Part of the difficulty in launching a private label product on Amazon is always the task of getting interested eyes on your product. You’ve got to be able to find out how to get your product in front of the people who are most likely to buy it. This episode is a chat with a TAS community member who took it on himself to find his own ways of doing that and he had some pretty significant successes. So sit back and relax, grab a cup of coffee and a pen and paper because you’ll want to take some notes about what Kent did to get attention for his products which in turn ramped up his sales and built an interested email list of customers right from the start.
Are you selling a product or the story behind the product?
One of the things today’s guest did masterfully to build enthusiasm for his product was to create a story (a true story) around the product and even the process of how it came to be. He highlighted the story of his own family and the need they felt for a particular type of product that didn’t exist – and followed up with a description of how they decided to create the product themselves. It’s a beautiful demonstration of what’s being called “story selling” and you get to hear the inside scoop on how Kent pulled it off, on this episode of the podcast.
Using Facebook to enlist the help of friends, family, and associates.
When Kent finally got his products ordered he wanted to start a pre-promotion phase to encourage interest in the product before he actually launched. He coupled the story behind the product’s creation with requests to friends and family (and others) to help him get a good start with ratings and reviews. He invited those interested in helping to join the mailing list to learn more about the product and get a discount when the product launched. He was able to build a list of 130 subscribers before he even had product in stock at Amazon. You can hear his creative solutions to product promotion on this episode.
The up and down of a product launch’s initial stages.
As Kent finally got his products listed on Amazon and began his launch he had an initial spurt of good sales and 25 reviews within the first week. But his sales began to slump fairly quickly once the first week launch was over. He was discouraged for a bit and quickly realized that the momentum of the launch was not something he could count on long term. But the fact that he’d already built a list of interested customers – and that his product was one that needed to be replenished over time – enabled him to stay encouraged and keep moving forward. That’s when he got the idea to do a different form of promotion that worked big time. You can hear him tell his entire story on this episode.
Don’t forget to try promotions through traditional media outlets.
After Kent’s initial launch week was over he started thinking outside the box to find additional ways to promote his products. One approach he thought of was to offer a “feature” story to the local newspaper. He sent a very simple email that briefly outlined the story in an appealing way and got a great response from the paper. His product and family’s story was featured in the Saturday edition and Kent got over 150 sales the day of publication. He’s excited to see where his product will – and you can hear all the details of the journey so far on this episode!
OUTLINE OF THIS EPISODE OF THE AMAZING SELLER
- [0:25] Scott’s introduction to this episode of the podcast!
- [1:02] The power of building an email launch list.
- [1:49] A shout out to a member of the TAS Facebook Community!
- [5:50] How Scott noticed what Kent was doing.
- [7:20] Kent’s story of going from retail arbitrage to private label.
- [10:50] How Kent chose his first product for private label.
- [12:43] Kent’s process for collecting email addresses.
- [16:40] The 6 part email sequence Kent used.
- [18:30] Getting purchases and reviews.
- [21:10] Asking people to purchase in the smartest way.
- [22:50] How Kent did this the smart way by building relationships.
- [24:25] Using his personal Facebook profile to publicize the product.
- [31:33] How things proceeded after the launch.
- [32:45] Kent’s traditional media approach through local newspapers.
- [35:21] How Kent’ pitched the article to the local newspaper.
- [38:27] Scott’s takeaways from this episode and process.
- [41:50] Kent’s advice to those getting started with private label sales.
TRANSCRIPT TAS 237
TAS 237 – How to Build Your Own Launch List and Use FREE Press to Gain Exposure (Listener Results)
[00:00:03] Scott: Well hey, hey what’s up everyone? Welcome back to another episode of The Amazing Seller Podcast. This is episode number 237 and today I am really excited to share with you this conversation that I just had with one of our listeners of the TAS podcast. I’m going to share with you every single thing that we discussed because…
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…I had to get him on the show because he posted this in the Facebook group, which is amazing by the way.
You guys are awesome that are part of that community and he really broke down this really non-traditional way that we’re launching products. It takes a little bit more time but he breaks it all down on how he built his own launch list, a very small launch list by the way but did really, really well but also how he used free press to gain exposure. We’re going to discuss every single thing that he did that you can model, you guys can take bits and pieces that you want to away.
Really what I want you to understand is I’ve been talking about this for quite a while that there is really power in building your own launch list whether it is to launch new products or to spike sales for a current product, whatever it is it’s a really powerful tool and asset that we all should be doing down the road. If you’re not doing it already it’s okay, you still have time. You can do it today, you can do it a month from now.
I really want you to take away everything that he’s done and see the power in it and how you can do this internally not just relying on Amazon which is pretty awesome. Before we jump into that I got a couple of things I wanted to mention here. Number one I want to go back to The Amazing Seller Facebook group because you guys are awesome and I wanted to give a little shout out here to one of our listeners and one of our members inside of The Amazing Seller Facebook group. This is what Carlo Sentarelli, I think I pronounced that right, Sentarali. Maybe, maybe I didn’t, I’m sorry Carlo.
[00:02:08] Scott: Carlo posted this in the group and he has a picture of a hammock in a tree looking at… It looks like his house or someone’s house and looks like a nice beautiful deck on the back and everything and this is what he wrote, “I HAVE NEVER BEEN THIS EXCITED.” He says, “Guys this is the first time my entire life that I’ve made money sleeping. Yes, woke up and there were sales. Scott you have been such a blessing, thank you for all you do and everything you taught us, press on my friend. I love it.”
Here’s the deal, we all hear about this making money while you’re sleeping and I get it. That’s revenue numbers, we’re not saying that that was profit. Once you get things rolling that is what can happen. That is what we’re after. We want to be able to have sales on a regular basis. Funny story real quick before we jump into this. I have someone that I’ve been coaching a little bit on the side a friend of mine and just kind of giving some advice and stuff.
