TAS 372 How a Landscaper goes from Zero to $500k in 12 Months (Inspiring Story)

What does it take to get started as an Amazon seller? What steps can you take today to get your business moving and off the ground? On this episode of The Amazing Seller, you’ll hear from Scott’s special guest, Brandon, who he met at the recent Sellers Summit event. Brandon is a huge fan of TAS and attributes aspects of his success to following Scott and learning from the advice and tips he has shared over the years. In this episode, Brandon and Scott go over how to connect with social media influencers, why it’s important to build and email list, making time to pay it forward, and much more! Brandon’s story is an inspiring one that you don’t want to miss!

Connecting with Social Media Influencers

What would it mean for your brand to connect with a YouTube, Instagram, or Facebook personality? You’ve likely heard Scott mention how helpful it can be to connect with a Social Media personality to endorse or promote your product but what does that really look like? On this episode of The Amazing Seller, you’ll hear from Scott’s guest, Brandon who has seen considerable success for his brand by following through with this strategy. Brandon has connected with both Instagram and YouTube influencers to promote his products to great success. If you’d like to hear more about this strategy, don’t miss this episode!

SUCCESS with Email Lists!

If you’ve been around the TAS community very long, chances are you’ve heard Scott’s passionate plea for sellers like you to pour time and energy into building an email list. If you’ve been skeptical about the value of building an email list, this episode of The Amazing Seller should change your mind! On this episode you’ll hear from Brandon has he shares how he has successfully built his brand with the valuable help of his email list. Scott also gives Brandon some helpful insights on how to maximize his use of the email list to drive sales and increase growth. If you’d like to hear more about Brandon’s story and how he followed Scott’s advice to build an email list, make sure to catch this episode!

Paying It Forward

There are business leaders out there who are so driven and focused that they don’t make the time to engage budding young leaders who are looking for advice. No judgment, some have more time and availability than others. But it can create a HUGE impact on someone who is looking for a mentor. That is exactly what happened with Brandon has he helped out a young man from his church who wanted to learn about the business success Brandon had been experiencing. Brandon eventually helped this young man and coached him as he started his own efforts with selling on Amazon. If you’d like to hear more about Brandon’s inspiring story and how he was able to pay it forward to someone else, don't’ miss this episode of The Amazing Seller!

You Need a Growth Mindset

What does it take to experience long-term success as an Amazon seller? Is there a secret formula? How can leaders like you take advantage from lessons learned by guys like Brandon? On this episode of The Amazing Seller, you hear from Brandon as he shares what he believes is the main contributor to his success story. It wasn’t a secret hack that has allowed Brandon to succeed, it has been adopting a growth mindset. This has allowed Brandon to take the failures and setbacks in stride because he has his eye on long-term growth. If you’d like to hear more about Brandon’s mindset and how he has been able to keep a longer view on his road to success, make sure to catch this episode!

OUTLINE OF THIS EPISODE OF THE AMAZING SELLER

  • [0:03] Scott’s introduction to this episode of the podcast!
  • [4:30] Scott welcomes Brandon to the podcast. Brandon tells his story.
  • [8:00] What was the turning point that led to success for Brandon?
  • [11:00] Going ALL IN.
  • [13:00] Brandon’s PPC and Email List Strategy.
  • [19:30] The fear to sell and make the ASK.
  • [23:00] What made Brandon’s hit product a hit?
  • [26:00] Where does Brandon spend most of his time and focus?
  • [29:00] Connecting with social media influencers and personalities.
  • [31:00] Driving traffic to an external website.
  • [33:00] Facing logistical challenges and running out of stock.
  • [37:00] Helping someone else along the way.
  • [41:30] Brandon’s tips for success.
  • [43:30] Plans for the future.
  • [47:00] Parting advice from Brandon – TAKE ACTION!

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TRANSCRIPT TAS 372

TAS 372: How a Landscaper goes from Zero to $500k in 12 Months (Inspiring Story)

[INTRODUCTION]

[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 372 and today I am fired up because I'm going to share with you how…

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…a landscaper went from $0 to $500,000 in 12 months. This is an inspiring story guys and this here lit me up, this got me so fired up and I'm a going to tell you a little story as far as how I met him. Now, I met him at the Sellers Summit. This is a conference that I just spoke at, Steve Chou’s event and I met a lot of great people there, you guys might have already heard me talk about that on past episodes.

Well, I'm sitting there having a few drinks with some people, talking, just business and meeting some TASers and all that stuff. And I overheard someone talking about what they have done and what they're doing and even actually… Actually, the one thing that they said was, “Yeah. You know this YouTuber got ahold of my product, they started using it and my sales went up.”

So I started listening and then he goes, “Hey, Scott? I've been meaning to come up to you. I know you've been busy, a lot of people around you, I didn't want to intrude. But, I just want to let you know man I'm a huge fan of the show and because of your podcast I've been able to go out there and kind of build this business. And I just want to thank you for that.” I was blown away and I'm like, “So how are things going? What are you doing?” He goes, “Well, being honest with you, I was a landscaper.

And he told me his whole story.” You're going to hear his whole story. But, just to kind of fast forward a little bit, he mentioned $500,000 and I'm like, “Holy cow. You got to email me this stuff man.” If you guys are listening to this and you guys are doing even $5,000 a month, I don't care. You got to tell me you're getting some results. I need to hear that stuff. That stuff fuels me and keeps me going to keep recording these podcasts.

I went ahead and I said, “Hey, listen. I go I want to be able to dig into your story, I would love to have you on.” Because his story was just very, very motivational for me. But also to show you that you can have this ripple effect as well.

[00:02:00] Scott: And what I mean by that is after he went through this process… And let me just say, it wasn't all easy and you're going to hear all the ups and downs and how many products he tried before he actually kind of figured out what he needed to do. And then how he shared this with someone at his local church and it was a 16-year-old kid and how that kid is just doing awesome as well.

So it's kind of like that ripple effect of helping people and watching people actually use the material, but then also change their lives for the better. So again, I can't wait for you to listen to this conversation that I had with Brandon. Again, a really great guy and you're going to hear all the ins and the outs. If you guys want to download the show notes or the transcripts to this episode, head over to theamazingseller.com/372, and you can grab all of those over there.

