Business Lessons From Serial Entrepreneur Neil Asher
In the podcast:
02:20 – Success and Failures in Business
10:34 – Business Broker Background
15:55 – Neil’s Current Business in the Affiliate Marketing World
19:58 – Amazon Affiliate Marketing
22:32 – Markets on Amazon
23:57 – How to Choose A New Product To Launch in Amazon
32:20 – Matching Your Product With A Competitor
38:03 – Stripping Back a Product to It’s Essence
42:24 – Best Way to Get Reviews in Amazon
49:59 – Neil’s Business Advice
Serial entrepreneur Neil Asher has built and sold many businesses. He has also has a number of failures in business. In this episode we discuss the lessons you can learn from his successes and failures. This is an episode not to be missed!
Ilana: Welcome back to another episode of talking web marketing. I’m your host Ilana Wechsler. And today I’ve got a really interesting episode for you. I’m interviewing a guest called Neil Asher, who I think you could say is a serial entrepreneur. He has built and sold many, many different businesses. And he’s built businesses that have failed, he’s built businesses that have succeeded, and we really go deep into his failures and successes. Actually, personally, I find it interesting talking about one’s failures, because I think a lot can be learned from them. And I think a lot of people don’t talk enough about their failures. They kind of think, well, let’s not focus on that. Let’s only talk about the successes. But as I said, personally, I think there’s a lot to be learned from it. So we go through some of Neil’s failures, and of course, his successes and what he’s currently working on. Now. I guarantee you this is a really interesting episode, Neil is a very colorful character. let’s jump right in.
So welcome to today’s show Neil. It’s lovely to have you here. I obviously know you. But for those listeners who don’t know you, do you mind sort of giving us a really quick bio about who you are and what you do?
Neil’s Success and Failures in Business
Neil: Sure, if you haven’t already guessed I’m a Pommy get, thats my mate Dave calls me. And I am, I guess what you would call a serial entrepreneur in that I can’t stop myself starting businesses. It’s like a compulsion. So I guess I’m a serial entrepreneur. I’ve started, let me see, God only knows how many failed businesses, but a few of them have also worked, which has been quite lovely. And we could talk about both of those, the failures and successes later on.
Ilana: I would like to talk about both, because I personally also had a lot of failures and successes. And I’ve learned so much from my failures. And I think so often people don’t talk about their failures. I only really, you know, put the halo on the winners, and they only talk about the winners. But really, there’s no, I think there’s no shame in the failures.
Neil Asher: Well, you know, you’ve got to, you’ve got to get the failures to get the winners. Um, I had a really wily old business mentor, and I used to take him out for lunch and every it was the last Thursday of the month. I would pay to take him out to lunch and his favorite restaurant back in the day was est, which is just down in Sydney, just on by circular key. Fancy, great restaurant anyway, so I would take him there. And he was a kind of like a bit of a wily old business person just happened to be worth eight figures. I’ve built a lot of businesses, but was retired and just enjoyed getting taken out for lunch, getting drunk, and then harassing waiting stuff that was pretty much as anti shtick. But I would sit there and, you know, torture him and kind of go through things and he’s, he used to tell to me that the only way the only way you get successful is by failing a lot. First, you know, it’s one of those kind of old Maxim of business and entrepreneurial success, you’ve got to fail a few times before you get a winner. Absolutely, so let’s run with this, what would you say has been some of your failures and what have you done, that’s, that’s absolutely tanked.
Alright, so I grew a business while a few different businesses, I took one in particular that springs to mind immediately where we grew that business from, and I’m gonna give you the good before I give you the better cakes, I want to kind of position it properly for you. So we took it and it was on the start of a societal trend, which is always an awesome thing to piggyback on the back off. So we saw this societal trend when yet that’s going to work when help 11 into it. And we grew this one particular business from zip organically to $8 million in revenue in just under two years, it was like 23 months before we hit that $8 million in revenue side of things and you would think that would be pretty bloody awesome not you’d be on cloud nine but the reality was the system’s constantly on a literally daily basis exploded because the business AdSense crazy growth in it and we ultimately all that we had all this crazy amount of revenue in the business and money coming in, because we hadn’t managed the growth of the business to be sustainable growth, because that’s a very important part of growing in a business as sustainability, we actually bankrupted the business. So the business failed, I mean, $8 million in revenue in just under two years, and then on the back of that, the business failed so that was a huge kind of wake up call to actually not letting my ego get too involved in I’m the greatest entrepreneur in the universe, I can do this not killing my ego get too involved in that and kind of settling back and just allowing it to grow at a pace that the business can sustain with the cash flow within the business. Because, of course, it’s all about cash flow.
Ilana: Totally, cash is king huh. Was it a physical product was that a service business?
