Season 1, Episode 51

Scale Your Brand Series: Do You Know who Your Customers Are?

How do you transform your brand audience into a community? Connection. In part of the Scale Your Brand series we spoke with Janelle Page on the significance of discovering exactly who your audience is instead of just throwing darts into the darkness, and how to build a connection that will take your brand to the next level.

Show Notes


[00:00:07] Chris: Hey everybody. This is Chris McCabe of ecommerceChris, and of course co-creator of the Seller Velocity Conference with Leah McHugh. And I’m here talking to Janelle Page, who was one of our wonderful illustrious speakers this year in Bend, Oregon, April 28th and 29th. Janelle, I can’t tell you how excited we are to finally have you. I think finally, as a speaker at Seller Velocity in our fourth year, how are you doing today?

[00:00:34] Janelle: I’m doing great. Thanks for that awesome introduction, Chris. It’s an honor to be able to be featured anywhere you’re speaking. So I appreciate the invite and the opportunity to attend in such a cool location.

[00:00:46] Chris: We’re going to inject a little different energy into Seller Velocity this year, last year was in Boston this year Bend, Oregon. So much to do. Maybe we’ll talk about Bend for a minute, just because I’ve been there. I was there a couple of weeks ago. I’ve been there, I think a total of four times in my life. And every time I’ve done different stuff, because there’s so much to do.

It’s a great place to have a conference because there’s outdoor stuff to do. There’s indoor stuff. And this year we’re trying to do some networking so that sellers can meet service providers and investors and other sellers like outdoors as well as indoors, you know.

[00:01:21] Janelle: I was trying to figure out how I could get my mountain bikes there and I was like, oh,

I know, break it into pieces and put it in your backpack.

Yeah, it’s going to be cool.

[00:01:32] Chris: It’s going to be great. And again, we’re really honored and privileged to have you, because we’ve seen you speak at conferences like Prosper before, you know, you’ve got great energy. You’ve got great ideas. And I’m curious what you’ve seen with some of the brands, you know, some of the work that you’re doing, brand related work and obviously this troubleshooting and there’s problems that come up, but the conference this year is mostly about revenue growth and about just clearing away the nonsense, and the noise, to succeed as much as you can on Amazon and on other e-commerce channels. So in terms of what you’ve seen, let’s say since the first of the year, what are the top tips that you’re sharing with people so they can kind of remedy any time they get stuck and get on track and sell more.

[00:02:13] Janelle: Okay, great, great questions. It’s funny because I’ve been saying this for years now. Not just since the first of the year, but people are starting to now really realize they need to do this. It’s just diversification. To me, amazon has always just been a customer acquisition channel. I’m not an Amazon brand, never been interested in building just an Amazon brand. I build true brands and we sell direct to consumer and we do that wherever our people are and can be found. And so I love having my own website. I love being able to drive my own traffic. It’s all about building and nurturing my list. I think about people, not products. I’m not the one that’s like trying to launch a Amazon business by searching for our product need.

I think that there’s plenty of products. There’s no more need for another retractable dog leash or, you know, oil spritzers. No, thank you. But what there are is there’s a lot of people with incredible ideas or a way of doing something a little bit better, a product or a unique twist with a connection with an audience.

And I like to help brands build that connection with an audience. Create stories that, you know, everybody wants to buy a brand. Nobody wants to buy an Amazon business where they’re displaying one-off, humdrum products that they found.

[00:03:24] Chris: One skew, no permutations. What about like, do you talk about launching new skews? Like what’s your new skew that you’re launching this year or two new skews?

[00:03:34] Janelle:
 I think, when you have an audience and an avatar that you’re serving, knowing what product comes next is actually really easy. Again, I’m not looking for an opportunity on Amazon where I see, you know, when you think about people who are playing the Amazon rank and launch game, those products usually have a lifetime of anywhere from a year to three years or what have you, and then competition comes in. If you see it as an opportunity, my friend, guess what– everybody else that has the same amount tools using the same system is going to see it as well. And that’s not for me where I want to play, because it becomes a commodity price, driven, a race to the bottom. It’s whoever can offer it at the cheapest.

And so I stay away from that. I truly want to build a brand, which is– if I’m serving an avatar, say, I, you know, I always use an example of one of the first supplement companies I was involved with. We chose the CrossFit market at a time when the CrossFit market was very small and we blew up with the CrossFit market that allowed us to know who our avatar was, where how to focus our marketing, we knew exactly what events to be at. It was the CrossFit games and all the other little competitions. We knew which magazines we’d advertise in. . We knew which words we use. We didn’t talk about going to a gym to do your workout because CrossFitters don’t go to a gym, they go to a box. They don’t do workouts, they do a wad, you know?

And so it gave us laser beam focused marketing and then a base of loyal raving fans. And so we started with the post-workout recovery shake and then it was like, what’s the next skew? Well, oh my heck. The next one is pre-workout. And then, next one after that well CrossFitters, If you know you’re building muscle, everybody knows when you go to sleep at night, your muscles will eat each other. Unless you get up and start feeding it protein. So it was a long lasting, the cocoon, which we came up with as a long lasting protein through the night, so you don’t have to get up and eat eggs or something, you know? So it was very easy to think about the next skew, I wasn’t going to Amazon to see which next product was hot and trending.

It was like, I knew who my person was and what they would need. And so that’s what we help brands do is like, what’s your story? Who do you serve? Get laser beam focused and then it becomes really easy knowing where you need to be and how you need to market to continue to grow.

[00:05:40] Chris: Do you spend a lot of time talking to brands about influencers or changing an influencer strategy? Varying it, trying a new one, like plateauing, and then moving on. How does that, how does that look?

