Jan 21, 2021
Michael Begg is the co-founder of AMZ Advisers, a Guadalajara, Mexico based agency that specializes in Amazon Marketing, Management, and Strategy. We pick Mike’s brain on how he wound up being an Amazon marketing agency, the biggest lessons he’s learned from his experience, his services structure, and even get into tips for effectively marketing products on Amazon.
Top 3 Curtain Pulls in this episode:
About our Guest:
For more tips, discussion, and behind the scenes:
About The Guys:
Bob Hutchins: Founder of BuzzPlant, a digital agency that he ran from from 2000 -2017. He is also the author of 3 books. More on Bob:
Brad Ayres: Founder of Anthem Republic, an award-winning ad agency. Brad’s knowledge has led some of the biggest brands in the world. Originally from Detroit, Brad is an OG in the ad agency world and has the wisdom and scars to prove it. Currently that knowledge is being applied to his boutique agency. More on Brad:
Ken Ott: Co-Founder and Chief Growth Rebel of Metacake, an Ecommerce Growth Team for some of the world’s most influential brands with a mission to Grow Brands That Matter. Ken is also an author, speaker, and was nominated for an Emmy for his acting on the Metacake Youtube Channel (not really). More on Ken:
[1:33] The Guys introduce today’s episode topic: Amazon. Many agencies have turned Amazon into a one-channel specialty- is that a good thing?
[3:56] Bob introduces today’s guest Mike Begg of AMZ Advisers. With his extensive experience in Amazon marketing, he knows the ins and outs of Amazon well.
[4:30] Mike is calling us from his office in Guadalajara, Mexico. His team and offices are located there but he is originally from Connecticut.
[5:45] Mike tells us about his history. He started out working for Deloitte in consultation, but wasn’t a fan. After trying out real estate and watching retail spaces shift and change so quickly, he saw that ecommerce was the future. He and his team began importing products and selling them on Amazon, seeing the opportunity before many others did.
[7:05] Mike talks about the instability of his business experiences, saying that he wanted to try something new. They started AMZ in 2015 after experiencing success on Amazon.
[11:37] Ken asks Mike about how they get clients- tips, techniques, and things that work well. What are roadblocks and challenges that didn’t work?
[11:55] Mike speaks on the importance of partnership- he had a partner that was great with sales that he could rely on. Although his background wasn’t in marketing, he was passionate about it and pushed for putting a lot of focus on great SEO blog content to build authority. This helped generate unique users that they wouldn’t have had otherwise.
[13:17] Brad asks about the location of their clients.
[13:40] Mike says most of their clients are US and Canada, but they also have an Asia team. Their niches are varied; apparel, health supplements, pet supplies, beauty products, etc.
[14:39] Mike shares the evolution of his business, and how they wound up in Mexico. Initially they had stopped working and moved to the beach- the dream! But then their income that was still coming in from Amazon began to show more promise.
[16:27] Brad asks about other work outside of Amazon that still promotes that work inside of the platform. How do they choose sales, etc that are outside of Amazon?
[16:50] Mike says that traditional link building is one place to start. 70% of online searches start on Amazon, so being there is an easy way to catch that influx. Also, depending on your audience and products, you can use sites like Pinterest to direct people to Amazon.
[18:43] Ken asks about how they choose the clients they work with, or the products they choose.
[19:00] Mike says it varies pretty dramatically, PPE supplies an example from early in the Covid Pandemic. Finding and acting on niche needs. They also have contacts in manufacturing that can get products made for clients if they don’t exist already.
[20:50] Bob asks about the upfront cost.
[21:24] Mike says that it depends on the level of launch. The cost of acquiring traffic is already low on Amazon, because that’s where people are already! $10,000 to order inventory with a couple thousand to play with advertising is a great place to start and get sales going.
[23:19] Bob asks about the types of services they offer their clients.
[23:25] Mike says they primarily focus on the platform space- Amazon is the largest and their specialty. Also using Amazon to generate brand awareness and bring people over to your brand website is an incredible source of opportunity.
