Ranking quickly post-launch is becoming paramount in the Amazon ecosystem now. Troy is the founder of Seller.Tools and an Amazon 7-figure earner. He's truly leading the charge in Amazon automation, particularly when it comes to launching or re-launching products on the marketplace.
Ranking quickly post-launch is becoming paramount in the Amazon ecosystem now. Troy is the founder of Seller.Tools and an Amazon 7-figure earner. He's truly leading the charge in Amazon automation, particularly when it comes to launching or re-launching products on the marketplace.
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In this episode we discuss:
Welcome to It's always Day one. My name is George Reid, a former Amazonian turned Amazon consultant. Each week on the podcast you're gonna hear in this tree expert Brando on Amazon employees share their answers to the basic yet fundamental questions you should be asking yourself about your Amazon business. Now let's jump in. Hello, Troy Johnston. And thank you so much for joining us on the podcast today. As always, we have a little bit of a chit chat beforehand. You've got much better attire on than I do today with you. Nice summer flowery shirt, which is straight up beautiful. I mean, is that a regular feature for you wearing this sort of nice, summery outfit? I
[0:00:40] Troy Johnston: try my best. I try my best, you know? And when I'm talking with you, I try to bring my breasts. So you know, it's doubling down on and I've got
[0:00:47] George: you combed your hair today, which is great. It's way over. Yeah, you know, 12 times a year and
[0:00:57] Troy Johnston: get it done. But now
[0:01:01] George: a good man. So I like to dive into these things a little bit quicker than most eso kick the exhaust. You want to give us some people may be aware of you, so may not want to give us that 62nd overview of who you are, what you do, how you go into this wild Amazon world that we live in and then we'll get a bit in integrity after that.
[0:01:19] Troy Johnston: Yeah, No, absolutely. So what I do right now is I'm a co founder of Soledad Tools, which is a suite of optimisation tools, features, solutions. All kinds of good stuff for intermediate advanced sellers were kind of focused on more advanced strategies. But how I stumbled into this space was I was a cellar myself, starting back in 2014 um, really cut my teeth in some some pretty tough categories which has served me well, kind of diving into the deep end on DH. So, yeah, built, scaled and sold a brand that was acquired about 2.5 years after starting moved into consulting from there through my agency for ah, few brands that were in my network kind of higher revenue, higher volume sellers that we're looking for a bit of an edge to really enjoy that kind of more of an advisory role and then by virtue again of my my network was connected with a few really smart, brilliant guys that were putting together SAS Solutions for ah, Amazon Sellers and was really bore out of what do we need in our own businesses to have a true competitive advantage in that edge? So that's how cell assholes came to be. And now we get the the fun, exciting challenge of trying to connect sellers ahs, Muchas possible, Teo. A lot of the solutions that we offer through through Soledad Tools.
[0:02:44] George: That being said, it's interesting how you made that transition of a lot of it was driven by. We need to create some software because that's what Isa Seller have found is going to help me run my business bad on. I think, what I really appreciate about what you guys are really driving hard it sell it, or is that automation on DH? Looking at ways we can automate processes to run amore streamlined business, shall we say so? That being said, how important do you think it is right now for any seller of any size to be automating task within their Amazon business?
[0:03:21] Troy Johnston: Yeah, I mean, it's it needs to be a Ah, massive priority in cellars businesses. And that's where I'm really careful to say where, even though we are all in one suite at Soledad Tools, you know, we really do focus on sellers that have have a foundation set. Because obviously, when you're running a startup, you know, you're just kind of kicking off your entrepreneurial journey, be it through FDA. Really, really anywhere else. You want to set up that foundation in your business, first and foremost since and sometimes there's gonna be a lot of moving pieces. Things aren't gonna be as formalised just yet, But once you have that foundation, you need to look at your time and use it extremely selectively on and really focus on high value activity activities and driving up your effective hourly rate. You know what your quantifying the value of your time as And that's where I said for us, we fall in that pocket when when sellers here that that word automation. It's a really solid buzz word. And for good reason. You know, you're really thinking about OK, how do I safeguard my time? But then how do I also get a disproportionate benefit and the activities I'm deploying in my business. So yeah, that's really where we're going and where I think you know, we'll continue to see things go in our space. But like I said, it's something that once once you have that foundation in your business, this is really where Okay, What's next? What am I doing differently? How are my kind of bucking the herd? Because that's another challenge that many sellers have now is that they've, you know, they've come into this base maybe by following a programme or course. And so you've got hundreds of people learning the same thing, doing the same thing. Even may be using the same tools and it becomes that question of okay, we're all doing the same thing. What? Who's gonna, who's gonna win in a saturated space? We're sort of feeding the system the same input and expecting it. You know,
[0:05:08] George: I think you touched on such an important topic that a lot of people perhaps glaze over or fast forward over that foundation on. It's certainly something we learned when I AMa's enough, like people are so keen to get going with appetising so keen to get going with all these other things particularly automation, and we'll get onto rebates and stop in a moment. But if they haven't got the foundation, would you agree that whatever else you do on top isn't necessarily gonna work if they haven't got them pillars in place?
