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We’re doing a special episode today. Sellers Summit 2019 just ended so I brought my partner Toni Anderson on the show to do a recap of the event.
The Sellers Summit is a conference that we throw every year. This is our 4th time and the show is all about bringing ecommerce entrepreneurs together and learning new strategies on how to sell physical products.
Today we’re going to talk about what worked, what didn’t and some key takeaways.
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What You’ll Learn
- The theme for this year’s event
- What we did differently this time
- How we improved the conference in 2019
- An overview of the speakers and sessions
- Where Sellers Summit will be next year
Other Resources And Books
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Steve: You’re listening to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast, the place where I bring on successful bootstrapped business owners and delve deeply into the strategies they use to grow their businesses. So I just got back from my annual e-commerce conference the Sellers Summit last week, and after sleeping for the past seven days to recover, I am finally ready to do a recap of the event in today’s episode. Now, overall it was easily the best Sellers Summit that we’ve ever held. And to help me out, I invited my partner in crime Toni Anderson back on the show to help me with this recap.
Before we begin, I want to give a shout out to Klaviyo for sponsoring this episode. Always excited to talk about Klaviyo because they are the email marketing platform that I personally use for my e-commerce store and I depend on them for over 30% of my revenues. Now Klaviyo is the only email platform out there that is specifically built for e-commerce stores, and here is why it is so powerful.
Klaviyo can track every single customer who has shopped in your store and exactly what they bought. So let’s say I want to send out an email to everyone who purchased a red handkerchief in the last week, easy. Let’s say I want to set up a special auto-responder sequence to my customers depending on what they purchased, piece of cake, and there is full revenue tracking on every mail. Now Klaviyo is the most powerful email platform that I’ve ever used and you could try them for free at mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O. Once again, that’s mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O.
I also want to give a shout out to Privy who is also a sponsor of the show. Privy is the tool that I use to build my email list for both my blog and my online store. Now, Privy is an email list growth platform and they manage all my email capture forms. And I use Privy hand-in-hand with my email marketing provider. Now, there are a bunch of companies out there that will manage your email capture forms but I like Privy because they specialize in e-commerce. Right now I’m using Privy to display a cool wheel of fortune pop up. Basically a user gives their email for a chance to win valuable prices in our store and customers love the gamification aspect of this. And when I implemented this form email signups increased by 131%.
I’m also using their new cart saver pop up feature to recover abandoned carts as well. So bottom line, Privy allows me to turn visitors into email subscribers, which I then feed to my email provider to close the sale. So head on over to Privy.com/Steve and try it for free. And if you decide you need some of the more advanced features, use coupon code MWQHJ for 15% off. Once again, that’s P-R-I-V-Y.com/Steve, now onto the show.
Intro: Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast. We will teach you how to create a business that suits your lifestyle, so you can spend more time with your family and focus on doing the things that you love. Here is your host, Steve Chou.
Steve: Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast. Today we are doing a special episode because I’m not interviewing anyone on the show. Now instead, I brought Toni Anderson back on the podcast to do a recap of Sellers Summit 2019. Now if you don’t know Toni by now you probably haven’t listened to many episodes, she is my partner in crime for the event. And this is actually appearance number six I think for her on the show.
Anyway, Sellers Summit is a conference that we throw every year. This is our fourth year. And the show is all about bringing e-commerce entrepreneurs together and learning new strategies on how to sell physical products online. And today we’re going to do a recap of the event, what worked, what didn’t and some key takeaways. And with that, welcome back to the show for the sixth time, Toni, how you doing today?
Toni: I’m doing great. Do I get a special sticker for sixth time alumni?
Steve: You get an Oh Gee sticker, perhaps?
Toni: All right, all right.
Steve: Well, I haven’t gotten any negative feedback from you coming on yet. So until I do, I’ll keep you coming back for more.
Toni: All right, keep up the positive emails guys, come on.
Steve: So I haven’t actually had a chance to look over our survey results. Every year after the event, we send out a survey. But I know you probably have, you’ve probably been very diligent about looking at it. How was the feedback for this year?
Toni: Well, I think as usual, we received a lot of positive feedback from the event. Most people say that it met or exceeded their expectations, which always makes me feel really happy. And I think the main reason why we get that feedback every year, and this is actually they say this in a survey, is it’s the small group mentality that we have about the event.
Steve: Absolutely. I mean, in terms of networking, we actually haven’t really strayed from the original formula since we first started, right, a really small, tight, intimate event.
Toni: Well, I think that is what makes people feel comfortable at the event and makes them — I think it helps them learn even more, because not only are they learning in the sessions, but they now have friendships that they’ve built outside of just going to the event. These people communicate with each other all year round and so they’re able to catch up with old friends. And then after the sessions, talk about the things they’ve learned and continue to learn, even though there’s not a speaker actually presenting it.
Steve: And you know community building isn’t exactly my forte, but I think we’ve built like a pretty good community. What do you think?
Toni: I like them? I think they’re pretty cool.
Steve: Yeah, I like everyone there, which is strange for me, it’s unusual for me.
Toni: It’s not strange for me, I like everybody. But it’s really fun I think for us too thinking back on that first year. And we did something really cool this year that was mostly your idea to recognize…
Steve: It was?
Toni: Yeah, I think so.
Toni: Recognize our original members I guess we’ll call them are people that have come to Sellers Summit every single year. And to me, that was a really big deal because our first year even though I had done events in the past, we had never done an event together and I’d never done an e-commerce event. And so these people took a big risk I think with us the first year giving us their money and expecting to learn something, and hopefully we delivered for them because they keep coming back. But it was cool to recognize that core group of people that have been coming back for four years.
Steve: Yeah, we gave out these cool t-shirts that said Sellers Summit oh geez for the people who had been all four years. And then all of the alumni who had come back before, they had special stickers on their badges to denote that they’d been there before.
Toni: And we had I think a core of maybe 12 or 15 original four time attendees, but our three time attendees is actually a pretty large group of people. I would say that’s 50 to 60.
Steve: Oh, wow. Okay, I didn’t realize that. I didn’t have the numbers in front of me.
Toni: Yeah, we’re not going to be able to afford t-shirts for them. They’re just going to keep getting stickers. But it’s cool to see those same people like Rick and Natalie and those people come back year after year, because they really do feel like friends at this point.
