How I Generated Millions in Annual Revenue for a Client Account with Minimalistic and Strategic Marketing
Here’s a story to tell about how I generated a $5 million+ revenue stream in annual revenue for a client account with a minimalistic and strategic marketing approach. And, it didn't require a massive marketing budget.
I know what you’re thinking, “There's no way you can make millions without spending millions." But trust me, I've been there and I've done it. I’ll tell you, sometimes having a massive budget can actually hold you back if you're not careful.
I learned this lesson working for a CPG client while handling their Amazon account. When I first took it on, it was a disaster. It was generating close to nothing and returning negative margins. No one believed in it. The sales team was ready to cut their losses and move on, but I saw something in it that few others saw. So I volunteered to take it on.
I felt there was a lot of disorganization and I knew that throwing money at the problem wasn’t the main issue. I focused on what really mattered and ignored the noise. It worked. It worked so well that I was able to generate millions in annual recurring revenue for the client.
You’re probably thinking, "Okay, that's great for a CPG client and their Amazon account, but will it work for my business?" The answer is yes. Maybe you won’t make millions, maybe you’ll make more. These principles can work for just about any type of business.
Transform Your Vision into Concrete Products and Services
While it may sound cliché, having a clear vision is essential for success. Your vision should be something that you truly believe in and won't easily forget when faced with challenges, because you will face them. Without a strong vision, your products and services are likely to fail. Once you have a clear vision, it's easier to focus on the paths that will lead to achieving it. This allows you to stay laser-focused on what's important and necessary to make it a reality.
For my CPG client, my vision was for their brand to become the number one product in its category on Amazon, and to be recognized as a top Amazon grocery product. To make this happen, I spent months researching their competitors, internal and external data, and customer reviews to determine what they wanted. Then, I presented my findings to the company and proposed, "Make X at this size and this price, and we'll be #1." Convincing them to create this product took years, but when it finally launched, it became the top product in its category within a week, and a few years later it was ranked #180 in all of Amazon grocery. The product's marketing was built into its conception through the pre-research work and vision.
Selecting the Right Marketing Channels is Crucial for Success
Every audience has their preferred hangout spot, and it's your job to find it. Don't spread yourself too thin by trying to be everywhere at once. Even with a large budget, it can be challenging to keep track of too many moving pieces. While data, AI, and software can help, a good marketer must synthesize the situation for their unique company. Being omnipresent is nearly impossible for most brands.
The best way to find where your audience hangs out is to do some digging. Roll up your sleeves and start using the platforms yourself. Check out Reddit, Discord, YouTube, events, or any other spot that seems relevant. Talk to others and get an idea of where your audience likes to share stories, get advice, look for thought leaders, or do business. For example, don't blindly advertise on Facebook just because everyone else is doing it.
Be careful if you have several different products, as one size doesn't fit all. I've found that sometimes a subtle difference in the offering will change the audience entirely. This could change the target channel for each product. Take the time to research and experiment to find the right channels for your business.
Understand How To Maximize Your Ad Budget
Allocating a marketing budget is important, but it doesn't mean that you need to have a massive amount of money to be successful. Many companies are guilty of underspending on marketing, however, many spend too much without seeing significant returns. When you commit to your vision, you can find ways to get closer to your goals, even with a smaller budget. It may take patience and planning to find the right opportunity to make the most out of your advertising dollars.
For this client, having a small influencer budget with a huge product line was a challenge, but I made sure to conserve it until I found the right influencer for the right product. After researching various YouTube influencers, I found one who used and believed in our product, had a large following, and whose followers listened to their recommendations. We negotiated a deal and our sales for that particular product doubled in just one month (from about $75k/month to $150k/month). This momentum was sustained, and the product continued to sell well, with people still discovering our brand years later because of that one video. This is just one example of how strategic planning and careful allocation of marketing funds can lead to a significant return on investment.
