projects now? How do you think that will help people?

At current, our team is in the midst of pivoting strategies across the board due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although it is an uncertain time for consumers and brands, it puts our team in a spot where quick thinking, creativity, and empathy keep us moving and reaching out to clients’ goals. During this time, we’ve seen firsthand the importance of having flexibility in your marketing strategy. In having this flexibility, our team has still been able to connect with reporters and consumers on social media to keep them engaged and convert.

Ok. Let’s jump to the core of our discussion. You are a seasoned Amazon expert. Can you share with our readers five, non-intuitive, insider tips, in order to be as successful as possible on Amazon? Please share a story or example for each.

Prime eligible:

The bottom line is that Amazon has dramatically raised consumer expectations when it comes to convenient shopping and quick delivery. With same-day delivery now available in some areas and more than 100 million Amazon Prime users who receive 2-day (or less!) shipping, consumers expect a fast turnaround time. That Amazon Prime badge offering free and fast shipping carries a lot of weight and increases the likelihood that consumers will purchase your products. Whether you use Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) or Fulfillment by Merchant (FBM) through a Prime-approved warehouse, Amazon Prime is a top way for Amazon sellers to stay on the path to Amazon success.

Product reviews:

Product reviews are an essential part for having an optimized Amazon presence. Amazon itself recommends having no fewer than 15 customer reviews (above 3.5 stars!) before even advertising a product on the platform. This requirement is a good rule of thumb to follow when assessing whether a product page is in good health.

Understand how customers are looking for your products:

Your key product pages should also be optimized based on Amazon, e-commerce, content marketing, and SEO best practices to ensure that they are being found by shoppers as well as selling themselves. Getting in front of the right people at the right time requires understanding how customers are searching for the products you offer and implementing these behaviors into key portions of your Product Detail Pages (PDPs). As Amazon’s reign continues to grow worldwide, it is more important than ever for brands to have a strong presence on the e-retail giant. Businesses who are not on the platform are simply missing out.

A Hybrid Approach- Amazon Vendor vs. Seller Central:

Before deciding which option is best for your brand, it is important to understand the differences between both options. Seller Central allows brands to sell directly to customers on Amazon and gives brands the ability to control pricing. While this option gives brands more control over their product, there are some advertising limitations. Vendor Central on the other hand, allows brands to sell their products to Amazon. From there, the platform has complete control overpricing. While each option has its own advantages and disadvantages, there is an approach that utilizes both; the hybrid model. This model allows for easier price control and faster product listing development, as well as ensures product availability. Similar to the Seller option, the hybrid model still puts more responsibility on the brand.

Amazon Advertising:

While there are many varieties of advertisements to consider when creating an all-encompassing Amazon marketing plan, there are several benefits that Amazon offers advertisers that shouldn’t go unnoticed:

Pay only for performance: You will not be charged until a consumer clicks on your ad!

Help along the way: Amazon will suggest keywords or aid in targeting products similar to yours.

Use competition for ads: When brainstorming keywords for ads, you have the ability to target competing companies and use those insights to bring shoppers over to buy from your “less known” brand.

Optimized insights: Amazon provides detailed reporting regardless of the type of ad campaign you are running. You can monitor ad performance throughout a campaign and make adjustments to optimize results by changing keywords or adjusting bids as needed.

Amazon sellers have a reputation for being great guerilla marketers. Do you use any clever and innovative marketing strategies that you think large legacy companies should consider adopting?

Rather than guerrilla marketing, our agency takes an integrated marketing approach with each of our clients selling on Amazon. An integrated strategy builds awareness for Amazon products and drives traffic to the pages thorough not-so-typical avenues. For example, all public relations outreach done links back to Amazon while on an influencer marketing front, we partner with Amazon Associates to reach niche audiences and drive sales.

Because of the position that you are in, you are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I feel strongly that we need to address hunger. There is no good reason why any man, woman, or child should go hungry. While we donate and volunteer at our local food bank and I am thankful that food banks exist, much more needs to be done. I dream of a day when governments work collectively to build an international mandate that feeds every hungry individual regardless of where they live.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Everyone you meet has something to teach you.” I strive both personally and in business to remain a perennial student and this quote is my personal north star in how I view all my encounters, relationships and how I make my way through the world in general. The flip side is you have to learn to really listen in order to benefit from the lesson that is in front of you.

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

Bruce Springsteen. As a songwriter and musician, he has influenced and impacted my view of relationships, my sense of social responsibility, and my view of my own identity as it relates to my loved ones and community.

Thank you so much for these great insights. This was very enlightening!

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