Neil Asher: It was a bit of both. So it was a service based business that we ultimately turned into a physical products business and that’s an interesting story in and of itself. So we started that business and the business is called new insights and it was actually started in Australia and going to say, we started out, I don’t know, 14 years ago, something like that and that was we, what it basically did was it was a life coach training company and there was this big whole thing about life coaching and always kind of crazy stuff happening in the media. We piggyback on the back of that ran seminars and coach training programs and things like that and the business itself did very, very well, and in fact, we’ve trained some of the most prolific coaches including, you know, presidents of the International coach Federation, and things like that they all went through our training program, so there was no dramas there, the drama fairly lay squarely at my feet, with regards to my abilities as an entrepreneur to grow these things properly. So it started off as a service based business, we went straight off the bat, it went absolutely nuts. I just came back from a Jay Abraham seminar where I met a lot of extremely influential people who are still influential for me now.
But I went to a Jay Abraham seminar put on by Michael Burnett and it was in Sydney and I paid $25,000 for a three day seminar with Jay, and one of the things that Jay spoke about was franchising and so immediately, I thought, let’s take some action, let’s, let’s franchise the business and that ultimately proved to be the, the, kind of like the nail in the coffin for it, it was on the back of the franchising that really kind of, you know, did did the business in but what that meant was, so here’s the silver lining, we kind of re envisage the business and then turned it into a physical products business using the intellectual property, because which set all that up properly. So we we still have the intellectual property, turned it into a physical products business, and then that business we grew properly and sustainably and that did extremely well and then we sold that business for a significant amount of money on the back end of that, and that’s still going today. So that was one kind of like, it went great, terribly great, kind of a bit of a roller coaster, which is our normal, you know, entrepreneurial journey.
Ilana: That’s interesting. So you sort of had a real pivot within that, but leveraging some of that momentum to then pivot and then turn it back around.
Neil: Yeah, well, we are, you know, again, I kind of got my ego involved in it, and wanted it to be everywhere, saw the success of it, and didn’t have the financial savvy that I’ve since gleaned to understand that I needed to be able to cash flow growth within the business. So I didn’t do those figures and things like that didn’t have the right people around me to help me with that either and so we franchised it and franchise to into five different countries and that was all great. But what I hadn’t factored in was the amount of cash that would be required to support those franchisees especially in the beginning of their endeavors and as a result of that, yeah, it just it didn’t want it. But it was a, you know, awesome experience. But it was expensive experience and painful experience too
Ilana: And if you had your time over, if you could, you know, turn back the clock to the $8 million revenue, what do you think you’d do differently now, knowing what you know, Now, obviously,
Neil: I know now, when I got it to a million dollars, I would immediately put it on the market and try to sell it if knowing what I know now about businesses and the optimum time to sell it. I’ve sold a lot of businesses purchased a lot as well, but also sold a lot nicer when I own a business brokerage, which I can talk about in a second, if you like, a business on that kind of growth trajectory is clearly a acquisition prospect for a company that’s looking to do two things with their particular company. So companies get purchased all sorts of crazy different reasons. But often times, when another company buys a company, not an individual, another company, there’s things machinations behind the scenes that you’re not really privy to, but oftentimes, they involve moving money around within one entity to another entity, whether that be for tax efficiency, or whatever it might be. So I would immediately put that business which are grown so quickly and needed cash out of them out, immediately put it on the market, because with cash, it would have done something different, it had a good cost customer base, and could have been leveraged in all sorts of different ways to make whoever purchased a lot of money.
Business Broker Background
Ilana: That’s really interesting. So let’s touch on your business brokerage background which I had no idea about.
Neil: Yes, so I had a well you know, I’m upon and I love Australia, even though I’m currently splitting my time between Australia and Portugal, but I actually love Australia. My wife Suzie and my kids. They’re Australian, you know. So I feel Australian too and as an entrepreneur, one of the things that we tend to do is become obsessed with whatever it is that we’re working on. It’s this obsession that creates the dry that then creates the the will to put in the crazy hours and things like that are necessary for entrepreneurial life. So when I got to Australia, and decided that Australia was awesome, I was going to live here forever and ever. One of the things that of course, my mind turns to his business opportunities and I immediately thought to myself, my God, England sucks, England is so horrible, why would anybody want to live in the UK when they could move to Australia, it’s beautiful here, the folks are friendly, the weather’s awesome, the food.
So you know, all these kind of crazy reasons that we kind of utilizing our own day to day lives and sometimes become a little jaded about about Australia. Anyway. So with that in mind, I just started to do my research and so I spent ages and ages researching all these different visas that you can get coming to Australia and I discovered that there’s one little known visa no longer exists, but there was a little known visa at the time that would allow you to migrate to Australia and become a permanent resident narcissism, but a permanent resident of Australia, the only criteria was that you needed to spend a certain amount of money on a business and that business needed to employ a certain amount of Australian citizens. So they were the two criteria. So with that knowledge, what we did was I direct mailed 5000 potential businesses that fitted the bill beautifully here in Australia and basically what I did was I sent them a direct mail piece, and there was a one pound coin. So I got 5001 pound coins and sellotape them to the top right hand side of these letters that were sending out and at that time, the exchange rate dollars, two pounds was two to 2.4 to one. So for every pound, you got 2.4, $2, 40. And so it was a big arrow pointing. So just imagine this now. Okay, so as a sales letter pound coin attached, the top right hand side big arrow pointing to it, than that said to them, see that one pound coin that’s worth $2.40 to you I will sell your business for you and get 2.4 times more money than you would do if you were selling that business to another Aussie. That was the basic pitch of the thing. Okay. And then I did exactly the same thing in the UK. So in the UK, I went and did all these joint ventures with this migration lawyers and set up a whole heap of things with people that were showing the the right you know, stuff that they wanted to move to Australia and then we sent I think about 5000 of those I cant rember the exact amount, but let’s say it was 5000 of those another letter. And that letter said, England sucks. That was the exact headline England sucks move to Australia. And then it listed all these awesome things about Australian about living here and ours. And so and we did that. And I thought, well, you know, that’s just so happens.
