Many people who get started selling products online, whether on eBay, Amazon, or other sites run into snags and obstacles that they can’t figure out how to overcome. Wouldn’t it be great if someone who’s been in those shoes would advise you on what to do to overcome your obstacles? That’s why this “Ask Scott” episode on Fridays exists. Scott wants to help you navigate the sometimes troublesome world of online sales so you can be more successful and confident when it comes to marketing your products and building a business through private label sales or any other kind of online business. Be sure you listen so you can learn how to ask Scott a question.
Under what circumstances can you place the ™ symbol on your products?
A listener called in because he has a pending trademark application submitted to cover his private label product but he’s not sure what the rules are for whether or not he can include the trademark symbol on his product yet. Thankfully, this guy was smart enough to ask somebody who’s been down that road before – Scott Voelker. Scott’s got a very helpful answer for this listener but he also throws in some thoughts about whether or not worrying about those kinds of little details is really worth the energy and effort. You’ll find out what Scott thinks about it on this episode.
Can Amazon re-sell your products they have damaged?
If you are selling products on Amazon, every now and then you will receive a notification that one of your products was damaged in Amazon’s warehouse. When that happens the company typically asks you what you want to do with it and one of the options is to have Amazon reimburse you for the sales price of the product. What happens if you decide to take the reimbursement? Could Amazon then relist the product as “used” and list it under your original product listing? A listener to the show called in to say, “That’s what’s happened to me!” and wants to know what he can do about it. You can hear Scott’s answer on this episode of The Amazing Seller.
Is there such a thing as automated product discount codes?
One of the strategies that many sellers follow during a product launch is the creation of discount codes to encourage initial sales of their product. A listener called in for this Ask Scott session to find out whether Scott knows of a way that he can produce single-use discount codes and distribute them without having to manually create them and send individual emails to every single person who wants the code. Scott has an answer for the guy on this episode, so be sure you listen to find out the best ways to use coupon codes in the current selling environment.
Do you have an Amazon or online sales related question you’d like to ask?
If you’re trying to build a business that sells products online, don’t reinvent the wheel or spend way too much time researching an issue on your own. Take advantage of the Friday episodes of The Amazing Seller – the Ask Scott sessions. Scott Voelker is ready to answer your questions about Amazon sales, private label, online marketing, and much more. Listen to this episode to get a feel for the kind of expertise Scott has to offer and to learn how you can ask your own questions.
OUTLINE OF THIS EPISODE OF THE AMAZING SELLER
- [0:03] Scott’s introduction to the podcast!
- [2:30] The pivot Scott is making in his business (not just a focus on Amazon).
- [4:01] QUESTION ONE: Under what circumstances can I place the “™” symbol on my name/product?
- [9:01] QUESTION TWO: Amazon is relisting my damaged products under my listing. What should I do?
- [14:57] QUESTION THREE: Can I set up single-use coupon codes without having to send manual emails to each person who is interested?
TRANSCRIPT TAS 274
TAS 274 : Ask Scott Session #83 – Your Business and Marketing Questions
[00:00:03] Scott: Well hey, hey what's up everyone! Welcome back to another episode of The Amazing Seller Podcast. This is episode number 274 and session number 83 of Ask Scott. This is where I answer your questions here on the podcast. You guys have heard me say this time and time again…
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…I love doing these. These are awesome. And it's a way for us to connect and really sit around that table or that coffee shop or wherever we're hanging out maybe the barbeque, who knows. Today it feels like there should be barbecuing. It's like 87 Degrees here in October in South Carolina which is just awesome. My wife and I just got back from a nice lunch. I'm actually drinking some unsweet tea today.
It's funny when I get asked about the tea that I want here at a restaurant, I always say unsweet. I'm not really a sweet tea guy and they always ask me, “Are you sure you don't want any sweetener?” “No, I'm good.” But it's kind of odd I guess to want unsweet tea. That's just my thing, that's just my thing. We're really enjoying it here and again I am super, super excited to be able to hang out with you again. And hopefully you guys are having an awesome day as well. Depending on when you're listening to this, if it's a Friday, hey cool we made it through the week. No major things has happened this week but we did have a couple of things happen a couple of weeks ago now. But I think we're all recovering well.