She wanted to possibly give her product to a retail, a local retail and I’m thinking that that’s okay, that’s good but here’s the deal. They might sell 20 or 30 units a month. Don’t you want to go after the masses where you can actually not have to go and hand deliver and do that whole thing? That’s for another conversation, talking about retail but thinking about not having to really go into a retail store or have to manage retail people locally that to me just seems like a hastle.
But being able to, as Carlo said here, sleep or not be paying attention to your business in a sense for a few hours and then see that there’re sales coming in that’s pretty awesome. Whether that’s one sale or 10 sales, the biggest thing in the beginning is getting started and getting some type of result. If you can get that result to see that this thing can really happen whether that’s a dollar or $100 it doesn’t really matter.
[00:04:11] Scott: The key is to get some results from the work that you’ve put in. A little bit of a tangent there, sorry for that but I did want to just kind of give you my thoughts on that. Carlo congratulations and I’m glad that you were able to taste a little bit of that because that is possible. Does that mean that that’s always going to be the case? No, it doesn’t necessarily mean that but it is showing you and others that this is something that’s possible whether it’s on Amazon, whether it’s on your own platform or whatever.
The last thing I wanted to remind everyone that either hasn’t attended or maybe that is brand new to the podcast, first off say, “Hey welcome,” and also to remind you that we do a live workshop where I breakdown the five phases for launching your first product and getting to that first 100 hour day. That’s really the goal for me to be able to teach you through this process. You can register for an upcoming live workshop by heading over to theamazingseller.com/workshop, again that’s theamazingseller.com/workshop.
We’ll break everything down, five phases and then I’ll also do some live Q&A there as well so definitely go register for that. All right guys, I’m really excited to share with you my next guest, one of our podcast listeners his name is Kent McCorkle. He’s a college professor, smart guy and really interesting on how he’s going about launching his own product. Enjoy the interview.
[00:05:42] Scott: Hey Kent! Thank you so much for coming on the TAS podcast, what’s going on man, how are you doing?
[00:05:50] Kent: Hey man, not too much, great to be here.
[00:05:54] Scott: I’m excited to have you. Actually your Facebook post in the TAS group kind of got me interested. I know we emailed back and forth after that but you wrote a pretty lengthy post and I got to be honest, we get a lot of people that will but sometimes what will happen is they’ll do that and it’s really just to kind of sell something on the back end and yours was totally legit and it got a lot of feedback and it was awesome to be able to see you break everything down from a new seller’s perspective.
That’s really what I want to do. I want to dig in because you have a really unique style of launching that I haven’t really heard a lot of people do well because it takes work and you put in the work. You did a really good job. Maybe you can give people a little bit of a background of who Kent is and then maybe how you got the bug to kind of get into this Amazon thing.
[00:06:52] Kent: Sure, great. Well, my name is Kent McCorkle like you said, I actually grew up back in Indiana but now I live in Southern California. My day job is actually here as a college professor and I teach chemistry and about four and a half years ago I kind of got the Amazon bug. I had a friend from my church and he was telling me about this thing called FBA on Amazon and I was like, “Now wait, what a minute? How does this work?”
He was one of those guys that was going out and just buying some kind of retail arbitrage like your wall marts and TJ Marts and stuff and flipping it on Amazon. I think it was 2011, I think it was our first kind of Christmas trying this. Maybe we started it, it was 9/11 of 2011, we started it and that first fourth quarter we sold like $42,000 and I was like, “Holy Canoly. There is something here with this.” There was no profit of course but I realized there was definitely something there.
I was pretty busy with work and family and stuff the rest of the year but the next fourth quarter thought we did it again and made another big chunk of change the next fourth quarter. One of the hiccups I always saw with this was it was so hard to build a really a sustainable business because you were so reliant on whatever you can find at stores. You have to run to Walmart to the clearance sections and I said Marshal’s TJ Mac’s, Targets whatever and just wasn’t a real sustainable business model.
Something like a huge podcast I’ve listened to tons of podcasts I began to hear about this thing called private labeling here and there. That’s where I really kind of realized maybe there was a better model there where you can have your own products so you’re not competing for inventory, you’re not having to run around the stores and waste all that time and you’re not competing as well on price. Well I guess just over a year ago after listening to your podcast mostly honestly it kind of felt ready to take the plunge.
[00:08:54] Kent: I had my summers off, which is nice. My project last summer was to really to try to find our first private label product and I didn’t think it would be as hard as it turned out to be I guess. I used Jungle Scout which I heard about through you. Actually I still reference back from my favorite episode of yours it’s episode number 56 with Greg Mercer that was just such a pivotal episode for me I think because you broke it down as far as criteria and stuff and Jungle Scout tool. I went right out and used you affiliate link and got that stuff.
[00:09:31] Scott: Thank you for the coffee by the way.
[00:09:34] Kent: Exactly. I used that but honestly though I went through weeks and weeks trying to find a product.
[00:09:43] Scott: I was going to say it takes time but did you have any idea because the Jungle Scout extension for Chrome really you’re going on and you’re kind of already kind of doing your own keyword research or you’re … Did you have any idea by what you’d already sold through maybe retail arb and online arb any of that stuff or did you just kind of start from scratch and go, “I’m going to find something or maybe I had a pain point?” How did you kind of start going down that path?
[00:10:12] Kent: I didn’t really have a whole lot of guidance honestly and that’s kind of saved myself some time on the backend if I had done that. Basically where I started was I was willing to sell anything that was profitable at the backend at the time. If I did know some categories that I had successfully let through the retail arbitrage. I had sold a lot of toys, I sold some household goods and kitchen stuff and I started there like I said but I spent weeks I just couldn’t find anything.
I think the weeks actually ran to months and I was like what am I doing wrong. I might have just been way too picky I think in a sense and a while later I actually heard that podcast you did I think it was episode 68, the $500 challenge one.
