I'm Sari Kimbell and I've done just about everything in the food industry. I have helped hundreds of packaged food business entrepreneur and now I want to help you make your delicious dream a reality. Whether you want to be successful at farmer's markets, online, or wholesale onto store shelves, Food Business Success is your secret ingredient. I will show you how to avoid an expensive hobby, and instead run a profitable food business. Now let's jump.
Hi there, everyone, and welcome back to another great episode of the Food Business Success podcast. You might have noticed that the last few episodes have been with guests. And I love talking with other folks. And I also love coming to you just just me. But I have had so many amazing guest interviews that have been sitting on the shelves and I want to get them out to you in a timely manner. And make sure you have all of this awesome information. So whether it's about farmers markets with Nicole, or the upcoming interviews with Brandon around food safety, and Peggy and Anna, I mean, there have just been so many, or this interview with Shannon talking about Amazon so important. For the next few weeks, they will be guest interviews. And then I have been working on a lot of great topics. Definitely brainstorming and I have so many ideas. And I'm really excited. In a month or so I'll be bringing a series around money, which is so important. How to raise money; how to change your money mindset; how to fall in love with money and have it be your best friend; how to get sales. So we're gonna be talking about all things money. And before we jump into Shannon's interview, I wanted to read a review that came in on the podcast. And this is from one of my favorite people, and I worked with her as a client in food business success. But Jessica is with Fireworks Butters. You guys should definitely go check it out. She just did an amazing rebrand and it looks awesome and excited to help her with that relaunch. Jessica said "I have been working with Siri since August of 2019. She has helped me immensely in finding confidence and building my entrepreneurial skill set. She helps guide projects by breaking them into smaller attainable tasks. Her thoughtfulness and care for each of her clients is evident by always following up and answering any questions big or small. I can't wait to see the success in my business that will come from the failures and impossible goals set in for 2021. Because of working with Sari, I feel like I'm on the right path to finding the joy and happiness that comes with owning my own profitable business." Hey, I love this so much. And I'm so grateful for you, Jessica and honored to be a part of your journey. I would love to read your review on the podcast. So head over to iTunes or the Apple podcast platform. Search for Food Business Success like you're searching for a brand new podcast, and then click on five stars and leave a review and definitely leave your business name so I can give you that shout out. All right on with the show and I will be coming at you talking with you one on one very soon. I am welcoming back. longtime colleague, friend, Amazon expert, Shannon Roddy. And Shannon is the founder of Marketplace Sellers Course. And the creator of the Amazon Brand Success Academy. Welcome, Shannon.
Shannon Roddy 4:05
Awesome, Sara, thanks so much for having me again.
Yeah, you bet. We've done a lot of things in the past. So people, we're gonna put show notes or links in the show notes where people can go check out some of our other stuff we've done together. But we've known each other couple, three years? Maybe, two and a half.
Shannon Roddy 4:23
Yeah, it's been it's been a few it's been a few years. We've certainly been on each other's radar before that. But the nice thing is we serve a lot of the same audiences but in different respects you kind of more going into, you know, sort of the startup aspect of it and me specifically the Amazon, but it's it's so much fun to hand off clients in a sense to really help them achieve success from the setup and the infrastructure to the growth on Amazon and so forth.
Yeah, for sure. Well, why don't you back up and tell us a little bit more about you and what you do and how you help people be successful on Amazon. But I'll just say that Shannon is one of my go to guys, we like I said, we've done some webinars, we've done a pricing for profit workshop together. I always say like, I can't be the expert in everything. And Amazon is definitely one of those pieces that I, I find a partner who knows what the heck they're doing. So Shannon, you're my guy. So tell me about a little bit more about about you for for the audience.
Shannon Roddy 5:28
Yeah, so I've been doing Amazon consulting for eight years, and worked with over 120 or so brands in that time. And the nice thing is really kind of luck of the draw, one of the first clients I got, was a food brand and had a colleague at the time who's worked on specialty foods. And so just a lot of overlap. So really understanding the food side of Amazon, because it's very, very specific. So I know the category food manager, and you know, we'll touch base every few months and help new brands launch. And about 30%, I think of the clients that I've had, over the past eight years have been food brands. So there's a lot of nuanced details that I'll be able to share throughout the podcast. So if you're a food brand, listening to this podcast and want to launch, as we focus on three aspects, launch, grow and protect your brand on Amazon, we're going to cover details of all three of those. But for me, what I'm most passionate about is empowering brand owners with strategies, tools and resources. And so for me, I think I'm an educator at heart. But I value honesty and people who really want to do the work. And you know, it's hard work, but it's honest. And the ability to go through and implement a strategy or a plan is so gratifying. I think with Amazon as with a lot of things like social media or email marketing. People like I want to do the work, and I'm willing to do the work. I just don't know what to do or how to do it. And so we'll talk about, you know, things like the sort of the breakdown of the levels of execution. But what I'm most excited to share today is just principles for success for food brands on Amazon. So just super, super niche, and very, very specific.
And I love it. And that's one of the reasons why I've enjoyed our collaboration is because you specifically do understand the food category. And there are tons and tons of Amazon consultants out there. But having somebody who understands this specific category, because it is different, a little different than like electronics.
Shannon Roddy 7:35
It's not a cell phone case. Yeah, yeah.
Yeah. So when we were brainstorming topics for this podcast, we just I said, well, let's just kind of go back to the basics and talk about, you know, like I said, we've had lots of webinars and other presentations together. But let's go back to the basics. And, you know, I actually have a client now and he's been a client for a number of years and we've always gotten a wholesale strategy. And I've mentioned a couple times about Amazon. And this last time it finally like, like, huh, maybe, yeah,
Shannon Roddy 8:14
Yes, yes. The bell rang.
maybe we should consider it. So I'm totally like, thinking about him through that, like the, through this lens of this interview, like with him in the back of my mind, like, what do we need to know, what does he need to know to like, be convinced and also do the best that he can, you know, not make these mistakes? So I love it that drilling down?
Shannon Roddy 8:36
Yeah, I mean, and it's interesting, because you go back a year, when we met up at Fancy Food Show in San Francisco, and I met a lot of brands who were like,
It seems like forever ago!
