Failing Successfully: How To Use Failure To Grow Your Business w/ Casey Gauss

Failing Successfully: How To Use Failure To Grow Your Business w/ Casey Gauss

Sellers in the Amazon space today seem to only talk about success. But what about the other side? The side that sees less attention? As a seller, it’s important to recognize that failure is a critical aspect of growth for you and your business. Failing successfully on Amazon can make or break even the greatest sellers. With the right systems in place, it can be used as one of your most valuable assets. Scaling your business effectively means knowing how to best respond to failure. In this episode, we break down how you can leverage failure to effectively grow your business. We’ll talk through how you can shift your mindset towards failure, and how this mindset shift can change your life as well as your business.

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Podcast Transcript

CAMERON YODER:

Sellers in the Amazon space today seem to only talk about success, but what about the other side, the side that sees less attention?  As a seller it’s important to recognize that failure is a critical aspect of growth for you and for your business.

CASEY GAUSS:

Successfully handling failure on Amazon can make or break even the greatest sellers.  With the right systems in place it can be used as one of the most valuable assets.  Scaling your business effectively means knowing how to best respond to failure.  I’m Casey Gauss.

CAMERON YODER:

And I’m Cameron Yoder, your hosts for Follow the Data: Your Journey to Amazon FBA Success.  In this show we leverage the data that we’ve accumulated at Viral Launch from over 30,000 product launches and our experience working with more than 8,000 brands to help you understand the big picture when it comes to Amazon and the best practices for success as an Amazon seller.

CASEY GAUSS:

In this episode Cam and I are going to break down how you can leverage failure to effectively grow your business.  We’ll talk through how you can shift your mindset towards failure and how this mindset shift can change your life as well as your business.  Let’s get started.

CAMERON YODER:

All right, so we’re talking about an interesting topic today.  This is data-driven, but it is also more motivational based, something that honestly not a lot of people in the Amazon space have talked about or are talking about right now.  You seem to only hear about the successes that are going on in Amazon, and honestly I think that just seeing those or hearing those can be – it can wear on you if you do experience failure, which you will experience failure in your Amazon journey, just like everything else in life.  And because of that we felt like it was really necessary to talk about failure and talk about failure as an Amazon seller, or just as a person in general, as you continue to expand your business.

CASEY GAUSS:

Yeah, just to preface, we’re going to first start off kind of talking about failure in business in general, and then we’ll talk about where we are seeing a lot of Amazon sellers fail.  And so just to hopefully help you see kind of around those corners and make sure that if you are failing you’re failing gracefully and you can avoid failure if possible.

CAMERON YODER:

This is an interesting statistic to start out just kind of the discussion.  According to Jeff Bezos’ recent shareholder letter, for the first time more than half of units sold worldwide last year came from third-party sellers.  Yeah, that’s honestly crazy.  It’s a crazy number.  Over 140,000 businesses topped $100,000 in sales.

CASEY GAUSS:

And 20,000 topped over $1 million in sales.

CAMERON YODER:

It’s just crazy.  It’s crazy to hear all these numbers, and I think it’s easy for sellers to think that well all these other people are succeeding so obviously if I’m failing I’m doing something wrong.  But no, that’s not the case.  You see these numbers, like over 140,000 businesses, 20,000, all these numbers, it could be easy to think that you’re alone if you’re experiencing failure, but you’re not.  These people are – shareholder letters don’t talk about the failures that are happening in life, and in business and Amazon, and so that’s what we’re here to – that’s what we’re here to shed some light on.  So like Casey talked about before, like Casey mentioned, we’re going to talk about just Casey – we’re going to talk about Casey’s experience with failure.

CASEY GAUSS:

Yay.

CAMERON YODER:

And just failure in general.  But it’s more than that.  We’re going to talk about his ability to turn failure into success.  And so that’s what this first half of the podcast is going to be, just about his experience with failure, his experience with turning failure into success, and then we’re going to jump into Amazon specific failure aspects.  Okay, so Casey, how do you feel right now?

CASEY GAUSS:

I feel like I’m hoping that I give some good value.  There is some pressure there.  That’s how I’m feeling.

