Welcome back to another episode of the Brand Builder Show!
This week we’re joined by Tom & Alex aka The Honest Entrepreneurs.
Tom & Alex joined us on the show 6 months ago and were hitting around $30k/month in revenue. Since then they’ve seen explosive growth and have hit $140,000 in the last 30 days selling their own branded products on Amazon.
In this episode we talked through a range of topics around how they’ve been able to grow so quickly.
It includes branding, PPC, product launches and much more. A highly valuable episode!
> Check out Tom & Alex’s channel on YouTube
> Follow Alex on Twitter
> Follow Tom on Twitter
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00:00 Introducing Tom & Alex
02:46 Benefits of a Partnership
07:28 Mistakes to avoid
11:54 How to increase revenue
16:03 Taking calculated risk
19:31 Charging a Higher Price
23:16 Going aggressive on PPC
29:10 Researching keywords
33:45 Using PPC agency
39:54 Growing the business
50:37 Building connections
Hey guys, welcome back to another episode of The Brand Builder show and great to have two friends back for their second visit to the show Tom and Alex. Welcome back, guys. Thanks. Nice good we you guys were one of the first guests, I think episode four, maybe from memory, you guys were on and we were chatting through your journey then to where you were, but things have really kicked on a gear for in the last six months or so. So we’re gonna dive into that today talk through growth on Amazon launches, PPC agencies, you know, loads of stuff to get into. So for those that didn’t actually listen to the first episode, chaps give us a little bit of a background on who you guys are your history over the last couple of years. And yeah, what you’re up to.
Don’t mistake at this time, because you will give me the short version. If you haven’t heard the other episode, obviously go back and see a bit of an introvert. So I’m Tom, that’s Alex, we are the honest entrepreneurs on YouTube and all that good stuff. So we partnered up in 2020, essentially, to join together, Alex already had some experience selling on Amazon, I was brand new to it. launch our first brand in the summer of 2020. In the UK, that we actually ended up killing that brands, it wasn’t going too well a bit of a few issues there launch a second brand in the states in August 2020. And that one now is our sole focus. And we have recently scaled to $140,000 a month in sales. So it’s really taken off since we last spoke. I think last time we spoke to Ben, we were doing around $20,000 a month. So it’s really Yeah, it’s really gone. Up.
Ben Donovan 01:43
Yeah. Up into the right, that’s what we liked. Well, I definitely want to talk about, you know how you guys have done that, because that is quite quick growth. Lots of questions there. But maybe this is something I think now that this has been really validated. Obviously, it was validated to some extent when you were doing 20-30,000 a month. But now you know to get to six figures a month. That’s that’s you know, without one is a blow sunshine up your backside as impressive, right? It’s a really good growing brand there. So bring us back to like the research phase for anybody that’s wondering what you did to find these products this niche. What was the research phase that’s helped you because you had one brand that you killed, like you said, and then you start a new one. So maybe there’s something something different you’ve done there that’s really helped you identify this what what was it that you’ve done to help you find this niche these products?
All down to you, isn’t it some in the in the beginning? Because I think so, I originally had the brand that we eventually discontinued. And it was kind of when Tom came on board that we started looking at more things. And I would say like that’s one of the benefits of a partnership. I think we spoke a bit a little bit about this last time, so I won’t I won’t bore everyone again. But just having those fresh eyes made us sort of like look and think Alright, can we start a second brand now. And so we obviously use helium 10 Like most people do. The reason I think Tom originally found this, this, this product that eventually led to this brand was we were looking for, we were looking for things that we could really stand out just in terms of like making a great listing, to be really honest. So we found this product. And at the time, there was only really like two people selling it. They were terrible at Amazon that Brandon really sucked. And it was like a little bit of a pun, honestly, I remember the day that we launched it. We did nine, I think we did 12 sales. And it honestly it was it was Tom pushing it, it was Tom that saw the opportunity. And I was I was honestly like a little bit skeptical because I had already sunk a lot of time into the original brand. But that’s again, that’s the beauty of a partnership, I was in enough to trust time and intuition on it. So we ended up we ended up like it was basically like we know if we if we launched this product, the numbers make sense, we can really stand out in terms of making a nice looking brand, a really great looking listing. So to be super transparent, we didn’t really have that much of a USP, we didn’t really have that much of an improvement on the actual product. It was just there wasn’t many people selling it, there was a little bit of demand. I think the the one person selling it was doing about 10k a month. So we didn’t really have huge hopes. We thought maybe if we can do six $7,000 a month with a nice profit margin, it’ll be a great addition to the portfolio. We launched it it went super well and then that that that product is now probably our second or third best seller. That niche since has sort of become saturated. It’s like that that specific product niche. But yeah, that that led to us launching. I think in total, we’ve got seven, seven individual products now with a couple of them. I’ve got variations, and it’s all in the same sort of category category and it’s all tied Getting the same demographics, it’s the same same, a person that would buy one, they would also be interested in another. So we’ve, we phased out the development of the first brand that I originally started, discontinued that and then now we’ve got the pretty decent foundation for a nice look into our brand now with a few different products.
Ben Donovan 05:21
So what he’s saying is that it’s all down to Tom
didn’t want to say out loud, I owe him everything
Ben Donovan 05:31
that you would you say that the fact that they are closely related in terms of the target demographic has helped boost sales across the products.
I would say when we, we the idea of building a brand, which I know you’re a big fan of. And so we I think I think it takes a lot of time. So when we launched our second and third product, I think we actually overestimated how much value was in the brand at that point. Because in reality, you haven’t got a brand, you’ve got one product on Amazon. So I never got we didn’t have like an off Amazon presence. And it’s something that we’re working on a little bit now. But to be honest, we still focus like 99% on on Amazon itself. So we thought the second product was quite complimentary to the first and we were like, we’re gonna get so many cross sales here. And then we made the virtual bundle that kind of stuff. And we didn’t really we got we got a few like it definitely helped. But we thought it would be really rocket, I’d say now that we’ve had, you know, seven, seven, I guess 11 skews lie or something like that I’ve got a few products that we’ve killed as well that haven’t haven’t worked out. But now I think the brand inside of things is that it’s actually helping quite a lot. And we’ve got a bit of an email list that we can blast through we have new products, we’ve got our kind of our name isn’t that now known in this space as people? You know, we’ve got we’ve got our own copycats now that are coming after us. And we know that we’re positioning ourselves as kind of a premium brand in our in our sub niche. Nice. Yeah. So yeah, there is now the benefit of that. And I think that’s that’s given us the confidence to now target higher price point products, because we are the premium guys in the niche.
