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Module 2 of Product University

September 19, 2020


Product University - Sophie Howard (Aspiring Entrepreneurs)

MODULE 2 - Product Selection Strategies

Detailed Review of Module 2 of Sophie Howard's "Product University" internet course that advises people of all ages how to become profitable sellers on Amazon. 

If you're looking for a different detailed to the max, up-to-date review of Sophie's course, then stop clicking and start scrolling because you have arrived.

Looking for Sophie's Unique Product Idea Sources? Click Here.

MODULE 2 - Product Selection

5 hours, 16 minutes, 41 seconds

Session 1: Product Selection: Week 1 (of 4)

The main reason that she is sought for coaching, says Sophie, is because her product selection strategy is unique.


Products change over time, as evidenced by the transformation of the phone:

which means that the product selection process is much more than the product, because it's seeing where the product will be in the future. 

Sophie's process includes:

  • researching who the larger players are in the field now
  • knowing what debates are affecting that product consumption today and shaping the consumption in the future (i.e. the millenials want to know their products are responsibly sourced)
  • envisioning what would be the end game of your potential product: could it be sold to a larger brand? (she gives an example of her tea brand here)

She points out the benefits of a manufacturer having a high MOQ (i.e. few, if any small competitors), which is a high barrier to entry, illustrated below: 

Her 3 major talking points here are: 

  • The success of your ecommerce store depends on your choosing a good product
  • build a portfolio to take the pressure off of your first product
  • first product is the most difficult

Make sure that you are a little emotionally attached to the product, so you are able to continually build your product to be as your prospects like it (Sophie emphasizes that people don't buy on reason alone).

The first half of your research will be on the upside of your product, while the latter half will cover what you need to watch out for.

Don't be hard on yourself when the product research takes a long time, you are not merely choosing your first item, but you learning the whole process. Don't base your whole business on one product that is selling a hundred units per day, because that well-selling product will be copied by more sellers very quickly. Sophie recommends spreading the risk by having at least 10 products in your portfolio.

4 Marks to look for in a product with a 7-figure potential: 

  • Solid Connection with solving a customer's pain point
  • Clear Keyword Search: have a few key phrases that are commonly searched and that you can optimize your listing to appear under.
  • Good Margins: Sophie recommends having a solid 20% profit margin after all expenses
  • Subscription Potential: recurring sales are better than one-and-done options. Sophie's advice is to sell consumables with a bonus one-off if they sign up for a year. 

Where to Find Unique Product Ideas

  • Amazon (use the category search to browse for unique products)
  • in airports (what's their specialty/regional specific items)
  • Pharmacies (often they have location specific items)
  • Catalogues
  • Magazines
  • Your Hometown
  • Using Research Tools
Goal Setting:

Sophie was very ambitious with her product selling goals:

Year 1 (2015): build to 6 figure annual sales revenue

Year 2 (2016): continue to raise revenue level and sell for 7 figures

number of products. create a personal story for your products: personalize it, have some passion for it, hard to source, hard to copy, be the original and best of something.

Thinking through brand potential: Who would want this and how does it make them feel?

Top 4 Product Selection Mistakes:  
  • Selling "Me-Too" Products: While using demand that is already present in the market may seem like a smart idea, Sophie advises against it, as the longevity of sales will be pretty short, and then you will have to go find another product while finding a place to offload your inventory.
  • Obvious/Mainstream: As a small business, it's pretty hard to compete with the large companies that sell common household items to huge audiences. Sophie suggests picking a sliver of a population and constructing a brand of products that appeals to their clearly stated interests (Facebook's "Audience Insights"). 
  • Already Popular: The risk of selling products that are already popular in the market is again the longevity of sales. Your product idea might be okay if you know the product is still early in its cycle. 
  • No Clear Demographic/Community of Users: If you don't know who you are selling to, you won't be able to set up ads well, nor will you be able to find out the speak of the target population to use in your marketing copy. Innumerable issues with not having a target audience.
Final Product Selection Tips
  • Get It Done Quickly by Making a List and Staying on Task
  • Make a List of What Needs to be Researched
  • Do the Steps
  • Then Decide
  • Don't Piddle Paddle Through the Process
  • Bottom Line: JUST DO IT! #Nike

 At the conclusion of her session, Sophie reiterates key places where the market validates interested audiences:

  1. Google (trends/ keyword planner tool), 
  2. Industry Reports 
  3. Key Messages in the Market
  4. Key Competitors - who are they and what are they doing?, 
  5. FaceBook groups and their level engagement: (i.e. how many posts per week)
  6. Websites like Buzzsumo,, Alexa, etc. 
  7. Check company's ad spend. 

Takeaway: Don't just sit on Jungle Scout, there's lots of other places that can be checked to give you more data points.

Session Duration: 1 hour 14 minutes and 51 seconds

Session 2: Product Selection: Week 2 (of 4)

Sophie first lays out her product selection philosophy, which has three parts:

  1. Supply (number of sellers)
  2. Demand (number of interested prospects)
  3. Market Positioning (Accomplished with Branding)
Sophie's Branding Objective:
Create something that's hard for the big, cumbersome brands to do, so that competition is lower and the brand can be sold at a premium later on. 

