When running a business, it might seem that you have so many things to do to increase your profits. Coming up with a product, making the product, analyzing competitors, managing finances, forming partnerships, marketing and promotions — the list seems endless, and the number of choices can be paralyzing. But one critical concept you should keep in mind is perceived value.
In this episode, Norm shares five actionable steps that you can use to pump up your perceived value and easily double your profits by learning how to sell on Amazon successfully. With these, you can create a unique and memorable customer experience that will undoubtedly increase your sales and build strong brand perception. Everything you need is in these five simple steps — from coming up with a product idea to getting your product into the public eye. With these, you can create a unique and memorable customer experience that will undoubtedly increase your sales and build strong brand perception.
Tune in to this episode to learn more about utilizing perceived value to sell on Amazon successfully!
Click here to read transcript
[2:16] In the unlikely scenario that someone in the Amazon space doesn’t know who you are, let’s start there: who are you? And how did you become well known in the Amazon corner of the universe?
- My name is Norm Farrar. Some people know me as The Beard Guy. I don’t know why. I started back in 2013-2014, and just went to an Amazon Amazing Selling Machine Conference. I think at that time, there was probably 25,000 people at the conference. It was crazy, it was at the heyday. The people that got into Amazon at that time, if they just did simple action steps.
Everybody was making money. It was so easy. There was no PPC. It was just your post, and then all of a sudden people were buying. Then, competition set in. Amazon got greedy. But it was crazy.
We’ve talked about this before, but one of the things that I learned and preached is that, especially with Amazon: if I didn’t have resilience, I would have never made it. Things came at us different — it wasn’t just easy. It wasn’t just reaching out and gathering money. All of a sudden, PPC came around — incentivized reviews, just taken from your listing.
If I would have just stayed the way that I was doing it, and I would have let Amazon hit me between the legs, and I didn’t get up, I would never have succeeded. Now, what this has taught me is Amazon’s changed over the last five or six years. All we’re doing is just ebbs and flows, “There’s a disappointment today. Let’s get around it. Let’s keep going.”
We’ve just expanded what we’ve learned — expanded into other markets. Now, I’m not only a seller. I have my own brands. But I have a couple of businesses that help Amazon sellers, and I have a podcast.
[4:30] The podcast is called Lunch with Norm.
- It is. Lunch with Norm. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays
[4:38] This is being recorded just a couple of days after I was on Norm’s podcast. It was a very fun experience. We had a great time. I really liked the way Norm and Kelsey do their — they live stream the show while they’re actually doing the recording. It’s a little bit different than we do it here. But nonetheless, it was very cool to be a guest and see how they run the show.
Norm, your Amazon business today — and by the way, folks, here’s what we’re going to be talking about. We’re going to talk about five steps for you to easily double your profits on Amazon. Now, if you’re a marketing agency and you’re running brand management for brands, obviously, you would apply these steps. If you’re like Norman, you have your own brand — same idea — you would apply these steps. Norm, you’ve got a brand, or do you have a portfolio of brands?
- I have brands
[4:59] And all totaled up, roughly, what are these brands do a year in sales?
- Mid-eight figures, and around there.
[5:38] Pretty successful Amazon business. Because I know you’re doing lunch with Norm three days a week which takes obviously a decent chunk of your time. So, you got a crew or a team that’s running your brands for you? Are you just kind of there as the advisor in chief? What does that look like?
- We touched on this during our podcast. But I went through the EMyth Academy, Michael Gerber’s E Myth Academy. One of the things it taught me about was becoming automated, scalable — just delegating everything. We have — and you’ll get a kick out of this — but we have a process for everything. If it’s repeatable, there’s a process, even to the extent that we create…
When people come into the company, we talk to them about our coffee process — how to make a cup of coffee. If you go through the process, it is a big process if you want a good cup of coffee — or why do you want a good cup of coffee, where is the coffee, how much do you order, how do you make it. At the end of the day, this is kind of interesting.
It’s leading up. It’s long-winded, but at the end of the day, people realize that when people came into our board room at the time, that people — guests — would ask for a cup of coffee. Nine times out of 10, it was burnt. They had to put it on. They had to wait. That was annoying. People would go from — whoever was in the office, they go back, and it would be empty.
Anyways, we found out that all these factors lead to negativity in the office. Then, just by doing this five page policy, it’s streamlined everything. There was consequences too. There was a three-strike policy. If you didn’t follow how to make a cup of coffee, you could be let go because you just couldn’t grasp a simple process.
If you couldn’t grasp a simple process, how could you grab a complicated process? But it was something that everybody adhered to. We use this as going forward. Now, this is the end of the long-winded story that the reason I can do this is I have people… I delegate everything — every single task in my business so I can grow other businesses.
It’s everything from… Kelsey. You met Kelsey. He takes everything. That podcast — he books the guests, I sit in front of the screen, and I start the interview process. But he takes care of pretty much everything. For the businesses I run, it’s basically we have a staff meeting once a week. They run the business. They’re at the helm of the business. If I need to know anything, or if there’s something urgent, then we sit down and discuss it.
But I get to grow the business. I take care of the, “Okay. Here’s the strategic side I want to do. Here’s an opportunity. Here’s a partnership.” These are the things that grow the business. This is how you make money — doing all the day-to-day tasks that are repetitive tasks get you nowhere, and you’ll never get above a certain threshold in your business.
