…So, the first thing I tell my clients is knowing your unique selling proposition is key in becoming successful on Amazon first and foremost. What makes the product you are selling different? How will it simplify or change the customer’s life after purchase? Knowing your competition is also important in upselling the beneficial features of your product offerings. If you are selling a Shampoo for example, and it reduces frizz, but you never mentioned that key feature in your product listing, think about all the sale you are missing out on from customers specifically looking for a shampoo that reduces frizz. So, knowing your unique selling proposition is crucial to standing out in the marketplace.
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 Tara Darnley. Tara is a Wife, Mom, Inventor, Entrepreneur and Podcaster. Together Tara and her husband Co-Founded Darlyng & Co., an award-winning lifestyle baby brand that has been featured on the Steve Harvey Talk Show, Essence, Marie Claire, Black Enterprise, What to Expect & Newborn and Pregnancy Magazine to name a few. They were also 2018 nominees for Black Enterprise’s Small Business of the Year. Leveraging the expertise, she developed growing her own business, Tara now serves as an Amazon Brand Strategist and has spoken at various conferences, panels and workshops teaching entrepreneurs how to scale their businesses using the largest eCommerce platform in the world, Amazon. She’s helped brands launch and scale their businesses on the platform to consistent six-figure earnings through her consulting firm, Dreams Inspire Reality.
Thank you so much for doing this with us Tara! Can you share with us the “backstory” about what brought you to this specific career path?
Our business was born out of necessity. Our then 2-month-old daughter Alethia began teething very early and she was not able to hold the traditional teethers on the market. Due to her lack of dexterity at such a young age. My husband who was on paternity leave came up with the idea of our first patented and trademarked invention the Yummy Mitt teething mitten, which birth our first company Darlyng & Co. The Yummy Mitt instantly became popular and we began distributing globally. From there we were able to grow our product line and scale our business.
Can you explain to our readers why you are an authority about selling on Amazon.com?
Our brand was able to grow rapidly by utilizing the world’s largest e-commerce platform, Amazon.
We were able to launch in Europe, Australia, Canada, and various other countries through Amazon. With over 100 million Prime Subscribers a great start to being successful on Amazon is having a great product. Consumers are shopping there every day. Not only are they the leading online retailer across the globe, but consumers also begin their shopping search on Amazon first vs Google. Leveraging my knowledge and expertise in growing my own brand on Amazon, I was able to replicate the same strategies to help other small businesses grow and scale their brands on Amazon. Most of my clients shop on Amazon daily but never considered selling their own products on the platform.
While many attempted to set up their stores, but the nuances and the interface were challenging for them to learn with their hectic schedules. I started our consulting firm Dreams Inspire Reality and as an Amazon Brand Strategist, my team and I help small businesses to launch and scale their brands on Amazon.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?
I would say our main brand being recognized by Amazon who recently shared our story a few months ago on their Blog Series featuring Small Business Owners. That was an honor being recognized as a Small Business utilizing their platform to grow our business.
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 wouldn’t say funny because it wasn’t in the moment. But during one of my discovery calls while working from home with a client my little one who is 2 years-old barges in my office and jumps on the call smiling. My client was kind and enjoyed his presence more than my embarrassment. This happens way more than I’d like, but I’m grateful my clients give me grace and knows that my role as a Mom comes first. This is one of the reasons I love being an Amazon Seller because it’s given our family so much Freedom.
Are you working on any exciting projects now? How do you think that will help people?
We are working on a few exciting projects. We realized through working with small businesses, even though many wanted to take the leap to sell on Amazon. They still weren’t quite sure how well their products would sell, or they’d rather have a more seasoned seller resell their products on the platform. Our team is getting ready to Launch Curaverse. Curaverse is a curated technology-enabled marketplace through Amazon that sells diverse premium products for the entire family all under one roof. With our firm as the Premier Online Amazon experts partnering with manufacturers and creators to grow their brands on Amazon. We’ve already received quite a few applications and we are excited to help other brands grow while making it easier for consumers to shop with small businesses.
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.
Absolutely. Amazon is constantly working on making the seller onboarding process easier as well as making the consumer experience seamless. Amazon is the leader in customer experience from a brand perspective by simply offering Free Prime Shipping. Shoppers have come to know, like and trust Amazon.
- So, the first thing I tell my clients is knowing your unique selling proposition is key in becoming successful on Amazon first and foremost. What makes the product you are selling different? How will it simplify or change the customer’s life after purchase? Knowing your competition is also important in upselling the beneficial features of your product offerings. If you are selling a Shampoo for example, and it reduces frizz, but you never mentioned that key feature in your product listing, think about all the sale you are missing out on from customers specifically looking for a shampoo that reduces frizz. So, knowing your unique selling proposition is crucial to standing out in the marketplace.
- One of the most popular mistakes I see sellers making is by not offering Prime shipping. They only offer seller fulfilled shipping, which is essentially them selling on the platform and still shipping the products themselves. Shoppers on Amazon purchase most items when they see that “Prime” badge. Which means for 100 million people if they don’t see that Prime badge, they will move on to a similar product that does. Amazon customers despise shipping fees and for most third-party sellers they are also charging a shipping fee. The prime badge for consumers means two things, free shipping that will be shipped from Amazon.