I think we're all starting to get our bearings on where everything is shaking out. And I knew that's the way it was going to be but everyone does seem to panic. I just did an episode with Chris Guthrie, episode 273, the one just before this episode. You might want to go listen to that. Because we talk about what does it mean for the future of Amazon or just the future of online business? And the different landscapes that has made us adapt because certain things change. Anyway we can go on and on about that but just wanted to say definitely check that episode out.
[00:02:00] Scott: I'll be doing more in the future with other people that have just been selling online but then have been selling on Amazon recently or other platforms to understand that it's part of the process, it's part of the journey.
And you know what? We're going to learn through these times and that's what I want to do here today though. I want to listen to some of your questions so we can hopefully learn together as well. Again I want to remind you guys, if you have a question, head over to theamazingseller.com/ask and do that. Ask a question. Everyone that's asked a question so far, thank you, keep them coming. I do want to say that as you guys have probably been listening along here, things are starting to pivot for me. I'm starting to again listen to and see what's happening within the “Amazon space”. I've already said this a while back, it's always to me been about yes use the channel but then build your own channel or your own email list.
We're really going to be focusing a lot on that. Just the good old-fashioned basics of building a business online. If you guys have questions at all about that, definitely submit those as well. Doesn't have to be just Amazon related. Remember I've been doing this for a while now online and brick and mortar. I've done physical products, I've done digital products. If you have any questions on audience building or if you have any questions on list building for your product or brand or branding, definitely submit those. And if I can help you there I'd love to do that as well. We're not just limited to Amazon and I want to start broadening your thinking on what is the next move? What should we be focusing on?
That's really what I'd like to do moving forward on these Ask Scott sessions. So it's not just Amazon related. Definitely feel free to submit those. Again, the amazingseller.com/ask and the show notes and the transcripts for this episode will be at theamazingseller.com/274.
Let's go ahead, let's dive in, let's get into today's questions and I can't wait to respond and give you my thoughts and my answers and whatever else I can give you. Let's go ahead, let's dig in.
[00:04:14] Earl: Hi Scott, it's Al from Ontario Canada. I have a question regarding trademarking. As far as I know, the R with a circle around it is a registered trademark symbol and the TM that you sometimes see is an unregistered trademark label. Wondering if I'm not going to spend the loot right now for the R with the circle if it's worth just putting the TM. And if that's allowed. To me, if I see the TM it looks a little more credible and professional. Even though it's unregistered I figure might as well put the TM. Just wondering your thoughts on the TM and if know any of the rules regarding trademark symbols. Thanks for your podcast and take care.
[00:05:04] Scott: Hey Al thank you so much for the question. You guys know what I'm going to say and Al you probably know what I'm going to say right now. Little disclaimer here, I am not an attorney, a legal adviser, none of that stuff. Brody was once in his life but he is retired and he's sleeping and he has a tough time speaking English as of right now. Anyway, all jokes aside, trademark and registered trademark, you're right. There's different symbols for different approvals and all of that stuff. Again I don't know much about that. What I do know is that I interviewed Ted Limus on episode 186 and we talk all about trademarks, copyrights, patents, all that stuff.
If I remember correctly, again I'd go back and listen to that episode, but what I do remember him saying is that once you more or less make yourself identified as a certain brand and you have some markings, clearly on your website or a domain. Even if you're in the stages where you haven't been approved yet, there's still a track record. I don't think there's anything wrong, and again this is me saying for me personally, I wouldn't have a problem if I applied for a trademark and I haven't gotten the approval yet. If I was to put that on, I don't think that's the big deal. But I also don't think that it's a big deal that you think you have to put something on there now right now because people are going to go in there and steal your trademark or your copyright or any of that stuff.