[8:52] Man, I wish people could see the grin on my face as I’m listening to this because obviously, Norm and I are guzzlers of the same Kool Aid. The thing that I want to just put a pin in before we move on to these five steps is what norm just said:
If you are spending all your time — what I call “doing the do” — which is just running on your hamster wheel, sending emails, and overmanaging VAs, and optimizing listings, and run an ad campaign, and dealing with customer service and shipments. All the important stuffs.
But if you’re doing it, you are the chief bottleneck of your own business, and it will never get beyond a certain size because there’s just not enough of you to be able to do all of those things — sleep, eat exercise, spend time with your family, have a life, and do the really important strategic stuff that’s going to make your business grow.
Alright, Norm. Great intro. Thank you hopefully the audience now is eagerly awaiting the five steps to easily double your profits on Amazon. Step one — you’ve mentioned branding and packaging — something that I don’t know that a lot of people maybe get very excited about, and I know you have a lot to say about it. Let’s start there.
- I get excited about this stuff. This is probably one of the most important things you can do. First of all, you can go out, and you can just call your company your first two initials — “.co”. But if you take a look at what Amazon — specifically Amazon’s looking for right now, they’re looking to build brands. If you don’t build a proper brand, at the end of the day — and we can get into this more towards the end — you could be losing a zero in your evaluation at the end of your payday because you don’t have the brand there.
Just think of it right now, when you go to Amazon, and you take a look at their listing, you’ll see something called “Amazon Posts”, which are Amazon social media. What does it say there? “Follow”. You can go Amazon live, and it drives people over. You can get an audience, and it wants you to follow. On your store, there’s a “Follow” button. All of these “Follow” buttons, at the end of the day, you can go in as the seller.
You can create something called the “Customer Experience”. It’s actually what it’s called, it’s a “Customer Experience Program”, and you can send out emails directly to your customers. This is all to help you build this brand community. They also have something called “Brand Story”, so Amazon’s looking for that.
I would pay some attention to it. The first name that comes to the top of your head, typically, I wouldn’t go with. It might be the name that you go with later on, but I would give it some thought. I’d even give it to a focus group, like you could send out a few names, and a description to a company like PickFu or UsabilityHub. You can get a very inexpensive focus group to take a look at the names, and to see which one would really fit your product.
You also want… When you’re thinking about your brand — these are just some very basic questions, but, “Can you diversify? Can you use that if you’re selling pet products, and it’s called, ‘Chewy.com’ or ‘Paw’ —- like Paw Brands — and you’re selling gasoline products or plastic products for whatever.” It just doesn’t fit in.
But if I’m a soap company, and I have soap club, and I have either bodywash, or bath bombs, or bar soap — I can expand. I can even expand into the pet side of things. But with pet soaps or pet shampoos — so you have to be careful about what you’re looking at. First of all — that way.
The other thing — here’s a quick trick for Amazon to help you with your branding. One of the things you want to do when you’re picking a name, you’re not allowed to drive people over to your website. It’s not allowed. But if it’s incorporated into your brand — so clubs, or “.club” — they can’t stop me from putting that as my brand. If I have it in the soap, it’s called “Soap Club”, that starts the brand side going.
Make sure, first of all, that you go and you get a nice logo. Just don’t go to somebody that you can pay $2 to. But spend some money on somebody that is a graphic artist that knows corporate identity. That you get a full series — color, black and white, grayscale of your logo, and get an art spec chart where you have specific colors. Because another thing is about consistency.
If I asked you what dark green is, or if you tell a graphic artist what dark green is, or lime green, or frost plum — they’re all going to come back with different colors. Get the pantones, so you can lock it down so you’re consistent. That’s the first thing.
Then, the next thing is you want to make sure that your domain name is available with the social. There’s an app out there called Namechk — I think it’s just N-A-M-E-C-H-K. You type in your brand, and it’ll go across every social media platform, and it’ll see if you’re available or not. You might as well make sure that it’s available. The other thing is make sure that you can trademark the name too — it’s not already being used.
That’s the starting point. When you get into finding your product, even before you get into packaging, you want to make sure that it’s unique. It’s something that’s a little bit different. I’m going to give you a case study about the packaging side, and we can go back to actually the product opportunity side or innovation side in a sec:
But on the packaging side, it takes pennies to make dollars. We had a knife. The knife was $16. The package that originally came in was this cardboard clamshell package. We sold it on Amazon for $49. This is a client of mine. I looked at it and I went back, and I said, “Look, I think we can get a few more bucks if we spend about ‘a buck 25’ extra on the packaging. Just increase it.” And we did.
We increased the perceived value. This is all about perceived value. We had a magnetic opening, a nice “welcome” message or the insert on the inside — it was really nice. Then, we started selling that at — I think we ended up at 79. We brought it up to 99. We went to 104. Now, it ranges from day-to-day between 99 and 124 — so same $16 knife. Only thing was $1.25 extra in packaging.
Now, I’m going to go one step further with this. This is a home run by the way. Don’t expect this with every time you go and change your package. But we took that same knife — there’s a different style. All we did was — it’s called “hammered”. We hammered the knife instead of this layered steel. We put it into a new package. This package was wood. It costs $3 more. Well, guess what the knife is selling for?
- Nope, $224.
[16:30] Same knife. Same dollar knife.