Phase 1: Sophie starts by going on Google (seeing who's on page 1), and using the keyword planning tool and Google Trends to note both current and past search levels.  Secondly, Sophie looks at a couple of ecommerce stores on the first page of Google, to see how open the incense market is by noting the quality of the stores' offerings.

Some of her commentary is going over ideas how she can create value (like going direct to the source in Tibet, cuts out the middleman by paying in cash at the source). She postulates offering a year long subscription with the bonus of having a really nice incense holder (she comes up with this idea after she sees on google's keyword tool that the holders have 2x as many searches as the incense sticks themselves). Then she does a more specific niche search using "tibetian incense" and examines what comes up.

Phase 2: Then she rolls over to FaceBook and searches key "incense" phrases to examine the groups that are coming up there.

Phase 3: Then she moves over to the audience insights tool inside Facebook's ad creator, and dials in on people's interests. She spends a lot of time elaborating on the different ways the "Page Likes" section can be helpful, from seeing which pages are active in that niche to putting a probability to what the likelihood of someone liking another page if they've already liked a similar page (affinity).

Phase 4: Shifting platforms, she moves to Amazon to get another data point on who is selling in the marketplace now, and then searches them on FB to see what their market presence is like (Pages with or without linked webstores, large followings, etc.). 

Towards the end of her product selection process, Sophie takes a glimpse through Merchant words and investigates a few micro-niches that weren't on her radar before.

Throughout the session, she reiterates the importance of creating a story to go along with the product, a narrative that can be developed if you go to the source, traveling to the point of point manufacturing, rather than merely sourcing sterilely online via alibaba.

At the conclusion of the session, Sophie gives an overview of the next steps she will be taking to bring her incense brand to life.

 Session Duration: 1 hour 8 Minutes 31 seconds 

Session 3: Product Selection: Week 3 (of 4)

Sophie's Unique Strategy: At the beginning of her lecture, Sophie emphasizes the need to differentiate from competitors by creating a substantial brand that has an actual story behind it, rather than piggy-backing on the sales that are already-happening and can be found through using the affluence of research tools that are available today (such as merchant words, jungle scout, viral-launch, etc.) 

In this session, her students share their product ideas and she gives feedback on them, telling them some pros and cons of the idea. She goes through part of the product research process using a gel pad used to keep cool while sleeping because most of her students hadn't seen her session 2 lecture yet.

Sophie shares her current fb ad campaigns, how she is using three different audiences, and then repeats a tip on finding audiences using FB insights that she goes over in-depth in the previous section. 

She shows how to use Facebook to find out who is selling products relating to dog hair care to show how to run ads to the people interacting with that product page.

If you have a dud product, Sophie says, it doesn't matter if you have done everything else right, you won't have a successful business. Be smart with your positioning, and make sure that you aren't too easy to copy.

Enter your text here...

 Session Duration: 1 hour 6 minutes 52 seconds 

Session 4: Product Selection: Week 4 (of 4)

This session is a free-ranging demo through Sophie's product selection process, assessing several items' potential. 

Starting from Facebook, Sophie's process is a triangulation between passionate hobbyists who have that interest as their part of their identity (They like and interact inside interest groups), great products consisting of a few high ticket and lots of smaller consumables and finding popular keywords that lead to those products. 

This research process is pretty hard to layout in a written organized process, but rather, it is learning what to watch for through coaching and experimentation and then really following your nose, while seeing the indicators named in the training.

Sophie's Tip: Practice Makes Perfect
Get on Google and going through the process, over and over, honing your product/market senses.

To conclude this final session on product selection, Sophie names 9 Killer Skills of Successful Entrepreneurs. 

At the end of the session, Sophie did a lot of q & a with her students, helping them over their individual hurdles. 

 Session Duration: 1 hour 46 minutes 27 seconds 

Module 2 - My Primary Takeaways 

Sophie does an excellent job showing the often nefarious process of product selection. She is right that it's not in you (the sellers) best interest to merely slightly change a currently selling product's branding and sell it for a while because you won't have a long duration of sales.

My first product I only adapted the branding on an item and it sold well for about 6 months, then it lost popularity and I had to find new products to merely maintain (as opposed to scaling) my current level of revenue. 

When launching my sequential products, I tried my hand at consumables with discounts if they are scheduled on a subscription. I found that my sales reached a plateau and once they did, they stayed pretty steady and I simply added different varieties. Therefore, I can say via my experience that Sophie's advice works, it's not merely a bunch of hot air. 


Video Quality: 7/10

Sophie's video quality is the same as module 1. 


Sound: 8/10

Sound starts breaking up a lot more in this module


Content: 9/10

Sophie's content is excellent. Could have been better organized, but Sophie's personality is much more of a free spirit, so she would jump around quite a lot. 



This module both explains and demonstrates the product selection process. Sophie shows her experience and practiced skills throughout, answering students questions as they came up. 

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(IMO Less Hassle Than Selling Physical Products)
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