Long Game Strategies for eCommerce and Amazon

Long Game Strategies for eCommerce and Amazon

In this episode of Startup Hustle, Andrew Morgans and Meny Hoffman, CEO of Ptex Group, talk about long-game strategies for eCommerce and Amazon. Gain key insights on how to set up your business for success and keep it sustainable.

Covered in this Episode

Trends come and go but your business has to be in it for the long haul.

The world of eCommerce is rapidly expanding, making up 20% of retail sales worldwide. It opens up countless opportunities for businesses to grow. That said, the ever-changing nature of eCommerce can also pose a threat for businesses still getting their feet wet. That’s why it’s crucial to have the right people in your corner to guide you as you grow.

Get Started with Full Scale

Ptex Group specializes in helping businesses flourish amidst a rapidly evolving marketplace. Meny Hoffman shares his tips on how to create opportunities for everyone.

Growth and Innovation in Startup Venture

Highlights

  • The Mission: Creating opportunities for everyone (5:00)
  • We all need that friend who points out opportunities and your strengths (7:46)
  • Segment your services with amazing leaders and teams who can function independently. (15:25)
  • Amazon is all about the algorithm (20:47)
  • Why you shouldn’t hack the Amazon algorithm (31:15)
  • Amazon creative services (42:53)

Key Quotes

I was someone that learned all of the things myself. But I realized I’m not the best analyzer and the best creative and the best this and that. I needed to build a team with people that were better than me, right? So I learned it just enough to know what I needed and then I brought in people that could stand alone and make it thrive.

Andrew Morgans

Maybe you don’t know what’s going to happen 5 years from now. But 5 years come and you want to exit, you’re going to say, oh I should have built this brand stronger five years ago because then my asset would be worth more.

Meny Hoffman

The most important thing for a business owner is clarity.

Meny Hoffman
Tips for Business Growth from Startup Hustle

Rough Transcript

The following is an auto-generated text transcript of this episode.

00:01.56

Andrew Morgans

What’s up hustlers! Welcome back. This is Andrew Morgans, founder of Marknology. Here is today’s host of Startup Hustle covering all things eCommerce, Amazon, and entrepreneurship. We’re going to talk about all the things to be thinking about as an owner as you plan for the long game strategies whether it’s eCommerce or just for founders in general. 

Before we get started, a shoutout to today’s sponsor fullscale.io, helping you build software teams quickly and affordably.

Today’s guest is a friend a colleague in the Amazon space. We spoke back at prosper. We’ve just become quick friends over a short period of time. I think we got a lot more in store. We’ll both be at ASGTG. They’ll be speaking there as well. So I’m more than honored to have him on the show. Meny Hoffman, welcome to the show.

00:44.86

Meny Hoffman

Thank you so much. I could mimic the words that you just said. We got to know each other pretty relatively just a couple of weeks or maybe a month or 2. But I feel I know you forever.

00:58.24

Andrew Morgans

Yeah, we’ve just shared podcasts. We shared the stage. We’ve like you know we’re doing all the things. So this is a very small community of a booming industry, but a small community. Are you in Brooklyn? Jersey?

01:05.65

Meny Hoffman

Yes, Brooklyn.

01:15.19

Andrew Morgans

Awesome! Well, I’m excited. Brooklyn’s one of my favorite cities. So getting invited to come out ASGTG I was like, yeah no problem on coming. But before that, we have an important topic today. The topic is long game strategies for eCommerce and Amazon.

01:30.95

Andrew Morgans

Before we get into that specific title and what that can mean for sellers or anyone listening, let’s talk about you. And all my listeners know this is kind of what I do love. Because whether you’re into Amazon or eCommerce or not, what we all have in common is we all have a story and we all have a why and we all have a…

01:37.45

01:50.56

Andrew Morgans

A personal brand way. Before we get to you know a business brand, we have a personal brand. Where did you kind of get started? When you were a kid did you know you wanted to be an entrepreneur? Was it like something you fell into? For me, it was definitely something that I fell into.

02:05.93

Andrew Morgans

Just out of passion and just was like chasing the eCommerce. I want to know everything about it. So long before I had a business, I never really saw myself that way. But a lot of people, their stories start with a lot of businesses before they get here. Where’s your story start?

02:17.93

Meny Hoffman

Yeah, so I’m glad you ask. So I’m the kid who you hear a lot that had a lemonade stand as a young kid. Not relatively lemonade stand but that type of kid. So whatever I could get a hold of and try to create stuff. My first business card I created when I was thirteen years old because when we had a computer at home when most of my friends were playing car games, I started developing, designing, and trying to play around with the stuff that I could create.

02:53.21

Meny Hoffman

So I was that entrepreneurial spirit which being a creator and as soon as I started growing up and I said you know I want to do something I had this pivotal moment where I thought to myself I could do something a transaction I could create something and sell it or I could do something that the person buying it. Will continue to make money off it and that’s where my passion towards design branding marketing of course at that time it wasn’t like real full-fledged branding or marketing was more like graphic design. So but I figured let’s say you’re doing an event. Let me do the graphic design for your events. So I figured when I.

03:21.92

Andrew Morgans

Um, yeah.

03:31.60

Meny Hoffman

Do that. Not only I’m helping in designing that actual flyer but the success the person has at the event I could at least feel passionate about some of it that it was because I’ve created a flyer.

03:40.48

Andrew Morgans

Yeah I love that I think I didn’t really think about it till now but I was in a band for four and a half years before I got out of school and I was chasing freedom and creativity and I was creating music. You know I grew up in church and music is part of my blood and um.

03:44.23

Meny Hoffman

Um.

