Today, you're going to see how to position your brand in the marketplace as a productocracy.
The Best Part?
People will continue to buy your product,
even if you don't advertise it,
because they can't get your quality anywhere else.
these principles apply to all marketplaces,
so you'll know how to lucratively lay your items in any eCommerce store, not just Bezo’s.
How's that sound?
as you'll see,
building out your store on different platforms is best your business as it increases the control you have on your business.
I’ve used these principles to successfully build a number of profitable businesses over the past few years (Affiliate Marketing, Lead Generation, to name a couple) not just on Amazon.
In fact, one of my mentors gave me a book that I highly recommend as it is where I first learned the core principles of the process of profitably placing products.
The Millionaire Fastlane by MJ DeMarco
A few months back, I wrote my reflections of the impact the book has had on my life.
The Millionaire Fastlane (TMF) helped me get my mind right as well as guided me in my approach to developing my multiple 6 figure businesses, which I’ll share with you in this chapter.
As mentioned in the Step-by-Step Guide to Amazon FBA, after you finish this chapter, you’ll know:
Part 1: What is a Productocracy?
Definition: A productocracy is a product that pulls money towards it, relying mostly on peer-to-peer recommendations as opposed to the distributing company’s advertising dollars to increase sales.
The graphic below will be referred to throughout this chapter.
Notice that the Productocracy is in the middle
and the 5 elements pointing to it (Control, Entry, Need, Time and Scale) either confirm or deny the item to be a true productocracy.
But don't get too caught up in the lingo,
it will become clear further on.
But products that meet the criteria are not merely products that sell well without advertising.
What motivates the sales are the excellence of the products and the exclusivity of their availability.
MJ himself says that this kind of product “contagiously sells itself” (229).
Simply put, shoppers will buy your product because it is awesome, and they can’t get it anywhere else.
Now that you know what a productocracy is,
I’ll show you the two market currents (product push and product pull) that determine the success of your business efforts.
Part 2: Primary Market Forces
The 2 forces of the market are
1. PUSH: (I advertise encouraging you to “get my stuff”)
2. PULL: (you really want my stuff so you buy my stuff)
Products are either pushed before the eyes of shoppers via company-paid-for-ads,
or they are pulled into the market via the ongoing demand of interested prospects.
Comparing the 2 Market Forces
Nearly every product must do some paid advertising (PPC) to get started or “launched” onto the platform (on Amazon you’ll use the promotions tab to set up your campaigns using “Amazon Marketing Services”).
But after being launched, the most profitable products don’t require much advertising, because they are in high demand and their competition doesn’t have the quality to keep up.
Why can’t the competition keep up?
Because they don’t have access to the exclusive sourcing the productocracy has lined up.
Now the most important question here is:
What converts better?
Items that have been pushed into the marketplace or products that shoppers themselves search for via the algorithm?
I think the answer there is obvious.
You as the shopper would want the item that you are searching for to be at the top so it is super easy for you to buy it.
Now, switch sides.
Imagine yourself as the seller for a minute:
Would you rather be constantly paying for ads and have that cost eating into your profit margin (how much money you get to take home when it’s all said and done) or have your product pop up in the search results organically (for free) because the number of sales you’re generating?
Here’s a visual of the difference:
Part 3: C.E.N.T.S.: The 5 Elements of a Productocracy
The 3 Basic Steps to Selling an Item Successfully:
Step 1: Find a product that meets all these requirements,
Step 2: Execute on it
Step 3: Never worry about having enough sales.
1. Control (The 1st Commandment)
picking their prey with precision.
Vultures peck over the remains.
Given the choice,
Would you rather live life as an eagle or a vulture?
I’ll bet you chose the eagle.
Ask a thousand other people and you’ll hear that answer.
But it’s a wonder to me how most sellers behave like vultures when they sell on Amazon.
Hovering like carcass-feeding birds,
they use the competition as a validation that there’s demand for the product and start to sell a super similar product,
pecking among the crowd looking for a bite of meat.
The vultures hang around dying prey,
which is why on Amazon,
the vast majority don’t enjoy long-term sales.
