Dr. Amazon Podcast with Norman Farrar
It’s not every day that you get to talk to an entrepreneur genius who has worked with big brands including Mercedes, Coca-Cola, Dell, Microsoft, Target, Hershey, 20th Century Fox, Molson Coors, Cadbury, as well as a wide variety of emerging businesses that celebrate a sudden increase in profitability.
But today, we have AKA The Beard Guy Norman Farrar! He will help us understand the PR, branding, and marketing for Amazon sellers.
About the speaker
Norman Farrar is a serial entrepreneur providing online marketing and managed eCommerce solutions for brands. He's worked with Fortune 500 companies such as Coca-Cola, Mercedes-Benz, and 20th Century Fox. Since the 90s, Norm helps entrepreneurs optimize their operations and unlock their business’ potential.
- 00:41 Hey everybody, there is another episode of the Dr. Amazon podcast. Today we’re talking about public relations. It is an interesting topic to cover. The majority of our audience is the Amazon sellers. We know a lot about advertising, but what about the brand building? And today’s guest will help us to know more about that. Vision grows and Profit Strategist, entrepreneur, trusted advisor, coach and speaker of today’s podcast is Norman Farrar. I’m happy to introduce our today’s guest AKA The Beard Guy Norman Farrar. Hi Norm, welcome to the Dr. Amazon Podcast.
- 1:24 Hey, thanks for having me!
- 1:25 Of course, that is a pleasure for us. And I guess today that will be a great podcast with great insights. And you know, when we start the research and start preparing for the podcast, looking for the topic, and understanding what the topic for today’s podcast should be. We understood that it’s too difficult to exactly choose the one, because you are an expert in different spheres. You have an experience in a lot of things inside Amazon, inside like e-commerce in general, and other businesses. And it’s incredible, you know, because it’s like the first time for me. And in this way I have a question for you, in the case of do you remember when have you started your first businesses and how many businesses do you have right now?
- 2:16 Well, I started my you know what… I gotta say one thing. You’re gonna see my glasses fog up, I thought, I took care of it, it’s not because I’m talking to you although. It’s really great talking to you. But I don’t know what’s happening. It’s a little hot here in Canada today. But anyway. I started way back. I had my first registered business, incorporating a business with a group of friends. It was a rock promotion company. We didn’t do anything, but that was our first our first thing, but anyways. I went through college for film and video. And I had a video production company that helped pay for some of the things going through college. There’s more beer money than anything. But then, if you want to jump ahead, I got involved back in the 90s into e-com when it was hard, when it was really hard to get started. And I was just lucky that I got, I had very knowledgeable people, that could put together a website for me. I didn’t have to understand it. But I’ve been involved in all sorts of businesses that were kind of e-com related. A project with fulfillment, and packaging companies, and sourcing companies. And anyways, when Amazon came around it was perfect for me. Because I kind of knew a little bit about everything and kind of put it together. For companies right now, probably my Amazon managed services company, we provide services for brands that are trying to grow. I have a press release or a communications company, that has public relations, press releases, and content marketing, which is called PR reach. And then I have a sourcing logistics, supply chain management company with a 3pl called Honu Worldwide. Another one called the Chat agency, which is Facebook. It’s really Facebook messaging or chatbot marketing. And I’ve got Elite Gen company. But anyways, it’s not me that has to be the expert, it’s the people that run the company. So I’ve got to have a general understanding of it, but it’s definitely not me. I don’t got the brain.
- 4:34 That is absolutely cool, because, you know, your understanding of e-commerce starts from like your own ecommerce website. And then you have just started and used all this experience based on the Amazon that you have, in the case of the marketplaces. And your, I guess, the film production that you have, this experience now it’s a really cool background that you have. Because a lot of people now, for example, speak about the branding, about the videos, some kind of the filmmaking why not. I guess, that is a perfect experience that you just right now do and use for the most of the Amazon sellers. And I also have mentioned that you have a huge activity inside the social media. I mean that you have live streams like a daily sometimes, and you do have a lot of podcasts. We have one podcast per week, that we have on Wednesday every week. And we do have a recording. And I have one question for you. How do you find the right time for that? How do you do like this crucial, I guess, amount of work and speaking with a lot of people? And how to work with the time management in this sphere?
