EPISODE 5: Troy Johnston

Troy is the founder of Seller.Tools and an Amazon 7-figure earner. He’s truly leading the charge Amazon automation, particularly when it comes to launching or re-launching products on the marketplace.

In this episode we discuss:

  • How to lay the foundation for your Amazon business to improve operational efficiency
  • The importance of utilising software and how to calculate it’s ROI
  • Launching, or relaunching, products on Amazon using the rebate strategy
  • What he feels is the biggest threat to an Amazon business right now
  • How he recommends building sustainable success on Amazon

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Click here for the RAW unedited transcript
[0:00:00] George: 

 Welcome to It’s always Day one. My name is George Reid, a former Amazonian turned Amazon consultant. Each week on the podcast you’re gonna hear in this tree expert Brando on Amazon employees share their answers to the basic yet fundamental questions you should be asking yourself about your Amazon business. Now let’s jump in. Hello, Troy Johnston. And thank you so much for joining us on the podcast today. As always, we have a little bit of a chit chat beforehand. You’ve got much better attire on than I do today with you. Nice summer flowery shirt, which is straight up beautiful. I mean, is that a regular feature for you wearing this sort of nice, summery outfit? I

[0:00:40] Troy Johnston: 
 try my best. I try my best, you know? And when I’m talking with you, I try to bring my breasts. So you know, it’s doubling down on and I’ve got

[0:00:47] George: 
 you combed your hair today, which is great. It’s way over. Yeah, you know, 12 times a year and

[0:00:57] Troy Johnston: 
 get it done. But now

[0:01:01] George: 
 a good man. So I like to dive into these things a little bit quicker than most eso kick the exhaust. You want to give us some people may be aware of you, so may not want to give us that 62nd overview of who you are, what you do, how you go into this wild Amazon world that we live in and then we’ll get a bit in integrity after that.

[0:01:19] Troy Johnston: 
 Yeah, No, absolutely. So what I do right now is I’m a co founder of Soledad Tools, which is a suite of optimisation tools, features, solutions. All kinds of good stuff for intermediate advanced sellers were kind of focused on more advanced strategies. But how I stumbled into this space was I was a cellar myself, starting back in 2014 um, really cut my teeth in some some pretty tough categories which has served me well, kind of diving into the deep end on DH. So, yeah, built, scaled and sold a brand that was acquired about 2.5 years after starting moved into consulting from there through my agency for ah, few brands that were in my network kind of higher revenue, higher volume sellers that we’re looking for a bit of an edge to really enjoy that kind of more of an advisory role and then by virtue again of my my network was connected with a few really smart, brilliant guys that were putting together SAS Solutions for ah, Amazon Sellers and was really bore out of what do we need in our own businesses to have a true competitive advantage in that edge? So that’s how cell assholes came to be. And now we get the the fun, exciting challenge of trying to connect sellers ahs, Muchas possible, Teo. A lot of the solutions that we offer through through Soledad Tools.

[0:02:44] George: 
 That being said, it’s interesting how you made that transition of a lot of it was driven by. We need to create some software because that’s what Isa Seller have found is going to help me run my business bad on. I think, what I really appreciate about what you guys are really driving hard it sell it, or is that automation on DH? Looking at ways we can automate processes to run amore streamlined business, shall we say so? That being said, how important do you think it is right now for any seller of any size to be automating task within their Amazon business?

[0:03:21] Troy Johnston: 
 Yeah, I mean, it’s it needs to be a Ah, massive priority in cellars businesses. And that’s where I’m really careful to say where, even though we are all in one suite at Soledad Tools, you know, we really do focus on sellers that have have a foundation set. Because obviously, when you’re running a startup, you know, you’re just kind of kicking off your entrepreneurial journey, be it through FDA. Really, really anywhere else. You want to set up that foundation in your business, first and foremost since and sometimes there’s gonna be a lot of moving pieces. Things aren’t gonna be as formalised just yet, But once you have that foundation, you need to look at your time and use it extremely selectively on and really focus on high value activity activities and driving up your effective hourly rate. You know what your quantifying the value of your time as And that’s where I said for us, we fall in that pocket when when sellers here that that word automation. It’s a really solid buzz word. And for good reason. You know, you’re really thinking about OK, how do I safeguard my time? But then how do I also get a disproportionate benefit and the activities I’m deploying in my business. So yeah, that’s really where we’re going and where I think you know, we’ll continue to see things go in our space. But like I said, it’s something that once once you have that foundation in your business, this is really where Okay, What’s next? What am I doing differently? How are my kind of bucking the herd? Because that’s another challenge that many sellers have now is that they’ve, you know, they’ve come into this base maybe by following a programme or course. And so you’ve got hundreds of people learning the same thing, doing the same thing. Even may be using the same tools and it becomes that question of okay, we’re all doing the same thing. What? Who’s gonna, who’s gonna win in a saturated space? We’re sort of feeding the system the same input and expecting it. You know,