Shannon Roddy 8:46
Don't talk to me about Amazon. I'm not interested in Amazon. Or like trying to convince people like, Hey, I really think you should be on Amazon, all those brands are listening now. Because with everything that happened with a pandemic, you have to I mean, it is it is the go to marketplace when it comes to everything from pantry to essentials, and the growth of Amazon and the aspect of Amazon is critical. But there's there's a lot of false beliefs. And I definitely want to break down some of those. But I will start off saying that most brand owners, most food brand owners, make make decisions about Amazon based on partial information, bad information, and no information. And my goal is to clear that up and fill that gap so they can make decisions even if you're going to make decisions about even if you decide not sell on Amazon, that's fine. But make sure you're making that decision with accurate reliable information.
100% Yeah, well, let's just jump into it. So we're gonna talk about the three big mistakes, three things people really need to understand and do well when they go on Amazon. And I remember you walking around with that T-shirt, at Fancy Food got got Amazon
Unknown Speaker 10:01
Amazon questions. Yeah. The guy the Got Milk? rip off from the 90s.
Oh, I'll have to post that photo. But seems like forever ago we could like be at a tradeshow.
Unknown Speaker 10:14
It was a life. It was a lifetime ago. Yeah.
All right. So let's jump into the first one. Not launching your products if you're not on Amazon. You can't sell on Amazon.
Shannon Roddy 10:28
Yeah, I mean, it's so the first aspect is like to frame it up. And you mentioned this as well, like getting back to the basics. And I have a lot of clients and coaching clients and people, because we do consulting one on one with clients but we also do like on demand coaching, right? So people can book an hour and just say, Hey, can we just talk Amazon strategy, which is great, because like nobody else really does that. So what's interesting is people will say, like, like, what's the secret sauce? Like, where's the silver bullet? And they want to know, like, get into all these like nuanced aspects of Amazon to like hype sales. But the reality is, most of the companies that I audit, when we're looking at their Amazon listings or their strategies, they're not even doing the basics right. And I think similar to something like basketball, success is in the fundamentals. It's not in the slam dunk. It really is in being able to pass dribble and shoot well. And so what I say for Amazon is there's no silver bullet. It's not about doing one thing right because Amazon is a very complex platform. It's about doing 128 things right. And so like, we have our amazon seller central checklist, right? That walks, brand owners, here's all the things that you need to know, like literally like a checklist of going through these things. It doesn't tell you how to do them. But it does provide links and just that overview, because again, sometimes it's so overwhelming, you're like, how do I break it down to make it manageable. But the bottom line is, you have to understand that the number one reason brands fail selling on Amazon, is because they don't know what they don't know. And we just encounter this every day, you know. And what most brands do is they use what I call the piecemeal approach, which means they got a piece from a conference, they got a piece from a YouTube video, a piece from a Facebook article, a piece from a podcast, even. And all of these things are great for additional information. Okay, so podcasts webinars are great for additional information. But to be successful, you actually need all the information. And you need to have a holistic understanding an overview of Amazon, because using the piecemeal approach, it's like having half of the pieces of a puzzle, you know, you're never going to be able to get a clear and accurate picture. And the gaps that you leave result in loss of sales, or in some cases like account suspension. So for example, for a lot of the food brands that shipped directly to customers using what's called merchant fulfillment, the number one reason they get suspended is late shipping. And it has to do with not having an integration set up correctly with their you know, whether it's three PL or co Packer or warehouse what have you. So that's a critical aspect that they need to make sure that they have nailed down 100%. Because the last thing you want to do is spend all this time energy and money on getting your listings up and getting your account set up and have Amazon you know, the first month shut you down and say sorry, you can't plan the platform.
Oh my gosh, and I'm sure there are some horror stories that you you've heard. And I mean, yeah, that's the worst thing in the world, just spend all this time and money and then get your account suspended. And and you're in this ether you're like, Oh my gosh, and you don't know what you're doing anyways, so you have no idea how to get it turned back on. So we're gonna avoid that. That's what this is all about.
Shannon Roddy 13:55
If we can help you avoid the mistakes, and like I said, there's a ton, you know, pitfalls. But the big ones are really, really critical. And, you know, the other aspect is just making sure that you've got all of your logistics in place. I mean, it's something as simple as making sure that your all of your business information matches, right? So GS one where people purchase their UPC codes or their company prefix license from GS one, that information is going to have to match the information in your amazon seller central account, or they're not even going to approve you. You can't even upload products. So there's a lot of technical details that are really critical even to get to that first place. But I think that kind of brings us to that first aspect of the launch aspect of Amazon. And the biggest mistake here is people don't optimize their listings. And so we can take few minutes to kind of get into that and what that looks like and what people tend to do wrong and maybe some tips on on things they can do right.
Right. Yeah, let's jump into optimizing your listing. So you've you've gotten some of the fundamentals. The foundations of the house built or the basics of basketball, and then now we're going to go into how do you actually really make that work for you? I actually was talking with a potential client on a call. And she's like, yeah, I'm on Amazon. And well, how many sales? And she's like, maybe one a month? Yeah, like, yeah. Oh, my gosh, I feel like there's a lot of opportunity here for listing optimization.
Shannon Roddy 15:30
Yeah. 100%. I mean, you know, the first product I launched on Amazon, I sold a couple the first year. It's like, the first month, you know, first year was a loss. The second year, I made a few few bucks. But the third year, I figured out how to do SEO keyword research, and started implementing SEO keywords into my listing, then sales increased by 1500%. I mean, it was pretty significant. So there was an aspect where not understanding how to optimize your listings is so critical. And the way I look at this is the Amazon flywheel, if you will, is to optimize your listings, launch your products which is driving targeted traffic to your listings, and then analyzing the results. And you just keep doing that until you've got a really good system in place to excuse me to make sure that your listing and demise.
I just lost sound.
Shannon Roddy 16:24
You lost audio?
Well, that was weird. Okay. I got your back.