Ben Donovan 07:05
Yeah. Nice. That’s when you know, you’ve made it right when your brand shows up in auto suggest on Amazon. Yeah. That’s good. That’s good. Talk to us about the products that have worked then versus you know, you mentioned a couple of products that maybe you haven’t continued on with, is there been big differences between those in terms of maybe research process or the products themselves? What what’s been the major difference?
I think the I think the biggest thing was the one of the products that we discontinued I don’t know if we did touch on this a little bit in the first interview, but a we kind of honestly, we kind of messed up the FBA fees a little bit. We miscalculated the FBA fees. And then the shipping went up crazy, as you know, in like 20, at the back end of 2020. That was a product that we had massive hopes for. We ended up doing I mean, we did like 35 grand in sales, but then discontinued it. And I think that was one of the key learnings for us was we we just didn’t we missed something out on the fees or whatever. The fees, and it was my
fault, by the way. So for my for my good work with finding the niche, it was my fault. I’m sad.
So this is back to even now because he did something. And then he messed that up. So Well, this was a learning for us in a few different ways, really, because it was like the one of the learnings was, if there’s two of you, then we need that QA process where like, I don’t like Tom just doesn’t trust that I’ve looked at the numbers in there correct or whatever, because I kind of left all that to Tom and then just leaving that on one person is you know, you need to have that QA process of proper double checking it. I’m not saying I would have noticed that either because I think we would have probably overlooked it anyway. But long story short, is we thought the fees were going to be let’s say six books, and they ended up being like nine bucks 50 So it completely killed the margin. And then on top of that the shipping went up. So like now our research processes like like, I know, it probably sounds a bit a bit obvious that you should do this. But I think it’s a mistake that new sellers make I definitely made it with my first products is like you need to know literally every single if there’s a cost involved in wrapping the pallets are just all of these tiny little costs. You need to know every single cost you need to know down to the down to the penny, how much it costs you to get that product into Amazon and all your Amazon fees. If you mess that up. It’s it costs us six months of time probably and it costs us that was our biggest swing at that point. So we invested probably about 10 to 12k into that product. And that was our that was that was massive to us at the time. So we wasted time and we wasted wasted cash. So
the other thing Ben as well that we’ve we found that we the other product we discontinued recent actually was we tried to kind of guess that demand was there for another product. So it was a complementary product and we saw a competitor of ours doing fairly well. But they are a competitor. But they’re out there are kind of they’re our enemy. They don’t know that. We’re not our enemy, but there are. So they’re pretty big time. And they they do, you know, they could do up to kind of half a million bucks a month, which we definitely think we can catch them now, but the pretty big time. So they had a lot of foot traffic, and they were set to sell in this one product pretty well, the numbers were really good for it, like almost the best numbers that we’ve had for a product super cheap to make price point was pretty decent. But you needed to do real volume, and we launched it. But what we didn’t look at properly was there wasn’t actually exact searches for the keyword. So for that what that product was. So they had they had so many eyeballs going through their store, they were getting a lot of foot traffic, and that was good. It wasn’t a crazy good. Revenue wise, I think it’s probably only, you know, eight to 12k a month, which obviously isn’t isn’t bad. But we thought it’d be nice to want to add on top, super easy. But in the end, we got no sales for that product. We I mean, we sold, we sold a couple but in the end now we just we just liquidated it because it was a waste of time. And that now is a rule that we set is there has to be direct search. Keyword searches for the product, and it has to describe it very well. Otherwise, you can’t just guess it or work because nine times out of 10 it just won’t work.
Ben Donovan 11:10
Yeah, yeah. And that’s a huge tip for any sort of new sellers doing product research is identify those keywords that do descriptively describe descriptively describe, they describe your product accurately, because if they’re too generic, you know, then they’re not going to be able to find your product is going to be a wash of the conversion rates can be so low and you know, all those kind of things. So yeah, and we found that to sell and toys, you know, too generic kind of a descriptive term. And it’s, it’s hard to get that conversion rate or get any sense of volume. So like you say there must have been doing something external traffic brand awareness from their store, there’s something that’s causing traffic to come to that product page. That’s not going to be the traditional keyword route. So yeah, huge, huge tip that give us some thoughts then on how this growth is taking place. Because you’re 20 grand a month, 240 grand a month, that’s significant. So 7x revenue in six months. That’s a, you know, crazy quick be is it sustainable? Like give us some background on what’s going on? You know, it’s exciting right on the front end, but give us some insight on the back end. Yeah.
It felt for a long time, like we were sort of treading water a little bit like we weren’t not treading water. But like we felt like we weren’t making any progress. And this is one of the things about Amazon is like, it’s a long process. So like product research, you know, to find a product, you’re talking months sometimes if you don’t already have an existing brand and like a roadmap of products. But we we were kind of at the time, I think even when we when we spoke to the first time we were like still, we were debating do we focus on you know, do we focus on this brand? Do potentially maybe try and find broaden the brand a little bit and do some of the stuff? What we ended up doing was we just committed to doing that 100%. And yeah, we had a product roadmap, and we just tightened everything up, we just triple checked all the numbers. And honestly, we just we just went for it. And I think we had a little bit of an analysis paralysis for a while where we were we wanted everything to be perfect. And in the end, we were just like, look, these numbers work out. We know, we can launch products, we know we trust our own skills. Let’s just go for it. So we ended up ordering, like three three different products pretty much within the space of like probably six weeks. The peak time for our brand and our niche is are one of the p type peak times is in the spring. So we aim to get everything live by latest February. And we were like filling it we had this like forecast sheet that I was obsessed with where I was like messaging Tom every night, and I was I was like putting all the numbers in and they had like these three different scenarios. And the top scenario was about 130k a month. And I was like Tom Tom, like, maybe we can get this like and we were both like oh, no, you know, yeah, maybe maybe whatever. Like it’d be a nice, nice, nice outcome. Anyway, we got all these products live, did all of our launches went just you know, went through the process and then demand hit just as we were starting to rank well, and it just went off. So it was it was kind of like the perfect storm of we planned it really well. We did all the due diligence, and never say that word. Yeah, and it all just sort of came together. You know, we trusted ourselves, we backed ourselves, we make sure that all the fundamentals well. And yeah, and it just gave us this huge confidence given them given us this huge confidence now that we know the playbook. We know what you need to do. You know, we know it always doesn’t work. It’s not 100% guaranteed, but as long as you you follow the fundamentals properly. And it all comes together at the right time then you can see you know, huge growth like that.
