TAS 304 Ask Scott Session #92 – Your Business and Marketing Questions

It’s time for the Friday Q&A episode of the podcast – we call it the “Ask Scott” episodes. You can connect with Scott Voelker to ask your own Amazon or eCommerce related questions. It could be anything: product selection, email marketing, list building, website issues, really – anything. When you do, Scott will answer them on the podcast for everyone to hear. And when you ask your question be sure you leave your name so Scott can thank you personally and refer to you directly. For now, listen to this episode to hear Scott’s answers to the questions of other eCommerce sellers.

Being an entrepreneur is a life of ups and downs. Get used to it and get fueled by it.

It’s not uncommon for people who are trying to build an eCommerce or another type of business to be discouraged often. That’s because any time you’re trying to build something great you’re going to run into resistance. It’s just the way life is. On this episode of The Amazing Seller, Scott has a pep talk for you about how to deal with the discouragements that will inevitably come and how you can turn them to your advantage for greater success. That’s something you could use, isn’t it? Be sure you take the time to hear this episode.

What is the best way to use product discounts in conjunction with review requests?

A listener called in to ask Scott about a particular approach to seeking reviews in conjunction with offering a discount code. He doesn’t exactly want to offer the discount in exchange for the review – that would be a violation of Amazon’s policy – but he does want to couple the two together. Is it a strategy that would actually work? Even more importantly, is it something Amazon would even allow without penalizing the seller in some way? You can hear Scott’s response to this creative strategy on this episode.

I noticed that a certain product on page two is selling more than those on page 1. What’s up?

An Amazon seller who is doing product research has noticed something a bit unexpected. There are products that are showing up on page 2 of the search results that are actually selling more products than the products on page 1 of the search results. How can that be? Doesn’t Amazon weight the search results in favor of those products that are selling more? Why would a higher seller be on page 2? Scott’s got some theories about what might be happening in this situation and he’s going to tell you what he thinks about it on this episode.

Why you don’t have to start big on Amazon private label.

When you are considering a business selling private label products on Amazon you may be a bit intimidated because you think you’ve got to put a lot of money into it at the beginning. But actually, there are advantages to NOT putting in a ton of money at the start. That way you can test a market, validate that there is good potential for sales, and get your feet wet a little bit at a time – learning how the entire process works. If you want to learn how to do it Scott has some great resources to share with you so make sure you take the time to listen to this episode of The Amazing Seller.


  • [0:03] Scott’s introduction to this episode of the podcast!
  • [1:47] Be realistic about the ups and downs of the entrepreneurial process.
  • [6:04] QUESTION ONE: Can we give a 100% code in the same email where we ask for a product review?
  • [13:33] QUESTION TWO: How do product sales relate to page ranking?
  • [19:02] QUESTION THREE: When starting out can I start small to test and validate?


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TAS 304 : Ask Scott Session #92 – 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 304 in session number 92 of Ask Scott. This is where I answer all your questions here on the podcast. And well, I've said it now, today…

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…counting today that mean 92 times. I love doing this every single week. After meeting a lot of you in person at meet ups or live events, it makes me even appreciate this even more because I get to see who I'm actually speaking to.


So that's why I love listening to your messages and your questions and that's why I love doing this show. So keep them coming. If you guys have any questions that you want me to answer on an upcoming Ask Scott session, head over to theamazingseller.com/ask. And yeah, you can do that. Ask a question. Do me a favor, though, leave your first name, maybe where you're tuning in from and then a brief question, and I'll do my best to air it here on a show.


Now, if I do have other questions that are similar, I'll pick one and I'll go with that one. So if I don't answer your question, it may be because of that. Some of you have also asked questions and the audio has been kind of subpar where I can't really make it out or it's kind of popping or clicking and stuff. Those I just can't because it would, people in the car who are on the run would probably send me some hate e-mails because it could hurt your ears. So if your audio was not good, that could be a problem as well. So just make sure you have some decent audio and I'll do my best to get to them, okay. So again if you want to ask a question, head over to theamazingseller.com/ask. The show notes, they will be located at theamazingseller.com/304. So any links we talk about, any references will be put there, the transcripts will be there as well.