Know Your Audience Better Than They Know Themselves (Learn How to Research)
Understanding your audience is key, and while big data is great, there should be other approaches. Combining data with intuition and dedication can set good marketers apart. I've had some of my biggest breakthroughs by delving into every review and comment I could find online, whether it be on Reddit, YouTube, or Amazon, and creating a mental image of our ideal customer. This is like a “method acting” approach, and it gave me a deeper understanding of who our audience was and what they wanted.
The question of "who is our avatar?" is a good starting point, but as your brand grows, you'll find that there's a lot of nuance to it. By immersing myself in online communities, I was able to gain a better understanding of our customers and anticipate how they would respond to different initiatives.
Many marketers believe that they need to pay for expensive data, but I don’t think that this is always the case. Amazon sales and reviews provide a wealth of information about what's popular and what customers want. While it may not always be easy, guerrilla marketing research and getting to know your customer on a personal level can be just as valuable as any data set. So, take the time to understand your audience better than they know themselves and you'll be able to create marketing campaigns that truly resonate with them.
Consider the Platform, Consumer, and Marketing Channels When Engineering Products
One of the biggest mistakes companies make is to leave marketing until the last minute or after the product has already launched. It's crucial to involve marketing in the product development process as early as possible. When I created a product that eventually made over a million dollars a year, I researched the ideal size, price point, and advertising channels on Amazon before I even started creating the product. This kind of planning makes it easier to ensure that the product has clear marketing channels right from the start.
Another story about a multimillion-dollar product that I worked with highlights the importance of considering the consumer. The product was created for B2B customers and our sales on Amazon were similar to our own direct-to-business sales. The sales team believed their product was only being bought by business customers on Amazon to save on shipping. My intuition told me there was more to the story. I looked for evidence online anywhere that I could. I couldn’t find much on our product, however I found enough evidence to suspect that consumers may using the product in an unexpected and unintended way. Armed with this information, I convinced the marketing team to redesign the product and market it to consumers. The first months were slow, but the product quickly gained momentum and eventually generated $300-$400k per month in revenue, becoming a top 200 product in the Amazon grocery category. This success led to the creation of line extensions with similar revenue streams.
Build Internal Partnerships Within Your Own Company
The success for this account almost never came to fruition. It's important to note that although I use "I" frequently, this venture was not accomplished singlehandedly. To bring my vision to life, I had to collaborate and form partnerships with individuals from every department in the company. The process was far from easy, and there were plenty of obstacles such as internal conflicts, naysayers, and people who weren't willing to contribute. Had I attempted to accomplish this feat alone, I would have undoubtedly failed. It's crucial to sell your vision to others, regardless of their position within the company. If you come across someone who doesn't share your enthusiasm, it's your responsibility to find a way to persuade them to join your mission or help you achieve your goal. Despite encountering multiple saboteurs, with the assistance of a supportive team, the project ultimately succeeded. It's common for individuals not to share the same vision, which is why it's essential to strategically build partnerships across all departments.
Continuously Test, Measure, and Iterate: Don't Let Your Marketing Become Stagnant
Even with limited marketing resources, it's crucial to keep testing and iterating. When I had a small budget for Amazon search terms, it would have been easy to avoid advertising altogether. But instead, I focused on products that were gaining momentum, knowing that there was valuable data to be gleaned there. I split my campaigns into automated and manual ones, hoping to uncover new search term discoveries and use keywords that I knew made sense. Though the budget was minimal, it confirmed what I already knew and taught me new insights. By using this data, I was able to request more budget incrementally and continue developing new products while finding better ways to connect with customers. Remember, even small marketing activities can yield important insights that you can build upon over time. With the right resonance and placement, you can leverage these learnings to grow your brand and gain momentum.
Achieving success in building an account from scratch to a $5 million+ revenue stream is not an easy feat. It took me four years to get there, and I had to learn some of these principles along the way. While there may be nuances, exceptions, and room for improvement, I hope that these principles can be helpful to you in achieving your own marketing success.
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