In hindsight if I’d had heard that earlier I would have tried something like that where I would have to have to… We tried to fight for a perfect product but just make sure it’s kind of close and you just throw it out there and see if it sticks and if not do another one. I was just thinking, “Oh man, I’m going to invest thousands of dollars to this I really want to makes sure it’s going to be right.”
[00:11:19] Scott: I know, no and it is, it’s risky. I mean it is. If you’re buying name brand stuff and you’re reselling that like retail arb you’re pretty much not guaranteed but you’ve got a lot better of a chance to just throw something out there and sell it because you’re selling off of someone else’s brand.
When you’re starting something from scratch it’s definitely scarier. I totally can relate to that and I know a lot of people can. Now let’s say you got through that and then you were able to get that product that you wanted to go ahead and sell and did all the numbers look perfect or were there still some doubt?
[00:11:56] Kent: No, they didn’t actually. The way it kind of wound up actually happening like you mentioned earlier as far as the pain point. I realized there was something out there that was missing from my family. We’ve been trying to find a certain kind of product and I thought, I wonder if this exists out there and I really couldn’t find anything like it. The numbers worked as far as the load number of the reviews and the good volume and all that stuff but the price point that was a little low honestly.
We were like at the $15 range or actually lower but the reason though I thought there might be a winner there was that our product is a consumable product. It’s going to be… I was just thinking that somebody they will buy and if they’ll like it they’re going to buy it again and again. I thought it might not get as much up front but I’m going to have the repeat sales unlike say garlic press that’s a onetime purchase or things like that…
[00:12:58] Scott: Garlic on the other hand would be that consumable right because…
[00:13:01] Kent: Yeah, exactly.
[00:13:03] Scott: Right, I get it and people also if they’re into that right now it makes total sense because if you’re thinking about that one product and that’s all you’re going to sell to them, that why I always tell people product line is a smart idea but a consumable you don’t necessarily need as many sales because if they’re like it they’re going to buy it again and again and that lifetime value of that customer goes up.
[00:13:23] Kent: Right, exactly and you almost begin to build like a base I guess in my theory. I had 5 subscribers and then 10 subscribers and so on and so on and I have those regular sales that you can count on plus you’re always still bringing in the new customers in that sense. The only difference is then as well was if it was consumable you tend to not want to go overseas for that kind of stuff.
I actually had to find a manufacturer here in the US or Canada so that was a little bit different. Obviously the manufacturing cost tends to be a little higher on that kind of stuff but your shipping’s lower because you’re not sending it from China or whatever and it’s a lot faster to get your shipping into, so a little bit of a tradeoff there in that sense.
[00:14:08] Scott: No, that makes total sense. You did all the work and you got the work now where you’re going to be able to source it. You’ve done your leg work and all that stuff. Now what I want to do is get into your launch because it was a little bit different. I like it, I like how you did this and I want to hear how you did it here so as we’re here we can break it down for people because it’s not your traditional launch. Maybe give us the thought process maybe and then from there maybe the steps on what you took to kind of get this thing to launched.
[00:14:41] Kent: Okay. I’m not exactly sure where I got all the different ideas but I’ sure it was just a combination of various podcasts and things you have said and other people have said.
[00:14:52] Scott: Sure.
[00:14:53] Kent: Also I guess I was just trying to see if I could launch it as, what’s the word, cheaply as possible in a sense too without giving away 100 products for free. In hindsight I kind of break it down into three phases, kind of like a prelaunch, a soft launch and a hard launch is what I’m kind of calling then now. I have been writing this all up recently actually on my blog I was trying to think about okay how do I break this down?
We got prelaunch, soft launch and hard launch I guess. The prelaunch phase was once I had the product chosen and I placed initial order I knew I was going to have several weeks or even months until it was actually there so I kind of went through the whole thing trying to build a mailing list, trying to get a list of some interested potential customers and such. Basically it kind of started out first with Facebook groups, stuff on blogs, kind of related back to my target market and stuff.
I had a little bit of success there but honestly though it didn’t really work for me well I just put it out on my own personal Facebook and I just told people hey we’re doing a new company and stuff if you know anybody who might be interested in our product, tell them to click this link and join our mailing list. You have to be a little bit careful there because you can’t have family and close friends giving you reviews later so I was more trying to get friends of friends for them to spread the word for me if that makes sense.
[00:16:28] Scott: No, it does.
[00:16:32] Kent: Once I got them onto the mailing list I guess over the next few weeks what I did is I created like a six part auto responder series and I just used mail chimp for that. It’s really cheap it’s 9 bucks a month or something.
[00:16:44] Scott: What was the offer to those people that gave you their email address? Did they reach back out to you or did you send them to a landing page, how did that look?
[00:16:55] Kent: I had like a landing page at the time. There was like a link a landing page and I just said, “Hey we’re launching a new product, if you want to be part of it, someone who helps support us, enter your details here.” It wasn’t anything fancy. There was no kind of lead magnet or anything because again these weren’t total strangers they were more like friends of friends and stuff and acquaintances. Some of those, some of those folks down the like wound up being strangers because they were people I didn’t know personally.
[00:17:29] Scott: They might have shared it and then another person might have shared it, another person might have shared but they didn’t know of you but they knew of the friend.
[00:17:34] Kent: I think I did mention actually on there that once we launched we would give it away at a discount, there was a mention of that.
[00:17:41] Scott: Through that first phase though that you’re working through right now how long is that phase that you’re collecting? Now you don’t even have the product currently yet, is that right?
[00:17:52] Kent: Exactly. Basically my kind of timeline was therefore that was as long as it took from the time that I ordered it to actually get it in the stock and it was around 8 weeks. It was kind of the production, the kind of the cue and everything for mine so almost 8 weeks I think. Yes I was going to put up the landing page, just trying to share it, trying to get some traffic through Facebook groups and as you said friends of friends and things like that. I had like a very small list honestly, I think I got up to 131 people so it wasn’t like a huge list.