- 6:07 Well, with all the different companies, first of all, there’s good people that run those companies. I help oversee and manage it, but really they run the whole thing. When it comes down to the podcast, it’s the same thing. So both my sons work on. I have two podcasts one’s “I Know This Guy”, the other one is an Amazon or e-commerce based one called “Lunch with Norm”. And they get it together, they book the guests. Kelsey, he puts, his “Lunch with Norm”, he’ll do all the reposing of the social media. We have a couple people that work with us, that help get it, repurpose it. And we were talking about that today in one of the podcasts. It was, you know, to get your brand out there. You really do need social media and you need to do it consistently. So, to do it right takes a bit of time. I was surprised, you know, when we started doing not the physical part products, but like the podcast, it takes a lot of time. I wouldn’t be able to do it if it is just me.
- 7:17 Today we will speak more about the Public Relations for the brand building, marketing in general. And if it’s possible, for example, to divide marketing on different stages, and we will speak today more about Amazon exactly. We have different spheres. I mean, that we have a chance to do social media for our Amazon brand, we do have to start and launch PPC campaigns, we do have a chance to use the Amazon post, for example, or start public relations. Maybe we do have the right understanding, what should be first and second, do we have like these steps?
- 8:06 I think, you’ve really got to look at your brand. And a lot of Amazon sellers might not want to build a brand, they just might want to turn product. I like building brands, so I want to make sure that, you know, it’s consistent. That the brand, the look, the color, the fonts that they’re all consistent with what that brand is all about. Then I want to make sure that I have the whole group of people the whole team working on as SOP to make things consistent, including brand, including social media, including product launches. Whether I’m doing it once, now I try to do repetitive tasks first. But if it’s once, and I know I’m going to be doing something later on with it, I’ll get somebody to do an sop that’s probably the very first thing. And then know when to spend money. A lot of people don’t spend money in the right places. They’ll try to save money on taking their own photos or images with an IPhone. And they have no idea about lighting. They might just take it outdoors, you know. Who knows, they might be also, and I see this a lot in images. They try to write a whole book for the image, well your bullet points are for your, where you put all that information, your images are for images. And you can tell like directions, but really one or two words. Lifestyle photos everything about it, what is your demographic show that in lifestyle photos. Then, after that’s done, you know and this includes your a plus page, but then you want to take a look at. If you are going to do social media, how can you get that user-generated content. People love, people really love, people showing that they’re using the product. It’s like a testimonial, like without saying anything. And one of the ways that we do it is that we’ll suggest anyways is in your insert. You can simply say something along the line is tag us, you know, just tag us using your product. And it’s free. You know, people if they like your product will do it, you’ll get user-generated content, and you can start using that. You can use that for Amazon posts, you can take that and put it into Facebook or Twitter or Instagram, whatever you’d like. And you can repurpose that you can use that in an in a blog article, maybe use you know a lifestyle photo. So much you can do. So that would be probably the next cheapest way to do that, another area to be consistent with your brand is finding influencers. And I mean this is a whole podcast on it’s. Amazon post is a whole podcast on it. Influencers is another, you can go with. I was talking to a guy the other day Boxy Charm, his guy’s name Joe Martin. He built it from zero to 500 million in just a few years. How did he do it? One way – influencers, and only influencers. And so I take a look at that, and you know the word influencer marketing is so misused. But what you just need, what you can do, you can build it from your clients, you can ask them to become influencers. You know, they love your product, you can see, and you can start targeting your clients and becoming influencers. Or you can go and you can find influencers very very easily. You can go to paid platforms and then, once they love your product. Now you can start getting these influencers to start promoting. Promoting on their blog, network, on their Instagram, on Tik Tok, wherever. And you can grow that. And there’s different types of influencers. I would recommend starting unless you have cash, but starting with what’s called a “nano” influencer, these are people that have under five or ten thousand people. And then macro influencers or micro influencers are up to a hundred thousand. Those are usually in people’s budgets. They’re either gonna do it for free or maybe up to a hundred dollars. And that gets the word out, that gets the network going, that gets your brand. But the next step to this is making sure that your brand is consistent. So if somebody is going on Amazon and they’re going to search you out, because they don’t know you they’re going to look on Google. You wanna to make sure that your website looks like a real website, that your social media is consistent with all the banners and the type of information that you’re putting out there, and, you know, once you do this, now you’re starting to establish a brand. And you know that’s also with written content. So if you’re putting together really well-written articles about the benefits of using your product. Let’s say it’s a bully stick. The benefits of odorless bully sticks for elderly dogs, you know, okay that’s kind of interesting or research about, you know, the product. And now you’re putting really high quality information out there that Google loves. So you know, now you’re starting to build a brand, because those things are going to be ranked, you’re going to be able to find it on Google without having to do too much work.