An eagle on the other hand, takes a very different approach.
It patiently watches,
Viewing the market,
cocking its head thoughtfully and observing everything in the niche and the currents,
the push and pull that reveal the opportunities present in the sphere.
spotting an opportunity like Muhammad Ali spied an opening in Joe Frazier’s guard,
They strike and haul their catch out of the sea.
Then they go back to their tree and enjoy their fresh catch.
Which might be going to to Bali for two weeks
Or reinvesting the profits in developing another productocracy
One other you should know about eagles
They don’t limit themselves to fishing in one pond at a time.
Wherever there’s a promising opportunity to catch a fresh meal, to make a sale
They are there.
Winging above mountains
Surveying high above oceans
Gliding over deserts
Strategically gauging opportunities
And then tactically execute their plan.
When MJ wraps up his editorial on control, the major lesson he leaves us with is to stay in it.
Coining a new context for “hitchhiking,” MJ warns about the popular tendency to build a business that is “symbiotically codependent” on a certain platform that is controlled by another party (and not you).
He offers a simple test to determine if you are in control of your business:
“Is there one person or entity that can instantly kill your business with one decision?”
If you only sell your products on Amazon, your sales can be shut down faster than the infamous Cowboy Robert Quinn’s notorious speed rush.
Your success depends on your decisions.
Act like an eagle.
2. Entry (The Second Commandment)
If the opportunity is easy, exit quickly and never look back.
If the option stinks of a shortcut, stay as far away as you would from a skunk.
So you want to start a business?
Prepare to work.
Why resist the motivation of a comfortable and easy business? You might ask.
The reason is as old as salt is a preservative.
When the way is short and the road is easy,
the ancient psalm is true:
many follow it.
or as American writer Terry Goodkind put it:
But the opposite is also true.
As soon as the going gets tough,
Most people leave the road
And few persevere.
Statistically, that's similar to the ratio between the rich and the poor:
But in case you still aren’t convinced.
MJ’s got another reason,
Which traces back to what he calls the true definition of an entrepreneur.
An entrepreneur is a problem solver, says MJ, and if your business is super easy, it likely means you aren’t really solving any problems for others.
An entrepreneur creates value by solving problems for others.
For instance, one of the products I sold on Amazon was an organic honey that I sourced from a local supplier.
Many of my reviewers left comments that my honey reduced their allergies.
This was an added benefit that I worked into my product listing.
A couple of the issues that I faced as a young person was always getting sick and feeling super tired.
Sucked when my friends wanted to hang and I all did was hit the hay #problem
I tried caffeine (coffee and straight pills) to wake me up,
sleeping pills to help me rest better,
bottles of vitamin C and gallons of orange juice to perk up my immune system
but nothing really worked
until I picked up some of that golden,
sticky sweetness from
(you guessed it)
my local grocery store.
So when I got older,
Out of college a few years,
After seeing some success with my lead gen business,
I saw a few people coming into some major dough via Amazon in 2016.
Figured I have a go myself
I started selling like most others,
aka finding high demand products and getting my first sales with my versions of them
But those sales didn’t last long
And my profit margins were next to nothing after ppc ad spend
So I looked for and tried a variety of products to see what worked
As I was collecting different ideas to sell products,
MJ dropped his 2nd book in the market
My mentor lobbed me a copy as an early birthday gift
And there I was reminded of the productocracy
After that, my vision was rekindled
I explored both international and local product opportunities,
like a bald eagle surveys the terrain beneath it,
taking in both product fairs and mom-and-pop grocery stores alike.
This was a lot of work
I mapped out a lot of places to look
And often turned up empty.
I knew there had to be something out there,
and after 2 months of browsing,
surfing the web,
page by page,
traveling to several product fairs,
it hit me as I was bumbling through my old neighborhood,
having traveled home for my birthday
The organic honey that had become my salvation when I was young
Was to become my best-selling product.
But that’s my story,
What’s going to be yours?
Following the easy path or taking the road less traveled like Frost wrote?
If you are going to have a long-selling product on Amazon, you need to take the time to find a great item that is unique.
