When words fail to convince customers to buy a product, sellers can rely on the power of images. But how can they build a visual identity for their brand? In particular, how can they optimize Amazon images to showcase their unique selling points?

On the show with me today is Ian Bower, owner of the design agency Graphic Rhythm Designs. Working with Amazon sellers, the agency is dedicated to improving conversion rates in product listings by utilizing Amazon images.

To see if this interview is for you, I recommend that you read the episode highlights below to get a quick overview of the topics I covered with Ian during our conversation. When you do, I think you’ll quickly see that this episode is jam-packed with knowledge-bombs for optimizing your visual identity and capitalizing on your brand to generate more conversions and sales with your product.

Watch the video above, read the transcript, or listen to the audio file below and benefit from the knowledge that Ian shares. Then leave a comment or question for him to answer.

Here are three reasons why you should listen to the full episode:

  1. Learn about optimizing Amazon images to generate more conversions.
  2. Find out what your unique selling proposition (USP) is, and how to gain an edge over your competitors.
  3. Discover the difference between your brand and your visual identity and how you can use visual cues to your advantage.

5 Powerful Quotes from This Episode

“If there is any advertising going on at all, it tends to focus too heavily on features and benefits. It tends to miss the unique selling proposition of the product, which I consider pretty important.”

“If you’re focusing on educating the customer about back pain, then you’re going to lose them. You’ve wasted your advertising space educating rather than converting.”

“We want to either have the viewer know something or feel something when they visit this or they take a look at this Amazon image.”

“The number one design tip is words are more important than design . . . I always say focus on the words first and then find the design out of those words later. How is the design going to support the words?”

“If you’re not sure what your unique selling proposition is, a good way to figure it out is to see what your competitors aren’t saying about their product.”

[03:02] So for folks who do not yet know who Ian Bower is, let’s start there. Who are you and what do you do?

  • Well, that’s a complicated question. So I run a graphic design agency called Graphic Rhythm. And a big part of what we do there is working with Amazon sellers on Amazon listings, which is another business that I operate. So, in short, you know, I’m an Amazon guy, an Amazon professional, and I have a graphic design agency, purpose built for Amazon sellers.

[03:39] So did the agency get created— I mean, I’m assuming you were the Amazon seller, much like me, first, and then that sort of bled into other businesses. In your case, the agency, in my case, a software company, and so forth.

  • Yeah, exactly. It kind of arose out of a need. So my company had a graphic designer, and we were creating images. And we basically had other people in my network that were interested in getting their hands on those kinds of images as well. And so it spun out into its own thing. You know, kind of naturally, organically.

[04:15] Yep. Okay. All right. So today, we are going to talk about, to no great surprise, the graphic design aspect of Amazon, and how you can be more effective, and how you can process it, and so forth, and so on. So with that said, let’s start off with what are some of the issues that you see Amazon sellers running into when it comes to the images that they’re using on their listings?

  • I kind of categorize it into two groups of problems—the ones that sellers are aware of and the ones that they aren’t aware of. And the ones that they’re aware of are, “How do I get this done?” Basically, you know, you hear a lot about, “I need my Amazon images optimized. But how do I actually do that? Like, what are the processes? How does photography get involved? What should those images be?”

But in the category of things that they’re not aware of, it seems like a lot of sellers want to use their Amazon slots. You get eight images on a listing, and a lot of sellers want to use that. Almost like an eBay listing, like, here’s a picture of it from all sides, here’s a picture of the back. And the missed opportunity there is that Amazon is essentially giving you eight advertisements. That’s the way I look at it. It’s eight slots to plug in advertisements for your product.

And so, if there is any advertising going on at all, it tends to focus too heavily on features and benefits. It tends to miss the unique selling proposition of the product, which I consider pretty important. It also focuses on the wrong stage of the marketing funnel when it comes to who the Amazon customer is, because the Amazon customer is a very specific part of the funnel. You know, Google is where you type in things like, “My back hurts.” And Amazon is where you type in things like lumbar support. And those are two very different kinds of customers. And so if you’re focusing on educating the customer about back pain, then you’re going to lose them. You know, you’ve wasted your advertising space, educating rather than converting.