03:58.94

Andrew Morgans

The flyers were a big deal. Okay, because Myspace and Facebook were just coming out at the time and so we would create these flyers and the flyers became everything as far as getting people to the shows or how great the event was going to be or how cool it looked on the flyers so that just resonated with me. Um.

03:58.95

Meny Hoffman

Um.

04:11.25

Meny Hoffman

You hit me. Yeah, and and that’s how I started and I figured at that point you know we had a family business I said you know I don’t you know? Great! Great family I’m pretty very Hooked. You know there’s almost day doesn’t go by that I don’t speak or visit my parents.

04:16.74

Andrew Morgans

Didn’t even think of it like that.

04:33.66

Meny Hoffman

But ultimately I wanted to start something on my own I wanted to create something from the ground up and this is my story. You know we could go through the twenty years doing this what I’m doing now as a Ceo of ptex group and everything in between, but I didn’t have multiple businesses in this journey. At this point I am involved in multiple businesses. But. This is my core business and this is the office I’m sitting. Of course not this office, but this is the company that I’ve built. And I love it because my personal mission is I believe every person should be given the opportunity to succeed in life and if you arrive at destination where you have something you could offer to others.

05:03.86

Andrew Morgans

Um, yeah.

05:10.10

Meny Hoffman

Sometimes it’s a job sometimes it’s the creative strategy. Sometimes it’s just a piece of advice. You want to be in that seat and give it because you’re going to feel so much better at the end of today and that what drives me every single day. Regardless, if it’s work we do for? um, um, you know for large companies or it’s a piece of advice I’ll give a teenager.

05:18.40

Andrew Morgans

Yeah.

05:28.98

Meny Hoffman

Or everything in between that that the premise of giving the people the opportunity the business opportunity to grow is amazing because there’s so much talent out there. There’s so much creativity out there. Sometimes it’s just a missing link that you could be there to support.

05:41.50

Andrew Morgans

Yeah I love that I think all the time about legacy and you know that’s my brand. That’s my long-term strategy right? his legacy essentially and you know I just want to be known as a generous man. You know I want to be known like there’s other things too. But that’s a very important thing for me.

05:47.39

Meny Hoffman

A.M.

06:00.51

Andrew Morgans

And whether that’s giving advice. You know I used to used to be so poor I’ll be honest with you that couldn’t give much but my time you know if someone needed help moving sure I can be there physically and help them move but I couldn’t give a job I couldn’t give an opportunity I couldn’t give really ah a reference or a referral I couldn’t give.

06:06.70

Meny Hoffman

Um, yeah.

06:17.41

Andrew Morgans

A great brand or a great story to ah you know a growing business. Um, so now that I’m placing a position to give, whether it’s through talents or advice or experience or it’s the best feeling in the world and I think it’s something that when you’re building a brand with someone.

06:19.84

Meny Hoffman

Like.

06:34.13

Andrew Morgans

Ah, you know there’s multiple times now I’m not even touching it and my team is executing and you know the the client or the customer will respond Um, just like Wow I never believed like my little brand could look like this or you know and they almost get emotional. We’ve had people crying. Yeah on on the phone.

06:36.82

Meny Hoffman

Who.

06:46.23

Meny Hoffman

Are.

06:52.32

Andrew Morgans

And it’s ah it’s just one of the most special feelings I think truly.

06:54.70

Meny Hoffman

Yeah, and I think that ah 2 parts that I just ah 2 points I want to mention one is that nothing gives you this opportunity than being in the business world especially today with with social media on one side live events and networking events that’s happening in the other side. You just interact with so many different people on so many different levels and that’s that’s one part in in our community being in in the creative space that you are and and and and I am with ptex. We even have one layer is stronger than that because. Sometimes we were bringing out the best of a person. The best of their idea the best of their business and saying this is really what you sets you apart. This is really who you are and the people will um turn around say wow we’ve done this for 10 years I never said it the way that you just put it on paper. Yeah.

07:41.22

Andrew Morgans

Yeah, you get to see their strength you know and you’re reflecting back to them. What’s amazing about themselves or their or their business or their brand and most people see you know we see the negative or we see the bad or we see the problems. Um, so there’s nothing like that friend right? not that we’re friends where we’re in business. But.

07:45.60

Meny Hoffman

Yep, but.

07:48.99

Meny Hoffman

I.

08:01.22

Andrew Morgans

There’s nothing like that friend that just points out and and gives you that boost of confidence that really shows like hey you’re so good at this or like you know, gives you that opportunity. Um, and to be able to do that day in and day out I think is you know, incredible. But branding alone, you know and storytelling and creative. Um, it can’t run a business by itself.

08:13.89

Meny Hoffman

But.

08:20.70

Andrew Morgans

You know there has to be strategy behind you know everything we’re doing I want to go back into your story a little bit because you jumped you jumped fast. Okay, so you’re just like okay I started making flyers and then twenty years later I’m ah you know I’m I’m running some of the biggest brands in the game.

08:23.00

Meny Hoffman

Um, sir.

08:35.65

Andrew Morgans

Helping them getting branded and storytelling you know storytelling in place and messaging and all of that in-between I at least I know like when I started out on Amazon no one cared about creative or branding it was something that I was passionate about but I couldn’t get buy-in from the industry as a whole. Um.

08:37.65

Meny Hoffman

Um.

08:47.62

Meny Hoffman

This.

08:52.80

Andrew Morgans

Did you start in web. Did you start in like you know what? what was your kind of journey getting getting to where your position today.