Ben Donovan 14:57
Yeah. My first thought when you’re Same that three products, huge uptick in sales is just capital. Right? Like, how has that been? Have you stayed in stock? What’s been that situation?
Yeah, we had a slight expansion, the back, replace all these orders the back end of last year, September, October time, the number as well. So I think after after we spoke, I got married that that week and then went on my honeymoon to Thailand, Alex was also in Thailand. So we met up and
it misses a day, but
she said by the pool with me and Alex to sit at the bar at work, and a bit of my time as well. Embarrassingly, we were so good at that, but but we were kind of looking at our cash position. And we we knew basically, the first product was our best seller now, that launched in I think, October ish time and the other two, the so basically, we need to that was the one we knew could be amazing. And it doesn’t the other two were, were lined up. And the numbers check that out. As mentioned earlier, like the numbers were like the sole that the main priority for us now. So when the first launch went, Well, we had to basically use all of our cash. So we forecasted, if we if we think the demand is going to go where it is where it looks like from last couple of years, then our sales are going to I think it was like 5x, from where we were at that point, then the 6x in that product. So we had to place a huge order, we did it for that. And we also did it for the new launch products as well, then we knew they could potentially go go pretty big straightaway. So we ordered three months, three, three and a half months of stock for each. But taking taking that kind of our q4 into account. So you basically use all of our cash. So like it was it was a risk here. We we forecasted that out, we let enough cash to be able to place a second order, which obviously, everyone should always do, because you’re not going to get paid by Amazon straightaway. So yeah, it’s a gamble. You know, it was a calculated risk. But it was like putting laying our cards on the table just kind of going for it. And then yeah, it paid off. And now what was good with the forecast that Alex did was we knew when we launched we go pretty aggressive on BBC and we don’t, the first the first order, we’re not trying to get to try and turn a profit straightaway. But because these numbers and these products are so good, and they’re sort of sort of net ROIs. And it’s like yeah, the big kind of revelation to everyone, like, the higher the profit and the higher ROI, the easier it is to grow your business. And that’s basically what’s what’s happened. And now we’ve we as we tightened up the numbers, the profit is really good and really healthy. So like the forecast Alex did, as we reached kind of 130k a month, our actual forecasted profit came through where the percentages were creeping up because these three products became a big part of our pie. And they brought up the overall profit of the business. So that’s kind of how you how all compiled and now we’ve got that spitting off plenty of cash. So we’ve now got two more one more product in design at the minute a new custom mold and we have another one in the works that were that should do and they’re kind of the 3d CAD designs for now as well.
Ben Donovan 17:58
It’s nice, you got quite a few questions on how you talked about placing the second order did you when did you place a second order? Did you wait until you saw the numbers did you place it before it arrives? What was the timing of that?
It’s about two we usually do it about two to three weeks in Yeah, so we’re quite lucky with some of our products have really really good lead times to be honest production is pretty quick. One of the roadblocks we have here to be honest though was where every way some of the regions are getting shut down in China some of our products couldn’t get through to ship and obviously some of the factories shut down as well so we have had to fly so we normally ship on like a fast ship but we’ve had to start using Matson is even faster ship obviously is more expensive and we had to fly to have the two of the skews over recently so that they’re live at the moment so yeah, profit did take a hit for that for us not stocking out was a priority over going out stuff and coming in again so we ate it and like one of the products now we have like a 700 units won’t really make much profit but that’s fine the one the ones come in on the boat behind them they will and because the numbers are so healthy and shipping in general has decreased a bit it means that well even our overall move kind of ended up in a pretty good spot
Ben Donovan 19:16
yeah good good and then that you talked about profit ROI on those products people will be listening thinking Geez right for them you know I’m you know having to cut prices and costs are up and margins are thin. What are you doing different everyone else?
charging a higher price. I think it’s one of the one of the learnings that we had for sure was just put your prices up like we we had a product that was at 3299 for ages. And we just kind of had this like mental block that like I mean, it wasn’t even like a conscious thing. It was just like, oh, that’s the price and like most people, the second highest seller was 2999 for the exact same products almost so we were already like a few bucks more. And then it was like well, we we’re even gonna have to discontinue this product or source it cheaper. So we tried everything we could to source it cheaper couldn’t do that. And then we’re like, well, we just got to put the price up. So we put the price up from 3299, gradually up to 3799. And then it carried on selling. So we were like, obviously, obviously, like, there’s some, a little bit of impact on the conversion rate. But overall, like the tag costs, and everything we just went up, went down improved. And it was the same with the new product that we launched, our target price originally was like 2499, we launched it at like 1799. Then because generally we launch it, like, you know, like 30% lower than whatever the target would be or whatever. And then we’d sort of gradually creep it up as as we get some reviews and all that. Now we’re set up over 30 books on that product, because we just kept putting it up $1 For like, we’d put it up $1 for like three or four days, check the conversion rate, notice, there’s no difference. So we’ve put it up again, and put it up again. So some of our products are, overall the business has got a lot healthier, there are some products that are still on the borderline of like we would really like to see it, you know, being healthier. But overall, what we’ve tried to do is we really focus on on the quality of the listing, I think it’s still a massive thing that you can get as an edge. And it’s you shouldn’t really go into something just saying I’m going to make a better listing for sure, you should always try and actually improve the product. But Amazon is all about perception people, if people perceive that your product is of higher quality. And if you’ve got the reviews to back it up, then they will pay more. If the price sensitivity changes a little bit based on whatever the niche is, obviously some leashes are a little bit a little bit more price sensitive. But we’re in a niche, we think where people are looking to buy something, perhaps that’s a little bit more quality, and they’re willing to pay more. So we’ve just yet basically bumped our prices up. And that’s helped us get the higher ROI. And yeah, numbers basically.