Steve: Yeah. And as usual, we stuck to the standard formula. We catered lunch every day, everyone eats together and we have cocktail parties every single night. We also make sure no one eats alone. So we have these dinner signup sheets where people can just have dinner together and arrange their own meals. So this past year, I think that was one difference that the reason why I enjoyed this year more than past years, I feel like the caliber of attendee was even better than all the prior years. Would you agree with that?
Toni: Oh, absolutely. I actually, I’m just getting all these facts together. So they’re a little bit fresh in my mind. But I think we have 77% of our attendees are selling full time already. So this is their real job. This isn’t a side hustle. And I think 81% of our attendees, or maybe it’s higher than that have been selling for more than a year. So the experience level with our attendee has really skyrocketed from our first year.
Steve: Yeah. And what I like to see is like everyone who I’d met in prior years, their business had grown significantly this year. And it was just really fun to kind of talk about what they’ve done to grow their businesses. And some of the people who have attended, their business has really blown up, like three to five x in just a single year, and that actually made me feel really happy.
Toni: Yeah, it’s fun to catch up with those people. I think one of our oh geez, Chris Nelson, when he came in the first year, he had his — I think he had already purchased business or started business. But he was doing I think a couple of thousand a month, which isn’t bad. That’s a great start to a business. But I mean, at this point, he has his own building. He’s got I don’t even know how many employees now, I think 13 or 14, he’s doing seven figures. And it’s cool to see his progression over the past four years. And we have a lot of people like him in our group.
Steve: Yeah, it’s been really amazing. Now, before we get into the key takeaways, anything we did differently this year than last year?
Toni: We expanded our masterminds, so I cannot remember how many we had in 2018. But this year we had six mastermind groups. So it’s almost half our attendees were in a mastermind, which is pretty cool. And we expanded the amount of 1 million plus masterminds. So I don’t remember what we had two years ago, but this year, we had four masterminds dedicated to sellers with a million or more in revenue. So I think that was something that we did new this year.
Steve: So just for the benefit of the listeners who don’t know what the mastermind is, we sell a special pass where we actually screen attendees to make sure they made at least $250,000, or $1 million, respectively. And what the mastermind is, is we lock ourselves in a room, we cater and food and we spend the entire day helping each other with their businesses. Everyone gets a chance to be in the hot seat where they can tell the group what’s working with their business and then one question that the rest of the group can help them with.
And then everyone basically in the group helps that one person a lot of time with their issue. Personally, the mastermind is the most rewarding part of the conference for me, and I just really love how open and comfortable everyone is, and how willing everyone is to reveal their problems and their triumphs.
Steve: Sorry, I interrupted you, where were you going?
Toni: No, that’s okay. No, I agree with you. And I think it’s interesting because that’s what I’ve received the most feedback on post event. I’ve got people emailing me, messaging me on Facebook saying, we love the mastermind. We want more, we want more, can we have more days? They want it, they want have a mastermind for a week I think. So that’s really cool to see these people that have been with us for a couple of years too and in the masterminds just continuing to want to continue those relationships with each other, continue growing with each other, and that they feel comfortable enough to want to continue those relationships even outside the Sellers Summit.
Steve: And what was your personal opinion of this year’s mastermind compared to last year’s?
Toni: Actually, what was interesting to me is that I think this is another a little bit of a change for us is that at least in my mastermind group, we had a lot more people that weren’t primarily Amazon sellers. So I think in my group, we were 60% off Amazon, completely off Amazon, so some of these people have never sold a product on Amazon at all. So I think that was the biggest change for me is seeing people in the group that are really smart with marketing and content and email and Facebook ads and being able to have those conversations in addition to all of the Amazon conversations that we have at the event.
Steve: You stole my answer.
Toni: Oh my gosh, I’m sorry.
Steve: You always do this to me; you always steal what I was going to say. So basically Amazon is getting a lot more cutthroat. In my keynote, I mentioned that over 40% of the top sellers are now based in China, there’s rampant piracy. I think one of the statistics I quoted was one in three listings, at least in the clothing category are counterfeit listings. And so there’s now a big impetus for people to get their listings off Amazon and establish their own audience. So a lot of my mastermind this year, at the one that I ran at least was focused on building a presence outside of Amazon and building your own brand.
Toni: Well, and I think part of the reason why we have the same answer is because I gave both of our groups a lot of non-Amazon sellers. I think you and I love all the other side of things, too. And so for our personal knowledge, I think we are able to contribute a lot more on the off Amazon space as well for that group.
Steve: Yeah, no, absolutely. And I don’t want to just focus on the mastermind. So for the regular attendees who have a regular pass, we also have kind of — I don’t want to call it a mastermind, but it’s kind of like a pseudo mastermind, right with the roundtables?
Toni: Oh, absolutely. It’s just a shorter version basically, where we get our speakers and other mentors. Some of them are former speakers at the event. And everyone leads a small table discussion for about an hour to an hour and 15 minutes, where attendees and speakers and some of our sponsors lead them to get together and discuss in-depth the topics that the speakers talked about during their session, or even topics that we didn’t get a chance to cover in sessions. Like this year, I did one on content marketing, which we didn’t really cover in a session, but it allowed people to sit around and talk about how do you start a blog? What kind of content should you be creating? How do you get that content out there? And we do that every year. And that’s one of the things in the feedback that I get when I read these surveys that people want more roundtables more time, because it really facilitates more small group learning, which is what we love.
Steve: Yeah, this is actually the first year I didn’t give a breakout session, mainly because writing the keynote just takes a whole lot out of me. And so I decided to focus my efforts on the round table. And this year in the round table, I covered SEO and conversion optimization. And what was interesting was that Andrew Youderian, he’s a buddy of mine, buddy of ours, he runs the Ecommerce Fuel forums. Every year, he takes a survey of all the merchants in his community. And what was interesting is that almost everyone in that community, their top traffic source was SEO. So SEO is a great way to get free traffic. And in the past two years I would say, I’ve been focusing a lot on SEO, and it’s starting to pay dividends now. And so I kind of went over all my strategies on how to do so.
Toni: Well, and I’ve noticed too, and I think it’s your Profitable Online Store private group, people are starting to ask a lot more questions about that as well. So it’s definitely a topic that people are wanting to learn more about.