Now before we jump into today's episode, you guys know if you guys are just getting into this entrepreneurship or if you're getting into business for the first time or maybe you've been down that road and you see that it's not that easy all the time, you're not alone.


[00:02:02] Scott: I get it, I've been there, still there at times but it's part of the journey. It's part of my journey, your journey, the ones that want to go out there and create our own lifestyle. Well, I posted something inside of our Facebook group, the TAS Facebook group. By the way which is awesome. If you guys are not a part of that, you definitely want to go check that out. But I posted this image which I found online I'm not even sure where I found it but it said, I'll read it to you guys, I'll link it up in the show notes as well. But it says, “A day in the life as an entrepreneur.”


So it shows this graph where it's like up and down up, up and down, up and down, up and down right. But it's going up every time a little bit higher than the time before because you grow as that happens. So the first part was, “I'm excited. This is great. This is a great opportunity.” The next one is. “Ah, this is hard.” The next one is, “It's working, exciting.” And then it's, “Ah, I messed up.” And the next one is, “Give up the good for the great, awesome.” And then you have it down. “I think I'm going bankrupt.”


And then the next one goes way up, “I'm good. I don't know why I get so down on myself.” Then the next one, “I was wrong. I suck.” And then the next one goes up. “Wait a second, my life is great.” You guys probably can relate to this, right. That is like the journey a lot of times for a lot of us. And if you go back and listen to my episode 300 where I go through my journey, you'll hear part of those ups and downs throughout the journey. But I learned so much through that process.


So just understand it's part of the process. I posted this, I had people commenting on it and giving their thoughts on that or maybe something that recently happened. So I'll link this thread up in the show notes as well. So feel free to go and talk a little bit about maybe how this is part of your life or part of your journey or some of the ups and the downs that you’re facing. You know really trying to help each other in the Facebook group that's really what I want it there for. So I just thought I'd bring this up because I think it's important to understand that.


[00:03:59] Scott: You may even want to print this out so you can look at it  and go, “I'm on a down, there's going to be an upcoming here pretty soon I just to keep going at this thing.” So it's just a constant reminder that we have to do. And you'll probably hear me say this again and again. It's like it's part of the process. You have to embrace that and learn from those experiences.


Now I did want to give you my word of the day or phrase of the day, whatever you want to call it. But you know I did an episode recently 302, which talks about really figuring out the thing that you're going to be focusing on. So right now today, think about it this way, focus on the target. Well, you might be saying, “How do I figure out the target?” Well, you go back and listen to 302 and you'll know what the target is. So really focus on the target. Even when you're going through the ups and the downs, you need to still focus on the target. These things that are in the way in a sense they're just the stumbling blocks or they're just pieces that you have to figure out in order to get to that next stage and then you'll move on up again and then you might have another little setback. It's okay.


But so longer you focus on the target, it makes it a lot easier than just thinking to yourself like, “Okay, now what do I do, I'm down.” Or you got to continually come back to, “What's the target?” And that target can be your, why. But it also can be in your 30-day sprint, it could be in your 90-day plan, and if this doesn't make sense, then you going to go back and listen to episode 302 because that's where I talk all about that. So again, I'll link that all up in the show notes, I’ll put this image in there as well or the thread. Definitely go over to the thread and just talk a little bit about your experience maybe since you've started and the ups and the downs. If you really look back at it, you're going to see that there are going to be some ups but there's also going to be some downs. That's just part of the process.


So embrace them, recognize them and learn from them. And then just continually surround yourself with people that can help get you to the next phase or the next part of your journey. So I just want to kind of throw that out there. I think it's important to really remember that stuff and to keep reminding yourself of that. So all right guys with that all being said, let's go ahead listen to today's question or questions, let's start with one. And then I'll go ahead and I'll give you my answer. What do you say? Let's do this. Let's dig in.