Let me just say, when you listen to exactly how he did this, you are going to be able to take away not just what he did action wise but also mentally, because a lot of people don't think of the mental aspect of this and it's huge, and you can hear how Brandon was battling through this process and then eventually said, “You know what, I just got to go all in.” And that's actually his exact words. “I just got to go all in and see what happens here.” And that's exactly what he's done. And now he has went on to do some really awesome things and he's got huge plans, and I think he's going to meet all of them or at least he's going to come close.

I mean, he's going to go out there and he's just going to battle. But the one thing also, I want to let you guys know before we do listen here is, we also… It kind of turns into… I love doing this because it almost turns into a little bit of a coaching call. I learn and then they learn and it’s kind of like we go back and forth a little bit. There's one thing that he's doing right now that's getting tons and tons of traffic to his listings or his listing, I should say the one. He's got a bunch of other ones that are going too but this one here is really what opened his eyes to this.

And then from there, he was driving traffic directly to the listing, which is fine but we kind of discovered that maybe there's a better way of doing this, and he agreed, and he's going to be doing this.

[00:04:03] Scott: So, you're going to hear exactly how he's driving this external traffic to his listings, and then also how he can capitalize on that traffic even if Amazon decides to go away. So, you're going to learn all about that. So I am going to stop talking now. You guys can see I'm totally fired up here because it's huge, and it's everything that I believe in. So, guys sit back, relax, enjoy this interview that I had with my good friend, my new good friend, Brandon.

[INTERVIEW]

[00:04:32] Scott: Well, hey Brandon? What's up, man? Thank you so much for hanging out with us here today on the podcast. How are you doing man?

[00:04:38] Brandon: I'm doing great. Thanks for having me on Scott. I appreciate it.

[00:04:41] Scott: Yeah. No, I am super excited to have you here. I met you at Seller Summit and I was kind of busy the night that I met you. I think was at the networking party up on the rooftop, kind of windy maybe and then I’d seen you were talking with a bunch of people and then you came over and you go. “Hey, I just wanted to kind of shake your hand, let you know that I'm a listener and, oh, by the way.” And then you kind of told me, what you told me, and you blew me away. Right?

[00:05:07] Brandon: Yeah. Exactly.

[00:05:08] Scott: So maybe you can kind of just give everyone just a little bit of a background as far as who Brandon is, and kind of how you even got into this world of selling on Amazon or ecommerce.

[00:05:21] Brandon: Yeah, sure. So, basically my quick story recap is that I got my GED at 16, I started to go to college right at 16. I spent three years in that and it just wasn't for me. I just kept trying but I just didn’t like it. But what I actually ended up doing was I started landscaping just to pay the rent. And a buddy of mine gave me his amazing seller machine, login. This was like in early 2014 and I did okay with that. I got a bunch of products got pulled down after I started making sales and it bonded me out so I was going to be done with that and I kept on doing the landscaping thing. Later, in like 2015 that’s when I start following your podcast. So I was doing a full eight hour day and the whole time I was blasting your podcast. I just getting super fired up and motivated and the information was super good. So I launched my Amazon business officially then. I've been doing it since. I quit my job and I've been doing it since then.

[00:06:32] Scott: Wow, okay. Are you willing to share a little bit as far as like what kind of numbers you've done up to this point?

[00:06:39] Brandon: Yeah, for sure. So that first year was just a little bit over $28,000 in sales. So I had to keep working for a while and I kept saving. And just reinvesting all the money in. Year two, I did $250,000 in sales.

[00:06:56] Scott: Nice.

[00:06:57] Brandon: That's when I quit and the end of 2015 I quit my job and went to this full time. And this year I'm on track for a little over $500,000 of revenue.

[00:07:09] Scott: That's amazing. That was the number you threw at me with the party I'm like, “Holy crap. Like Brandon why aren’t you contacted me? You said that you're a podcast listener, you're a fan and you listen to me in your buds while you're cutting lawns and stuff, and doing some whatever. Weed whacking.” And all that fun stuff. Like “Dude man, you got to email me that stuff.” You’re like, “Well, you know I didn't want to bother you, whatever.”

[00:07:31] Brandon: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

[00:07:32] Scott: Yeah, man. That's awesome stuff. So, what I really want to dig into and unpack is that you started this, you didn't have the success you wanted, you abandoned that for a while and then you got back into it. You stumbled upon the podcast, got you fired up to get back in the game. What was the difference, would you say? And then we can maybe unpack the process. But, I really want to know what was the difference? What was the light bulb? What was the turning point for you that made you a believer or that it could actually… Maybe you did something different that you didn't do the first time?

[00:08:08] Brandon: I wish that there was like one big turning point but the thing is that I've launched over 20 products up until this point. And I had some small successes with them, with each one. But the majority of them were just complete bombs. Like I'm doing two to three sales a day, five sales as a day on the higher end. But really for me, it was just like this… After I had a little bit of a taste of my first successful product where I hit the 10 by 10 that you talk about in sales a day and I saw the potential, that's what got me fired up to launching more products, keep learning, keep listening and keep trying.

[00:09:00] Scott: So pretty much the momentum is really what gave you your own motivation?

[00:09:05] Brandon: Yeah.

[00:09:07] Scott: You started to see that. I really want to highlight that though, man. You launched a bunch of products that didn't do that great.

[00:09:14] Brandon: Yeah. A ton.

[00:09:15] Scott: But you kept going and you didn't let that stop you, you didn't let that deter you from continuing because you knew it was possible. You just didn’t find those products yet. Did you start to custom like did you start to do your product selection differently at this point? Did you pick different criteria? Different market styles? Was there something else that you said, “You know what, that other stuff didn't work. I think I'm going to… Or maybe trends are…” I'm just trying to unpack like a little bit of what was going on in your mind at that time if anything. Maybe it was just like, “I just want to try something else, go.”

[00:09:54] Brandon: So, actually I said there wasn't a big turning point but that was wrong.

[00:09:59] Scott: Okay. You see how this is kind of a counseling session? It is like therapy, right?

[00:10:05] Brandon: I think I'm laying down on the carpet, my feet up and you know it’s…

[00:10:10] Scott: We’re going to dig through this. We're going to bring out some revelations today.

