E2 - Danny McMillan - Amazon Marketplace Optimization and 3 Different Business Models to Avoid Risk
|Awesomers Origin Story - We'll talk to an Awesomer about where they came from, the triumphs and tribulations they have faced and how they are doing today. An Awesomer Origin story is the chance to hear the backstory about the journey our guest took on their road to become awesomer. These stories are incredibly varied and the takeaway is that awesomers come in all shapes, sizes, backgrounds, creeds, colors and every other variation possible. On your awesomer road you will face adversity. That’s just part of life. The question as always is how YOU choose to deal with it.
Global speaker and host of Seller Sessions: The no 1 Podcast for Advanced Amazon Sellers
Danny is an international speaker on Amazon marketing optimization and is an active e-commerce seller in the USA and Europe.
Danny has open collaboration and sharing at his core with a drive to dismantle, optimize and share his deep-learning, analysis, research and train wrecks with peers and the community so that you don’t have to.
He is a survivor of the former music industry and serial startup entrepreneur. For the last couple of years, he has focused on Amazon FBA. Danny has appeared on numerous podcasts along with contributing to industry bible Webretailer.com.
Danny has been guest speaker at The Smart China Sourcing Summit, The European Private Label Summit, The Private Label World Summit and The Great Escape, AMZCon / Private Label Day to name a few.
Find out how you can successfully validate your business in as little as a three-day period, before even launching and raising capital.
In this episode, Danny McMillan explains how he went from a struggling student with learning difficulties to an Amazon FBA expert and a serial entrepreneur.
Here are more awesome gold nuggets about today’s episode:
How Danny overcame lightning bolts and adversity and used them as an opportunity to reset his life.
Why a steely determination is one of the most effective tools in the learning process.
The right questions you need to ask to validate your business before doing anything else.
And why Danny focuses on three different business models to avoid risks.
Stay awesome and listen below to hear how you too can take charge in transforming your life and validating you business model.
Steve: Everybody today on the Awesomer’s podcast we're gonna talk with Danny McMillan. Here's a little bit about Danny's background: Danny's an international speaker on Amazon marketing and optimization and he's an active ecommerce seller in the USA and in Europe. Danny has an open collaboration and sharing at its core with a drive to dismantle, optimize and share his deep learning, analysis, research and even his trainwrecks with peers and the community at large so that you don't have to experience the same pain. He's a survivor of the former music industry and a start-up serial entrepreneur without a doubt. For the last couple of years he's been focused on Amazon FBA. He's appeared on numerous podcasts including his own Seller Sessions which is the number one podcast for advanced Amazon sellers and he contributes to the industry Bible webretailer.com. Danny's been a guest speaker at all kinds venues across the world including the Smart China Sourcing Summit, the European Private Label Summit, the Private Label World Summit, The Great Escape and ZCon and so many more. I am thrilled to have Danny McMillan with me today.
Steve: Okay everybody, welcome back to Awesomers. It's great to be back and today we have a special guest, Danny McMillan. How are you Danny?
Danny: I'm good. Thank you for having me.
Steve: It's certainly a pleasure to have you and I couldn't help from the accent to notice that that doesn't sound American. Where are you from Danny?
Danny: I'm based just outside of London but I’m originally born in London.
Steve: Okay, fair enough. and so I know you and and I already know that you're Awesomer but help our audience understand kind of what you do in your day to day world. What do you spend your time doing mostly?
Danny: Okay. My life is split into various different areas though my day starts with Asia into the UK into the US. I run three businesses. One’s an Amazon product business where we’re in Home Kitchen and in Topicals. I’ve also got an agency with my partner Ellis who is the guy behind Jungle Scout. We’ve got a PPC service agency that does automation. It’s managed accounts as well. We can do international page like multilingual PPC and we mainly manage large accounts. I also got a service business as well which is in the construction industry. I also host Seller Sessions which we publish three times a week and I also do public speaking on all things Amazon.
Steve: So basically what you're saying is you only work in about half time. That’s a pretty light scheduled there, very impressive. Knowing how many pots you’re hands are stirring at one time, plates you’re spinning - whatever metaphor you prefer, do you find it rewarding to you or stressful to you?