[00:18:27] Scott: It’s still good though. That’s still really good. For anyone to get 100 people to volunteer right off the get go, that was just through Facebook?
[00:18:38] Kent: Yeah basically, most of it just through Facebook.
[00:18:39] Scott: That’s crazy, that’s really great and it’s just your-
[00:18:41] Kent: Talked to my friends to share it for me, with their friends.
[00:18:43] Scott: I was going to say it’s your little, it’s like your little home network. I think that’s awesome, 130 and then from there you sent them … I’m kind of looking through your Facebook post here and you broke it down. You said email number 1, email number 2, you broke it all down. What I’m going to do for people that want to see all this I’ll link up all of this in the show notes to this episode. I’ll give everyone the link to this episode a little bit later. Just to understand everyone that’s listening there’s a lot of detail that Kent has poured into this post here which is really awesome. You broke it down into a six part email sequence and basically can you just briefly go through what that was designed for? Was it just designed to keep them informed or posted and then once it’s ready it’s ready kind of thing?
[00:19:36] Kent: The real point of that welcome series for the new members was just, well couple of points I guess. One point was just to try kind of introducing them to us and our family, wanted to try to make more of a personal connection with. They would feel like there is a real family here. It’s not like I hold the product, it’s not like big name with faceless corporation. I just sent out it was a six part series basically one day apart.
I just kind of shared about us, what our pain point was, spoke for like the impetus for the product creation, how our product is better, things we made sure were features that were going to be part of a product the things we wanted to avoid in our product etc. and things like that. Just more of a way to just to try to get people excited and sort of connected with us and our brand and stuff. We were actually ready to launch and they’d be like, “Okay hey where is that I want to buy it right now.”
[00:20:48] Scott: Right. Now were you looking at your open rates and stuff like that in mail chimp? Did it allow you to do that?
[00:20:54] Kent: Yeah.
[00:20:54] Scott: How did they look?
[00:20:56] Kent: Well I’m looking here, so at the first one 65% open rate 57, 51, 43, 46. It was pretty good overall.
[00:21:06] Scott: That’s really good and anyone that is kind of new to the kind of email marketing stuff I mean getting a 25% to 30% that’s high in the industry.
[00:21:18] Kent: The average it says here is 53.6% was the open rate.
[00:21:22] Scott: That’s phenomenon. That’s really great. I know some people are like why don’t all of them open it? Well it’s because it’s email and people are busy and they’re on social media platforms but you did it right too by sending out those in a row and keeping people engaged so that’s really cool. Awesome. Then at this point you’re probably ready now to go ahead and launch at this point. Do you have the product now and then do you announce it to them?
[00:21:48] Kent: Yes, exactly. I’ve always thought that once it was ready I would just do the typical and give away 100 product for free or for a dollar but the more I kind of learned I was wondering since I had such a loyal base of subscribers if I could do something maybe a little bit different so I didn’t now have to give it away at a loss.
Actually what I did first I didn’t even use my personal list I built up but I was going back to Facebook again and I said, hey our product’s here I’m looking for a couple of dozen volunteers willing to buy it so give us some feedback on it but again you cannot be family except for close friends, we got to spread the word kind of thing.
I think I had 20-ish volunteers for that. My kind of goal was to try to get like a base number of 25 reviews and then ones I had that then I planned, then I wanted to do what I called the hard launch once I had the foundation because I figured the strategy to promote out here with Facebook ads and things like that until I had some reviews.
I think I got right on 20-ish review from that and then I actually did it over at Thomason and I tried Thomason although honestly there was too many products there for free and I didn’t have the conversion rate I guess you would say on that so I gave like 14 of those and I only I only got maybe a half dozen back actually. I guess in hindsight what I would have would have gotten all of them just through people, through acquaintances.
[00:23:28] Scott: I think it’s a hit or miss on any of those platforms it depends with the product, it depends on the time, it depends how many other offers are being out there. I’ve seen it work really well and I’ve seen it not work so good so I think you fell on the not work so good side, unfortunately. You were just doing that as an additional kind of thing you weren’t just relying on Thomason.
[00:23:46] Kent: Right.
[00:23:47] Scott: I like that.
[00:23:49] Kent: It’s what I did basically, like I said I was going to email these people once they were interested then I just email all of them and I just said okay it’s because I want you to buy my products I asked them not to go to Amazon and just for our search term and scroll through all the pages until you found us way down on page 14 or whatever and then to buy our product and they were just buying it at the full price.
They weren’t even asking for a discount at this point. I sold around 20 I guess that way plus the 14 I gave away and within about 3 weeks or so I finally get to 25 reviews. One thing I also did as well as part of the soft launch part was kind of first I emailed them and I kind of told them how to find our product and then I also emailed them and asked them to go ahead and to maybe review some other products. Our product wasn’t the first one they reviewed so I thought it might look a little bit suspicious if all our reviews were first time reviewers in that sense.
[00:24:52] Scott: To kind of give people the perspective here too and kind what you’re doing here with telling them to go to find your products is it’s going through a keyword search. We all know that Amazon is going to help rank us or they’re going to look at the way that people found us is how they rank us. In this case if they’re searching for a garlic press and then they find our product and then they buy our product well then that garlic press is going to be the search term that they use and that will help rank for that term.
What you’ve done is really just kind of said, “Hey go look for garlic press and find brand name this and that’s ours and then go ahead and click on that and then purchase it through that link.” Is that pretty much it?
[00:25:36] Kent: Yeah, exactly. I’ll send them like a screenshot as well of our product so that kind of made it a little bit easier to know what to look for even going clicking.