Shannon Roddy 16:30
The Amazon flywheel. That's what I
Shannon Roddy 16:35
Yeah. Okay, so we'll go back. And hopefully this will come across clean. So so the Amazon flywheel is you optimize your listings, and then you launch your products by driving targeted traffic, and then you analyze the results. And you keep going through that process until your listings are very well optimized, your traffic is very well targeted, and you're getting good conversion rates, you're getting good sales. And so one of the first things that a brand owner has to do is understand what success on Amazon is, and this is the way I look at it, this could be different for every brand. But I believe that success on Amazon is the ability to organically rank for your products top keywords. Okay. Generic keywords. So 80%, approximately of searches that come in on Amazon. And by the way, 65% of product searches of all product searches on the internet, start on Amazon. So I always say it's a brand new platform before an e commerce platform like you need to be there and represent even if you don't want to make it a primary channe. You need to be there to make sure that you're showing up. But but the idea is that as customers search for you, for those generic unbranded terms, you want to make sure that you're showing up. And so again, it could be something as simple as gluten free cookies, right? Kind of the generic go to that I that I typically reference but but you need to do the keyword research and look at what are all the search terms that a customer could be looking for, that my product would be relevant for. And so we have this whole process inside the course that we teach, that teaches you how to go through, and you can even look at your competitors products and do like reverse asen. So it's like reverse engineering their keywords, right? Like I don't really know what keywords my competitor, you know, my product, you know, should rank for what you know, my customers are searching for. Well you can reverse engineer that and see what keywords your competitors, products rank for. And then you can also do your own keyword research. And this can include things like your certifications. So that could be like I said, gluten free, certified organic, you know, all natural, the different aspects of it. But also, things like more specific to demographic. So for moms, for, for kids, for teens, for toddlers, you know, whatever the the focus is of your product, you want to make sure that you understand all the search terms the customer could possibly search for. And basically what I tell my clients is like, this is the most monotonous aspect of of listing optimization. But really, honestly, it's where the money is. Because if I can figure out all the different search terms that my clients, or you know, my product can rank for, and actually strategically integrate those into the listing and then do advertising which we'll talk about in a minute. It has it gives me the ability to organically rank for them over time. If you don't have those integrated, you're never going to rank for them. And you think about it's kind of the difference of I could get 50 sales from one keyword. Or I could get two or three sales from 100 keywords. And it's that sort of broad strategy and approach that really helps a brand grow and take it to the next level. In fact, there was one of the clients who went through the course we did some one on one coaching. They took their sales they were very specific food brand, very specific niche. And she said basically, we were doing about 5000 a month. And using the those principles of optimization and SEO keyword research, we figured out what keywords we wanted to rank for, they were able to ramp it up to $30,000 a month, and kind of be a category leader for that specific keyword.
That's not a bad return. Just spending a little extra time.
Shannon Roddy 20:23
Not a bad return. It's not a bad return. And the success is there. You've got to be willing to do the hard work that your competitors won't, to really do the in depth SEO keyword research to see what keywords are actually relevant for your product, and what your customers are actually looking for. And really target those and do it do it effectively.
Seems like keyword research would be an area to really spend, like, that's an area to invest a little time and energy into. It doesn't really cost too much. Right?
Shannon Roddy 20:56
Yeah, I mean, the tool, I mean, I use Helium 10. And it's 37 bucks a month, like, it's great. It's knowing how to do it right. And so right. Now that we're on listing optimization, which is the first part, I want to talk about a principle that I sort of lay out call that I call the three levels of execution. Okay, so the first level is knowing what to do. At every level, a brand owner needs to understand what they need to do in every area of their business. The second level of execution, is knowing how to do it. Now, they may not know how to do this specifics, that's okay. You've got other people on your team, you've hired people, you've got co-packers, that's fine, you can hire other people do some of those aspects. The last part is being good at it. And so those are definitely things that there's only a couple things I think that we can really actually be good at. And so it's understanding what do I just need to know what to do? What are some things that actually need to know how to do? And what are some things that it doesn't matter how much time or energy has been, I'm never going to be good at it? So let me just outsource that. And so I have to reference our our wonderful and highly qualified content partner Mindful Goods, run by Daniela Boltzmann. She's an amazing her amazing entrepreneur. But you can essentially and effectively outsource your listing optimization to them. And they could do the SEO keyword research, they can do the images and write the copy and build all this stuff for you. Because what I always tell companies is 85% of your success isn't the setup. And so sort of another way to think about this kind of the analogy that I use, to launch grow your sales on Amazon is like launching a rocket. And so here's the analogy. The first level is really building the rocket platform, okay, this is all the integrations; it's infrastructure; it's making sure that your shipping confirmations are going through that your feedback emails are integrated; you've got customer service nailed down. Like, you've got to get that infrastructure in place because like a rocket, if you launch from a launch pad that isn't fully built out, it's gonna, the whole thing is gonna crumble, right? It's like building a house without a foundation, right, the whole thing is gonna fall apart. And this goes back to like account suspension, right? We've, this is a very real thing. So you've got to build the infrastructure, you got to build a foundation. The second level is aiming the rocket, this is why I say it's optimizing your listings, right? If you aim low, so so take the client, for example, somebody who's getting one or two sales a month, they basically aimed their rocket sideways, right? It's just, it's not even vertical, it's just horizontal, it's just skimming the surface. And if you point your rocket in the wrong direction, I don't care how much fuel you add to that rocket, it's never going to take off and go where you want it to go. So we say listing optimization, the SEO keyword research is pointing the rocket in the right direction so that you can achieve your goals. And then we launch the rocket, then we add advertising and, you know, there's off Amazon marketing and tons of things that you can do. But but if you don't point the rocket in the right direction, it doesn't matter how much firepower you add behind it, it's never going to help you accomplish your goal or get where you want it to go.
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, that's not the fun sexy part, but it's the absolute required part. And I think we probably do similar things, but for different, different stages of people's business. But you know, I often tell people like do you really want to be an expert at how to write an asset plan or do we just want to have somebody write asset plan for us and then we're done. So I'm all for finding partners that are experts in their field just like you are Danielle is or myself with helping people start a food business. It's like, let's just get you your product and you're here, your Amazon up or what? Then you can do the fun the fun part. Let's like have you be good at selling your product and getting into stores.