Danny: No, I love every minute of it. I enjoy what i do. If I didn’t like it, I’d have to get it removed from my life. I got to that age, I’m 42 now. I want to enjoy my life. This is going to be stressful from time to time but if you are passionate about what you do, that’s what gets you up in the mornings. If I hated what I do, like I don’t do things for the purity of money. I don't go - oh I go and do that because it's got zeros on the end of it. I do things that could add meaning and if you make meaning you would make money.
Steve: Well, that's quite right. You know, it reminds me of the old saying, if you want something done give it to a busy person. You're certainly producing the results there so before we dive further into kind of what you do, and i want to ask more questions about the agency and the size and the clients you take on and so forth, we're gonna take a quick moment for a sponsorship break and pay some bills; but when we come back, just to tease this up, we're going to talk about Danny's origin story: where did he come from and that's gonna be very interesting so stay tuned.
Steve: Okay, we’re back everybody. Danny, so I know you mentioned that you were from London. Is that where you're actually born?
Danny: I was born in Stepney in East London, yep.
Steve: Alright, so you probably know all the really good cockney accent and slangs from the nearby towns.
Danny: Yes and the pie and mash shops and things like that.
Steve: Yes, those are some of my favorite, the pie and mash shops. That's a great visual right off the bat so I love that. Now, what did your parents do when you came into this world? What kind of vocation did they have?
Danny: Well, it's a bit of a strange one. I don't see my father and when I was a baby my father left so it was just me and my mum really and my mum was a one parent family. By the time I went to infant school, we have like child care. Then she would pick me up from work. So she worked in shipping actually, a company called OCL, back to late 70s, early 80s time. I didn't think you know, obviously shipping over from China now there’d be some relevance there but no she used to do coordination in shipping.
Steve: Yes, I think OCL was like Ocean Container Liner or something. It’s a pretty big company, still exists today as far as I know.
Danny: I'm not aware but yes it's not too far. It’s based in Raynham which is funny enough, I use a shipping company which is probably about 15 miles down the road from there.
Steve: Wow amazing. It's interesting to see those parallels; sometimes they overlap, sometimes they don't. Do you have any siblings - any brothers or sisters?
Danny: Not that I know of. Apparently, I'm an only child at this time.
Steve: If anybody out there is a sibling to Danny, please contact us we'll get you guys in touch. It’d be a great future show. What did you do with schooling? Did you attend university?
Danny: I didn't. I mean I struggled at school. I had learning difficulties. When I was young I had problems like with hearing and stuff. They didn't discover it for a while and so I struggled in school. It's like when I went to what we called like a senior school I didn't finish school. I could barely read and write if I'm honest with you but I did have a large accident. So at the age of 15 and three months you're able to work and get like your national insurance card and I worked at the British Gas building. I was doing suspended ceilings and partition walls and half a ton of glass wall collapsed on me. Even if I wanted to finish school which I didn't enjoy school, I couldn't anyway so I'm lucky to be alive for now. I've got like 80 stitches across my stomach, either four broken ribs, liver laceration, broken diaphragm - lot of injuries but I was under some powerful new hospital and they had progressive doctors there who played a big part in saving my life and that was my wake-up call in them early days to build the life that I wanted to move forward with now because as someone who wasn't very well educated, it left me limitations but then that accident actually was one of pivotal points which changed my life.
Steve: Yes, it's a fascinating story to have you know a thousand pounds or have a ton of plasterboard land on top of you. It’s one of those lightning bolts we talk about from time to time, an unexpected and unwelcome surprise but you got to deal with it and it sounds like you did it. Boy your resilience is extraordinary to have all of that. So because you are able to kind of carry on after the accident obviously you recovered and so forth, instead of the University did you find yourself working and if so what kind of role?
Danny: My first official job was working in a fish slicing Factory. I mean as a kid I worked doing paper rounds and I worked in the butchers and things like meat places. I'm not sure what you call butchers in the US.
Steve: We also call them butchers.
