Building a brand is a complicated business. It starts with understanding the market. It requires development of quality products that address real needs in that market. And, it takes a lot of work and momentum to get noticed and to stay relevant.
Traditionally, building a brand has involved spending a lot of money on awareness campaigns, accompanied by giving away a lot of product away before sales start to catch up and turn into profits.
Fortunately, in the information age, the amount of time it takes to build a brand and launch profitable products has decreased dramatically.
Amazon is part of this acceleration process.
Many smaller brands are ditching traditional branding strategies altogether and heading straight for Amazon to launch their products. The promise of immediate sales leads to hopes of fast profitability.
While this strategy does work, the landscape on Amazon is changing so rapidly that building a brand solely on Amazon does not put your brand on a solid foundation for long-term success.
In this article, we will discuss some key strategies for building your brand on AND off of Amazon. We will also discuss a few tips and secrets that will ensure the long term viability of your brand.
Creating and Protecting Your Brand’s Identity
- The first step in building a brand is creating an identity. It starts with a quality product. If your product is not something that certain groups of people will rave about (even small groups), then you are fighting an uphill battle. You need a product that literally speaks for itself. One that buyers will eagerly want to share without being prompted.
If you don’t have such a product, it doesn’t mean you should give up, it just means you may want to spend a little more time developing your product to be the best that it can be.
- After you have a quality product in the works, it is important to name it and give it an identity through the right logo, colors, fonts, and other graphics.
- Once your product and branding is worked out, you need to protect your work through proper patents and trademarks. All of your intellectual property should be legally protected before you risk exposure to pirates who are eager to plunder and pillage your ideas. If you wait until a competitor steals your work, it is probably too late.
Getting Exposure for Your Product
It used to be that if you created a nice listing on Amazon in a popular product niche, that sales would just start happening organically. While this is still true in some instances, getting sales out of the gate requires real work to get attention and attract sales.
You need to have a plan to create exposure for your product and generate interest.
- Start with family and friends. Ask them to buy your product. Maybe give them a small discount, but don’t give it away free. After all, if your family and friends won’t fork out a few bucks to buy your product based on its own merits, what makes you think complete strangers will do it?
- Use giveaways and coupons on and off of Amazon. Amazon offers clip coupons that are visible right on the listing page. Social media is another great place to distribute coupons, but there are also launch sites that specialize in distributing coupons to buyers who are eager to try out new products. As with family and friends, be careful about huge discounts. If you can’t get buyers to buy your product without a huge discount, then it is either overpriced to begin with, or is not a valuable as you think.
- Use Amazon sponsored ads to boost exposure. Take a little time and create a list of relevant keywords for your product, then allocate some ad spend toward testing these keywords. If you run automated targeting ads, you will also uncover new keywords, as well as related products you can target for more focused exposure.
Build an Audience off of Amazon
If Amazon suspended your account tomorrow, where would your brand be? If your answer is: “out of business,” then something is missing in your marketing strategy. I am not saying you should “game” Amazon’s system and try to misuse customer information. Amazon is very strict about how you can use “their” customers’ info.
What I am saying is that you should take the time to build an audience off of Amazon.
- Start with a simple website highlighting your product. Believe it or not, many buyers on Amazon will actually go to Google to research a brand they have never heard of before. If you don’t have a website, you lose a bit of credibility. More importantly, your website is an integral part of creating an audience.
- Next you should build a social media presence. For the same reason you need a website, you also need social media pages to build credibility and build an audience.
- Engage in list-building activities. Run ads on Facebook, Google and other platforms. Drive traffic to your website, learn about buyer behavior and patterns (using tools like FB Pixel) and most importantly, get contact information. This list of potential buyers can be used to send traffic to your website or to boost sales on Amazon. Either way, you own the list and Amazon cannot dictate how you use it.
Join Amazon Brand Registry
Amazon Brand Registry is a special suite of marketing tools and protections specifically designed for brands on Amazon. The only requirement is that your brand needs to have an official trademark registration number from the US Patent and Trademark Office (or the equivalent from a foreign country). Once you receive your official trademark registration number, your next step should be to enroll in Brand Registry.
Brand Registry bolsters your exposure and protects your brand in the following ways:
- Brand Registry allows you to create your own micro website on Amazon. You can highlight your products, your brand, and track visitor traffic to the site.
- Brand Registry Allows for creation of Enhanced Brand Content in your listings. This includes features such as adding video to your listing, as well as areas for more images, graphics and visually stimulating descriptions.
- Brand Registry also opens the door to create headline banner ads and Amazon content network ads that project your brand and products beyond the scope of search results.
- Brand Registry also allows for greater protection against pirates and ne’er-do-wells on Amazon. Brand Registry allows you to utilize brand gating, which makes it impossible to list on your listing without your approval. It also makes it easier to remove other sellers and listings that infringe on your brand rights.
Protect Your Reputation
Amazon can be a hostile environment for new brands and products. Sales for your product will not reach full potential until you have some positive reviews on your listing. But, positive reviews are not enough. You must also monitor negative product reviews and seller feedback diligently to keep your image clean.
If you feel the negative review is unfair or inaccurate, there are ways to get it removed, but first you should be humble are try to see how the negative review could potentially make your product (or your sales pitch) better.
Amazon has made many changes regarding product reviews recently. It is no longer a good strategy to “buy” reviews of your product. Somehow, Amazon always seems to know when Auntie has written a review for your product, or when the reviewer received your product for free. They can and often do remove reviews that seem contrived or inauthentic.
You must be able to rely on natural, organic reviews for your product. Again, this is why your product has to be the best it can be, and has to evoke a response in the buyer that drives them to want to tell others about it.
Make Smart Inventory Planning Decisions
Finally, don’t make the same mistake many sellers make. Don’t stock out. Nothing kills momentum for a product launch faster than running out of stock. Do whatever it takes to make sure you have product in stock and that you have enough of it to meet demand when sales start to take off.
Building a brand on Amazon is not for the faint of heart. The good news is that you don’t have to go it alone. The most successful brands and product launches rely on experts to help navigate their way to success.
If you are looking for an expert, look no further than KCS Marketing. We are here to guide you through every step of the process. Contact us today for a free consultation. We’d love to help you be the next big thing on Amazon!