Steve: I mean SEO is not dead. And definitely conversion optimization is not dead because a lot of people are driving traffic to their sites when their sites are not quite ready, and then that’s when they fail. And then they blame it on like the ad platform like Facebook ads is dead or Google ads, it’s just not working for me.
Toni: Right. And I think especially with Facebook ads becoming more expensive. If your site is not ready for that traffic, you’re almost wasting your money.
Steve: Yeah, no, absolutely. So one other thing that I forgot to mention is these roundtables, they’re all run by the speakers. And one thing that is really cool about the Sellers Summit is that every speaker hangs around the entire event and mingles with the attendees. And it’s not a big event. So you’re going to see everyone multiple times during the day, including the speakers.
Toni: And that’s another thing that we hear all the time in our post event survey is that they love that everyone is so accessible at the event. And honestly, we’ve had opportunities to have some I would say big name speakers at the event that we’ve decided against having them because we know that they like to show up and then leave. And that’s okay, that’s their thing. But we’ve actually shied away from that because we feel like I mean, I know you are a total believer in this that most of the learning happens after the event at the bar.
Steve: Well, yeah, how would you know that, you never stay up that late?
Toni: I know. I have to get mine in during the session because I’m in bed.
Steve: Yeah, that’s the reason why we have these cocktail parties every night. It is true, that’s my MO. What I’ll do is I’ll get a speaker or someone I want to get to know better to the bar; I’ll get them a couple drinks. I will not drink however. And then I will just simply ask the speaker to reveal everything to me.
Toni: So if you’re coming next year, that’s how you can learn everything.
Steve: Yeah, so I’ll order like two vodka shots, except one is going to be a water shot, which I take and then yeah. It works really well.
Toni: But I totally agree. And that’s actually — and I know we hear this and I know this is tough you and I have been to a ton of events together that we don’t run, it is hard sometimes to have those conversations because it is loud. And no matter where you do them, it’s going to be loud because you have 150 people talking, which is why I think the dinner groups are great additional way to have those conversations because it is a little bit small and quieter. It’s a little bit of a smaller group. And then you can continue those conversations at the networking event later on. But the dinner groups are a way to get your foot in the door.
Steve: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, for me, I’m much better in smaller group situations when it comes to being social than it is in like one large group where you can barely get a word in edgewise.
Toni: For sure. I have one more thing that I noticed that we did better this year. I don’t know if it is did better. But one more change that I thought was cool this year is we had a lot more females at the event, which people were very — all the females were very excited to see more females at the event and we’ve had more female speakers. So I think that’s a cool thing because there’s a lot of really amazing female entrepreneurs out there that are doing cool stuff. And it’s fun to get them on stage and get them in front of our group of people.
Steve: That is interesting. Do you know what the breakdown was?
Toni: Of attendees I do not. But everyone agreed with me at the bar that it was more.
Steve: Okay. Well, I didn’t notice like lines for the women’s restroom this time.
Steve: Well, it wasn’t like that before. So yeah, clearly there was more females, and the female speakers kicked ass. We’ll get to that in a little bit. So we switch gears and talk about like key takeaways.
Steve: Are you ready?
Steve: So first off, I started off the conference with my keynote by talking about how Amazon’s growth is slowing. So Amazon has been growing like gangbusters, but believe it or not in Q1 of 2019, they only grew by like 16% or something really low like that. Meanwhile, the percentage of Chinese sellers had been increasing. Last year I think was like at 25%. This year it’s at 40%. And as I mentioned earlier in this podcast, there’s rampant piracy all over the place. And so it is more important than ever to create a strong brand. But a lot of people, they throw on this word brand but specifically what I’m talking about is a brand that is hard to copy.
What I’m talking about here in the keynote is a brand that relies on developing a community of rabid fans. So, all the talks for 2019 were specially curated to help you succeed in 2019 for stuff that is related to strengthening your brand. So Toni and I, unfortunately, we don’t get a chance to attend all the talks, because we’re each in a different room monitoring them. But I thought it’d be interesting to just kind of go down the different talks, and just give our opinion and our key takeaways on some of these talks; do you want to start Toni?
Toni: Absolutely. So, one of my favorite, favorite Sellers Summit speakers is Dana Jaunzemis. And what I love about every talk she’s done for us is that it’s all based on logic and math.
Steve: So that’s what you like about it? I thought you weren’t a math person.
Toni: I do. I’m not a math person, but I like when other people talk about it. But what I love about Dana is that she is very strategic in her business. And this is something I think she used Amazon as her example. But you can use this, whether you sell on or off Amazon. And she basically talked about finding those profit heroes in your business, those products that are the most profitable, and maybe those aren’t your best sellers, which is something to think about. Your best seller might not be your most profitable product. And so she went through this whole process that she uses to evaluate her products.
And so she doesn’t get distracted by other sort of — my gosh, I’m blanking on what they are called, you chasing the rabbit, I can’t think of the right word.
Steve: Shiny objects.
Toni: Shiny objects, yes, she doesn’t get that shiny object syndrome, because she’s so focused on the bottom line and finding those products that are the most profitable and then optimizing those. Things as simple as updating your listing, making some changes and she actually asked a question in the group, how many people go and update their listing on a regular basis? And less than half the room raised their hand. So what I loved about that talk was just sort of going back to the basics that in the back your mind you know you should be doing but most people aren’t. And just walking you through the whole process of how she does that to identify these items and these products in a catalog. And then what she does to sort of optimize them and maximize her profit with those products that are the most profitable for her.
Steve: I wasn’t in that talk but I saw the slides. And one thing that I’ve just noticed in the e-commerce community in general is everyone just talks about revenue, revenue, revenue which is a vanity metric, very few people talk about profit. And that is actually what Dana focuses on. And that’s what everyone should be focusing on really, right. At the end of the day, it’s about how much money you actually get to keep.
Toni: Exactly, exactly. And actually she did a similar talk a couple of years ago and I actually went in and made some adjustments. And I’ve seen my most profitable product increase in sales just based on some of the things I took away from her talk a few years ago. So I’m excited to implement the things that she shared this year, and hope to see more profit growth as opposed to revenue growth.