[00:25:46] Scott: I’ve heard some other people say what they’ll do is they’ll type the brand name in there with the keyword search and then that way there it will only pull up that one. I don’t know if there’s any problem with that but you still will have the keyword in then it just won’t be the exact term and it’ll be like kitchen express garlic press. This way here people, because some people won’t go through 14 pages to find your product they’ll just going to give up. But this way here at least it’s still in the phrase which still will help you rank for that so just another idea for people.
[00:26:22] Kent: I think if these hadn’t been people who were sort of invested with us thanks to the email sequences that they’d probably been like what, no way.
[00:26:29] Scott: No, I’m not going through all that.
[00:26:30] Kent: There was some buy on that because they were more willing to kind of help us out because they heard our story of the whole thing, of the family and the business.
[00:26:37] Scott: Sure, I love that. You got them invested into it, into your story and into the reasoning and all of that stuff. It makes a lot of sense. I think people just listening to this too this is more than just launching a product to get it to sell it’s actually you believing in this thing too because if you’re going to push it out there to people and you’re going to launch just a crappy product I wouldn’t advice doing this because you’re going to have a lot of hate mail from your fellow friend. Friends of friends will be like hey why did you tell me to tell my friends about this because they’re hating it?
You got to be careful. But I just wanted to kind of clarify that. At this point I think if I’m following you correctly how many after you emailed, you kind of cleaned things up how many did you have as far as units given away at this point?
[00:27:27] Kent: I think it was like 30, actually I gave away 14 through Thomason and I had another 20 people kind of volunteers who bought it kind of at full price so it was 34 I guess. I don’t know why we call it I guess, it was 20 purchases and the 14 that were kind of free. Out of those 34 I was able to get my 25 reviews. Once I had kind of that base I was like okay let’s go ahead and launch this sucker kind of the hard launch part I call that. Actually this is when I went back to the 131 person mailing list and I just offered out a coupon code and my code wound up being around 40% off.
That was right around like breakeven point for me because I guess it was given away for a dollar and that kind of stuff. Well we try this out we’ll see if 40% works and if not we’ll give a super discount. We did that way through our mailing list and I also again kind sliced it out to family and friends on Facebook. That is one thing where you can actually use family and friends. It’s actually buy the product, they cannot review but they can certainly buy your product, sure.
One thing that I don’t think I’ve mentioned in the Facebook post was I also went ahead and I signed up for the Amazon affiliate program. I had an affiliate link that I actually sent out through Amazon and I did double check that you can actually use an affiliate link for your own product you just can actually click it yourself you have to give to affiliate. But you can share an affiliate link back to your product. I used a little affiliate link and I would just share that as well in my emails and on Facebook.
I was kind of trying to present this as, “Hey it’s a one week launch, it’s launch week it’s kind of expiring in 7 days here we’re trying to get some momentum so use our link and our coupon code here it’s 40% off this week only,” etc. The first day we sold 51 units that’s was really exciting and I was like boom so that helped. Then day two obviously it was a little bit lower of course it went down a little bit but I was pretty much regularly posting on our personal Facebook saying, “Hey here’s the link again, here’s the coupon code, you have six days left. We really appreciate everybody’s support, here’s some early reviews we’ve gotten,” and things like that kind of just sharing that out.
[00:30:08] Scott: This was 40% discount?
[00:30:11] Kent: Yeah exactly 40% a little breakeven I set for us.
[00:30:14] Scott: Sure.
[00:30:15] Kent: This would be again to get feedback from people even like on our Facebook post it would say, “Oh my gosh we got the product we absolutely love it and it’s great,” and things like that and that kind of gives a little boost in sales.
[00:30:36] Scott: This is just your personal profile or did you have a fan page setup or is this just…?
[00:30:42] Kent: It’s my personal profile and my email list that we built up. That was basically our personal profile for that and once we got down to the end I was like, “Okay guys you know it’s really going to end Monday night,” I think it was at midnight, it’s the last chance. We got another little boost at the end I think we got 28 sales on the last day or so. For the whole launch because it was 7 days and we wound up having 143 orders and we sold 182 units over that first week.
That was nice, like I said the only expense for that launch this is why I like this was the 14 I gave away for free on Thomason which, on that it cost me I think $140 something like that. 10 bucks for the product cost and the shipping plus the 9 bucks a month for the Mail Chimp account. That wasn’t bad at all. I hadn’t given away hundreds of dollars of product or thousand dollars in product.
[00:31:40] Scott: Right but you got 130 person email list that are all interested in your product. The 9 bucks I mean I think to have that list you can communicate with now for $9 a month it’s pretty darn cheap. That is so valuable. That’s a great strategy. For people listening they might be thinking that’s a lot of work and it is but you’ve got an asset now is the way I look at it.
You have an asset you also didn’t give it away for totally free which I think proved also that you could sell this product to outside traffic versus being just on, because a lot of times and I’ve said this publicly right on the podcast that going outside of Amazon to get people to buy unless you have an email list, unless you have a way to get that relationship moving forward or people understanding and know who the business is it’s going to be hard to take someone that’s looking at wedding pictures from the weekend and get them to go over and want to buy your product.
But they’ve been kind of vested in your whole process, your story and all of that so that makes a lot of sense but moving forward you’ve got this asset now. You’ve got this asset and it’s just amazing.
[00:32:51] Kent: I think it really is just the personal investment kind of thing. They have a connection with us, we’ve been kind of sharing a whole journey for months on this whole thing. There are very much excited for us and things like that too.
[00:33:08] Scott: That is really good. Now did you get any feedback on any of this that you were able to use as constructive criticism or was it all positive?
[00:33:17] Kent: As far for the product itself or the process or …?
[00:33:20] Scott: No I would say the product itself because I mean you are going to get people that they’re going to give you your honest reviews or something. Was there any feedback that you got on your product that you, maybe you didn’t, I’m just wondering, I’m curious.
