The Importance and Impact of a Branding that is Positioned Right - Amazon Marketing Tips with Zahra Cruzan - Part 1

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A. Part 1

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Transcription in this episode:
[00:00:01] spk_0: Welcome [00:00:02] spk_1: to the seller roundtable e commerce coaching and business strategies with and er, not and [00:00:07] spk_0: AMy, we's, [00:00:08] spk_1: hey, [00:00:10] spk_0: what's [00:00:10] spk_1: up everybody this is Andy are not with [00:00:12] spk_0: me And [00:00:14] spk_1: we are super excited to have zero cruisin in zero. Thank you so much for being here. [00:00:19] spk_0: Don't thank you so much for having me. I always loved chatting with Amy and her group and yeah, [00:00:24] spk_1: yeah, absolutely. So what we like to start with is your street cred uh, you know, kind of uh, up to this point, you know, if you want to [00:00:33] spk_0: share where you're born, kind [00:00:34] spk_1: of where you raise school hard knocks kind of the journey up to today. You can go as deep or as brief as you want. [00:00:43] spk_0: So you said I have an hour, right? Exactly. You can take, you can take 45 [00:00:49] spk_1: Minutes to tell everybody about your life, up to this point and then we'll get in like five [00:00:55] spk_0: minutes. Really. Just dropped off the car. Yeah. Um, yeah, so I grew up born and raised in a small town called Brownsville texas. It's not quite a small these days, but it's at the very tip of texas. And um, yeah, so my journey to brand strategy was actually very different. Um, When I grew up I wanted to work at Nasa, I had no plans to work in friends. Um, I was a big old science nerd and I went, I came up to saN Antonio for college where I met my husband. So here I am still um, and I was a biology major and premed focus was on that path. Um, And uh I decided that that wasn't the path for me after my first uh my first year round uh uh did not see that as my future and I happened to be working part time uh an insurance agency dealing with claims and I decided to move over into the sales side and marketing side and I did that uh marketing and sales for several years with different companies, 4-500 phone companies. And then my husband who is a chef, I graduated culinary school, we moved to London for a little bit so he could do his ex turn ship. And when we came back I was at a bit of a crossroads um with what I wanted to do and my husband said, hey I'm a chef, you're a marketer, let's open a restaurant um which seemed like a fantastic idea at the time. And so we did, we opened a restaurant, we had that for five years um and one of the things that really stood out to me in that time in that process was how different marketing was from branding. And I didn't understand that until I was a business owner because working in marketing for corporations, everything they give you already has that brand set up that's integrated into the campaign that's integrated into the framework. And so I kind of took that for granted, I always make um always make the reference that you know, it kind of felt like all those years I was adding the sugar and cream for my coffee, you know, patting myself on the back for making a great cup of coffee, forgetting all about you know the being growers and the roasters and and all of that, you know happening in the background that set the foundation for a great cup of coffee and and so uh yes that really started my interest in Brandy, I started learning everything I could about it, started taking on clients working just little jobs here and there freelancing because I just had a baby and was a stay at home mom and it just started to grow until my my little munchkin decided to go to school on me and um we've turned into an agency and and here we are today, that was so awesome, you know I met you because you were doing little presentations and stuff like that. Um some of our small business association local agencies in san Antonio and you were very well known and I met you at launch SAn Antonio and um you know everything that you just made sense, it makes you make branding makes sense. So um you know and I think that's that's what you do for brands and it's it's really great um you have that ability, I think so many people get confused about like how how do I study my market, how do I connect with the customer? Right, so um you kind of talked a little bit about how you started your agency and how you got into how do you get into branding? But how would you define brand? Yeah. So brand is the world's perception of your organization and I think that's what makes it so nebulous for people is we know all of these different things affect brand. And so um really what people have this false idea of that they can control the brand right, so that I can tell you what to think about me and and really it's not. So now the silver lining of that is we can influence the heck out of it. So um but I think that sometimes, especially for small business owners, that process becomes overwhelming because when you say something like it's every interaction, it's every experience and every touch point. Suddenly our minds kind of go into like, oh my God, I don't have my intake forms, I don't have my customer service, I don't have my products, my labels aren't pretty enough. And so it just becomes this overwhelming um uh daunting idea or the other thing that I see is people will work on it in a silo. So I'm gonna come over here and work on my logo and forget about everything else and how it integrates with the rest of my brand. And then I'm gonna go and talk to a copywriter and have them write something for me that's on brand that doesn't really connect with my visuals or or anything else. And so, um, so it almost feels like a game of whack. Um All right, as soon as you knock something down and you think you've got to handle and it's something else brings up. And so really, um, what branding is is that perception of who you are in the best way to build a strong brand is to have a structured approach to it is to create a system that you are because Brandon is not a one time thing, right? The this is a verb. It's something that you will always be doing as long as you are running an organization. And so it's creating a structure and a system so that you are creating these consistent touch points and you are, you are creating and establishing rules and structure and then going in and optimizing each of those as you move along. And