I know a lot of people get hung up on this and they want to launch or release until they have this stuff in place. I think you should probably get in motion if you're worried about that. But I don't think putting a TM or an R with a circle is really going to make that much of a difference. Could it make potential threats or hijackers think twice about it? Maybe. But you see those guys don't care. They're just going to go after you anyway and if then they starting to get an attorney following up or any of that stuff then they'll deal with it then. I would say contact your attorney, ask what they think.
[00:07:16] Scott: That would be number one. Number two, listen to episode 186 or maybe listen to 186 and then maybe contact an attorney. I know Ted Limus is more than happy to answer questions. You can always reach out to him, again that's 186. We go into great depth about that and what that all means because a lot of times we just don't even understand what it means. But I would say this, anyone that is getting started a lot of times we stunt our growth, if you will, because we worry about these things. We are not talking about possibly infringing on a trademark. That's different, that's where I'd be cautious. But for me to say I don't want to launch, I don't want to put myself out there publicly yet because it's not trademarked or I don't have the official symbol.
Or I think that if I have that symbol then it's going to prevent me from being hijacked. I just don't believe that. I see people getting hijacked all the time that have patents, that have trademarks, that have registered trademarks. Again just keep that in mind. Again this is just my take on it and like I said, I would reach out to Ted or an attorney ask them their thoughts on your situation. Because I think everyone's situation is going a little bit differently.
But I think to put the TM on there if I can remember correctly, I'm pretty sure that you can put it on there if you have one in the works. Hopefully this has helped you or anyone listening and really I think for me is to get anyone out of that mindset that they have to have this stuff done before they move forward. Because a lot of times that can prevent you. That's going to wrap up that question, hopefully that was helpful Al thank you so much. Let's go ahead and listen to another question and I'll give you my answer.
[00:09:03] John: Hey Scott my name is John from Pennsylvania. I just want to say thank you for all the information you put out there. It's really helped me quite a bit. My question is I'm selling an item, a private label item that I've been selling for two months now. Just a little over two months. It's doing pretty well but the question I have is I guess Amazon damages a few of my items. I've seen them as warehouse damages or customers sent them back and they were damaged. And Amazon has reimbursed me for them which is fine. The issue is now they've relisted them on my listing and they're trying to sell them.
Which doesn't matter to me, that's fine too but when trying to change my listing or change the title to optimize it more for pay-per-click, I'm unable to do that. Because I'm assuming it's because they're on the listing. The product I'm selling, I'm selling it like at $50 to $55 price point. And they're selling them the used ones for like $43 to $44. Which is prohibitive of me to just buy them all back. I was wondering if you had any experience with this or have heard of anybody that's had experience with and maybe you can point me in the right direction and give me a little bit of advice. Thank you keep up the good work and hope to hear from you soon.
[00:10:48] Scott: Hey John thank you so much for the question and that's something that can happen for sure. Here's what you could do, well there's a couple of different things that you could do. Number one is when that item is damaged, and then they are basically going to say, “Yeah we damaged it and we're going to go ahead and buy it back from you. Or we're going to basically pay you for the item as if it was purchased because we know that you lost a sale.” But then now they're going to turn around and sell it as used. What you could do there though is on that damaged inventory I would just have it be pulled. I would just pull that inventory.
Any of your damaged goods, you should be able to pull that. That doesn't allow you to get necessarily reimbursed but sometimes you could get reimbursed but then you're… They're paying for the item so now it's their item. They bought it off of you in a sense. I would say I'd rather pull the inventory, lose whatever my cost of goods are and not allow them to buy it back from me if that makes sense. Now if you wanted to you could just, like you said if you want to get the buy backs back. Because if you're losing ten sales a day because they have two of those up there and people are going to buy those instead. Number one those two are going to be gone.