[0:05:08] George: 
 I think you touched on such an important topic that a lot of people perhaps glaze over or fast forward over that foundation on. It’s certainly something we learned when I AMa’s enough, like people are so keen to get going with appetising so keen to get going with all these other things particularly automation, and we’ll get onto rebates and stop in a moment. But if they haven’t got the foundation, would you agree that whatever else you do on top isn’t necessarily gonna work if they haven’t got them pillars in place?

[0:05:40] Troy Johnston: 
 Yeah. No, Absolutely, Absolutely. That really that needs to be the cornerstone of your business is a little bit more what I would say predictability. Where there is a clear sequence, your numbers are really ironed out. I mean, it gets to a point. We’re actually running a business. You’re not firefighting or scrambling day in and day out. But you’re your days and weeks of managing your business has a fair degree of predictability, and that really should be a good indication, for you have, like, okay, this level there is a lot of things are looking the same. My day to day, my task load. It’s looking very familiar. What do you then doing next? And that’s where you know, something like automation is is high value activity in and of itself. But then also just in 80 20 of what Amazon rewards. I mean, you know, ranking reviews. You spend a disproportionate amount of time on the channel that you know Hey, you know, provides in terms of the r A y. It’s far less transactional than you know Facebook ad to a to a website sale. Amazon will reward you. You realise the sale based on a specific you were. You show, you know, again, it’s It’s what I call feeding the Beast. But yeah, it’s it’s very nuanced in terms of the space that you know, space that we’re in.

[0:06:54] George: 
 That’s so when we talk about things like you mentioned earlier on as well, kind of bucking the herd, and that is such an interesting thing. You obviously, you lay the foundation. You understand the system, you understand how the business model works. And we’ve done some other bits and bobs about that in the past in terms of podcast that we’ve had. But once you’ve got that, I end out like you said. Do you think it’s an immediate focus right now? Need to be moving things away from me on that could be through automation fire software. Also automation through outsourcing is that kind of the two brackets. Am I missing anything there of how you can move stuff off your plate? Yeah. I

[0:07:34] Troy Johnston: 
 mean, I I have admittedly kind of drink the Kool Aid on on the software side of things technical solutions to be able to implement. But I think the r o. I usually presents itself in such a disparity. I mean, I remember, you know, way back when when I made my first hire and I think it was around like 40,000 was my first sort of full time higher, and I looked at that expense, and I realised how much value that they can provide. And it made. It made total sense for me at that time in my business where I think sellers right now with how competitive which which this is really great, that I know this all too well that some rituals We have to compete with a lot of a lot of great competitors, a lot of really great people, and the winners in that our Amazon sellers, because we’re looking at ways of adding innovation, adding an edge and where we’re at in terms of the level of investment is so insanely low. I mean, if you can automate in activity in your business for $100 that’s what you pay in a month and it automates that day in and day in and weaken and weekend and you pay that one time. Um, it’s really hard to make up that r a y disparity if you look at, you know, sort of people power or or hiring necessarily. Um, so I like that is a good default. And again that puts us on the on the two providers, being able to provide a clear, identifiable solution that you could quantify the upside. But building out teams is great, too. I just I’ve been I’ve been through a lot of great hires, exceptional hires. I’ve been really bad hires, but full time, part time via is you know, you kind of go through the gamut, which is great. You learned so much through that process. But there’s a lot more predictability in a tool where you, Khun, realise that expense have a very high expectation, which people, people rightfully should where people they’re just a little bit more volatility. You have to engage if they manage to support you, to lead a different team members, and usually that comes at a greater expense. So it’s really something you gotta wait in the business. But as you pose it, I kind of like that sequence of like, Is there a tool that does this for me? Run through the numbers and then look at, you know, look at based on the request of requirement, does it have a fair degree of predict predictability? Is it sequential outcome oriented? That’s perfect for Eva is it’s something where it requires strategic thinking. You know, oversight. More, more free thinking, if you will, that may be better suited for a full time or part time person.