Steve: Yeah. And while you were in Dana’s talk, I was in Ed Ruffin’s talk on scaling Amazon advertising for growth. And what was interesting about his talk is he was — he kind of outlined his story about how his Amazon PPC strategy has evolved over time. And I don’t want to go into specifics on Amazon PPC in this podcast. But let’s just say that he found a new method that is working much better than the old traditional methods that you may have been hearing about just kind of online or what people have been writing about. And what came out of Ed’s talk, afterwards, I went to talk to him, I said, hey, I would like to switch over to this new strategy.
And so what we’re doing now is Ed and the Seller Lab’s team, they are going to go through my account and convert it to the new way. And we’re going to do a case study; we’re going to document all the numbers and the increase in sales as a result of switching over the strategy. And that’s going to go on the blog.
Toni: All right. And his recording is also available too if you’re interested in since we’re not going to talk about it.
Steve: Yeah, I don’t want to go through the specifics because it can be a little technical.
Toni: For sure.
Steve: But yeah, excellent talk. It was eye opening for me, because I’m not using that strategy right now.
Toni: Awesome. Yeah, I didn’t get to see that one so I’m excited to watch it.
Steve: And then after that, I think you were in Michael Paulson’s of Jungle Scout’s talk.
Toni: I was in; I actually didn’t get to hear all of it. I was running around a bit. But first of all, he’s a great speaker, he was substituting for Greg this year for us and he did a fantastic job. But I think this is — the talk was interesting to me the part that I got to see only because for my business, we’ve had tons of supply issues with our manufacturers. And so I’m always trying to find new suppliers. And this was a whole new strategy on how you do that. And it’s very simple. It’s nothing. It’s something that everybody can do. And something really fun that I don’t think will convert well on the video is he actually had everybody playing a game at the end, where you had to answer questions about importing products and cost of goods.
And it was actually pretty fun to see. And all the results were coming up live on his screen on the big screen in the room. So I hope that conveys well on the video. I’m not sure if it will, because it was a fun — it’s fun to see how much people thought they know and didn’t know about cost of goods and products and things like that. So unfortunately, I didn’t get to hear the whole talk. So that’s another one that I’m waiting for on the recording.
Steve: And while you were in Michaels talk, I was in a talk about the Google Display Network with Ilana Wechsler. And Ilana, it’s a funny story how we met, we met at Traffic & Conversions at the wicked reports booth. And we were both trying to extract information from the guy running the booth and I don’t think we were getting the answers we wanted. And we just ended up talking to each other. And then that’s when I discovered that she knows a lot about advertising. And a lot of people, they’re running Facebook ads, but most people are not running Google Display Network ads.
And so Ilana gave a really great talk. And it got really high reviews in the survey too about how to leverage the Google Display Network, which actually has a much larger reach than Facebook. And one key point from her talk which I’ll reveal is that a lot of your ads that you’re running on Facebook can be used with the Google Display Network with equal efficiency. And so you can easily expand your reach just by adopting some very simple principles with the Google Display Network.
Toni: Yeah, her talk was I think, one of our attendee favorites based on the survey. So I’m excited for that one as well.
Steve: Yeah. And then next up, Mike Jackness gave a talk about how to extract max value from your customers. I wanted to moderate that talk, because I gave Mike a really personal introduction, since we’re good friends. But he delivered. Basically, when a customer comes, he basically documented the entire journey of when a cold customer comes onto your site, how to nurture them into a warm customer. And then once they make a purchase, how to keep them buying over and over and over again. So I think that got really good reviews as well.
Toni: It did. And if you’re not familiar with Nathan Resnick, how old is he? I just have to ask, 22, 24, he seems so young.
Steve: I think he’s 26. I’m not positive. He had his birthday again right during Sellers Summit, as he…
Toni: That’s right. Yes, he did. Yes. We’re so kind to invite him to Florida on his birthday. He actually, every time I hear him talk, I’m just amazed that he’s as young as he is, with the amount of knowledge that he’s gained. And I think he did — I think his story is that he lived in China right as an exchange student when he was a teenager, and is fluent in the language and created a product?
Steve: He speaks better than Andrew for sure, yeah.
Toni: Well, that’s our standard, come on. But Nathan is always very impressive with his knowledge. And I know that we just had a big — I think you actually posted or he might have posted about it in a group about tariffs going up. And so he basically shared a strategy that he’s using to avoid some of those tariffs, by basically bringing your goods through, can I say where? I don’t know what we’re allowed to say and not allowed to say.
Steve: I don’t know. Just go ahead and say it and if we can’t say it, I’ll just edit it out.
Toni: You’ll bleep me out; you’ll just do a big bleep. Basically, by bringing your goods through Mexico and avoiding some of the terrorists and there’s a whole strategy to do it, which we don’t have time to get into on the podcast. But if the tariffs are something that’s really affecting your business right now, this is a talk you must listen to, because it’s a very once again, a very simple strategy, but one that will work and it’s totally legal. And it was funny at the end of the talk, and
I’m not sure this part was recorded, a couple people asked him what I would consider maybe some like black hat strategy things and he was not going to comment. He was not going to — we don’t endorse any black hat at all, from the stage for sure, and I think you and I don’t endorse it on our businesses, either. But people were very interested in being able to use his strategy. And he kept saying to these people that were asking is you can do this and avoid the tariffs, you don’t have to try to trick the system basically, because there’s a whole legal method of how this works.
Steve: Yeah, I don’t think it’s worth the black hat method. And Nathan and I actually talked about this over drinks, of course, and he was telling me they are black hat ways but if you get caught, the penalties are very steep.
Toni: Right. And that’s what he was saying in his talk is it’s not — there’s a system that works legally. So why not try that as opposed to risking, it could be a big risk for your business.
Steve: I mean that the timing of that talk was awesome, because I think like the week before Trump had just raised everything to 25%. And I don’t actually foresee an end to this trade war anytime soon now that they started blocking some other companies like Huawei and SMIC. So, all right, so next up, we had firing on all cylinders, high powered Amazon business sales with Brad Moss. If you guys don’t know who Brad moss is, he’s been on podcast a couple times at this point. He is the former head of Seller Central.