Danny: So yes I was doing those kind of jobs and then I did some spraying and French polishing but what I really wanted to do is to get into the music industry. After the accident I thought, I didn't enjoy school but I knew I wanted to do something related to music. Back then, Acid House had just kicked in. You could make music on computers so it's just started to change over with synthesizers. What happened was you could be a record producer. You didn't have to be a very good musician per se but you could program beats and stuff like that. I always wanted to get into the music industry. I even wrote to a local mayor and he pretty much laughed and said, “Why don't you become a carpenter?” Because it didn't make any sense. It is very difficult to get an engineering job or college with an esteemed engineering school back then and it'd been very costly. I made it into the music industry by working in record label. I started in PR on promotions and then built up from there.
Steve: Just to ask a question - so when you started out you're like I'm going to get in the music industry and people kept turning you away like, “No, no, you'll be a carpenter. Kid, forget that idea.” This is a common thing. No matter where your path takes you, normies from the outside world - these are not Awesomers but normies, are like, “No, no, just get in your lane. Go be a carpenter and get with the program.
Danny: People say go and get a real job, go and get an education, go and do that. When I learned to read and write on a more advanced level was when I have a steely determination. I wanted to do record review so I could get free vinyl so that I didn't have to pay for the vinyl. When I did DJ gigs it wasn't as expensive to do so but then I thought well I don't have to use a computer and I'm not very good at reading and writing but the things like that make you learn, it gives you that steely determination. I improved my reading and writing. I wouldn’t say it's great today but I've been proving my reading and writing through wanting to do something whereas at school I hated school so therefore I didn't want to learn so I was disinterested. Does that make sense?
Steve: Oh totally does. This is again one of those issues of motivation, right? In school - hey, do this do that and it's often presented in such a way that is undesirable, annoying and in my son's case he also dislikes it immensely and he has no motivation to do it whereas if he needs to learn a skill to play his favorite video game or to pursue his interest like you did, he's all for it. Your motivation was to be in that. I like the clever way you got free albums. That's very very smart.
Danny: Yes and that was my goal. Our first couple of years I bummed around in in jobs I didn't enjoy to try and get that break and the break comes from working a record label for saying like 100 pound a week. I’d only moved out of home, very limited on my resources. Rent somewhere back then and food and travel and doing the job on the hundred pounds a week was quite tricky to do and then you start to learn the business and you moved to other labels and you start to grow up from there. I fully got into the music industry once I was pretty in, I've got an opportunity. With my accident I got a payout a few years later. So what we did, me and my now wife is that we put deposit down on our first home and I pulled some cash aside and I bought studio equipment that I could have at home so I had hardware samplers, sequencers, keyboards and stuff like that. That was the advantage of the accident, it gave me a cash windfall and with that I felt that I'd done quite well of it because I put myself on the property ladder at 19 years old.
Danny: Then my first house was something like 48,000 pounds and you know you'd laugh nowadays.
Steve: Crazy low amount.
Danny: So I buy the property I'm still employed, working in the record company and if I buy a studio I can then make records outside that time to get me on my road to where I wanted to go
Steve: Well I just love the the can-do attitude you know it's a common thing for Awesomers to end up being scrappy, right? You were able to leverage that payout from the accident which was well deserved, no doubt, and be able to put yourself not just in studio equipment which is already an industry but also having the home - a little bit of security. It sounds to me like your mind wanted a little of each, right? A little future adventure, a little bit of security - is that how you saw it?
Danny: Yes, most people at the age of 19 would have partied that money away wouldn't they? I thought well I don't know when the next windfall would come from. It’s that scarcity thing when you're young and you know you don't come up with a huge amount of money. A windfall could be two ways for people that come from a poor background. You know some people just don't know. That was my small lottery but lottery winners are notorious for spending their money away because they don't know what to do. It's almost they're embarrassed with their lot and they almost have to get rid of it. Then you see a lot of lottery winners will go, not bankrupt but they'll be poor again, within a few years of winning that money. Back then I think because I had a path and I knew I wanted to go and I looked it in, I thought - well we need a home, got family and I want a studio. I didn't know if the music industry thing like making records would work but it was a shot I couldn't waste, solid equipment with a 40% cheaper price if you didn't work out.
Steve: Sure. I really I love the the ideas that Awesomers come up with which is I'm going to try to make the most of this opportunity. It is really counterintuitive for you at that age to have placed some equity into the equation and I definitely believe that equity along the way is a smart thing, take some money off the table. Really surprising at 19 years how you're able to figure that out. Let me ask you this Danny, as you mentioned one of your defining moments, obviously that accident. But now you're outside of the the music business, how did that transition come about?