And that process won’t be as easy as asking Siri or Alexa for the perfect product.
You’ll need to get your work boots on and exercise your prospecting muscles.
3. Need (The 3rd Commandment)
Stuck for product ideas?
Well, what follows should help stimulate your creativity.
You can go to a lot of places to get product ideas to do more research on to see if they might be viable.
When you are browsing either in the mall or online and you see products you are interested in, ask yourself:
How might I be able to create a more ____________ (effective, user-friendly, etc.) version of that item?
The key phrase of this section is:
Make It Better
The foundational understanding that you must have in our materialistic world is that products have been created to solve problems.
And each product solves problems better than some items, and worse than others.
AKA there’s always room for improvement
You can always MAKE IT BETTER.
The historically cliché phrase is “build a better mousetrap”
But here’s its actual origin:
But if you look, there’s been a ton of attempts by manufacturers to make more effective, more “humane,” easier to use rodent catching devices.
Check out the different genres of traps you can pick up on Amazon as of January 6, 2019:
MJ calls this creative process “engineering value.”
Because when you are successful with coming up with improved versions of current products,
you have essentially made a product with greater value than the previous edition.
- Why is this (so unhealthy, dangerous)?
- I hate (having to do x activity, having to put up with this circumstance or kind of weather, etc.)
- I wish (something was better, easier, non-existent, etc.)
Anything inconvenient is an opportunity" - MJ DeMarco
That's a development that came about from the desire for convenience.
Check out this other kind of hammer:
It's a wood handled one, right?
The rubber hammer could be seen as an improvement over the wood hammer, because it's easier to grip and less shock gets transferred to the hand than the wooden one.
The hammer is just one product that has been improved time and time again.
Look around and you'll see a lot more.
MJ’s discussion of value comes with a helpful example illustrating how when you create more value, you can charge a premium, an amount higher than your competitors, and still get a lot of sales.
Here’s two different brands offering similar products,
(two different mouse traps maybe?)
but displaying very different value arrays:
Look again at the description of each product.
imagine you are a shopper,
evaluating both options.
Yeah, you could save 5 bucks by going with product "X,"
but the value that represented by their advertising is pretty low:
- sketchy, antiquated website
- no shipping information
- low quality photography (can't clearly see the products)
Here's a more visual example:
Would you rather buy a product from a website that looks like this:
Or from a site that looks like this:
If the first website had a product listed at 29.99
while site 2 had it listed for 34.99,
which would you choose?
Site 2 clearly frames the value of the product and bonuses,
having updated images and a up-to-date user interface.
the first website screams like a banshee that it was made in 1999.
And if the site is old,
the question must be asked:
"Has the product been made in a similar fashion?"
I wouldn't want a 20 year-old product,
the second site/product Y,
since it has done things well,
it can command a premium price,
22% more than the competition.
Conclusion of the Commandment of Need
The bottom line here is this:
There's endless opportunities to improve products and while you are doing so,
you can skew the value of your product by offering add-ons that increase the trust and convenience around the sale of your product.
4. Time (The 4th Commandment)
there's two kinds of time:
2 Types of Time:
1. free time (you can do what you want in this time)
2. time you use to make money (MJ calls it "indentured time")
When you are working a 9-5,
you are getting paid based on the hours either that you've worked (by the hour)
or by the time you've agreed to work (salary)
your goal isn't simply to make money,
or be profitable
or make sales.
But it's bigger than that
you don't merely want money,
you want freedom
the ability to go where you want,
when you want,
with whom you want,
And not have to worry about how you're going to ask for the time off
or who's going to foot the bill to the exhotic location #Bali
Therefore, in order to accomplish this level of freedom,
you need to set up a business,
a cash generating machine,
that operates apart from you
That keeps going and going and going like the Energizer Bunny
Now, this section of time is more about finding a way to structure your business so that you are not involved in the day to day operation.