- Same $16 knife. The crazy thing about it was when I talked to the client, he did not want to go over $49. We can do this. As we were going up, the traffic for that knife was steady. It wasn’t like the traffic dropped off. The way that I checked this is I went in, I went to my Amazon lists and pulled up the search, and usually you’ll see three different tiers of pricing on a search page.
One is all the bottom feeders — the product cannibalizers. They’re the ones that just want to make pennies — lots of volume, just make pennies. They don’t care. They don’t understand the process.
I’ll give you an example. For Dead Sea mud, I went in — this is a real search I just did. It was six-something up to about $9. It was eight-something for the first. I noticed that that was what the first tier was going for. Then, the next tier, most of the prices were ranging from around the $29 to the $40 range. Then, the next tier — it was kind of just scattered — but the next tier was in the… I think it was $70 — some odd range — to the $90 range.
Now, the lowest bottom — it’s Dead Sea mud. Whatever’s in those containers, it’s Dead Sea Mud. The only thing that’s changing the cost is the perceived value. The guy that’s selling the $6.99 one is making 25 cents — and it’s in a 16 ounce jar, by the way. The guy who’s selling $90 put it into a 3.5 ounce jar.
[18:40] He’s making magnitudes more profit.
- Crazy. The other side — so that’s the actual package itself. I’ve talked to people about, “You’ve got your shampoo, or you’ve got supplements.” We have to remember that everything is about perception, and this is where you make your money.
Packaging is definitely perception. Brand is perception. But where you make your money is on the total customer experience. It’s exactly what Amazon says. When that package arrives, and that customer goes, “Wow!” They don’t care what it costs for the most part. If they’re looking for a pet product, and they want a premium pet product, they want something that — they’re not going to be on the cheap usually.
If that thing arrives, and it blows them away, you’ve just burned your brand into their name for the next product that they want. If you do the smart thing, and your insert drives them over for maybe warranty registration — so you’re giving them extended warranty, or you want to get on VIP, or discount code, and you have a QR code that drives them over to your website so you can trap their email address, get them into a funnel, and now start nailing them on monthly daily emails. Then, you’re just driving more traffic. But that’s a couple of steps ahead.
But an outer package — I was talking about an inner package. If you think of a bottle that a shampoo bottle would come into — and I’ve done this with shampoo too where it started out at very inexpensive, and you’re going, “Why are you selling it for like —?” I’ve got this brand I’m working with just right now. They’re selling for $6.99, and I’m going, “This should be a $29 product. Why are you not —?” “Well, this is where I thought we would have to be at.” Well, you don’t have to be a bottom-dweller.
Next step, outside of that packaging is to put an outer packaging on it. Now, you have a box. That box, when people open it up — and don’t forget, people think about just the top box. When you have a top box for a soap, most people open the top, and they shake it out. What about unveiling your product?
So, you take it, you flip it up, and you unveil the product so you can see it. Then, there’s a welcome message or there’s something. A lot of companies don’t do that. They just have this cheap, crappy box that they come in. It comes half-smashed. That’s really what I want to say about packaging.
Packaging also consists of different colors. What’s the color that the others are using? Is it just black? Is it yellow? Whatever. What size is it? What’s the shape? Can you be distinctive in your packaging? There’s a bit more of that “wow” factor with that customer service.
By the way, for any seller who does not buy their own product, one day, you’ll be in trouble because your manufacturer is going to do something to your product that you don’t understand, or they cheapen it. I see this happen all the time where you have a spec sample, and the spec sample is top quality. But over five to ten orders, the supplier is slowly cheapening the product.
Then, you got to go back and say, “Hey!” First of all, you got to let them know that you realize it. Second of all, you’ve got to go back and, “We signed off on a production sample. It’s got to be that way.” Or you have to have our inspection company going in there every time which I do. But just again, it comes down to that consistency. That’s the importance of package and branding.
[22:05] I think that’s something that a lot of people overlook. I think that a lot of — especially new sellers — think that, “I just got to be the lowest price. I got to be the lowest price.” They come out, they don’t do enough research to know that there’s opportunities at other price points. They don’t look at what those competitors are doing at those other price points. They just come in with that, “If I can only make 25 cents per unit.”
The unfortunate thing about that, of course, is on any pay-to-play platform — and make no mistake, Amazon is now very much a pay-to-play platform — whoever can pay the most to acquire a customer is going to win. The only way to do that is to have enough margin in your product to be able to have the budget you need to get the exposure that you need to make the sales that you need. That was the first step, we got four more to go. What’s next?
- Well, the next one is — it’s kind of tied in between the packaging, but it’s product innovation. If I have a product, I have to do proper competitive analysis to make sure that I’m not just offering another me-too product. If you want, and let’s say it’s a plastic shoe stretcher. Plastic shoe stretchers — people sell on Amazon, and they’re the same crappy plastic shoe stretcher that has, at best, a three-and-a-half star review as the average.
Same problems, the same issues — the spring breaks, it doesn’t stretch my shoes, the plastic is crappy. Anyways, they’re red, they’re black. You can take a look at your competitors, and you can say, “Okay, I’m going to take that same crappy shoe stretcher and improve it.” You could try to find out it could be a different color. It could be a thicker plastic. It could be better steel. But you can improve it.
Or you can look for a different material. The crappy shoe stretcher that I’m talking about was going for next to — I think it was 39 cents. It was very inexpensive, and they were selling for three-something — but they were all crappy. I did this, by the way — I’m not just pulling figures out of the air. I did this for somebody who came to me with a plastic crappy shoe stretcher, and I found a wooden shoe stretcher.