Ben Donovan 22:02
Nice, nice, yeah, and then on the launches, you talking about lowering your price, what else has been the strategy, talk to us about launch process, what you’ve done to get that traction early on.
Mainly PB, I mean, obviously, we still go really in depth on on keywords and super in depth analysis that we we kind of cover every race and that we’ve looked at every single word that relevant for and then when we launch and will target you know, we won’t target necessarily the hero keywords straightaway, we will obviously include them in the listing because they can’t really not. But we might not necessarily bid try and outbid everyone to rank for, you know, 50,000 Volume keyword because it will be super expensive and might not convert. So we’ll go for the median range, all that good stuff and, you know, sensible with the with the bullet points are images, we, we do put a lot of work into them, like I think everyone says gives us professional photographers, which would definitely advise but on top of that, like most people use protection, professional photographers now that there’s there needs to be like premium real like real premium angle. And we try and make our images always the best in the niche. Other than that, to be honest, it’s the PPC side of things, which I’ve allowed it to take over, because we go pretty aggressive on that.
Yeah, we’ve we’ve, I mean, we’ve had this little bit of a debate on Twitter about the use of auto campaigns and stuff like that. It’s a strategy that we I mean, we used to do, we used to do the same research just launched economic campaign or whatever, since we changed it up now and we only use exact campaigns. So we we have key we have campaigns with a maximum of five keywords in there, we never go bigger than five keywords anymore. And then the biggest the biggest volume keywords so let’s say if our top one has 20,000 volume, we have that and its own campaign, an exact campaign will have it in a sponsored product but also a sponsored video. So we want to be you know, sponsored products and then we want to always be the top video result and we have we have proper videos made like actually showing the product and not just slideshows like really good videos. So as soon as we launch a product, I always take screenshots and send it to Tom we have like that we have the top top sponsored product, you scroll a little bit and we’re the top video and the way that we do the thumbnails is you can’t actually select a thumbnail on a brand ad. So we take a screenshot of the sexiest part of the video the the bit that pops out the most and the first second of the video we just have as that screenshot. So when you scroll down our I mean we’ve had competitors copying us now with some of it but they never do as good a job as we do. To be really arrogant.
Ben Donovan 24:41
People waste when you see brands do a fade from black because it’s just a black.
It doesn’t Yeah, it’s like it was actually a Tom like Tom Tom was he was like, I actually put one on it. And then he was like, let’s get the thumbnail in there and he said it because I do the PPC is what I mean. So Tom was the one that sort of pointed that out originally, and we did it Yeah. And like you just can’t miss slike the click through rate is so good on these video ads that we get. So we go we go very, very specific. And the logic behind it is, the logic behind not using an auto campaign is we view an auto campaign in the same way as we would view a Facebook pixel. So a Facebook pixel when it’s brand new, it has no data. I mean, it has some data that you give it, you know, like, it knows what your site’s about whatever. It’s the same with Amazon, Amazon only knows the keywords on your page, and it knows the category that you tell it your product is in. Other than that it doesn’t have any sales data, it doesn’t have any anything. So our logic is that you want to be very focused in the beginning, because if you want to rank highly for those biggest keywords, you need to be very specific and tell Amazon, this is exactly what we’re specific for. And you want to show us this. So that’s kind of where our launch is. I mean, it’s not it’s not like that’s, I think a lot of people are doing that now it’s starting to become more of a thing. But that’s the strategy that we’ve taken with everything. And it’s it’s worked pretty well so far.
Ben Donovan 25:57
Yeah, yeah, I’ve just done a recent launch, just starting to test single keyword campaigns. And it’s still like an administrative nightmare. But you get control over like top of search as well. It’s crazy to me that, you know, top of search is not something you can do on a keyword basis. But But yeah, it’s it, you do get so much more control. And there’s definitely something to be said for the auto campaign, especially now there’s so much good data in keyword research, that you can eliminate a lot of the you can find what works pretty quickly, you don’t have to test it with an auto campaign. I think you know, auto campaigns are just good for finding emerging stuff, real random stuff that maybe you’re not thinking of low volume stuff, you know?
Ben Donovan 26:45
In terms of building that list, and doing that keyword research, are you doing anything unique? What’s your process there?
Sorry, so I’m just to jump in. But there’s one point on the on the listing that I think is is really useful that we that we use is we see it a lot on listing images. So like you hear people talk about, like copywriting. And when people talk about copy, generally they talk about the bullet points. Yeah, but what what I think we do really, really well is we don’t waste an opportunity to describe a benefit. So I see this a lot when I’m looking at other listings, because I like spending a lot of time like looking at other listings and stuff is your scroll to the second image, for example. And the the top third of the photo will say product features. And it’s such a waste of space, it’s like, you read it, the customer doesn’t get any, like, okay, they read that and then they go down below, but the amount of space that you have on an Amazon listing is so limited, if you think in terms of like, if you have your own website, you’ve got so much more room to add text, images, background images, videos, whatever it’s like, it’s, we have so many benefits that we want to communicate that we don’t even get enough space because a lot of people don’t even scroll to the EBC. So it’s all about those seven images really, or six if you have the video. So we try and use every single bit of space to effectively communicate a benefit. So if we know for example, like if people are searching for nonslip yoga, and that’s like one of the biggest key words, our second image, we try and say to each other, like, we want some we want somebody to see this image and they cannot leave that image without understanding that that’s a nonslip yoga mat. Yeah, good. And we try and we try and communicate one benefit very clearly in each image. So another thing that we see is people they repeat the same benefits so you only have a limited number of spots and then it’ll be like nonslip yoga mat nonslip and it says the same thing. So I think that’s one thing that’s really helped us with the conversion rate is and for us that’s a part of copywriting because the the copy on the images I think is 10 times more important than the copy in the in the bullet points. Yeah.