08:53.85

Meny Hoffman

Sure correct. So we start graphic design as I mentioned to you um, and ah ah slowly but surely I started seeing that if you’re gonna be just you know you could be the best graphic designer but there is then you’re know the cheapest if you could you could be the cheapest and not the best. Ah. With graphic design. Um I started thinking of what is the outcome. The graphic design piece will give the person to give the business and I started seeing people are looking for their the outcome. Not so much on the input so we will do a 6 pager we’ll do a 5 pageger. So very very early on we started. Adding services to be the person basically be your marketing arm as you’re running the business and delegate the rest you run you but you know so that part so people are are focused on servicing the client operating and developing the finances everything related but. How can we be that arm to be support you with all the different services so early on it was strictly. You know to to give you the long version. We start a graphic design a little bit into the process. Believe it or not It’s not not so much known in the in the business community outside of the people that use our service. We had a very interesting story and I think there’s a learning lesson there as well where we had. We did a bechure for someone in the furniture business that was almost about to go out of business because manufacturing went all all overseas and nobody wanted to do custom furniture in locally and he went to a consultant. And he spoke to the consultant. The consultant said I have an idea. Let’s create a brasure that will go out to interior designers custom high-end interior designers they want to have a relationship locally because they want to have all these amazing ideas and they have somebody that could execute it for them and what ended up happening is. Ah sure we did the basure for them. They were sure came in and and I wanted to call the client to let them know that it arrived it was the 800 number on the back I called call the 8 home number the wife picked up a few seconds booms I lost the client I lost the the call and. Ah, a few minutes later she called me back and asked her what’s happening he says I wasn’t a train station so I asked her wait a minute if you’re going to send out these beautiful brochures to busy people and you’re not there to support I’m picking up the phone. There’s no point and she said what should I do I should sit home all day waiting for that phone call. And I said how about I take one of my reception if they should pick up the phone for you and that we added the whole wing of customer service with a call center. So the marketing initiatives we do. We could literally support you and picking up the phones because what’s the point of doing marketing and you don’t have the emva structure to pick up those leads correct.

11:27.97

Andrew Morgans

Um, wow.

11:35.63

Andrew Morgans

Um, yeah, you’re not going to be able to keep them as a customer because you’re going to lose them.

11:41.58

Meny Hoffman

And later on we actually added web as you mentioned before because we wanted to have the full digital experience as well and then eventually we added another team which is very focused on branding and marketing so it wasn’t just graphic design. So as we speak, we help growing but businesses flourish with those different services. So. It’s all a cart which means is. We look at your strategy. We look at the challenges you’re facing. We come up with a plan that I would say 60% of the clients will use between 2 or 3 of those services and then some of them will just use single services as they need so answering the question as far as what happened in between is we constantly involved because. A business that doesn’t involve based on the needs of the customer that at 1 point you find out somebody else is taking their customer so you got you always have to figure out what is the pain point that maybe you’re not solving that it’s so close to you what you’re ready doing that you could solve.

12:24.64

Andrew Morgans

Yet.

12:33.39

Andrew Morgans

I love that, and it’s exactly how I build Marknology ah not to make a plug but like it was honestly working with the brand you know in the early days. It was list some products. Okay, I’m listing products you guys as photos are horrible like you know you guys need to get better photos or better graphics.

12:46.74

Meny Hoffman

Are.

12:51.40

Andrew Morgans

They’re like okay where where do I go to and they’re going to Fiverr. They’re going to work or they’re hiring their sisters cousins. Best friend you know or whatever the case is and the staff was horrible. So in some cases they would pay 10 k for photo set and it was horrible. Ah, and so it was like you know if I’m going to keep this client and we’re gonna get sales I need to start getting their photos right.

12:56.91

Meny Hoffman

Ah.

13:09.60

Meny Hoffman

Are.

13:10.79

Andrew Morgans

And their graphics right? You know so we added Ah, we added a creative department, and then some of them were asking about social media. So you know we don’t advertise that I do that more for my own brands but we pushed into that for a while and the market’s just not ready the the brands we were working with didn’t understand how much effort goes into that to create real photography. You know at at a scale.

13:25.31

Meny Hoffman

Um, sorry but.

13:30.20

Andrew Morgans

But but we added fulfillment services right? and we added the ability to create inserts because you know brands were like well we’re struggling with fulfillment. We can’t get inventory into Amazon we can’t get good help. We can’t you know that yada yada yada ah well, that’s help. We’re not going to keep them as a client we’re selling them out of product as a marketing firm.

13:46.45

Meny Hoffman

Ah, no.

13:50.10

Andrew Morgans

Ah, but they can’t handle supply chain or fulfillment services. So from that all the way to you know international expansion or whatever we do. It’s become Okay, my technology has become more full service more full service. More full service and and a lot of it is ala cart. Um, because of a need.

14:00.10

Meny Hoffman

Um, sure.

14:05.50

Andrew Morgans

It was a need that if if the if the brand is not goingnna fill these things we’re gonna lose them to someone else or they’re not gonna do it and we’re not gonna win and so it becomes like when you put the customer first as an agency at least or as any kind of company. Really you put the customer first, similar to how Amazon does right? Amazon is one of the.

14:21.84

Meny Hoffman

Yeah, oh yeah.

14:25.39

Andrew Morgans

Ah, marketplace that focuses on the customer first and I’m trying to maximize sales on Amazon so I’m going to think like them makes a lot of sense to me. Um, but as we started doing that. It’s why when I see a lot of these like you know these firms. Maybe they just do ads. Maybe they just do creative. Maybe they just do ah Seo and and I understand the why it’s very hard to run full service.

14:29.17

Meny Hoffman

Like that sure.

14:45.15

Andrew Morgans

Ah, the account management beside the human side of getting along with brands and and collaborating at a high level. Um, but they’re going to lose them to someone that’s that’s doing it all because I think as companies start figuring out they’re doing all these things are on Walmart they’re on instacart they’re on chewy they’re on.

14:45.53

Meny Hoffman

Um.