And it went absolutely ballistic. Absolutely ballistic, we sold $49 million worth of businesses just with that direct mail strategy. That was that was entire marketing. We did, we just kept doing that. And we saw $49 million with businesses through that 13 business consultants working for me, and it was absolutely nutty, just a current completely crazy time of year. So and then I sold that business to a competitor who promptly thought this was an interesting little lesson. So the business was working beautifully, making lots and lots of money, you know, it was doing good, like there was significant cash flow in the business. And we would finally kind of figured that out. And I sold the business to the major player in the marketplace who wanted to get into this visa based business this Okay, so that was the premise that we went to them with, because I basically just stalked him until he brought the business and that was a premise we went to him with and and then he when he looked at the marketing when this marketing’s really unprofessional, we’re going to change everything. And he he paid for a very, very well to do agency who normally runs ads in things like the Financial Review and things like that, to redo all the marketing and promptly screwed the whole thing up 18 months later, they close the business and it was no more.
But that entrepreneurial ADD I’d moved on to something else. Why then 18 months? That’s like a lifetime in the business world.
Neil’s Current Business in the Affiliate Marketing World
Ilana: Wow, so interesting, like hearing about all you’re done. So I mean, that’s obvious, different to what you do now, can you touch on what you do now?
Neil: It’s pretty simple. Actually, I sell things on Amazon. So pretty easy, not a difficult concept to get your head around, I sell things on Amazon. What I do, I used to do back in the day a ton of affiliate marketing, so love affiliate marketing, or I did at least anyway, and got very good at affiliate marketing. And it’s basically just numbers and psychology and then my two favorite things. So it was something that I could kind of get my teeth into, and really get my head around as well.
Ilana: So can I just touch on what kind of stuff we’re doing in the affiliate marketing world.
Neil: Alright, so well, I would sell pretty much whatever was gonna make me money. And it was a very, very militant strategy for affiliate marketing. You’ve got a certain amount of money, you can invest in paid marketing, because it’s all paid and you want to get the maximum return for that. So just imagine that you’re that you’re Warren Buffett, and you’re looking at difference stocks to purchase for Berkshire Hathaway, well, you evaluate those stocks based on the potential return on the Berkshire Hathaway money that you invest into those businesses. And I took exactly the same thing and just applied it to affiliate marketing. So what gives you the best return on $1,000 invested in affiliate marketing? Well, at that time, things like Amazon, for instance, let’s talk about Amazon, Amazon had a brilliant affiliate program back in the day you could run. And this is just nuts to think of it right now, you could never do something like this. So anybody listening to this, don’t try this at home won’t work anymore. However, back in the day, it worked like gang busters. So what I used to do with Amazon was they had their affiliate program that used to pay out between eight and 15% of a sale. So if you sold a flat screen TV, for instance, for I don’t know, like 1500 dollars, something like that, you’d be getting, I think 150 bucks of that affiliate commission. Okay, so pretty sweet deal. And so then the only thing you’ve got to think about is, well, how can I put my flat screen TV in front of somebody that’s got money to buy a flat screen TV. And it’s pretty much as simple as that for affiliate marketing. So all I did was set up Google ads. And that is all I did for Amazon loads and loads of products. Amazon back then weren’t doing any paid traffic on Google ads. And so I dominated the ad spend, I did a lot of black hat stuff as well, like we had. And again, don’t try this at home. If you’re listening in, this won’t work anymore. Okay, promise. And so what we would do is we would set up multiple different companies. And each of them would have their own business account, and debit cards and credit cards and things like that with individual directors, yada, yada, yada.
And then we would set up you know, I’m going this house so that we would just run these ads and we will dominate the SERPs so that SERPs search engine results page, we would dominate the SERPs, anybody that typed in but back then Panasonic VIERA THC 42 inch plasma screen TV, for instance, would see five different ads all with slightly different emotional hot buttons or run through our respective affiliate counts to go to our Amazon affiliate program. And that’s pretty much what we did. And you know, in some some weeks, we’d make 50-60,000 pounds in profit, eight or nine years, something like that. I actually purchased a home for my parents. By doing that. We I bought my own home. And then I wanted to buy my folks at home too, and so that are used Amazon to do that. I used Crazy Frog to buy my own home, which is a crazy story in and of itself. But I use the Amazon thing to buy my parents home. So the crazy frog things stopped working. So I moved on to the Amazon thing.