Danny: Well, the transition for that is that in 2000. I had a reasonably good music career so that there's a Wikipedia entry and in 1998 just on the music side I had my major breaks. I released mix albums and I was involved, like in the US you've got the break beat scene. I came to Miami and see Miami breaks and we come back to the UK and there was a culture that built around it. It was called new school breaks and part of that I ended up being on the show on Kiss 100. They host on a weekly basis and I blew up as part of the scene and that's where I got my chance from being in a niche. That allowed me to travel the world for a few years DJing making records etc but like with anything in music industry it has to come to an end. I got around to 2006, 2007, 2008 I was transitioning from a being record producer running a label into an audio engineer, mastering digital recordings as well and I used to teach a lot of the colleges. But I wanted to look for my next move and I met someone from Hatton Garden, the gold district here in the UK. He approached me about setting up an online music project of some kind, a community. Back then what the F do I know about the internet, and he went, “Don’t you worry, we will learn.” And that’s what we did. So we end up setting up Rythmics in about 2008. We spent about 30 months in production. You know all the things you should never do but you do all of them. My baptism of fire is going from the music industry to going to the internet absolutely clueless. I could use email, basically Myspace, Vevo and social profiles before Facebook really took off but absolutely clueless. We went on this big rampage, building this all for everyone, trying to build something and then no one came and then screwed up all the SEOs. It was an absolute disaster but it was the best learning in the world. That was really my big transition. I got 10 years worth of understanding how online works in my 24 month period.
Steve: So often we learned the most when we embark on a mission that we’ve never done before which is what sounds like what you and your partner did there. When it doesn’t go well, oh man, oh man, that learning comes at speeds that are really ridiculous. That experience, what did you do from there? How did you parlay that experience into something?
Danny: Basically what happen from there, It was a rough couple of years from 2008-2010; we have to lay off members of the team, we try to change direction, we spent too long launching, we didn’t get our economic model right. Everything kind of went wrong. It was one of those things, you know where, If I was 2 years ahead of the curve and had some online experience, I may have salvage it. But because I was absolutely clueless and never ever done it before, it was like me trying to be a professional basketball player and then walking out onto the court. I never played basketball in my life. And then you act to learn for baptism on fire. But you are never going to recover to be any good. You are always going to be a disappointment or it’s going to go wrong because you simply had none of the foundations and that’s what we didn’t have. But what we are looking at the reflection is that I learned not how to build businesses from that. And the biggest takeaways from those experiences is I’ve launched number of businesses but now instead of building a company, I run traffic to a landing page. I’ll validate it, just from the landing page. The model, before logo, sitting in the boardroom, and talking about branding and all those kind of stuff, I do validation. Can I get the traffic? Who the type of traffic? What kind of revenue can I generate? How big's the market? What is my routes to market? Simple as that and I can find out in a three-day period so I would now build every business that way where it starts off slow and I'll validate the market first before doing everything and that has been my biggest lesson from that.
Steve: The power of the internet cannot be underestimated when it comes to this. You’re quite right. In the old days, even in 2008, 9 and 10 timeframes and certainly before, often it is a common thing to go raise some money, put a team together, we think we have a good idea, ran a focus group or we didn’t - it doesn’t matter and we build this entire company around the idea of if we build it will they come? Today you could just build it and see if they come or not and throw ads out and see if your ratios are right. Well, what a great lesson and what a good silver lining to take away from that. Now you don't bother building a business that hasn't been validated.
Danny: No that's it. I just validate first before doing anything; before raising money. I went from there to a ticketing company and they raised money there. I was the head of digital. I wasn't happy the way the business was ran so I left that after they've raised the money because I didn't want to be involved in how the way the business was working. You learn all these things. You think you're going for these periods and you're going - why is this happening? It's not heading on the right direction but there are catalogue of life experiences that you can move forward and they will never happen again because they're burned in your memory. It won't happen. Nowadays, I won't go and raise outside capital. I can get money like that if I want it, right? What cost does it come at? I got my partners and I like to put my own money up and put my money where my mouth is and if I need a load of money I can go and get it but I'm not interested in that. Does that make sense? I like the control of my own destiny if that makes sense.