[00:06:17] Michael: Hey, Scott I hope all is well. My name is Michael. I'm calling out of Orange County, California. I just want to start by saying, I absolutely love the show. I listen to you every day when I'm on the road. You just provide a plethora of invaluable information for the TAS community. Now my question is in regards to the previously updated Amazon policies. As far as re-strategizing is concerned, would it be plausible to give out complimentary products with 100% off code and asking for a review at the end of a thank you e-mail?


By giving out products as a part of a soft launch, I'm no longer prefacing the sale asking for a review, therefore technically it's not in exchange for a review. Granted Amazon is able to see if the majority of the reviews on a given product were majority discount purchases. However, on the flipside, while also removing the disclaimer in the reviews like you discuss I believe in TAS 273. Thanks again for taking my question. I wish you continued success with your podcast and your personal endeavors. Hope to hear from you soon, cheers.


[00:07:30] Scott: Hey, Michael. Thank you so much for the question and I'm so glad that it's a plethora of information. I love that word by the way. Anytime I hear a word like that or that I don't use that often, I like to recognize it. And you know what, I may start using that in my everyday vocabulary. My wife is going to laugh if I do but I'm going to do it just for that matter. So anyway, thank you so much for being a listener I appreciate it. And hopefully, I can shed a little bit of light on this for you.


Now, what you're talking about, anyone just listening is you know, Amazon came out with this big update. You can no longer exchange a product for free, for a discount or even a discount at all for in exchange for a review, all that stuff. We understand that, we get it. But what you're saying is, can I maybe just have a product that is there just to get a review even if you just give it away for free? And the answer is kind of. I mean I think that, if what I'm hearing from you, is that you want to have a product that you can discount at maybe 100% and then ask for a review later.


Here's the deal. Number one, Amazon will probably, if they haven't done so already, depending on when you listen to this but they'll make it where if you have a 100% discount code, they might not even allow a review to be made. We don't know that, that may be happening. It may be happening currently depending it happens so fast on how things change. So I don't like that strategy myself personally because I think that Amazon will get wise to that then who knows, they might then wipe out any reviews that have had a discount code of that much.


I think that you still should go after just discounting your product whether it's up to 50% off or maybe 75% percent off, you can still try to that much of a discount. But I think that Amazon will be again like I said, eventually if not they're not already currently doing it is devaluing the review if you give away the product at a certain discount amount percentage. So again, I would like to see like 25% off, 30% off. That's a good number I think up to 50% off. But again, that's going to come down to it might not come through as a verified review.


[00:09:39] Scott: But now what you're asking is, in the e-mail can you say, “Hey, thank you so much for getting our product for free. Would you do me a favor and leave us a review?” I don't really like that to be honest with you. I would rather see you treat all of your e-mail sequences or your emails that go out to your customers to be the same. As if you were to sell it for full price whether you had discounted to 25% off or whether you were to give it away for free. And that's what Amazon wants. They want you to treat every single customer the same as far as a follow up. They don't want you to go after a review to a specific set of customers.


So I would say no, to that strategy, okay. So I would not do that. What I would do, is I would just give my product away at a discount to people that are my target market and then I would follow up and say, “Hey, thanks so much for purchasing our product. Hopefully, you're enjoying it and if you could take a minute and let me know if you have any questions or what your feedback is on it, that would be awesome. And oh, by the way, could you do me a favor and head over to Amazon and let them know how we're doing as well?” Like something like that. Or maybe give them a free resource first… Wait a minute. Let's back up for a second.