[25:54] Ken asks about the strategy behind building trust enough to bring customers from Amazon to another platform, then talks about Amazon’s volatility, asking how Mike and his team mitigate that.
[26:30] Mike says that Amazon does make it challenging to bring people over to your platform. Including product info cards inside of the box or QR codes that send people to their website.
[30:30] Brad asks how they put together teams for clients who may have a one-off product that they want to sell.
[30:46] Mike says there are levels. Typically they help manage entire life cycles on the platform, starting with creating SEO content, visual content, building reviews, and attaining social proof. Then they focus on scaling sales, with hundreds of different strategies available depending on the product and attract customers.
[31:45] Brad asks about indicators of traction that a product is doing well in teh first couple months of sales.
[32:07] Mike describes the typical path, saying that the results are varied. He’s had clients who went from zero to $90,000 a month in a few months while others go from 30 to 300 over two years. If you have the resources and the team members to help you scale quickly, you can make SIGNIFICANT sales in a very short period of time.
[34:30] Ken talks about setting yourself up for failure or disappointment- it can be easy to get your hopes up with quick sales on a platform like Amazon.
[34:56] Brad says that focusing on having an ROI that you can SCALE is where the balance is- he asks Mike if you need to be prepared to ride the roller coaster if you’re working with Amazon.
[35:36] Mike talks about competition on Amazon, saying that can increase the pressure. He shares an experience with a brand who was undercut on a supplier who they attempted to work with that immediately launched the product themselves.
[37:30] Bob asks about guard against people knocking off Amazon products.
[38:13] Mike says that this is exactly why building a brand outside of the platform is so valuable, as well as valuing your intellectual property and having it protected. If you’re selling products that are made in China, make sure you have a patent or some sort of protection in that country as well as the country that you’re selling from.
[39:50] Ken asks about engagements and different levels of engagement and pricing.
[40:34] Mike says they offer a la carte services, but for full service agreemeents the base tier will start anywhere from $2,000 to $3,000 a month on retainer with a dedicated account manager. This incudes managing advertising and strategy assistance.
[42:34] Ken asks about their portfolio, what sort of products do they own and sell versus products in their whole agency that they’re selling.
[43:26] Mike says that now it’s definitely more work for clients than selling products themselves, at least 85% of what they do.
[44:27] Brad says that as an Amazon stock holder, he wants to know what Mike thinks is the next big Amazon killer, like Walmart and challenged Amazon’s supremacy.
[44:58] Mike says that right now, Walmart is the closest to disrupting Amazon, but their platform is still years behind what Amazon is doing.
[45:58] Ken says that maybe Shopify could one day step up and compete. He talks about the healthy aspects of competition and how it winds up being good for everyone in the end, and he says that Amazon could be providing a bit of a disservice in that way.
[47:36] Brad wonders if the government would ever get involved in breaking up the monopoly that Amazon seems to have.
[47:50] Mike talks about how more and more governments are paying attention to Amazon as a platform because of the user data. In some European countries, platforms are required to disclose how their algorithms work, so that could be a possibility for us as well.
[50:01] Bob asks Mike for two or three tips that he wishes he knew three to five years ago when he was starting his agency. Business advice, things he struggled to learn the hard way, etc.
[50:29] Mike talks #1- Commission Caps. #2 Control Your product. At the end of the day in the digital agency space, the product is the people you have on your team.
[52:12] Ken asks for a primary takeaway from 2020 that he is carrying into his future business endeavors.
[53:00] Mike says that he and his clients realized before last year even that ecommerce and digital marketing is evolving rapidly and changing quickly within the Amazon platform- and so being nimble, agile, and ready to adapt to changes has been extremely important.
[54:34] Mike shares how you can contact him- through AMZ’s website at www.amzadvertisers.com or directly by email- Mike@amzadvisors.com. They also have a Youtube Channel and offer courses at amzcourses.com. Their courses are Amazon accelerated teaching about the fundamentals of the platform and how to build your own brands with Amazon.