15:01.86

Andrew Morgans

All of these things are like who can help me with all of this. Oh my god, there’s so many moving pieces and so being able to provide those and step in as ah as a friend as a partner you know, being able offering your your assistant to answer the calls. That’s that’s that’s an Andrew move I love that.

15:09.20

Meny Hoffman

Oh.

15:15.63

Meny Hoffman

Yeah I’ll just add. Um, I think it’s an important, and I’ve spoken on this topic many on many other podcasts in the past, which people shouldn’t confuse that you want to become the jack-of- allll trades or doing mediocre work across the board rather than being a specialist and doing something amazingly well. We’re speaking about. Doing amazingly well all the different parts that your customer needs and there is systems and processes how you develop a company to be able to offer that similarly you mentioned Amazon Amazon has so many different wings in their business now and they’re trying to be doing amazingly well on all the different fronts. Why because they’re.

15:41.56

Andrew Morgans

A hundred percent

15:54.21

Meny Hoffman

Separating their separate team members separate structures and structure leadership and so separate vision and mission that goes into that service. So it’s all about getting you know similar that I used the analogy I use a lot is ah whole foods. Yeah, once upon a time you go you went somewhere to buy produce and another place to buy meat and then so on and so forth. And the whole foods was able to do it because the person doing produce and whole foods doesn’t touch the meat and the person touching the doing the meat doesn’t touch the grocery stuff and so on and so forth, but the customer experience is I come into 1 place and I’m able to get my services and. And our company in ptext. This is how we’ve developed it the person running the call center now has zero to do with any of the creative work. However, when he needs to be brought in to the process. The customer knows that now we’ll be talking about how we’re going to be picking up the phones and what type of service integration. You want to have with your infrastructure and so on and so forth the same as the web. Not every designer is made to do web development especially if it’s complex websites with backend. We have a whole team on the website but they will integrate with the branding team. What’s your vision for the brand online and now we’ll take our UX experience our UI experience and mirror it with what you had invision on print. And now the client is getting the full experience. Then I told you where I told you we have so much in common. That’s how he started the ad episode.

17:10.20

Andrew Morgans

Wow. Did you have you just been listening to all my podcasts I don’t know what? Yeah, this is exactly how I think ah you know. On our kickoff calls sometimes with clients, you know every every one of my team members is like you know I work hand in hand with this department this department. You know I was someone that learned all of the things myself. Um, but just realized I’m not the best analyzer and the best creative and the best this and the best this I needed to build a team with people that.

17:31.29

Meny Hoffman

Um.

17:42.80

Meny Hoffman

And.

17:42.37

Andrew Morgans

Knew that that were better than me, right? So I learned it ah just enough to know what I needed right? And then I brought in people that could stand alone and just be a creative. You know you can’t have someone analyzing Ppc and then go be creative over here and come up with this outside the box Story Brand you know.

17:58.40

Meny Hoffman

But.

18:00.62

Andrew Morgans

Just that’s a different kind of thinking to be analytical versus being creative and I think marknology is one of the few that’s doing it well in regards to both because you know on Amazon specifically you have custom creative now and you have you know the writing team which is more of a creative service in my opinion.

18:08.80

Meny Hoffman

Can I.

18:17.25

Meny Hoffman

Name.

18:19.30

Andrew Morgans

And the advertising go hand in hand they should be talking about what’s working. What’s not um so it’s just as Amazon’s its own beast in some ways, but it’s very like we have separate teams from brand protection to case management. How can you have the guy on the phone with Amazon arguing about cases or issues with the Amazon’s platform then going and and being creative with a photo shoot with babies or like things like that doesn’t work. It doesn’t work that way you know, so you really have to create to be excellent in each of those areas.

18:42.56

Meny Hoffman

You know, correct, sure so I want I wanted to mention it because people shouldn’t confuse the 2 and and you’re only able to expand once you’re ready with that expansion.

18:53.88

Andrew Morgans

Totally, that’s a very good idea. Very good comment. Um, you know we didn’t offer any website design or anything like that for years and years and there is a lot of my competitors. A lot of people I’ve seen making a lot of money by by. White labeling you know web design or things like that, but they didn’t have control of it in their team. They weren’t ready. They wanted to offer it because people were asking but they weren’t ready and so you know I’ve seen them losing clients that they were doing well on the Amazon site but you know the relationship would go bad on the website so they’re great at sales.

19:18.75

Meny Hoffman

Um, so.

19:29.16

Andrew Morgans

But horrible and execution so they weren’t ready. You know so marthnology I feel like in a lot of ways. It’s like a locomotive where you know it’s been slow. It’s been slow but you know the the reputation has been quality. Quality Quality, quality quality and don’t grow until you’re ready um to be able to handle so great points. Um.

19:42.60

Meny Hoffman

And.

19:47.89

Andrew Morgans

Moving on from there. Okay, so you’ve created like you kind of vertically integrated as you’ve went and said okay we need this service. We need to be able to do print direct mail. Maybe it’s email design or web design now to Amazon when did Amazon come into the picture.

20:01.43

Meny Hoffman

Yeah, so we did branding so at one point we we serviced we did b two b ah services and then nonprofit um work that we’d done and then slowly but surely we started also doing branding for product which is basically product branding and. And the earlier years we went to bigboxs retailers it went through some of the directto consumers. Um, ah you know initiatives at one point. Um, we started hearing the word Amazon we started seeing eCommerce sites pop popping up, so we started developing some of those and I remember still going to an event where I started. Speaking about branding to Amazon sellers and they really laughed me off and they said you know Amazon is all about the algorithm. You don’t need packaging. You don’t need fancy schmancy stuff. All you need is just prop it in into a poly bag and just ship it, and that’s about it.

20:54.51

Andrew Morgans

Giveaways.

