Season 1, Episode 53

Scale Your Brand Series: Understanding Your Customer Journey

How do you build your brand off of Amazon? In part of our Scale Your Brand series we talked with Doug Hollinger about why direct to consumer marketing should be an integral part of your brand strategy and how to implement it correctly.

Show Notes


[00:00:07] Leah: Hey everyone. I’m Leah McHugh, co-creator of the Seller Velocity Conference here with the other co-creator of the Seller Velocity Conference, Chris McCabe, and one of our speakers this year, Doug Hollinger from The Stable. Thank you so much for joining us, Doug. I’m so glad that you’re going to be joining the conference this year.

[00:00:23] Doug: 
It’s a pleasure. I’m really looking forward to it.

[00:00:26] Leah: Yeah. We tend to have a lot of Amazon specific experts, but we always try to look at e-commerce more as a whole, because especially now you’re competing with so many people on Amazon. If you’re not thinking about your branding strategy, you’re throwing yourself to the wolves.

We’re really looking forward to your talk about the customer journey, because I think that’s something that people often forget about when you’re dealing with Amazon since you’re so removed from so much of the customer journey on there.

[00:00:53] Doug: Yeah. A lot of what we’re talking about is just the shift in thinking and just going direct right? And again, I think direct used to be very specifically around a business model. You know, I’m going to go in and I’m going to remove the middleman or I’m going to do X, Y, Z. Really it’s more about getting to know customers and getting to think about your brand. Maybe in a little bit different way.

It’s the same brand, but again, how does this work translate in different channels and with different kinds of consumers and where they discover you? So we’ll be talking a lot about that. Just kind of trends there to make, to keep in mind. Again, I’m kind of thinking holistically, like you mentioned about your business and being mindful of where do I have some gaps?

Where do I need to learn more about my customers? How do I do that? How do I engage in different channels? Even socially, et cetera. So what kind of throw the net wide that way.

[00:01:45] Leah: Yeah, again on Amazon, you’re a little bit spoiled, I guess. Because you’re getting your customers at the end of the funnel. They’re already there with the intent to buy. So it’s easy to forget that there’s this whole other gurdy, that happens off of Amazon where they could be discovering your brands.

[00:02:01] Doug: Yeah. And I think that’s a really good analogy because Amazon is also like a search engine, a discovery platform, et cetera. And when you’re going direct, You have to kind of think about all of this because there’s no program in place or kind of thing carved out. So you kind of have to do that yourself or hire somebody like us to help with that.

So that’s a lot of what we do. We obviously also work with brands on Amazon and Walmart and other channels. So that could be B to C companies that are saying, you know, I kind of need to have my own thing here and do the C or it could be companies that don’t sell on Amazon yet, but they’re curious about that and other channels. So we can kind of see it both ways and really look at it as just another way to engage. But it does require some more thinking because they’re not just showing up, you have to really go get them and then retain them.

[00:02:49] Leah: Right.

[00:02:50] Doug: Learn from that as you go.

[00:02:51] Chris: Do you talk to a lot of brands that started on Amazon? They’ve been Amazon sellers. They’ve not really had those other funnels that they’ve had to create the other experiences that they’ve had to nurture and maintain. And they don’t even really know where to start that process?

[00:03:06] Doug: Yeah, we’ve worked with people that are Amazon kind of looking the other way, as well as people that were kind of big box retail. And then aren’t even really digitally savvy at all. As well as people that start on, um, you know, they launched a Shopify site and then they don’t know what to do after that. So we kind of see the whole gamut there, and again, we also look at this from a life cycle. So if you’re kind of getting started and you have limited resources, we might emphasize acquisition and brand building of things versus later.

Maybe you you’ve got some traction now, or again, you’ve got some business on Amazon and you can fund some things we can also advise about where you kind of prioritize spend in order to keep building the business scale. So I think part of this is, you know, again, where you started, what your kind of core customer set is, what your current capabilities are. And then we kind of work with customers where they are and look at the next phase of growth.

[00:03:56] Leah: Yeah, I think that’s the big thing in the next couple of years is meeting your customers where they are, whether that’s Amazon, Walmart, in store, wherever– it’s making sure you’re where they are when they want to buy your products.

I think we’ve been having a lot more conversations with people about that and about getting their brand everywhere. So, I mean, even things like Tik Tok, we’re seeing an increase in working with influencers there.

[00:04:21] Doug: Yep. Absolutely. And even in a physical retail store, they have their phone with them.

Right? So they might be on Amazon, inside target or whatever. And the same thing here, I think the lines are blurred and the customer really just wants it to work and kinda, you know, by the way I’m wanting to buy. And so that’s part of it is like, how does that work now? And it also, to your point, it’s also shifting. And so as people are dealing with maybe younger demographics or, or even older demographics that are learning to enjoy TikTok and Instagram and everything else, it’s kinda, that’s part of the message of my presentation is meeting them where they are having conversations with customers and how do you do that authentically? If you’re not used to sort of building a brand yourself and doing all of that in a direct way.

[00:05:06] Leah: Yeah. Awesome. I’m looking forward to your talk. I’m really glad that you’ll be joining us. Like I said, we always, we have such of an Amazon focus in what we do every day. It’s very exciting to get to talk to people in other parts of the e-commerce industry.

[00:05:20] Chris: And we keep it, we mix up the locations for Seller Velocity. We’ve never had it in the same city twice. So we went with Bend, Oregon this year because there’s a good startup community there. There’s a thriving, e-commerce actually– lots of outdoor brands, but even just across Oregon, not just in bend or Redmond, have you been to that area before?

[00:05:37] Doug: I am. I’m actually really excited. Cause I went to high school in Oregon in Beaverton and we used to go skiing every Christmas down in Bend. So I’m really looking forward to it– it’s beautiful.

[00:05:46] Chris: So, you know, a better than we do with all the times, all the times we’ve been going lately long though.

[00:05:52] Doug: It’s been so long though– I don’t know. I won’t get on skis that’s for sure. Last time it didn’t work so well.

[00:05:59] Chris: Mount Bachelor for those of you who ski is 20 minutes, we drove it the other day, 20-25 minutes away.

[00:06:05] Doug: Yeah, it’s just gorgeous there. So I’m really looking forward to it. That was a big draw for me too. So looking forward to seeing everybody

[00:06:12] Chris: yeah. Looking forward to meeting you in person and thanks so much for talking about your talk to be in Bend today with us. We’re looking forward to having you interact with our attendees and we’re looking forward to seeing everybody in person.

[00:06:27] Doug: Awesome. Thanks you guys. I really appreciate it.

[00:06:30] Leah: See you soon.

Hosts & Guests

Chris McCabe

Leah McHugh

Doug Hollinger




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