And basically, he did a breakdown of how he analyzes Amazon businesses to basically maximize their sales. And he talks about all the things you have control over and how to analyze different aspects of your numbers and adjust your inputs accordingly. I know that’s kind of vague. It was actually a very detailed talk that I plan on watching over and over and over again to make sure I get every last nugget out of it.
Toni: Which is funny because that’s exactly how I would describe Matt Sanocki’s talk as well. He talked about email deliverability. And I think even when I introduced to him; I said something about this is a talk that you’re going to watch three times before you get all the information, just because he packed a ton in in the 50 minutes. But basically, obviously it’s about email deliverability. And I think for all of us, it stinks to build your list and then have the emails not get to your customer. So he talked about some strategies that you can use to make sure that you’re in the inbox, which is getting harder and harder.
And he talked about different email service providers and the different strategies and how they work with each one. And I actually had a conversation afterwards telling him that like you and I have had issues with Sellers Summit emails not even getting to like Hotmail addresses. And so he had a lot of strategies for what you can do with the emails that are not being delivered. And then also what you can do with the email addresses that are sort of fallen off, so they aren’t opening your emails, they’re sort of dormant and the things you can do with those emails before you just get rid of them all together. So it’s definitely one of those talks that you’ll watch two to three times before you are able to implement everything that you learn.
Cool. I just wanted to take a moment to thank all the sponsors for the Sellers Summit. Without these sponsors the conference would not have been possible. So in no particular order, I want to thank Klaviyo my email marketing platform of choice, HYC Logistics, a freight forwarding company that will hand hold you through the entire process. BigCommerce, my fully hosted shopping cart of choice, Payoneer, the payment platform that I recommend when you’re doing international sales, Viral Launch the keyword tool that I recommend to all Amazon sellers, Privy the email list growth platform that I recommend to all of my students, Avalara, the sales tax platform that I recommend to all e-commerce merchants to handle all their sales taxes, Product Labs, a company that helps six, seven and eight figure Amazon sellers grow exponentially.
Seller Labs, they offer a bunch of tools that I use, including Scope and Ignite, which will help you manage your Amazon PPC. FEInternational, the company that I trust to buy and sell businesses, Second Office, the Filipino VA firm, where I actually found my Filipino VA to which I’ve used for the last year or so and she’s been great. TotalTM and EmergedCounsel, which is the service I recommend to get your trademark, and Drip, the email platform that I use for my blog. It is a superior email marketing solution if you’re in the blogging space.
PickFu which is a polling platform that allows me to make decisions on my product listings like soliciting feedback from real humans, Jungle Scout, which is the de facto standard for Amazon research tools, Gorgias, which is the tool that I use to handle all my customer service, Urtasker, which is a firm that allows you to outsource all of your Amazon tasks. And I used this from recently and they increased my sales over 30%. And finally FreeeUp which is a freelance marketplace where you can find a freelancer that specifically specializes in e-commerce. Once again, I just want to thank all these companies for making Sellers Summit a success this year. Now back to the show.
Next up, we had the four part formula that will explode your business and create a future proof brand with Scott Voelker. You know what’s funny about this is this is actually the first time that I’ve seen Scott speak at Sellers Summit. I mean, he speaks every year, but this is the first time I actually was there to witness the true power of this man. He has tons of energy online. And over the years, he’s changed his focus over to building a brand. And he talks about his framework about building an audience prior to even deciding what product you want to sell. And it is actually the way to go going forward today in e-commerce in my opinion, too.
Toni: Well, and it cracked me up because I was sitting in Brett Curry’s Google Shopping talk and I get a text from you that says something like Scott Voelker has amazing energy or something like that. And I had forgotten that you had never seen him speak live. And is because I’m always in his session and I thought, well, yeah, why do you think I always put him after lunch? But anyway, it cracks me up because I almost laughed out loud in the middle of Brett’s session when I got that text from you, because I’d forgotten that you had not seen him before.
But Brett, he actually did a similar talk last year on Google Shopping. And last year, I went home and I tried to implement it and I got really angry. I think I probably yelled at you Steve and then I gave up. And so this year, he did his talk that basically, if you got stuck last year from his talk, you will be unstuck this year. He basically went step by step through the process of how to set up your ads. And they’re actually pretty inexpensive when you compare them to Facebook, although one caveat he did have in that talk was that they don’t scale the same way so just something to be mindful of if you are interested in Google Shopping ads. But he basically walked us through lots of examples in his slides, lots of best practices. So if you’re interested in Google Shopping, definitely one to watch.
Steve: Yeah. I mean, if Toni can follow it then…
Toni: That’s right.
Steve: That says something right there.
Toni: There is a lowest common denominator for me in that but it was good. And I think you actually maybe talked to Brett during the year and said, hey, we just need a little more information. And it’s a tough subject to cover in 50 minutes if you have zero knowledge of it for sure. But he did a really good job this year in an overview but enough information where you can go do it on your own.
Steve: I mean, this was based on feedback from last year. Last year, I actually told him to do it advanced Google Shopping talk, mainly because that was the talk that I wanted to see for myself. But it turns out that a lot of people are actually aren’t even running Google Shopping. So this year, I asked them to do a more basic talk. And it sounds like it got better feedback this year than last.
Toni: It did. Because if you’re not familiar with Google Shopping at all, which I wasn’t last year, it definitely cleared some things up because there are a few I don’t want to say tricks, but things that aren’t intuitive in Google Shopping.
Steve: Yep. So that was actually all the talks for day one. Day two, we kicked it off with Bill D’Alessandro on how to scale past solo partnership. And I know for me, this resonated with me, because I’ve been a solopreneur almost solopreneur I should say. And a lot of things that Bill said about how he actually succeeded in obtaining the four hour workweek but then he became miserable, because he was making all this money and he had all this free time but it wasn’t satisfying him. And I’ve started to feel this way a little bit in the past year as well. And so I don’t know, did his talk resonate with you at all?
Toni: I actually did not hear all of his talk but this is my recommendation for his talk. As you know or some of you guys know, my nephews are our AV team. And so they film all of our sessions for us. And I heard and they’re in their 20s, they’re early 20s, they’re 20, 22 and they loved this talk. And I feel like anytime you can resonate a talk with a 20 year old who’s just on the first steps of being an entrepreneur, you’ve really hit a home run. So I’m looking forward to watching that one. People were buzzing about this talk afterwards. It was crazy. I could hear people walking out of the room talking about it. So I’m sure it’s worth. I can’t wait to watch it.