Ben Donovan 29:03
So would you do your keyword research and write your listing first and then let that steer images or do you do images first?
Yeah, we what we’d actually do pretty in depth that is we do the keyword research and obviously look at look at our top competition and put out put out with a high relevant keywords and kind of using using software to do that and then we manually go through as well. And then we go yeah Cerebro and then keyword Dominator tool, which is Yeah, yeah, exactly. Yeah. So that’s that’s the vs was going to be made a lot faster. But we look really in depth reviews as well. So we look at all the questions that have been asked on a listing for our competition and then also all the one star and two star reviews and then also the four or five star reviews. I don’t tend to look too much at the three so that is what kind of weird only to three star reviews. So amazing product three stars in my special place in hell for them. We’ll put it out and then obviously on on helium, you know, you can look at the most repeated terms in in these reviews. So I’ll make a document, I’ll pull out the main terms. And then look at obviously the problems that people are facing with these products. That’s how we that’s how we customize our products anyways, do we improve on these problems people say, and then we make that the key, we know that that’s the key focus. So for the images, we know what the starting point is. So people literally say people are giving you the exact information that you need. There’s they’re putting in also in their own words. So there’s some terminology that Pete you’ll see repeated in in the reviews, we’ll use that exact terminology in our listing images and our bullet points because you’re speaking to your exact avatar them in their own language. That’s been super useful. I think that’s something that I think a lot of people know. But it’s putting it into practice. And Like Alex said, the people just it was overcomplicated. They want to stuff all of their features into his into this one little image. And when you say like a comparison table, you might see like 15 things lined up. And like the people, a lot of people have got bad eyes, you know, they can’t actually even see they can’t even see the text. So yeah, treat people like they’re like their 10 year olds, and just gives them that like one heavy benefit. The bullet points, I think we, you definitely want to make them catchy and put a good hook in especially for the first two, I’d say you want you want the first couple of words to be really catchy. But realistically, I think, I don’t think that many people read all the bullet points. I think you go you go you go, you know, images, you go reviews, and you go images or images, reviews, maybe video. And then even at the time, didn’t people read past the first five words in the title to be honest. So you can you can really optimize that and optimize it with exact match keywords. Chuck a few exact match keywords Engineer Engineer bullets as well, you got I think you’ve got to play the game. So I don’t think the Amazon algorithm is as smart as Google yet. So you can definitely still keyword stuff, Keep it keep it readable. But you can definitely still stuff it a little bit. And yeah, all that kind of combined, it puts you in a really good position to confidently have the best the best listing in your niche, and then sales kind of generally follow and you kind of guaranteed to get at least a decent return.
Ben Donovan 32:09
Yeah, that’s good, man. I’m just circling back on those tools. Obviously, Helium 10 is one that pretty much everyone will know about. Obviously, we talk about the keyword Dominator in a minute, because that’s one that maybe less people have heard of. Also, have you guys looked at Data Dive Brandon Young’s one
had a brief a brief look at it. watched all the tutorials by it by all accounts, it’s great. We know it’s it is kind of a more advanced version. Well, quite a bit more advanced version, I think then keyword dominated but I’m not we’re not personally used it, but
Ben Donovan 32:41
they’re doing similar functions. So I imagine. Yeah, yeah.
From what I’ve seen what I’ve talked to a few people that use it, they really like it. I think it’s I think it’s very similar to be fair, we just, yeah, we did for us that we did we just obviously, we work with with Adam now as well. So that kind of goes hand in hand that we use his kind of his suite of tools.
Ben Donovan 32:59
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, I’m pretty sure. Because Claire, my business partner writes our listings, I’m pretty sure she uses the because I saw Adam do a video on the keyword Dominator thing. And I sent it over to her. I think she uses that now. So it’s, like Cerebro is great, but there’s definitely more you can do that data.
Yeah, for sure. Yeah, that makes it way faster as I think the old method was, the method was really good. It gave you kind of the same kind of information, but it’s now kind of 10 times as fast to do it through the tool. Yeah. For sure.
Ben Donovan 33:28
No good stuff. Cool. Well, I’m obviously conscious of time, just want to try and get a couple more questions in. You guys have recently been using a PPC agency, which is a hot topic, give us some thoughts on why you decided to go that route and how you’re finding the journey.