[0:05:40] Troy Johnston: Yeah. No, Absolutely, Absolutely. That really that needs to be the cornerstone of your business is a little bit more what I would say predictability. Where there is a clear sequence, your numbers are really ironed out. I mean, it gets to a point. We're actually running a business. You're not firefighting or scrambling day in and day out. But you're your days and weeks of managing your business has a fair degree of predictability, and that really should be a good indication, for you have, like, okay, this level there is a lot of things are looking the same. My day to day, my task load. It's looking very familiar. What do you then doing next? And that's where you know, something like automation is is high value activity in and of itself. But then also just in 80 20 of what Amazon rewards. I mean, you know, ranking reviews. You spend a disproportionate amount of time on the channel that you know Hey, you know, provides in terms of the r A y. It's far less transactional than you know Facebook ad to a to a website sale. Amazon will reward you. You realise the sale based on a specific you were. You show, you know, again, it's It's what I call feeding the Beast. But yeah, it's it's very nuanced in terms of the space that you know, space that we're in.
[0:06:54] George: That's so when we talk about things like you mentioned earlier on as well, kind of bucking the herd, and that is such an interesting thing. You obviously, you lay the foundation. You understand the system, you understand how the business model works. And we've done some other bits and bobs about that in the past in terms of podcast that we've had. But once you've got that, I end out like you said. Do you think it's an immediate focus right now? Need to be moving things away from me on that could be through automation fire software. Also automation through outsourcing is that kind of the two brackets. Am I missing anything there of how you can move stuff off your plate? Yeah. I
[0:07:34] Troy Johnston: mean, I I have admittedly kind of drink the Kool Aid on on the software side of things technical solutions to be able to implement. But I think the r o. I usually presents itself in such a disparity. I mean, I remember, you know, way back when when I made my first hire and I think it was around like 40,000 was my first sort of full time higher, and I looked at that expense, and I realised how much value that they can provide. And it made. It made total sense for me at that time in my business where I think sellers right now with how competitive which which this is really great, that I know this all too well that some rituals We have to compete with a lot of a lot of great competitors, a lot of really great people, and the winners in that our Amazon sellers, because we're looking at ways of adding innovation, adding an edge and where we're at in terms of the level of investment is so insanely low. I mean, if you can automate in activity in your business for $100 that's what you pay in a month and it automates that day in and day in and weaken and weekend and you pay that one time. Um, it's really hard to make up that r a y disparity if you look at, you know, sort of people power or or hiring necessarily. Um, so I like that is a good default. And again that puts us on the on the two providers, being able to provide a clear, identifiable solution that you could quantify the upside. But building out teams is great, too. I just I've been I've been through a lot of great hires, exceptional hires. I've been really bad hires, but full time, part time via is you know, you kind of go through the gamut, which is great. You learned so much through that process. But there's a lot more predictability in a tool where you, Khun, realise that expense have a very high expectation, which people, people rightfully should where people they're just a little bit more volatility. You have to engage if they manage to support you, to lead a different team members, and usually that comes at a greater expense. So it's really something you gotta wait in the business. But as you pose it, I kind of like that sequence of like, Is there a tool that does this for me? Run through the numbers and then look at, you know, look at based on the request of requirement, does it have a fair degree of predict predictability? Is it sequential outcome oriented? That's perfect for Eva is it's something where it requires strategic thinking. You know, oversight. More, more free thinking, if you will, that may be better suited for a full time or part time person.