20:58.30

Meny Hoffman

My my message to them at that point was that why do you think why when I ask you? what you do you say I sell on Amazon I think you need to say I’m building a brand my distribution channel is Amazon and they laughed at me as well and at 1 point at 1 point. Um, they started to sync in and as Amazon platform became more brand-centric and you mentioned before that all about the customer who pushed Amazon to be more brand-centric the consumers customers are starting to see well these are stuff that I can’t trust this is a brand I can’t trust this is a Chinese. A brand that somehow my product is electronics and somehow it blew up in my bedroom. Whatever it is so Amazon in order to be able to make sure that the customers trust the platform they started saying okay, let’s become more brand-centric let’s give those platforms for the brands let’s bring on the brands that didn’t you know for the first couple of years um you know most of the brands this you know, just ignored Amazon they say you know we’re not going on their platform I remember 1 of the brands that we work with 1 of the Amazon ah reps reached out to them and said here’s the data. How many people are searching your brand on our platform. And you’re not on the brand on you’re not on our platform. So the earlier years. That’s how Amazon was trying to lure in those brands, and now I think it’s it’s everybody will agree that you got to focus on building brands. Of course there is this could be a disagreement to what extent and how much you need to spend on it. How much off Amazon but we all know Amazon rewards not off Amazon traffic um sales that come off Amazon is building brand loyalty on Amazon it’s all about the trust factor if you position yourself as a proper brand in a category you get that. So as we start seeing that wave. Um, it. wasn’t wasn’t easy we started developing more and more our services around that and slowly but surely we got into that space and to date we have built over hundreds of those brands.

22:58.13

Andrew Morgans

I love it I love it and it makes so much sense. It’s it’s hard for me not to just get excited about this because there’s someone else has experienced the same journey as myself, you know and um for me I had the opportunity to work with Adidas like ah so I’ve been doing Amazon services for 11 years

23:15.30

Meny Hoffman

Home.

23:17.39

Andrew Morgans

And this is probably like year 3 or 4 you know like in my early years I was on Upwork I worked with thedidas they had a vendor account at that time which was how you got like you know brand registry one wasn’t even a thing I don’t think but if you had vendor central you could create a plus content. They had all the access and um.

23:24.93

Meny Hoffman

Are the.

23:36.60

Andrew Morgans

I got to see how great visuals work. You know I got to see what great content was like and I think that you know Amazon is a data platform and um, you know so they were getting Amazon and the early days with one p was going out and getting the brands as we know them the nikes, the Adidas the kleenex the. Coca -colas whatever they were getting the big brands in a human-human relationship signing them bringing their products to amazon, but branding wasn’t done on those products, right? They were big brands but they weren’t branding right? Well then.

24:02.35

Meny Hoffman

Sharp.

24:08.64

Andrew Morgans

Fast forward from a different angle because I think it’s kind of meeting in the middle a little bit so you have these big brands there but with no branding you had smaller brands the Amazon seller I started moving toward brands and manufacturers years ago because I got tired of beating my head against the wall with Amazon sellers honestly I just got tired of them not being able to see long game.

24:21.62

Meny Hoffman

Um.

24:27.55

Andrew Morgans

Not being able to see what’s been around since the beginning of time which is brands and storytelling and you know Amazon is just a channel right? Ecommerce envelops all of these things and so you know what now the aggregators or anyone buying a brand vcs pes. Um. Saying oh I want something that has a story, something that has a package something that’s branded. Well anyone that was five years ago ten years ago knew this already right? So it was. You know what really matters then you saw the Chinese sellers you saw supplements coming out that were poisonous and all types of stuff. Okay, how do you build? trust.

24:48.52

Meny Hoffman

Um, ah. Ah.

25:01.51

Meny Hoffman

Um.

25:05.50

Andrew Morgans

Branding. Okay, how do you sell a price a product that’s higher quality a higher price than everyone that’s cheap on Amazon branding and so the the smaller companies. Um that needed sales a little bit more hungry a little bit more passion. A little bit more desire saw Amazon as an opportunity instead of a problem.

25:20.81

Meny Hoffman

Um.

25:23.26

Andrew Morgans

And they started focusing on these things. Great Graphics photos and you know these brands were beating these what these brands these smaller brands that were doing branding and storytelling were actually outranking these massive brands that have overall branding and so.

25:37.23

Meny Hoffman

Shy.

25:40.44

Andrew Morgans

It was kind of this meeting in the middle and either they’re going to keep losing these big brands are going to keep losing market share why these smaller ones are coming up and grabbing it because they’re actually paying attention to those things um mixed with mixed with ah you know. China and Counterfeit and all of these things and so it’s kind of really created just ah, a perfect storm for us now in a position where we are to be able to help so many people really do a good job on this? Um, but it was it was that content that early experienced to me that was like this is the way no matter what in another time.

25:59.60

Meny Hoffman

M.

26:12.48

Andrew Morgans

I’ll share this I think I even shared it at prosper. But we launched a product that had a great story a single product price higher than everyone else and the conversion rate was around 48% couple years running and I saw the data you know and I was just like the messaging is right.

26:21.29

Meny Hoffman

Wow.

26:28.13

Andrew Morgans

Story is right? It’s transparent we were talking about the founders and why they made it. It was a couple of moms like why they made this product and um, it just crushed it right and you just need a couple of those a couple of those light bulb moments to be like Okay, what did we do here. Why did it work.

26:35.10

Meny Hoffman

Um, yeah, ah.

26:43.78

Andrew Morgans

And I should be doing this more with more brands.