- This goes back to the know, like and trust factor. They don’t trust you enough as a third-party seller to pay additional shipping cost and not knowing exactly when their goods will arrive. They’ll even pay more for this convenience. So, if you must, add the shipping cost to your price and consider shipping your product to Amazon to fulfill on your behalf. They recently rolled out a new feature to some sellers to be able to fulfill the products themselves and have the Prime badge displayed. However, you may not be able to keep up with shipping products the same day as they can. I highly recommend having Amazon fulfill on your behalf, your sales will increase immediately if you already get a small number of sales daily.
- For small businesses especially I’m all about brand intellectual property protection.I often jokingly tell my clients that “Not having a trademark is like having a baby with no birth-certificate”. I highly recommend outside of Selling on Amazon brands at least get a trademark to protect their brand name. Amazon created Amazon Brand Registry which gives you access to tools that enables you to more accurately represent your brand, find and report violations, add video content to your listings and my favorite being able to create an Amazon storefront that gives you a unique URL for consumers to shop with you.Our clients that have brand registry have seen high success rates because it allows us to position their brands on the marketplace better creatively and to really engage with consumers and share their brand story.
- Another underutilized service for sellers is not running ads on Amazon. Amazon Sponsored Product Ads operate similarly to ads run through the Google Shopping Network and even Facebook Ads. These are the ads that drive Amazon searchers directly to a specific product you’re selling on Amazon. Advertisers also have the control of setting a daily budget, as well as the campaign duration. With Brand Registry you can run even more unique ads that your competitors may not be able to run. It gives you more leverage to display your products. You can run keyword ads and now for some accounts, you can even run target product ads where you target specific products like your offerings. Facebook and Google ads are currently dominant in the online advertising market. However, Amazon Sponsored ads are set to surpass both. Amazon is the first stop for people searching for goods to purchase, advertisers are increasingly pulling dollars from Google and Facebook and moving to Amazon. They were the third place for U.S Digital Ad Platform in 2018 and grossed over $4.61 Billion Dollars. My clients have been able to spend as little as $1000 with an ROI of $12,000. It’s quite incredible what they are doing for small businesses to compete in the marketplace. By not taking advantage of running ad campaigns you are certainly leaving coins behind, and my popular phrase for this year is “No coin left behind”.
- Another mistake I’ve also seen sellers make is underestimating the number of sales they’ll receive on Amazon and not having enough inventory. We always create a strategic plan for our clients Amazon storefront launch and that included having enough inventory and being able to scale fast to meet the demand of potential customers. There is nothing worse than creating a buzz about a product and the product running out of stock. You’ll lose that momentum and must start all over again. But this is also a good problem to have.
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?
Yes, there are tons of ways to advertise your Amazon store for free outside of the marketplace. You can leverage social media, your website, email marketing and word of mouth are still crucial ways to advertise and let your customers know your products are available on Amazon.
Most sellers forget to advertise that they are on Amazon. You can add a banner to your website directing customers to your Amazon store link. Because guess what? They will search for your items there anyway most times before even purchasing from you directly. You can add a link to your storefront or listing in your Instagram Story. For Amazon Brand Registry Sellers, you can now Live Stream on Amazon to sell your products! Through Amazon Live Streaming.
You can send an email announcing your store launch to your email list. Technology today enables us to creatively market in various ways to showcase our products and their unique features.
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. 🙂
This is a great question. We have a small community of amazing Entrepreneur in our Facebook Group and each month we select an Entrepreneur and collectively we host a “Biz Shower”. The selected Entrepreneur creates a wish list on Amazon of supplies they need, and this allows everyone to purchase something for them. Our first biz shower was completely funded in 2 hours for our first recipient, Olivia St. Vil. An 8-year-old designer and owner of Livy Belle. Our members who missed her Wishlist still wanted to support and some did with cash and others by purchasing her hair bows. It was so inspiring to see everyone collectively turn her Dreams into Reality and this was on a small scale with a small group of people. Imagine this being done on a larger scale for Startups and Entrepreneurs that desperately needs funding to turn their ideas into reality. Now that would be impactful.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Not so much life lesson quotes, but my theme for this year is “Dream Big, Execute Hard” and “No coin left behind”. I feel we always leave our Dreams in reserve, we don’t seek opportunities or have enough passion to execute them. We don’t often care to do the actual work to turn our Dreams into Reality. For our team this year is having bigger dreams and executing every single one of them. The last quote, “no coin left behind” is simple and self-explanatory.
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’m inspired by so many amazing Entrepreneurs and people and changing the world today.
I’d have to say Sean Combs “P Diddy” because of his hustle and drive and The Carters (Beyonce & Jay Z) also because they’ve been able to build an amazing emperor together. Honestly, I’m inspired by so many people to list here, but I’ll say this. On this journey, you never stop learning and I’m always open to meeting and networking with anyone that believes in our visions and dreams.