CAMERON YODER:

There is some good pressure there.  But really, I mean Casey, this is my perspective.  Casey’s been through – he’s been through a lot, and obviously Viral Launch is growing right now, and he’s experienced a lot of success, and he’s also experienced failure throughout just his journey at Viral Launch and outside of Viral Launch.  And so I see an incredible perspective that he has to offer us, and if you don’t know Casey he’s a really good guy, and he just loves people in general.  And so we are here to provide value to you today.  So Casey, all right, let’s talk about failure here and more than that, turning failure into success.  But what are or were some of your most memorable failures early on just with business in general?

CASEY GAUSS:

Yeah, I mean so, you know, I’m 25 so I haven’t had too much time to fail too much, but definitely before Viral Launch there was some kind of notable failures that really ended up helping me along the way.  So I do want to talk about those.  Failure number one is, you know, I tried to create a web design business.  So I, you know, took some coding lessons, then naïvely thought I knew how to build websites.  And so I started this website design business, and my mom was dating a guy at the time who had his own car shop.  And so I was like hey man, like you don’t have a website?  I could easily build you a website, and it will only be $500, blah blah blah.  So getting started I thought it was going to take, you know, oh it will take three, four weeks or so, and it took like at least double that, and even so the website was not very good at all.  He was not happy, and but I’m really glad that I went through it, the reason being is like through trying to make this website I ended up learning so many different things around what it looks like to actually build websites.  I looked at – or I learned so much about like, okay, what does it look like to build a contract?  I was also trying to get other like website clients, which I don’t know why I didn’t have more time to build websites, but anyways, like started going through that process of trying to get other people to sign up so that I could build them a website.  So there’s a lot of cool learning experiences there, which we’ll touch on here in a moment. 

Another failure is, again, out of naïveté – naïveté I think it is.

CAMERON YODER:

Naïveté.

CASEY GAUSS:

Anyways, naïvely I was trying to build like this social network, right?  So who wasn’t like four years ago, five years ago or something?  But anyways, you know, this was – I’m really passionate about help helping people, and I thought I had a great idea for social network to help people.  So through this I made a ton of great connections kind of in the dev world in the business world and started really understanding what it’s like to build a business, let alone a social network.  And so again, just a ton of learning experiences through there.  I’ll get to those here in a moment.  So too big failures that I would like to talk about, web design business that, you know, I was in college trying to do that, learned a ton.  I’m talking like coding out like hand coding HTML, CSS like all that stuff, not like WordPress or something.  And then, yeah, secondly trying to build the social network.  So yeah, we’ll get to that here in a moment.

CAMERON YODER:

How – so you experienced those failures, and those stick out to you in your mind.  How would you say were you able to push past like the idea of failure, or how long did it take for you to get past that?

CASEY GAUSS:

I mean each one took like different – so the web design business, I knew pretty quickly that like, wow, this is really tough.  It’s taking a ton of my time, and I’m also just not that great at it.  So that one, you know, only took me like a month after I had completed like my first website.  Then failure number two, going back to the social network, that took a long time.  I was like still trying to build that probably for like a year, but there is like a ton of good that came out of that.  So how was I able to move past it?  So I’m definitely somebody that is so focused on the future, and I’m always excited about, you know, the opportunities or what can come out of the hard work that I’m putting in.  So like almost blindly I’m willing to fight through this difficult times or this hard work because I’m so excited about, you know, that light at the end of the tunnel that I’ll just continue to push forward and push forward.  And I know that by working hard is the only way that I can push forward.  If I’m not working hard, if I’m like oh, this sucks, like I’m just going to go coddle myself and watch Netflix or something, like I know that that’s not going to help me get to my goal, so I’m willing to kind of just put in the work to reach that light at the end of the tunnel.

CAMERON YODER:

There is a quote from Robert Herjavec who is one of the Shark Tank guys, right? 

CASEY GAUSS:

Yeah.

CAMERON YODER:

I just saw him speak the other week when I was in, when I was in Florida, and he had this – he said this quote and it really stuck out to me.  It actually has to do with this.  Robert said that the greatest people in life are the ones who don’t continue or spend time feeling sorry for themselves.  So it’s accepting something that has happened and moving past it, and kind of like Casey said, looking to the future and saying like okay, that happened.  I’m going to set that aside, and I’m going to look to the future.  But that’s – let’s talk about Viral Launch specifically now.  So let’s talk about the early days of Viral Launch.  Are there any specific failures, Casey, that stick out in your mind about establishing Viral Launch early on?