Amazon Affiliate Marketing
Ilana: And the Amazon thing. I mean, you get caught, because I mean, it’s against Google’s Terms of Service to create your own competition, which is this Oh, yeah. Did you get?
Neil Asher: No, we didn’t. Because, you know, back. I mean, nowadays, that’s why I said, you know, that little disclaimer, don’t try this at home. I mean, you can still do it. But of course, as you very rightly say, it’s against Terms of Service, and therefore don’t get caught because you close down your account. And I’m not gonna say any more about that. But they closed we didn’t get to all I just, it just stopped working. What happened was Amazon changed all of their policy regarding affiliates, and they changed or their Commission’s regarding affiliates, and that’s a very, very normal thing to happen. So with businesses, what you tend to find is that when a business is launches onto the internet, or whatever it might be, everything is very loosey goosey. Everything’s really loose footloose and fancy free. Anything goes on our platform. Think of Amazon six years ago. For instance, you could pretty much do anything on Amazon and they will totally fine with it. Get on with it. Yeah, just make us some money if you get chance. No worries. Well over time of course what happens is that loosey goosey attitude does two things. It attracts Boys Boys. And it also attracts folks who will do the right thing on the platform and build legitimate businesses.
So it protects those two things. Okay, and so what the business has to do to begin with is get scale they have to get users onto the platform and they make things loosey goosey to facilitate that as easy as possible. And then over time, they tighten and tighten and tighten, get rid of the Cowboys get rid of the affiliates. And they just want to remain with the legitimate professional business people on their platforms. That’s what Amazon’s done. And they did that with the affiliate stuff. So they wanted to get loads and loads of folks into their affiliate program. So they had these huge payouts, basically where Amazon didn’t really make any money. They gave all their commissions to the affiliates. Clearly that’s not sustainable for them to do that. But what it did was it built them scale within a new territory and they and that’s why there’s such an opportunity here in Australia right now. Because Amazon of course, has just launched. Everything’s very loosey goosey. Anything goes on Amazon do what you want. So it’s a kind of, you know, it’s it’s 1980s all over again. You know what I mean? So, yeah, so we didn’t get caught. They just changed things and so the opportunity disappeared and so we disappeared. That’s what happened.
Markets on Amazon
Ilana: Right? So you touched on Amazon. Now, let’s, let’s sort of go deep into Amazon a bit more. Because that’s obviously what you do now, especially you in lots of different markets. You in the one industry, you know, I know we could talk for ages about Amazon.
Neil Asher: Yeah. So a market just if you’re listening and thinking, What the hell’s a market and market on Amazon. Just think of it as a website. So amazon.com, which we all know that’s their US market. Amazon.co.uk, of course, that’s their Polly market. And then here, and also, you’ve got amazon.com.au. But you’ve also got Amazon in Mexico, in Canadia, which I like saying Canadia, just cuz Tony Abbott says it that way. And you’ve also got Europe as well, so Germany, Spain, France, Italy, opening in Portugal, opening Switzerland and Sweden. Israel’s opening up then you’ve got India 1.2 billion people, fastest growing e commerce marketplace in the world. More millionaires in India than there are people in New South Wales. And of course, India loves Australia. So no small amount of opportunities out there. You’ve got China, Singapore and Japan as well. So there’s a lot of different options as far as where do you sell your stuff on Amazon. And because of that, it’s a cool playground to go play in. If you like the entrepreneurial adventure, it’s a cool playground to go playing.
How to Choose A New Product To Launch in Amazon
Ilana: Okay, so let’s pretend you’re starting out, you know, what would you say is the best place? Or how do you choose a product? I know you’ve I mean, it’s a bit of a loaded question. Because I kind of know you’ve got a bit of a method to your madness. So you want to kind of touch on a little bit like how you enter in launching a new product. How do you choose it?
Neil: Alright, so my strategy is, I’m going to give you two different ways to think about it and the first one is, is really kind of a beginners strategy. So if you’re not at all savvy with regards to online marketing, and things like that, then this is going to suit you perfectly. Okay. So if you’re in that boat, where you want to do is this is dead heart. So pay attention, you want to copy what’s working already. So that’s pretty tough. I know. and I might going to break that down for you. Because I know that there’s folks probably sitting there thinking, what the heck. So let me break it down for you. Here’s what you do. So imagine that you are in Australia, and you st yourself, it, there is some money to be made selling things on Amazon and I’d like to get my little part of that. What do I do? Well, all you need to do is go over to your computer, go and sit at your computer, type in amazon dot com and go and look at what’s called the best sellers on Amazon. Now you’re going to find that there are Brazilians of them. Maybe not Brazilians, but there’s certainly a lot of them and what that tells you is that these are all things that sell very well on line. So people are happy to pay for them online.