Yeah, I mean, it came about really, because we’re getting to the point in the business now we’re getting to the point that we’re really valuing our time, over, over anything like you know, once you get to a certain point, like your, your time becomes way more valuable. And in general, we’re trying to outsource as much as we can. So especially this week, we’re hot, we’re looking to train in a couple of days to handle admin and logistics and all that sort of stuff, which we probably should have done a lot sooner. But on the PPC side, I started to get to the point where I was doing all of the PPC. And I started to get to the point where I wasn’t really finding it fun anymore. And I realized I was if I wasn’t finding it fun, I was not going to do it properly. And I started to feel like I was getting a bit lazy with it. I would not look at it as often as I probably should have done and then I’d look at it and so it was still going well we you know, we had great, a great A cos all the time, like there was no like major sort of things that we it wasn’t like we had like 150% a customer like we need someone to fix this. It was just we just really want it to free up some of my time and then see if we could do the improvements. So we yeah, we started with an agency, probably about five, six weeks and now the experience has been I don’t know, it’s I think, when you’ve been doing PPC for like two, three years, you get to a level and you’re, you’re probably pretty good at it. So then outsourcing it to someone else, you’ve got really high standards. The A cos has sorry that the tack cost has come down. So our main KPI that we gave to them that we wanted them to improve, we were like, just improve the tack cost, like at the time it was around. Because we’d launched the two new products, it was around 20% Tack costs. Previously, it was around 14% for the for all of the products. So we wanted to get that as low as low as possible. So we gave them that target. And I think at the moment, they’ve got it down to like 17 16%. I think so it’s going in the right direction. And it’s obviously great that I don’t have to like go in there every day and like, you know, check on everything. And
is it full time? Is it full time interview, but
I don’t do anything on FBA? It’s when the decision was do we go with a software. So we were gonna go with a software called Perpetua. And then at the same time, somebody said to us, like, have a chat with this agency, the agency actually used Perpetua. And the difference in price was about $1,000 a month. So at the minute we’re paying where you pay 10% of spend. So we spend on average, like, at the moment, we’re probably spending about about $800 a day, maybe a bit less. So with its customers about like this month, this month, it’s probably going to cost us about $2,300. And Perpetua alone would have been about $1,400. So we were kind of like, well, it’s another $1,000. But I don’t have to do anything, I just have to kind of check in maybe once a week and just get them to send me the KPIs and have no key high level management of it. So I was like, Well, you know, it kind of makes sense. So yeah, we ended up going with the agency. And I think we’re gonna do like three months, and then kind of assess, but I think we will always outsource it for sure. But one of the things I think potentially we might do is just hire, hire a freelancer to do it. Like I think you could probably hire a freelancer and say, like, look, I want you to dedicate, I don’t know, like 10 hours a week. And, you know, if you work out what the costs, you can, you can pay them 5060 bucks an hour. And it will be about the same as the agency. And my hunch with these agencies, and not not just anything specifically with this agency is that they, they just, they hire as many people as they can. And obviously they you know that they were trying to optimize the profits, but I feel like they each each end each person at the agency that’s managing an account, they probably have 10 accounts that they’re managing. Yeah, so I think, you know, maybe they just have too much work sometimes. And not to say that wouldn’t be the case with a freelancer but we want to kind of test both, I think so maybe we’ll do a few months with the agency. And then maybe you know, work with a freelancer and
you’re sticking to this honest entrepreneur mantra, right.
If you’re watching this, if you want to reduce the bill by about 25%, we might
Ben Donovan 38:13
attack them in the I think Yeah, cuz I think obviously, ultimately dreams in house, right? You know, someone that’s dedicated, knows your brand knows your stuff, but that’s a big commitment. And so the agency’s a good transition, just how long that transition, you know, would take.
Yeah, I in the past, when I when I’ve worked full time, you know, in my last couple of jobs is that would definitely be what we do. When we hire an agency, we knew it was going to be expensive, we pay them 10k a month, you do it for like three to six months. And then you learn from what they’ve done. And you bring it in house and you reduce the cost by half or whatever. But you need to you need to kind of get that experience of doing it. But one of the things that we just wanted wanted, we do want more we want more proactiveness, I think is what we’re not really seeing with agency at the moment is we want somebody like you said, he knows the brand, we want somebody to be like, Look, I’m gonna test all of these. I want to test all of these brand ads on this specific set of keywords, I want to monitor the organic ranks gonna do all this. And we didn’t really get that. And I’m trying to I’m trying to push more of that, but we’re not really getting it. And I think that’s just because they probably don’t really have the time to do that. So by no means is it is it? Is it? Is it been terrible. It’s just, it’s up in the air still whether or not we’ll be a long term, sort of like user of agencies, but so far, it’s been a positive experience in the fact that we’ve saved a lot of time for sure.
Ben Donovan 39:31
Yeah, definitely. Not as good. I mean, obviously honest feedback, but it’s good, I think helpful for people that you know, there are some good there are some challenges that you need to work through. So yeah, good insight, I think in terms of then the next stages of growth, you’ve kind of hit these numbers. You guys are just gonna chill out right? You’re just happy with those numbers just to carry on like that. No point growing more or even.
Alex, the day we hit 100k A in a month. So we kept like breaking records and, you know, records for DJs, as they say, but we get we’re getting pretty excited. Well, I was anyway. And then we got Alex texted me a screenshot saying hit 100k. And it’s like, and I feel nothing. It doesn’t motivate us to do more now. Yeah, I mean, it’s been great hitting it. But immediately Yeah, we’re planning ahead. So we had to make a decision. Strategically, we can either try and extend. Obviously, when I get a great average throughout the year, we’d probably have peaked now for this this season, to be honest, we’re trying to these new products that we’ve got in the works, we’re looking to launch them kind of September, October time, a few of them. And our target now is to go for next spring. So our next q4, we want to triple. So we want to get up to kind of 350 grand a month, kind of area. And then in offseason, we still want to putting in you know, 60 7080 grand a month. So that’s what we’re working towards. Now we did the other option for us was, we did have some products that will actually do really well in in real q4. So in the winter, we decided for now that that might be the next maybe a 2023 move, just because we haven’t got unlimited capital, which we had to kind of make that decision. And that’s one of the kind of, you really want to keep those numbers high. And even now we’ve dropped from say 6k a day to like four and a half k a day that it like hurts to be honest, like, you have a deep what’s gone wrong, and it’s not, it’s still it’s still really good. But you’ve got to be this is their long term goal. We know we want to sell the business in within a couple of years. So we know that it’s not it’s not a race. And these, we can now sit and kind of consolidate everything for the next few months. But at the same time, get everything planned. Go for that kind of massive swing next next spring, which we’re now after this one, we’re even more confident and the new products we’ve got in the works, we think are going to be bigger than anything we’ve done before. So yeah, that’s kind of where we are. Now we’re planning that out. But like you have to do any physical products game like we’re literally looking at, you’ve got to be so far ahead. We’re looking at six to 12 months ahead at all times. And we’re forecasting that out, working backwards from our goal now of an exit. But the I think even since we last spoke, to be honest, our goals have gone gone bigger, we’re now thinking, you know, yeah, like, we want to go late seven figures if we can. I mean, it’d be amazing to go eight figures, we know a few people that have had eight figure exits. And that’s your kind of pretty exclusive club to get out there. So that will be in next spring goes well, I’m sure we’ll probably move the goalposts again. And we’ll say we’ll say 20 million, but you know,
Ben Donovan 42:26
what have you got sort of timelines that you’re working towards for that.
