The Success Mindset and the Silver Bullet (Follow the Data Ep. 7)

Follow the Data Episode 7: The Success Mindset and the Silver Bullet

Many courses, gurus, and purportedly high-level sellers promote their latest tips and tricks as the way to find success as an Amazon seller. But is chasing after every Silver Bullet really benefitting your business? Join CEO Casey Gauss and co-host Cameron Yoder as they explore what sets the most successful sellers apart from the rest.

Follow the Data Show Notes

  • Delegating tasks so that you can focus on your overall strategy is an important part of running a successful Amazon business. Check out The Entrepreneur’s 7 Rules for Entrepreneurs to Delegate Effectively
  • Don’t skimp on your product listing. Whether you do it yourself or hire a professional, make sure you’re getting full keyword exposure. Follow our Lead Listing Specialist’s keyword research methods to ensure you’re getting all the relevant keywords for your product.
  • Just getting started as an Amazon Seller? Make sure you’re learning the basics. Here’s a quick rundown of Seller Central
  • Want to be on the show? We’re working on an episode that features you! Leave us a voicemail at (317) 721-6590 with stories or questions about your Amazon business.

 

Podcast Transcript

CASEY GAUSS:

The idea that you can make quick money on Amazon is intoxicating, but many sellers misdirect their focus and don’t end up capitalizing on the incredible opportunity that Amazon provides.

CAMERON YODER:

In order to be truly successful you have to skillfully leverage your time and resources for maximum output.  I’m Cameron Yoder.

CASEY GAUSS:

And I’m Casey Gauss, your host for Follow the Data: Your Journey to Amazon FBA Success. In this show we leverage the data we’ve accumulated at Viral Launch from over 24,000 product launches in our experience working with 5500 brands to help you understand the big picture when it comes to Amazon, and most importantly, the best practices for success as an Amazon seller.

CAMERON YODER:

In today’s episode we will examine the silver bullet mentality and the get rich quick language that have kind of saturated the Amazon seller community since its inception.  We’ll talk about how this preoccupation with the easy life can work to your advantage and to your disadvantage.

CASEY GAUSS:

Finally, we’ll discuss the mindset that sets the most successful sellers apart from the rest and how you can make your business more profitable by changing your business outlook.

CAMERON YODER:

We’re going to talk about something today that we’ve kind of touched on in previous episodes, which is this common mindset in the seller community that there is a “silver bullet” to success on Amazon.  So all right, Casey, what do we mean by the silver bullet?

CASEY GAUSS:

So the definition of silver bullet is a noun, something that acts as a magical weapon and solves a long-standing problem.  So really, you know, in the seller community everybody is looking for that magical weapon, that one thing that is going to skyrocket their business, and you know it’s kind of like this excuse to not do everything else well or to skimp on kind of everything else that they’re doing because they have that silver bullet or there will be that silver bullet.

CAMERON YODER:

It’s like a quick fix, right?  It’s like that next hack or that next quick fix that they’re looking for.

 

CASEY GAUSS:

Yeah, no, exactly.  And, you know, I – so I personally feel kind of lame sometimes when I go to these conferences and get up here and talk because what I preach is that there is no silver bullet, and really the thing that works the best is to just do everything really well.  Nobody wants to hear that.  Everybody wants that hack.  They want that silver bullet.

CAMERON YODER:

Because it’s not as sexy, right?  I mean some hacks just sound more sexy than others, than other things like oh, like honing in on your basics, right?

CASEY GAUSS:

Yeah.  Oh, you can double your business.  You can grow your business by, I don’t know, 50%, 30%, month-over-month if you just did this one thing.  And you know to be honest if that one thing, if we had to boil it down to one thing, that one thing is to just do everything well.

CAMERON YODER:

Right.

CASEY GAUSS:

Don’t cut any corners.

CAMERON YODER:

And honestly this mentality is not necessarily one that’s specific to Amazon.  Like this is not a new thing.  I mean pyramid schemes I guess are kind of maybe something like that, but in business in general this mentality has been present.  So it’s not a new concept.  It’s just kind of pervasive in the Amazon community.  But I’ll read the definition again.  I’ll read the definition.  So the definition again of a silver bullet is, again, something that acts as a magical weapon and solves a long-standing problem.  So Casey, in, relative to the Amazon community, what are some specific examples of what people would or might think of as silver bullets?