- 13:38 I really like the idea that we should start to do brand building in the beginning, before we will launch our products on Amazon. And if we will speak about like the social media that is extremely cool to make the analysis of the niche, and to find the influencer that could be useful for you. Because, I know, a great product launches right now exactly with the help of the social media and the influencer that you have mentioned. And sometimes you couldn’t really expect or to do the right planning for your inventory, for example, if you do the right advertising in this way. And sometimes a lot of people, they just think that they will launch first and then but they will come back for the marketing. What do you think about that?
- 14:26 No and maybe for some, but probably I’d rather be prepared. Like you know when you’re when you’re playing hockey if you go out there and you think about putting on your uniform after the pucks are starting to shoot, it’s not going to work. So you know I would rather go and maybe a couple of weeks beforehand. Either do some press releases, good quality press releases to get some exposure out there. And you can link it back to your product. And if you do it right, you can write a blog article for you to publish that first, so maybe two or three weeks prior, and then sooner you get maybe two weeks out you publish a press release, that’s related to the blog article.Okay so I’ll give you an example, this is one I use all the time. So odorless natural bully sticks provide healthy benefits to elderly dogs. Okay? That’s newsworthy. The other one is the ultimate guide to elderly dog health, something like that. Now both of those go back to your product, the press release links over to your content, the press release has authority links, that are also going to be going back to your link or to your product, so you’re going to get a bit of Amazon love, you’re gonna get a bit of Google love. And if you want, you can take images or you could go one step further do a talking head video. Just read, you know, well, you can change it around a little bit, but just take it put it on Youtube so that’s optimized, embed it into your blog article or into your press release. Now you’ve got that juice going out as well. So there’s lots of things that you can do before the launch to get that going. The other thing that I like, and this is why I got this public relations company going with Shane, is imagine the benefit of going on and you’ve got this really cool product, this anti-fog stuff that doesn’t work. But you know say it’s a really cool product and you want to launch it, and you can get on Rachel Ray or you can get on Wendy Williams or you can be featured in an article. That goes a long way, and maybe that article is it works directly with Amazon editorial recommendations. So you might be able to get in that way too. So all of a sudden you bang bang bang bang bang you’re lining up and there’s so much to the pro coming up to the launch. And then, when you’re at the launch, you know, I always, I think, it was Mike Mcclary from Amazing, that always used to say “blitz traffic” right? So take Facebook, take you know just hit it from all sides and see what sticks. And you don’t have budgets for this.
- 17:29 I do really like that, because, for example, the press release that we could use, Amazon really like that. I mean that is a traffic that you will provide Amazon with from another platforms and other websites. And the Amazon right now is doing huge actions inside the Amazon attribution API. And they do the research on that, they every time improve that ,and we could like make a conclusion that. If you help Amazon to provide traffic from other platforms that will be useful for you and for your product launch. And if they also convert this into the sales. That you like and once again that that is a will be a plus for you. So according to that, we do have a like public relations strategy, could you please tell us more about that? I mean that we do have the launch site of that, and what about keeping results. I understand that if you have started that, you shouldn’t like post all your activities. How to do that correctly?