[00:33:33] Kent: I mean we had a couple of, well I don’t think there was a couple, there was one person who bought it and they weren’t a fan I guess of one of the features. Otherwise it was all very much positive. Five star reviews pretty go all on that.
[00:33:54] Scott: That’s awesome.
[00:33:55] Kent: By the end of that week I guess I should mention as well, by the end of the week we were ranked number 4 for our main search term too was the other nice.
[00:34:04] Scott: Do you feel that your search term is very competitive?
[00:34:08] Kent: I mean it’s not hugely competitive but there is some competition. There’re some pretty big name brands out there.
[00:34:18] Scott: After a week you went from being nowhere to page 4 pretty much?
[00:34:23] Kent: Page one, number 4 on page.
[00:34:25] Scott: Okay, well that’s different.
[00:34:28] Kent: I’m sorry yeah.
[00:34:28] Scott: I think it’s a little different.
[00:34:31] Kent: Page one, number four on page one.
[00:34:32] Scott: Okay, so you’re page number and you’re fourth position?
[00:34:36] Kent: Right, I’m sorry. Fourth one down on page one.
[00:34:39] Scott: That’s pretty impressive. At this point now are you jumping right into pay-per-click or are you just going to let the organic stuff kind of happen?
[00:34:51] Kent: Once I had the launch week done that’s when I turned on the pay-per-click and things like that. I didn’t want to turn that on earlier because my concern was they were going to go to Amazon and they were going to see our ad they’re going to click the ad and it’s going to cost them that way plus the coupon goes and I’ll be losing money.
[00:35:12] Scott: I think it’s interesting just to see what you did without using Amazon pay-per-click. I think it’s pretty, because there’s no doubt in what happened. Did you notice any organic sales other than your promotions in there? I see you have 143 orders but you have 182 units. Was that because people bought more than one unit or…?
[00:35:31] Kent: Exactly.
[00:35:32] Scott: It was? Okay. You don’t think that anything came from organic at this point or it’s hard to tell?
[00:35:37] Kent: I think there were some organic ones because I definitely, I could definitely as I was going through and I was watching the names of the people and stuff, I kind of knew the names of the ones that are on my email list and then I knew the family and friends in essence because I wouldn’t necessarily know the friends of friends as if we were sharing on that sense. As far as kind of the addresses they were all over the country too.
There were some organic ones. By the end of that week I got, we were also up to 37 reviews by the end of that week too which was helpful. We did get a little bit of organic traffic but the launch week was 182 units and then the next week I mean it just totally tanked. There were some organic sale but there was no more coupon available and things like that so I don’t want to be from there it was all up.
Definitely it wasn’t and after that point the first week of it, the first week post launch I was getting two or three a day, it was really low and then the next day I got up to like five or six a day. It was kind of slowly growing organically at that point because there wasn’t giveaways and things like that.
[00:37:01] Scott: Right but I think that’s to be expected and I think people a lot of times they’ll get deflated after that because they see that they’re getting the launch even if they’re doing a dollar giveaway and it gets exciting but then afterwards reality kicks in. But from everyone that I’ve really talked to usually takes a good four to six even sometimes eight weeks to really start ranking for these additional keywords or keywords that you’re trying to go for to start getting organic sales. It really has to get its own momentum and I think like you said two day and then one day you might get five and the next day you might get three and the next day you might get seven.
How did that progress after the fact? I mean I know you haven’t been selling that long but up to this point how did you see it growing? Did you see it dip again, did you see it spike? What kind of happened after the fact?
[00:37:53] Kent: Well I should mention I guess that our hard launch date I guess you could say when the first product it was kind of out but that was just this past April 26th was when we started it. The first week I said post that I mean it was really low. Our average was, I think it was two point something a day in the first week after, I mean it was really low. The next day it was like five or six and then the next week it was seven or eight, week three.
Then week four I thought okay we’re here because our average was, average on week four was actually 10 a day so I was like, “Hey we made it, it’s 10 a day.” The next week actually went back down to like 7 or 8 again and then it was 5 or 6 again. It wasn’t like up, up, up the whole time. I mean definitely it’s very much a cyclical thing. Where I began to see more traction was when I began to reach out to other kind of traffic sources as far like the free press and th things like that that I kind of mentioned before on that.
[00:39:02] Scott: Which I think we’ll probably have to have you may be back again to talk about that but we could probably talk a little bit about that. You had a plan in place to really reach out and get some free press and you said that it did pretty well. Maybe we can give people just an idea of how they would even go about that. How would you go about reaching out to your local news or your local paper or any of that stuff? How did you kind of get that thing going?
[00:39:33] Kent: I was just trying to think of other ways to try and drive traffic to your listing. If you’re already exhausted Facebook and friends and family what else could I do? I had tried a little bit as far as like with the social media people and I reached out to bloggers and things and stuff. They didn’t have much interest honestly I was not really sure why that was but I think I contacted at least 40 or 50 bloggers and I might only have maybe a half dozen who would even write back, most of them they wanted money to do the review and I was like, “No.”
So I began to think I wonder about joint newspapers and things like that. I basically went online so I find all the local area newspapers actually went back to my alumni association for undergraduate and so I went for grad school as well as the college where I teach they have like a weekly news thing, they are also put out news on students and faculty and stuff in the college while it’s happening. It’s beginning to reach out to those kind of sources. The email basically at first I said, “Hi, we’re a new family based company, hey and we’re doing this if you want to hear more about it, let me tell you more about it.”
[00:40:55] Scott: Once you started doing that you obviously…. I obviously know the story but you did get some outlets that allowed you to basically publish your story or whatever on your product right?