[06:32] Yeah, because that’s up at the top of the funnel. And now they’re down towards the middle or the bottom of the funnel, because they’re on Amazon, because they’re ready to make a purchase.

  • Exactly

[06:41] Okay. So walk me through your process for creating optimized images.

  • So really, I mean, one of the biggest things that we do is the research side of it. And so it starts with keywords, because your keywords will tell you what stage of the funnel is. It’s very rare that you have a problem where customer on Amazon, like I said, you don’t really see people targeting keywords like “back pain.” So the keywords will tell you that, and so we look at what keywords are we targeting or is our client targeting? And that’ll tell us the stage of awareness.

And then we’re also going to look at, we’re going to research the voice of consumer data. So we want to look at reviews, what people love, what people hate. We take a look at the competitors. Same thing, you know, what people love about the competitor’s product, what do people hate? You know, what’s the actual words that Amazon customers are using to describe those pains and those problems. And then we talk about or we try and discern what the unique selling proposition is for the product. You know, especially with like, some private label sellers, there’s not a lot to the USP, you know. And we’ve had our clients tell us like, “Man, it’s basically the same as everybody else.” And so you have to be a little creative about figuring out the USP is or making up what the USP is.

And we could talk about that a minute. But after we get the research part done, then we create a shot list. So this is basically almost like a design brief. So it reads, “Every single shot has a goal. And that goal starts with the viewer will know or the viewer will feel.” Okay, and that’s what we want. We want to either have the viewer knows something or feels something when they visit this or they take a look at this Amazon image. And some of that is discern from the customer transformation. So every product creates a transformation. You know, if you were buying a stick of gum, you know, your transformation is “I have bad breath,” and you’re transforming to somebody who has, you know, fresh breath. So that’s a transformation even if it’s a stick of gum and every product does that. So we take all of this and we put it together into that shot list and then we send it over to our design team to do all the design work.

[09:03] So in other words, when you know what you want, and you describe it well, the likelihood of getting what you want goes up exponentially.

  • Right, yeah.

[09:13] Which is, to me, a whole lot, I mean, I obviously, both you and I, and probably many of the people listening have looked at many, many, many different Amazon product listings. And, you know, the number of them that have a strategy behind their images is a pretty small percentage. And I think the thing that people really need to understand is one of the big signals that is going to influence your organic ranking is your conversion rate. And when you have a higher conversion rate, that’s going to help to increase your sales velocity, which is going to help to increase your organic ranking. It’s a whole flywheel effect. So what you’re talking about right now, we’re not talking about just pretty pictures, we’re talking about serious things that can have a very significant influence on the success of a given product.

And I would also go so far as to say, for the folks who are preparing to call a brand. If you go into that brand phone call, armed with the information that Ian just finished talking about on the process for creating the listings, and you talk about the strategy, and the psychology, and the mindset, and so forth that people are going to have—you’re going to impress the hell out of that brand. And I’m pretty darn certain that nobody else is having that conversation with the brand.

  • Yeah, I mean, what you said about that kind of flywheel effect. You know, every part of an Amazon listing seems to have a purpose, you know. The title, it helps with ranking and click through, and the bullets are, you know, also with your keywords and your ranking. But the images are all about that conversion. And when the Amazon customer is able to see their need satisfied on those images. That’s where really the conversion happens. And if you’re answering the question and answering the need of the customer, they’re going to buy.

[11:07] Yep, that they are. Alright. Let’s talk about design tips for Amazon sellers. What do you got?

  • So, first of all, the biggest design tip is going to sound kind of counterintuitive since I have a design agency. But the number one design tip is words are more important than design. So, we look at design as a way of supporting, you know, it’s just a method of communication, right? It’s a method of visual communication. And so, I always say focus on the words first, you know, and then find the design out of that words later. How is the design going to support the words?

So when you’re working with a designer, our process actually starts with copy. You know, we start with a copy, we don’t start with the design. And when you’re working with a designer, you should give them that copy and just a light description of what the design should try and convey. And that goes back to that goal—the viewer will know or the viewer will feel. And then a good designer can take those words and turn that into a good design.