- 18:38 Well there’s different types of press releases. So there’s a traditional press release, that kind of hits all media. So print as well, as online ,and that’s typically your best type, that’s your most expensive. Then you have just a regular online press release, it goes out there, it doesn’t take, it’s usually your cheapest form. It doesn’t hit bloggers or journalists, it just goes out there. And then you have what’s called this social media press release. And very similar to the traditional press release, a lot less expensive, but it just doesn’t have quite, it doesn’t have the strength or the juice that the other one does. But what it does do, and this is the typical one, when you’re looking, this press release is usually about a hundred to two hundred dollars, in around that range. It’s going to go out to probably 20 to 200 to 300 to 400 media outlets. It’s probably going to need or it’ll be asked if you want to have some sort of boost like Yahoo Finance or Reuters or Usa Today, which I recommend. So that’s going to bring you up either to 200 or 300 dollars and that should be good. I will do one of those or the traditional press releases. The traditional press releases, also oh and by the way, the the social media press release, and the first one, I told you about, also go out to bloggers, and the networks, and you know influencers, and journalists. The second one does not. But if you work with those two, you can go out and you can just get massive exposure. You can, I’ve seen it, I I’ve done podcasts 24 hours before, I went onto a podcast, I did a press release for the person’s product, and ended up with two well the one last one I did was 279 Google keywords, 170 phrases were on page 1, 131 were ranked number one. Now some of these were four or five, you know, these are all long tail. But, guess, what if I’m ranking for all of these, I don’t care, and that’s in 24 hours. So just if you go with the better the first one which 99.9% of the people will not do, but if I say “okay, go over and spend 700 bucks or a thousand dollars”, it’s like no, you know. But you’ll get 10 times that back, you know, you’ll get that exposure especially at a launch. You could go in and do five or ten of the social media ones, and you get the power of that one. So I always do that one, two weeks in advance. Now, when everything’s going, I always do the minimum press releases, I’ll do social media press releases. So I invest anywhere from 200 to 300 dollars a month in press releases. I can do one a month just to get my brand out there. So I’ll start to show up once in a while for different keywords. Or if it’s a launch, I’ll be doing multiple press releases anywhere from 4, 8, 16 up to 20 press releases in a month, which is crazy. But for supplements you really do need something like that. But the typical launch that we’ll do, we only need four press releases. And so the press releases are going to be let’s say 300 at the top. Now you’re spending 12 hundred dollars. You’re not getting a lot of traffic, but you’re getting a lot of links, and you’re building your brand.
- 22:48 I absolutely agree with you. And I really love the idea of the press releases. Okay, perfect, great. And you also have mentioned the Amazon post. I would like to know more about that and how the Amazon sellers right now could use that. And if all Amazon sellers could do that?
- 23:04 Okay, well, not all Amazon sellers yet can do them. You have to be brand registered. I believe it’s still US. They may have spread it out but last time I used it it was us-based. If you have the ability to do it, first of all you have to enable it. So go into settings, make sure you go down to post, it’ll say “post beta” and then enable it. Because it’s not enabled right now. Then, after that, you can go either to your brand, like under brands or just type in post.amazon.com and you’ll get to posts. You can create a profile. You can add your logo and your brand name and then, the next step is start creating. So what are they? And why should you use them? Well, one of the things it’s a pattern interruption. So when you’re scrolling on your and it’s only for mobile phone at this point, but if you’re scrolling on your mobile phone and you’re looking and looking and all of a sudden you know you see all these images with white background. And then you’ve got some chef with a knife. You know, ready to do something, and it takes your attention away from all these white backgrounds. Okay what the heck is this and it’ll say related posts? Well, there’s two ways that this works, and this can confuse people. So if you want, you can click on the brand, so it’ll be in a carousel, you can scroll scroll scroll. If you find, it’s your competitors as well. So if you find your own you can click on it and it’ll take it to your brand feed page. But if you just click on any of the logos, it’s going to take you to that competitors page. Now for you for me it’s great because I get to see what they do. The bad thing is they’re on my page. So how do I get rid of them? So you want to have engagement and you want to put them out as much as you can. A lot of niches still do not have a lot of posts on them. So there’s a lot of opportunities still here. So it’s Amazon’s made it really tough. So I’m going to go back to how you do all this, but Amazon’s made it tough. You’ve got to click on it either four or five times to make a purchase. So why, I mean the only thing, I can think of is that every time you click off it’s going to kick 50 to 75 of the people on off. And so when it comes down to that fourth click or fifth click, you’ve only got people, who want to buy the product. And isn’t that great, so they don’t give you the stat on how many sales you get from it. But they give you all the stats on engagement. And you can you like at the end of the day we’ve done this where we had this kitchen utensil, that we had 23% was our click-through rate. I thought, okay, this is pretty good. And then we started hitting it hard over the months with posts. Well our posts, I’ve got screenshots, I got nothing to lose. 200 000 was one of the the best that we ever did, 200 000 people saw that one post. Now this is at the very beginning, those types of posts you don’t usually see anymore. But 20 000 was his average. 