There's only going to be a limited amount of those. But if you're losing a ton of sales on a daily basis because they have ten or 15 units in there, you don't want to have to buy all of those back. You have to probably lower your price in order to get the buy box back. Or again just let those sell out. That's really the only thing you can really do. Now, also talking about what can you do as far as changing the listing because now they technically overridden your listing. Which in this case I don't know how they can do that if it's a used item unless they've taken it over as the brand now.
[00:12:51] Scott: I'm a little confused there on that because if you're still… And another thing I have to ask is are you brand registered? If you're brand registered that should not be happening. If you're not brand registered that could be a slight issue there for you. Again there's a couple of things there that aren't clear. But I would say worst case if they have a couple of units that are in stock, let those sell and then you'll have everything back. If they've already taken it over to where you can't edit then I would contact them and say, “Listen I'm the brand owner here. I need control back. I need to be able to edit my own listing.” And then you can get to the bottom of it that way.
Contact the catalog team and then I would try to get some answers there. That would probably be your best bet. This may be something that you have to let itself work out if you don't want to buy those pieces back yourself. Like you said at 40 bucks when you're selling it for 50. If it gets your buy box back that you're able to get your natural sales if you're selling it like I said 10, 15, 20 a day that may be worth it if there's only a couple of units there. In the future, I would say any damaged goods, just have it destroyed, no I'm sorry don't have it destroyed. Basically have it pulled and have it sent back to you. If you don't want to pay the shipping to have it sent back to you then basically have it destroyed.
That's a couple of different options there for you. Hopefully this has helped you. Hopefully it's helped anyone else that's dealing with this. Because understand that if you take money from Amazon for a product that's “technically damaged”, they're buying it back. They're buying it from you so now they can sell that product. Now you're going to have someone selling, Amazon in this case you're going to have someone that's buying it. And they're selling it on your listing because it's your brand. I would look at those different factors, like I said, brand registry.
[00:14:40] Scott: This is where that's really critical because then it proves that you've went through the steps to say that I'm the official brand of this product. The other thing is definitely in the future just have the inventory pulled and have it either sent it back to you or have it destroyed. Those are your different options. Hopefully this helped you, hopefully it helped anyone else listening. Let's go ahead and listen to the next question and I'll give you my answer.
[00:15:01] Michael: Hey Scott. How are you man? This is Michael all the way from the Netherlands, Amsterdam. First of all thanks for giving us the opportunity for this Q&A. I really appreciate it. My first set of inventory is on the way now. Really excited, can't wait. I still have one question though. It concerns giving out coupon codes in my product launch. Let's say I've created a Facebook ad promoting my new garlic press for a dollar. I would redirect that ad to a squeeze page which would ask my customers for a name and email address of course.
That thank you page will tell them that they will get an email with a code and so on and so on. But how will I get a single used coupon code to every reviewer, every reviewer, every customer, I’m doing it for review so reviewer, without having to send them emails manually with a different code every time so that not one code is used like 10,000 times then run out of stock and I'll die? Yeah man, if you could give me some insights on that really appreciate it. Thanks for your time and keep up the good work man. Chao.
[00:16:24] Scott: Hey Michael all the way from the Netherlands. What's up man! Thank you so much for the question. I love these questions, you guys know that. We're talking about taking a Facebook ad targeting a certain audience and then presenting them with our product at a discount. At a steep discount. And in this case, I think Michael you asked this question before, actually I know you did, it was before these recent update for reviews and all that stuff. And how much should we discount our product. I still think that you can give your product away at a deep discount whether it's at 50% off, whether it's 75% off. I think then it's just going to just depend if those reviews are going to actually stick or be able to stick.
I'm going to give you I guess the updated version of this. That if you are running Facebook ads, basically to capture the email address and to get a sale, then I'd say go for it. And in the back end of everything you're still going to send them through your normal, “Give us your feedback, let us know how we did,” type thing in the follow-up sequence. Whether you do that manually or whether you use a service like Sales Backer to do that. That's still going to be the plan. But I think that we have to understand that you're really doing this to spike sales and then in the end get some reviews. Whether that's organically from now that you're ranking.