[0:10:03] George: 
 I think there’s no so that we work with other brands. More want to one. It’s not necessarily our bread and butter, but it’s something we occasionally enjoy. And we always say, in order for us to be able to implement certain strategies, you do need someone there, and it’s not always the most advanced job you’re asking them to do. But it could be Go create this landing page. Go create this. Go create this. I think that’s where Va is particularly beneficial, that you’re not going to get from a tall like You need that back and forth our e mails and need to be exchanged. There is communication, so it’s that fine balance. But you’re right with the software that’s out there. You get a very clear I am spending this amount and I feel this is the amount I’m seeing it going up month, a month, a month, a month. That’s evermore important. I think some of the challenges for some people would certainly be all right. I’ve got my foundation, guys, everything set up a really nice brands. I’ve got great operations. Everything’s an FBI. Don’t worry about sip. Got some ads running, that’s that’s brilliant. Now I want to scale things up and I’m lookinto deep dives and keyword research a little bit more. I’m looking to automate rebel rebates, et cetera. It’s must think the biggest challenge in this OK now, which which told them I selected on I got stats like you said earlier, Roy, you guys facing fierce competition as well on DH, I think one of the things I even struck at what I’m looking at club tools Teo use for brands were working with this. Which one is getting me the best? R a y. On what I said a little bit is everyone keeps kind of layer on additional features. So what advice do you think if you give to someone long, drawn out question there? What advice do you think you can give to someone who’s looking for a piece of software on? They just feel like there are so many options for them?

[0:11:57] Troy Johnston: 
 Yeah, no, it’s I mean, it’s a great question, Teo for seller to really think about to what? What? Some of their goals? Because I’m noticing this to even a CZ answer. Kind of the previous question is really backing out your goals I’s gonna inform and your objectives ultimately, where if you want a bigger team hierarchy, you know, a little bit more of a hierarchy and structure. That may be a company that has eight figure aspirations where if you’re wanting to run lean, you’re thinking about cash flow, throwing off a little bit extra money or you’re gonna substantial on a money month over month that’s gonna really inform how you structure your team and allocate some of those resources s O for most tools. In terms of what I’ve seen in the FDA space they are not. The expense isn’t so high that you could not try out and really tests and validate a tool based on your needs. Obviously, we have free trials. And again, most most of what we see. If you look at the general SAS landscape, what Amazon tools we’re at in terms of kind of benchmark for major price points for the slew of features that these tools provide. If you’re looking at $100 a month expense more often, I can at least pate back for it. You can kind of said it considered just a just a straight, you know, paying for itself effectively. So I would surely test it. See if that really works for for you and your your business. But there there are, you know, as we looted toe like you would research and, ah, a few other areas. Thes tools just do such a I’m probably a little bit of a stall to hear of thinking back Six years ago, when we used to do keyword research with Excel sheets, you know, we’d sit around me and Brennan, one of our co founders, would joke about how we’d sit around with a beer and spend you know, 67 hours in an Excel Shi Yoon also suggest looking at search for Like you would just spend all of this time, which I mean, if you had fun with it, Sure, that’s great. But I mean, if you start really value our time taking that example to, you know, six hours and you say at that point in time, my effective hourly rate is 50 bucks and then that’s $300. And then I could have done this virtual $400 on the little thing, you know, and again that this is some of the thinking that I think sellers really have to task themselves with of like, what is your effectively hour right now? What do you want it to be? As you get closer to your objectives and your goals and then make some decisions with your aspirations in mind? Don’t kind of B. Don’t be where you’re at and make decisions with what you’re sort of the information you have right now, you kind of have to be future pacing a little bit and say, Hey, this is where I want to be in six months. So that means my effective real hourly rate needs to be at this point that’s gonna form what your investments are gonna look like people or or tools. But I’m a big believer in kind of failed fast Try things out. Validate him. If you have a 70 ah, 70 trial of the tool, Get in there. You know, be like a bull in a china shop. Try everything out. Just reach out the support bank things up really quick, and then that will really inform. Hey, you know, this may be something that will be three x worth the investment to get in and