CASEY GAUSS:

I mean, there have been just an insane number of failures along the way.  Some of them were just like hey – you know the lesson there was just like hey, don’t do this again.  So for example, we used to run all of our promotions through an email list.  We didn’t have the website that we do now.  And so anyways, essentially someone would give us a code.  They’d give us a link to their product, and we’d send out an email with that coupon code.  It was a shareable coupon code.  People were setting multichannel fulfillment orders to hold the rest of their inventory.  So anyways, let’s say you wanted to give away 50 units today.  You would only keep 50 units available essentially in Seller Central, and then we would get rid of all those units, essentially, through the promotion.  So anyways, people would share a link and share the coupon.  And so we sent one out – or somebody wanted to give a – use their own URL that would like automatically redirect to like different keywords.  And so I was like I’m not very comfortable with that, but like we trust the company so we’ll do it.  And so we did it, and then after all the promotions had gone to the Amazon product it ended up diverting to their own website saying it had the same colors, like same font, same style, look and feel as our buyer group website, and they were just trying to sign up traffic.  They’re like oh, opt into our ultimate VIP group or whatever.  Just put in your email here.  So like that sucked because we couldn’t even turn it off. 

So that’s just a quick failure, but like some bigger ones that had some really good kind of learning lessons for me is, you know, early on I was so afraid of kind of growing the company.  I just felt like I was beholden to Amazon, I was beholden to this system, and I was so afraid that something was going to change and that if I hired someone I would have to let them go as soon as that change happened.  And in my mind that change was happening, you know, tomorrow or sometime in the very near future.  So for the first year and a half, like I didn’t try to grow Viral Launch very much.  Like it was all just organic, and I just kind of maintained things and handled customer service.  Like I just wasn’t building a business at that point because I was too afraid of Amazon kind of shutting things down or changing their algorithm.  And I really wish that in this particular case I could actually go back because what I have learned from that is essentially like you need to go hard, as hard as possible at any given moment and like there are always risks with running a business no matter what it is.  Uber, for example, even Uber has the risk of iOS not liking what they’re doing or something, right, and shutting down, competition, regulatory issues.  Like there’s risk inherent to every single business, and what I learned is like you have to go as hard as possible at any given time.  Like yes, you need to be smart, and you need to be like calculating risks, but if you are not going as hard as possible, like all your competitors are going to be, or some of your competitors are going to be.  It’s those guys that are going to have the leg up along the way.

CAMERON YODER:

So that idea comes from like what is holding people back.  Do you think that’s like a fear of failure?

CASEY GAUSS:

Yeah, I mean absolutely.  And this one, it was relatively calculated in terms of risk, but like I think that this definitely applies in the Amazon space.  Like we see so many people like back in the early days of incentivized reviews, right, like nobody wanted to do it because they didn’t – like there’s a number of different reasons, right, everything from like they didn’t think Amazon liked it, they didn’t like it or they thought it was like gaming the system, and it kind of was, right, but you were able to do it.  And so yes, all those people that did it ended up having their reviews removed, but the point here – but in reality – so for example, you know, I have a friend in a very competitive space, and he was giving away just thousands of units to review groups or whatever to get reviews, and he was just running thousands of promotions for ranking.  So anyways, for like one of the highest volume keywords on Amazon at the time, he had like 14,000 reviews, and he was ranking incredibly well.  Amazon did come through and they removed like 10,000 of those reviews, but he had more reviews than everybody else at that time and is still selling like amazingly well.  And so this is like another great relevant example of somebody that went as hard as possible in the given like context of the rules, and that really, really set them up for long-term success versus all the people that were saying, you know, oh, you know, I’m not going to do that.  Amazon is probably going to get rid of it at some time, at some point.  I’m really focused on building a business, and it’s like, you know, that’s great, but that person is probably making $50,000 compared to our friend that is making, you know, $40 million a year.  So like it’s a huge lesson, I think, for me and something that I do wish that I could take back.  There’s other, like a lot of failures in Viral Launch where we tried creating all kinds of like new tools, new URLs, like we would go spend a bunch of time trying these things out, and I’m glad that we did it because like that shows us, you know, Thomas Edison’s quote is like –

CAMERON YODER:

I didn’t fail –

CASEY GAUSS:

Yeah, I learned a thousand ways not to make a lightbulb or something like that, and it’s like the same is true for Viral Launch.  Like I had this idea like oh, I wonder if relaunches would be super effective because basically like if you look in the UI Amazon says like oh, buy this product again.  And so I was wondering, I wonder if Amazon appreciates people that – or products that have a lot of repeat buyers.  Maybe they will rank those ones higher.  So what we tried doing is running launches, like so you just ran a launch for, you know, your fish oil, and then you come back like 30 days and you run another launch to the same exact people to one, obviously they want a refill, especially on consumables, but then two, maybe Amazon sees that and says wow, these repeat purchases are super valuable, or whatever, so we definitely want to get this product ranking because they are getting a lot of people to rebuy.  And so anyways, went, built out a bit, like I’m always someone that likes to build kind of a minimum viable product, an MVP, so anyways that’s what we did, and it didn’t produce any, you know, significant results really, and so we moved on.

CAMERON YODER:

You spent time, and that translates to the Amazon space actually really well.  Like I feel like paradox of choice comes into play here as well where there are almost too many options to choose from, and so you slow down as a result.  However people also, I think, in the Amazon space fear like the result, the end result of what’s going to happen by like picking one specific thing over the other or like the fear of failure combines with the paradox of choice really to just slow down people.  In this case like that’s a very specific example, but you chose to just move forward, literally not knowing what was going to happen.  And you spent time and resources doing that, like time and resources that could have been put towards something else, like something else that you knew was more effective, right, but instead you chose to focus on that out of the possibility that it was going to work.

CASEY GAUSS:

Yeah, I read this book called Chaos Monkeys.  It’s really cool.  It goes, you know – anyways, I won’t get into it, but one of the quotes – the guy worked at Facebook and he said you know at Facebook they try everything.  So they try 10 things.  Seven of those things fail.  Two of those things break even, and then one of them is like a moonshot and, you know, ends up being Facebook Messenger or Facebook Newsfeed, or like this huge thing that has billions of dollars of impact on the company and then, you know, on the world, essentially.  And so like – but you would never have gotten to that one thing, or the probability of you getting to that one thing is a lot lower if you didn’t try the nine others.

CAMERON YODER:

Right.  If, Casey, if you would go back, if you could go back in time would you change anything about the mistakes that we talked about or that you’ve made in the past, or do you think you would let yourself experience those failures?

CASEY GAUSS:

Yeah, I mean so for the younger self failures, the web design business, like the app or whatever, like I would not change those at all.  Like I learned so much around kind of building a business.  I learned a ton around development, which then helped me to develop like the first versions of Viral Launch.  And so if I didn’t have that prior experience I wouldn’t have been able to create versions one of Viral Launch, and I didn’t have the money to hire other people to create those first versions, and so Viral Launch probably wouldn’t be here if I weren’t always trying those other things.  Or if I would have let those other things get me down, then Viral Launch wouldn’t have been here because yeah, I felt like I was just failing at everything that I was trying.  There was another thing in between Viral Launch and the social media app or whatever that also was failing.  But like I continued to try, and if I would have said wow, I just failed on three things, like this isn’t for me, I need to move on, then yeah, Viral Launch wouldn’t be here.  And like that’s thousands, tens of thousands of lives that we get to impact here at Viral Launch, so like obviously like I’m super, super grateful that I was able to continue.  The one thing that I did mention that I would change is yeah, going much harder at the start of Viral Launch.

CAMERON YODER:

Yeah, which would maybe increase the chance of failing in other areas, like if you would go harder, but then you would continue to pick yourself back up and keep on going. 

CASEY GAUSS:

Right.

CAMERON YODER:

In terms of leveraging failure, so we’ve talked about failure and how you’ve like kind of gotten past it, but when talking about just sellers and business, business owners and establishers, entrepreneurs in general, how in your opinion, Casey, can people best leverage failure for growth?

CASEY GAUSS:

Yeah, I mean I think that one, it’s more your like adversity to failure that you have to cope with.  Again, looking at the Facebook example, like you have to try those 10 things statistically, like you’ve got to try those 10 things to find that one, right?  And so I just can’t encourage you enough to just get out there and try.  I’m someone that, like doesn’t really like planning that much because like yes, we can plan, but we don’t know what’s actually going to happen until we get there.  Who is it, like Mike Tyson?  Some boxer has a saying that it’s like everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face, and it’s like that’s exactly what happens in entrepreneurship, selling on Amazon.  It’s like you have a plan for something and things may go slightly according to plan, or they may go pretty close to according to plan, but inevitably there’s going to be things that you did not expect or not to the degree in which you’re seeing them, and it’s really your ability to adjust, cope with that and continue pushing forward that is really going to determine your success long-term.