Unknown Speaker 24:57
Yeah. And doing branding and the brand story like that we feel like that's, that's your piece. That's the part that only you can do. Yep. And, you know, again, when it comes to Amazon, I think the most critical piece- and I think a lot of people forget this- the most critical aspect of Amazon is building brand equity. And that's a customer's perceived value of your branded product. And that is conveyed through the listings; it's conveyed through the story that you tell; it's conveyed with the language that you use; the choice of words; the types of lifestyle images or video that you use. Okay, so and, and also the social proof obviously in product reviews, right? But the product reviews can refer reflect everything from whether or not they like the taste to the package arrived, and it wasn't packaged properly, and everything was totally crumbled, or was melted. Or it was a frozen product that came from completely thought out. And, you know, a hot baking mess on my front porch. So all of these create your brand equity. And that's actually the thing that you need to focus on protecting more than anything else. And so, we'll talk about that a little bit. But a couple key takeaways for I think the listing optimization, before we move on to launch is want number one, your primary image. Okay, so Danielle has this great. She has a great checklist called the by now method, really, really fascinating. We'll see if she's able to get your audience a copy. But if not, you'll have to have her on the show, and she can give it away. But the one thing she talks about is what's called eye candy. And so the idea Amazon has very specific requirements of what can and cannot be in your primary product image. Amazon says it can just be the product, okay. But if you got a food product, maybe you have some ingredients for that product that can sort of like stack up on the outside of the product. Or maybe it's bars but it's not just showing a box of bars, you can arrange them sort of in a decorative fashion like you can be fun and creative with that primary image. And two examples that I'll give number one is a company that we're working with called Cocoa Lasses, where Danielle and her team at Mindful Goods did the listing optimization. And it's just amazing. It's like, it's like dark chocolate like made from rich cocoa, and blackstrap molasses, but it doesn't have sort of the the bitter blackstrap taste. I drink it every day with milk.
Shannon Roddy 26:26
Really good. I do, it's really good. And the number one reason is because it's really rich in iron, and I give blood through Red Cross. And so if my iron count is too low, I can't give. And so I actually drink Cocolasses every day. So I'm a big fan and user of the product. But if you look at the listing optimization, optimization on the Cocolasses Amazon listing, they put a pieces of chocolate like a chunk of chocolate outside the bottle, and it draws your eye to it. Well, when your product shows up in an ad, or organic search results, customers are more likely to click through because your helps your product stand out. It can be really, really simple. But these are the kind of things that you don't want to spend the next 5-10 years figuring out on your own. You want to find somebody who does it really well, who can sort of bypass all those hard learnings and go, Hey, here's how to get more eyeballs on your product. The other one that comes to mind is a company called Pastabilities. Really great client and we actually met at Fancy Food Show. And so I talked with Carrie the owner there. And she's like, wow, this sounds really interesting. Like Amazon's kind of been something that we've played around with, we're doing a little bit, you know, your sales have been okay. She's like, I listened to your podcast on the whole flight home. So all the episodes, she's on the flight home, got home, enrolled in our courses, and then hired me to do some coaching and consulting. I mean, they were able to achieve a significant increase in sales. And where a lot of companies were struggling when COVID hit, and the pandemic kind of began, they couldn't keep product in stock fast enough. Because again, everybody was going to Amazon and they had all those infrastructural type things set up. So they could really be successful. And they did. They did great. They had a great year.
Shannon Roddy 29:20
But for Pastabilities, we also worked with Mindfull on the listings. The pasta that they make is so cool, because it seems really fun shapes. It's like everything from soccer, you know, equipment like soccer balls and nets and to like space stuff. So so my kids love it. But it's these really cool shapes. Well, the shapes are hard to see inside the packaging, right? So they wound up using somebody who does 3d rendering to create the packaging and actually a blow up of the different shapes and they A/B tested it used using a tool called Pickfu Strip kind of short for pick for you pickfu.com. And Pickfu allows you to create multiple images. In this case, you could create like sort of two primary images and just say, which one would you buy. And you can get a quick survey, 50 bucks or so for a bunch of customers, Amazon customers are just Pickfu users to vote on and leave comments about which one they like. And the renderings in this case, just won hands down, just so much higher click through rate of people going, Wow, I can clearly see the product. It's so much more enticing, so much more engaging. And so they went through the process of like optimizing all their listings using this better converting image over the past year. And so these are like little tiny tips of how you can get more traffic, more people engage people, increase your conversion rate, and get on your way to launching your product, which we'll talk about next.
Yeah, awesome. So where are we at with, so we're at launching, right? And that's what the optimization. Oh, you we were talking before we started recording about like little things like the ingredients you were just talking about, like some of the images. But just having those little things worked out for the, for your images?
Shannon Roddy 31:30
Yeah, yeah. So So technically, you could you know, the launch is really getting your product out there. But when it comes to images, the second part of that is, especially for food products, the most important thing to customers is what's in it? They want to know the ingredients. And 90% of companies will just take whatever's on their websites website, show the front of the package, the back of the package. And then like, all sides of the package, I've seen people like this is the top of the package. And this is the bottom of the package like completely irrelevant to customers, they don't care but but it's a lack of understanding of how the Amazon platform is unique. You have to optimize for Amazon. You can't just take what you do on your website or walmart.com or anything else and just slap it on Amazon. Amazon is very, very specific. And Amazon customers have become very, very savvy. And if you're going to compete with other brands who are doing this, well, you're going to have to take your game up a notch. And so the second image, like I said, you really need to make sure you've got a clear image. And we recommend basically taking the PDF or whatever the graphic is used to create the label and creating a graphic out of it, instead of taking the picture a picture, which is what most companies do have the back of the product. And it's usually like if it's a can or jar, it's rounded. And it's really hard to read. If it's like a plastic package. I mean, it's almost impossible to read, especially with the font size. So what you actually want to do is create a custom graphic and custom image that highlights and blows up the ingredients, the nutritional information, and any credibility enhancers that you know, show what the product does or does not include things like gluten free, dairy free, etc.
Yeah, I love that. It's a good little hack. And it's definitely something I noticed, because I'm always searching and looking for ingredients for things. And I'm always like that the last four words of every line is cut off because it's a round package.
Shannon Roddy 33:33
You're like I think it has nuts, but I'm not sure. I may die. We'll have to keep an eye on this one. All right.
So let's talk about growing your brand and mistakes that you make that mistake the big one around growth.