[0:15:05] George: 
 yeah, and I think I think you touched on such a good point now. And I believe it’s like Tim Pharaohs who drills into a zoo hole in terms of how you value your own time. I think many so many Amazons salads they, whether it can come to their education and standing strategies when it can come to doing Q word research manually instead of utilising tools when it can come to building. Our chap bought yourself and learning all the ropes of a chap bought it, taking 20 hours instead of maybe paying for someone else to do it or getting one free through it all for argument’s sake. They’re not necessarily looking at the value of Thrones. Hi. And I think we all do this anyway. That are Well, I’m just gonna go through all the forums. I’m gonna look everything I’m gonna continuously research, try fail, and I get that. But then there’s also a token off a sense off. If you convey Al your time it like 50 bucks an hour. You spent 10 hours doing something that’s $500 when you could have just asked a question to a trusted person, whether you could have just gone into a tall provider. Andi even used a free trial on Dona keyword research or whatever the case may be. I think that people are often mistaken of. I’ll see to work really, really hard and perhaps getting confused off. Oh, well, I’ve had a good, damn Amazon stuff today because I spent 10 hours doing Q word research like Pat on the back. Well done. I’ve gone after it, but they’re not operating the most efficiently thinking my value is creating content related to the brand I’ve written to block post today. Instead, I’ve got some new photos done for social media and that’s where I actually add value. And then I spent 30 minutes doing some Q word research with my tool. I think people in whatever line of work you’re doing always end up falling into that, but particularly Amazon world. They often end up going to take the hard room, thinking they’re going to save money. But we’ll end up spending Mohr because the value of their own time.

[0:17:07] Troy Johnston: 
 Yeah, absolutely. I agree completely. And it’s something that I, you know, I think we all have to be really cognizant of. You know, when when I really evaluate the people that I’ve seen have been successful generally. But then, also on Amazon, they just do such a really good job of yes, putting subject matter experts in place and, yes, leveraging tools. But they are pretty ruthless when it comes to their own time. Even if they’re you know, they spend their own time doing, you know, whatever they want. They are just very selective and making sure that the leverage is there. That’s that’s always the operative term. I always kind of find myself coming back to that is like tools or about leverage There. You make this this investment whatever that may be, but it gives you a inflexion point. It allows you to do more in a shorter period of time. Um, and in a repeatable way, I mean, that’s, you know, that’s that’s really great again in our sandbox. It’s It’s calm, pounded because Amazon really does reward you for your activities. It’s far. It’s far different than which is with Facebook ads. You know your performance can can can increase and optimise over time as you tweak and optimise that as we take the you know, the Amazon example again, if you can rank for a Q would realise sales and optimised your driven way rank again, then you’ve got organic sales. You know, again, this is where it can feed itself on, and then you’re drinking for a multitude of yours. And you know, it’s very cool in that sense. And I think that’s something that’s often overlooked about the Amazon sort of the Amazon ecosystem.

[0:18:42] George: 
 And that being said, See, you touched one briefly there with with Facebook ads, and I think with seeing more and more, and I don’t even know if I’ve got a solid art to myself off. You’ve got budget each month. And a lot of people in this position where they’ve got that budget, that I think that the conversation with destiny today as well of like people pulling off Facebook like North Face. And where’s that budget going? Ugo? But let’s say, for argument’s sake, you’re not looking to pull off Facebook anytime soon. You’re not some big brand. No one actually cares. You’re not gonna be in the papers if you come on Facebook. You’re still spending money on Facebook. You’re spending money on Amazon. Given what settles during a big part of what you guys do is re bay automation, where you’re bringing people from off of Amazon onto the arms and platform in order to get sales rank juice. Do you think people should be focusing Mohr right now and driving traffic from off of Amazon? I’m building at those funnels or apportioning ah, hire part of their budget towards Amazon appetising. If you had to pick one of the two, which you think should be Maura focus, um, I would say

[0:19:48] Troy Johnston: 
 generally I used to be far more bullish on Amazon advertising. But as it gets inherently more saturated with a number of sellers, and just this year, growth of e commerce and a little bit more sophistication. As a matter of Amazon building more internal tools on features, it it really does require a subject. You know, destiny is a great example. Require subject matter experts to really get in there and take advantage of that sophistication and not, ah, really stymie that the growth of the potential. But we see we continue to see external traffic being rewarded by Amazon. So for me, I still like the idea of whether it’s Facebook ads, Google ads, YouTube ads, these external traffic sources being highly valuable in terms of that top and middle of funnel for for Amazon sellers and then also completing the sort of the buying experience of thinking about yes, packaging product inserts those types of things that you can still utilise for various offers. Ah, ongoing engagement activities, that type of thing. But as you alluded to, we sort of still view many. Chat is the prime gateway. It still is one of the best ways on Lee, if not on ly, for the ability to engage with customers in a way you just simply can’t do anywhere else. There’s no way of having a back and forth conversation, which you can then, of course, automate through many chat Where you Khun, direct somebody to a let’s say, a YouTube video. Simple YouTube. Then you have your product where you could use an optimised Lincoln that cheques off the box, forgetting external traffic. But then you also have the legion through many cheque where you have a means of contact with this customer, their customer details. You know you have all of that list building, which is so highly valuable, right right now as much as any time ever, of course, for Amazon sellers. But but yet Mini Chan again is the gateway. So I’m so very bullish on Facebook ads. But in that waiting of the two, I think external traffic pays a slightly bigger dividend relative to the cost of expensive the subject matter expertise that I see continually being required on the Amazon side.