But you're also building that email list which I think a lot of people gloss over that is so very, very important. Now, let's say that you went and you did the coupon code where you're going to give it to them individually. And they were going to get 90 somewhat percent off. They’re going to get it for a dollar still and you're going to do that whole thing, you're right.
[00:18:16] Scott: You're going to have to figure out a way to deliver that coupon and that could be manual. If you're only talking ten a day, well it's ten emails a day. That when they come through you're just going to have to email those people or have someone email those people those one time use codes.
I know there is, I think there is a couple of solutions out there I think for delivering the one time use codes. But I'm not that familiar with it right now. I am in the process right now of coming up with a solution myself. Once that is ready and I've tested it and I think it's working well I'll let you guys know. But right now honestly if you build that email list with a deep discount. I would start off by doing 50% off and see what happens. And then maybe go to 75%. That's how you could do that. The other thing that you could do is let's say that you're going to discount it 50% off your regular price. Why not just do a flash sale for that day?
Instead of even having to have a coupon, you run Facebook ads for that day, you put it up on Amazon or you update Amazon, your listing and you say you know you just dropped your price. Like it normally sells for $30 and that day it's going to sell for $15. Then anyone that goes through that Facebook ad hits the landing page, enters their name and email address. They go to the thank you page and it gives them a link that goes directly to the listing. And they get it for that 50% off. That would be the easiest way right? And you're not entering a coupon code which we don't know if Amazon is going to look at a discount code as far as how much has been discounted to where they will not allow us to now or allow that person to leave a review. Though maybe let them leave a review but will it actually show? We don't know that yet. There hasn't been enough time to figure that part out yet.
[00:20:02] Scott: But what we do know is if someone bought something at the price that it is on Amazon without a discount code, the chances of that review sticking are pretty good. All it was you just dropped your price for a day or two or a weekend or whatever. Now, if you are dropping the price so much that a competitor could buy that product and then sell that product against your own listing, that’d be bad. That’s why you don’t really want to go too crazy with that discount publicly and that’s where a coupon code in handy. If you’re still going to give away units for a dollar or $2 or $5 or whatever it is. Then you want to have those one time use codes in place. That would be having a VA or even yourself manually emailing every person that enters their email address or your auto responder or if there’s a solution out there for that you could use that solution for one time use generator type code.
That’s what I’m working on right now. Again, I’ll keep you guys posted on that. I heard there’s a couple other solutions out there. I haven’t really heard good things about them. Some of them saying that the codes were not going through properly or people were getting frustrated because it was giving out the code more than once. It just seems like it’s cranky so until I can say that I’ve used it, I’ve tried it, it works or at least someone I know closely and it works, then I’ll talk about it.
Again, I’m trying to create something for myself internally that I can hopefully share here soon. I’ll let you guys know more about that. I think it’s a great strategy. Anyone else listening right now, you heard me talk about this before, I’m going to talk about it again. A simple way to do this is to really just get yourself a landing page, you can use LeadPages.net, I’ve got them on my resources page. I’ve used them for years, AWeber to collect the emails.
[00:22:00] Scott: There’s Mail Chimp. Any of those and that’s really all the tools that you need. It’s all taking the audience that you’re targeting for your product, putting up a really strong offer or discount and then from there, grabbing the email address in exchange for the offer. It’s like, “Hey, get this for 50% off. Enter your name and email address to claim your code.” Then boom, they go there and now you got their email address, now you can start to follow up with them. There’s a whole bunch of cool things you can do with that by delivering more value, by following up with customer support, giving more tips and tricks and whatever your product yields the best account of contact, you’re going to want to use. We’ll talk more about this again.
I’m really, really feeling strongly about this and again, it goes back to when I started over almost ten years now. Actually longer. In the brick and mortar and my photography business we were collecting emails back then from our customers. Then following up with them and we were selling out our holiday photography sessions well before the holiday season. We were booked, gosh, when we were really cranking along there and my little email list of only like 800 customers which that’s all about we had but 800 customers for a small brick and mortar business is pretty large especially that they are all customers that spent probably $500 plus each.