CAMERON YODER:

In terms of seeing failure, like early signs of failure, let’s say there are – some failures – there are certain aspects of failure that are really good, right, like if you take – you can take any failure really and learn something from it.  But let’s talk about maybe noticing certain failures early on.  Like would you say there are early signs of failure from what you’ve experienced?  Like have you caught something early that you knew was just not going to be good or profitable or beneficial for Viral Launch and you were able to, since you saw it early, catch it and not fail from it and succeed?  What do you think?

CASEY GAUSS:

Yeah, I mean I don’t have any specific examples, but like, obviously trying something out – let’s go back to the retargeting launches, like I had the notion that – let’s say in this example I had the notion that it wasn’t going to work, but the potential reward of it working and the – versus kind of the amount of time I was going to have to put in, which was relatively low, the kind of risk reward thing there was like super high on the reward side, so it was definitely worth me trying out.  So even if I thought that there was a really good chance that it was going to fail, the potential reward was so high that it was definitely worth me jumping into.

CAMERON YODER:

That’s – I think a big part of it is the mentality or the acceptance that failure is going to happen, right?  Like it’s just an awareness.  Like if you go through everything on Amazon specifically thinking that failure is not going to happen, then obviously you’re going to be surprised when it does, just like the punch in the face sort of thing.

CASEY GAUSS:

Right, yeah, and again, like the risk reward calculation, if like the reward is an extra $5000 a month, let’s say it’s like a review strategy, right, like this against TOS review strategy.  So if the risk there is that your account gets suspended for a sustained period of time or maybe even banned – I doubt banned – but anyways, let’s just say banned, or by getting an extra, you know, by doubling your review rate you could make an extra $10,000 a month, well, getting banned from Amazon, the risk reward is not there.  An extra $10,000 a month, or I could potentially get banned, like you should not do it.

CAMERON YODER:

Right.  Let’s – one aspect of failure and success, I think, is that you can learn from other people’s failure to benefit yourself.  So really like you don’t necessarily have to fail yourself in that specific area to learn from it, right?  You can learn from someone else’s failures.

CASEY GAUSS:

Yeah, 100%.

CAMERON YODER:

And so let’s break down Amazon space specifically now.  Like let’s focus on Amazon.  Let’s talk about the biggest areas that we see sellers kind of just experiencing failure in.  Casey, what do you think some of the biggest – some of those biggest areas are that listeners can benefit or learn from?

CASEY GAUSS:

Yep, I think the two main things are product selection and then listening to the wrong people, misinformation.  I actually think that probably misinformation is the number one reason people are failing.  Actually I’m not sure.  It’s either product selection or people listening to misinformation.  With product selection I mean there are so many – if you have heard me talk at a, or like at an event, like some of my presentations go into if I’m talking about product selection, or sourcing products, or product discovery or whatever.  I talk a lot about kind of the reasons why people fail in product selection.  Just the high-level overview is that people don’t understand their budget and their goals, and so they’ll look at a product and say, yep, it looks like people are making a lot of money.  I want to jump in here and make the same amount of money.  And like the thing is is they were looking at the fish oil market where it’s, you know, super competitive, or the essential oil diffuser market, which is super competitive, and they have a budget of like $5000 or something, right?  And so like sure you can kind of make money, but you have no ability to hit the sales volume that these guys are doing, which is like $500,000 a month or something.  So just not understanding kind of their budget and getting into markets they have no business being in

CAMERON YODER:

It’s so easy.  I see this so often where people see the numbers.  They see the numbers, and they want to make it a reality that they can get those numbers, right?  Or they say like oh, you know, like $50,000 a month, like yeah, I can make that work.  Or oh I see one guy that’s making, like you said, I see one guy that’s making $50,000 in this market of fish oil.  All the others – sure, all the others are making $25,000 or even less, like $8000 a month, but this guy’s making $50,000, so I am going to make $50,000.

