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What, exactly, do you need to focus on to succeed in e-commerce? That’s exactly what ZonGuru CEO Jon Tilley and e-commerce thought leader Ezra Firestone sat down (virtually) to chat about in the latest edition of Amazon Seller Insights!

His answer to that simple question may surprise you. Ezra is a multi-million dollar seller with over 15 years of experience, including creating and selling his own online beauty product brand, Boom. He also teaches budding online sellers the tricks of the trade as the CEO of Smart Marketing, an online school for all things e-commerce. Let’s see what he has to say!

Ready for more? Check out our free Amazon Seller Community to watch the full 44’ interview

Turns out, real success requires a completely different mindset than what we’re used to. Want to know more? Read on!

Build A Brand, Not A Cash Flow

Whether it’s an Amazon Private Label, a Shopify page, or an eBay store, most people think of an e-commerce business as a way to secure steady cash flow. While it is a great way to ensure you have a good source of income, it’s a short-sighted way of thinking. If all you’re doing with your business is creating cash flow, you’re missing an opportunity to create a brand. A brand represents a customer base that trusts you, that connects with you, and has a relationship with you. This takes years of hard work establishing your brand and connecting with you

What does creating a brand mean for you, though? Short answer: a brand is worth a lot more money than the revenue generated by individual products. Sure, owning a successful business brings you dependable money every month that you can live comfortably off of. However, an Amazon business is just a start. There’s so much more opportunity out there if you’re willing to put in the work. With that said, drill this tidbit of info into your mind: 60%-80% of the money you make in e-commerce comes on the day you sell your brand.

That’s because all that time and energy you spent building your brand comes with something potential buyers crave: deep, meaningful customer relationships they can leverage to scale their business further. As e-commerce entrepreneurs, our goal should be to build a brand asset that generates cash flow and is sellable as a stand-alone business in the future. How do we do this?

Take Things Slow

First off, you need to slow down. The urge to jump head-first into an Amazon FBA business and just start selling a ton of products is tempting. Remember, though: we’re thinking long-term here.

When taking your first steps into the world of online selling, it’s more important to focus on one product. Learn everything there is to know about it and focus on optimizing your listing for it as much as possible. A little-known fact is that 80% of a successful brand’s revenue comes from one product line. When you do ONE thing and do it extremely well, customers will trust you when you cross-sell them.

The best brands in the world didn’t get there by selling a ton of different stuff. They got there by selling one thing consistently and re-investing their money back into amplifying their brand through various marketing channels. A good rule of thumb is to take 10%-30% of your top-line revenue (i.e., your gross sales) and spend it on paid media. Some great ways to do that are:

  • Developing a DEEP understanding of paid advertising. You need to raise the visibility of your brand in order to generate sales. This is the perfect time to do just that, as paid advertising costs have dropped 40% as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. If you cannot afford to hire an agency, spend as much time as it takes learning the intricacies of Google Ads, Facebook Ads, PPC, and other advertising media.
  • Building out extensive customer testimonials. A customer is more likely to buy your product over a competitor’s if they know your product works as expected. The best way to do that is through word of mouth. That means building a large base of genuine customer testimonials. The more satisfied customers you have, the more likely they are to recommend your product. More importantly, this establishes a foundation of trust and a loyal customer base. A big difference between a brand and an asset is that customers trust a brand, which results in return sales, while customers just use an asset to complete a transaction and move on.
  • Investing in video advertising. Catching a customer’s attention is just the first step in generating a sale. You need to tell them a story that they connect with. Video advertising is a fantastic way of doing just that. When you actually connect with a customer, you do more than just generate a sale; you generate a loyal base. Either invest in teaching yourself video advertising techniques or hire a firm specializing in it.

If you are not constantly focused on growth through smart spending, your brand will not succeed and you will have just spent a lot of time just making some money rather than securing true financial independence. All the hard work in the world means nothing if it isn’t focused on expansion. Remember: a brand’s value is only based on the last 12 months of profit.

Turns out, Amazon is a great place to start building your brand! and now more than ever people are looking to buy online. However, you have to think beyond Amazon FBA if you want to build a successful brand. That 20% cut Amazon takes can be spent towards expansion!

A great way to start thinking big-picture is by opening a Shopify page. While it may not result in immediate revenue, it strengthens your brand by generating more leads and brand awareness. The name of the game here is building a huge digital footprint. Anything you do to bring awareness to your brand is a good thing.

Focusing on building a brand requires a totally different mindset than what most people are used to. Thankfully, Ezra has over a decade of experience practicing this!

The Right Mindset Leads to the Right Brand

Every Amazon selling business hits a dip in sales. The key to success isn’t trying to avoid a dip, but rather embracing a mindset that helps you stay growth-focused even when the numbers tell you a different story. What does that mean? According to Ezra, it’s simple. It means:

  • Do one thing, and do it consistently! Developing a brand means being consistent no matter what. Instead of folding when things look bad, put in the work. That doesn’t mean putting in crazy, 10-hour workdays 7 days a week. Put in 8 hours a day, 4-5 days a week to maintain your mental health.
  • Have fun! If you’re not offering something you believe in and having fun doing it, you will burn out. A belief that what you’re building benefits the world somehow while still making the time for you to enjoy life is the most important thing anyone can do. This shows a true long-term mindset that will lead to success.
  • Be profitable! By “profitable,” we don’t mean making HUGE piles of money every month. It means making whatever amount of money you think will lead towards you living the life you want. Happy making $100k a year? Awesome! You just won the game! Congrats!

These bullet points illustrate the most important mindset anyone can have not just in business, but in life: be interested, not interesting. When you’re operating out of a genuine sense of curiosity rather than just trying to please everyone around you, you’re living a genuine life. When you’re genuine, people trust you. Stay curious, and you’ll crush the e-commerce market and be well on your way to living life on your own terms! Want to know more? Subscribe to the podcast, and join our Amazon Seller Insights Facebook group to share ideas with fellow entrepreneurs!

ZonGuru is here to help you live your best life and foster your curiosity with the best Amazon FBA selling tools and deepest knowledge in the business. Check us out on Instagram at @ZonGuru! Be sure to follow Ezra as well, at @EzraFirestone.

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