Okay, so that’s important. You want to make sure that you’ve got that of course, and then you’re you will do is you’ll find those things and keep sifting through until you find something that you like the look of yourself, then let’s suppose you choose either no gold fish tanks or something like that, then you want to say to yourself, right, I wonder if folks in Australia would also like goldfish and keeping them in tanks, let me just go into a little bit of research on that probably the East place to do that research is just Google it, and go and see if other folks are selling it. Another thing you probably could do, as well as go to eBay and see if folks are selling them on eBay. If you find that they are then lucky. Lucky you, you’ve stumbled on a potential product that you can sell on Amazon here in Australia. Now, last thing you want to check is will Amazon let you sell it because right now, Amazon doesn’t have all of its categories open here in Australia, a lot of them are, but a lot of them aren’t either. So you want to make sure that you can sell the thing given that you can, then the rest is reasonably straightforward, okay, once you’ve actually figured out what to sell and that’s the big thing. Of course, if you screw that up, no amount of ninja marketing will save your, that’s not going to work as a business. and that’s just going to be the death of it. Okay, so given that that’s the case and given that you’ve got all of those initial components in place, and the rest is fairly easy, you know, it’s fairly easy process and I don’t want to say that you should definitely coffee, what’s working in America.
But if you did, that would be formed the basis or a pretty good starting strategy is going to get you into they’re going to look at what other people are doing in a market that’s already mature and get let’s call them ideas for what to do here in Australia. Now, if I were starting out, I didn’t have the first clue I was doing that’s what I would do. Now, let’s go to a deeper level and think more strategically. Let’s put on our ninja marketing hats and get into our Dr. Sigmund Freud focus, So first world of marketing marketing one on one is, what are you going to sell? Who are you going to sell it to? and will people part with their money to give it to you, that’s your marketing 101. All right. So easiest way to think about that is what about starting with your person starting with the end of it, you will instead of starting with the product, what I like to do now is I like to start with the individual and let’s just take that goldfish thingy analogy and take it to the next possible level within that, well, now let’s suppose that we’re looking around at different demographics and psycho graphics, and so on, to understand different marketing forces that are playing out in Australia, different things that are becoming topical, for instance, there’s a move now towards a few things. You’ve got things like driverless cars, you’ve got things like the reduction of plastics within our society. And the reduction of plastics is a very interesting one. Because of course, that brings up opportunities for products. What sort of products well, things like bees wax paper as a method of sealing products, instead of cling wrap, or your What are they called the little kind of party things that little plastic boxes that you put things into as a method of not using them using this beeswax instead. So by looking at the market itself, and seeing what the market is doing, and what individuals are doing, so this vegan person who is living in Bondi, what, where are they going, where are they move psychologically towards?
Well, often times, you find that a big part of being a vegan, and vegans will hate me for this, but it’s on the money. A big part of being a vegan is, look at me, I’m a vegan, I don’t eat meat, if you eat meat, you suck. So is it is a way of having a feel good factor about yourself. OK, now, another component of that, and this goes back to Freud, and what Freud used to talk about back in the day. But another component of that is this, this psychological desire to want to feel that where, where better want to feel that we’re a part of a group, and that group is better than the other people. That’s the that’s the exact same marketing, for instance, that Tesla uses its exact same marketing that Apple user. So if you use apple, you, you fall into that little honey trap that they created for you that Apple users are better than PC users. And you’ll see that PC users and Apple users will vehemently defend their choices to their death if needs be. So there’s Market to Market shifts that you can tap into that will automatically if you listen to what’s happening, and look at what’s happening, will automatically show you what’s coming next and that’s really the thing I wanted to get to.
So I’ve shown you one way to finding out what’s now what’s sellable now, but what about the things that are going to be next, what’s the next big thing? Well, that’s if you want to get to that level. What’s next, then you got to think a little bit more deeply. You’ve got to keep your eye a little bit more on the pulse and see what’s happening out there in the marketplace. With regards to people psychotropics and demographics and then the products will quite literally expose themselves to you. So the bees wax paper, for instance, that was something that we spotted. I don’t sell that anymore. But I used to sell that we got out of that, because that’s gone. That was a trend that went up and now that’s peaked and now that’s a plateaued out trend and so other people now have realized, Oh, yeah, you can sell beeswax paper. Well, that’s all very well and good. But the the money was may use or the easy money was made at the very beginning of that trend, before everybody else realized there was a money making opportunity and if another example of that think of things like Bitcoin, for instance, well, back in the day, Bitcoin were 10 cents each, I’m sure that you and I would have both feel, but it would have been awesome to buy some Bitcoin back then and as people figured out that that was going to be a new way, potentially, of transacting online, more and more people piled into it, the market Shut up, and then it plateaued out and while it’s fallen now, but it plateaued out, and now the easy money has been made and so that’s, that’s the two levels of product research that I take you through.
Matching Your Product With A Competitor
Ilana: Yeah, it helps. Yeah, definitely does, I guess, you know, obviously, one would strive for the for the latter option being, you know, first market mover with zero will next to no competition. But short of doing that, at least you’ve got another option if you do want to get started. So say, you know, continuing with the example of the gold fish tank, you know, think, yep, okay, people are buying this, there’s not a lot of sellers, there’s enough demand to be able to tolerate another entrance to the market, do you then try and kind of find a product that’s a little bit different and so somewhat different to the competitors? Or do you then try and find an identical product has to be another competitor?