CASEY GAUSS:

Yep, that’s the other problem is like looking at one particular ASIN and then assuming that that is the case for the market.  And so yeah, they look at this guy – this one guy’s making – I’ve seen this a lot.  One guy is making $50,000, you know $100,000 a month and then everybody else is making $8000 a month, and you know, you’re like well if I source that same exact ASIN I can get the same results.  And like what you don’t know is what is driving that person’s sales.  Are they driving like a ton of traffic through Facebook ads?  Is it somebody that has a brand you just don’t know about?  Like where are those sales coming from?  Like you just don’t know that.

CAMERON YODER:

And that’s – and going back to your original point, it all comes down to picking the right product.  Like it all starts – if you think about the process of Amazon and everything that happens after, like how you get money, where you get money from, of course there are strategies surrounding everything, but it all starts with how or what you select for your product to sell.

CASEY GAUSS:

Yep, I think that covers kind of everything, or just having an unrealistic expectation on kind of margins or what price you can charge.  You know, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.  You know, so people come and say well, mine’s way higher quality than everybody else, so I’m going to charge double the price.  And then like at the end of the day people don’t want a grill brush that’s super high quality, and they don’t want to pay $40 for a grill brush.  They want to pay the $20 average because they just want to clean their grill, and it’s like not that big of a deal.

CAMERON YODER:

Right.  Or some people rely on bundling to solve their product selection issues.

CASEY GAUSS:

People don’t know what keywords their products actually sell through.  They’re just like you know I’m really passionate about this type of tea or something, and nobody searches any of those keywords, so now you have to go rank for the generic keyword tea, and like that’s really hard because nobody’s heard of your flavor and they’re really sketched of it.  Anyways –

CAMERON YODER:

Well, let’s touch on the second-biggest because both – there were both of these points.  It was product selection, and there was just information in the Amazon space.  Casey, what do you think?

CASEY GAUSS:

Yeah, information, like so this is going on – this actually just happened yesterday.  Someone posted – this guy, you know, I met him at a conference and like I really liked him.  I just recently have just been so upset about misinformation or just get very kind of agitated around misinformation.  And so anyways, met this guy at a conference.  He’s definitely like a younger seller.  I don’t think he’s, you know, probably doing more than $5000, $10,000 a month.  Anyways, yeah, he had this guy come on who is a quote seven-figure seller.  I don’t know if he really is, but let’s say he is.  And he comes on and he says, you know, giveaways don’t work.  Amazon made this huge algorithm change – algorithmic change, he said, which is different than an algorithm change, but anyways, not to be mad about specifics, but anyways, he said algorithm change, and like basically Amazon – like giveaways don’t work anymore.  Amazon is only looking at giveaways, and they only have kind of 25% the weight that they used to like a month ago.  So yeah, at the time of recording this it’s like May 11th, I think, and so anyways, he’s saying like all the way through March and I think April they were working, but like starting in May or late April they stopped working.  And it’s like absolutely not true.  We have just tons of case studies.  I was just talking to the team.  Like we have tons of case studies over the last two weeks where people have been super successful.  But so, so many people are reaching out to me saying like, are launches really done?  And now it’s just like spreading.  Like these rumors spread like wildfire, just saying like launches don’t work.  And so I don’t think this is that big of a deal, but if this rumor, which is absolutely not true, can spread that quickly from a guy with, you know, just a few thousand subscribers on YouTube, just imagine all the other rumors that are spreading around Amazon.  And so we try to do a good job of dispelling those rumors, but like, you know, our audience is only a portion of the overall Amazon.  Like nobody has the entire Amazon audience.

CAMERON YODER:

You should go – well, you don’t have to listen to it, but literally our first episode.  It was our first episode.  It was September 28, 2017 that was about the rumor of 90% off promotions.

CASEY GAUSS:

These rumors come up like we need to really go back and look to see how often.  I think it’s at least every two, three months because this – we just had to post a case study like in February, I think, or somewhere around February because everyone was saying oh, promotions aren’t working.  And it’s like dude, we’re running hundreds of launches right now, and they’re working pretty well.

CAMERON YODER:

This is fear.  This is what fear does to people.  And of course like that’s not to say Amazon wouldn’t or can’t change something tomorrow.