[0:21:58] George: 
 I think, yeah, it’s such a good point because Amazon appetising is certainly bottom of fun red hot buys. But in order to truly nail that as it becomes ever more complicated and more challenging, you can’t just throw up automated. You can still be successful of auto campaigns, but it’s so much more complex now. So then you’re like, OK, we’re burning money a little bit as we learn ourselves. Sure, I need to go employee someone, an external team and the cost of that can get 123 grand, whatever a month or a percentage of for spend, so it can get very expensive, which is great. You got the budget, or there’s a big learning curve where you can get it wrong. The cost for clicks going continuously up. I think a great view is for May. You need to be looking at your overall goals, like if your overall goal is to go right. We’re looking to build a really strong list, a really strong foundation. You should perhaps be considering putting more of your budget towards those Facebook ads where you can incorporate many chat a manipulator visitor, manipulate that customer journey a little bit, collect those touchpoints fire subscribers and many chatter on email. Which jobless levy the absolute kind of gold medal friends sending them through to Amazon so they’re nice and warm because you’ve nursed them to a certain degree. I think if you If you nail that experience, you can either get a better return on investment on DH kind of supercharged further because you’re coming away from the experience going. We spent lots of money on Facebook. We’ve perhaps made this much of Amazon. It’s always can be challenging. Depends how you set the process up to attribute. Okay, we spent 1000 and we’ve got this amount back. Unless you use things like rebates, We can kind of track things nicely. Um, but what you’re also getting other than just the sales is those touch points and in order to achieve sustainable success right now, I think that’s becoming one of the biggest things of how you can differentiate Buck the herd, like you said on build that list because that list is something you own. Amazon gonna make it harder and harder and harder for you to communicate in any way of your customers. If you’re going about it the right way, you’re playing a different game fire using social channels and other advertising methods and sending out list email this e mails to your list. It’s gonna be much more beneficial for you, in my opinion.

[0:24:33] Troy Johnston: 
 Yeah. No, absolutely. I agree completely on on multiple fronts when it comes to the timeto. You know, if you want to sell that brand, that’s an asset. Your customer list is an asset. You’re thinking about targeting through Facebook as and you worry about me, this is gonna be really challenging. Well, as soon as you start adding in those customer emails and customer details, you sort of feed the beast again on. But you do it on Facebook, where you’re informing the audience you’re sort of creating more of that avatar you’re targeting gets dialled in, and then you’re able tto, you know, realise that as a saved expense, when you’re delivering those ads, so it becomes it becomes a snowball. You know, you just gotta be willing to start, not generate over that hill, let it grow, and then it can throw off, you know, And again, you know, I’m very I’m extremely bullish on rebate automation, but it’s because it really does cheque off. You know, all of those big boxes for sellers.

[0:25:27] George: 
 So say it, saying that for those who are unaware, Webster, you and I know it well, could you give us the kind of 30 seconds summer of exactly what rebate automation looks like

[0:25:36] Troy Johnston: 
 and what it is. Yeah, no, absolutely. And so what we do on this is something we offer it. Soledad Tools is that we utilise many chat to bring customers into bring customers into our many chat flows and then threw seller tools features. We sort of unlock sellers data that is accessible to them through the Amazon. A p I on DH. Now that’s done through our FBI through solar tools to where you can automate activities in that many chat flow, like verifying customer orders, we can serve up single use promo codes. We can even do bogo offers where we do, like buy one, get one. We can automatically send a product to customers, but more specifically with rebate automation. We do automate like I said, the order verification. When we do that, we confirm the customer bought the right price about the right product. We capture the relevant price. We rebate that price on DH. We do all of that again in a kind of a completely automated fashion for sellers.

[0:26:40] George: 
 I think the objective, obviously here is kind of break it down tomorrow. What layman’s terms again is you’re you’re taking someone from from off of Amazon. You’re sending them through many chap flow on. You’re saying when you purchase this item, we’re going to rebate you either 100% or part of the price afterwards. When you share some information with us, they go through. They purchased the item at full price and in turn when the item is delivered. So you’re not getting rid of any naughtiness and then going I get some money off you, and then I cancel the order on I get it back for a friend of families and when the item is delivered, then they’re going. Here you go, guys, here’s my information. Here’s the order. The system goes brilliant. Sign off. Give them their rebate. What’s brilliant about this from an algorithm perspective is you’re getting a full price sale, whereas previously and this something while you guys have doubled down that so much is previously it was always a promotion on Amazon were going okay, you’re making loads and loads of sales ever lost is through the roof. Big tick intensity algorithm, but they’re all discounted purchases. You’re not getting the same waiting the same ranking juices people term, whereas this rebate thing is is still quite new, right? Yeah.

