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How To Master Amazon: “Pivot. Pivot. Pivot.”, with Michael Maher and Eldad Shashua

Pivot. Pivot. Pivot. This is precisely why there are so many successful solopreneurs and small businesses on Amazon. They’re able to change at a moment’s notice to maintain growth or prevent a loss. As a part of my interview series about “Five non-intuitive things you need to know to run a very successful Amazon business, I […]


Pivot. Pivot. Pivot. This is precisely why there are so many successful solopreneurs and small businesses on Amazon. They’re able to change at a moment’s notice to maintain growth or prevent a loss.

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 Michael Maher. Maher owns and runs an Amazon Managed Services Agency. His agency provides a full service solution for managing the channel. They translate brand stories into highly engaging product listings and artfully utilize Amazon’s Advertising Platform to insert the client’s brand into the conversations consumers are having with the marketplace.


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?

I originally began an ecommerce business back in 2010 after being in a job I hated for a year. It was initially meant as an escape. I had no idea how much opportunity there was until I jumped in.

I began selling on ebay and quickly discovered Amazon. While I was selling, I took on several consulting projects to help others get setup and grow their brands on Amazon. As I realized the demand that was out there for this type of service, I decided to do a 180 and become a service-based agency.

It started out as me consulting alone but quickly grew to my current team of 10 due to the demand.

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

That’s a great question. First, I was able to build a successful ecommerce business, while initially working the job I was at, turning a $2,000 investment into almost half a million dollars in sales.

As an agency, we’ve launched dozens of businesses onto the Amazon marketplace. We’ve grown businesses already on the platform between 10% to 100% YOY, scaling them from thousands of dollars up to millions of dollars in revenue.

My agency provides you with a comprehensive service that covers all the bases when it comes to Amazon. We aren’t just reviewing your account and providing recommendations. We’re writing the content, doing extensive keyword research, tracking product rank and placement, making inventory projections based on sales velocity, setting up and optimizing advertising, creating custom reporting, etc.

We’re also digging deeper to break down profitability for brands, which is way more important to us versus gross sales. The ever growing community of Amazon “gurus” out there are focusing on giving you 10X growth. We’re focused on giving you maximum profitability.

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

Several years ago when I was selling products on ebay, I would regularly research new products and product categories. I was digging into the category of socks one day and I came across a pair of socks that sold for an exorbitant amount of money, like $50. I thought maybe I had hit a gold mine. Turns out they were used socks that had been worn by a woman for people who’ve got a thing for that.

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?

I’m not a businessman by nature. I’m a businessman because I had to be.

During my time in the world of ecommerce I’ve learned several valuable lessons. Initially, I set prices on my products at what was competitive in the market. Products were selling well but when I dug deeper I realized I had forgotten something key. I hadn’t factored in any of the costs that the marketplaces were taking from the sale of items, called “referral fees” on Amazon. So I was either breaking even or losing money in some cases. It’s only funny now because I’ve come full circle, helping brands get a handle on ALL of the costs that are involved with selling on Amazon, not just product and shipping costs. Brands are learning from my previous mistakes and successes.

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

We’ve created a process for advertising that utilizes technology and human experience from previous advertising work. We’re continually refining that process to encompass all of the new changes in the world of Amazon Advertising. As advertising becomes increasingly more complex, it’s going to be even more difficult to handle this process internally. We’re wanting to make it a no-brainer for brands to come to us and say “will you run our brand on Amazon?” because there is such a huge benefit in starting a relationship with us.

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.

Amazon is huge so it’s easy to get lost in it all. Here are some common things people forget when using the platform.

First of all, cover all your bases. Truly succeeding on Amazon means you’ve got all of your ducks in a row. If your listing looks great but you aren’t running advertising, then it’s not getting seen. If you’re running advertising but haven’t setup a 3rd party review software, you’re missing the social verification you need to increase your conversion rate. It’s all connected so make sure you’re firing on all cylinders.

Next is to focus on the big picture when analyzing your performance. Another way to say this is look for data trends, not blips on the radar. Determining that a $1,000 sales day, when you normally do $3,000 a day, is cause for alarm will constantly put you into panic mode. Pull back and review. If you notice a downward trend over the preceding 2 weeks, you know to dig deeper into your metrics. If it’s just one slow day out of 3 that month, it’s more of an anomaly.

Experimentation is a big thing when it comes to Amazon, something that a lot of people don’t discuss, likely because they believe it invalidates their experience. You don’t know how people are going to react to your product until you put it out there. If you’re selling a pet hair remover intended for dogs and the search term “cat hair remover” is garnering more sales than anything else, experiment with it. Adjust your listing to target cats and invest in cat-focused advertising terms. If could end up being the success you never intended.

Get help when you need it. Amazon has a lot of moving pieces. Eventually you’ll hit a wall as things become more complicated. Find someone who knows what they’re talking about and get their perspective. When you attempt to do everything yourself, your business will suffer in the long run.

Last thing I’d mention is to be adaptable. If people keep finding flaws with your product, listen to them. Make adjustments to your product as quickly as possible. If you have a keyword in advertising you’ve historically performed well on but it begins tanking don’t keep dumping all your money into it. Try new keywords and see what sticks. The market is going to change constantly so sticking to your old way of doing things will eventually become outdated.

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?

Pivot. Pivot. Pivot. This is precisely why there are so many successful solopreneurs and small businesses on Amazon. They’re able to change at a moment’s notice to maintain growth or prevent a loss.

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’m actually involved with an incredible organization, IJM (International Justice Mission), whose sole purpose is to put an end to modern day slavery.

The focus is outside of the US, as that makes up majority of the trafficking throughout the globe. I’m committed to helping in the fight and I would encourage everyone to learn more at ijm.org.

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

“Keep Moving Forward.” — Walt Disney

Adversity is going to happen. It’s part of life. Keep taking those steps forward, even if it feels like you’re moving backwards. Have faith that your life is meaningful and purposeful. This particular quote has helped fuel me past some difficult times.

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 🙂

Thomas Sowell. He’s got a beautiful mind.

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

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