[0:10:03] George: I think there's no so that we work with other brands. More want to one. It's not necessarily our bread and butter, but it's something we occasionally enjoy. And we always say, in order for us to be able to implement certain strategies, you do need someone there, and it's not always the most advanced job you're asking them to do. But it could be Go create this landing page. Go create this. Go create this. I think that's where Va is particularly beneficial, that you're not going to get from a tall like You need that back and forth our e mails and need to be exchanged. There is communication, so it's that fine balance. But you're right with the software that's out there. You get a very clear I am spending this amount and I feel this is the amount I'm seeing it going up month, a month, a month, a month. That's evermore important. I think some of the challenges for some people would certainly be all right. I've got my foundation, guys, everything set up a really nice brands. I've got great operations. Everything's an FBI. Don't worry about sip. Got some ads running, that's that's brilliant. Now I want to scale things up and I'm lookinto deep dives and keyword research a little bit more. I'm looking to automate rebel rebates, et cetera. It's must think the biggest challenge in this OK now, which which told them I selected on I got stats like you said earlier, Roy, you guys facing fierce competition as well on DH, I think one of the things I even struck at what I'm looking at club tools Teo use for brands were working with this. Which one is getting me the best? R a y. On what I said a little bit is everyone keeps kind of layer on additional features. So what advice do you think if you give to someone long, drawn out question there? What advice do you think you can give to someone who's looking for a piece of software on? They just feel like there are so many options for them?
[0:11:57] Troy Johnston: Yeah, no, it's I mean, it's a great question, Teo for seller to really think about to what? What? Some of their goals? Because I'm noticing this to even a CZ answer. Kind of the previous question is really backing out your goals I's gonna inform and your objectives ultimately, where if you want a bigger team hierarchy, you know, a little bit more of a hierarchy and structure. That may be a company that has eight figure aspirations where if you're wanting to run lean, you're thinking about cash flow, throwing off a little bit extra money or you're gonna substantial on a money month over month that's gonna really inform how you structure your team and allocate some of those resources s O for most tools. In terms of what I've seen in the FDA space they are not. The expense isn't so high that you could not try out and really tests and validate a tool based on your needs. Obviously, we have free trials. And again, most most of what we see. If you look at the general SAS landscape, what Amazon tools we're at in terms of kind of benchmark for major price points for the slew of features that these tools provide. If you're looking at $100 a month expense more often, I can at least pate back for it. You can kind of said it considered just a just a straight, you know, paying for itself effectively. So I would surely test it. See if that really works for for you and your your business. But there there are, you know, as we looted toe like you would research and, ah, a few other areas. Thes tools just do such a I'm probably a little bit of a stall to hear of thinking back Six years ago, when we used to do keyword research with Excel sheets, you know, we'd sit around me and Brennan, one of our co founders, would joke about how we'd sit around with a beer and spend you know, 67 hours in an Excel Shi Yoon also suggest looking at search for Like you would just spend all of this time, which I mean, if you had fun with it, Sure, that's great. But I mean, if you start really value our time taking that example to, you know, six hours and you say at that point in time, my effective hourly rate is 50 bucks and then that's $300. And then I could have done this virtual $400 on the little thing, you know, and again that this is some of the thinking that I think sellers really have to task themselves with of like, what is your effectively hour right now? What do you want it to be? As you get closer to your objectives and your goals and then make some decisions with your aspirations in mind? Don't kind of B. Don't be where you're at and make decisions with what you're sort of the information you have right now, you kind of have to be future pacing a little bit and say, Hey, this is where I want to be in six months. So that means my effective real hourly rate needs to be at this point that's gonna form what your investments are gonna look like people or or tools. But I'm a big believer in kind of failed fast Try things out. Validate him. If you have a 70 ah, 70 trial of the tool, Get in there. You know, be like a bull in a china shop. Try everything out. Just reach out the support bank things up really quick, and then that will really inform. Hey, you know, this may be something that will be three x worth the investment to get in and