[0:27:58] Troy Johnston: 
 No, it is. It is still relatively new on and with all of the customisation is that many chat offers it it can kind of take on its own, its own form. There’s so many ways that you can utilise it. Um, yeah. I mean, your explanation is far, far better of how that process is simplified. Yeah, you can tell him I’m in it all of the time, so I’m always thinking in attack mode. I know, Um but no, that’s that is Ah, great explanation. I think this is where it’s it’s evolving in many ways too. But at its core, that’s that is really the the crux of the processes that full purchase by I wish then, of course, also facilitates the potential for verified review. If you would like to add that request in that process, and then yeah, you get less building, you get ranking it reviews. Um, you get happy customers, which is great. So it ah, it does a lot and automated again. This is where we talk about, like, you know, the idea of ah founder being in this activity Or, you know, when when this was popularised, it was being still done very manually. Mean, ah, owners were going in verifying orders in their cellar central account coming back to the customer, telling the customer what they found out waiting for the customer. Complete the next step manually, you know, sending them papal of the appropriate price amount, which required them to go back into the order. So this was all very clunky, very time intensive on. And what we really aim to do is kind of evolved that how do we pull the founders or even, you know, team members that you may be, you know, spending a few $100 a month on and pull them out of the equation automated because at the end of the day to those customers are experiencing that those human errors, those human delays in that clunkiness in the process to that’s not just something you’re feeling internally. Customers are experiencing that, too, in the process.

[0:29:52] George: 
 Yeah, that’s up seamless experience for the customer as well as yourself on its very scalable, because you can go well, we’re in a very competitive category that we’re looking to re launch our product in with the big push to get paid one ranking for X Y Zed search term. Okay, well, I don’t want to manually have to go through in process 234 500. 1000 rebates. I want that kind of set up for me nicely. Um, so that being said and I think this ties really well into it what What one thing would you be doing right now to create sustainable success on Amazon? We touched upon a couple of points, but i’ma treat, see how you put it all together for

[0:30:39] Troy Johnston: 
 sustainable success on Amazon. I would consistently be conducting an 80 20. This would cover pretty much, pretty much any businesses is what is paying the massive dividends. What I champion again is ranking and reviews is how do you put a disproportionate focus on what Amazon rewards? What is a revenue generating high value activity? So you’ll never go wrong by focusing on those teeth to areas in your business. And it really is, you kind of look at it in the digital marking lens. It’s sort of traffic and conversions. That’s really what it is on Amazon. You want a gar garden of the traffic through your ranking efforts, and you want to convert it through the social proof that his reviews on. And so that’s really where you want to spend a bulk your time again. Reviewed automation helps you achieve that, I would say, in the areas that we’ve touched on, that also could potentially impact that is not hesitating to invest. You know, the the subject matter experts on the PPC front. Just because I’m not a huge fan of what I would deploy in my own brands, I would go out and I’d be willing to spend that 3 $4000 a month again if you take that to the completion of like, if I’m hiring somebody full time and I’m quitting that same cost, you have a subject matter expert that you can have immensely high expectations of that you can clearly defined goals for, and that’s you know, that’s that’s a greater rate. That’s an arrangement I liketo have in those areas of my business. Yeah,

[0:32:08] George: 
 no, I think that that makes a lot of sense. I think it brings me nicely onto kind of one of the biggest challenges for many right now is so you you can have that. We’re getting ranking. We’re getting lots of reviews Him, which is brilliant. One of the challenges, obviously is rebates gonna take you so far, But ultimately, you need those organic sales, so you can’t rely on rebates, right? You need to be actually producing that great product, actually producing a brilliant service on you need to have those organic sales come in because a lot of people you can’t just go, OK, we slipped down the rankings again. Okay, What we’re gonna do is just we’re doing another rebate launch on DH will go up the rankings like it’s gonna be thinking about. We’ve got to provide that brilliant product and have those consistently high conversion rates. Otherwise, you kind of go in. We’re just always battling and battling. Which brings me on to the next point is, what do you think the biggest threat is for an Amazon business right now?