Steve: Yes, it totally does. This is a big important lesson for everybody to take note of. The reality when everybody wants to chart their course, at least in my opinion. I think a very good takeaway from Danny's lesson there is if you know what you want, you can decide how you're going to engineer it. Now some guys say, “Hey, I want to build an empire.” They need to go build my outside money, they need to have this and that, but Danny's evaluated for himself what's important what his priorities are, what's going to make him successful and feel fulfilled and that doesn't require the empire building. That just requires building you know in a way that is proper and and useful to you, yes?
Danny: Totally, yes.
Steve: It really is an important lesson. Too often people get confused when they see this guy's doing that and that other guys doing this. This is one of the points of Awesomers to just share there's different ways of getting the job done and creating a life that's worth living. So Danny tell me, as I recall you mentioning that you know you had some lightning bolts hit you that year. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Danny: Yes, so beyond 2008, so the good news is that obviously we set this business up so I transition for the music industry to go online but it was an online music marketplace which grew into a ticket income etc. But while about 2010 we’d burn through half a million even though we run costs quite low but we started a team. We shut the business down in 31st of August 2010 I remember and then I helped write the CVs and use my black book to get all the other guys employed. But then you're at an end of a cycle there so you’re exhausted, you've kept the doors open, there was closure as always coming. You're laying off members of the team along the way which I have regrets about because you should do it all at one chunk instead of that slow hand clap towards the end, does that make sense? So there another set of lessons but what happens - it went from the busiest life to my personal life, it affected as well. Coming in November, I lost my son Riley. He passed away. And in the following July, I lost my daughter Sariah. In the Christma,s we nearly went personally bankrupt because the debts and everything that we had accumulated and it almost gave me that completely reset. You get hit by all directions so you've got your family life which is devastating. Most people will never know what it's like to lose one child, let alone two in a short period of time, then with the financial burden as well. You have to kind of almost - your life hits a reset button, if that makes sense. So the way I see it now is that we've alluded to about stress and stuff but when you've lost children that is incomparable to anything else. That probably explains why I don't get stressed in business because what is the worst that can happen? Because what's happened is nearly everything that most people would dread has happened and so that gives you a completely different outlook on business on levels of risks and I mean smart risks. Whereas you see a lot of people getting really stressed and bogged down in everything. For me it’s water off a duck's back; if I've got legal stuff to deal with, it’s water off a duck's back. If I've got a shipment from a couple of years ago sending all my stuff to the US that went down, with all my Christmas stock on it, the way I look at things like that I go -I've got to go to the funeral, to my children and then that puts me back into perspective on the business side. That puts me back on the straight path and I think that they’re like landmarks in your life, good or bad. That and when I had the accident when I was fifteen and three months where the two biggest changes in my life
Steve: Why, the amount of adversity that you've faced and and still retain that resilience, it really is extraordinary. That's a really important lesson for the Awesomers out there listening. Let's keep things in perspective. Let's understand that there's important things in life and whatever the issue of the day is it pales by comparison to things that have already been overcome by somebody as awesome as Danny. Thank you for sharing that, Danny. We're sorry for your loss but man oh man that is the right attitude to come out of it. So it sounds to me as you talked about this reset button after all of that tragedy and adversity that you hit some point where you said no I'm going to do something again and how did that switch get finally from the full reset position and into something that had traction?
