It’s likely you won’t be able to take your marketing tactics for other channels and apply them directly to Amazon. You have to really understand and know the marketing details of Amazon before you can approach it in a strategic and effective way. Amazon is so consumer based rather than knowledge based. People go there to buy and you must cater to that stage in the purchasing funnel. It’s true that a consumer may go to Amazon to research, but primarily it’s a purchasing platform. Your marketing efforts need to reflect that.
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 Brett Bohannon. Bohannon started his own Amazon business in 2016. In October 2018 he sold that business and from that learned that many brands needed help on the channel. Bohan then created his own agency that strategically helped brands on Amazon, utilizing the knowledge that he learned previously in the industry. Brett is now the Director of Amazon at one of San Diego’s leading digital marketing strategies, Power Digital Marketing.
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?
About four years ago I started to dive into the Amazon platform as a side gig. At the time, I was doing outside sales for a company, and I would come home and work on Amazon strategy and execution late at night, early in the mornings and when I was on the road. My interest in the channel began when I saw the quick advancements the platform was making, and the fast growing popularity of consumers using the channel as a primary ecommerce site.
Can you explain to our readers why you are an authority about selling on Amazon.com?
I have seen Amazon evolve over the past 4+ years. I have had my hands in all areas of Amazon strategy and have been the hand that has strategically pivoted strategies when needed. As someone that lives and breathes Amazon, I am constantly making changes depending on channel updates and advancements. I currently run about 12 company profiles on Amazon from profile integration, strategy, execution and advertising. My clients have seen incredible growth on the selling channel and I’m running clients in a variety of industries. If it’s part of the Amazon channel, I’m likely heavily involved. I’m also managing a team here and have built the Amazon department from the ground up.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?
When looking at tactics to enhance the overall success on Amazon, one of the most interesting things I’ve learned is how much other channels and other digital marketing efforts play into the factor of your sales on Amazon. Because you can’t make a consumer purchase on any said platform, the consumer is going to buy wherever they most feel comfortable. This means that companies must be in the area where the consumer already is. Generally speaking, when I have a client that goes really heavy on their social media and display ads outside of Amazon, we see a large increase in Amazon sales. I have seen sales growth anywhere from 75–100% when they put efforts into cross-channel marketing efforts. It seems like a no-brainer but when the channels are working together, it serves a huge benefit.
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?
When I first started out, I created a cost per click budget at $100, rather than $10 and I ran it for a few days. When I went to check on performance, I realized the budget had spent double what the client had allocated and I started to panic. It was not so funny at the time but when I look back, it was a great learning lesson. When dealing with ads, it’s important to always double check budgets and cross-check all ad spend is aligned with what the client has deemed acceptable. And you better believe now, I ALWAYS double check those budgets.
Are you working on any exciting projects now? How do you think that will help people?
In general, I love working with companies that offer a solution to a problem. A lot of the companies I’m working with now are on kickstarter. It’s fun to see them grow and it’s great when more consumers get exposed to these incredible brands. Whether it’s a product for efficiency, health, product — if they make an impact and solve a problem, I’m passionate about watching their growth on Amazon develop.
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.
1. Keep up with the changes and roll with the punches.
It seems like a no-brainer but Amazon is a leader in the ecomm space. It often makes updates and changes processes, and the brands just have to roll with the punches and adapt accordingly. A recent example of this was when Amazon suddenly stopped issuing PO’s for vendor central and there was speculation that they were shutting everything down. A week later they casually started issuing them again. Amazon runs at their own pace and you have to just go with it.
2. You must understand the way brands sell in order to position yourself.
A very small portion of the population realizes that a good majority of the products sold on Amazon are sold by other brands and not through Amazon directly. In that case, Amazon is not selling that product, they just ship it. As a brand running on Amazon you have to decide if you will run through Vendor Central(1P) of Seller Central(3P). There are pros and cons of each but you have to weigh those out to determine the best move for your brand.
3. It’s likely you won’t be able to take your marketing tactics for other channels and apply them directly to Amazon.
You have to really understand and know the marketing details of Amazon before you can approach it in a strategic and effective way. Amazon is so consumer based rather than knowledge based. People go there to buy and you must cater to that stage in the purchasing funnel. It’s true that a consumer may go to Amazon to research, but primarily it’s a purchasing platform. Your marketing efforts need to reflect that.
4. Images are increasingly more important on listings these days because of how quickly people scroll.
This is especially the case on mobile. Optimizing images in general is key. Navigating what you can and can’t do for images on Amazon is crucial as Amazon can suppress your listing if you don’t meet the guidelines.
Taking a look at number of photos, the more photos the better. My theory on this is that there are so many different kinds of shoppers (those that like to read more, view more, read more reviews, etc.), so to appease those needs, it’s best to make sure you’re checking off all the boxes and including more than the standard 2–3 images.
Mobile optimization of photos is so important as more and more people are shopping on their phones rather than desktop.
5. Not all reviews are created equal and your listing can be penalized for having inorganic reviews.
Unfortunately, people have been abusing the Amazon review process for some time, leading to a higher distrusting consumer base and in general, a bit more knowledge on the consumer side. All those black hat tactics will catch up to people that end up doing them. It’s best to follow the best practices for the Amazon review process, which is following the natural course of acquiring a review. You can of course encourage your customers to leave a review in your messaging and utilize cross channel marketing to ensure more sales, leading to more reviews.
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?
Overall, I encourage marketers to drive outside sales to Amazon. Often times, companies don’t like to do it because they can’t track the consumer journey once they’re on Amazon, however creating out of the box ways to do so can really benefit the long term sales of the product. It’s momentum based. If you send people from outside of Amazon, to Amazon, you’ll likely rank higher on Amazon because they’re benefiting from that outside traffic.
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. 🙂
Smiling at people. This is not an Amazon Smile pun. Saying hi and just being overall friendly to strangers can sure make a difference. It doesn’t take too long and it can make the other person and you, happy. The biggest thing here is that you never know what that other person is going through and a smile could really change their day.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“If you admire greatness in another human being, it is your own greatness you are seeing.” — Debbie Ford
I was reading a book that was talking about how people idolize people that are in great situations (i.e actors, actresses, athletes). People don’t often find those traits that they too internally may possess. People say that if you see greatness in someone it’s likely you have that inside of you too but you don’t act on it. If you can identify those traits inside yourself, you can exude those traits that you admire outside of yourself.
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 🙂
Richard Branson. I’ve always admired his work. I love how he incorporates play into his work and embodies the “work hard play hard” mentality that I try to embody. You really can’t take life too seriously.
Thank you so much for these great insights. This was very enlightening!