26:45.30

Meny Hoffman

Yeah, because the end of the day at the end of the the other side of the of the of the computer there is a person a human actually clicking add to cart and actually checking out which with sometimes we don’t feel. Yeah you you could fool the algorithm to get it up and ranking. You could fool the algorithm and and how to look at your product but the end of the day the trust factor and that conversion comes from the person feeling comfortable enough to make that purchase so the stronger your brand is positioned the better it is and the more chances you have to convey that once. And then obviously if you have a proper product convey. You know, ah let the person come back again and again and again and tell their friends and tell everybody because they have brand loyalty and and I think that in in my career being outside of Amazon first. Like most of the conversations I had with brands that are building. Let’s say private label brands for the retailer establishment was the following. We I want to build a brand for this for this demographic for this and this reason for this and this pain point and this is why the products will be different and therefore go ahead and build a brand. We all know that most of the Amazon sellers once upon a time didn’t go that way. They go. They went just the opposite they said helium 10 jungle scout tell us which product I could sell for this amount of money and make this amount of profit who cares which category it is. Who cares? Why you um, want to sell this for 1 reason only because the algorithm because you’re giving me the data point so we came a long way and it’s okay to look that way because the end of the day you are relying on Amazon for for the economics but at 1 point you have to at least you know bridge the gap and if you don’t want to do first. The branding. But at least once you know which category you’re going to enter now figure out how you could bridge that together with branding because it’s so much stronger as you mentioned before we could see it with data. We could see it with conversions. We could see it with what customers are saying in reviews we could see it with people coming back and a lot of the data is now available. Either on Amazon or on social media or people joining mailing lists. Whatever it is so I think nobody disagrees I think where we still have this agreement in the space is people thinking a nice box means branding or a colored box means branding I think people don’t realize that the same as a human has a DNA. Brand has to have a DNA which is exclusively for that brand and it’s important that that touch that that consistency is across every touch point with the brand. It doesn’t start correctly. It doesn’t start by the Amazon listing and end by the Amazon listing you have to make sure that.

29:18.64

Andrew Morgans

Trust.

29:27.90

Meny Hoffman

Every touch point across the board including the customer service rep that will answer an email is speaking the same language and the same messaging that you see on the product off the product on social media on the insert cards and everything in between and also including the product development. If you want to be a premium brand. You can’t speak that language, and ultimately you don’t care when you could save a couple of dollars in manufacturing and you cut in Corners. So I think that’s very important then we’re very blessed companies like ourselves and companies like your company and your agency where sometimes those those agency owner those. Brand owners just don’t have that background don’t have that experience. They didn’t go out and hire a CMO cmo to do the work for them and we are sometimes their partner in bringing that to light.

30:12.50

Andrew Morgans

I love that and I think that’s why I enjoy what we do so much. Um I have a I have a question for you. Before we do, shout out to our sponsor. Today’s episode of Startup Hustle is sponsored by fullscale.io,helping you build a software team quickly and affordably. 

30:31.12

Andrew Morgans

Listening to you made me just think like I think it’s a cliche saying but you know the truth will always find find you out right? and it’s like so so I went to school for computer science networking Insecurity I got a bachelor’s in in security and and you know vulnerabilities right? and so looking at hacking a system. Hacking an algorithm cheating an algorithm right is ultimately also cheating the customers because they’re not actually getting the best product based on how the system was intended. They’re getting the best product based on what you think they should buy if you just take a step back from that. Can you understand how that’s so wrong, not just morally.

31:07.80

Meny Hoffman

Um, it’s it. Yeah, it’s not. It’s not sustainable I know the title of this is is looking at long term. You know how many sellers were very successful 8 figures 9 figures and they’re not around now.

31:09.13

Andrew Morgans

Just it’s not gonna last right and we’re talking. Yeah.

31:23.49

Andrew Morgans

Yep.

31:23.55

Meny Hoffman

Because everything they stood for was trying to hack the algorithm and at 1 point either Amazon finds out or the customer finds out as something comes down crashing if you build a brand of course you still have to figure out what Amazon wants and Keyword research and. In what language to speak and making sure you’re in the proper categories and everything that needs to happen of course. However, you’re building something for the long run you’re looking at not only the short term you’re looking something and this is the first question I ask when people come to me and says is that is branding important second my response that will always be I looking to make something a quick. Dollar or you’re looking to build something sustainable for you and maybe a legacy or maybe an exit later down, and that’s if you were looking at something a little bit more than short term. That’s where branding comes in because you’re building something you want to have that system that processes what type of products I’m going to be going after what type of um. Customer base I’m going to go after and so on and so forth so to answer your question. Um and and and point-blank. Absolutely It’s not sustainable.

32:26.30

Andrew Morgans

Yep, and I think that’s why honestly like me trying to seek out the customers that I want getting my messaging right has led me to to brands and Manufacturers because you know brands and Manufacturers that already have a brand are they’re not going anywhere right? They’re not looking to just build and exit.

32:30.90

Meny Hoffman

What you.

32:38.96

Meny Hoffman

Here.

32:43.10

Andrew Morgans

And branding is something that is long game just by its its general disposition. You know branding is not something you don’t brand something for six months and then it’s done like right? It’s something that takes a long time. It’s consistency and trust those things aren’t earned overnight. You can’t even with the best branding in the world. You can’t launch a product and and have a brand.

32:55.17

Meny Hoffman

Okay, yeah.

33:00.62

Meny Hoffman

Yeah, and you speaking about long long game. Um, I just want to mention some people say I don’t know what’s gonna happen to 5 years from now. So why should I think that far out, and the answer to that is guess what you’re gonna you’re gonna have an asset that has much more you you have much more? Um, um.

33:02.30

Andrew Morgans

Overnight it takes time.