Then we kind of roughly said, we’re at the we’re at the point now where it is slightly, it’s the balance between Tom and I’ve been working on this for a couple of years. And like we’ve chatted about with with you Ben a little bit before about like, these are cash intensive businesses, like if you get into building a private label brand, FBA, whatever, you got to realize that like, you know, people see, okay, you doing 25k A month in profit, but like, we haven’t taken away from this business since day one, we’ve, we’ve taken a little bit here and there, like just whatever, but it’s not the sort of business that you build, and you’re like cash rich, because if you want to continue growing, you’ve got to pump all that cash back in. So it’s kind of a balance, where we’re looking at it as in, do we want to, you know, do we want to put maybe like, another 18 months, two years into it, whatever level, it’s at that point, we want to maybe sell it, take some chips off the table, maybe, you know, invest in some property, do whatever in terms of like life investments, and all that sort of stuff? Or is it going to be like Tom said, we’ll get we’ll get the next year, we’ll do 350k A month or whatever. And then we still see even more progress on the horizon. And we’re like, Well, no, like, we may as well continue. So I think roughly what we’ve said is like, we’d like to have two more Big Springs. So like, next spring we want to be doing, you know, like 3x What we’re doing now hopefully, and then and then the same the spring after. And then by that point, we should have like two years of really, really solid books, really great sort of foundations, you know, products with good reviews, some custom products in there. So hopefully, by the end of like 2024, we’d be in a position where actually the brand and the company is very attractive to somebody trying to buy it. So I think at that point, if we could, our goal was you know, to make seven figures each so I think if we could try and get it to that point. I think it would be very tempting, but then as I said it, it kind of depends, you know, overall, how we kind of feel with it, but I’ll
tell you what, we also did we forgot to say yeah, we’ve also got another brand in the works so we oh yeah, is that this is Alex. Alex is trying to get me back for the finding this one so he found this opportunity which looks really good, to be honest. And it’s it’s a massive it’s a bigger spaces and more competitive space. But because now like Alex mentioned, though, because we know the playbook so there’s not we’re not in a race to launch that one. We’re kind of doing a bit of research and development at the minute we’re customers working with a designer to custom, custom produce it out I’m so would that that’ll depend on cash flow as well and where we sit and what kind of opportunity we look at, but it’s quite nice. Now taking a bit of a bit of breathing room is not a race to put that one live is a case that we want to make it perfect. But that one has a potentially like a much higher price point as well, which we definitely like because there’s a bit less bit bit less competition out there with the higher price points. And obviously, the ROI in the margins are a lot higher as well.
Ben Donovan 45:22
Definitely exciting times. And then from a content perspective, you guys are doing a great job of educating people in the space about the reality of, you know, private label brand. What what’s the, you know, the next season looking like for you guys as the honest entrepreneurs?
Yeah, we’re trying to, as Tom said, like, I’m basically a full time YouTuber and
1000 subscribers, what, what next, but we’re still not there yet. Yeah, I
mean, since since we started, obviously, the origin of the brand was we were kind of like tired of seeing all these, you know, just people that were just not being very truthful about it. And the people that we gravitated towards, when we first started with the people that we could trust them, we thought we’re being truthful. And then even a couple of those people ended up not really actually being very truthful. So that was where that was where it all came about select where we’ve been mentoring a few people. But that has really got a, we can only mentor so many people, because we don’t, we want to give every everybody individually enough time and everything. So we’re building up, we’re trying to build up the personal brand, again, with the transparency because you know, it’s, it’s great in terms of keeping you on your toes, like, if we have to research videos, we have to research we have to, we have to vocalize all of our strategies, everything that we’re doing. So it’s great to keep us sharp, also also keeps us you know, we’re always looking at what other people are doing. So it’s amazing for our own business. But genuinely, we’re getting a lot out of right really helping people like it’s a unique experience in the sense that like, you get people that are like 20 years old, they message you out of the blue. And, you know, we’re just happy to help people because we want to be around people that inspire us, and that push us to do more. And that when we speak to them, we get this sense of energy, and you know, whatever. So it’s been amazing to like, you know, network with you, and all the people on Twitter and everything. And then it’s just led towards, you know, wanting to do more content, wanting to increase the personal brand. And then honestly, again, transparency is like multiple income streams is super important as an entrepreneur. And if you build up a personal brand, you can monetize the personal brand really well. And I think it’s something that people avoid talking about it because it’s like, it’s like this shameful secret of oh, you you want to make money by teaching people how to do Amazon. And it’s like, yeah, because we know what we’re doing. And we’re confident about that. And you’re gonna get a return on it. So we’re pretty sure
people always get that like, oh, you can’t do it that way. You’re not paying yourself a big way. Yeah, yeah. Because you want to you want to grow the business.
Yeah, so when we’re making 25k in a month, it’s not like 12 and a half K to Tom 12 and a half K to me, you know, let’s go to the Maldives. And three, treat the partners it’s it’s that money goes back into the business. And then you’ve got a set of skills that Pete that are in demand, people are reaching out proactively they want to learn from you and in this sea of, you know, people that are kind of like snake oil salesmen a lot a lot of people I think it’s people gravitate towards you know, people that are actually doing it and telling the truth and so that’s why we’re you know, we’re ramping up there we’re really enjoying Twitter we’ve met so many cool people on Twitter you know, we were in London recently. You know, we’ve obviously had a few a few chats with you and just people that you’ve got a lot of a lot in common with so just starting to do that side of it. There’s so many benefits overall for us.