[00:10:13] Brandon: I'm going to learn a ton about what happened to me. So the big thing really what happened was there was one big product opportunity. There was a big barrier to entry but there was big you had to go to the CE. My first order had to be like 3,000 units or something, which is a lot for me, for a former college kid. So I ended up taking out a $20,000 loan at the time. And I was just like, “If this is how much money I'm going to spend, I'm willing to burn as much as I need to, to get ranked. I'm going to and spend, spend, spend, spend, on the PPC. I'm going to spend on my promotions. I'm going to actually build a real email list.

Like not just launch an Amazon product. I'm going to try to do some real internet marketing stuff on this and try to build a community build, build a launch list. And when I committed fully to this one product and I actually went all in on it, that's when I was able to get ranked. And now I'm like the number one ranked product in that space. I have the most reviews by like 300 or something. And the money just started to roll in. That was the big turning point for me. Was when I just went all in on this one thing and stopped playing around with 200 units, 300 units there.

[00:11:33] Scott: I got you. I'm definitely hearing that more and more, and I always tell people too. It's like when you're first starting everyone thinks that immediately you're going to make that profit when you're really not. You're actually trying to get sales to get Amazon to recognize that you have sales, and then they're going to start to rank you from those. But, the one important thing though, you had to know that there was a good amount of depth and demand there by looking at the numbers.

[00:12:01] Brandon: It was interesting though. There wasn't a huge amount when I first came in. I was thinking maybe I'll get up to like 20 sales a day on this product. And the market wasn't huge at the time, but the margins were really big. At the time I was making like almost $20 profit per sale.

[00:12:21] Scott: What was the cost for as far as the retail for the product? What was a retail for you?

[00:12:27] Brandon: It started at $29.99 when there was only two other people in that space.

[00:12:32] Scott: And then now since then it went down a little bit?

[00:12:35] Brandon: Yes. It’s at $19.99 now. But I'm doing you know 60, 70 sales a day now.

[00:12:42] Scott: Wow! And did you contribute that though because you went all in and you just put 100% of your force behind it, and you knew that you weren't going to make any money in the beginning you were just going to keep fueling the sales, fueling the sales?

[00:12:56] Brandon: Yes, absolutely.

[00:12:57] Scott: And you think that… How important was the email list that you built? Was that a huge part of it or was it more of the pay-per-click or was it a mixture of both?

[00:13:06] Brandon: The pay-per-click was like… I have the most, almost like barbaric pay-per-click approach which was just to spend as much as I can, and I have been trying to refine that this year especially after the Sellers Summit. My dad told me one time like, “What got you here, isn't always going to get you there.” Does that make sense? And sometimes you need to change up your approach. So the pay-per-click was just like, “I'm going to spend, spend, spend, spend and spend.”

And it was pretty successful for getting on the first page. But the email list I didn't fully understand the power of that because you've been saying for a long time, “Build up the email list. It's really important, it's really important.” I didn’t really get it until I… I have about 4,000 people on my email list now and I haven't really grown as much as I should have. But the list is so engaged. I'm getting like 40% open rate on my emails.

[00:14:06] Scott: Wow, that’s amazing.

[00:14:08] Brandon: Just before the Amazon TOS changed where you can’t really ask for reviews came up, I sent out an email and I got 75 reviews in a weekend. Like there is no discount, I just said, “Can you guys just buy this and review it for me?” And it was crazy the responses. So the email list was definitely where sales were going good and that I can start blasting out sales, I can start busting out promotions and get tons and tons of reviews and things just rapidly shot up after that.

[00:14:40] Scott: Okay, so and it's funny you have a barbaric way of doing pay-per-click, you remind me of my good buddy, Dom Sugar because that's his approach and I like a mixture of that. And I'm starting to get a little bit better at that is far as… If you have the demand there or the amount of searches you could have if you just scale that up. You're basically doing the same thing as you would if you were to do a giveaway like we used to do.

[00:15:04] Brandon: Yeah.

[00:15:05] Scott: You can't really look at the ACOS so finely in the beginning because we're just looking at, “Can we get sales? Can we get exposure? Can we get the impressions?” All of that stuff. And it's funny I was on a call with him yesterday and we were dialing in some pay-per-click that I'm running on our new brand. And he was all about, “You know what man, you just got to just spend five bucks right now just to see where it's at, just to see where the clicks are at. Just do that and in 20 minutes you'll see.” And literally in 20 minutes, we'd seen five bucks got us position two on page one. So I was like, “Okay.” And I think the clicks were like 280, is what they were. So we immediately figured that out in 20 minutes. Like we immediately seen what that was.

So I can totally relate where you're coming from and it sounds like you have that similar approach. And it sounds like you just went all in. You're just like, “You know what, I’m going to give this thing 100%. I'm going to fuel it, I'm going to keep getting the sales, the reviews are going to come but I'm also going to follow up and do all that stuff that we all know what to do.” But that e-mail list seems like really powerful. And people would say, 4,000 people doesn't sound like that many. If they're engaged, if you're getting 40% open, that's huge men. Put 4,000 people in a room. So that's just incredible. How did you build the list?

[00:16:18] Brandon: So my list building approach was to get like a super expensive, like a high perceived value product. So the product on Amazon sells for 50 bucks. I’m in like the sports outdoors fitness space. So that's like pretty expensive for me anyway. And I had huge margins. It cost about $6 for landing and everybody was selling it 50 bucks. So I said, “Well, what if I offer like a 75% discount? I would just like barely break even.” Because I have like a couple bucks left over to spend on the acquisition cost. And from there, it was just a really, really tempting bribe for people to opt in. You get 75% discount on these… They were actually new sleeves like the new sleeves. Yeah, that was it.

[00:17:18] Scott: And then where did you get your traffic?

[00:17:21] Brandon: Traffic was all Instagram for me. I paid Instagram posts.

[00:17:26] Scott: So you did paid Instagram posts? You didn't even go to a page owner and asked them to post?

[00:17:33] Brandon: Yeah, that's what… I actually started to do that this year and it's been really, really effective also. I highly recommend it.

[00:17:40] Scott: Yeah, yeah. That's how we've been kind of building all of ours right now if we're using Instagram. But I'm finding that not everyone's on Instagram in certain markets, right? Your market has to be there were. We’re finding Facebook ads are doing really well for us right now in the new brand that we're working on. But, yeah, I just think you got to find your audience. So you found your audience, you found that, you went and you went to Instagram, did you just drive into a landing page, 75% off, get your coupon code, boom. And then…

[00:18:07] Brandon: Super, super simple.