CASEY GAUSS:

I feel like generally the silver bullet is, you know, for any one particular seller the silver bullet is that thing that you’re not doing, right, because it’s so easy to see the grass as greener on the other side kind of, having that kind of mentality.  And so it’s like I bet if I did this thing then it would solve all my problems, double my business, blah blah blah, while in reality you’re having all these customer service issues, you’re having all these returns and your business is maybe downward spiraling or just not increasing in the capacity that you would expect.  So yeah, I mean increasing BSR is one, you know we’ve already talked about BSR.  We’ve already, you know, but that is definitely one area.  Everyone, so it’s something new all the time, and I think we’ve talked about this other podcasts as well.  So for a while the silver bullet was enhanced brand content, and then it was backend search terms.  And, you know it’s –

CAMERON YODER:

It changes.

CASEY GAUSS:

Yeah, it’s always changing.  But the thing that isn’t changing, the thing that is going to be here to stay is the fact that if you’re not cutting corners you’re going to be doing so much better than cutting corners to get to that quick fix.  So you know, if you want to break it down to where are the areas that people are most often or most frequently cutting corners, that is in product photography.  So we see the most insane photos where people are just using their cousin’s aunt, or I don’t know, somebody

CASEY GAUSS:

Anyway, you’re looking, you know, for your Uncle Herb or something that has a camera to come shoot your stuff, or you are doing it with your iPhone.  Granted, yeah, iPhone cameras are great –

CAMERON YODER:

It’s not bad yeah.

CASEY GAUSS:

– but are they great for product photography?

CAMERON YODER:

No.

CASEY GAUSS:

No.  And as the bar, the standard of product photography continues to increase in your market the iPhone photos are going to work less and less.  So anyways, product photography, people are always cutting corners.  They’re always trying to Photoshop in some just terrible photo, some stock photos, and people just aren’t willing to spend the money there.  People aren’t willing to spend the time or the money in doing their keyword research, in building a great listing.  People are too willing to cut corners on product quality, like I have so many people that ask me all the time – it doesn’t matter if these sellers are doing $1000 a month or $20 million a year.  I promise you these guys are coming to me and saying, you know, let’s be honest, how important is product quality?  Do we need to test the samples, or are we just good to go?  And when you cut corners on product quality it’s going to come back and bite you.  It’s going to limit your ability to have long-term success because it doesn’t matter how much black hat activity you do for reviews.  You’re still going to be getting a ton of negative reviews from organic sales, and –

CAMERON YODER:

People will know.  Like people will know.

CASEY GAUSS:

People aren’t going to come back and buy your product.  They’re not going to recommend it to friends and family.  You know, nor are they – maybe they’ll return your product, and now you have higher returns, and maybe that listing gets shut down.  Whatever.  That is one area where people are cutting corners an insane amount: product quality.

 

People are always cutting corners when it comes to your review funnel, so not setting up a killer email follow-up sequence.  Like you have to spend time on these things.  If you’re like oh, reviews are just going to come.  If people like it, they’ll review it.  Well, now you’re putting yourself in a significantly worse position when it comes to competition because now your reviews aren’t going to be increasing as quickly as your competitors, meaning your competitors are driving more sales, and they’re getting a higher review percentage from those sales, putting you further and further behind.

And so there’s no hack.  There’s no this one thing that is going to significantly increase your sales, especially assuming that you’re not doing everything really well.  So yeah, you can run a promotion to get on page 1, but if you don’t have great photos your conversion rates are not going to be that great.  The number of people that click into your listing from search results isn’t going to be that great.  If you don’t have a great, well-composed listing backed by great keyword research, well when you run that promotion you’re not going to rank for nearly as many keywords.  You may have to give away more units to rank as well because maybe your main keyword isn’t in your title.  If you’re not putting in the time, it’s going to throw off literally all other elements of the Amazon selling journey.  And so cutting corners on literally any one element makes all other elements that much more difficult, making it that much more difficult for you to find this, you know, proverbial silver bullet to significantly increase your sales.  So it doesn’t matter if you’re on page 1 if you’re not doing everything else really, really well.

CAMERON YODER:

It sounds so backwards to suggest the basics when something sexy like a hack or a fix is so hot right now.  But honestly, it’s kind of sad that what isn’t being talked about or the advice that isn’t being given to people is to really hone in, as you said, hone in on the basics and just get them solidified as you expand your SKU count, right?  Like what’s being talked about right now, what the advice that being given is, is to focus on these hacks that are starting to pop up, when in reality – and this is why we talk about, why we mentioned it so much – but to focus on those basics.

CASEY GAUSS:

And really what the hacks do a lot of the time is – they may seem cool.  They may seem sexy, but a lot of the time you see hacks like helping you grow your business by 5%, 10%, maybe a little bit more.  Let’s say you’re selling $50,000 a month on Amazon.  Well, and you have five products.  Well, the fastest way to get to $100,000 is to launch five more products.

CAMERON YODER:

Right.

CASEY GAUSS:

And doing all those things really well.  And again, you know, I know that you don’t have that much time, but that means you need to build the process that includes adding people to your team or hiring VAs, whatever.  You need to build a process so that every product that comes through your system has no choice but to go through this process where no corners are cut, everything is done well.  And those corner cutters that may be getting away with it now, as more and more competition comes in more sophisticated players are going to come in and be competing against you, and these are people that will not be cutting corners, and that is going to put you at a serious disadvantage.

CAMERON YODER:

Being able to step back and say okay, what are the most important aspects of my business allows you – for each of your SKUs – allows you to really hone in on what’s important.  And like you said, when you make that plan for each of your products, then your focus is not tempted to shift towards those hacks or those cuts, but instead they’re shifted to solely focus on what’s important with each of your SKUs.

CASEY GAUSS:

Yeah, and going back to Cam’s earlier point, you know, why are the gurus or the people with audiences always talking about hacks?  It’s because if everybody just got up there and talked about the basics no one would listen, you know? Like we want to hear oh what’s this cool new thing that can help me grow my business?  That’s great, but I just feel like these gurus are so incentivized to put so much emphasis on them because the cooler their hack seems, the more people that are going to listen, the more it’s going to get shared, the more people are going to revere that course leader or whatever as this master of Amazon because they knew something that you didn’t.

CAMERON YODER:

Sometimes when sellers are looking for or implementing these hacks they’re not even necessarily like seeking to cut corners on everything.  They honestly believe that it will help improve their business, right, that it is worth the time – because again, it’s what everyone’s saying.  Everyone’s saying to focus on these things, on these subjects.  And so from a –I’m putting myself in the mind of a seller right now.  It’s like okay, well if this is my community and my community is telling me to do these things and I believe that each of them are selling well, then I want to do that, too, right?  And so I’m going to implement it myself because it’s what everyone else is saying to do.  But in reality, again, they’re kind of just going forward with these hacks without questioning them, without saying okay what’s really important here.

CASEY GAUSS:

Yeah, for sure, you know at the end of the day the people – there’s thousands and thousands of people that take ASM or these other Amazon seller courses, and they don’t end up having success.  And the people that end up going on to have the greatest degrees of success are the people that are willing to, you know, really think about things for themselves, really try them, see what the data shows them from these tests and basically, you know, again, just distilling out what they hear down into these are things that actually work.  And kind of what Cam is talking about to another degree, one thing that’s really, really frustrating is in the Facebook groups it’s really the blind leading the blind, right?  So some –one thing that you don’t see is how much money or how successful these people giving you advice really are.  I’ve seen it a million times where someone is giving like just terrible advice, and then I go look at their account and they’re doing like, you know, $4000 a month, and this guy that he is giving the advice to is actually doing, you know, $20,000 a month, and they don’t understand kind of who has more experience in this area or who knows more than whom, and it just leads to bad decisions.  So now this guy that is doing $20,000 a month is taking advice from somebody who has significantly less experience and is probably going to go implement this bad tactic or this, whatever, go employ this bad advice.  And he doesn’t know it’s bad advice.  And he isn’t able to qualify who is giving that advice because there’s no indicator of that person’s success.

CAMERON YODER:

So let’s move on to another question.  Why are – why do you think sellers in general are really chasing after these hacks, these quick fixes, this silver bullet?  What do you think sellers are really after?

CASEY GAUSS:

Yeah, to answer your question, sellers just want to have as much success as possible, and they’re looking for the quickest path to get there.  I mean I think we all are.

CAMERON YODER:

Makes sense.  Makes sense.

CASEY GAUSS:

You know, but I think if you take a step back it’s so easy to focus on how much – what is my revenue today, what is my revenue tomorrow, how can I make sure that I have more sales tomorrow?  And in reality what you have to think about is what is the quickest path, the shortest path to success in the long term?  So what is my goal really?  Is it to sell for $1 million?  Is it to sell for $10 million?  Is it to get into retail, to merge with this large CPG company and exit for $50 million, or maybe even nine figures?  Really you need to take that step back, really conceptualize where you want to go, really think about what are my dreams, what do I, in an ideal scenario, what am I able to achieve?  And I think a lot of the times people just sell themselves short for that quick buck.  They’re like, oh you know, if I do this thing I could probably go from $10,000 a month to $30,000 a month.  And in reality, like you need to be making those decisions that aren’t necessarily going to take you to $30,000 a month next month, but are going to set you up to do $1 million a month in a year, whatever.  You really need to be thinking about the long-term because if you’re always making these short term decisions, you’ll only get that short-term benefit.  And so –

CAMERON YODER:

You brought up a really good point about people’s dreams, people’s goals.  I don’t think that you as a seller should let someone else tell you what your goals or what your dreams are or should be, right?  I think that process should be something that you sit down or you take some time, at least some time to sit down and think about.  Again, as that is your solid base.  That is your foundation.  And as you come across different data, or different hacks, or different tips, then you can kind of apply them to okay, is this part of my goal?  Is this what I want to do?  And is it going to work, or is it a part of – again, is it a part of those basics, or is it taking away from those basics that are going to bring success for me?  So part of an answer I think to the silver bullet is analyzing – or part of that answer comes from analyzing sellers that have been successful, have had a lot of success and kind of breaking down why, I guess.  So Casey, you’ve been able to meet and just be with a lot of successful sellers in the space.  And so when you look at successful sellers in the Amazon space with the idea of a silver bullet, what do you see?

CASEY GAUSS:

Yeah, so just to give some light into some of our friends that are, you know, really successful guys, so a couple friends of mine, they’re brothers, they last year did just under $100 million on Amazon.  Outside of Amazon they actually do bigger numbers.

CAMERON YODER:

They’re killing it.

CASEY GAUSS:

Yeah, it’s just insane.  They’re really young guys.  They’re actually under 30.  It’s just incredible.  And you know, my wife and I, we got the privilege of going to one of their weddings.  We get invited to kind of their big family events.  Another friend of mine, they do, last year I think it was just over $50 million across.  They have a few different accounts, and, you know, been to – he’s in Atlanta, been to like their version of SeaWorld or whatever, the biggest aquarium in the US.  Anyways, so we just get the opportunity to rub shoulders with some really, really big sellers.  And so yeah, plenty of guys that are in the like $20-$30 million range.  Not too many people make it outside of there from my experience so far.  But anyways, you know, again, these guys are really focused long-term, and I would say that possibly one of the areas that has allowed them to get to where they are the fastest is just having the framework in terms of the team structure in place to allow them to really scale.

You know, it’s very, very difficult if not impossible for a one-man shop to go to $50 million a year in sales on Amazon.  That’s so much inventory that you’re going to have to move.  And so these guys just have, they have it all down.  They have a very, very streamlined process of I’m going to launch this product.  Here are the people on my team that are handling each of these scenarios.  They’re outsourcing for various things that make sense, where again, they’re just focused on efficiency because doing that kind of volume you have to have, you know, the economics to make sense both from a time perspective and financially.  And again, these guys are also launching tons of products. So let’s say your maximum sales potential in a particular market is 1000 units a month.  And let’s say you’re at 800 units a month.  Well, you know, that’s pretty much there. That means it’s time to go focus on the next product.

So the time that it’s going to take you to go from 80% to 100% of maximum sales potential in a market is not worth the time.  You can take that same amount of time and go launch another product up to that 80%.  Again, should you settle for being in the middle?  No, but you should have a system in place that is designed to maximize sales for that product, based on that market’s potential and move on.  You should not, again, be spending your time focused on going from 80% to 100%.  That’s where people get caught up.  That’s where the big guys don’t worry about it so much.  Like they have the people in place that are focused on going from 80 to 100.  You need to be focused on the bigger picture, how many products can I launch, how quickly can I get them up and running, and how can I align my team and my team’s focus in like the entire products process or the whole launch process from going from nothing, from concept to launch?  That’s where you need to focus.  That’s where these big sellers are focused.

Again, they’re not cutting corners.  They’re not focused on the hacks.  You know, some of them have been involved in some black hat activity at some point, but really they realize that these are like, for the most part short-term solutions to these big problems, and again, you know, doing black hat stuff if you’re small and not doing it at scale, you may be getting away with it now, but if you’re doing it on 100 X more products or even 10 X more products, you’re – that significantly increases the likelihood of you getting caught.

CAMERON YODER:

Of course.  I think, Casey, I haven’t spent as much time with these guys as you have.  I have been able to spend a decent amount of time with successful just business people in general outside of Amazon, and some people in Amazon itself.  And from the perspective of the get rich quick mentality, I see a lot of people implementing the positive aspects of that mentality.  I mean there are positive and negative aspects to the get rich mentality, of course, and some of the positives that I see these successful people pushing or just naturally emphasizing are things like competition, or discipline, or innovation or speed.

CASEY GAUSS:

Or hustle.

CAMERON YODER:

Hustle.  Like hustling, these guys are implementing all of these things, and they are doubling down.  They look at what is bringing them success, and they double down on that.  Like they are very aware of themselves.  They’re very aware of what they’re capable of, what they’re not capable of, bringing people on to fill in those gaps, and then just doubling down on what’s bringing them profit.

CASEY GAUSS:

I agree.  A couple points, going back to previous questions, one area the people always cut corners on is design aesthetics.  You need, you absolutely need to have killer labels if you have labels on your product or packaging because it makes all the difference.  Go check out, you know, go check out some of the big supplements like testosterone boosters, stuff like that.  You will see Zhou Nutrition.  One, they rank for everything.  They’re absolutely killing it.  But they have incredible – their aesthetics are awesome.  There’s cohesion across their line so if someone goes and buys, you know, a neuro booster as well as a testosterone booster – or let’s say they go buy this testosterone booster.  They happen to buy Zhou’s, and they love it.  Well, when they go buy some other ancillary product or something that makes sense, or maybe it doesn’t make sense but it’s a supplement, and they see that same packaging like aesthetic, well they already love Zhou’s testosterone booster so now, yeah, they’re going to buy that.

CAMERON YODER:

It’s brand recognition.

CASEY GAUSS:

Yeah, yeah, yeah.  And so anyways, the aesthetic is so critical.  You know, and again we’ve talked about this before.  It’s easy to think that yours is good because, you know, you’re emotionally biased and yeah, it’s definitely a subjective kind of metric, but definitely you need to make sure that you’re killing it on aesthetics.  And then going back to why looking at the long-term helps you to avoid these hacks is, when you’re focused on these hacks you’re like zigzagging from here to there, to here to there, but when you have this broader perspective of where I want to go and what that looks like at the end result it’s a lot easier to draw, you know, this linear path there. So looking at product photography as an example, let’s say I’m just hacking on product photography and I get some stuff up.  Well, as my competition five months from now springs up, well now they have better photos than me, so now I need to shoot just a little bit better photos than them or photos that match.  And then six months down the road competition now has even better photos.  Well, now you need to go and get the best product photography possible.  And so now you’ve spent time reiterating on your photos three times and – or two times, however you want to count it – and now you’re wasting all that time.  That’s more money spent in the aggregate, whereas if you would have just thrown up amazing photos right off the bat, then you would have been a lot closer to your end result when you first got started, and you weren’t zigzagging.

CAMERON YODER:

I would like to ask – I like to ask people the question, if you had the choice of being the best in the space that you’re selling in, would you do it?  I mean of course, of course we all want to be the best in the space that we’re in.  If we had the choice we would all do it.  And so if that’s the case, then why wouldn’t we spend time just right off the bat having the best photos, or the best listing, or the best review follow-up?  All of it connects, and all of it makes your products just the most likely to sell right off the bat.  

CASEY GAUSS:

Thanks for joining us this week on Follow the Data.  If you’re interested in learning more about how to avoid cutting corners to help you achieve your long-term dreams subscribe to the podcast and check out the Viral Launch blog at viral-launch.com.

CAMERON YODER:

Also, huge thank you to those of you who have called in with your questions and comments about the show.  We are hard at work on an episode that could feature your voice, so just leave us a voicemail and tell us your thoughts on today’s episode, or really just ask us any of your Amazon questions.  Our number is 317-721-6590.  It’s always posted in the show notes for you to find when you’re done listening.  So feel free to give us a call.  We actually would really love to hear from you.

CASEY GAUSS:

Until next week, remember, the data is out there.

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