But the problem with the wooden shoe stretcher, instead of being 39 cents, it was $1.25. The $1.25, though, instead of selling for three-something, it was selling for — what was it? I think they were $19.95 or something like that. It was a huge value. The plastic shoe stretcher had $3,300 a month in sales. The wooden one had $100,000 in sales.
Innovation — and this is why I’m saying take a look at the reviews. Take a look on Google. Take a look for Shopify products, and see how you can improve on them. You can extract the reviews and just take a look at common — if you’re using an app like Helium 10, they have this review extractor. What it’ll do is it’ll highlight positive and negative words used in your reviews. You can see what people like or don’t like about a product. Then, if you can improve it, go ahead and do so.
Product innovation is where it’s at. That could be on an imprint, that could be material that could be on the thickness. You could take a steel carbon tip on a garden share, and change it to a titanium tip — which cost you 75 cents more — and add another $7 to $12 extra just for changing the tip.
All of these things — now, where do you get this product innovation from? You can either look for it on Amazon or wherever you want. Etsy — and Etsy and Pinterest are really great because there’s a lot of artsy-fartsy kind of sites out there where you can go to and see what other people are doing with more of that handmade, feel good touch. Then, you can incorporate it into your products. That’s one of the most important things that you can do is just be a little bit different.
Just to give you an example — I’m going to go to the knife. On the search page, most times, if you type in chef knife — Damascus steel knife — on our search term page, you’ll see that most of the knives are in a black box, and the knife is going left to right. Now, if you take a look at some of the knives in there, some of them will fill the frame. They’ll put — and this breaks terms of service — but they’ll put fruit there, or they’ll put something that’ll break the terms of service, either a border.
But I’m talking about the ones that are compliant. They’ll have the box with the knife going left to right. Now, you could take that knife and go the opposite way, and just go the opposite side of the screen so it breaks the pattern. Or, instead of having all black boxes, have an orange box —- orange or black. All of a sudden, there’s a pattern that it disrupts, and your eyes are going to go there instead of the others.
That’s just a trick that you can do very easily. Just go to a search page, type in your keyword, see what the average product it looks like, and be different. Usually, I say, “Fill the frame.” Sometimes, it’s better if you make it a little bit smaller. If it’s filling, a lot of the products are rectangular. Well, what can you do to fill in the full frame? Anyways, you’ll see very quickly the pattern interruption and every brand, or every search term has that. You can go to any page and say, “Ah, that seller knew what he was doing.”
[28:22] In those cases, the bestsellers got two red tomatoes in the bottom right corner with a third slice. They’re either using the color red which any marketer will tell you is a magnet for people’s eyeballs. Even though, as you pointed out, that’s a violation of Amazon’s terms of service, clearly they’re getting away with it.
- They are for the time being. But that’s correct. I’m not going to say, “Go and break the terms of service.” But, look. That’s probably one of the lower end — that’s a suppression, not a suspension.
[28:55] If I was a competitor to that knife, and I really wanted to play dirty pool, I would lodge a complaint saying, “They’re violating terms of service.” I guess people on Amazon probably do that kind of stuff all the time.
- Right. I just believe in karma, so I stay away from that.
[29:13] Fair enough. Alright. Have we exhausted step two?
- I think that’s really important that people understand that innovation… Now, innovation can be expensive if you’re doing something completely innovative. But one of the most successful products out there that just did something slightly different with a product that was out there for probably 10 years was YETI — the YETI stainless steel mug.
Now, all they do is they just improve things just a little bit differently, and that’s all they do. They specialize in product innovation. They just took an existing product, and improved it slightly, and they just — look where they are.
[29:58] Would you say normally the best way to get the ideas for what needs to be innovated would be to read the two-star reviews of the competitors products? These are people that don’t hate the product. They like it a little bit but they’re generally going to say, “Oh, I wish it did this”, or “I wish it did that”, or “I wish it had this or had that.”
- Two-star and three-star or the most honest. One-star is just somebody ranting. I don’t know why. Five-star, four-star… Two and three are where you look. It’s important too. If you’re doing a full competitive analysis, you want to know what makes your competitors better than the rest as well.
[30:38] Aside from reading the reviews on Amazon, are there any other relatively simple ways to come up with the ideas for how to innovate or differentiate your product?
- Yes. Etsy — which is a search engine as well. Pinterest — I love going into Pinterest and seeing what people are posting. Usually, somebody has already thought of what you want to innovate. But they’re not selling it on Amazon, they’re usually handmade, or they’re doing something a little bit different. If you take a look — my partner, Tim Jordan — he came up with this thing called Project X, and they came up with a wooden egg holder.
The idea started on Amazon with egg holder. It was a saturated market, but they went down and they found a niche — and it was wooden. They found that niche on Pinterest, somebody said that they had a wooden — they were posting wooden egg holders, and they went to Etsy, and it was the same. Now, they were very successful. Tim was very successful with that. Now, it’s saturated. But that’s how he started that whole wooden egg holder craze.
[31:53] Well, now we need titanium egg holders.
- There we go. That’s it.
[31:58] Alright, what’s number three of the five steps to doubling your profits?