[00:05:51] Janelle: Yeah. First, usually it’s helping the brand back up and figure out who they are and who they serve, because if they don’t know that, they’re just reaching out to influencers, any influencer will do.

They’re looking at metrics like, oh, they need to be anywhere like 10,000 followers to a hundred thousand. That’s my micro. I mean, they’ve taken the courses. They understand the, um, verbiage or whatever, but what they don’t yet still get is who their audience is. I just see this so much with Amazon sellers because they haven’t had the mindset of I’m building a brand.

It’s like I was looking for products to sell. They weren’t focused on people. And so when you take that step back and we almost need to lay the foundation that was never laid correctly. Get them really honed in on who it is, who they serve. Then it’s like, okay, now I know I’m serving vegan moms, that can give me like laser beam focus on which influencers I reached out to.

[00:06:40] Chris: A very specific audience, yes.

[00:06:42] Janelle: Now I can go to Instagram and I can look for vegan moms that have a following. They can be a thousand people to a million people, but at least I know that their target market is my target market. And they’re going to connect and I’m not going to say like, man influencer marketing doesn’t work well, sure. If I was out there just working with any influencer, random people that just have a certain amount of likes and you don’t even really target it in any way.

Exactly– Yep. Yep. So it’s just so game-changing, it seems so simple when we talk about it, but since. It is like brand new information and people think I’m a genius when I tell them this, but it’s like, no, you know, you just learn. We learn as we go.

[00:07:18] Chris: We already know you’re a genius. This is an extra level of it. Yeah, because what you say is strategy and it makes sense. And then sometimes people kind of get the warmed over version I think. If they try to do it the quickie way, copy paste way, then they wind up with an influencer that doesn’t connect with their audience. So they don’t build the audience properly. So they’ve got some interest parties, but then some others that are sort of gray area and then the rest is miscellaneous. I think that might be what’s what’s happening with some people that aren’t getting traction with their audience in a way that you described.

Yeah. Anything else that you can think of that you’ve either talked to brands about recently? I know your brain is working on this stuff all the time. I think kind of like the protein while you sleep, like your brain is working on these types of problems while you sleep.

[00:08:04] Janelle: To me, like it used to be, we all talk about the importance of building an audience and now I’m more focused on audience is great, but audience is one way, it’s me talking, you listening. And I’m realizing the power of a community where you have people participating together and unlike a nyone talking about building an audience, that’s great. That’s better than not doing it at all, but now let’s move to community. How do we actually get these people that are in our audience to actually interact and have a two-way conversation so that they participate with the brand? I mean, we have this interconnected world, we have our consumers have more choices than ever, and it’s only going to continue to proliferate.

And so if we’re not connecting and making them feel valued and letting them participate in the building of that brand, we’ll get left behind by the other brands that come into the space that are doing that.

[00:08:50] Chris: 
Yeah, I mean, in terms of that kind of engagement audience, engaging with each other, do you think people are just saying like, oh, we’ll just pile everyone into Twitter or into a Facebook group, and they’re not thinking about it beyond that step?

[00:09:02] Janelle: Yeah, I think that’s been a strategy that a lot of successful sellers has used in the past as a Facebook group or a discord, or, you know, maybe they have a Patreon, but there’s, it’s circles a great platform. There’s all types of platforms you can use to do this, but it’s literally can be in your insert strategy.

Like how do you get them to engage with you? It just little touch points, always talking about the touch points are the opportunities for us to connect. And you think if you’ve ever been to like a concert in an intimate setting and the songwriter or whatever comes down and performs in the audience. Or I was at the magic castle a couple of weeks ago. I was filming with helium 10 and we went and took to the magic castle. Right. And you get to watch these magicians and you get up really close and they’re doing slate of hands and all this close-up magic.

They’re calling people up from the audience. That’s what makes it memorable? That’s what turns me into a raving fan. And then like, how can we do that with our brands? You know, how can we give physical proximity? How can we kind of, and I’m thinking on this, I don’t, I have ideas and I have things that we’re trying, and we’re going to try.

If I can encourage brands to think that way. That’s what makes someone fall in love with you? I think that, wow, that was incredible.

Because I want word of mouth marketing because traffic is always expensive. You know what I mean? We’re always looking for cheaper new avenues to get it. What you can always always count on is if you wow someone that word of mouth, they talk about you. So thinking about what can you do with your brand that gets someone to say, damn, that was good. Tell everybody else about it. You know?

[00:10:29] Chris: Well, I know everyone that comes to Bend and listens to you speak is going to say damn, because this is going to resonate with them. And hopefully they’ll appreciate it and spend as much time asking you questions and interacting with you as possible, because this is great stuff and there’s only more of this ahead in just a few weeks, April 28th and 29th.

So thanks again for taking time to talk to me about this. And it’s funny that you mentioned circle because we’re big fans of circle as well. I think, I think some of these other platforms in terms of, you know, non-Facebook, I mean, Facebook is fine, but there are other things going on out there a nd it’s a great, it’s great to have places for brands to interact with each other, audience interact with the brand, and of course, Amazon sellers to interact with speakers like us.

[00:11:15] Janelle: Yeah. And like you said, well, you implied, we want to own these platforms. Facebook is great. It’s been great communities there, but again, it’s like building your whole business on Amazon. You’re at their mercy.

[00:11:28] Chris: We’re not really all eggs in one basket. Right. Is never the way that. Okay. Great. Thanks again, Janelle Page for speaking with me today, and we will see everyone soon and bend have a good day. 

Hosts & Guests

Chris McCabe

Leah McHugh

Janelle Page




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