[0:15:05] George: yeah, and I think I think you touched on such a good point now. And I believe it's like Tim Pharaohs who drills into a zoo hole in terms of how you value your own time. I think many so many Amazons salads they, whether it can come to their education and standing strategies when it can come to doing Q word research manually instead of utilising tools when it can come to building. Our chap bought yourself and learning all the ropes of a chap bought it, taking 20 hours instead of maybe paying for someone else to do it or getting one free through it all for argument's sake. They're not necessarily looking at the value of Thrones. Hi. And I think we all do this anyway. That are Well, I'm just gonna go through all the forums. I'm gonna look everything I'm gonna continuously research, try fail, and I get that. But then there's also a token off a sense off. If you convey Al your time it like 50 bucks an hour. You spent 10 hours doing something that's $500 when you could have just asked a question to a trusted person, whether you could have just gone into a tall provider. Andi even used a free trial on Dona keyword research or whatever the case may be. I think that people are often mistaken of. I'll see to work really, really hard and perhaps getting confused off. Oh, well, I've had a good, damn Amazon stuff today because I spent 10 hours doing Q word research like Pat on the back. Well done. I've gone after it, but they're not operating the most efficiently thinking my value is creating content related to the brand I've written to block post today. Instead, I've got some new photos done for social media and that's where I actually add value. And then I spent 30 minutes doing some Q word research with my tool. I think people in whatever line of work you're doing always end up falling into that, but particularly Amazon world. They often end up going to take the hard room, thinking they're going to save money. But we'll end up spending Mohr because the value of their own time.
[0:17:07] Troy Johnston: Yeah, absolutely. I agree completely. And it's something that I, you know, I think we all have to be really cognizant of. You know, when when I really evaluate the people that I've seen have been successful generally. But then, also on Amazon, they just do such a really good job of yes, putting subject matter experts in place and, yes, leveraging tools. But they are pretty ruthless when it comes to their own time. Even if they're you know, they spend their own time doing, you know, whatever they want. They are just very selective and making sure that the leverage is there. That's that's always the operative term. I always kind of find myself coming back to that is like tools or about leverage There. You make this this investment whatever that may be, but it gives you a inflexion point. It allows you to do more in a shorter period of time. Um, and in a repeatable way, I mean, that's, you know, that's that's really great again in our sandbox. It's It's calm, pounded because Amazon really does reward you for your activities. It's far. It's far different than which is with Facebook ads. You know your performance can can can increase and optimise over time as you tweak and optimise that as we take the you know, the Amazon example again, if you can rank for a Q would realise sales and optimised your driven way rank again, then you've got organic sales. You know, again, this is where it can feed itself on, and then you're drinking for a multitude of yours. And you know, it's very cool in that sense. And I think that's something that's often overlooked about the Amazon sort of the Amazon ecosystem.
[0:18:42] George: And that being said, See, you touched one briefly there with with Facebook ads, and I think with seeing more and more, and I don't even know if I've got a solid art to myself off. You've got budget each month. And a lot of people in this position where they've got that budget, that I think that the conversation with destiny today as well of like people pulling off Facebook like North Face. And where's that budget going? Ugo? But let's say, for argument's sake, you're not looking to pull off Facebook anytime soon. You're not some big brand. No one actually cares. You're not gonna be in the papers if you come on Facebook. You're still spending money on Facebook. You're spending money on Amazon. Given what settles during a big part of what you guys do is re bay automation, where you're bringing people from off of Amazon onto the arms and platform in order to get sales rank juice. Do you think people should be focusing Mohr right now and driving traffic from off of Amazon? I'm building at those funnels or apportioning ah, hire part of their budget towards Amazon appetising. If you had to pick one of the two, which you think should be Maura focus, um, I would say
[0:19:48] Troy Johnston: generally I used to be far more bullish on Amazon advertising. But as it gets inherently more saturated with a number of sellers, and just this year, growth of e commerce and a little bit more sophistication. As a matter of Amazon building more internal tools on features, it it really does require a subject. You know, destiny is a great example. Require subject matter experts to really get in there and take advantage of that sophistication and not, ah, really stymie that the growth of the potential. But we see we continue to see external traffic being rewarded by Amazon. So for me, I still like the idea of whether it's Facebook ads, Google ads, YouTube ads, these external traffic sources being highly valuable in terms of that top and middle of funnel for for Amazon sellers and then also completing the sort of the buying experience of thinking about yes, packaging product inserts those types of things that you can still utilise for various offers. Ah, ongoing engagement activities, that type of thing. But as you alluded to, we sort of still view many. Chat is the prime gateway. It still is one of the best ways on Lee, if not on ly, for the ability to engage with customers in a way you just simply can't do anywhere else. There's no way of having a back and forth conversation, which you can then, of course, automate through many chat Where you Khun, direct somebody to a let's say, a YouTube video. Simple YouTube. Then you have your product where you could use an optimised Lincoln that cheques off the box, forgetting external traffic. But then you also have the legion through many cheque where you have a means of contact with this customer, their customer details. You know you have all of that list building, which is so highly valuable, right right now as much as any time ever, of course, for Amazon sellers. But but yet Mini Chan again is the gateway. So I'm so very bullish on Facebook ads. But in that waiting of the two, I think external traffic pays a slightly bigger dividend relative to the cost of expensive the subject matter expertise that I see continually being required on the Amazon side.