[00:18:08] Scott: Super simple. Now, are you communicating with them on a regular basis?

[00:18:13] Brandon: Yes.

[00:18:14] Scott: Okay. Sending more content stuff like that?

[00:18:16] Brandon: I mean a lot of it is just content stuff like, I had a long email series when I went to Thailand to train Muay Thai And it's kind of the same vein of fitness and people were really interested in what was going on. I sent pictures out, little stories of what I did that day. I think Russell Branson calls it like, “The Seinfeld emails.”

[00:18:39] Scott: Yes, yes.

[00:18:41] Brandon: Emails about nothing basically?

[00:18:42] Scott: Yeah, yeah. I know that’s…

[00:18:45] Brandon: That’s pretty much it.

[00:18:46] Scott: That's cool. So you were engaging, you were getting good open rates. So were you the face of the brand or just the voice?

[00:18:55] Brandon: More of the voice because I'm not like super jacked and muscular. So it's a little self-conscious being like the face of a fitness brand.

[00:19:03] Scott: Right, right, right.

[00:19:04] Brandon: Definitely the voice.

[00:19:06] Scott: Okay, cool. And I think that's important though even just being the voice. And in having the languaging and stuff right and I think that you do because you know a lot about it. So it's a way for you to convey. How often are you sprinkling in offers in those emails? Are you do it in a PS or how are you sprinkling in your offers to get people to continually come through and buy on your email list?

[00:19:29] Brandon: I think that I actually handled that poorly. I was still afraid to sell too much.

[00:19:38] Scott: Yes, yes. A lot of people. A lot of people are afraid to sell.

[00:19:41] Brandon: So I always felt like I hyper paranoid about giving, giving, giving, giving, giving, giving and then maybe asking for a small thing. Which is why I think that the engagement rates have been so good and why when I do ask for stuff, it has such a big impact. But if I had to say, I’d say maybe like one out of eight or nine maybe ten emails which was actually selling something.

[00:20:07] Scott: I would probably dial that up a little bit. And I would do in a PS just like a very… Have you ever followed Ryan Lee’s stuff?

[00:20:16] Brandon: No. Describe that.

[00:20:18] Scott: Check him out. I had him on the podcast, good guy. Really high energy, all that. He's got a real lot of energy but he doesn't email a day man. But he talks all about his story throughout. Like he’ll talk about he took his kids to the movies and then this happened and he’ll turn it into a marketing message. And then at the end, he talks of in a PS everyone knows in the PS he's going to talk about his membership. And everybody is cool with that. I read him because I like him but I also before I met him and before I knew him as a friend, I read him because it was just engaging but it also allowed me to see how to write email good. You know what I mean? Like how to weave your story into and keep people engaged and not just over pitch, but then also be allowed to pitch and people are okay with that. Yes, he's definitely a good one to follow.

And like I said, I had him on the podcast. I'll link it up in the show notes for anyone that's interested in checking that out. But, a great guy and he does it right. He's not one of this internet marketing kind of you know sleazy sales pitch every single day. He does it in a way that is okay. And his whole thing is that you know if you don't like it, then just leave my list. Like you don’t have to stay on my list. Everyone's afraid that you're going to unsubscribed. When I see unsubscribes I actually thank them because they are actually saving me money because I'm not paying for that email on my list.

And I don't want to make anybody mad. But this is what it is. It's kind of like if you had someone come over to your house and you invited them to a barbecue, and then they're just sitting there waiting for all the goods but you can't mention anything there that might not interest them. Like, “Wait a minute here, you're at my house.” Like you're my type of person supposedly but if you're not, then maybe you want to go down the road a little bit.

So I just think that a lot of people are afraid to sell and you're not alone. I mean there's a ton of people like that. I was like that. I still like am like that and even with my TAS staff. I don't want to pitch but there's ways that you have to do it. Honestly, I mean the podcast has grown into something now that it costs money to run, you know what I mean?

[00:22:21] Scott: So people understand that and I'll get people a lot of times are like, “Scott, I didn't find your affiliate link anywhere, can you give it to me? I want to buy through your link.”

So you know you're doing something right if you're getting things like that. The same thing can happen in your brand. You know what I mean? And I think you having 4,000 emails is great. I think that that should definitely be… The amount of success you've had with it I think should also motivate you to want to grow that to 8,000/10,000 because then the power is even going to increase and you're going to go from 500,000 to 750,000 to a million without even really trying, just kind of doing the same thing that you're doing now.

All right, so let's kind of unpack a little bit about. So your first product that kind of took off that you went all in on, was that again just like your standard procedure that you went through before, or was there anything different or was it stuff that you were interested in? Where did that idea come from or was it just doing some product research?

[00:23:18] Brandon: Like all of my good products have pretty much just been random looking through Amazon on Jungle Scout. But the big thing that caught my eye was that the difficulty like the barrier to entry to get into it. Because there's only at the time when one manufacturer in Alibaba was selling it. They had a super high MOQ, was really big, you have to bring it over on a boat and that was exciting for me. Because I don't want to just throw a $20,000 out and say, “I hope this works.”

[00:23:52] Scott: How much was that per unit when you first did that run?

[00:23:56] Brandon: I think it was… It was actually pretty expensive at the time. It ended up being about $7 per unit.

[00:24:11] Scott: That's not too, too bad. But that's up there a little bit for most people. And how many units did you have to buy at that point?

[00:24:18] Brandon: I brought in 2,000.

[00:24:21] Scott: Okay. So for a first initial you know investment that's pretty large. And then what was in those units, was there a certain amount that you allocated that you were like, “You know what, this is going to be my promotion batch.” Or was it just the whole thing? Like, “I'm just going to get sales. I don't even care.”

[00:24:39] Brandon: It was kind of the whole thing. I was planning on at worst breaking even or if not, I'd find some other way to raise more money and order the next batch. But I was like I'm going to get as many as reviews as I can, I'm going to get ranked as well as I can and then let the money flow six months from now or a year from now.

[00:24:59] Scott: Okay. So you just went all in on that? How many products now are related to that brand that are in that?