Shannon Roddy 33:49
Yeah, so growth really has to do with advertising. And the nice thing is when you do the SEO keyword research, all that really hard work that you did to find all of the relevant search terms for your product, you can basically dump right into advertising. Because again, the goal is to figure out what customers are searching for and get in front of them. Well, the problem is, initially when your product goes up on Amazon, it's going to rank on the third or fourth page for something. If that. Right? So again, gluten free cookies. And I've had, I've had clients, they're like, Okay, so my product is up on Amazon, we just got it live yesterday, I typed in like gluten free cookies, and it's not there. I'm like, that's because you have 70 brands who have been on Amazon for six years ahead of you with hundreds of reviews. You're gonna, you're gonna start on page seven. Okay, that's where you're gonna start. So if you can advertise for the search term, gluten free cookies, you have the ability to get in front of customers who are looking for that term. Right on paper, you can be right on page one, you know, you could be at the top page one you could be in the middle page one or the bottom. And all that just depends on what you're willing to bid and how much you want to spend on advertising. But here's the really cool thing. Sari. I mean, like, this is the key takeaway. This is what's different about Amazon from any other platform: the more your product converts on a term, even if it's advertised, the more your product will increase in organic ranking for that term. Okay, so so the idea is, again, if I start off on page seven for gluten free cookies, but I'm advertising heavily on the search term, gluten free cookies, every single time a customer searches gluten free cookies, clicks my ad, buys my product, Amazon's algorithm, which is called the A9 algorithm goes, aha, this product converts really well for this term. Let's show it more often. Let's show it higher in the search results. And over time, you have the ability to impact your organic ranking by strategically advertising. Remember when I said the key to success on Amazon is to organically rank for your products top keywords? Well, you're typically going to get there by advertising. It doesn't just happen sort of spontaneously or overnight. And so again, it has to be part of a holistic strategy, like you're not going to just put your product in Amazon and get lucky. So there's all these different pieces to it. But that is something where your ad dollars can double or triple or quadruple in value. Where say, for example, you know, and I'm working with a company called Salut de Santo, they make a really wonderful grapeseed oil. They were one of the original makers of grapeseed oil based out in California. And we looked at as we increase you know, you sort of have your, your ad spend and your ad revenue, right? So how much sales we have coming from advertised products. And then we look over at our organic sales. Well, in a typical platform, like Google, for example, you would see, okay, we're gonna, we're gonna double or triple our spending. And we would expect our, our paid sales to double or triple as well, right? But the organic would stay relatively the same. Instead, we see this overall growth and increase that as we increase our, our spend and revenue for advertising, we also see our revenue increase for organic sales, and that is the coolest part about Amazon, and probably one of the most misunderstood and underutilized aspects of Amazon because it's so critical to success. If you can get in the top three spots, you're talking about 66% of clicks for organic products and organic sales, go through the top three product listings. So if you're number four, you're missing out.
Wow, it's like Amazon wants to make more money or something.
Shannon Roddy 37:50
You think? Yeah, I mean, they're making money hand over fist in every aspect of it.
They figured it out.
Shannon Roddy 37:55
Which is why I mean, you know, the profitability thing, go check out the the mini course that we did on profitability and pricing, because I give a lot of really great tips on how to improve your profitability. One of my clients last year, in addition to tons of challenges that they had, in addition to COVID, they had several internal challenges that came up. We only increased sales by 150%, which is like it's still not bad it's good. But their net profit increased by 200%.
Shannon Roddy 38:28
So it's not just about increasing your gross revenue. Nobody really cares gross revenue wise. The question is, at the end of the day, do you have, do you have, he calls it beer money? Do you have beer money left? Right. Now you may not be maybe it's root beer money for you. Maybe it's wine mone. But whatever you like- chocolate money. But the point is, you've got to be profitable. Because otherwise what's the point like don't don't sell on a platform just to like sort of be there and then lose money. It's not a good platform to just lose money on. But but yeah, that's that's the key aspect to growth. But let's let's touch on some of the biggest mistakes I see with advertising. And then we'll go into the last section on protecting.
That sounds great. I'll just throw in a little quick note to on that that profit works workshop. I was just on a call this morning with a client and we were going through that because you and I we co present and I talked about cost of goods sold and I give you my worksheet and my client was like, this worksheet is amazing. He's like, we put in so much brainpower trying to figure this out ourselves. And like he's like, this is this is blowing my mind. This is unbelievable. So we will put that link.
Shannon Roddy 39:48
It's a hack but it's like an it's like an ethical hack. It's like, let's just bypass all the pain because we worked really, really hard to make it simple.
Yeah, I love it and we kept that that workshop really low price. We want people to just get it. Do it. Be profitable? And I love that the
Shannon Roddy 40:05
And if you don't get if you don't get the workshop, let's give you more free advice. So here's more information.
Yeah. But, yeah, let's talk more about advertising. Because, you know, when you're talking about gluten free cookies, I'm like, Oh my gosh, that bid is going to be so high for something like that. But that's where that keyword research can be so valuable, because you can probably uncover some kind of hidden gems there that aren't as high to bid on. Like you said, the gluten free cookies for moms or postworkout, or something like that?
Shannon Roddy 40:40
Yeah. No, I mean, there's so many when I, when I work with clients on this, we'll find, you know, you can start with the main keywords, and then look at synonyms. So maybe you have a product for kids, but it's also for toddlers. It's also for children. I mean, like all of these are still relevant search terms. And you'd be amazed people put search terms in Amazon 1000 different ways
And misspelled too.
Shannon Roddy 41:05
And misspelled. Thankfully, Amazon corrects for that. Some people advertise on misspellings, I don't. But the key is, you've got to have a consistent strategy. So let's talk about the biggest mistakes I see in advertising. One, and this, this, again, parallels and plays into the SEO keyword research, right, because we get it, we're going to take the keywords that we researched, and then we're going to advertise on them to validate them. But in some cases, I see clients like just going way too broad. Like they're selling a vegan pizza, for example. And they're advertising under healthy meals. Okay, way too broad, way too generic. Okay. And you talking about the cost per click is going to be way too high, we have no idea somebody who's looking for healthy meals, what they're looking for. But really, to some extent, it does need to be specific. Now, once you kind of nail down that front line of your generic terms, you can kind of go to the outskirts and get more and more risky, you know, create create new campaigns, for those that are like, hey, let's just target healthy foods. But again, the cost per click is going to be a lot higher. But the biggest three mistakes I see people make number one is they don't organize their campaigns correctly. And what I mean by that is, they tend to dump all of their products into an ad group, and what's called an ad group, and they also dumped multiple ad groups into campaigns. The first is a problem, because if you're trying to advertise a product, the key to advertising is to advertise a specific product for a specific church search term, right? So I'm going to advertise my gluten free cookies. For the search term, gluten free cookies, very simple. When I started throwing 3,5,6,10,18 different products into an ad group, I'm not telling Amazon, these keywords are relevant to this product, but not to that product. And the second you have a differentiate differentiation or variation in flavor, even in size in some cases, you're not able to specifically target that product. In some cases, you've got a best seller, right? We just we just know that this one converts. So if people search these terms, I want to drive them to my best seller, if they search these other specific terms, I can drive them to this specific product that maybe matches the flavor, the size that they're looking for. If you put all of your products in one ad group, Amazon doesn't know they're just gonna send it to the whichever one they feel like, right? Whichever one they think is most apropos. And it takes the control completely out of your hands. And this is something we see brands just they just make all the time.