[0:21:58] George: I think, yeah, it's such a good point because Amazon appetising is certainly bottom of fun red hot buys. But in order to truly nail that as it becomes ever more complicated and more challenging, you can't just throw up automated. You can still be successful of auto campaigns, but it's so much more complex now. So then you're like, OK, we're burning money a little bit as we learn ourselves. Sure, I need to go employee someone, an external team and the cost of that can get 123 grand, whatever a month or a percentage of for spend, so it can get very expensive, which is great. You got the budget, or there's a big learning curve where you can get it wrong. The cost for clicks going continuously up. I think a great view is for May. You need to be looking at your overall goals, like if your overall goal is to go right. We're looking to build a really strong list, a really strong foundation. You should perhaps be considering putting more of your budget towards those Facebook ads where you can incorporate many chat a manipulator visitor, manipulate that customer journey a little bit, collect those touchpoints fire subscribers and many chatter on email. Which jobless levy the absolute kind of gold medal friends sending them through to Amazon so they're nice and warm because you've nursed them to a certain degree. I think if you If you nail that experience, you can either get a better return on investment on DH kind of supercharged further because you're coming away from the experience going. We spent lots of money on Facebook. We've perhaps made this much of Amazon. It's always can be challenging. Depends how you set the process up to attribute. Okay, we spent 1000 and we've got this amount back. Unless you use things like rebates, We can kind of track things nicely. Um, but what you're also getting other than just the sales is those touch points and in order to achieve sustainable success right now, I think that's becoming one of the biggest things of how you can differentiate Buck the herd, like you said on build that list because that list is something you own. Amazon gonna make it harder and harder and harder for you to communicate in any way of your customers. If you're going about it the right way, you're playing a different game fire using social channels and other advertising methods and sending out list email this e mails to your list. It's gonna be much more beneficial for you, in my opinion.
[0:24:33] Troy Johnston: Yeah. No, absolutely. I agree completely on on multiple fronts when it comes to the timeto. You know, if you want to sell that brand, that's an asset. Your customer list is an asset. You're thinking about targeting through Facebook as and you worry about me, this is gonna be really challenging. Well, as soon as you start adding in those customer emails and customer details, you sort of feed the beast again on. But you do it on Facebook, where you're informing the audience you're sort of creating more of that avatar you're targeting gets dialled in, and then you're able tto, you know, realise that as a saved expense, when you're delivering those ads, so it becomes it becomes a snowball. You know, you just gotta be willing to start, not generate over that hill, let it grow, and then it can throw off, you know, And again, you know, I'm very I'm extremely bullish on rebate automation, but it's because it really does cheque off. You know, all of those big boxes for sellers.
[0:25:27] George: So say it, saying that for those who are unaware, Webster, you and I know it well, could you give us the kind of 30 seconds summer of exactly what rebate automation looks like
[0:25:36] Troy Johnston: and what it is. Yeah, no, absolutely. And so what we do on this is something we offer it. Soledad Tools is that we utilise many chat to bring customers into bring customers into our many chat flows and then threw seller tools features. We sort of unlock sellers data that is accessible to them through the Amazon. A p I on DH. Now that's done through our FBI through solar tools to where you can automate activities in that many chat flow, like verifying customer orders, we can serve up single use promo codes. We can even do bogo offers where we do, like buy one, get one. We can automatically send a product to customers, but more specifically with rebate automation. We do automate like I said, the order verification. When we do that, we confirm the customer bought the right price about the right product. We capture the relevant price. We rebate that price on DH. We do all of that again in a kind of a completely automated fashion for sellers.