20 000 people, it was like impressions. So all right, that’s still pretty good we’re down now to about three to six thousand. You do three posts a day at three to six thousand people and the click-through rate is two-three-four-five percent. They’re probably going to buy and what we when I was saying that we got a 23 click-through rate it went up over the 30 mark like 30 to 35-ish percent. We didn’t increase our PPC, it wasn’t during holiday, all we could attribute it to would be the Amazon post. And we’ve seen it time, and time, and time again. You do get some good data. It’s much better now than at the beginning. You can now trick, don’t do it online, download the csv file, and you get five extra columns to work with. The other thing just going back to the posts. So if you click, when you see it and it says related posts, you click the top, you’ll go to the brand page for any of the posts that this brand did. And it’ll be a vertical scroll. If you click the image itself you’re gonna go, that’s the buying process, you’re gonna go over to the next feed, okay, that feed. And you can either go, it’s going to say shop now and you can click shopping, summary is going to come up. You can click on that and you can go to the product listing and buy the product. Four clicks right? Or five at worst. You can then, if you want, once you’re on that page, you can click on a category… So you can click on the category, because you’ll see that there’s two or three categories. And you want to check it out, if it’s your brand. Because you might not even know that Amazon is picking up your brand for those categories. So you know that’s and then if you click on it those who all the posts for that category will show up. So it’s important to provide quality, usually, lifestyle links cameo, style links are really good. If you can get user-generated content people really like that. But it’s you don’t have to just do that, it’s like any social media, you can create sort of your product shots, you can take your Amazon shots from your listing, you can take your plus, you can take benefits, features, you can’t put testimonials there. So you know, there’s a whole list of what you can and can’t do, and you can see that right on your page when you log in. But if you mix it up, just like you normally would. And I’ll give you an example with this kitchen utensil. We sent it out to a ton of chefs on one condition that they do a recipe for us. The recipe would be either written or it would be video. And so we get this we got tons of user generated content that was unique. Then we took it and we sent it over to a culinary school. And the students who are graduating from the culinary school had to take a picture with the product. So it shows that people are like the people in the profession are using the product. Which really helps out.
- 30:23 I really like the way of thinking on how to use or how to create the right content with your products or for your brand. Because I absolutely agree that such tools we should absolutely use and try and test. That is good for you, like every time that there is some kind of thing that will help you to improve. But here you have mentioned a great opportunity of how to think over the marketing for you. Do not be in frames, when you try to create a marketing strategy. Because your product could be helpful and you should show how it could be useful or how people could use that. And do not like think only for the like photographer. Like I will give these photos, I will give this product for some guys and they will make some shots, let people just do that. Sometimes these photos will convert much better for you.
- 31:26 It’s crazy if they are polished. And we’ve done this, we’ve put in like oh like beautiful woman posing, you know. And it got very little engagement, very little. And then you’ve got this guy that hasn’t combed, his hair big long beard, and he’s posing with the product. It depending on your demographic right. But it and it takes off, it just takes off like people love social proof.
- 32:01 I absolutely agree with you. You would like to attract attention. Because sometimes the here’s like the main thing that we are finding, to engage people for your product, for your page, for your brand stores. If you do have a chance to catch them, you will probably get a sale like shortly, you will not like wait for so long. Perfect. And Norm, I do have the last question for this topic. And if you will have a chance just to provide with a one advice all Amazon sellers in the case of like the marketing, branding or pr, what advice will you give them?
- 32:44 Probably and this has changed over the years, first of all sort of off topic, be resilient. Amazon has a way of kicking it between the legs. Just get up and let them kick you into the leg between the legs again. And you know the more times you get up, the easier it’s going to be. But they’re going to do it it’s not what or when it’s or it’s when, not if, right not if, but when. Then the other thing I would probably say is there’s a time and a place not to spend money. And on branding or image, or quality if you’re gonna take the time to try to make money, then make sure that your brand quality, your image is following exactly what you want to do. So you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars, but spend at least quality dollars. And probably at the very end of the day, like me. With all these things that I’m doing, I’m not an expert in them. I hire out and you just hire the experts. they might cost you a little bit of money, but at the end of the day that’s probably the best money that you’ll spend. Because you’ll be getting that much more.