CASEY GAUSS:

Yeah, I mean I do expect them to change this at some time, and so does everybody else, but like I’ve been expecting that for 3 ½ years, and they just haven’t yet.  The data isn’t there.  And you know, again, like we talk about, like I think one of our major advantages is that we just have so much data, so much access to data that, you know, this guy’s one large didn’t work.  I didn’t watch the rest of the video, but anyways I think he did one promotion.  It didn’t work that well, but it was like a brand-new product, and there was like all these reasons why – like he didn’t give away enough units.  It was like to competitive, like I don’t know.  Anyways, everyone was kind of roasting him because it didn’t seem to be kind of like a great scientific study I guess. 

Anyways, so anyways, just a lot of [unintelligible 0:29:50.2] a lot of misinformation.  It doesn’t matter where it’s coming from.  Again, like I said, we’ve tried to dispel a number of myths on here, and we’ll continue to do that.  But we just hear all kinds of crazy things.  Like one example that really upset me – I was at a conference and the people like – I was at a conference and the people also run a course, and so through this course they teach you when you get a product list it up on Amazon when you first get it checked into FBA.  List it up on Amazon for like $2 or $1 so that friends and family can buy it at full price, they can leave a review, and then it will be verified.  And you do this up until – and you only have like one bullet point or something and they title and like one image or something.  So anyways it’s hocus-pocus, and they tell you that once like you get all the reviews that you want, then you can raise the price, you can add in all the information to your listing and then it will finally be able to be found in the rankings.  First off, products can be found in the rankings if they’re listed on Amazon and there are keywords associated with the listing, which can happen just by being in a particular category.  So first off, that myth, busted.  Like it could show up in the results.  You know, there’s these listings from name brands like Dove or whatever that have terrible, terrible listings, and they’re still ranking. 

So anyways, there’s that, but the main problem is that when you raise your price a lot of the time from $2 to $20 or $40, however much you want to charge, like you lose the buy box for a good period of time, and so nobody can even sell.  So this guy had like an iPhone or a Galaxy S8 case or something, and it was like just launching or maybe – I don’t know.  Anyways, the newest phone case, and that product was about to be announced or about to go live, and so he needed to have it up and able to sell on Amazon.  But he couldn’t have the buy box if he charged any more than like $2.50.  But you can’t charge $2.50, so he was like not capable of selling that product anymore all because this course taught him to do that.

CAMERON YODER:

So there’s a lot – I mean there’s a lot of, a lot, a lot of misinformation out there.  Even you pay money – let’s say you pay money, you go to a conference.  There’s probably a lot – well we’ve seen a lot, like first-hand a lot of misinformation there.  So what should people do?

CASEY GAUSS:

You know, I don’t know the answer to that, right?

CAMERON YODER:

It’s a hard question.

CASEY GAUSS:

Because like I don’t.  I think it comes down to you need to be doing – I think you should be listening to everything.  You should be skeptical about everything everybody says, including us.  I think that you should be testing everything and just be very vigilant around making sure that the data that you are getting or are able to get, you are paying attention to and making decisions based off of that.

CAMERON YODER:

That’s – the only thing I would add to that, which we’ve talked about this before, but questioning everything that you hear.  The most – we see sellers experience failure when they just blindly accept what other people are saying and then follow through with that.  I think questioning everything is really important.  I also think surrounding yourself with like-minded people who are critical is really important as well because if you’re in a group of people who accept everything, then it’s going to be hard to say no.  If you’re in a group of people that are critical and are testing everything together, it’s going to be easier to find, I think, truth in that.

CASEY GAUSS:

Yep, absolutely.

CAMERON YODER:

The only other thing, the only other things that I see Amazon sellers maybe experiencing failure in is – we’ve talked about this before as well, and Casey talks about this at conferences, but a lack of aggression.  If you’re confident in the data that you’re seeing and confident in your product, just being aggressive with how you sell, with product launches, with sourcing, being aggressive really speeds up the process.  Like Casey talked about before with just testing a lot of things out and moving forward with them and punching it hard, that can really progress your business quickly.