that's how you create a strong brand without it becoming overwhelming, making sure that everybody on the bus gets it. They're all on the same page. Your, you know, the person who answers the phone is gonna understand and answer questions the same way you would. Um, and so that that is what branding is, and then also how you can be really intentional about creating that brand and just starting understanding that you will never have a perfect brand, There is no such thing. And so, you know, just owning and accepting where you're at, you are where you are, it's only gonna get better from here, you know, and and that's and that's all I have to say. I know it's really, it's a really broad question, like defined brand, right? But I think some of the words that you said that resonated were consistency, making sure that you're consistent with your brain, like you were saying, you know, um you're, somebody writes copy for you and your amazon listing says one thing and then they get the product and your packaging, your inserts is like a different voice and it's just, you know, people get a perception, especially, you know, here we are on an e commerce podcast, most of us are selling primarily online um and we get one, the customer gets one perception of us when they view our website or our landing page on amazon, you know, whatever our storefront on amazon, they get this perception of us and then they get the product and sometimes it's like expectations versus reality, right? Like maybe it was written by a really good copywriter and then, you know, and everything is so cool, and then you get the product and you're like, what is this? Like this is not what I expected and that's where like, you know, the bad reviews come in or you know, any time returns anytime you have an expectation versus reality. Um it can cause issues. So I know you've worked with a few brands in the e commerce space, you've helped a lot of our entrepreneurs amazing at home with their, with their branding and getting their, especially our unique products off to market, um but what would you say as far as for those brands, our listeners who sell on e commerce and are really looking to make that impression, what would you say is the most important factor in success when setting up your brand? Yeah, so I think, you know, just to touch back on your point of consistency is building out those consistent brand standards. And so the biggest challenge with branding, you know, is taking it from ideation, the super cool vision mission core values that are on the website and then creating the tangible evidence that that is who you are and what you believe in the way that you do what you do, and that becomes even trickier when you're on an e commerce platform because you don't get, they're not coming into your store, they're not walking into, you know, your space. And so um for somebody who is an e commerce, anybody in general specifically for e commerce is having a brand guideline that is going to first create your brand standard. So no matter what, every time somebody gets this thing they're getting a consist, they can consistently expect to get these set of delivery bubbles right? And that is both a tangible thing and then of course, in the way that you do it right? And so um anytime somebody contact customer service they're going to get a response within what time anytime. So once you have your core values built out then the next iteration, the next you know these common denominator down. Right? The reduction is the brand standards. So if if general. So let's take a restaurant example right just off the top of my head. So let's just say your core values. Generosity. Well if your core value is generosity, are you going to charge $2 for every two ounce branch they want? Or are you going to if they buy the salad you're going to give them, you know you're gonna you're gonna charge maybe 50 cents more for the salad and then just give them free extra ranch on the side. What best personifies this idea of generosity and that's just a silly example that we can all relate to because we've all been out to even get annoyed by like all the nickels and dimes. But this is what we talk about is everybody has these beautiful core values and these beautiful persona traits and mission statements and vision statements and value of manifestos. But like where tangibly does it exist in your business and then articulating it, documenting it down in your brand guideline so that your fulfillment company has a set of expectations so that your um when, when you're going out to negotiate like what comes in this and what do we want to make sure that, you know, is happening with packaging and supplemental material and customer service about returns and delays and how do we handle that? There is an already set expectations of what the response is going to be and how we're going to set it up to execute on that level so that you create that consistent, right? Because the best way to affect your brand asset is to build that trust. They've got to trust. And the only way to build trust is the consistency and you can't be consistent if you don't have those brand standards listed out right there. I think especially with private label brands and you know, the consumer products industry, I think it's so important when you're building out your brand standards to know the customer that's buying this product and that's where I see a lot of people go wrong is they'll just kind of put together a standard of make up an avatar and put together a standard of, you know, okay, we care about the environment and then they'll use not, you know, different type of packaging or whatever, right? So it's like being consistent across but also knowing your customer. And I know you gave an example once before of a I believe it's like a protein bar brand that you work with. I think that's a really good example of how you change their brand from barely selling to a million dollar brand. And can you tell us a little bit about that story of how you worked with that brand? Yeah. So basically this was a brand that was selling to mostly friends like friends and family, you know mom's friends, her rock climbing group and so she was at farmers markets was trying to get you know herself off the ground. Like most of us start and you know we we had our first conversation we sat down and and I said well who tell me who your market is and she said well everybody um and I said well no try again. Who are you selling to? She says women. And I said