Think holistically about Amazon: The Amazon marketplace at its core is based off an algorithm. Therefore, it is in a seller’s best interest to score as high as possible in every area on Amazon from conversion rates to branding and reviews, all areas of Amazon. We had a product from a subscription box company that was priced higher than the competition on Amazon. To combat this, we worked hard to tell our story effectively through Amazon product pages and used a video to build the case the product was worth the extra spend. We maximized Enhanced Brand Content on our listing to tell our founders stories and reasons for creating the brand. After $135,000+ in sales in sponges in less than six months on Amazon, our conversion rate is a little above 48%. I believe that is in part a result of that brand’s off Amazon efforts, but also to our efforts as a team to make our listing and store as informative as possible.
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 Andrew Morgans. Andrew is a thought leader in the Amazon Branding space. He is a resident mentor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, and guest lecturer at the Henry W. Bloch School of Management. Raised by missionaries in Congo Africa, among other countries Andrew’s entrepreneurial spirit was nourished from a young age. Andrew found early success as an e-commerce manager for two different companies. In the first two years in E-Commerce he launched and or grew those grands by over 1 Million in sales each. Building on that experience, Morgans launched both the Landlocked Co Apparel brand, and Marknology™, an Amazon Brand Accelerator. Marknology™ has worked with over 120 brands on Amazon and sales of over $25 million. Featured on a weekly podcast, Startup Hustle, Andrew is a sought-after speaker on e-commerce, branding and Amazon at conferences and events all over the United States. Their Marknology YouTube channel tells their story.
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?
Like many other people, I found this career path by just knowing what I was doing wasn’t working and that I wasn’t going to settle until I found something that challenged me.
My bachelor’s degree is in Networking and Security. After a year in the field I knew I needed something more fast paced. I made a drastic jump to work with a startup and fell in love with Amazon and E-Commerce right then.
Can you explain to our readers why you are an authority about selling on Amazon.com?
I have logged thousands and thousands of hours on over 120 Amazon brands in almost 8 years from my consulting days to now with my agency Marknology.
We are not a software service but a hands-on strategy and execution service for the platform. We have grown with it and evolved over the years as it has changed, so have we.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?
One of my favorites is the story of one of my first clients, Michelle, from New York City.
As was the owner of a brick and mortar store Michelle was struggling to make sales. She had a passion for making headwear for women and needed help increasing her sales.
With my help she started selling so much merchandise through e-commerce channels that she closed her brick and mortar store. Her success online allowed her to move into a warehouse within view of the statue of liberty and employed several other women to help her. We literally saved her business.
Another favorite close to my heart is that I was able to help a client grow his private label Amazon business from zero, to well over 1.5 million+ annually. He has since left his 20+ year corporate job and now works from home with his new wife and child.
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 don’t know if I would call it funny as it felt like a nightmare at the time. However, I had a client that had two products that were very similar. It was Halloween, and I was running out of the office after 6:00PM.
The client called and asked if I could quickly prepare shipping labels. In a hurry I mixed up the two products and labeled the units with the wrong labels. It cost us tens of thousands of dollars in just a short few minutes. I learned to always take my time. A simple oversight or lack of attention can result in huge penalties for that.
Are you working on any exciting projects now? How do you think that will help people?
We have an incredible number of exciting projects right now.
- This company is bringing awareness to sponge cleanliness and overall improved health around the kitchen. We have seen amazing results since launching them on Amazon in October of 2018. We have sold over $138,000+ of $14.99 sponges. A conversion rate of over 48% from start in October to the end of Feb 2019.
Spanish Gardens // Guys Snacks 80 Year Anniversary for Spanish Gardens,
- Guys Snacks is a potato chip company that went into bankruptcy, then was brought back in the last few years. My mother worked here when she was young. It is exciting help them get more exposure and bring this Kansas City brand back to life.
Notes to Self
- Their story of sending positive affirmation messages to yourself in the morning and at night through a pair of socks has made this a rewarding partnership.
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. You don’t know what you don’t know: Even afterthousands of hours studying and optimizing Amazon accounts, I still don’t know everything. I quickly learned in order to scale my business and to provide maximum value for my clients, I must be able to stay current and ahead of the constant changes on Amazon. To do that, I was going to need a team.
No one goes to school for “Amazon consulting” so I had to build my own team. The Marknology team is entirely focused on Amazon. Each specialist has a specific area of focus. As a multi-discipline team, we stay on top of the learning curve and have truly earned the title of Amazon experts.
We are working with a client that reached out to us to bring their brand inhouse and go direct to customers instead of selling to Amazon retail.
We launched a seller central store to start selling direct. We worked through category approvals for these supplement products one by one. We needed one more category to get approved. All of a sudden, the account got suspended.