It’s a pretty solid list. I was just mailing them like, I would use like blind copy. I didn’t have an auto responder. I was just collecting, entering it into my Gmail or my Yahoo account. Being able to notify them that, “Hey, we’re getting ready for the holiday season.” This is two months before the holiday season and then I would let them know and people that had come the year before that didn’t want to miss out on that spot, they’d book right there and give us a deposit. We were able to book up really, really fast. That’s the power of email lists. It’s still here today. Now it’s even easier because we have different ways we can collect it and we can build social media platforms that also support our businesses that also then lead people back to our email list.
[00:24:02] Scott: If you get that raving fan base, I’m telling you, there’s nothing like it. There really isn’t. Now with Facebook being able to target your ideal person, game over. It’s just great. All right. You guys can see. I get pretty excited about that stuff and actually depending on when you’re listening to this, probably going to be after or just before we do our live event in Phoenix Arizona this year, day two of that event is going to be all about this stuff right here. I can’t wait, we’re going to be doing like real live examples of what this would look like, like we’re going to build that out together going through this whole process and showing how to go from zero to 1,000 people on your email list in a relatively short time.
It’s going to be a lot of fun. If you guys are listening to this before that, which I’m not sure if we’re going to be able to but if you’re before November 5th and 6th, that is, head over to theamazingseller.com/live and see if there’s any spots left. If there are, come on over. We’d love to hang out with you. If not, get on the registration list because we’ll announce when we do another one. We’re planning on possibly doing some smaller workshop type stuff like this one here. I’m talking like 15/20 people max. I just like to keep it really small. Like this here, like we’re all sitting around a room together or in a coffee shop. That’s what I want to be like.
Anyway, I’ve talked long enough on that. This is going to wrap up this session of Ask Scott. I think that’s going to do it for today. Hopefully you guys got a lot of value from me answering these questions and giving you my take. I know myself personally. I learn a ton just by listening to other people’s ideas or ways that they would get around a certain situation because not every situation is the same. Hopefully you’re getting that same kind of value here. If you have a question or a struggle or an obstacle that you want me to give you that feedback on or you want to bounce an idea definitely go over to theamazingseller.com/ask and do that.
[00:26:01] Scott: Just ask your question over there or feedback. I’ve even had people that submit some of their own tips and techniques, that they use that work really well that they just want to share. If you have those, send them over as well. Depending on when you send this, it may take a month, a month and a half to actually answer the question and I’m about that far out but definitely still submit it. I’d love to hear from you.
All right. That is it. That’s going to wrap it up. Remember there’s show notes to this, there’s transcripts to this episode, this is going to be theamazingseller.com/274 and I just want to say thank you so much for being listeners of the podcast. I really, really appreciate it, I really do believe that the people that are listening, that’s you, are my friends in this business space. I really want to be able to connect with you whether it’s here on the podcast, whether it’s maybe at a workshop that we do online or maybe it’s the workshop we do in person. I really want to be able to connect with you as a person and be able to try to help each other move forward in this journey of business and life. I just want to say thank you so much. I do appreciate each and every one of you.
All right guys. That’s it. That’s going to wrap it up. Remember I’m here for you, I believe in you and I’m rooting for you but you have to, you have… Come on. Say it with me, say it loud, you know what’s coming, “Take action.” Have an awesome amazing day or weekend, whatever time it is, and I’ll see you right back here on the next episode. Now, go get them!
LINKS MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE
- www.TheAmazingSeller.com/273 – Episode with Chris Guthrie
- www.TheAmazingSeller.com/ask – Ask your own questions
- www.TheAmazingSeller.com/186 – Episode about copyright and trademarks
- www.TheAmazingSeller.com/LIVE – Scott’s upcoming LIVE event.
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