And with Amazon,
that means getting everything up (product selection, supplier, packaging, listing, etc.) and
then creating and training a team to do the nitty gritty daily tasks
and then hiring an experienced manager to keep an eye on each part
(like making sure all your listings are active and not suspended,
assuring that your ppc campaigns are running,
and tracking shipments of products and making sure that you won't go out of stock
because no products to sell means no sales,
which means no money coming in)
Structuring Your Amazon FBA Business
Here's a few simple ways that you can set up structure your business:
1. Roles (job descriptions)
Map out the different tasks that need to get done in your business and then group those tasks to form different positions (administrative (shipment tracking, listings monitoring, paid ads management (FB, Google, Amazon Sponsored), graphic designing, copywriting and more.
You can then use these descriptions in a variety of ways like:
- Placing them on job boards when you are looking for employees on Upwork or Onlinejobs.ph
- Monitoring an Employee's progress (The descriptions serve as evaluation metrics)
2. Writing an Employee Manual
There's many different services that come in and will do the heavy lifting to get your company manual written out.
In this manual, you'll detail different policies, working expectations and more.
Pro Tip: include common sense behaviors/practices as well. If something seems common sense to you, it's still wise to have it in the manual as it might not be known by others.
Just google: "employee manual writing services"
and explore the results.
3. Hiring an assistant to put together SOP's (Standard Operating Procedures)
Having detailed SOP's adds tremendous value to your business, as it increases the scalability as well as the "sale-ability" of your business (the valuation will be higher the more you can separate yourself from it).
Imagine you are describing each department of your business (marketing, shipping, listing optimization, supplier selection, etc.). How is each decision made? This will almost be an in-depth step-by-step guide to doing your business.
Super valuable if you want to sell your entire operation in the future.
Just keep in mind that your goal is not to create another full-time job for yourself, but to create freedom for yourself and your family.
You can easily find activity to fill up the hours,
but do you create a focused plan action that,
after a few years of hard work,
to not be stuck and your dead end 9-5
because you've created a lot of value for other people
has resulted in you being set for life financially
able to go where you want
just on a whim
not having to scrimp
and save just to make ends meet.
This section is more of a bigger picture of the trajectory you need to map out,
to mentally and strategically create your success on paper before you create it in real life.
Write out your plan to have a successful life.
Then live it.
5. Scale (the 5th Commandment)
The final element you'll want to make sure that you're able to accomplish is scale.
Scale occurs generally in one of two situations:
1. Massive Numbers (Sell a lot at a low price)
2. Magnitudinal Sales (Sell a few for large cost apiece)
When you are selling FBA,
generally you'll be aiming at the former,
as your price is likely to be between $19.99 to $59.97 dollars per product,
and your profit margin will be around 25% - 35% (mine averages 31.4% between multiple products).
One of the easiest ways to scale is through subscription.
Does the product/market combination you are looking to get into allow for subscription?
For instance, one seller I know has successfully scaled their business through enabling regular tea drinkers to buy organic tea via a monthly subscription.
That guarantees multiple sales versus a single sale.
Since tea is a consumable,
it makes sense that after a reasonable amount of time,
people would want more as their current supply would be used up.
And rather than make them search amazon for tea every month,
this seller has created the subscription service,
which brings the customer tea every 30 days.
One of my products (mentioned earlier)
which I found at my local grocery store,
is organic honey.
When I was young,
locally produced honey helped me get over some allergies (solved a problem).
So when I started looking into selling on Amazon,
I remembered this problem-solving product
and it turned out to be a really good hit for me.
There's a huge audience of people looking to solve their problems naturally,
so my market was wide open
and since honey is a consumable,
people needed it regularly.
So I began to offer it on a subscription basis, which enabled people to have honey regularly delivered to their home
and enabled me to establish additional recurring income
(lead gen income was still coming in like clock-work, as it has for several years).
Conclusion of the 5th Commandment
Make sure that you pick a product that is a consumable or is closely related to a consumable, so that you can branch out and then expand into the consumable market.
Have you enjoyed the brand-positioning lessons and want to learn more about productocracies?
Check out this 6 minute video of MJ himself explaining the CENTS commandments:
Interested in finding out about the CENTS business that is the simplest to start?
Check out my number 1 business recommendation below: