We’ve taught over 30,000 people how to sell on Amazon since 2012. I estimate our students have sold north of $10 billion in their own businesses.
Not many have successfully transitioned to selling a lot on their own websites because it requires a completely different marketing approach.
I think anyone can build a powerful brand that attracts droves of customers. We’ve built the fastest-growing coffee company in America, according to Inc Magazine, with over a million bags sold, with this three-step process:
Step 1: Understand the Difference Between Search-Based and Interruption-Based Advertising
On Amazon – and when advertising via Google Adwords search ads – you’re targeting specific search phrases. A customer wants to start working out at home, she reads some blogs which tell her elastic workout bands can provide a good home workout, and she goes to Amazon to search for “elastic workout bands”. As a business owner selling this type of product, you make sales by ensuring your products show up for this and related search phrases.
Advertising via social media, including Facebook advertising, is completely different. People likely aren’t looking for your product when they see your ad. You are interrupting their social media browsing to put your message in front of them. You likely don’t pay per click, you pay per 1,000 impressions. Whether people click or not, you get charged for the privilege of people seeing your ad.
How do you make this latter form of modern social media platform advertising work? You must nail your hook.
Step 2: Nail Your Hook
If you sat down in front of an ideal prospective customer, what’s the first thing you would tell them to get them interested in your product? That’s your hook.
To successfully advertise on display platforms like Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat, you use the same approach – lead with your hook. If you share the right message that makes people interested, you get lots of clicks and sales relative to the number of impressions you pay for. If you share the wrong message people don’t care about, you don’t get many clicks or sales – you end up paying for a bunch of impressions and get nothing in return.
How do you find your winning hook? First, think through the scenario in the first paragraph of this step. What’s the first thing you would say if you sat down in front of a prospective customer to get them interested in your product?
Aim to come up with five to ten possible hooks. Then, test them. Use an advertising platform like Facebook and spend a few hundred dollars testing each hook. Write an ad and a landing page headline for each hook. All else on the landing page can remain the same – just modify the headline to fit the hook you’re testing. Run each ad to its respective landing page. Measure performance by (1) cost-per-click and (2), if possible, the return on your advertising investment.
This process gives you real-world data on your best-performing hook that gets people interested in your product.
If you test about 10 different hooks and none work, you might need to work on the product. A me-too product with no differentiation or unique story is likely not going to work with display advertising. You need something unique or interesting about your product. It could be its origin story, a unique feature, or an appeal to a specific audience. Without a unique angle, your time is likely better spent improving your product than running more ads.
Step 3: Build Trust
Once you get people hooked and to your website, the last step is to make them feel confident in buying from you. Fortunately, this process is simple.
First, you need a well-designed website that works fast. Most out-of-the-box Shopify templates will work fine. Just don’t have a poor-looking website you wouldn’t trust buying from and expect it to work.
Second, add third-party credibility. This can include trust logos (SSL, PayPal, credit card symbols, BBB, and others). It can, and should, include customer reviews – nobody wants to be the first person to fork over money on a new product. If you can swing it, include testimonials or quotes from influencers or prominent publications as well – these aren’t necessary, but you should build them over time.
Third, give people a guarantee. At minimum, offer a no-risk 30-day money back guarantee. You need to make it easy for people to buy from you. Don’t expect a new customer who just found out about you through an Instagram ad to assume all the risk in buying from you. Put the risk on your shoulders. Give a good guarantee and follow through on what you promise.
A powerful “brand” means you have built up trust with a lot of people. One way to do this is figuring out the core message to convince people to buy from you and building trust throughout the purchase process. Do this at scale, with millions of impressions delivered, and you will have built a valuable brand.
Transitioning from search-based marketing, like is common on Amazon, to interruption-based marketing, like on big social media platforms, is doable. You need to think and operate differently. With the right product, message, and strategy, you can build a massive brand fast selling primarily on your own website.
We’ve done this, building one of the fastest growing companies in America, and you can too.