Yeah, cuz you really lose that the data and the information that you're gonna get from that that'll inform future ad decisions when you'd, that's fantastic.
Shannon Roddy 44:01
Advertising is one of the most challenging parts. I mean, if I talk to people at anything like again, advertising doesn't work without SEO, because how do you know which search terms to advertise on and if you didn't do the keyword research and integrate into anything into your listing, then you don't really have anything that's going to be relevant for the search terms that you're bidding on anyway. So you've got to do the keyword research first. But the advertising you've got to structure the correct way. And I've done an audit of a food brand that I worked with over the last few years. And they reached out to me they had been working with an agency to do advertising said can you get in an audit this and I went in and I was just looking at like 10, 15, 20 products for all these search terms. And Amazon would show me Okay, you had this many sales for these keywords, but they don't tell you which product it's for. So you literally have no way to connect the lines of the dots. Yeah, this product converted for this search term. So one product per ad group, and one ad group per campaign. And the campaigns and ad groups just has to do with spend. If I've got two ad groups, for example, and this, you know, does not need to be super complicated, but if I have two ad groups of different products that I'm advertising, I can't tell Amazon to spend more on one than the other. So we typically see a situation where one ad group, maybe your best selling product takes off and will take and cannibalize the entire budget. And your other ad groups won't get any impressions or displays for customers. Because Amazon's too busy advertising, the one that they know is going to convert. Well, again, this is bad for you, because you want diversity. You want all of your products to do well, to some extent. And if you're trying to launch a new product, it's impossible to do when it's competing with an existing product thats a higher seller. Yeah. So those are the biggest ones. The other one is they don't separate, branded, generic and competitor terms. Okay, this is really critical. And this is kind of funny. But if you think about it, branded means I'm advertising for my specific brand or product line. And again, that's that if a customer searches for my brand or product, that I show up at the top. And the reason is because most customers don't differentiate between sponsored product listings, right advertised products and organic. They just see whatever comes up at the top, that's the most relevant product. And one of the biggest internal objections that I have to challenge brand owners on is they say, I don't want to bid on my own brand name because I organically rank. And I don't want somebody to accidentally click on my advertised product when my organic product is just beneath it and waste money. I'm going to spend money, right? This is the number one objection. And the counter to that is number one. If you don't advertise on your branded terms, somebody else will. And advertising on your branded terms is typically going to be the lowest cost you're ever going to pay for a cost per click. And it's high conversion, right? Because if you're looking for my specific, you know, Aunt Nana's gluten free cookies. If you search for Aunt Nana's gluten free cookies, you're looking for my cookies very high chances you're going to convert, and I'm going to probably pay the lowest cost per click.
That makes sense. Yeah.
Shannon Roddy 45:00
Yeah, yeah, the challenge is if people don't advertise on their branded terms, they're not defending their brand, going back to that brand equity. And other people are going to come in and take your place. So the way we look at is sort of this three three step approach. We start with our branded to do defensive advertising, just to put it in place. The second layer that we're going out after is our unbranded generic terms, which comprise the 80%. Okay, so that that represents your biggest opportunity for growth. And then the last aspect is actually then being super aggressive and going after your competitors. Why? Because it works. If I can tell you to advertise in your competitors terms, why would you not start by advertising on your own branded terms. It's the difference of I'm going to protect my castle, versus I'm going to try to go invade your castle. Right? So so advertising and a competitor term is I'm going to send all my resources out. You can imagine how many people it takes to actually take somebody else's castle right to actually take some of their market share, versus protect my own. Way fewer men or resources or women or whatever, to protect my own castle versus aggressively go after our competitors. And it's just having this comprehensive understanding and taking all the complexity out and go no no no. Keep it really simple. do basic defensive brand advertising, then go after your most highly relevant generic terms? And then if there's some outliers of like, that's a sort of relevant term, like maybe just healthy cookies, they're not gluten free cookies, but healthy cookies. Okay, well, let's do those in a separate campaign because then I can budget differently, I can look at what the conversion is for that campaign. I can look at him organically ranking for those keywords. And then I can go after my competitor. So so these are like, just the most basic and common mistakes. And this is like 90% of all companies. It's not just food brands, its not just new sellers. Companies have been doing on Amazon for a long time. But the advertising has grown so significantly in the past few years, that if you're not if you're not playing basically within a game strategy, you're going to lose. You're going to waste a lot of money because things have become so much more competitive in just three years. Basically.
I that is so good. I think that's such a great a great way to explain your strategy and I haven't really heard it like that. So thank you for that. Well, we should jump to the last piece.
Shannon Roddy 50:01
You gotta protect your brand
Protection. We were just kind of talking about protecting your brand. So let's talk a little bit more about that and how important that is.