- 34:02 I absolutely agree with you. Right now that will be some kind of like relax for you, I guess. Now we will speak more about you. And we have checked the social media and we understood that you do have a lot of info about your businesses, about the Amazon, e-commerce, about like do your work, but we couldn’t find anything about your hobbies. And how do you spend your free time? What do you like?
- 34:32 Anybody who on my personal profile knows that I love cigars. So that’s I like sitting out on my balcony, having a cigar and then checking my social media, how Kelsey does his job.
- 34:57 Yeah, I really like that, you know, why not? Do you have like some time maybe, when you get a cigar and open a book, or listen to a podcast. Maybe you have some examples or a recommendation for our audience in the case of the book or any audio content.
- 35:15 Yeah, there’s been a lot of different books that I’ve read. I’m trying to think there’s some really simple books. One of them was, it was Gung Ho and what was the other one, same author Peter Blanchard. Raving fans. Those are two that are that were incredible. The other one, still exists I read it in 1995 and it changed everything that I did, everything that I did. And that was Peter Gerber’s or Michael Gerber’s the “E-myth”. And that e-myth revises what it’s called “Right now” and it’s all about building standard operating procedures policies and procedures, how to build a brand. And that one I just read and it was actually from a friend of mine Jeff Sass and his was “Everything I learned about marketing from the toxic adventure”. And he used to work with the film company that made that toxic adventure. He did a great job on it. I’ve also read in search of excellence, that was that was a few probably a few months back. But that’s kind of it right now, but I’m a big reader. I love you know reading books or listening to podcasts, but when I do have free time, what I do like is “Real crime” a podcast or TV. That’s what I’ll spend my free time doing.
- 37:01 That is really cool and I guess we will provide a list of these books on the description for this episode. And you’re spending a lot of time inside the Amazon sphere. And what trends do you see at year for this year for example or next trends that we are looking for to get on Amazon for example or e-commerce as a general one.
- 37:28 Number one is inventory management or supply chain management. If you’re not able to negotiate with your suppliers or get better terms or figure out a better strategy, if you’re not having some in inventory staying at a 3pl, that could be a struggle. I’ve actually tried to move a lot of my inventory when I can on the east coast rather than the west coast, because of all the problems that we were experiencing. But you know, sometimes you don’t have that option. But anyway, that’s probably the biggest hurdle, even the inventory restrictions. You know, just being able to maintain a monitor it’s a different beast, but all it takes is a few days of monitoring. And you can get you know get that wiped wiped away and then just you know keep growing.
- 38:25 Absolutely agree with you. Because right now we do have like in the case of the inventory like two sides. First one the communication, what terms could you discuss and to get for your products. And the second one is like your management like how do you manage the inventory, how you prepare for the season, or how you could improve, your inventory. If you choose the strategy on like scaling or accelerating your businesses, because I guess that is one of the important things, that we do when we start working with the clients. Because if you do not have the inventory plan for the next half a year and these plans like are not going up and not growing, we couldn’t help you, we’re going to improve your PPC or accelerate your business for making your pretty for such companies as they play Perch or Trassio. Okay, and I guess the last question for today, who should be the next guest on Dr. Amazon podcast?
- 39:30 I mean there’s a couple of people that I’m thinking of but, Afolabi Oyerokun. So if you don’t know Afolabi, I’m a partner with him over at Honu Worldwide. But he’s a guy you hear, oh I do sourcing, oh I do logistics, oh I do supply chain management. Amazon came to him to consult when they brought out FBA. So he’s a pretty smart guy. So I think he would be a really great guy to either be on to talk about product development and innovation, which is a big topic right now. You just don’t want to be a white label seller and sell somebody else’s stuff with 10 other people.
- 40:23 Thank you so much, I guess, that will be a great podcast and we’ll absolutely contact him getting on the show. Perfect. And Norm, once again thank you so much for all these insights, that you have shared with us, with all your expertise. And I guess this episode will help most of the Amazon sellers to improve their branding or to find the right way on testing different things inside the PR or marketing as a general one.
- 40:54 Oh you’re welcome!