33:20.42

Meny Hoffman

Directions to do you know to go with it down the road if you build it right from the get-go. So maybe you don’t know what’s going to happen 5 years from now. But 5 years comes and you want to exit and you’re going to say oh I should have built this brand stronger five years ago because then my asset would be more worth. So if you want to maximize the assets regardless of what you plan to do it about at in 5 years from now with 3 years but now whatever it is if you do it right? You’ll have more options and and it will work to your favor down the road as well term. Ah.

33:47.77

Andrew Morgans

I think the same thing as building a house, right? and I know there’s biblical references to that that I’ll leave alone, but you know it comes to building a solid foundation, right? And if you buy a house and you’re just like you’re in it for 5 years and you just stay there. You might still get a big exit if the market’s gone up.

33:57.61

Meny Hoffman

Sharp.

34:05.35

Andrew Morgans

Or like you know you might you might ah be able to refinance or sell your house and make some money, but you’re going to stand a much higher chance if you’ve been making improvements across those 5 years right you’re improving the outdoor lighting or the the yard and the grass and you know the fence is is well maintainintained and so whenever you go to the to exit that house. They’re going to be like wow it’s had a great owner.

34:22.77

Meny Hoffman

Absolutely.

34:24.78

Andrew Morgans

You know so that’s the same thing with business. It just gives you options and I think that as I was learning this on Amazon as someone that’s had to learn. You know my business acumen over the last eleven years or so it is not something I didn’t grow I grew up in a nonprofit house. My dad was a missionary you know so I saw him doing hustles and business but in kind of a different way. And would not profit first you know, kind of thing and ah, but as I was learning I saw okay so to to win on Amazon because I was given a lot of like brands that were more the David and Goliath story than you know it was it was we had to come up with something great to win I said.

34:54.40

Meny Hoffman

Yeah.

35:01.79

Andrew Morgans

Okay, my business model which is a b two b model marnology. Okay, I want to take these same principles that are working on Amazon on the 1 to 1 level and start adding them to my business so transparency authenticity I wanted to start creating content giving it away for free to create value and and trust with me the podcast. Ah, you know speak giving value for free. This podcast is free for anyone listening and this is gold. You know some people pay some of the hosts on here I’m sure many um sometimes hundreds thousands of dollars for an hour conversation about what we’re talking about. Are you kidding me so these are the things that were like.

35:32.30

Meny Hoffman

They think.

35:36.76

Andrew Morgans

Okay, this is who I am naturally I just didn’t know I was going to tell my story that way. But it’s working on Amazon I’m going to try to bring in in a space where marketing companies aren’t trusted that much because there’s a lot of shady ones and the Amazon space was fly by night and a lot of black hat at least when I first started it was just black hat black hat black hat. It was very difficult.

35:39.82

Meny Hoffman

Um.

35:51.67

Meny Hoffman

Moon.

35:56.30

Andrew Morgans

I said I’m going to go the complete opposite direction I’m going to go complete opposite direction think about how to stay why how to stay out of trouble. Ah, you know how to be a brand I Want the brands that care about what they’re building to come to me, not the ones that are willing to try these hacks and things that might get them a short win. But that longer gameplay and um I didn’t know you know when you’re when you’re figuring these things out. You don’t know if that’s gonna be the right move or not telling my story on my website I didn’t know if it’d be the best thing or not right I work with family some of these things that may be in the business world are frowned on or looked at as a certain way. But for me was.

36:33.12

Meny Hoffman

Um.

36:33.43

Andrew Morgans

That’s my story. That’s my that’s my authenticity. So um, yeah, I think these things really really matter and what I can what I just keep hearing repeating over and over and over is is that trust part. Well what is something what is something that you’re working on now.

36:42.33

Meny Hoffman

Absolutely what.

36:50.52

Andrew Morgans

Um, you’re always adding like always trying to improve adding different verticals and things like that like what are you guys working at internally as a team and what would you say like is a focus for eCommerce and Amazon sellers in the future that they should be working on.

37:02.83

Meny Hoffman

Sure so um in the amazon eCommerce space. Obviously it’s it’s it’s not going away. It’s only going to get stronger and stronger, and the people that are very intentional about what they do are the are the people that they’re gonna be successful um in the next you know, 5 to 10 years. So.

37:13.32

Andrew Morgans

Great word.

37:21.87

Meny Hoffman

What I’m doing now is um yeah I’ve been seeing you obviously we mentioned before about the aggregator space where you see a lot of you know they came in a boom I think it’s by now it’s about $14000000000 in the last two years that came into the space in order to buy up Amazon brands more than Adam and i.

37:36.44

Andrew Morgans

I think it’s I think it’s more than that I think it’s in the 20 s yeah.

37:41.59

Meny Hoffman

Okay, um, and what we’re seeing is I’ve seen a lot of shady stuff to go to bad and the ugly as we say um and I got involved as an advisor. So so sellers know is the timing right is the brand ready and if yes, how to go about the process so they’re not. Finding themselves that they sign the log that is’s not to their benefit. Um, so sometimes it’s just creating a plan for the next six months where you’re going to be focusing on cleaning up your booking knowing getting rid of the products that are. The low margins cleaning up making sure that you have some presence outside of Amazon whatever it is so I work with those sellers and I offer that as free working with those sellers first as and a consultation format and if there’s anything there to work with I would continue having ah a a plan or. Some of them are ready for an exit I would work on their behalf so they don’t have to take off the feet from the pedal that’s more on on the ecosystem on Amazon and what I like to say is that you got to make sure that as much as you look you focus on the now you focus on the future. Um, as you the you know the the big you know the. Long-term gain and and what that means is understanding regardless if you want to execute your business or not what will addd benefits or what will take off and by now myself being dealing with the aggregators and seeing businesses that are very successful and profitable on Amazon but still getting denied from a purchase. For very specific reasons I’ve taken all those learnings, and I’ve been able to apply it to potential new people that I work with to say where do you have any design patents. No why not? Well we could file. We just never thought it’s important. Guess what your valuation will go up. Um, do you have any backup. Um, um, um. Do you have any backup suppliers no work on that because that will help ah your your valuation. Do you have any did you focus on your on your website I find out the website was only done in order to get approved with brand registry. No, build it in a way that people could literally subscribe to your email because they trust the brand. Insert cards any of those things will add to your bottom line Regardless if you want to sell now or not so having that mindset understanding. What really are the triggers and understanding that where you are in your journey is very important because that puts thing clarity is important the most important thing for and for a ah business owner is clarity.