Danny: Well what happened from there is that… that was today in 2012 and then I was at the head of digital company where I said I wasn't happy. I didn't like the way it was ran. When you're not happy in some way like culturally, you don't like the culture stuff like it doesn't suit and fit who you are. I can't come into this building every day and feel drained the way I feel because I don't enjoy it. So I spoke to a very close friend who's my business partner today across all of our businesses - he puts the money in to the biz or he did in the very beginning just put out the money and said get on with it and you know we split 50-50 that's just the way it works. After that I've got subpartners but he said to me look if you're unhappy let’s come over here do some work with me. So I went and worked on with him on some of these businesses recovering some debt and it taught me a lot about infrastructure on debt and stuff like that and we then looked at various different business model- goes back to the idea of launching. So we launched about three or four different businesses so we could do a wrap around business for someone else. So we'd put them, we'd put these like skill sets and then what we do is we would manage the whole business and then they would go out and do the work and then we look to grow a team around that that makes sense. So we went through four or five of those and one of them in the construction side is still running today as a partner of mine and that's what going back to, yes so it's been over five years now. So that's been successful for us, that's been great. So off the back of that we got to 2015 and I thought I want to reverse engineer marketplace because I've worked in e-commerce I've got a good background and did understand the PPC and stuff. I found Amazon and that's where it really took off for us; discovering Amazon, discovering FBA and yes everything's growing from there and then we build Sellar Sessions and then we've got the agency and we're still growing and trying to spread out with what we're doing today. Basically focus on a diverse portfolio of businesses to avoid risks because you've got a lot of seven-figure say Amazon sellers out there who are struggling to pay rent. They don't add that diversification and they got that risk if their account goes down. For us, we've got three different business models. We've got a product model, we've got a service-based business and then we've got a recurring revenue agency business. Even though they're both service business; ones technology driven, ones non-technology driven, very old-school. In this industry like in the construction side people are still using fax machines and stuff like that but we've modernized what we do and that's what works for us. Does that make sense?
Steve: Totally does, yes.
Danny: A modern take on that.
Steve: One of the questions it raises is how does a company let its culture get to the point where people feel drained to come in. This is a common problem that people face. When they have a traditional kind of nine-to-five job, when it's soul-sucking, people leave. Often they don't leave the job itself. The work is not the difficult part, it's the boss they work for or it's the culture in that organization. Is that what you found in your case? I know you said the culture, was the boss an issue as well?
Danny: Yes I mean, so I don't like to speak bad of people and stuff like that. I just think what I signed up for and what I uncovered was not the same things if that's all I'd like to leave it. I was just like, this is not who I am and what I want to be part of so I felt like the best thing I could do is take myself out of the situation. But you got to remember at that time I'd nearly went personally bankrupt, could have lost the home and everything. So in between, you're in a job that you can love the work but you're stuck with the culture and you're also in a position where you know you need finances and it was very draining. That was a difficult part of my life because I felt I was backed into a corner. It wasn't till my partner said to me, ”Look let's do this you're obviously not happy there. I know that you can build stuff. Let’s put some money in over here and we’ll get rolling with that.” That was another turning point for me, that was the third stand if you like. Well if it wasn't for Steve I probably wouldn't be here today where I am still in that growth mode for our businesses and stuff you know
Steve: Well it really is that true partnership though that you guys were able to put your heads together and get something going and once you get that traction you get that wheel turning as they say then good things happen. Very very inspiring. So let me ask you this. Actually we're going to take another quick break and talk to our sponsors let them share their important messages. When we come back we're going to talk about Danny's best day and then we're going to talk about some of his maybe tips and tricks of how Awesomers can conduct their business. We'll be right back.
Steve: Okay here we are back again talking to Danny McMillan. I really appreciate your time. So far Danny's been extraordinarily valuable to me. I know the Awesomers out there agree. Thank you again.
Danny: Thank you.
Steve: So you know you've talked about some of those defining moments some of those turning points in your life which are extraordinary in every way. Was there a best day in your professional career? Just some day, could have been any point in your time where you just looked up and said you know what I really am glad I'm here, I'm glad I'm doing what I'm doing any of those moments or moments stand out in your mind?