Steve: I mean, if you want to grow your team, and basically get past solopreneurship, Bill’s talk was awesome. It was incredible. The only reason I reacted the way I did was because Bill and I we – you know what’s funny about this is we actually had this talk before he created this talk at Ecommerce Fuel. We were kind of debating the merits between solopreneurship and what he’s trying to do, which is build a huge company. And so it was just interesting for him to put all that in an organized fashion in a talk, very valuable. And I know most people actually want to build a big team and a big company. So I’m probably in the minority there.
Toni: You are definitely in the minority.
Steve: Yes. Next up, we had Ezra Firestone talking about Facebook chat bots. What can I say about Ezra man? That guy is an excellent speaker. It was it was funny, it was informative. There was one point actually during his talk where his mic kind of fell off. And Todd, who runs our AV, he was motioning to me; he is like, hey, go and fix it, go up and fix it. And so I went up there. So his shirt had become unbuttoned. So in the middle of this talk, I just walked right up on stage, I buttoned shirt, he kept on talking. I buttoned the shirt, adjusted his mic, and that was that, he didn’t skip a beat.
Toni: That doesn’t surprise me at all.
Steve: But it was an excellent talk about Facebook chat bots. It turns out a lot of people haven’t been using chat bots. So it’s actually a great primer for it.
Toni: Well, and I think the interesting thing about that is that so many people that we talked to throughout the week were — they’d started their business on Amazon, which is pretty typical, and were really either seeing the writing on the wall or feeling the need to diversify. And so I think people were really interested in some of these off Amazon talks, because that’s going to be such a huge component in building their own online store. And so I think that’s one of the reasons.
I mean, Ezra is an amazing speaker, and I know he always does a good job. You and I have seen him at other events. But I think people really were super interested in the email marketing talks and the Facebook marketing. And those sort of talks were really resonating with people, Scott’s and Brett’s talk because so many people are looking at their Amazon sales and looking at the competition and looking at the Chinese competitors and realizing that they have to make a change in their business.
Steve: Absolutely. How’s the email segmentation talk?
Toni: Oh, she’s the boss, Alexandra. She’s amazing from Klaviyo, she just talked about segmentation. And this is actually something that I feel like I’m pretty good at. So I might suck at Google Shopping ads, but I’m pretty good at email. And it was interesting because some of the things that she talked about were so granular, but easy to do, especially within the Klaviyo platform that I’m not doing and it was like these little light bulbs. And I actually spent most of her talk texting other people that I knew in the room saying we need to do this, you should do that.
Think about this for your product, even down to like, if you sell anything, I’m trying to say if you’re like a fashion or jewelry or anything that has colors involved, you can even segment on the colors that people are buying and then creating emails that actually have those colors in them. So if you have a customer that always buys your gold jewelry, right, say you’re selling jewelry, and you can create emails where everything that email is gold tone, including the buy button, right at the VMware button. And so she just gave a lot of tips on how to think about segmentation, which I think I thought that I was doing a great job and thinking about versus…
Steve: You always think you’re doing a great job Toni.
Toni: I do, I do only on email, really. So but I was thinking segmenting on order value or products that they’re purchasing or frequency of purchase. But she got so much deeper and I thought that was really cool. And I think for a lot of people who have multiple SKUs, it’s something that you should be thinking about, and it’s a great way to improve your conversions on your emails.
Steve: Yeah, I mean, a lot of people come and ask me, why should they spend the money on Klaviyo? And her talk is the reason right? You can segment very granularly with all of your emails, and that’s what makes it so powerful.
Toni: For sure. And she knows her stuff. So there was — there’s nothing she didn’t cover either that or in the Q&A. So it’s definitely, it’s one of those other ones that you’re going to watch two to three times to get all the information.
Steve: So how was Trent’s talk about scalable wholesale businesses on Amazon? I asked him to talk because I know that there’s actually a bunch of attendees that sell wholesale, and so I thought I’d asked him to just give his perspective on it.
Toni: I’m not going to lie; I had no idea what he was talking about when he got started. I didn’t really understand the whole wholesale on Amazon business, which I’m sure it’s not shocking to you. But he did a really good job of breaking down from how do you get started into like how do you negotiate the contracts? How do you deal with other sellers? And so he did a really good job of walking people through the steps from if you were like me, and had no idea what wholesaling on Amazon was, to being able to actually, you could take that talk and get started.
Toni: And not — I don’t want to say very easily because it doesn’t. It definitely seems like a difficult process. But it’s definitely a doable thing if that’s something you’re interested in. And it was actually a really well attended talk. I think maybe people were interested in maybe branching out.
Steve: Yeah, absolutely. I mean one thing that’s great about Amazon wholesale is that it is a low risk. I mean there’s always pros and cons to wholesale versus private label. But in general, in terms of monetary risk, Amazon wholesale is a little bit more favorable. You don’t need as much money to get started.
Toni: Yes. And he gave a lot of strategies on the negotiation side, which I thought was good, because there is a lot of negotiating that goes on when you’re trying to get a customer. And so he gave some actual, I don’t want to say they were scripts, but it was close to a script on how you actually approach people and close the deal, which I thought was great.
Steve: Yeah. And while you were in Trent’s talk, I was moderating a panel on transport and tariffs, product sourcing, and protecting your IP from theft. Because I think, I want to say that most of the questions were involved in protecting your own IP, because people are getting knocked off left and right. And what was great about — what came out of that panel was that one, patents are not the best way to protect your product for a variety of reasons. And then Stephen Wagner suggested alternate ways that are a lot less expensive in protecting your IP.
And we also had a bunch of questions about tariffs and getting cheaper prices out of your freight forwarding that both Pam and Nathan Resnick were able to answer. And then Greg, the reason why we had Greg on the panel was because he has all this practical knowledge, because he still sells, I want to say six figures per month in terms of product. And so while everyone else was talking about IP theft and freight forwarding, Greg was actually giving knowledge about what he actually does with his Amazon business. And so it was actually really well done I think.
Toni: Yeah, that should be a good one to watch too, because I actually, I talked to Stephen afterwards. And I think we needed to give him a cough drop or something. He was very talked out after that session, which was great.