Neil: Well, I think you’ve probably answered that yourself. I would, I would add to it that there are lots and lots of ways to slice and dice a market. There’s a great book which you guys should definitely get by extremely talented guy, I should just buy everything by Eugene Schwartz. Just buy everything you can buy this guy, one of the books that Eugene wrote, talked about the hierarchical nature of products through the evolutionary cycle of their how they served a market and let’s give you an easy example of that and the easiest example is vitamins and minerals. So back in the day, vitamins and minerals were sold as in a in a bottle, and you got some vitamins with some minerals in it, and you would take them and that if beginning evolution of the marketplace, and you could make money by doing that. No drums at all? Well, sooner than rather than later.
A lot of people realize you could make a lot of money selling vitamins and minerals and so other competitors get into the market and this happens in all markets, okay, so you can apply it to whatever you’re thinking of selling. Just apply this to what you’re what you’re thinking of selling, and it will work really well. So some smart marketers go, Well, now the vitamin and mineral market is saturated, okay, and that’s a word you’ll hear a lot on Amazon, or this category is saturated. Well, of course it is because there’s nobody smart in there selling yet. But that’s where you come in. Of course, you can get in there and be smart and sell because the next stage of evolution for vitamins and minerals is, well, let’s break this out. and now let’s sell vitamins and minerals for men, vitamins and minerals for women. Now, if you’re a man, there’s no way in hell, you’re gonna buy the vitamins and minerals for a woman, nor are you going to buy the vitamins, minerals that aren’t just generic, you’ve got to have the vitamins that are blokes, that’s what you need. They’re the ones that give you the strength of our home. So you’ll get those. Okay and therefore a new segment of the market places created. You’ve now got vitamins for men, vitamins for women.
All right. So what happens next? Well, the same thing happens again, all these other much slow marketers who don’t quite know what they’re doing, they come in and they say, Well, look at those people, there’s splitting their products up, maybe we should do that too and again, the competitors come in, they look at what you’re doing, and they copy it and that’s what happens all the time happens heaps on Amazon with Chinese people doing it and this is a great way to stay ahead of that. So what’s next? Well, what happens next is you now get let’s take women’s vitamins. Well, now there’s 101 people selling women’s vitamins. So what do you do next? Well, now you get your vitamins. You say well, these books mins offer women who are over 50, and they’re going through menopause. Wow, what do you mean they’re over 50s and go from? Well, I’m over 50. I’m having menopause and hot flashes every day that I need those vitamins. So now you’ve got another level to that and now you’ve got the next level is while these volumes were kids, these vitamins or for busy moms, these vitamins offer women that want to get pregnant. These vitamins have a women that are pregnant. And these vitamins are for women that have got kids young kids. So you can see how this thing happened.
The market just gets split and split and split and split and split. And till it becomes very, very fractured. Okay. And there is a bottom point to this, of course, and this the art and the skill is to see the bottom point and then to get out and move on to the next thing. But that’s a whole different thing that I wouldn’t have time to go through in this particular podcast, unfortunately, but that’s the art to that. and it’s all part of I’m part science of that. So you can apply that same thing to Amazon. and that’s how you keep carving out your nice. So should you sell. Just to go back to your original question. Should you sell a generic goldfish bowl? Well, it depends. It depends where the market is. Now if the market is that vitamins and minerals, then you can sell a generic goldfish bowl and make a lot of money really quickly. But if you’ve got other competitors in there, or selling a generic market bowl got goldfish bowl, then you’ve got to get a bit savvier and you’ve now got to take your product to the next evolution of where that market segmentation will go. So goldfish bowl becomes goldfish bowl for people who live in apartments. goldfish bowl for people who live in houses, for instance, goldfish bowl for people that want two goldfish, etc, etc, etc.
Stripping Back a Product to It’s Essence
Ilana: Okay and then you it that’s all in really marketing end of the day, if you strip all the packaging back, it’s still the same Is that right?
Neil Asher: That’s right. So one of the things that I do, and I teach in my Ozzy online entrepreneurs program is that idea of stripping back the product to it’s very, very essence and let’s take let’s take dogs, for instance, as an easy example of a product that suits this perfectly. So dogs and dog owners are very unique people. dog owners tend to think that their dog is human, and therefore will give it lots and lots of cumin related things. For instance, I used to make a lot of money selling probiotics for dogs and wiener dog would need probiotics is beyond me, but lots of people buy them. Okay, so I made a lot of money selling probiotics for dogs, because humans anthropomorphize our pets, it’s just something we’ve always done. Done it since Gypsy times. So where, where do you take that, then why can you use that information to help you market things and sell things on Amazon and make yourself some money. While pretty simple. All you need to do is realize just like children, we all think our pets are unique. We all think our pets are unique and if you want to think about it in an easy way, here’s what to do. Let’s suppose you sell shampoo for dogs. Your dogs have it stinky. It’s been out in the mud rolling around. Well, now you’ve got to go on, wash that dog off and get it smelling pretty nice again. Maybe even put a bit of perfume on your dogs. Which, by the way, exists crazy but true.