Shannon Roddy 50:11
Yeah, I mean, again, all of these play together, right? So the advertising, doing defensive brand advertising, that's a part of protecting, right? And part of advertising is helping launch your product, as well as gross sales like all of these things play together. So the biggest aspect for protecting your brand, the biggest mistake we see is not leveraging your trademark. And there's a couple different ways that you can do this. You have to have a registered trademark. And most brands, I think, especially food brands do and should at this point. If you don't, you can use Amazon's program called IP accelerator to quickly register your brand and your trademark and get access to all of Amazon's amazing benefits through Brand Registry. And so what that means is you can do things like upload video, like I just uploaded a video for cocoolasses, we're going to be making one for Salute de Sante here, and a couple days. But you can add video to your listings, you can add what's called A+ content. So instead of just a sort of a block of text, you can actually build really beautiful landing pages that capture the entire screen, and really get your customers to, and specifically prospective customers to stop scrolling and go, Wow, that looks really good. That sounds really interesting. You can tell your brand story, you can actually show in A+ content, there's a section where you can show related products. And so this is a great way to cross sell, and say, hey, we've got these gluten free cookies, but we also have these hot sauces, we also have this. Well A+ content is the only place that you're allowed to cross promote your products. And so it's really, really a great opportunity. I guess the other place would be technically your storefront, which again, you got to have a trademark got to have Brand Registry. But but most brands don't leverage this, even if they have a trademark, they just don't know if it's important. They don't know if they should do it. They don't know how to do it. Again, Mindful Goods can do it for you. But you know, you need to know that you need to do and invest in things like A+ content, because it does significantly increase the conversion rate. And it will help your product sell better over the long term.
Ah, that's so good I, is there other some stats about video and how important that's becoming through Amazon? Or have you heard anything about that?
Shannon Roddy 52:33
I mean, video across all platforms, you know, people say like, you know, Facebook, like 80% of you know, the platform content is going to be video in the next few years. Those kind of statistics. You can see how many people watch your video on a monthly basis on Amazon when you upload it. And you can also see the percentage of the video that they viewed. So if you realize that people are only watching 50% of your three minute video, cut it down to a minute and a half. Make it more engaging and shorter. But video advertising is also huge, because again, you have to have Brand Registry to do it. Not a lot of other companies are doing it, which means the cost per click is going to be less. The competition is going to be lower. And again, like we just created a video for Cocolasses that we're going to start a brand ad for, we have the ability now to get in front of way more customers. And instead of just a single product that's text based that people kind of just scroll past, well, the video immediately captures your attention. It's it's moving, most people aren't going to turn on the sound. So the sound you know, you can just have music in the background. But use text, use visual and specifically text on your video to tell people about your product. So as they're scrolling down, it literally takes up an entire section of the screen. And it gets people to stop and go, Ooh, that looks interesting. That looks good. Or that looks delicious. And because it's such a new aspect of advertising, most of the results in terms of the ROI for video is huge.
That's awesome. That's super fascinating. And I think if I were to say like, I mean, obviously COVID sped up the trajectory of the category of food, purchasing food online, but to me, the reason why it's always lagged behind is we, we want that interactive feeling with our food where we can like pick it up and we can visualize ourselves, you know, smell the orange or whatever. And so video is probably the closest thing we can get to interacting and like envisioning, you know, us interacting with the product. So I think
Shannon Roddy 54:43
Yeah, the packaging, the lifestyle videos, all that plays together.
It's huge for food brands, possibly more than anything, any other brand in my book.
Shannon Roddy 54:52
Yeah, and and just as a side note, you know, if you're doing a package revamp, do not do it without using Pickfu. Don't just guess on what customers think is going to be better packaging, get real, get real results and real data. You can actually put in the demographics of your audience, if you know like, yeah, we're targeting, you know, men, ages, you know, kind of 35 to 55, or whatever, you can actually ask for those demographics for your audience, and get specific feedback of which product packaging, I mean, companies have been able to significantly increase sales, just by running polls and A/B testing packaging in the development stage before they actually spend all the money on rolling it out. So quick side tip before we finish wrapping up, but let's talk about the other aspect of not leveraging your trademark. And this has to do with creating some type of warranty. And the reason that's important is the number one problem that food brands have is unauthorized resellers. And so we work with a company like brand guard, for example, that you can actually subscribe, they've got a database of over 400,000 sellers on Amazon, and they know all sorts of, you know, the bad boys, if you will, sort of notorious resellers. They just buy this stuff, and they turn around and sell it on Amazon. Why? Cuz it's easy money, it's easy money? Well, we really believe to retain that brand equity, you need to be the sole seller and provider of your product on Amazon to ensure the quality of the product to make sure it's not damaged in shipping, that it's packaged correctly, that it's not expired, it's not going to get there, like I said, melted or crumbled all those different elements. And the way to actually enforce distribution is using a trademark and a warranty. And then you can actually go through and contact resellers and say, hey, you're not allowed to sell our product on Amazon anymore. And using a trademark and a warranty, you're actually able to kick them off, not on the Amazon platform. It's done outside using a legal system. But the cool thing is that opportunity is available. And the number one mistake I see specifically larger brands make is, Oh, we've selected six or seven authorized resellers who are all allowed to sell our product on Amazon. And it's just it's a nightmare of a mess, because you can never keep track of how much inventory each one should buy. It's the same as having five or six companies all sell your product to Target along with you like you're selling your product to Target. And they're also selling wholesale to Target and your product shows up at different on different aisles in different categories of Target and at different prices. Okay, that is literally the same experience that customers are getting on Amazon, when you allow unauthorized resellers and even emerging brand owners have to be wary of this because it's such a competitive category. And if people can buy your products wholesale, they will literally just buy it to turn around and sell it on Amazon. So you've got to have a system and infrastructure in place to guard against that. And that's what really allows you to launch, grow and protect your food brand on Amazon.
Ah, so good. You are such a wealth of knowledge.
Shannon Roddy 58:03
It only took me eight years and 1000 hours, you know, 10,000 hours,
And I'm sure you're always evolving it. And that's why I'm like I can't always keep up on this. That's why I'm Shannon.
Shannon Roddy 58:15
There's actually I'll mention this kind of as a fun tidbit. There's a tool called Sellerly, that allows you to actually do a competitor look up and see where they're getting their traffic from, like, organically. So you can see like, are they running Google ads, they're listing? Are they using influencers and blogs off of Amazon to drive traffic to your listing? There's so many cool tools. But again, people need to be wary, don't don't make the mistake of trying to do the high level advanced stuff until you've nailed on the basics. 85% of your success in the setup. And if you can do all the basics right you can be successful people want to buy your products, they want to buy it on Amazon guaranteed.
Yeah, I love it. Might as well open up. Yeah, you have a great product, open it up to the billions of shoppers on Amazon. So we're gonna include all these links, Mindful Goods. I have a link that I'll even give you a little discount on her services, all the good stuff, but tell us about the course because I you know, I've always recommended your course and the checklist. But you have done a refresh and have kind of restructured it. So I'm really excited to hear about the new the new course structure.