[00:41:08] Kent: Yeah Absolutely. The first one was just through my work they wrote up like a little thing on the little weekly college news thing. Then one of my alumni associations they wrote up a little thing, it’s part of the alumni magazine blog, they have a little feature on our company. That gets us a little bit of some traffic of course too. The other nice thing, is also got some nice quality links things back to our own ecommerce site as well which was nice honestly, got some good link from like .edu domain stuff which is always good.
[00:41:49] Scott: Always good yeah.
[00:41:49] Kent: Things like that. The big one was the local newspaper here as far as you know they’re really big metropolitan newspaper here. Like a million readers a week I think, they actually picked this up. That was nicer, and we had a nice front page article in the local section of that paper on a Saturday and our sales just exploded that Saturday. It was just crazy once that came out.
[00:42:19] Scott: I got two questions, What was the pitch to them to want to publish your story, was it just because you’re a family business starting this thing because you were trying to solve a problem internally? What was your pitch to get them to say, “We’d like to publish your story?” Kent.
[00:42:35] Kent: Basically it was kind of pitch in a nutshell. It wasn’t a really long email. I just told them briefly you know, “Hi, my name is Kent. I’m Kent, I live locally here where I teach chemistry, my wife is a stay at home mom, we have three kids and we find you this pain point for our family. And we decided to do something big and crazy, so I tried to solve this problem.” It’s a great story all about entrepreneurship and risk and the American dream. If want to hear more I’d love to tell you more about that.
[00:43:15] Scott: Yeah, that’s really good. Then they pitch you up and then they put you on Saturday, which is probably one of the… I would think but who knows, maybe it’s not but that’s a pretty good paper to be in because people are always wanting to get their Saturday and Sunday paper and sit down with their coffee, I mean they do in the morning too but they’re rushing and busy, so that’s really good. From there you said that your sales exploded, which again is exciting because most people would say, “I print to go into the internet it’s kind of like it doesn’t really work.” But you’re telling me it worked?
[00:43:50] Kent: Yeah, it totally worked. On that one day we sold 151 units just on that one day, just on Saturday.
[00:43:59] Scott: And was there any promo for that or was it straight up go?
[00:44:02] Kent: No, it is the newspaper. And they had links as part of the article saying, “Hey it’s available on Amazon and it’s also available directly at the website www.whatever.” We actually sold 103 units through Amazon and 48 in through our own website. For total of 151 at that one day. That was really cool as well. One of the other things that we also began to get all kinds of emails from these readers, readers of blog saying, “I just like your article, it so exciting to support a local family on business”. I think that even long-term is going to be very valuable to have people… They are again you invested in us as a family and as a local business and things so hopefully that gave me a lead to more repeat customers and stuff for our consumable products and things like that so…
[00:45:08] Scott: That is really good and I think people just take this away that from this call with you is just that there are so many different ways that we can do it and I think, really moving forward because everyone says, “Scott isn’t Amazon saturated I should probably not go on there.” I’m always telling people right from day one I’ve always said, the product is one thing but if you can tie a story into around a market that needs and wants a product you’re going to do just fine and you’ve already I guess proven my point as far as emails and why they’re so important.
This free press thing that’s just another whole thing that I would love to hear more about and I’ll probably be digging into myself here now because I think we don’t really reach to these because we don’t think that they’re going to do as well if you were to get like shown on the Huffington Post or something. We undervalue that type of reach and a lot of times like you they want a good story and this is a good story especially if it’s true. You know what I mean? I really, really like them, I’m so glad that it worked out for you. One last question kind of on like the emails and stuff, are you still actively trying to find a way to get people on your email list?
[00:46:26] Kent: Yeah, the main way I do that now is through our own website like I said we might have our own website as well that we sell our product on as well as Amazon. As well like a fair amount of traffic as well into our website through the various articles and stuff, and things like that. It’s not huge yet but it’s only been two weeks I guess at this point.
[00:46:51] Scott: What’s the offer for the email to get a discount?
[00:46:55] Kent: Yeah, exactly. Kind of the website to get a little pop up there and it says, “Hey, to join our club and get 10% off your first purchase?” Kind of a thing. Yes so that one I’m looking at right here I have 97 people on that mailing list so far.
[00:47:15] Scott: Nice and that’s just from your website own website traffic?
[00:47:16] Kent: Last two weeks
[00:47:16] Scott: Yeah that’s from your website traffic, that’s beautiful that’s great. That is great.
[00:47:20] Kent: We had all the autoresponder series of course for that as well. It’s a very similar kind of a series you know. Our family, our product and things like that.
[00:47:30] Scott: I love that. Ken I know that you are in the middle of travelling, you’re going to be heading out right now I appreciate you taking time out of your busy day, your schedule to share this with us. I learned a ton and it just reiterated what I’ve already said in the past and what I’ve even done my self not with the free press, which is something that I’m going to be looking into myself, but as far as the email and list building and I think the autoresponders whenever you can connect a story to a product is something that is so valuable. People respond to that, and I think if we can take away these little nuggets like that right there for people worrying that Amazon could shut me down or Amazon is going to go away.
What you are doing that’s an asset in my opinion that will be there for as long as you want it to, as long as you continue to nature these people and what I mean by that is communicate with them, let them know the process, ask them their feedback, ask them what could I do for the next product? Help me build the next product. I tell the story that I interviewed with Mike Jackness, he publicly says what he sells because he’s pretty confident that no one is going to be able to take over his space because 75% of his sells is off of Amazon it’s not on Amazon.
He sells colored pencils for adult coloring world out there in that market. He talks all about… If you can connect that story and get those people to follow you and really connect with your brand, they’ll help you pick your next product and he talks about wanting to get into water colors and he asks the audience and they all said no. So if he was going to launch a product about water coloring and do some water coloring stuff and they said no so then he went the second thing and it was like what could we do and they all wanted more drawings to color. They wanted that type of stuff. He didn’t have to go down that road because the market told him they didn’t want it.
[00:49:33] Kent: That’s good I like that.