We also really recommend that you connect emotionally. Understanding what the customer transformation is will be critical in understanding what the emotional connection is. So I always use this example of, you know, back pain. If you were a father and you have back pain, right? And you, as an Amazon seller, have gone through uncovering kind of what their transformation is. What does your product do for a father with back pain if it helps solve the problem of back pain? It also gives them their life back, it gives them more time with their children, you know. These are all emotional hooks. And if you articulate that emotion and you can connect emotionally and visually, then that’s going to, you know, obviously, connect you with your customer and endear them to your product.

[13:03] So what do you think the most important thing to get right is when you’re optimizing your images?

  • Okay, so the unique selling proposition is crucial on Amazon. So the unique selling proposition, I mean, you, I know, I’m sure you’re familiar with it, and your listeners are also probably familiar with this idea of unique selling proposition. But where we get tangled up is trying to figure out what exactly that is, right? Especially if you didn’t bake it into your product from the beginning. When you’re talking about a wholesale account or a brand management account, you don’t really get to choose what the unique selling proposition is. And if you’re a private label seller, maybe you didn’t choose, maybe you just went and found a product and you just put your brand on it, and that’s fine. So if you know what the unique selling proposition is, we try and always put that in image number two, right?

So you have your main image. Like all the things about image number one have to be complied with from Amazon, right. But image number two is really your first good selling opportunity. And if you imagine a customer on Amazon, they’re searching around maybe for diaper bags, right? And so they’ve got, probably, if they’re anything like me, they’ve got 20 Chrome tabs open, you know, and they’ve got every diaper bag in the world in front of them. And they’re just trying to figure out what makes this one different than all the other ones. Just give me something, right? And that’s your unique selling proposition.

So, if you’re not sure what your unique selling proposition is, a good way to figure it out is to see what your competitors aren’t saying about their product. If you’re selling garlic presses on Amazon, which I hope you’re not, but if you are, you know, what is the unique selling proposition of a garlic press? If you go and you look at all your competitors, and none of them mention the size of the holes of a garlic press, make that your unique selling proposition, you know. Spin that into it because you’re the only one saying it. And if you’re the only one saying it, then it becomes your unique selling proposition.

And I liken it back to, I can’t remember the name of the show, oh boy. But anyway, it’s a popular marketing show. And they’re talking about Lucky Tobacco Company. And they say, well, “How do you make your tobacco?” And they said, “Well, we toast it.” And he says, “Well, everybody toasts their tobacco.” Yes, but nobody else is saying it. So your cigarettes, your tobacco is toasted. And that’s how they came up with that slogan. You know, just saying the thing that is not being said by your competitors. So I think that that’s really important, especially in competitive niches.

And then the next important thing I would say is definitely focus on that transformation. You know, that’s what separates your messaging from somebody else’s messaging. You know, if you’re talking about, if your competitors are just talking about their widget and the features and the benefits and things like that, that’s fine, that’s educational. But if you want to connect emotionally, now you need to start talking about that transformation.

[15:57] Okay. So we’ve talked about some really good stuff so far. And I alluded a little earlier on to how people can use this information to help them win more accounts. But I didn’t really ask you your opinion on that. So how do you think Amazon sellers and brand managers can leverage the process that we’ve just been talking about to win more business, to get more accounts?

  • So having the knowledge of these processes is something that, if you are a brand manager or a wholesale seller and you get on the phone with a brand owner, first of all, you can leverage the value that you could provide by knowing how to do this. And you can leverage that as a value add, you know, “Hey, you know, you work with us, and this is something that we include for free just as part of our services.” It’s an impressive conversation to have. You know, there’s always that little bit of mystery that if you can educate the person on the other end of the phone and just peel back back the curtain a little bit on a world that they didn’t know exists, you know, that creates authority for you on the phone. So that right there is a great thing to have in your toolbox when you’re talking to brand owners.