Shannon Roddy 59:38
Yeah, so I've been going through making changes to every slide every lesson and every course in the Amazon brand Success Academy. And again, this is exclusively and specifically for food brands. So you're never going to find a course it's more applicable for you. And it is always evolving. It is always changing. So basically the way it works is the Academy's broken down into six courses. Everything that goes through how to set up your storefront correctly, we talked about the infrastructure. Optimizing your listings; launching your products; advanced seller issues where we get into the distribution enforcement, excuse me, suspension, prevention, and reinstatement. And then the last one is actually flat file templates. And this is how you create a parentage, like, Oh, I want to show all of my different flavors of a product. How do I do that, you got to use a flat file template. It's super complicated. But we actually walk you through that in the course, the cool thing is not just the content of the courses, but how it's laid out. So in every lesson, there's about 30 lessons in the course, every lesson starts with a strategy training video. So I'm not just telling you, like, Oh, go do this, it's helping you understand the strategy around something like product reviews. Or a strategy around coupons and promotions. And that's the narrative PowerPoint, and I'm going to walk you through, hey, here's a high level overview and understanding of this section of the content. And then once you finish that, you go to action steps and resources. So the action steps is literally do this, then do this, then do this. It takes all the headache and all the guesswork out of it and feeling overwhelmed. And what do I do next, you just go through the checklist. Go through the action steps. The resource resources are there, they give you links inside of Amazon, as well as external resources. So it can be maybe a podcast or webinar or an article, or third party tool that's going to help you do this and accomplish your goals faster. And the really cool thing is after that we actually have Over the Shoulder Video Tips. So it's just saying, okay, I just told you what to do. Now, I'm actually going to do a narrative screen share and show you exactly how to do what I just told you. The last two pieces that are super cool is we've got a in in course Q&A section. So you can actually like you're watching the video like oh, I have a question about this, you can ask you could pause the video, ask the question, and within typically 24 to 48 hours, get an email response back with the answer to your question. We've also got a private Facebook group exclusive to the course. But the coolest thing about this is as of last year, we kind of went through it. And we just wanted to make it more accessible to more brands, and especially emerging brand owners. That's really my heart and passion to help emerging brand owners. The big the big companies like they can afford to hire agencies to like let them kind of do their thing. But emerging brands is what I have a heart for, like how do people afford this. So we've taken $1,000 course, and made it so cost effective. It's $97 a month. That's it. And I know you put the link in the show notes, but it's a it's literally you can go through the whole thing in 30 days. But the benefit is, as you stay enrolled, you can continue to attend Facebook Lives, you can continue to ask questions, as Amazon makes updates, we make updates to the courses, so you're always staying on top of it, you're always staying ahead of the competition. I guarantee if you make any investment on Amazon, this will be the best investment you'll ever make. And it'll be so fun to like, get people together and and help them grow their their sales on Amazon, and not feel like they're doing it alone. Like I will be your guide to help you. So I just get so excited about that. And I'm so excited that we've launched our monthly pricing to make that more affordable.
That is insane. That's amazing. Yeah, if you're going on Amazon, I have no idea why you would not invest that $97 a month for all of this information and your resources and your access to your brain for sure.
Shannon Roddy 1:03:26
Yes, you can literally access my brain for $97 a month. And you know, you know, for people who like, Hey, we want a little extra help, you can book on demand coaching, you can book a 30 minute or an hour, 60 minute session, to get that exclusive one on one help. Like, that's, that's the key is like Amazon is a journey. It's crazy. And there's tons of pitfalls, but I can guide you through it. And I'm really excited to help a lot of food brands do that.
And that's a great way to put it. It is a journey. And you're always gonna need some help and figuring out, like I said, you don't want to be the expert at the Amazon like you just want to be doing well on Amazon and having great sales. Or do you want to spend all your time doing the research and keeping on, you know, up to date and all of that? Or just give it to an expert like yourself? So it's fantastic.
Shannon Roddy 1:04:17
Yeah, eight years of nights and weekends, I could tell you not want to gain that information for yourself. But everybody's at a different stage in their journey. We want to help people wherever they're at and whenever they're ready.
Awesome. So what is that last piece of advice that you would give to entrepreneurs wanting to go on Amazon?
Shannon Roddy 1:04:35
Again, I think kind of goes back to make sure you get all the information and make sure that you're getting information from somebody who's trusted. I was on LinkedIn the other day, and somebody was like, oh, there's this great 100% TOS compliant white hat way to get product reviews. And then they went on to list strategies that completely violate Amazon Terms of Service, and are likely to get people's accounts shut down. So you have to be just so careful who you trust and make sure that they're giving you good, solid, reliable, up to date information. And if you can do that you can be successful in any area of business, whatever stage you're at growing or building it.
Well, thank you so much for giving us your time today. I think this is gonna be so helpful. And and seriously, you guys just need to go sign up for this program. The links are down below.
Unknown Speaker 1:05:22
Yeah, and if people want to reach out to me, I'm most active on LinkedIn. We've got a Facebook page as well. But personally, I'm most active on LinkedIn. You know, connect with me, shoot me a DM and I'd love to connect or answer any questions that you might have. Everywhere but Instagram everywhere, but Instagram. Facebook and LinkedIn are the main ones. All right, you can Twitter you can Twitter me, but but LinkedIn is the best.
Awesome. We'll have a fantastic day. Thanks, Shannon.
Unknown Speaker 1:05:50
Awesome. Thanks Sari so much for having me. Appreciate it.
So there you have it, go out and crush Amazon.
Are you ready to start that delicious idea that you make in your home kitchen, or grow your existing packaged food business and take it to the next level? The most successful food business entrepreneurs have support, guidance, focus and accountability to help them make it happen quickly without wasting time or money. Plus, I think starting your packaged food business should actually be fun. Food Business Success is your secret ingredient to creating your food business dream. Please don't go this alone. Check out the private free Food Business Success Facebook group to connect with other foodprenuers, get your questions answered quickly, share your wins and receive special training and tools I only share inside the private community. Just search for Food Business Success on Facebook, or get the link in the show notes. Curious about how food business success can help you? Head over to FoodBizSuccess.com and fill out the application to see if you're a great fit for the program. Together, let's make your food business dream a reality.