CASEY GAUSS:

Yeah, I mean there’s just a number of them.  Like so some people will quit their job too soon because they just want to be able to check that box on I quit my job.  And so then they start pulling out too much capital from the Amazon business, which is something that we’ll be talking about here soon.  People have a hard time with inventory forecasting.  So people run out of stock all the time, and people start targeting bad keywords, or like people get very emotionally tied.  This is something that we’re trying to figure out what the actual topic is or how to build a podcast out of this, but there is this great article – it’s super long – kind of about like the Chinese and their mindsets around Amazon and how they’re able to have so much success .  And one of the reasons was just because they don’t get very emotional about their products or their brands, and they’re just focused on the data, and like they make decisions super fast.  And again, so I think one of them is just getting emotionally tied to your products, to your business, to where it’s impairing your ability to make like good, logical decisions.

CAMERON YODER:

All right, Casey.  We talked about the biggest failures for Amazon sellers, but in terms of setting themselves up for success, how can Amazon sellers best – how do you think Amazon sellers can best set themselves up for success?

CASEY GAUSS:

I think the number one thing is don’t over-analyze.  Like so many people are like spend months and months just looking at the data and don’t actually pull the trigger, don’t make a decision.  Like you’re going to get so much more data when you actually pull that trigger, make that decision, jump in and see that kind of experience for yourself.  So again, like I – and this kind of comes with being aggressive to a degree, like I just want to encourage you to jump in and move as quickly as possible, like your competitors are doing it, and so you need to be doing it the same.

CAMERON YODER:

I think it’s really important to also know your capacity.  Know what you’re capable of because if you put yourself in the way of moving quickly, like you will experience failure.  I mean we’re telling you on this podcast you’re going to experience failure, but if you experience failure beyond your means, then it’s going to be really hard for you to dig yourself out of that. 

CASEY GAUSS:

Oh yeah.

CAMERON YODER:

If you take a lot of money and you can’t pay it off, you’re going to be in a tough spot.  So I would say be smart about moving quickly, but also move quickly.  Like there’s a fine – there’s a hard balance there.  It’s really important to know what exactly you’re capable of, and just like we talked about before, setting yourself up for success in the Amazon space specifically looks like expecting failure, like expect failure to happen.  Know that failure is going to happen so it won’t surprise you when you experience it.

CASEY GAUSS:

Yeah, and have a plan with that.  So then have a plan for if things do fail, have that contingency.  And it’s like okay, that’s fine.  I ordered far too many units for this holiday period.  Let’s say, you know, you sell Valentine’s Day items.  Like sure, maybe you ordered too many, but it was kind of a go big go home situation, and you would rather have too much inventory than too little because it’s so much money that you’re missing out on, and so then make sure you have a good place where you can go liquidate that inventory for a decent price, or maybe at the very least get it out of Amazon so you’re not paying those long-term storage fees.

So that’s all for failures for us, guys.  I just wanted to thank you again for tuning in.  I, you know, know that being an entrepreneur, we can definitely feel alone, and we can definitely get really down on ourselves for failing, right?  Like we look at the Mark Zuckerbergs of the world, we look at the [anchors 0:37:03.4] of the world, we look at, you know, all these people that have been so successful, and we don’t see what their path to that success was.  We don’t see all the failures that they were making.  And so I think it’s very easy for us to put it on ourselves and say well, shoot, you know, I can’t really measure up to Mark Zuckerberg, or Bill Gates or whoever because like, you know, they just had this meteoric rise to success, and I would imagine that on that path to success they had so many, so many micro failures, but they just continued to move on and push ahead.  Like Mark Zuckerberg, for example, had a bunch of things that he tried getting off the ground before the Facebook came to be.  So like I just hope that this podcast, if you are in that stage where things maybe aren’t going as well as you would hope this can be kind of that little pick me up to show you again or just to remind you and encourage you that hey, this is just part of the process.  This is making you the much better – a much better version of yourself that is going to be that much more successful, you know, in the next phase of business.  So yeah, hopefully a little encouragement for you.

CAMERON YODER:

We do actually really want to hear from you guys concerning this topic, just concerning failure and what failure you guys have experienced or have pushed past and experienced success from that failure.  So our question of the week has to do with failure, and it simply is what failure have you experienced and/or also what success have you experienced from that failure?  So in order to answer that question, or if you have any other questions regarding failure, hit us up on Facebook, just seriously DM us, hit us up on the DMs.  It could even be Instagram, but Facebook if you pull out your phone right now, literally right now, and you – unless you’re driving – and you look us up on Facebook.  You can literally just message us and we will get back to you.  You can also call in.  Our number is 317-721-6590 to drop us a line.  Until next time, remember, the data is out there.

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