But then the other thing practically, you can use it to get a great result for brand owners. You can demonstrate how the listings have improved, you can measure the increase in conversions. And you know, you could turn on case studies and then it’s kind of like that flywheel effect, you know, it starts to become a thing that you’re known for. And, you know, the last thing that occurs to me is you can actually monetize the service. So this is something that, you know, obviously we’ve monetized it, but we’re monetizing the whole piece. You know—the marketing, the research and all that, and the graphic design. So if you work with your own designer or an agency like ours, you could, you know, have your designer just do the design part. You and your team—marketers, copywriters—can do the research part. And now you can charge a brand owner, you can charge, you know, another company to do those things for them.

[18:08] That was actually something I was talking about with somebody who recently bought my web product this morning. I was thinking they’re beginning, and I was saying, you know, there’s two ways you can go here. You can go after all the brands that have all the successful products already, and there’s a lot of noise. And they’re getting approached by a lot of sellers on an ongoing basis. Or you could take a slightly different approach and say, “I’m going to go after products that have really great reviews but aren’t like four stars, but don’t have very many reviews yet.” So these brands, they’re not getting inundated with requests from sellers because they don’t have a lot of sales velocity yet. But they do have a great product.

And you could absolutely build a hybrid agency by saying, “Well, I’m just going to target the up and coming brands that have great products. I’m going to have a listing optimization service, including images that I charge them for. I’m going to have pay per click management campaigns services that I charge them for. And then I’m going to work my way in there, by then I’ve built a relationship. And I could say, “Well, look, if you want to stop paying me these fees, I’m happy to come over and switch over and be a reseller of your products. And I’ll still do all of these same things for you.” That is an entirely different strategy that not many people are probably pursuing. And you might be able to have an easier time cutting out your slice of the pie, especially if you’re new. Or even if you’re not new, by taking that particular approach. And so the information you’ve shared so far really dovetails beautifully into that.

So obviously, you have a listing image service of some kind. So some people are listening and they’re thinking, “Yeah, I’m going to do that myself.” And other people are thinking, “I really don’t know how to do that.” Why don’t you tell us a little bit about your service.

  • So we have basically two services that we offer. Now, if you’re somebody who wants to do this yourself, you want to do that market research, you want to do that transformation, I really encourage you to do it. And one of the things that you could do is work with us on a subscription basis. And so basically, we have a monthly subscription service. And based on the tier level that you pick, you’ll get access to, you know, more and more of our workforce, of our labor pool, of our design team. So that’s the one way that you can do it. And that’s probably the most affordable if you want to do the transformation part yourself.

Now, if you want us to do it all for you, that’s something else that we offer. And so we’re able to do everything that I’ve described on this call plus the graphic design. Plus we also met— we haven’t even talked about photography on this call, but you know, we manage a photographer if you need photography. And so that’s all included and that separates into: you can have us just do the listing, you could have us just do the A plus content, or you can have us do both. And that’s just like a one payment and you’re basically having us do everything end-to-end to get that done.

[20:59] Okay, and do you offer that only on subscription? Or do you offer that on card as well?

  • So to have us do it end-to-end, that is not a subscription. So that’s a one off, you know, I just need one listing done. You know, I’m gonna hire Graphic Rhythm to get it done for me and be done with it.

[21:15] Okay, and are there any other services you offer?

  • So we do offer branding services, and I hesitate to use the word branding, but everybody’s familiar with that term. But what we call visual identity, you know, so logo, typography. So if that’s something that you need as a small business owner, we can do that for you. We also, as an ala carte, could do packaging. I mean, we’re really a full service graphic design agency. So there’s not really a limit to what we’re able to offer small businesses, agencies, and Amazon sellers.

[21:47] Okay. And you have, I think, a webinar is coming up. Do you not?

  • Right, yeah. So if you want to dive deeper into this, we do have a webinar coming up. Where, you know, I’m basically going to teach you everything that we know about this process. The fact is, is that the listing service where we do everything end-to-end, it’s hard to scale that as an agency, because it’s just, there’s a lot going on there. And so what I really want to do is, I want to kind of deputize Amazon sellers. I want you to learn how to do exactly what we’re doing. I want you to go out there. And I want you to find profitable accounts, and I want you to find profitable profit products. And I just want to do the graphic design. So this webinar is all about that. Let’s deputize you, let’s get you the knowledge so that you can go out there. And you can learn how to optimize these images exactly how we do it. And so we’re going to talk about that on this webinar that we have coming up.