[0:33:06] Troy Johnston: 
 Um, I would say, actually, it’s Tio turned on its head a little bit. I think it’s the same opportunity, I think the explosion of e commerce and its dependence really over the next six months and probably into the, you know, into the foreseeable future, which we already sort of new. But in the midst of ah, of a pandemic work from home, um, environment there is there is going to be an influx of players in this space for sure. Um, in in all respective spaces, obviously, there’s a few that have some unique opportunities. Will encourage sellers to kind of look at where those are. Obviously, there’s gonna be trends bore out of this. Um, but I think that’s that’s gonna be that’s really gonna be the The emphasis is really making sure that you create a moat as you touched on. Something we kind of look past is you need to have an exceptional product. You know, I feel like maybe maybe each year we I hear people speak about the idea of you can’t just, you know, slap a logo or a sticker over a product and call it yours and expect customers are gonna fall in love with it. It’s gonna show up in the form of your reviews, and those those days are definitely gone. Ah, that’s not to say you have to create a, you know, a prototype of products or do something over the top. But I mean again, you could do something like that. A few crown crowdfunding, something that was yet to hit market and you truly innovated. Those types of doors are definitely still gonna be open. I think Sellers should all should be thinking about that. But it is. It is mote. It is. What do you do truly doing that is different? Whether that’s the quality of your product and the perception of that quality or it is on channel excellence on what you’re doing differently on Amazon? Um, yeah,

[0:34:58] George: 
 I think, Yeah, that’s my Pfizer. Literally every single post I put up now Arlington about building the moat on DH. You even see some monstrous sellers out there who I don’t truly believe have a moat. They just got size and they can throw products up and get very competitive prices. And that’s great. But I don’t think that really protects him because ultimately I think you’ve always got that threat of China you bought at the threat of Amazon themselves on DH believe in AFI Advisor Survey. Most people said that they were most concerned about on Amazon Amazon themselves coming in, and Chrysler products similar to theirs. And there’s still you can still battle against that right? That’s no game over the Amazon by throwing coffee, but doesn’t mean no one else is buying other coffee. I think coffee’s a great example because they’ve got a moat there like they’ve got. People are buying from them over and over again. And I think part of that then comes down into what we touched upon earlier on of building that list. So you’ve got a really strong brand. But you’ve also got a really strong following which enable communicative over and over again with it’s gonna help protect against these threats, right?

[0:36:14] Troy Johnston: 
 Mmm, right. No. Absolutely, Absolutely. And I think we’re seeing And I’ve done this in terms of analysis of products and brands were looking at bringing online. Is these these d to see? Really? Darlings are getting Amazon wrong, and you could almost kind of reverse engineer. And we’ve We’ve done this a little bit of like who has who has done a great job of an exceptional instagram exceptional YouTube presence on DH has absolutely done killing on D. C. Then they come on Amazon, and it’s underwhelming. I mean, even even product imagery is poor optimised title, so you don’t have to dig into the listings. You could just kind of see that there’s there’s some room, there’s some opportunity to come in and exploit that. Is that going to change over time? He would like to think that. Or maybe solution wouldn’t like to think that these brands air kind of got to get their act together and kind of shore things up. But I think for Amazon Sellers, you have too few. We’ve come on time out. Like many, Chad is a gateway. Amazon is that gateway that that proof of concept has bore itself out. Where you can come in, you could grow something substantial. You can spill over into other channels just by virtue of that demand. Um, and that’s a replicate herbal model. I mean, that’s that right now we’re still in the midst of that being immensely viable. That could change the future. But it’s still I continue to see that working over and over again.

[0:37:37] George: 
 E. I think many brands perhaps approached a platform and then fail right, or they’re not like we’ve got a big brand. Let’s just get onto Amber’s and it seems a logical thing to do, but they’re just not giving it the focus, and therefore they’re gonna fail very quickly, and then it’s like Amazon doesn’t work. I think is the immediate go to, you know, we put our end of line stuff on there, and it still amazes me when you see these brands being like, Oh, you know, we’ve got kind of Sally and she kind of does some stuff for us and she’s in the team and she looks after Amazon a bit as well on the side. And you’re like, What? How he still still just doing that?