- Images. There’s a time to spend money, and there’s a time to just try to do it yourself. I had a friend — actually it was a mentor that told me, “Just because you have a hammer, does not make you a carpenter.” Always kind of sticks in the back of my head. That’s like an iPhone. Just because you have an iPhone, does not make you a photographer. Getting and spending the proper amount on your product is important.
Now, if you’re doing this your first time, you can go out and you can get a very inexpensive photographer to do it. You can try to do it yourself. Usually, my first product, I call that “paying my Amazon tax”. I’m going to do so many things wrong. I’d rather do it on my first product and learn from it, and then spend the time and the money in the second product because the first product can be a disaster.
There’s tons of people who’ve made very successful first products. But I also know every single one of them pay their Amazon tax. Just doing something a little bit wrong — putting it into too big of a box, not putting the right HTS code on and they’re paying way too much tax when they’re bringing something in from China.
There’s all sorts of little things that can go wrong. But imagery is something that I would spend my money on if there’s search volume, and if you’re not going after a low volume or a low price product. If it’s your first, you can just try to do it yourself or go to a very, very inexpensive photographer.
But quality photography, getting a product photographer — not just a photographer. A product photographer who has the proper lighting, who has the proper lenses that knows exactly how to take that picture — that’s where I spend my money. The product photography might be for pictures — and you could spend $500, you could spend $1,000, you can spend $250. But you’ll see the product photography and some of the things that you want to look for.
Lighting is everything, and depth of field is everything. But if you’ve got a product and you’re like — let’s say it’s a cylinder and you don’t see that beam of light coming down, that could be an issue if it’s flat. If you’ve gone to a bad product photographer, and it’s a flat photo — which means there’s no light or no kicker light from the back, like kind of bringing out, separating the product from the back. Graphic artists can easily come in and do that.
If you’re going to a photographer, you might want to also ask a graphic artist to work with you to bring out the best in the picture. Some of the things that you might want to look for — so let’s say like a bar of soap. Bars of soap, when you cut them, will have flex from the cutter. Well, you want to get rid of them even if you have a great product photographer, it could still look bad.
If they airbrush it out with the cylinder I was talking about — the flat cylinder — while they can bring down their own beams of light. I know I did this with a pillow. I tried to do a pillow and they came back, and they tried to bring in the pattern where there were a lot of wrinkles. With some products, keep this in mind, a product shot — it just won’t warrant the cost. I would go to a 3D rendering because that will — you’ll see it. It’s a digitized image that an artist will bring together just to make everything look better.
One of the products that we work with is a pet product. They have a box. Well, they ship us over the box. The box looks crappy and it has a ton of information that legally they have to have on the box. But when we’re doing it for Amazon, we don’t have to put all that legal information on the box as long as it arrives. We clean it up, we do a 3D rendering. The box looks 100% clean. None of the corners have been tampered with, and or dropped, and it looks fantastic.
People — if they see a defect, or if they see some flaw, or if something especially like supplements, think about it… A supplement has these wraps that go around. You’ve got this name up front, way too much information on the front — the direct part of the cylinder, but you’ve got all the information kind of wrapping around the supplement label coming on the other side, it just doesn’t look good. You don’t need to show that. You just get rid of them.
You can do that with a product image as well — just get the product photographer to get rid of them on the side. But you want to make it nice and clean. Amazon, if you’re listening, plug your years. But sometimes I’ll tell people to increase the size of the logo, or what it is, or the name of it. When you get rid of all that stuff, all the crap coming around the sides. Tell your graphic artist to increase it so it looks bigger so people can read it. A lot of your competitors aren’t going to do that.
[37:38] Let me interrupt you to make sure that myself and the audience are understanding this. What you’re saying is your standard packaging — which has legal requirements that it has to adhere to — is not necessarily going to be the same label that you would use in your product shot on Amazon because you’re not being held to those standards.
You just need to make sure that you’re doing a fantastic job of representing your product through the labeling in such a way as to maximize conversions. Am I getting it?
- Yes. Not only am I limiting the ingredients coming down to one side, the directions, and the label that you have the facts side — I’m getting rid of that and increasing the size of my logo, my brand, what it is, and the size of it. All the information — legal information — will be on the listing, so people can’t say it’s not there. But it is on the listing. It is doing exactly what you’re supposed to be doing. All you’re doing is just having a graphic of your image or of your product. You would not believe the difference it makes when people can see a nice clean image compared to something that’s just cluttered.
[38:56] That makes perfect sense. With respect to expected budgets for images, if someone is going to hire a product photographer to shoot for them, what would be the range that you’d say would be realistic to expect — for say four shots?
- With a product photographer — when I’m going out, and I’m looking for a photographer, I’m going to ask them if… First of all, they’re a product photographer. Do they do 3D rendering? Do they have a graphic arts department? The 3D rendering might not come into effect. It might if you’re shooting a box or something like that. But the first question would be “product photography”. If they say “yes”, then you should be looking at probably between $500 and $1250. The reason why it would be that rate is I would be looking at — and this is if you’re going to a top notch photographer. But I’m looking at probably four images of my product.
Then, I’m going to get them to do infographics for me. I’m going to take a look at whatever my benefits are or the benefits of the product, I’m going to do an infographic that is a high quality infographic. It doesn’t look cheesy. It doesn’t have a whole page written on it. People want to read like a book — they can read your bullet points, but just you know very simple points. You want to use, maybe, directions. You might have another one for ingredients. That would be sort of the series. They probably come up with six or seven different photos and infographics.