[00:49:35] Scott: It’s huge so …
[00:49:35] Kent: That’s very huge
[00:49:37] Scott: Yeah, so instead of just thinking about how can that email list benefit me for sales. How can it also help me to pick my future products and how can I serve them better. I think if we could think about it like that… You don’t have to depend on Amazon or eBay or even any other channel, you have your own channel. You’re doing that slowly and it takes time but over the long term it can build to something over substantial. Ken I want to thank you. Is there any little bit of advice you’d give to anyone right now that’s just getting started?
[00:50:10] Kent: That’s a good question. I should be prepared for that I guess.
[00:50:13] Scott: I figured I’d spring it on you at the end but…
[00:50:17] Kent: My only encouragement would be to get started of course and that part, It’s to get started but also realize you don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars or thousands of dollars on your launching in that sense. A little bit more work upfront as far as trying to build the connection but there is an even a way to do it on a budget quote and quote I guess, if you will on that sense. That was a nice little take away point for me at least to realize that was possible.
[00:50:53] Scott: The people they ask me a lot of the times, they ask me, “Scott, how much do I need to get started because I hear about the product side of things. I hear about the launch that I got to give a bunch of units, this and that and the other thing. I’m going to wait until I get x amount saved,” and to me that’s just you’re waiting for something that might not happen because you’re just not going to procrastinate. I would say get started and if you got to put in your own work like you did to build this little email list and then launch to that even at a forty percent discount then do it.
Whatever you need to do to make it happen, make it happen no excuses and if it takes working a little bit later at night because you got to build these email sequences or you have to reach out to the newspaper whatever it is put in the work, right? If you’re not happy, with where you are in life for whatever it is the reason you’re doing this you just have to understand why you’re doing it and then you’ll go ahead and do it.
Kent I want to thank you once again, this has been awesome. I know that a lot of people are going to get value from this and I think moving forward, this is the model. This is the model that we should be following and I’m going to be definitely talking about this myself in the future because I’m working on some internal stuff right now that I’m going to be rolling out here soon too. I’m excited about that.
[00:52:08] Kent: Thank you Scott as well for your Podcast and for all the information that you just gave out for free. There is no way I could have done this at all without you honestly and that’s very true. There is no way I could have done this without your podcast.
[00:52:19] Scott: I appreciate that Kent. I appreciate that and I wish all the best and I definitely want some updates though, that’s my only payment I want is some updates, right? Just keep me posted…
[00:52:33] Kent: I’ll put in some more posting as well on the Facebook group.
[00:52:34] Scott: Yeah I would love that, because I can totally see that you’re giving out some true value and that’s what I exactly did when I started publishing on Facebook and then turned it into a podcast and all of that stuff. Yeah to me it’s like you know what there is enough out there and if you do it like again that you’re doing it, it takes work and a lot of people. I hate to say it but a lot of people are not going to do the work. When people say, “Is there enough room out there for me?” The answer is yes. Kent, Once again thank you so much and I’ll talk to you soon I’m sure but keep me posted and good luck to you on your travels
[00:53:09] Kent: Yeah I will do. If I could just mention Scott real quickly, I do have a little blog that I’ve revived, I’ve been trying to share a little bit of my story on there on that as far as some of the details of the launch and stuff, so there is a blog I have that is kind of started up again. I took like a four-year hiatus.
[00:53:29] Scott: What’s the URL on that?
[00:53:31] Kent: They’re called StepsToPassiveIncome.com. I just forget others. I just try to write out the launch process and things like that on there.
[00:53:40] Scott: Absolutely, and what I’ll do is I’ll link that up in the show notes too.
[00:53:45] Kent: Okay great Scott, thank you again so much. I appreciate it.
[00:53:48] Scott: I appreciate you and thank you so much for sharing and good luck and safe travels.
[00:53:53] Kent: Thank you.
[00:53:53] Scott: Al right there you have it, another great episode. Again I’m so grateful to be able to have people like Kent want to share their stories with all of us. I get inspired every time, I learn from this, it also. It reminds me of the things I should be doing. I know a lot of this stuff and I think we all know certain things, maybe there’s things we are good at but we kind of forget that this are the simple things sometimes that can make really, really big differences in our business or just in our life in general.
Being able to go out there and create your own list of potential buyers or buyers, buyers is the ultimate and then from there using that in the future to then re-launch a product or get product ideas is so critical and then being able to reach out to free press I think that’s a huge take away, and that’s something that I’m sure a lot of us are not taking advantage of. We probably should be and all it took was a few emails. Something we all can definitely do. What I want to do here real quickly is remind you if you want to download the show notes, the transcripts to this episode, head over to theamazingseller.com /237.
Again that is theamazingseller.com/237. You’ll have the show notes the links and the transcripts to everything there. You can download the transcripts or you can read them on the blog it’s your choice. Just want to again say thanks for Kent for sharing that. Thank all of you for listening and continuing to keep this podcast in top of iTunes which is always just so awesome to be able to reach as many people as we are and hopefully change lives through this. I did want to remind anyone that is brand-new to the podcast that I do offer a free live workshop to get you guys really caught up to speed really fast in actually about an hour to 90 minutes and we can take you through the process as far as listing your first product or getting your first product picked and then launching it, and really getting to that first $100. Really that’s what we‘re doing here on the workshops, it’s getting you to understand the process. Getting you started and then getting you to that first $100, and that’s really what it’s all about. If you want to join me on that free live workshop head over to theamazingseller.com/workshop. Again that’s the theamazingseller.com/workshop.
All right guys, that’s it. That’s going to wrap up this episode. I want to remind you once again, I’m here for you, I believe in you and I am rooting for you but you have, you have to… Come on say it with me, say it loud, you guys know what I’m going to say and if you don’t here it is, “Take action.” Have an awesome amazing day, and I’ll see you right back here next episode. Now go get em!
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