I can’t believe when you say it keeps us on it keeps us on our toes you didn’t say it keeps us honest that was such an easy layup
keep us honest and invented it
as that as well though so we went to London to meet that around we ran a cellar sessions event that event then an event which is really cool so we literally met people whose were like friends with these people on the internet. We’ve got Whatsapp group chat, so some of them and we never met them in person but then we met them and we just straightaway you’ve already you’re already friends you know so went to the pub, you have a good chat about about your talk shop talk about Amazon because most of your friends like most of my friends here don’t care about you know, they don’t care about like they see the big number you flash up on Twitter and they think when we when we got to 100k a month I’m getting messages you know, like are you making 100 grand a month now they’re interested in they want to teach me how to do it. But what we did is well I guess a pretty big step for us we went out kind of pretty heavy affiliated with with Adam Adam Adam heist on on YouTube. So that was a that was something that we ran a few months in interview on his channel with us but we kind of reached out to him. And it’s kind of a bit of a bit of a cocky move but ended up ended up working as he’s now got an equity stake in our business, which is great kind of too If I would be honest one because he’s already sold a brand for seven figures and he’s connected with an aggregator as well. So we know he’s walked the path. And we we kind of can follow his playbook. And he’s super, he’s really helping us out in terms of us leveling up. And that’s all kind of also added to the growth for sure. And we’re looking at some retail options with him as well to get into some stores in the States. Which, which, which is like, it’s funny because having like, is really sexy. You imagine your, your products on the shelves in like, a random store in the States. And that that feels like a bigger achievement than Amazon. But like, it’s not really like, you know, Amazon is still going to be the main the main breadwinner.
Ben Donovan 50:35
But it’ll be really cool. Yeah, exactly.
You can go, you can go in there and make it make it tick tock can show off. But I think I think there’s way for Yeah, for our kind of personal side of things. And we met, we met with him in London and like, like I said, people that align with your views. And for us, like, we went on his channel that gave us a good platform. So let’s get some more eyeballs on us. And he’s happy to help us out. We’re happy to help him out. So yeah, all these people kind of coming together. And like I said, working with people that share similar values. We’ve got this kind of abundance mentality of like, it can be more people like yourself and ourselves in this space, then it will give people a realistic view of, of the business model. And it won’t Yeah, it might put off some people you think it’s a get quick, rich scheme, but like realistically, how often do they work? You know what people that want to start a real business, then listen and watch the right the right people in the space, there’s enough of us around us about the truth. Now, if more of us can come out, then it can only be a good thing for the space. Yeah.
Ben Donovan 51:30
That’s good, man. That’s good. We’ll obviously leave a link to all your stuff. People can find you the honest entrepreneurs on YouTube. And we’ll leave socials and stuff below. Quick question before we do sign off on that. Because I think people will be interested. You talked about him having an equity stake in your business? How How have you managed that? I assume like there’s been like, obviously, he does talk about details you don’t want to talk about but like a capital investment for a percentage of the business? Yeah. And then what was his involvement in the businesses? It’s silent partner is active. How’s that working?
Yeah, so it’s kind of on like a smart, smart equity basis. So it’s not it’s not a huge percentage that that Adam has, but now it is obviously sort of got, you know, he’s got a percentage. And it’s, it’s on a strategic level. So we I mean, we basically chat with him most days. But it really helps us out originally, because we just, we were going around in circles, it felt like we’re a little bit because we only really speaking to each other. So now Adam is kind of like our, you know, he’s like a full time consultant for us, basically. So any part of the business that we need that extra opinion on, we lean on him for some sort of resources with some of the stuff that he’s already doing. So it’s like, it’s like adding a third, a third person that’s got even more experience than than we have. And on one hand, obviously, we’ve given up a little bit of equity in the actual business, but we believe the return overall that we’ll get is going to be tenfold what we’ve what we’ve given away. So yeah, it’s been it’s been great. And it’s been really great in terms of it really gave us a lot of confidence when we sat down with him and showed him the plans and showed him all of this stuff that you know, he’s got a lot of experience. He’s been there, he’s done it. He’s one of the leading people in the industry under you know, he, there was a lot of it, he was just like, yeah, you’re doing the right thing that even that in itself was huge for us and gave us a big confidence booster. And
I think I think cuz he’s very much into like, SOPs, which when you start an Amazon business, it’s not maybe not top of mind, you kind of just muddle through. And we’ve since we’ve worked with him, we’ve we’ve kind of tighten that up in a lot of areas. And now we’ve got, we’re kind of plug into his team as well as to be worked with his kind of his his couple of VAs and a few other people in his team that are super knowledgeable. So it’s just helping us level up. And once you get to this kind of scale that we’re at now, I think, fine, like it’s fine margins that you can squeeze a couple of percent here and there, that makes a big difference when you’re when you’re moving big money through the business. So it’s all these things added together over time if they really compound and I think we’re going to end up like Alex said, having him on board. We’ve also got I think we’ve mentioned in the last interview, you know, we started, we sold equity last year as well, for cash, so we sold 10% of the business. So you know, we’ve still got a decent chunk each we don’t want to we don’t want to slice ourselves too thin and make it difficult for us to both walk away with seven figures. But it’s been the same process every time. You know, when Alex Joining me is because we saw a bigger pie than we did it last year, we saw a bigger pie again, we’ve done it again without him. So there’s a third, it’s the third time I guess for addicts that he’s done that and it’s not it’s a mental block, you know, because you want to you want to own as much as possible. But, you know, 40% of 10 million is more than 40% of 1 million. So that’s kind of how we’re how we’re looking at it.
Ben Donovan 54:51
Yeah, Gary’s saying what you can do with those connections and with that is much bigger than you could ever do without it. So yeah, I think that’s there’s definitely wisdom in that. For sure. All good stuff. All right, well, we’ve been chatting for nearly an hour now. It’s like I feel like it asked so many more questions and loads, we haven’t covered the VAs SOPs, the, you know, the custom modes, the designs, you know, loads there that I’m wanting to ask about, but there will be healed if we do that. So,
the fans, if the fans want us on for a few months, maybe we can come back up
Ben Donovan 55:23
after vote with the download, so that’s good. That’s good. So obviously, YouTube to find you guys. We’ll leave that in the description. Anything else you want to add any sign offs you want to give before we go?
That was not dreaming kids.
Ben Donovan 55:40
if you can believe that you can achieve good stuff. We should all be American. Anyway. Great to have you guys up and excited to see the journey unfold. And yeah, hoping that it continues to go up and up and up.
Thanks for having us, Ben.
Ben Donovan 55:56
Good stuff, guys. Thanks for joining us on this episode of the show. Definitely check out all that Tom and Alex are doing Twitter, YouTube, all that good stuff. And we’ll look forward to seeing you in the next episode real soon.