[00:25:08] Brandon: Active there's seven. A couple who have some variation, but seven main listings.

[00:25:15] Scott: And they all pretty much the same price point?

[00:25:18] Brandon: Yeah. It starts like $19.99 to $39.99 range.

[00:25:24] Scott: That's a nice range actually, that's good. And what about your pay-per-click? Are you still as aggressive as you were when you started or have you dialed that back some? Or you just like… Do you have a daily budget you stay within or do you just say, “I just want to get as much as I possibly can?”

[00:25:38] Brandon: I'm trying to get as much as I can. I’m trying to like actively monitor my conversion rates on each keyword. So that I'm not spending 50 bucks on a keyword that's converting at like 5% and dropping my overall conversion rate down. But as long as everything is staying with them like my organic conversion rate range, I'm just spending as much as I can.

[00:26:04] Scott: And how often are you looking at those numbers?

[00:26:07] Brandon: I'm checking that once a week.

[00:26:09] Scott: And what would you say is like right now where you are in this process, where do you spend most of your time?

[00:26:20] Brandon: Right now is… Actually right now, as of yesterday and today, it's finding more fitness influencers to work with. It was actually during the Sellers Summit I had someone come up to me and say, “Hey I saw your product on YouTube.” And I said, “I didn't pay for anything. I don't know what that is.” And it's like this gigantic 500,000 subscriber fitness influencer who made a video that took my traffic… Daily average traffic is like 400 unit views. And the day the video launched it spiked up to 2,500 views. A huge increase and so like the next week after because that was almost 200,000 views on this video now in the last a little over a week.

[00:27:11] Scott: Wow, that's amazing.

[00:27:13] Brandon: It's gigantic amounts of traffic. So I'm trying to find… I feel like I'm capt out on Amazon sales for this main product. So I'm trying to increase the outside traffic through this… I’m trying to replicate what happened with that video.

[00:27:27] Scott: What's the traffic like now after the video's been out for a little while?

[00:27:32] Brandon: So after the next day it dropped down to 1,800 views which is still a humongous…

[00:27:41] Scott: Yeah, that stinks. Man, that's amazing. So it's still driving traffic.

[00:27:51] Brandon: It's still driving a lot of traffic actually. So there's still about 250 to 300 page views over my average as of yesterday. There’s still a good amount and the sales have gone up significantly. I think did the math and it was about 35% increase after the big spike happened.

[00:28:15] Scott: Wow. That's phenomenal.

[00:28:16] Brandon: Huge. It's gigantic.

[00:28:18] Scott: So, again now that that's getting you to say, maybe I should find other influencers, in this space that could do this and maybe even offer them something or a partnership or whatever. You could do something, some affiliate thing whatever, because that person did it and they're not even really gaining anything from it.

[00:28:34] Brandon: No. But they have an Amazon affiliate link.

[00:28:38] Scott: Oh, they do? They’re getting something then. I was going to say, if they didn’t, that would be one thing that they should do. If not, holy cow. So we've definitely established that we need to reach out to other influencers and get that going. So that's definitely. So what's your strategy there? Just kind of doing some outreach of some channels that you see that are a good fit?

[00:29:02] Brandon: Basically. So I spend a day just compiling a little Excel spreadsheet, the biggest influences that I could find, their follow account, their email addresses and then I just email… I'm emailing like 20 a day now and I have five that I'm working with I just send them some free product. And if they like it, they're all going to make videos. So hopefully, that scales out and I can get a hundred reviews videos out they are all driving traffic.

[00:29:31] Scott: Yeah, now that's a great strategy. You are definitely going to keep you posted on that one. That's a great strategy because again, what you've done is exactly what I've told people. Like, “Listen, sit down. Put in the time, find influencers in your space, reach out to them, and once you have kind of like a template, you can kind of like blast it out to those same people customize a little bit if you want. But ever…” Are you finding that they are responsive? Like they're emailing you back or is there a certain percent that do and don't?

[00:30:00] Brandon: Yeah. So I’m at about 50% response rate right now and all the responses are, “Yeah, I'll try it out.” I tell them like, “I don't want you guys to promote something you don't like. So I'm sending you the free one, try it out if you like it, we’ll work together. If not, then that’s okay.” But yeah, 50%.

[00:30:17] Scott: That's awesome. That's really good. Keep that going. That's amazing. And I guess too also then I would think further down the line if you're doing this you can kind of almost hire it out. You can have a VA kind of do what you're doing because you've already done the steps, do the outreach, do all that stuff. So that's awesome. Yes, so I think that you’re starting trying to see the potential in the outside traffic.

[00:30:41] Brandon: Yeah.

[00:30:41] Scott: And then from there you're now going to build that out. And that's kind of where we talk about. Now you're driving everything to Amazon. Is there any plans of driving anything to your own stuff? Your own store?

[00:30:52] Brandon: Yeah. So my plan for that, because my biggest stressor is Amazon itself, like no matter how much money I make every month on Amazon, my stress just goes out with it. It doesn't go down if I make more money because it is still just as likely to go away for me. So my game plan is to actually drive traffic to a landing page so I get the emails. Like a presale page before Amazon. I will still take the first sale on Amazon. And all of the subsequent sales after that because I have the email, are going to be through my store, my Shopify store. That’s my approach.

[00:31:34] Scott: That's good. One little thing I came up with here while you were mentioning that because I'm thinking to myself you've got all these… Let's say you get 100 YouTubers to push links to your listing and then like you said let's see Amazon disappears for you and then all those links are dead, is there a way that you could give them a pretty link on your page and that way there if anything ever happened you can switch that out with pointing it to your own website?

[00:32:04] Brandon: I am writing a note to do that right now. Thank you.

[00:32:06] Scott: I would definitely do that because again all of those things are kind of set in a direction and then you could direct them later.

[00:32:15] Brandon: Yeah that's super smart. I'm definitely going to do that.

[00:32:17] Scott: I would definitely because you're not that deep into it right now you've got a few that are going to do it. But when they do, you can just give them the information say, “Here's your link that I would use. You can even put their affiliate link in it for now. Right? But then if it ever disappears you can always swap that out with a link pointing to your own website or even a landing page. So I think that's something I would definitely do.