Maybe in the first e-mail, and this is what I currently do in some of my products that we're selling. The first one would be, “Thanks so much for purchasing the garlic press. I hope you enjoy it. I hope you have time to make some amazing recipes for your family and oh, by the way, here's a free PDF of 10 recipes that you can use, that will have your family enjoying every single meal.” Or something like that, right. And then you allow them to download a PDF with those in there. So now we've given the more value without asking for anything. So again you start to get that reciprocity starting to work. And then the next email maybe five days after they've had it, then maybe I say, “Hey, just checking in again I want to make sure everything is okay since you've been able to use this for the past week.” Or whatever.


[00:11:40] Scott: “And maybe you've got a chance to try some of those recipes and…. We were just really want to make sure that everything is working out for you.” Whatever the product is. And then just saying like you know, “We are a locally owned business, family business and we just want to make sure that our customers are taken care of.” If there's anything that we can do, please let us know. And if you could do me a quick favor, could you head over to Amazon and let them know how we're doing as well. Could you leave some feedback over there? That would mean a lot to us because Amazon wants to make sure that we're taking care of you, and we want to make sure that we're taking care of you. So could you do that? that'll be great.”


Like something conversational like that. Something that again lets them know that you're there for them also reminds them of the value that you've already given them. So that's a great way to go after getting feedback and then also review.


Now, if they leave your feedback, you can then follow up with them again and say, “Hey, thanks so much for leaving the feedback. Could you do me a favor, and could you leave us a review?” You know that's the same basic concept. But you're not soliciting people specifically from what they did as far as purchasing and how much they received a discount for. That's where we get a little gray for me. I wouldn't do that. So hopefully this answered your question or anyone else that's listening right now. Hopefully, it makes sense on what I would do. It doesn't mean necessarily what you should do, it's what I am doing and what I'm comfortable doing.


But the one thing I will say is, you need to treat all of the customers the same. You can't isolate those people and segment them and say, “I'm going to go after those people that got the item for free or a discount, a heavy discount and just try to get them to leave reviews.” Like I don't think that that's within the Terms of Service, me personally. So hopefully, that helped you. Thanks so much for being a listener and thanks for introducing me to a word that I'm going to start using up. I've heard the word before, I just I haven't found it where I use it normally in my vocabulary. But I kind of want to. It's kind of a cool word, plethora, I like that. So let's go ahead and listen to the next question and I will give you my answer. What do you say? Let's do it.


[00:13:40] Wasim: Hello, Scott. This is Wasim, again with another question. Thank you so much for your podcast. It has helped me a lot. I wanted to ask you about search results in Amazon. In the first page I notice that some of my potential competitors, I’m just launching my first product now. There seem to be sellers that are selling more in the second page than other sellers that appear in the first page. At first, I thought that it's a mistake in my analysis but I've been tracking some competitors for several days now on Jungle Scout and on other tabs and Excel worksheet that I created. It really seems that sometimes products that appear in the second page of the search results, I don't know about the third or the forth, I didn't check, they have more estimated sales than products that appear in the first page. I don’t know if this is weird or not but can you please comment on that and tell me what you think? Thank you so much. And I hope this time you will answer my question.


[00:15:12] Scott: Hey, Wasim. Thank you so much for the second question. And I'm answering your question in front of maybe someone else's question that might not have asked one yet. The reason is because I haven't heard anybody ask this question yet. So it's a good question and I do have an idea of what this could mean. So I'm going to give you that. What that basically means in my book is that the keyword that's driving them traffic to the listing is probably not the one that you think it is. If you're looking at garlic press and the first page of, you know listings that are converting for garlic press, those pages, those sellers are less than the second page.


I would want to look at all of the titles on the second page that are ranking on the second page but have higher numbers and look into their keywords and see maybe I'm missing one. Maybe there's one that's more specific that they are getting traffic from that's not their main driver of traffic through keywords. So that's the very first thing that I would look at.