Steve: Well, you know me; I got down to every last detail. So if they gave a vague answer, I actually went in just pressed on it until they got tired of talking about it.
Toni: You didn’t let them get away with…
Steve: I didn’t let them get away with vague answers.
Toni: There was no it depends.
Steve: Yeah, you got to test it. Well, no, I don’t want you to tell me what the actual thing is.
Toni: That’s right.
Steve: All right, and then Casey Gauss, you want to come on his session?
Toni: I actually did not get to see a lot of it. I was getting ready to set up for the roundtables that came right after that. But if you’re familiar with Casey, if you’re familiar with Viral Launch, Casey packs in a ridiculous amount of information in a very short period of time. I think this year he had 80 slides. So I have to go re-watch it because I only caught the very beginning of his talk, but he’s so knowledgeable in getting products on Amazon, ranking, driving sales. Their case studies are pretty phenomenal, if you’ve ever taken a look at some of the things that they’ve done at the company. But yeah, he gave a talk on basically how to get your product on Amazon, how to get it to rank without having to give away tons of products.
Steve: One thing I like about Casey is he always talks about his suggestions or his tips and tricks based on data. Because he runs Viral Launch, he actually has tons of data from all the sellers that use his product and that sort of thing. And what he does is he compiles all that information into real strategies that you can implement with your Amazon business.
Toni: And he gave a lot of examples in his talk for the time that I was in there. So it’s definitely one that you want to take a good look at the slides because a lot of that data was on slides in his talk.
Steve: And while you were in Casey’s talk or not in Casey’s talk I should say.
Toni: I was setting up cards on tables.
Steve: Toni is the one running the event and she has to run around while I enjoy myself. At least that’s what she’ll tell everyone. But I was in Molly Pittman’s talk about Facebook ads. And I don’t know about you guys but Facebook ads has changed dramatically in just the past year. Because a lot more people are using the Facebook platform and it’s become a little bit more saturated, Facebook has been — well, they’ve been getting a lot of flak also with all these data leaks and that sort of thing, also. So they’ve really made a change in terms of the way ads work to favor more engagement. And so Molly just outlined a whole bunch of examples of ads that are working for her that have changed dramatically in just the past year. It was a must watch talk.
Toni: Awesome. And we got a lot of good feedback about her talk as well. And it’s that same theme that we’ve seen this year, of people are just very interested on driving sales off Amazon.
Steve: And this year to close the event, we actually got a closing keynote.
Toni: Well big time. We’re big time now.
Steve: Yes. What do you think of Craig’s talk? Did you stay for this one at least?
Toni: I sat in the front row.
Steve: Oh you did, okay.
Toni: Yeah. I mean, we saw Craig at Ecommerce Fuel Live. And he did a talk on shipping rates, which totally was not relevant for me at all. But he was such a good speaker and he has that Scott Volker personality I feel like.
Steve: He’s different than Scott Voelker, though.
Toni: Well, different but he’s got the same energy level on the stage.
Steve: Yeah, yeah.
Toni: So he’s very engaging. When Scott talks onstage, you pay attention, when Craig talks, you pay attention. And actually, my nephews once again, their feedback was, he’s one of the best storytellers they’ve ever heard and they would listen to him all day. So I actually really enjoyed his talk since I asked him to speak on it.
Steve: You want to tell him what the topic is?
Toni: I’ll let you talk because you actually were a little bit shaken up after his talk it seemed, shaken up is not the right word.
Steve: Okay, so he talked about becoming a purposeful business, basically going beyond just making money and helping the community. And it was just amazing what Craig has done with the community. A lot of us we start our businesses to make money and we don’t really think about like a higher purpose. And I actually talked about this in my keynote, like there’s businesses like Toms, who gives away all these shoes every single year. And the reason why people are loyal to businesses like Toms is because they actually help the community. Now, I’m not saying that you should do it just as an ulterior motive, but it really makes your business a lot more meaningful. And so when stuff gets difficult or whatnot, knowing that you’re actually helping the community will actually keep you going through the hard times.
Toni: And I think one of the interesting things that he talked about is it also gives your employees a reason to stick it out to and I think that’s an interesting tie in that he made in his talk. I think he might have done that in the other talk we heard from as well, but just that they they’re working for something bigger too. And I think that is important. And I thought it was cool too in Sellers Summit with that talk, because I feel like for two or two and a half days, people are just bombarded with information, and strategies and tactics, but at the end of the day, you have to figure out, you have to weed through all of that and figure out what you need to do for your business. And if you have like a bigger goal or a bigger purpose in mind, it helps you sort of weed through the noise and figure out what your business should be doing for your goals and your vision.
Steve: And After Craig talked, that was the official end of Sellers Summit, but we had a bonus session, which was the 5 Minute Pitch live finale. If you guys aren’t familiar with 5 Minute Pitch is a Shark Tank like show that Mike Jackness, Scott Voelker and Greg Mercer now we put together where we gave away $50,000 to one lucky business. And we had five companies come and pitch the audience of Sellers Summit live. And then the audience voted to see which pitch they liked the best and they narrowed it down to the final two. And then we had a panel of seven judges, where we voted to see who the winner was. And we actually handed out a big $50,000 check on stage. It was incredible.
Toni: Yeah, and I didn’t get to go because they had this rule where if you weren’t in the room at like 4:55, they locked the doors and actually had someone guarding the doors because everything was being recorded for your show. And so I actually didn’t finish up with Sellers Summit till later. So I actually wasn’t able to get in. And actually our keynote, Craig couldn’t get in for a while. He stood out there waiting. But what I heard from everybody was that the tension in that room was like palpable, right? People were like sweating and nervous. And this was in the audience, not even the people pitching.
Steve: I was really nervous because over the course of the season, I’d become emotionally attached to these people. And with so much on the line, I could tell they were really nervous. I don’t know, I felt something, I was whispering to Jackness during the thing, which probably got picked up on the mic. I was like, oh man, I’m so nervous for all these contestants. So we’re actually turning that into a podcast, which will be available I think in the next couple of weeks or so. So if you want to catch up and binge watch and all the episodes, they will be available on iTunes pretty soon.
Toni: But it was a packed house for that. And I heard it was amazing. And congratulations to the winner who I don’t think we can say yet, but congratulations.