[0:38:18] Troy Johnston: 
 Yeah, yeah, I know where Poor Poor Sally. Yeah, she’s not set up for success, and that’s where you know that’s that’s a point of exploitation to me. This is where brands that get smarter, like we’re number one on Amazon. And then people could see and then see that that do you see darling is number four and you’re number one. You know that that that resonates with people. People notice that type of social proof when you can really reinforce it. So getting king him son right? It’s just, you know, and I was talking with a really big seller. Somebody. I’m maybe maybe doing some work with. And, you know, we were We were throwing back that yet it’s like it’s not so different from when we first started, you know, way back when where you could just, you know, use these services, click a button and it would it would, you know, get a get a product to a customer at a discounted rate. You rank so easily. And it’s like he has a sophistication to use many chap rebate automation, so he can obviously see the tools and the viability. But there is. There is still room for exponential growth, with some amount of ease right now that I think Sellers, you know, you kind of have to simplify. See what’s working. See what the really agile big players are doing. Reverse engineer that, and it’s it is a right now it’s it’s still a really I don’t want to be easy, but it’s a simplistic process which, like I said, we’re feeling good about that because seeing opportunities, bringing brands online with that with that sort of in mind

[0:39:47] George: 
 and that being said then starting with nothing but 10 grand right now, would you start an Amazon business? Absolutely. With 10 grand below. You reckon that’s enough in America? I think

[0:40:00] Troy Johnston: 
 so. I think so. I’m a I’m a big fan of domestically source products, so sometimes you pay a bit of a premium. Ah, but it

[0:40:08] George: 
 is a little bit

[0:40:09] Troy Johnston: 
 unique now where you know, obviously you can’t go visit vendors and manufacturers and you can’t have a personal touch. And a lot of that really helps with with negotiation in a relationship building, especially the outset. But yeah, I truly, truly do see that with a lot of folks, I see bringing brands online, looking at opportunities on budgeting for some of those, um, I will say one that is kind of this going into this ddC, I guess I’m calling DC darling space. It’s under that 10-K budget, so it gives you an idea of like, Hey, that’s That’s a space that’s proved itself out because obviously they have customers of demand and substantial brand equity and brand loyalty outside of Amazon, missing the mark in the ecosystem so you can kind of come in, take some of those lessons learned and exploit the fact that you know, Amazon. You know the platform like that’s That’s why you’re here, right? That’s where your aim. Um, I think I definitely think it could be done. What would I love? Another 5 10 k? Sure, but I think I think 10-K it’s It’s still there. It’s still there

[0:41:15] George: 
 if you just get it right. And I think with that being said, you’ve got that 10 grand. How much of that? You kind of going? I need to reserve this for rebates on DH. Essentially marketing activity. Are you because of obviously sell it always being so focused on rebates and understanding how powerful that is on understanding the importance of getting sales velocity straight away. Are you looking at that? 10 grand going. I need to spend five of this on marketing. Yeah, I mean, five would if I would

[0:41:47] Troy Johnston: 
 be a solid conservative number, I would say to be more aggressive and leave a little bit more room, especially for first run if Emma Cues or a little bit a little bit high. Maybe a 30% of us about 33 grand. Um, if you could get away with five grand, that would be great. That would leave plenty of room that would That would probably still be assuming. Not a lot of on Amazon advertising in PPC. Um, but yeah, I would be I would be really focusing on rebate activities. Plenty of plenty of reinvestment from there, but yeah, disproportionately focusing there,

[0:42:23] George: 
 champion. Okay, there’s only one question left, and we touched on it briefly before we started recording, which is you’re allowed one hour a day to master a skill. What would you choose? Oh, man e like this, everyone at the moment. What’s that? You do it. You’re already trying to master a skill at the moment, which I think is genius.

[0:42:43] Troy Johnston: 
 I guess that the shared I’m s I’m taking I’m taking voice lessons front. Yeah, I’m trying todo trying to work on that. I’ve always wanted to do it. I’m not. I’ve always been pretty

[0:42:55] George: 
 pretty good at

[0:42:55] Troy Johnston: 
 guitar. And my dream one day is to be able to sing and play. That’s my That’s my aspiration. Working on

[0:43:02] George: 
 absolutely love it. Okay. Thank you so much. Troy Johnston. I’ve got I’ve got no further questions. If you’ve got any for me, feel Frito, file them away, let me know.

[0:43:13] Troy Johnston: 
 Awesome. Yeah, Yeah, it’s great. Great chatting with you. I’ve got You know, I’ve always got questions for I’ll sit and see you after the podcast.

[0:43:21] George: 
 Good man. All right, Troy Johnston, Thank you so much time. And I look forward to speaking so

[0:43:26] Troy Johnston: 
 awesome. Thanks, George. Really appreciate it, but
3 comments on “EPISODE 5: Troy Johnston
  1. Love George’s casual and professional approach to his conversation with Troy, one of the most knowledgeable Amazon experts!

    1. George says:

      Thanks, Evan! Unsure who you are saying is one of the most knowledgeable experts, but I’ll pretend it’s me for an ego boost on this wet Friday morning

  2. Cezette says:

    Thanks Troy for sharing information. Always great info here for a business edge

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