40:08.34

Andrew Morgans

Um, yeah.

40:10.50

Meny Hoffman

The second but most important thing is focus but you could only focus if you have clarity where to focus on otherwise you could find yourself focusing on the wrong things. So that’s where my my focus personally is my business. My team’s focus is just knocking out brands working with those brands. Being at their side as they’re expanding as they’re adding ah other channels as they’re making presentations to big-box retailers and getting the products there. But more importantly is 1 of the beauties now what we’ve seen with Amazon you could test you could test on Amazon you could do testing off Amazon with different platform listen and. That’s these are the services that we’re trying to Zoom in and to see what that that is giving us a plus content every few weeks Amazon comes up with some new feature. Cool feature. We always have to be in front of that because you never know and guess what it’s all about the it’s a numbers game if you if you increase your conversions with 1 % for some people that might be thousands of dollars a month and and the same infrastructure. You’re not adding any cost. You’re not any anything but you’re seeing it in the bottom line so you always have to be keep keep on improving but.

41:05.60

Andrew Morgans

Wow.

41:16.11

Andrew Morgans

I Love it that was amazing and ah man we are aligned. That’s all I got to say everything from you know, honestly on my end just a little bit differently than the consulting is we’ve taken on a few clients where um, we’re building them to exit or preparing them to exit and we’re partnering with them on that right? so. Maybe lower costs to help them get there, but we’re getting a percentage on the exit. You know, based on goals or different things like that. So that’s been something that’s exciting for us. It feels like you know because typically if we’re building a brand and then they exit It’s like we’re we’re crushing it and then they they get taken from us right? so.

41:38.50

Meny Hoffman

Um, very cool.

41:48.30

Meny Hoffman

Um, and then and then some sort of interim takes over your work.

41:52.55

Andrew Morgans

Those are devastating plays right? So with this model. You know we’re building them to exit and then when they exit you know we feel like we we win together and it motivates us more in that regard. But the other thing you said just like think like the customer. That’s buying the business right? So think like the equity firms think like the aggregators. What are they looking for if they’re looking for if they’re going to say hey our growth levers are international expansion. Our growth levers are leaning up our growth Levers are ah you know we’re going to rebrand the packaging and the inserts then think of those things ahead of time. You don’t need to have a yes from them to start working on those things that you know are the right things to do anyway. So um, you know I think all of that advice was absolutely spot On. Um.

42:30.49

Meny Hoffman

Ah.

42:39.20

Andrew Morgans

Love that you guys you know, handhold all the way into the box retailers and things like that I think that’s something that’s that’s very unique. You know, especially from the eCommerce side. Um I had something a little bit off-topic but Amazon just released creative services I think a few months back and they’re listing certain agencies. Um.

42:51.24

Meny Hoffman

Um, yes.

42:58.91

Andrew Morgans

To be in the partner program is that something you guys are considering.

43:00.47

Meny Hoffman

So once they did have the directory already on other services as well and we actually was playing around with it. Um, based on what we heard from others if you have a very niche down service. Sometimes it might be very good because let’s say you knock out a plus content and stuff like that. If you’re a little bit more on the higher end where like like both of us where we really focus on the bigger picture. You’re not going to win business on price. So our you know our lead Gen and our you know the way we acquire customers is by conversations like this. Or speaking at events that we’re speaking about um or even speaking to our clients or even offering them free consultation to just analyze where the brand is sometimes on those directory what ends up happening is a lot of increase come in. And they don’t convert as expected and what ended up happening. It takes off our people from focusing on the right type of client. But for some people, this is amazing like I know even just on trademarks. You know those trademarks are turnings that Amazon refers business to and all they need to do is knock out trademarks.

43:53.35

Andrew Morgans

Caught it got it meant.

44:05.63

Andrew Morgans

Yeah, smart that makes a lot of sense and I think it’s a huge revenue pipeline for a lot of them. Um, many this has been amazing. I can’t wait to see you next week. We’ll grab a bite or sit and watch a lecture together I think you’re speaking right is that correct. Okay, you’ll see me.

44:15.46

Meny Hoffman

I’ll be seeing the event for the stack in the area.

44:24.63

Andrew Morgans

Yeah, you’ll see me there anyone that’s following our content I’ll make sure to post. And before we sign off, once again today’s episode of Startup Hustle was sponsored by Full Scale, helping you build a software team quickly and affordably. Find them on Facebook and our Startup Hustle group chat or check out our Youtube content. We wouldn’t be here without our sponsors being able to.

44:26.46

Meny Hoffman

Sure.

44:43.11

Andrew Morgans

Produce the show push the show market the show and bring on great guests like many so thanks again to full scale many ah just absolutely loved everything. You had to say a lot of times. There’s you hear a lot of Amazon conversations that you’re just.

44:57.89

Meny Hoffman

Yeah.

44:58.40

Andrew Morgans

You tolerate because there’s different thinking on the way to go about things. But I think today was just like wow, I couldn’t say that better myself. So, absolutely love what you guys are doing there and can’t wait to connect again. See you later guys.

45:06.61

Meny Hoffman

Thank you. It’s my pleasure. Thank you.

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