Danny: There's a few. Going back to the music, I suppose putting up my first record is one thing. The second thing is going into a club and hearing one of your favorite DJ's play your record, hearing my my first record on radio, another defining moment that's on the music side. There was even things like, I ended up working with some of your heroes. I'm old now but we're talking about people that were part of New Order and Arthur Baker who worked on Planet Rock with Afrika Bambaataa and Stephen Mallinder from Cabaret Voltaire. People may not know these people but these were really influential electronic artists that you'd look up to. So there's key points there but in terms of if we fast-forward professionally now I would say one of the greatest days was March 30th 2015 and that's when I discovered Amazon FBA. Because what happened is I wanted to find the next move. I looked at do I want to build a software company because of the background I had is at commerce store. So looking around the fort you know I never reverse the engineered marketplaces so let's have a look because there's customers there, I know PPC enough. Alright let's have a look at eBay so I got a load of junk around the house, took pictures in the garden as you do on shabby mobile phones etc in daylight and then I walk to the end of my road to the post office then I realized because I work from home, that the post office had gone two years ago. I don't actually drive, my wife drives. I never learned to drive. Either I have to get trains and commuting to London or whatever it made no sense for me to try. I can't do eBay so I come back with my tail between my legs but when I looked on eBay forum they mentioned Amazon FBA and what’s this FBA stands for. Then when I got to the homepage of FBA - we store your products, we do this. I went like no postman, alright this makes sense. It's like they're just PPC, sponsored ad system and I think that looks like a piece of pie. This is really easy. I ordered some products and I was like I could really do this and got to that point where it was like this is like making records, making a product here and then you're promoting to your marketplace which is your audience, your fanbase. Then when you've done the public speaking it's like I'm going on tour DJing but instead I'm performing by going and there's all these parallels so that's why I love what I do so much now, because it's like revisiting the music industry. Because in the 90s I would export records. It was sold on vinyl they were physical products. What we do on Amazon are physical products as well. So instead of me sitting in the lab in the studio recording I'm actually sitting in front of a computer like you got designers and you put out different ideas and you're working out that product's going to work and how you can improve on it and brand design and marketing strategies and stuff like that.
Steve: That is a really extraordinary point to make that for those Awesomers out there who may not be familiar with FBA, the Fulfillment By Amazon model is basically where you're able to ship product in the Amazon. They handle all the storage and shipping for you and you set up your account and all you do is essentially design or source a product. Now you get that product into Amazon and if you do it right, you do the things that Danny talked about with product design and 3D designers packaging design and you really make it something that is a true brand that's the only way to make equity. If you get it right Amazon could handle a lot of that heavy lifting for you and that is a really unique thing compared to twenty years ago when I started E-commerce those types of services didn't exist. EBay was the only game in town at that stage in terms of marketplaces. Amazon had just come out with something called Z shops in late maybe 99 or early 2000 but it was a disaster to start with so it's really inspiring to see you take the parallels from the music business and put them into the physical products business which is essentially they are the same thing. You're creating a product, you're marketing to an audience and then you're fulfilling on that order when it comes in and ideally engaging the customers long-term.
Danny: Yes it's like you have a hit record and you have a hit product. You have a foul product and you record flops, the vinyl doesn't sell. I had a few of those as well you know but that's all part of the learning process.
Steve: We've all had the flops believe me I could I could tell you a story, how many billions I've wasted over the years on mistakes and flops. I love that, that's excellent best day. It's really cool. So as when you start to wrap up Danny tell me this - is there any kind of tool whether it's an app on your phone or a Shopify plugin or any of that kind of stuff? A Wordpress or you know anything that really is something? That is a favorite tool that helps your business day to day?
Danny: I think that's a hard one because of the different businesses who come across the board. If I was going to be told it can go across the board, it's not a production tool but it's a tool that I've driven to build businesses off. I would say any PPC platform that I use from AdWords to Facebook to sponsored ads because that’s always been a main vehicle for me for the instant visibility by using paid search and I think that's the most powerful tools I've used for any business because if there's no paid search on a platform or a market to me it's not a business I can build. Because I built all of my businesses from scratch with that in mind. As long as there's a paid search version I know that I could probably build a busy stop.
Steve: I tell you that is again such sage wisdom. So Danny earlier talked about the idea of validating and being able to validate in such short periods of time including as few as three days. That's an amazing concept and pay-per-click marketing is one of the strategies that gets you there. You can put up your product and see if anybody cares. It's kind of a fun little hack or cheat to be able to go - does anybody really care about what I'm about to sell or offer? You get to you know hit or flop really fast when you put you data behind it. So, amazing tool. Good suggestion, thank you Danny. So tell us a little bit more about Seller Sessions and also your agency please. I know in the Seller Session one of the things that I love about is that you give so willingly and so generously of your time to connect folks selling on the Amazon Marketplace with lots of resources. How's that going and where do you see the future of that thing?