The other thing that could be happening is on that second page. Who knows, maybe those sellers also are driving external traffic somehow through an e-mail list or maybe they have a following on a social media platform. Maybe they are doing promotions. Whatever that means, maybe that's the case. So what I would want to do is, I would want to go back and I would want to drill down into those sellers on page two and I'd want to see how long they've been selling. I'd want to see a little bit of their pricing and see what they're doing there. I'd want to see their optimization, see what they're doing there. And I would want to try to figure out like why on page two are they selling for this keyword? And then what I would try to do is, I'd try to figure out the keywords that they're using that potentially they're getting page one results, and then I'd like to see what those numbers look like. So if that makes sense. Hopefully, that makes sense.


[00:17:10] Scott: So my gut feeling is they're getting traffic somewhere else and it's probably from a different keyword set that you're not even thinking of. Then if you started using that keyword as your framework, that's also going to allow you to see first page results for that keyword. So this could be something really good for you to see that, “Oh, wow.” Like you can rank on page two for this keyword and still get results. But probably they're getting traffic from page one results of a different keyword so now it's can open your eyes to another keyword set, and that could be a good thing. So I would definitely look into that.


That's my first gut feeling. Now maybe I'm wrong, I don't know but that's my gut feeling. That's what I would want to do. If you and I were sitting down at the table. I would say, “Hey, listen, let's go and pull up these different listings, let's start punching in these other keywords that they are a coming up for in their in their title.” A lot of times going to be their title. Now, if not maybe you do a keyword scrape on their listings.


I use a keyword inspector tool. If you guys are not aware of the keyword inspector tool, go over to my resources page, theamazingseller.com/resources, and you can go through a link there it'll give you double credits. So when you're doing these reverse scrapes as they call them, or reverse checks searches, you'll be able to figure out some keywords that you might not have even knew that they were showing up for. And you can get double credits. It's a credit system you have to buy credits in order to get it.


And James over at Keyword Inspector, he actually did a special deal for the TAS audience. So if you want to check that out, head over to theamazingseller.com/resources and you can go through that link. Just scroll down, you'll to see, Keyword Inspector or keywords and you'll find that. And I will get a commission for that just to be totally upfront with you guys and that will buy me a cup of coffee which you guys know I love. So thank you if you've already done that. All right, let's go ahead and listen to one more question and then will wrap this thing up. What do you say? Let's do it.


[00:19:09] Ken: Hey, Scott. How are you doing? Ken Fitzgerald here in Tobin, Ireland. I was wondering with your starting edge, should you try and private label goods right from the onset. Like your sample goods that you get in to sell? Should your private labeled numbers, should you see if what sells and then make that decision afterwards? Thanks so much Scott. Bye bye.


[00:19:30] Scott: Hey, Ken. Thank you so much for the question and it's a great question because I get a lot of people that say like, “Scott, what if I don't want to go all in right off the bat? Maybe I just want to test out and validate this market or this product before I customize it or before I actually private label this product with my own brand name and logo and all that stuff. I just want to test and validate.” And it's totally possible to do that. And I'd say yeah, I would say, do that if you can. Then from there once you modify or you tweak the product, you can still keep the same listing as long as it's the same product you just modifying. It's like the new and improved you would create two different variations. The variation would be like your test variation and then your other variation would be the new modified version. Then you can choose to keep both or get rid of the one.


So I think it's a great way to get started. Actually, I just interviewed a husband and wife team who did this. That was episode 291. They currently do that. They use Ali Express as kind of like their wholesaler and then they test products. They do their product research, they follow a certain criteria that meets like a low amount of reviews, still a good number of sales not a ton of sellers. And then they launch a product using Ali Express with a very low minimum order. Like less than 500 units. I think their first couple, they did with less than 100, 150 units.


Definitely, check out that episode if anyone is curious about that. That would be episode 291. Really good episode, a lot of great actionable advice. Also going back to what I was talking about beginning, they had ups and downs throughout their journey and they still had it. Even they had a couple of their products, they ran an inventory right away and then they might have had a hijacker I think I remember right. So they had some challenges but they're still moving forward. Their first product I think was a flop. So definitely check out that episode but just think about it for a second too guys. Like if you ever listen to any entrepreneurial story or someone that's started from where they were and now where they are, there's always been those types ups and downs and… Anyway, I don't I want to get off on that tangent again.