But the one thing you do want to do — and this kind of slides into the next perceived value — is getting influencers and lifestyle shots to use, and using a lifestyle shot and not a stock photography. Going back to soap, if I have this lady lying down in this bathtub, and she’s got this bar of soap, and it’s the same lady everybody has seen, and she’s got this bar soap five times bigger than her hand, people just know it’s off.
But if you pay somebody to either be a hand model, or to be a lifestyle model, it doesn’t cost very much. People see — you can even put the product in the bottom corner and just have this… It could be a man and woman that are healthy in their 50s going for a walk, or they could be using the product. But people just see that, and there’s automatic trust.
Again, you want perception. Authority equals trust equals sales. It’s that simple. You have to get that authority behind you to get the trust, and then the sales. I’ll get to that last part in a second. But the next stage to this is to get people to help market the product. That’s very simple.
You can go and reach out — there’s a ton of influencer networks out there. I would be getting people — influencers — to do lifestyle photos for you, and user-generated content. This is all about perception. Perception — it’s showing people using your product. Real people using your product. If you’re going, and you’re trying to find an influencer — well, when you get that influencer, they’re probably going to have a following.
The group that I look for are nano-influencers. These are people with under five or 10,000 followers. These are people that usually — it’s a lot of friends, family, but it’s tight, and it is highly engaged. You can get an army of those people for next to nothing. You can find them everywhere. TikTok is your cheapest. There’s so many people on TikTok right now with way more than 10,000 followers. You just reach out.
If you feel that they have the same sort of personality as you do — if they don’t, then don’t approach them. Just approach them — like start following them, start commenting, then reach out and just tell them that you’d love for them to promote your product. Some will come back and say they’ll do it for nothing, just send me the product. Some will charge you, “I’m going to do it for 10 bucks.” Nano-influencers, it’s not expensive. 25 bucks, maybe 100 bucks, and you’ll get some images. Then, you could ask for videos later on.
You could actually get into a contract with them, and you say, “I want four images every month.” Or it could be a one and done. You want two images in two videos. You want them to write because they have network. If you’re going after bloggers, let’s say that are influencers, then, “Okay, can you write content? Could you do a contest for me? I’ll give you 10 products to give away through your network.”
What’s happening with that is you’re starting to grow your perception because now people are talking about you when they use your hashtag, or when they see or when you’re getting tagged. All of a sudden, you’re growing your brand and your community. This kind of ties in. If we talk about the fourth side of things, it’s consistency and that authority. Authority equals trust equals sales. What I mean by that — and I kind of skipped ahead in that last point — but when people go to a microbrand… When you’re on Amazon, you could be selling a million dollars a month for your microbrand.
People don’t know you. Most people don’t know you. What’s the first thing you do? You go to Google. Well, you’re going to search. If you see something that’s inconsistent, or something that triggers you to say, “I don’t trust them.” Most people want to buy the brand, but they think, especially if it’s a great brand, but they’ve never heard of it, something could be wrong. The slightest thing that will trigger them, they’ll go to the next supplier or the next seller or next —
[45:42] Next product.
- That’s it. Here’s one of the couple things to think about social media. Your social media has to be consistent with whatever you’re selling on Amazon. Social media should also be consistent with your website. If you look like you have a 2002 website, and there’s spelling mistakes, grammatical errors — you’re going to have a problem.
If it looks — and it is very, very cheap… It’s inexpensive to have at least a one page, either sales funnel or a web page — something about your product. Talk about your product. Make sure it’s up front. Have a call to action above the fold where people can see it. But have some testimonials there. That’s very important. Show your product, show the benefit. It doesn’t have to be a long page — and contact information. One of the things when you go to your website as well is you also want to add a value-added.
If I’m selling soap on Amazon, maybe I give them a different bar soap. If I’m selling shampoo, maybe I give them a small sample bottle of conditioner, or give them an extended warranty, or get them to become part of a VIP club. But it gives them a reason to give you that email address which is just gold.
[47:05] What about using that strategy there to form partnerships with brands with complementary products. Then, you include my little thing with your product, and I’ll include your little thing with my product, and we can essentially leverage each other’s distribution network for that.
- Absolutely. You can use that on Amazon too because if people are buying — if you can reach out… Say you’re new, but you’ve got a really great product, you can reach out to somebody like soap and essential oils. I can reach out to one of the bigger brands and do exactly like you say. On Amazon, you’ll get the frequently bought together box. Now, frequently, that doesn’t sound like much. But the frequently bought together that people buy from, you receive 33% of sales from frequently bought together. It’s a crazy number.
If you can get a hot product to work with and partner with, and people start buying the two or you ask a few friends to buy those products just once a month, all you need is to show that you’re buying with that product. Now, you’re being on your — when people search your product, and they go down and they see “frequently bought together”, they’ll say, “Have bought this and this.” It could be a third product as well.
[48:30] Actually, I saw that yesterday, I was shopping for something and there were three products down at the bottom — “frequently bought together”. All of that — I think your ability to generate those types of partnerships — will, to a certain degree, also piggyback off of how well you’ve done with your social and how well you’ve done with your website.
If you have bloggers that are writing about your stuff, so that if you’re a micro brand that you’re filling that first page of the search results for whatever your longtail keyword is, it’s with content from you, and from the bloggers that have written about you. All of those things in aggregate are going to make it much easier for you to persuade other brands to want to work with you. Are we on number four or number five?