Ilana: So I’ve heard.
Neil: Don’t even get me started on doggy jewelry. I mean, that’s just a whole new level. And I even saw the other day get this. I even saw the other day. Essential oils for dogs.
Ilana: Oh my goodness.
Neil: Yes. What would they smell like those essence of woodland and cats?
Bone essence. Anyway, so you’ve got your you’ve got your one product, right? and you’re a smart marketer. You’ve been paying attention and you’re saying yourself, Well, what am I going to do? How am I going to slice and dice this market and make myself a lot of money? Well, the easiest way to do it is to take your one generic product and have 10 different labels created for it. And on each of those labels. You put a different I was gonna say brand of dog then. Oh my God, my entrepreneur pet brand of dogs. How wrong am I? My wife hates me. She slapped me on. Oh my god, a different breed of dog.
Okay, and it’s the easiest thing to do is to go to a pet website and find the 10 most popular breeds of dogs in your respective country. So hearing us what are the 10 most popular breeds of dogs? Well, it’s things like Labradors, Golden Retrievers, Pugs, French Bulldogs, Blue Heelers, etc, etc. So you get your 10, you get a nice picture of the dog and you put that on your label and then you apply 10 different labels to 10 equally the same products and now you’ve got 10 different products, all very specifically aimed at 10 different dog owners. Because if you are the owner of a Labrador, and you are looking for a doggy shampoo, and you see a label with the same dog as your dog, then that is it. That is the that is the product that you are buying. That is the one you’re buying and it goes back to the example for Mr. Eugene Schwartz, where we talked about the vitamins, it goes exactly back to that if a product exists, that meets your needs more than any other product, then it’s self evident that you will buy it, it’s self evident that that’s the product you’ll buy. So the game of marketing, the game of selling on Amazon, the game of e commerce in general, is to put the most appropriate product in front of your customer, the most appropriate product for them in front of your customer. If you do that, it’s pretty hard to screw it up. It really, really is interesting.
Best Way to Get Reviews in Amazon
Ilana: You know, I understand from what I know about Amazon, which is quite limited, it’s very much a review based platform, would you? So starting out, what would you say are some of the best ways that you can get reviews?
Neil: Look, I would never tell you that you have to cheat. I would never tell you that. So just read it. But here’s how I’ve heard that you can do it. The easiest way. So I’ve heard that you can get initial reviewers is to get friends, your friends to buy your products. So and then you read there’s a cut, and then you refund them. Yeah. So that is I’m going to be really upfront with you and tell you, but that is totally against Amazon’s Terms of Service. Okay, so what I’ve just told you is what we in the business called Black Hat. So you will apply that and reap the necessary consequences from it. But here’s the thing, all things being equal on Amazon, which is a very, very social platform and, you know, you wouldn’t realize that, but it really is a very social platform, all things being equal apples to apples, if there are two similar products on one of those products has got five reviews, and the other one’s got 10 reviews, you will buy the 10 review product and there’s no good reason to do that. no logical reason to do that.
But that is what happens and it happens day in, day out day in, day out. So you either play the game or get left behind and it’s entirely up to you and you are welcome to pay your money and take your chances of my old man used to say, So how’d you get your reviews? Well, friend of a friend is your best bet and so in our situation alone, or what you would do is you would come to me and say, hey, look, we’re buddies. Do you know anybody that would like to get my brand new goldfish bowl? With bolt on rocket boosters, specifically for people who like space? Would you like to get anybody who would like to get that for free? and I’ll say, yeah, I’ve got my mate Corey who just happens to like Elon Musk, love space travel, I know he’d be interested in it. All right, and then that transaction can happen that way. So make sure you’re not connected in any way, shape, or form to Corey, for instance, that’s why I say friends of friends is best. But that is what happens all the time and here’s another little tid bit of information to that Amazon knows without a shadow of a doubt knows that products without reviews do not sell. Amazon knows this. And the way I could be so sure of that is because Amazon has its own internal program. Most folks don’t realize this its own internal program called Amazon vine, where you can pay to get people to review your product for you. So Amazon has its own black hat review strategy in house in house that was on not missing a money making opportunity. Of course, Bezos didn’t get to 100 billion by sitting down and taking a little nap.
Yeah, alright, so that’s the first so but that will that will get you, you pay $60 plus whatever your product costs, okay and they and that will get you five reviews now those reviews Aren’t you know, you’re going to five star reviews or anything like that you’re gonna get five reviews and I a little birdie tells me at Amazon that they’re just about to launch another version of that, that exact same thing, but at a higher level and here’s the interesting thing. So Amazon tracks everything. They are fanatical testers on their website, I monitor the heck out of what they’re doing. We’ve got different accounts running an Amazon so we can see things they’re testing and I know that they test tons of stuff. So it stands to reason that they know what’s happening when it comes to reviewers. Specifically, when it comes to the number of reviews, that is the threshold point when people will begin to no longer care if you’ve got X or Y reviews, or so there is a point where people no longer care, they go, Well, that’s enough reviews for me to now trust it and that point is 30 reviews.