[00:21:39] Scott: But just to go back to your question, Ken. Yes, it's a great strategy to get started. And you would launch that product non-branded in a sense which is again, you're kind of out there you're putting yourself out there where someone could hijack you. But in the same breath if you're going after low competition stuff, the chances are probably less likely because people aren't looking at those types of products. But I think it's definitely a valid strategy to do and it's going to cut down on the risk.


And then from there, once you do that with like let's say in Al iExpress or you pay more for that item right now, you know that when you start to sell it and you start to scale as far as how many you're going to be ordering at a time, you'll be able to cut that cost or reduce that cost by doing that. So I think it's a great strategy. Anyone that's listening and thinking about doing this and not really sure if they want to go all in, that's a great strategy. So I would say, I believe in that strategy and I think that that strategy can work for a lot of people. It's allowing you to test different products a little bit quicker and then picking the ones that are winners and cutting the ones that are losers without really putting a ton into it. So I say yes to that.


All right. So that's pretty much going to wrap up this episode. Guys, I want to say again, if you have any questions, if you want me to answer any questions on an upcoming Ask Scott session, head over to theamazingseller.com/ask and just leave a brief message there, audio message. Use your first name, where you're tuning in from and a brief question and I'll do my best to air it here on an upcoming show. The show notes will be found, for this episode at theamazingsellar.com/304.


And I'll have that little off Facebook post there too. If you guys want to head over to our Facebook post, go to the show notes, click on that link go over there, put some comments in there as far as what your entrepreneurial journey has been like and what you've learned through that process. That would be kind of cool if we can kind of do that and kind of see what each other is facing and to just know that you're not in this thing alone.


[00:23:42] Scott: So, guys, that's it. That's going to wrap up this episode. As always I want to remind you that I am here for you and I believe in you, and I am rooting for you but you have to, you have to… Come on, say with me, say it loud, say it proud, say it so your neighbors can hear you, “Take action.” Have an awesome amazing day and I will see you right back here on the next episode.


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1 comment
  • Hey All! I just listened to today’s episode 304 and I’ve gotten a lot of good tips and tricks so I figured I’d throw a tip back.

    I believe someone asked about selling their first samples on Amazon. This is referring to the first 1-12 you get from a manufacturer to inspect quality prior to your first mass production order.

    I’ve heard a few of the pros say go ahead and send them into Amazon to test the response you get. My suggestion: Keep a “retain” sample from your first samples and photograph this sample from all angles on a plain white background. If there are several components, take pictures of each part. Take pictures assembled and unassembled. Include shots next to a ruler and on a scale with the weight legible. Bag or protect this sample and keep it separate from any product you sell. Treat this sample like it’s gold and do not sell it for any reason – even if you run out of stock. I have racking in my garage and keep all retains together. If you don’t have a garage — use that back corner of the shelf in your bedroom closet that never gets used. You don’t have to get crazy with this, just throw the images in a folder on your dropbox so they are there if/when you need them.

    The reason you want a retain is it will be the one sample you compare all future production runs to. If there is ever a deviation from the sample you approved — which WILL happen — your conversation with your supplier will be significantly more effective if you can SHOW the deviation in quality or point out the discrepancy.

    So in short: If you get 3 samples, sell 2 if you want — but keep the third. [If you can, never get less than three samples. You’ll see if the quality is consistent.]

    Even if you use a third party inspection service. You should still keep a retain of your physical product you’re investing in. If you make a change to your product (add a logo, change a color, etc). Keep your V1 retain, and keep/photograph your V2 sample.

    I hope this is helpful. All my best to all of you.

    Source: 10 years product development for domestic companies + 6 months of private label from home. I guess that makes me an experienced newb.

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