okay what makes you think women are your market? And she says well because that's who I am selling to now. And so that is where there is there's data and then there's our confirmation bias like yes she was selling to women but because she was only offering it to women too. Right? So then there's kind of the the faulty data and so. Exactly, well let's let's test this, you know, so we put a proper nutrition label on it. Um and you know we we re we re sent it out to the market that she had and guess what half of her market dropped from her like her mom sales and we said okay well what is going on here that's creating this deficit? We went to the vision, we looked at it and I said well let's talk about your vision, let's talk about your standards, your core values. Why do you do what you do, how did this come about? Well, it turns out as a rock climber, she saw a gap in the market, she needed a protein bar that didn't have way protein that is going to weigh her down. She did eight hour rock climbing. And so she needed something that wasn't gonna give her brain fog that wasn't chock full of sugar and she was gonna be starving an hour later. And also she wanted something that didn't have a footprint because she loved the environment and when you're hanging off a cliff, it's really hard to find a trash can. And so like she needed this, she wanted this brand to be, you know, fuel for people who did 12, you know, half day cycling adventures and rock climbing and they were documentary people who were in, you know, documentary field that are, you know, out on site busy, you know, kind of um, you know, without these melty chocolate bars that we're not doing much good for anybody. And so that was a position. So we said, okay, so we were able to find and reposition her chest based on her vision just based on her need and discovering her brand and what she wanted to do with it and what her intentions were. And so we said, well let's let's put that to the chest, let's try that market. and so we did, and very quickly, um she got it just from expert players, from our ai from amateur international, amateur rock climbing celeb that wanted to be the face of her company and put her in the store in all their stores, um and it was just that simple repositioning of understanding um were sometimes we get a small set of data and we think it means something, but we don't have a large enough sample and connecting that, so that when we built the product, we said, okay, we didn't change her ingredients at all, not one, it was exactly the same product that she couldn't get into big box that nobody had interest in. Um we, but what we did was we repositioned the product, we changed where we were selling it, where we were putting it, so um you know, we weren't trying to get into HDB now, we're trying to get it into R E I S and places that made more sense for her market, and by doing that, we were able to find success and so um that that is how we create these kind of logical pinpoints. If you've got a vision, you start with that vision, you create a framework around it and then you create strategic goals in that pathway, you're able to create a really solid brand and that's much more impactful, it's not always, and it turns out her her story of why she created this product was more in line with a different audience than she was just going out on the street and kind of selling it to and that's what we often do. We create this like avatar in our mind and then you know, we're missing the mark. So I remember you changed her packaging to be more kind of masculine focused and you know, and really so when you have the that environment and that that certain market that you want to attract, changing up your packaging and really looking at those competitors who are also selling in that space and becoming that retail brand is really going to help you um you know, attract more customers. So what about the new people like her, right? Who she got started somewhere, but she probably when she first got started like a lot of our private label sellers, they don't have a lot of budget, they're just trying to try out this e commerce thing right there, trying to start their own brand. They don't have a lot of budget to spend on a logo and packaging and branding and all those things. So what is your advice to new startups, who are kind of on a budget? They just want to get started. How can they do that? Well, yeah, so I think um we always say start with what you have, right? Um so wait until wait to spend on your brand until you've got some proof of concept, you've ended your clientele, you know, so when you're unless you're unless you're venture backed, unless you've got funding, you've got a really solid, you know, you you spent the money on the research, you know, where your clients going to go and you and you've got that budget. If you're bootstrapping chances are you haven't had professional research done, it's kind of been your internet google dive. And so you know, which is nothing wrong with that. It's just got to be tested before we spend money and like bet that that's exactly that's the market. We need, that's minimum viable product. Product on the market, see who the audience is, see what they call the product, then you build out your brand structure. Right? And so that and so that's that's a lot of what we do is most of the businesses that we work with our two years or older, 18 months or older because at that point we've got some data to work with. So when we do research for brand, we look at competitive analysis, we do market research and we do historical data and then we do our brand discovery. Right? And so you're not going to have all that starting out. So my advice is always start simple. You don't need the graphic logo, just do a font, just do a logo, you don't need the graphic, you don't need the sub marks, you don't need a crazy color palette, keep it clean and keep it simple because it's easier to build off a neutral than to rebrand something that you did like super crazy hot pink and then later you want it, you know, um something different. And so um let let the market tell you, let the market respond to you. If you keep it clean looking professional, you know? Um it's better to go higher quality then louder, right? So like white can look really nice if it's a thicker, you know, quality paper for packaging or you know, maybe doing a nice little spot gloss on it just to freshen it up or something. You know, like there's different things you can do. Um but