[22:41] Okay, and folks to get to that webinar we’ve got an easy to remember link for you just go to brightideas.co/ianwebinar. All one word, no spaces, no hyphens, no nothing. And we will put links in the show notes as well. So Ian, before we wrap up. If you were interviewing yourself on anything that you would like, is there any question that you would ask yourself at this point that I haven’t asked you that would add additional value to the audience for this interview?

  • Oh boy, you put me on the spot. Yeah, about anything at all. I would say, you know, I alluded a minute ago to this idea of branding, right. And so one of the things that I wish more business owners knew was a difference between a brand and a visual identity. And that’s really important on Amazon. That’s really important in a small business. And I’ll say this, that a visual identity is things like your logo, your colors, and so on and so forth. But your brand is what customers say about you. It’s their gut feeling about your company.

And one of the things that I love about graphic design is that it can shape that feeling through visual cues. So you know, if you own a company, if you own a business, think about those. Think about your visual identity in terms of, you know, what we look like. But also what is the gut feeling that we’re giving the people that interact with us on our website, on our Amazon listings, on our social media. And you can leverage that to create confidence with your customers. And so they feel confident in who you are. You’re providing a consistent, reliable kind of feeling throughout.

Episode Highlights

[03:52] About Graphic Rhythm Designs

  • Graphic Rhythm Designs is a design agency focused on working with sellers on Amazon listings to improve the Amazon images they post.
  • It arose out of other people’s interest in Amazon images, after his own experience with the e-commerce platform. It grew organically from there.

[04:49] Issues with Amazon Images

  • Sellers are aware they have to optimize their images but are not unconscious of their other mistakes.
  • Most sellers want to use all the image slots to post pictures of the same product from different angles. They miss the opportunity to use the slots to advertise their product.
  • Another mistake Amazon sellers make is heavily focusing on features and benefits instead of the unique selling proposition.
  • The Amazon customer is a distinct part of the marketing funnel.
  • Don’t waste time educating the customer. Convert them into buyers instead.

[06:48] Creating Optimized Amazon Images

  • Start with your keywords to find out the stage of the marketing funnel.
  • Look at the voice of the consumer data. Check reviews of what people love and hate.
  • Figure out the USP of your product.
  • The goal of Amazon images is to make your customer either learn something or feel something.
  • Every product creates customer transformation.

[11:11] Amazon Images Design Tips for Sellers

  • It’s not just about pretty photos. Your image is all about customer conversion.
  • Focus on the words and the copy first before the design. Words are more important than design.
  • Connect with your customer through emotional hooks.

[13:09] The Importance of Your Unique Selling Proposition

  • If you know your unique selling proposition, you should always put that in the second image.
  • An excellent way to figure out your USP is to see what your competitors aren’t talking about in their product.
  • Competitors talk about the features and benefits. You should focus on the transformation.

[16:20] Win More Businesses with Amazon Images

  • You can leverage your knowledge in optimizing Amazon images to business owners and add value to their product.
  • You can use the great results you get for brand owners as case studies.
  • Lastly, you can monetize the service, just as Graphic Rhythm Designs does now.

[19:48] The Services Offered

  • If you want more liberty in your customer transformation, you can work with the company on a monthly subscription basis.
  • If you want everything done for you, you can get the benefits of the subscription service, plus graphic design and photography, on a per-listing basis.
  • The agency also offers various branding services.

[23:12] Brand vs. Visual Identity

  • Your visual identity includes your logo, your colors, and other images.
  • Your brand is what customers say about you and how they feel about your company.
  • Graphic design can shape how customers feel towards you through visual cues.
  • You can leverage Amazon images to create feelings of confidence and reliability in your customers.

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Today’s Guest

Ian Bower is the owner of Graphic Rhythm Designs, an agency specializing in Amazon images and graphic design. He is an Amazon seller and professional who educates other sellers on how to get better results in their listings. Ian focuses on figuring out the products’ unique selling proposition and optimizing the Amazon images to create more conversions from each listing.

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