- Number five. Now, influencers — so number five is “do the little things”. Some of them are just psychological. For instance, if you shrink wrap the bottle, if you put a safety seal on a bottle, cotton in the bottle — talking about supplements — if you have a transparent sticker that costs you half a penny to seal a box, it’s safety that people know that people haven’t been tampering with it at all. But it’s everything from — you can write a letter, you can have that insert, you can spend a half a penny on a different type of imprint, embossing instead of just the screen print… Embossed, or branded. We have a product that’s wooden, and we actually branded the product.
But it’s all these little things that people see, and they’re going to say, “Oh, this has got a higher perceived value.” One of the very small things that we do — I’ve talked about this about two years ago when we started doing this was writing handwritten notes in China. We’ve got all these generic expressions, and we do them about 20,000 at a time. It’s just a very — either “enjoy”, “love your soap”, etc. They’re all done in China, and they were all just sent back over here.
Now, I know a lot of people can use those — almost looks like calligraphy. But people know it’s not. These are the things that all add up. If you take all of the items that we talked about today — and I’ll go back to the little things again. Change the caps on a shampoo and conditioner bottle. I don’t know about you, but it really sucks when I have shampoo — I don’t have to worry about this too much anymore. It doesn’t get in my eyes.
But if you don’t know if you’re taking the shampoo or the conditioner, and it’s so simple. What color code the caps, or doing a different imprint. It’s little things like that that can make a difference. Take a look at your competitors again, and make those little differences. What would you be interested in by your competitors’ products? This is kind of a bonus. This is where it all kind of comes back.
If you buy all of your competitors, I have tons of my competitors samples. I see how they are. I’ll use them. A beard brush. It came to me. I ordered it. I opened it while I was on a podcast. It just came in. I said, “Just got my beard brush.” It came in a burlap bag. It smelt like it came out of a barn. It was horrible. I opened up the beard brush, and you could see if I did this to the brush like —
There was this dusting of I don’t know what toxic chemical went up into the air. But I guess it was paint spray, and it was horrible. Then, to make matters worse, I got this beard balm which I put on during the podcast, my wife comes down after the podcast, she smells it, and she goes “What do you have on?” “What are you talking about?” I couldn’t notice it. I guess after it started — it just started to smell. But it smelled like rotten fish. It was like —
After that, I just — always buy your product, always buy your customer’s product. You want to make sure that you can… If you want perceived value, and you want to dictate a $224 knife, it’s got to come in your listing. First of all, it’s got to look like a $224 listing, and the products got to arrive like that. If you do that, I’m not kidding you, you shoot me any product and I guarantee I’ll be able to double the profit with using just those techniques. I’m not trying to hype it up at all. I’ve done this with a ton of products.
[53:39] You have an eight-figure business to prove that… Norm, it’s been a pleasure to have you on the show. For people who want to get more Norm, what’s the easiest way for them to do that?
- Probably the easiest way is norm@amz — like Amazon — dot club. Not dot com. firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ve got that podcast Lunch with Norm on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at noon, Eastern Standard Time.
[54:07] Wonderful. Again Norm, it’s been a pleasure to have you here. Thank you so much for making the time. I hope that if you’re still listening to us here at the very end — that you’ve been taking copious notes — there will be plenty of show notes to go along with this episode.
I don’t know what the episode number is just yet, but you’ll hear it. I recorded it in post production, so you will know what it is. You’ll be able to find any links that we’ve talked about in those show notes. Again, Norm, thank you so much for making some time to be here.
- You’re very welcome. Thanks for having me.
[54:37] Thank you so much for listening. To get to the show notes. For today’s episode, go to brightideas.co/385. If you enjoyed today’s episode, I would love it. I would be super grateful if you would take a moment to like, rate and review this episode on your favorite podcast listening app.
Thanks so much for tuning in. Take care, bye.
Norm Farrar’s Bright Ideas
- Delegate Everything
- Create Good Branding and Packaging
- Innovate Your Products
- Grow Your Brand Perception
- Do the Little Things
Before getting into the five steps, Norm shares the importance of being automated and scalable. Setting up clear and effective processes streamlines your business. As long as it’s repeatable, then there’s a process.
Processes are essential for delegating tasks. Some business owners may struggle with task delegation, believing they must wear all the hats or not trusting their employees to understand complex processes. However, for Norm, delegating everything gives him the time and space to grow other businesses.
“Doing all the day-to-day tasks that are repetitive tasks get you nowhere, and you’ll never get above a certain threshold in your business,” he says.
There’s not enough of you to do everything. Letting others do the daily tasks by creating efficient processes for them to follow allows you to focus on the strategic side of the business.
Create Good Branding and Packaging
Building your brand is essential and perhaps the most crucial part of starting a business. Your branding determines how customers defined your product’s perceived value. “If you don’t build a proper brand at the end of the day… you could be losing a zero in your valuation at the end of your payday because you don’t have the brand there,” he shares.
To create your brand, Norm suggests:
- Choosing a name that fits your product.
- Getting a graphic artist that knows corporate identity for your logo.
- Being consistent with your branding (colors, fonts, etc.)
- Ensuring your domain name’s availability on social media platforms.
- Checking if you can trademark the name.