That is the point and I know that because that just so happens to be the new product that Amazon’s just about to launch where they will get your first 30 reviews for you. Now, that particular thing again, Amazon and engaging in its own black hat strategies here will cost you 1000 US dollars. So again, I’m not telling you to do anything that Amazon isn’t doing it yourself. All I’m saying is the way that because we’re we’re cutting out the Amazon middleman. It’s then against Amazon’s Terms of Service. But Amazon itself does this exact same thing. So it’s interesting, interesting one. So if you’re thinking, What am I going to sell? How do I make sure I’m going to get sales? Well, that’s a very good reason to sell here in Australia. Because the number of reviews is so low, the number of reviews are so low. Therefore the opportunity is, is greater with less effort as a result of that. I hope that makes sense. You don’t need to be you don’t need to spend as much money. You don’t need to get as many reviews to get the top advantage in any given SERPs result in terms of numbers of reviews, because by sheer volume of reviews, it’s just substantially less that there are significantly less people shopping on there. Of course, of course, but here’s the interesting thing real relative to them. So yes, there are significantly less people shopping on Amazon dot com. au, but it is not a perfect ratio. So there are some wonderful arbitrage opportunities to be had what I mean by that well on amazon.com, so the American website, let’s take our goldfish bowl. As another analogy, let’s say that there are 50,000 people searching for goldfish bowls on Amazon every month, for instance, okay, and there are 5000 people selling goldfish bowls on Amazon. So you got a one to 10 ratio of sellers to supply. So that’s a one to 10 ratio now on amazon.com.au.
There are multiple instances where that ratio that one to 10 ratio does not hold true at all. So you can find plenty of different products and product categories where there are more people shopping than there are people supplying according to that ratio I’ve just given you. So an example of that would be 50,000 people shopping for a product in America, 10,000 people shopping for that same product here in Australia and but there’s hardly anybody though maybe 10 people selling the product here in us, for instance, you find that all the time and it’s a real arbitrage style opportunity because of that.
Neil‘s Business Advice
Ilana: Very, very, very interesting. One last question and then I will let you go. You are of course, a wealth of knowledge. But what would you say is, you know, your one parting advice for people like from, you know, your experience, obviously, in your different businesses, but you know, also your Amazon stuff, what would you say, you know, you could give someone the last bit of advice.
Neil Asher: I would say that regret is a horrible thing and, and it’s a and it’s a silent killer of people I have seen the, the regret of not taking action far outweigh is in my opinion, the initial fear of actually doing the thing. So the the initial fear maybe a level three for instance, but a year later, if you haven’t taken the action and regret kicks in that regret is at a whole different scale for you and for your life and the horrible thing is, it permeates all different aspects of your life and I see it time and time and time again, in really good hard working folks who’ve got a really good head on their shoulders, but just haven’t got a break, haven’t been out to cut themself a break for whatever reason, I see it time and time again and it’s a real crying shame. It really really is, it breaks my heart to see it, especially when it’s so easy. After the first step. I’m not gonna say the first step is easy, because it ain’t. It just isn’t and anybody that tells you it is, is just flat out lying to you. Okay, after the first step it is measurably easier. It’s that initial first step that you I think you need somebody there to kind of, you know, give the kick up the and give you a bit of a cuddle and motivate you to take the first step and what’s been my experience is that once folks take that first step and get themselves moving, they find it much easier to take the second, third, fourth 10th or 20th hundred step and before they know it, they’ve walked and built themselves and know a new life and a new business. So I guess if I could part of anything it would be Don’t let regrets. Run your life. take that first step or find somebody to help you take that first step and by doing that, you will quickly learn that the second and third step and much much easier.
Ilana: Yeah, I think that’s really good advice. It’s kind of comes close to what my mantra that I live in, breathe by which is to take imperfect action nice I like that and otherwise you just you know, I think there was another saying you know, if it’s some if it’s perfect, then you’ve waited too long to launch or something
Neil: I like that too, assuming with my life by that, I hold it dearly
Ilana: Thank you so much for your time. Where can people find out a bit more information about you and what you do?
Neil: Pretty easy, if you just go to your computer and go to your browser Chrome or Firefox whatever it might be an in your browser type in www.aussieonlineentrepreneurs.com.au you’ll find us you’ll also find me on youtube if you just type in my name Neil Asher into YouTube you’ll find all sorts of great videos that will help you start a business on Amazon selling great things and making self some money that’s all free for you so you can find me on youtube or go directly to my website www.aussieonlineentrepreneurs.com.au
Ilana: Beautiful and I highly recommend you go there. Neil provides a ton of value and I am in your group and get a lot of value for me to say thank you very much, welcome. Thank you so much for coming on today’s show. As I said you been a wealth of knowledge and I know I have taken a ton of notes and learned a whole lot. So thank you again. You’re welcome. Thanks so much for coming on. I really appreciate it going to talk to you soon.