keep it simple work with what you have um and let the data come in and when it does and you're ready to make that That investment, then do it just because you don't have, you know, the $15, to put, you know, to your branding today doesn't mean that you don't brand at all. It just means that you do it for what you can. So if just to give you like a really basic example, if I'm drawing a picture, it's going to be a stick figure. Like you will not see me, you know trying to go and draw, you know, something crazy with oil paints and colors because it's just so far out of my realm that I probably make a much more clear picture with a stick drawing than I could with oil pains, right. And so just like keep it simple canvas your friend, you know exactly get get that data out there like you said, unless you already have been in the market for a while, you already know what your customer wants. You have that backing. So what happened everything? Sorry, I was just saying just one other thing about track everything if, if you're gonna put um you know your outage on the front, on the big box instead of on the product label. Like however it is that you decide to do it, track that because the more data you come with to your brand agency, the faster they're gonna be able to get to the, get to the answer right? Because we've already got some, some data coming in of what you're currently doing. No, no, that's good. It's good to have data. I completely agree. That's something that all of us struggle with is what are those key performance indicators that we need to be tracking and um, I think just knowing who your customer is and amazon lately has the, they've got some really great brand dashboards for people to check like the ages of their customers, the locations, everything like that. So everyone can get that data and also your PPC conversions, your keywords that your ranking for. That's going to tell you a lot about who your customer is in the primary market. Um, so what is the single most important thing a brand can do to add perceived value? Yeah. Well, um I'm gonna give you a super general answer and then I'll give you like a different answer. Um Generally speaking, the best thing you can do for your brand is set an intention, set some goals and you know, your brand standards and then work your butt off to consistently deliver on those because that consistency is going to do more good than any fancy logo. Like you're not going to buy something because the pedals on that logo were just like bomb right? It's gonna be, it's not that the logos aren't important that they're not a piece of it. But if you've got money to spend on your brand, you spend it on building consistency. You spend it on measuring those metrics and and finding out what your brand standards are. Because at the end of the day, you know when you, when we look at brand, no matter which of the five marketing levels of sophistication you are, how saturated um your market is right, whether you're an adventure which we worked with, who has created something brand new or people who are like in the fitness industry or you know like the beauty industry where it's like, oh my goodness, you couldn't be more saturated. I'm at the end of the day, commodity for commodity feature, for feature in this global market, you're going to find whatever you want fully customized at your doorstep, what makes a decision in people's minds is do they trust you? I'll pay a little more on amazon for a company that I have heard of that I bought from before and my stuff didn't come to me melted or jacked or like, you know, in pieces or you know, it's like three sizes too small or big or something, you know, and so investing in that consistency, investing in that brand reputation and getting known for those particular things. That's going to be the very best thing you can do for your brand. It's great to have five star reviews. It's even better to have five star reviews that are consistently using the same adjectives for your business. That's what, So when we look at neuro economics and the study of buying behavior, that's what people respond to. So now, you know, we've become so disillusioned people sell amazon reviews and these are all fake people and you know, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. But when we consistently hear somebody think about just think about it in your everyday life, if you've never met someone or even if you like somebody, if you hear enough negative things about them or enough positive things about them, It's going to influence your perception of them on some level. You just can't help it. Even if you're really trying hard to give somebody like the benefit of the doubt, I want to meet them for myself, it does factor and it does play in a little bit. And so when you're looking at those reviews, getting those consistent adjectives for whatever it is that your brand standards are reliability, trustworthiness, quality, you know whatever you determined are going to be your selling points, your unique positioning, um, points that's going to just serve you so well and that's the investment that will last your brand just a lifetime. [00:25:27] spk_1: Yeah, I think a good analogy to that that a lot of people will resonate with is restaurants right? Like we recently moved from California to Idaho and with a [00:25:35] spk_0: fairly large group of people [00:25:36] spk_1: but now you know, it's like [00:25:37] spk_0: you know you can use [00:25:38] spk_1: yelp and google maps and things like that but and you'll find some decent restaurants there but there's gonna be no better restaurants than being like, you know, pulling five of your friends and being like, hey what's the best mexican restaurant in town? What's the best sushi place? You know, and generally we [00:25:53] spk_0: come to a consensus, [00:25:54] spk_1: you know, it's like people have tried different things and it's like oh well we all three of us have tried this one and we all love this one. So um you know, I think that's a good analogy that a lot of people can can resonate with, thanks for tuning in to part one of this episode, join us every Tuesday at one pm pacific standard time for live Q. And a and bonus content after the recording [00:26:14] spk_0: at cellar [00:26:15] spk_1: round Table dot com, sponsored by the ultimate software tool for [00:26:18] spk_2: amazon sales and [00:26:19] spk_1: growth seller s c o dot com and Amazing at home dot com.

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