All right. The other thing I would like to maybe address was, did you have any… When you were first getting your products here, did you have any struggles with getting them here? Because you said you went through that… what was like the one obstacle or two obstacles that might have got in your way that for most people probably would have deterred them? You know what I mean? Was there any sticking points.

[00:33:04] Brandon: The whole sea shipping thing is just scary. The customs brokerage and all that. So free plug I only use FBA Forward and I’m going to say that I will always use them. It’s been really smooth. But outside of that, the shipping hasn't been an issue for me. It is just been the time that it takes to ship. So if there is a problem with the manufacturer which has happened a couple times like an extra 30 day delay on something that already takes like almost 90 days and that was heartbreaking. So actually managing the inventory lead times was rough. And I think that that would scare some people off.

[00:33:50] Scott: Yeah, the other thing is like because of that, because you're waiting so long on the inventory, did you run out of stock?

[00:33:59] Brandon: Yeah. All the time.

[00:34:00] Scott: Tell me about that. You go out of stock… Did you have any strategy or anything as you were running out of stock? Did you try to slow sales or did you keep sales consistent to keep that conversion up high?

[00:34:13] Brandon: I've done both the run out of stock, unfortunately a couple times. So I've done both approaches where like I try to slow things down, raise the price, don't advertise as much. And then other times I've tried to just leave it as it is and let it run out. So, I don't know what the right answer is or which one is best but for me, I just let it run and know that I'm going to make it up with another promotion when I get back in stock.

[00:34:47] Scott: Okay. Because I was going to say… The next question was be like, “Okay, now you get your stock back in what’s your for an approach?”

[00:34:53] Brandon: My first approach is to spend as much as I can. It's the same launch thing that served me pretty well is just spend, get sales back.

[00:35:03] Scott: So would you say turning on pay-per-click, being aggressive there, letting your email list know you got a special promotion, whatever?

[00:35:10] Brandon: Yep. Exactly. And then the Instagram ads run again.

[00:35:14] Scott: Talking about the Instagram ads, I have been running the Instagram ads myself. What's that process like?

[00:35:23] Brandon: It's really smooth. I mean it's the same platform as Facebook. So you just change the placement on your Facebook ads manager or power editor. But for me, like you said, “Knowing where your target audience is, where the demographic hangs out.” For fitness, a lot of it is Instagram. So that was future we’ve had better results on Instagram than on Facebook just for me in this space. But it’s basically the same thing as putting on a Facebook ad.

[00:35:52] Scott: So everything's pretty much the same and I knew that they kind of cross you know you use the platform and stuff like that but I've never done it. So I've never run an Instagram ad inside it. I've done sponsored posts inside of there where I'll contact the influencer and I'll say, “Hey, can I put a post up? And they like, “Yeah, 125 bucks or whatever.” And then they'll send it out to their followers which is pretty cool. So for people that are just getting started though, I wanted to talk to those people really quickly, because I think you started, then you stopped, and then you started again and then you didn't look back.

What is the thing that you would say… And again. I want to talk a little bit about the person that you helped. Maybe this would be a good a good time to segway into the young the young kid that you helped but you're a young guy too. I mean you're not an old a man like me. I’m in my 40s, man. So you're a young guy but you kind of helped someone else that you knew. Talk about that really quickly like and then maybe we could talk about like the beginning stages of this one of this process.

[00:37:02] Brandon: Yeah. So this friend of mine who goes my church. His name is Ethan. He is 16 now maybe, I think he just turned 17 actually. But he's always been a hustler, always been making some kind of money doing something. And he came up to me and said, “Hey, I heard you've been doing really well this Amazon stuff. Can you teach me how to do it?” And I said, “Not really. I don't really know too much about the stuff. What you should do so listen to the first like 15 episodes of Scott Volker's podcast.”

[00:37:35] Scott: That's funny.

[00:37:36] Brandon:  It’s like how I kind of block people because a lot of people will just waste your time. I’ve tried to help a ton of people do this and they just want you to do everything for them or they just end up not really following through. So he texts me the next day and says, “Hey, I listened to all those podcasts. What do I do now?” What? I was tripping that he was that focused. So we sat down, I showed him how to do the Jungle Scout thing in your system. And I said, “Okay. Now go find some products and come back to you me.” The next day he says, “Hey, I have these 10 products with all the numbers and all the metrics. Can you look at them and tell me what you think?” And I was just shocked, I was blown away. He was aggressive and focused.

And within another day, we found the product that he went to launch, he went out and got samples and I was so impressed with this last thing. So he says, “You know the shipping is just too much from Alibaba, I don't know how to get past this.” And I said, “You can either ship it through sea or you can try to find a manufacturer in the US which is really hard to do.” So we haven’t been able to get that done.” And he says, “Okay.” So he comes back again the next day and says, “I found a US manufacturer, they're sending me samples tomorrow. They're going to package everything for me and ship it to Amazon.” I was shocked.

[00:39:10] Scott: That is crazy. Yeah, right? This kid is just a go-getter.

[00:39:15] Brandon: He just gets stuff done.

[00:39:17] Scott: So he does that, gets the sample, then what?

[00:39:22] Brandon: This is where we're at now. So he got his sample, he likes it, he's ready to go, he got funding and he went out and just asked all his family members, “Hey, can you give me 100 bucks? I'll pay you back after I do this product launch thing and at some point?” And he went out and raised enough money to his first order. And now we're waiting.

[00:39:44] Scott: Wow. That's amazing. That's amazing. I mean, again and from what you've learned and now you're kind of… It’s that ripple effect. It's kind of like you've got the knowledge that you've kind of learned through this process and again, you listened to the podcast but you had to do the work. I said that to you when we were in person at that conference. I'm like, “The podcast gave you the information or it kind of helped motivate you, inspire you, kind of give you the right stuff to get moving but you got to actually do it. And when you do it, you're going to learn so much.” I mean he learned so much from you sharing what you did but he actually went out there and contacted US suppliers. I mean, oh my gosh! I mean I bet he learned a ton about negotiating and all that stuff.