Steve: We cannot say yet, but it will be revealed soon enough.
Toni: And I have to say like I’m most bummed that I missed the giant check. I really wanted to see a giant check in real life so I’m bummed that I did not get to see that.
Steve: Okay, well, that’s kind of unusual. I can buy you a check if you want.
Toni: Do you watch the Office?
Steve: I do of course.
Toni: Do you remember when they did the fun run and they were going to present the giant check that the giant check itself cost like $300 and they’d only raised like $500?
Steve: The giant check is kind of pricey yeah.
Toni: I just wanted to see one in real life after the Office. It’s a bucket list. I just need to see a giant check.
Steve: Give it to Toni to not want to see the talks; she just wants to see the giant check.
Toni: That’s right. And how cool for the winner though. I mean, that is a really cool experience for everybody. And I’m glad that Sellers Summit got to be a part of that this year.
Steve: Yeah, absolutely. So I hope you guys who are listening are interested in these talks, we are going to continue to sell the virtual pass. When do we usually close those? I don’t even remember.
Toni: We don’t keep them for sale forever only because the content is constantly changing or the information is constantly changing. So we want the content to be fresh. So I think we keep them for sale for about six weeks.
Steve: Yeah, for about six weeks, I would say. So maybe in August I guess we’ll close on those sales. But those tickets are available. If you want to check out all the sessions, if you didn’t get a chance to attend the event, we’ll keep that card open for six weeks or so. And I can tell that the reception for this year’s event was good because right now we’ve already sold a bunch of tickets for the following year, which is always a good sign.
Toni: Last year we sold out — well for 2019, our tickets were gone by mid-February. So a lot of conferences pretend like they’re sold out but then they have held tickets back. When we sell out, we sell out; we don’t have any extra tickets. And it actually got so bad this year that Steve had to post in our Facebook group needing an extra ticket, because I would not sell him a ticket because we were totally maxed. So if you’re thinking about going for 2020, grab your ticket now. One, they’re not as expensive; the price goes up as time goes on. But we never have another sale. So it’s not like the price is going to be low on Black Friday or anything like that.
Steve: Yeah, we don’t do that.
Toni: The price is the price. We don’t mess around. Like that’s how it works. And two, don’t be like Steve. Don’t be in the Facebook group crying in March saying that you need a ticket because the gatekeeper is not going to get you one.
Steve: I think you just wanted to see me beg.
Toni: I did. I did. I didn’t have a ticket, though. I really didn’t.
Steve: I think you enjoyed it because prior to posting on the Facebook group, I was like, come on, I just need one, give me one ticket woman. And then you were like, I don’t know. Maybe I could be pissed.
Toni: Here’s the thing, though, here’s the thing, I am loyal to our attendees. And the one thing that we hear every single year, the reason why people come to Sellers Summit again and again, is because they love that it’s small. So if I keep selling tickets, we don’t stay small. So I have to be loyal to the people that are loyal to us. And that’s why.
Steve: Now you’re making me out to be the bad guy trying to expand this conference.
Toni: I know, but I do think that’s why people love it. And I think that’s why people keep coming back because it’s so easy to meet people. And it’s so easy to connect with the speakers. And it’s easy to connect with the sponsors, like everyone is just like – it’s like silly, but a big happy family.
Steve: We’re going to keep it small. If anyone asks, we are not increasing the size of the event. It’s going to stay small, intimate, we’re all going to eat together still. And that’s just the type of conference that I want to attend, quite frankly. And all the sessions are going to be strategy focused. There’s not going to be any fluff, and that sort of thing because that’s just the way that we like things.
Toni: well, I think for us personally, when we attend events, it’s time away from our families. It’s money that we’re spending. If this isn’t going to help us grow our businesses, it’s probably not worth our time and money investment. And so that’s how we feel for our attendees as well. So that’s why we keep creating a conference that does and Sellers Summit does.
Steve: So Toni, where’s the event next year? I know we have everything booked already.
Toni: It is. It is in Fort Lauderdale. So all of you who we’re not a fan of the elevators in Miami, that will be a problem no more. All of our sessions are actually even on the same level next year. So we are in Fort Lauderdale in May, we are May 6th to the 8th and it is the same hotel, The Westin that we’ve been at before so it is right on the beach. There’s actually a walkway directly to the ocean. People like Kevin [inaudible 00:54:19] can get their morning swim before the event and tons of restaurants, everything is really walkable. So we are back at the Westin in Fort Lauderdale.
Steve: Awesome. And by the time this episode comes out, the sales pitch should be up over at SellersSummit.com. Anything else you want to add Toni?
Toni: I hope to see you guys next year.
Steve: Yeah, same here.
Hope you enjoyed that episode. Now we are selling virtual passes to Sellers Summit 2019 for the next six weeks. So if you want to catch the recorded sessions for yourself, head on over to SellersSummit.com. For more information about this episode, go to Mywifequitherjob.com/episode 258.
And once again, I want to thank Privy for sponsoring this episode. Privy is the email capture provider that I personally use to turn visitors into email subscribers. They offer email capture, exit intent, and site targeting tools to make it super simple as well. And I like Privy because it’s so powerful, you can basically trigger custom pop-ups for any parameter that is closely tied to your e-commerce store. Now if you want to give it a try, it is free. So, head on over to Privy.com/Steve, once again, that’s P-R-I-V-Y.com/Steve.
I also want to thank Klaviyo which is my email marketing platform of choice for e-commerce merchants. You can easily put together automated flows like an abandoned cart sequence, a post-purchase flow, a win-back campaign, basically all these sequences that will make you money on autopilot. So head on over to Mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O, once again that’s Mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O.
Now I talk about how I use these tools on my blog, and if you’re interested in starting your own e-commerce store, head on over to mywifequitherjob.com and sign up for my free six-day mini course. Just type in your email and I’ll send you the course right away. Thanks for listening.
Outro: Thanks for listening to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast where we’re giving the courage people need to start their own online business. For more information, visit Steve’s blog at www.Mywifequitherjob.com.
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One thought on “258: A Recap Of Sellers Summit 2019 With Toni Anderson”
Does this Stephen Wagner guy have a website? I’m interested in alternatives to patents for IP protection.
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