Danny: So with Seller Sessions, the goal was always your network is your net worth I think is the term people use. It takes it back to the scrappy thing. It's like when I came into the game a few years ago in the US there’s a lot of masterminds and things like that but in the UK there was nothing. We had to build our own infrastructure here. There was nothing going on like monthly events. I know a lot of the people over here and there was nothing to begin with really but we all together work to build an infrastructure so... I lost my train of thought.
Steve: You’re right on point. Because you had to build it in the UK, Sellar Sessions came to be.
Danny: Yes, so with Seller Sessions for me, the goal was, I believe in paying it forward. It's like the more you give the more it comes back. I don't see what I've given and who gets back. I just believe the more you give the more you get back and it was my way of giving. I've been out there on a on a regular basis, meeting with great people. I build an infrastructure of people that helps me grow my business. I also become the conduit to help others build their business and with those people that like message me back - I love Seller Sessions, it’s high-level stuff then they shoot it to me which helps me grow my business. It goes forth and goes on and what has happened from that instead of me. I have not maybe back then been in a position to go to paid masterminds, I achieved the similar results by giving back and doing Sellar Sessions and I got a chance to meet great people who would share information with me either privately or on the show and that's what it's about really. It's about putting content front and center and meeting new people and networking.
Steve: Well again it reminds me one of my favorite quotes from the great Zig Ziglar. For those who don't know, he was a great motivational sales speaker back in the last 20, 30 years. One of the things he used to say, I'm paraphrasing here, but you can have everything you want in your life if you help enough other people get what they want in their life.
Steve: And Danny lives up to that every single week. You put out three shows a week with seller sessions, is that right?
Danny: That's right, yes.
Steve: Amazing. Great productivity, great show. I hope everybody jumps over there and subscribes. Tell us quickly about your Amazon agency. What kind of customers do you look for there?
Danny: So mainly what we wanted to do is build an agency whereby large companies with large and lots of skill sets were able to go to an agency where it's affordable, where their sales go up but our price doesn't. So what I mean by that is that normally when you work with an agency they want a percentage of revenue. They want a percentage of your profit or worse than that they want a percentage maybe of your average spend. With those three metrics, it’s very easy to trick those metrics to get more out of people. Like you want to earn more money, encourage them to spend more on advertising but that isn't necessarily the way people want to work and if you've got thousands of SKUs it's very hard for it all to be done manually. We've got sophisticated algorithms so it's part managed and 80% is automated. We were able to take people on that maybe have a thousand SKUs and they're adding 100 SKUs a year but their price isn't starting to shoot up. Normally with a model like that, there's an increase. So the idea is that you can grow your business by adding more SKUs. We will set up the campaigns but you are always going to pay a fixed price.
Steve: Amazing. That is a very attractive model. Having been a large advertiser and used agencies for years myself of every size managing hundreds of thousands even millions of dollars a month in ads spent, the idea of having some sort of fixed cost with a clear service level is very attractive to someone like that. Very interesting. So Danny, tell us where we could find you online or your various businesses?
Danny: If you want to check out the podcast, go to sellersessions.com. If you want to check out the agency, go to sellersessions.com/agency. If you need to get in contact with me, got any questions about Amazon it’s firstname.lastname@example.org and if you wanna reach me at the agency its email@example.com.
Steve: Just for everybody's benefit and Danny's as well these types of links will be shown in the show notes just as always. We'll have all the the various little links for you to make sure that we get them down and easy for you. Danny it's been a tremendous pleasure to have you here today. Thank you again for your time and as we close up I just wonder if you have any words of wisdom for Awesomers out there? Maybe they're struggling, maybe they're thinking about starting a business. Just any words of wisdom that have helped you or you think that could help them.
Danny: I think you need to block everyone out, the signals out. If you're passionate about doing something, be smart about what you're trying to achieve. Validate first. Don't worry about building logos etc just validate your business. Ultimately the only person you need to worry about in business, in the sense that you're going to have your critics, is you. The only thing that you can do is, the buck stops with you and you need to invest in you. If you believe something wholeheartedly, you have to put up your own money and you have to back yourself. That comes through confidence and expect to fail but it's how you come back which is very much important.
Steve: Wise words spoken there everybody I hope you're listening and taking clear instruction from those very wise words so thank you again Danny McMillan. We will be back right after this.