So that's just amazing and that's really what fires me up because again it's that ripple effect that… I can be the voice to get out there in get you going. But then it's up to you to do it but then you to share it and then it's that compound effect and I love, love, love hearing that stuff. I want you to definitely keep me up to date on his story and his progress. I think that's amazing and I think it's awesome that you ended up sitting down with them and giving him a little bit of your time and you know giving him a little bit of that advice and that kick start and I think he'll be forever grateful. And who knows where he'll be you know who knows? He could be very, very successful outside of just Amazon because he seems like he's a go getter for sure.

[00:41:09] Brandon: Yeah, definitely will be.

[00:41:10] Scott: So, let’s wrap up by maybe like if you could give someone a little bit of advice even maybe yourself, a little bit of advice when you first started. What would you say to make sure that you do if you want to be successful? Like what was that person that's sitting down to you maybe a year and a half two years ago to you, is there anything that you would have did differently or is there anything that you would say, “Listen, it's going to be okay because of this.” And I know I'm kind of putting you on the spot.

[00:41:45] Brandon: No, no. I got you, I got you on this. So what I would have said or would say is, “I think to actually have some legitimate long-term success, you need to have more of a growth mentality than anything else because you're going to have problems.” The story of Amazon game is, “I had this problem and then I overcame it by doing this.” Whereas most people have this problem and get stuck.

But you're going to get products pulled down, products aren’t going to do as well as you thought. But as long as you're thinking that this is a long-term play I'm learning, I'm growing and the next product is going to be better, I think you're just going to eventually, success kind of becomes inevitable if you just keep growing and keep learning. And don't expect your first product necessarily to be the thing that pulls you out of the hood.

[00:42:44] Scott: Yeah, yeah. I get that man. That’s some good advice right there too because the one common theme that I heard from people like you at the at the event or just people that email me is that most of the time their first product maybe second, third, product didn't do that well but they just moved on from it and went on to the next and they just kept going. And that to me is like you're not going to fail if you don't quit. You know I mean? You just keep learning and you keep evolving. It's a big deal. So where do you see yourself then in the next year? What's your focus? I know it's to build this up. Is there any exit plan for you or are you just looking to build this brand as big as you possibly can right now?

[00:43:35] Brandon: That's a big struggle. I had an offer to buy the business January.

[00:43:42] Scott: Were you advertising it or did that just kind of come to you?

[00:43:46] Brandon: So I had a friend who knows some of the guys that are Empire Flippers.

[00:43:50] Scott: Okay, cool. I had those guys on the podcast.

[00:43:53] Brandon: So I kind of went through the process there with them and I didn't really understand the evaluation process too well at the time and I think it was within two within two days I got an offer and it was the toughest thing I've ever had to turn down in my life.

[00:44:12]Scott: Yeah, I bet it was.

[00:44:14] Brandon: I'm still not making that much money. The business is doing well, I’m paying myself and fixed small salary just enough to live on. I ended up saying no, obviously and now we're closing in on almost two and a half times the valuation by the end of this month, as in January. The sales just kept going up. So I'm not sure where to take it. I'm going to have to reevaluate again at the end of the year. But I'm definitely trying to build more of the brand. I'm trying to build the social media more, keep the engagement going, the email list.

[00:44:55] Scott: Yeah I think the one thing that they stressed was, “The more that you do that, the more you'll get for it as well. It's more of an asset, right? It's not just relying on Amazon if you have that external stuff. And if you can say, “Yeah, I've got 100 influencers with 100 links being driven to these pretty links.” That's valuable, that's a huge asset. And then your evaluation is going to go up, it's going to increase so all that stuff. But, again, that's something that you might be like, “Well you know what I think I want to do that and I'm just going to start over again in another brand.” I mean you know what you are doing, you know how to do it and you can just replicate it and do it again.

I think there's a business out there for people to start businesses that are doing 10K a month and then just flipping them and selling them. Like all day long. I think that's a business model for someone that’s good at it, that understands. I mean even maybe for your 17-year-old little friend there. For him, he might not have enough capital to grow and scale it but he lifts that thing up to $5,000 or $10.000 and then flips his money and then he goes over and does it again.

[00:45:55] Brandon: Exactly.

[00:45:56] Scott: That's a good business model for someone that's kind of maybe short on cash but can get it up to $5,000 or $10,000, because just for people listening I mean generally you're going to get between I’d say on the low end 15X to about 25X to 30X on your net monthly. So, again do the math on that if you're doing 10K you can 20X that. That's a pretty good little flip if you can do that in a year. But for some people, they wanted to just keep riding up and growing. I think you're in a better situation because you've already built that out. It's in a big, big market and there's definitely room for you to even grow it bigger. You can have a big, big payday. For sure.

[00:46:43] Brandon: Hopefully.

[00:46:45] Scott: So, I think that that's going to pretty much wrap it up. That's what I wanted to kind of dig in. Is there anything else that you would want to mention or anything? Anybody that's out there listening that might be they’re starting or even just struggling with scaling? Is there any other last little bits of advice you'd like to give them.

[00:47:02] Brandon: I don't have any good advice for scaling beyond, “Don't be afraid to spend.” It's an investment in future sales. But I can kind of just steal your advice for those people starting out which is just take action and do it. You're going to learn a lot, you're going to get better at it and you’re going to make mistakes but it's going to be worthwhile.

[00:47:24] Scott: Yeah I thank you for that. That's kind of what we say here on the show, right? Just take action. But you know it's not about taking careless action, it's about planning it out, doing your research, doing all that stuff. But then in order to have a chance you have to actually do something. You're not going to get any results unless you do something. It's funny I met, my roundtable discussion at Sellers Summit, and I met a guy there. We were talking all that someone said, “Yeah, I just launched. I had 500 units and I don't want to lose money on 100 units.” I'm like, “Wait a minute the wrong mindset here. Like we got to talk about this.”

So we talked about and we kind of referred it back to like a brick and mortar business. And I'm like, “If you did a grand opening sale, you would spend a lot of money to get attention to your store. Right? You'd hire the bouncy bounce, the hot dogs, a radio station to come in, whatever. You'd spend a lot of money.” And she's like, “Okay, I get it now.” And then there was a guy there that actually had brick and mortar businesses for years and he said, “We used to allocate $10,000 for every grand opening that we would do.”

So he goes, it's the same difference. I see exactly what you're saying and I said that's kind of how I look at it. Your grand opening is your launch. You got to let Amazon know that you're on the map and if you let them know you are on the map they're going to start to show you up in certain areas and certain keywords and all that stuff. And that's where you start to get that momentum.

Anyway man, I want to thank you again, Brandon for number one coming up and introducing yourself at Sellers Summit. It was awesome, it was amazing. Hopefully, we'll get to meet again soon I know that you said possibly in Hawaii. So I would love that. I told you man. I told you I said, we were actually thinking about that. My good friend Dom he's always on me, he is like, “My daughter keeps asking me when are we got to go to Hawaii.” I said well, “When Uncle Scott…” She calls me uncle Scott. “When Uncle Scott says that we can have a meet up for TAS.” And I go, “Wait a minute here, you're going to put that all on me?

[00:49:17] Brandon: I put you on the spot!

[00:49:18] Scott: Yes. So we're going to have to make that happen I think at one of these…

[00:49:24] Brandon: I'll hook you guys up. I got you guys.

[00:49:26] Scott: Cool man. I'm going to take you up on that probably. We're going to definitely look into doing that soon. So all right, Brandon. I want to thank you so much man, I appreciate you. I want you to keep me posted and of course, if you need anything you know where to find me and I just want to say, thank you man. I really do appreciate it.

[00:49:41] Brandon: No, thank you. I appreciate everything you are doing man. It's fantastic. Thank you so much.

[00:49:47] Scott: Okay. So I wasn't kidding, right? I mean what an awesome story, what an awesome guy. And I'm still blown away. I'm blown away every time that I get to interview someone that's been a listener or a student of ours and they are you know reporting back as to what they've done. I also love it that when people share not just the wins but the “failures”, and I don't believe it was a failure until you've quit.

And you can see that Brandon might taken a break, but he never quit. He didn't give up, he didn't say that the system doesn't work, he just said, “Well, maybe that product didn't work or maybe I just didn't do you know XYZ right or maybe I need to do it a little bit differently, or maybe I was a little conservative on my launch or even my mindset of what I need to do during a launch.”

The one thing that I'm seeing that people that have succeeded or that have gotten at least started to where they're getting some sales generated, most of the time their mindset shifts to where they're not worried about making the money in month one, they're in it for the long term. And you heard Brandon say, “When I kind of set my mind on I'm not going to make money up front, I'm just going to go ahead and fuel this thing to get sales, then I'm going have a better chance of succeeding.”

And that's what he did. He committed to that and he did that. Now, I'm not saying go out there and do what Brandon did and go borrow $20,000. That's kind of risky. But there's ways that you can do that still and be aggressive without having to go to a $20,000 loan. Now, if you have more money to play with in the beginning obviously, that's going to help you. It's going to speed up that process but I still think you can be aggressive in other ways especially for him to go out and just do this outreach for people that are in his space that now they can start to push traffic for him and then that will start to spike those sales.

[00:51:54] Scott: And I've said that before and that's why it's so important to build your list if you have not started building your list yet, right now you need to start doing that. And a very easy way of doing that is to reach out to influencers and then have them review your product, as Brandon said that that's what he's doing. He is manually going out there reaching out to these people and then just offering to give the product to them for them to review it, for them to look at it and test it play with it. And then to share it on their channel.

Whether that’s Instagram, whether that's Facebook, whether that's YouTube whatever channel your market is. And to me that's not going to cost a lot of money. It's going to take some work on your part. You've got to go out and do that outreach. You gotta reach out to people, you got to communicate with people. But then from there, that traffic can come. And once that traffic starts to come, you're not really turning it off. And like he said if he takes… He said 100. If he gets 100 influencers to do that, imagine how much traffic going to coming there.

But the one thing that we kind of discovered here was he's just driving people directly to the listing. We talked about adding a pretty link there. And a pretty link, for anyone that doesn't know is basically just a little short URL. A short link off of your website. I use it for The Amazing Seller all the time theamazingseller.com/372 that's this episode. If you want to download the show notes you can go there. And then I just forward to the long link that no one would be able to remember. So I can change that link any time I want. If I want to change that link to theamazingseller.com/372 keep that the same, I can tell that link in the back end of my website where I want to be pointed to.

So for him, he should have that to be whatever his website is xyz.com/ whatever it is. Garlic press. And then every time someone uses that link, through one of those influencers, maybe YouTube or whatever it's going to direct him to wherever he wants to push them. Right now, maybe it's pushing to your Amazon listing to spike those sales. But we can always direct them to landing page, we can always direct them to our own website. This way here if Amazon ever decides to shut our listing down, even temporarily, we can then redirect that link somewhere else.

[00:54:00] Scott: That was a huge takeaway for him and a huge takeaway for anyone else out there that's considering doing outside traffic. You want to be able to control the link as far as where it's going to. So big, big takeaway there. But anyway, I wanted to just again thank Brandon for coming on. I mean again, just an awesome, awesome story and I know I'm going to be following up with him. I'll probably want to have him back on the show again just to give us an update. He's going to doing some amazing things.

I know that he's probably, eventually, maybe, maybe not, probably exiting out of that one brand and maybe even starting another brand because I think he knows what to do now, and he could probably exit at a pretty a pretty large sum eventually. But again, who knows but you have those options once you start to build a brand? And that's what he's doing. He's building a brand. This is not an open brand, this is a brand. So there's differences. And again, when you first start you may want to start the open brand which allows you to do a little bit more testing in certain markets. All right?

So I'm not going to go down that whole discussion we've already done that plenty of times. If you have not listened to any of those episodes. I'll link them up in the show notes or you can just always go to theamazingseller.com, go to little search field and type in open brand, and you'll hear all the discussions we've had about that. So, again, just to remind you guys, the show notes, the transcripts, the links that we talked about can be found at theamazingseller.com/372. And go grab them, they're all there for you guys to enjoy and to use and definitely make sure if you guys are getting any results at all, head over to theamazingseller.com/ask and just record a little voice mail there. Let me know, all right? That would be awesome, that would be amazing.

All right guys, so that's going to wrap it up officially right now go out there and do something with this information. Be inspired, be motivated but more importantly go out there and use it. So this way here you can start to get results. So guys remember I'm here for you, I believe in you and I am rooting for you but you have to, you have to… Come on say it with me, say it loud, say it proud, “Take action.” Have an awesome amazing day and I'll see you right back here on the next episode.

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