[0:26:40] George: I think the objective, obviously here is kind of break it down tomorrow. What layman's terms again is you're you're taking someone from from off of Amazon. You're sending them through many chap flow on. You're saying when you purchase this item, we're going to rebate you either 100% or part of the price afterwards. When you share some information with us, they go through. They purchased the item at full price and in turn when the item is delivered. So you're not getting rid of any naughtiness and then going I get some money off you, and then I cancel the order on I get it back for a friend of families and when the item is delivered, then they're going. Here you go, guys, here's my information. Here's the order. The system goes brilliant. Sign off. Give them their rebate. What's brilliant about this from an algorithm perspective is you're getting a full price sale, whereas previously and this something while you guys have doubled down that so much is previously it was always a promotion on Amazon were going okay, you're making loads and loads of sales ever lost is through the roof. Big tick intensity algorithm, but they're all discounted purchases. You're not getting the same waiting the same ranking juices people term, whereas this rebate thing is is still quite new, right? Yeah.
[0:27:58] Troy Johnston: No, it is. It is still relatively new on and with all of the customisation is that many chat offers it it can kind of take on its own, its own form. There's so many ways that you can utilise it. Um, yeah. I mean, your explanation is far, far better of how that process is simplified. Yeah, you can tell him I'm in it all of the time, so I'm always thinking in attack mode. I know, Um but no, that's that is Ah, great explanation. I think this is where it's it's evolving in many ways too. But at its core, that's that is really the the crux of the processes that full purchase by I wish then, of course, also facilitates the potential for verified review. If you would like to add that request in that process, and then yeah, you get less building, you get ranking it reviews. Um, you get happy customers, which is great. So it ah, it does a lot and automated again. This is where we talk about, like, you know, the idea of ah founder being in this activity Or, you know, when when this was popularised, it was being still done very manually. Mean, ah, owners were going in verifying orders in their cellar central account coming back to the customer, telling the customer what they found out waiting for the customer. Complete the next step manually, you know, sending them papal of the appropriate price amount, which required them to go back into the order. So this was all very clunky, very time intensive on. And what we really aim to do is kind of evolved that how do we pull the founders or even, you know, team members that you may be, you know, spending a few $100 a month on and pull them out of the equation automated because at the end of the day to those customers are experiencing that those human errors, those human delays in that clunkiness in the process to that's not just something you're feeling internally. Customers are experiencing that, too, in the process.
[0:29:52] George: Yeah, that's up seamless experience for the customer as well as yourself on its very scalable, because you can go well, we're in a very competitive category that we're looking to re launch our product in with the big push to get paid one ranking for X Y Zed search term. Okay, well, I don't want to manually have to go through in process 234 500. 1000 rebates. I want that kind of set up for me nicely. Um, so that being said and I think this ties really well into it what What one thing would you be doing right now to create sustainable success on Amazon? We touched upon a couple of points, but i'ma treat, see how you put it all together for
[0:30:39] Troy Johnston: sustainable success on Amazon. I would consistently be conducting an 80 20. This would cover pretty much, pretty much any businesses is what is paying the massive dividends. What I champion again is ranking and reviews is how do you put a disproportionate focus on what Amazon rewards? What is a revenue generating high value activity? So you'll never go wrong by focusing on those teeth to areas in your business. And it really is, you kind of look at it in the digital marking lens. It's sort of traffic and conversions. That's really what it is on Amazon. You want a gar garden of the traffic through your ranking efforts, and you want to convert it through the social proof that his reviews on. And so that's really where you want to spend a bulk your time again. Reviewed automation helps you achieve that, I would say, in the areas that we've touched on, that also could potentially impact that is not hesitating to invest. You know, the the subject matter experts on the PPC front. Just because I'm not a huge fan of what I would deploy in my own brands, I would go out and I'd be willing to spend that 3 $4000 a month again if you take that to the completion of like, if I'm hiring somebody full time and I'm quitting that same cost, you have a subject matter expert that you can have immensely high expectations of that you can clearly defined goals for, and that's you know, that's that's a greater rate. That's an arrangement I liket
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