In terms of packaging, spending a little extra could increase the product’s perceived value. Don’t underestimate the power of good packaging. Include a welcome message, unveil your product, be distinctive — it all adds up to that total customer experience.
And to make sure the product and packaging quality doesn’t diminish, buy your own products from time to time, or inspect your manufacturer’s output. Consistency is crucial for selling on Amazon successfully, so perform regular inspections to see if your products remain up to your standards.
Innovate Your Products
Before releasing your products or even when a product idea has just formed in your head, the first thing you need to do is a proper competitive analysis.
Don’t settle for subpar products. People want something new and fresh. It doesn’t even have to be an entirely new idea; you could browse through existing products and improve upon them by using new materials, tweaking the colors, making them more convenient, etc.
If you need ideas for product innovation, there are three things you can do:
- Check reviews on your competitors’ products.
- Browse through artsy websites, such as Pinterest and Etsy.
- Search your keyword, find out what the average product looks like, and break the pattern. Browse through artsy websites, such as Pinterest and Etsy.
Grow Your Brand Perception
Just because you have a camera doesn’t make you a photographer. So it’s beneficial to spend money to get a professional photographer to snap your product graphics.
When browsing through your products, the first thing most people will consider is their appearance. It becomes more critical to have good graphics if your audience is browsing online! While on the internet, the only thing that will define a customer’s perception of the product is the product image.
Get a product photographer with experience in 3D rendering and a graphic artist. When you’re done with the product image and infographic, the next step is finding nano-influencers to create lifestyle shots to promote your product.
“Authority equals trust equals sales,” he states. That’s why finding nano-influencers to back up your product will attract more customers and thus grow your brand perception.
Do the Little Things
Have you ever bought a product, but something seemingly trivial turned you off?
The small things count. A handwritten note, putting a safety seal, using a different imprint — these little things make a huge difference.
Occasionally, buy your own products to know if the product quality matches the price. Something as simple as the way it looks or how a product smells could increase perceived value and contribute to brand perception.
What Did We Learn from This Episode?
- Efficient processes allow you to delegate tasks so you can focus on growing your business.
- Good branding and consistency are essential.
- Don’t underestimate the power of good packaging, especially on how to sell on Amazon successfully.
- Product innovation helps you understand your competitors and customers more, giving you the opportunity to offer fresh, quality products.
- Spend money on growing your brand perception.
- Customer experience is crucial, so make their experience with your brand memorable.
[2:24] — Norm introduces himself
- Also known as “the Beard Guy,” Norm started in 2013 and went to an Amazon Amazing Selling Machine conference.
- Those who got into Amazon got money easily using simple steps.
- If he didn’t have resilience, he never would’ve made it.
- Amazon has changed greatly over the years, so he expanded on what he learned into other markets.
- Currently, Norm is not just a seller but also a brand owner, business owner, and podcaster.
[5:57] — Processes and delegation
- Attending Michael Gerber’s EMyth Academy, he’s taught to be automated and scalable.
- If it’s repeatable, there’s a process.
- Going through a problematic process caused negativity in the office. However, their 5-page policy streamlined everything.
- Norm delegates everything so he can grow other businesses.
[10:11] — Creating your brand
- You can use Amazon Posts, Live, and Brand Story to create a customer experience and build a brand community.
- In choosing a brand name, you could send out names and descriptions to companies (e.g. PickFu). Doing this gives you access to an inexpensive focus group to assess them.
- Get a graphic artist that understands corporate identity to create a good logo.
- Check if your domain name is available on social media.
[14:49] — The power of packaging
- Increase the perceived value of your product by spending a little more on the packaging.
- Good packaging can hook customers and drive them over for warranty registration or subscription, leading to more traffic for your brand.
- Consider outer packaging by unveiling the product, including a welcome message, etc.
- Be distinctive in your packaging if you can.
- Buy your own products to maintain quality assurance.
[22:56] — Product innovation
- Do a proper competitive analysis for your products.
- By checking product reviews, you can determine what people like and dislike about a product and improve upon them by changing the materials, color, etc.
- Get ideas for product innovation on artsy websites.
- Search the keyword, find out what the average product looks like, and be different.
- Innovation can be expensive.
[32:03] — Getting a graphic of your product
- Spend the proper amount on your product.
- It’s okay to experiment and fail in the first product, then put in the time and money into your second product. Use what you learned from the first try.
- A graphic artist and a photographer can work together to bring out the best in a picture and increase your product’s perceived value.
- Standard packaging has legal requirements, but you don’t need to use the same label for your product shot; you need to represent your product effectively.
- Tune in to the full episode to find out the people you need to hire and their usual rates!
[39:16] — Growing your perception
- Hire a product photographer that does 3D rendering and a graphic artist.
- The usual rates for product photographers are $500 to $1,250 as you’ll need both an infographic and a product image.
- Find nano-influencers to promote your product, grow your perception, and help increase your perceived value.
- Consistency and authority are necessary to earn trust and make sales.
- Expand your network and form partnerships.
[49:22] — Doing the little things
- Small things, like writing a letter or using a different imprint, increase the perceived value of your product.
- Take a look at your competitors and make those little changes.
Norman Farrar is a serial entrepreneur who provides online marketing and managed eCommerce solutions for brands. He has worked with Fortune 500 companies such as Coca-Cola, Mercedes-Benz and 20th Century Fox. Since the early 1990s, Norman has focused on helping entrepreneurs optimize their operations and unlock their business’s potential.