Apparently, an old brand owner launched an account in 2003. Amazon found and tied it to us! Once we sorted this out our account was approved and up and running in no time.
The client was extremely frustrated feeling like our plan had failed, however I kept insisting we push. As professionals we are problem solvers and have seen these issues repeat themselves over and over. They were SO close to throwing in the towel based, but we knew how close we were to pushing through, and what is possible and made them stick it out.
2. Think holistically about Amazon: The Amazon marketplace at its core is based off an algorithm. Therefore, it is in a seller’s best interest to score as high as possible in every area on Amazon from conversion rates to branding and reviews, all areas of Amazon.
We had a product from a subscription box company that was priced higher than the competition on Amazon. To combat this, we worked hard to tell our story effectively through Amazon product pages and used a video to build the case the product was worth the extra spend. We maximized Enhanced Brand Content on our listing to tell our founders stories and reasons for creating the brand. After $135,000+ in sales in sponges in less than six months on Amazon, our conversion rate is a little above 48%. I believe that is in part a result of that brand’s off Amazon efforts, but also to our efforts as a team to make our listing and store as informative as possible.
3. Use data not assumptions to make decisions: I have spoken with many brands that make business decisions based on something they “think” instead of actual data. We all know the cliché saying that assumption is the lowest form of knowledge, so do not assume.
- I worked with a brand that refused to let me talk to them about FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon) and insisted over and over that their shipping rates were way better than Amazon’s could be….they were wrong.
- I worked with a brand that assumed that their product would just take off on Amazon when they listed it on Amazon because they listed it correctly….they were wrong.
- I worked with a brand that assumed that they didn’t need to think about SEO rather people on Amazon would just stumble across their product…they were wrong.
- I worked with a brand that assumed that their conversion rate wouldn’t increase by improving their photos….they were wrong.
The list is endless. Begin on Amazon with an open mind and be ready to learn a lot — fast. Do not assume that just because you put your products in its catalog, you’re going to be the next million-dollar account.
4.Have realistic expectations: Selling on Amazon is not easy, nor is it a sprint. You wouldn’t expect to have any other business to be an overnight success, so don’t expect the same from Amazon.
A client of mine didn’t believe that customers would pay top dollar for his product on Amazon. 12 months later we had done over $100,000 on Amazon. Since he was almost expecting to possibly not even sell, and then to do $100K, he was ecstatic and doubled down the next year.
5.Think in the granular: Oftentimes when working with brands on Amazon, I struggle to get the client to focus on the little things. Little things matter when it comes to selling on Amazon.
- Are we taking the time to track the keywords correctly to see how we are ranking?
- Are we giving the advertising enough time to work itself out and collect the data we need before jumping to conclusions?
- Are we okay with a Grade C on our listings or are we striving for the best we can do?
- Trying to “unofficially” score as high as you can in each area of selling on Amazon is how you dominate the Amazon platform.
Haste from the brand is often because they might feel are already behind in getting on Amazon. The reality is that to get your products to rank effectively and convert well, you must to pay attention to the little details.
A success story of a brand that we worked on the “little things” is Contour MD. Over the next 12 months, we focused on optimizing Amazon SEO copy for the listings and removing old listings.
We took products one at a time and worked with a modeling agency for better photos. Our photographer took care in capturing top quality images for our products. Stocking issues, customer service issues, reviews — all the small stuff was our focus.
The results: 127% Increase in sales Year over Year. The sales result was $205,000+ in sales over the previous year.
It wasn’t adding more skus to Amazon, it was improving what was already there, and it was giving intentional focus and effort on all of the little things that paid off HUGE for Contour MD.
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 would wish to inspire the whole of the world to see each other as equals, and to find a unifying cause to bring us together instead of separating us by differences.
As an American that was raised abroad in Africa (Cameroon, Botswana, and Congo) I have always felt extremely blessed and thankful and wish that I could share the perspective that I was blessed with, with others.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Here’s the deal: True relentlessness comes when the only thing you have is relentlessness. When it seems, all is lost and all hope and evidence for success have long since vanished, relentlessness is the fuel that guides you through. “ — UNFU*K Yourself — Gary John Bishop.
A friend sent this quote to me one week when I was extremely exhausted, sleep deprived and on the brink of tears. Pushing yourself to new limits, and constant learning which entrepreneurs know all too well can be extremely exhausting. This passage reminded me of my courage. I read this chapter over and over until It sank in. I am relentless, and the only one that can stop me is me.
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 🙂
I would have to say it would be Gary Vaynerchuck. I discovered his first book after leaving corporate America and I have never had an influencer or leader resonate more with me.
I believe I have a lot I could share with him in regard to navigating Amazon for brands. What he did with Wine Library and YouTube, then going out on his own to do the same for others parallels what I have done with Marknology.