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TUNE IN TO HEAR ABOUT
- The different ways you can use amazon to distribute your products
- The chicken and egg situation happening on Amazon AU
- How an original idea isn’t always the best thing
- What kind of businesses the platform will work for
- What you need to do to gain traction on the platform
- How education and training is a must
- Amazon vs the traditional sales funnel
Jo and her business partner Aley are co-founders of award-winning GoTrovo Games. She loves adventure and action, and having fun with her boys out and about in the great outdoors. Jo even holds a private pilot’s licence! Which all means that creating the kind of fun they believe in here at Gotrovo, and getting the boys to act as product testers, suits them down to the ground. The dynamic duo have BIG plans for the future and want to grow a community of people that want to make every day with their kids count.
CONNECT WITH JO
Anna Jonak [00:01:24] Welcome to Episode 54 of the Raising Her Game Podcast. Anna Jonak here driving the podcast bus today and I am beyond excited as I get to chat to one of my favourite Mastermind students, Jo Cumberbatch, and all about her incredible business and the journey that she's been on, tapping into the beast, that is Amazon. Cannot wait to dig into this. But first, let me introduce you to this legend and all about her business. So, Jo is one half of GoTrovo and I say one half because Aley is the other half. And together, these two women are one magical team. And as you’re gonna see together, these ladies have done some incredible awe-inspiring things on their business journey. Like it has blown my mind. Now these ladies are, as you're going to hear similar accent kind of [both laugh] two mums from the UK. And, I love the fact that like so many of us, you wanted to start your own thing. You wanted to do your own thing around your kids and in your words, Jo, I'm going to say this not mine, that you ladies discovered you had no talent for cookery or crafts and you had to get bit more creative when it came to a business. And I'm sure that maybe neither of you thought you'd go down the route that you have gone down. But ultimately, your little people who are now like, I think you've got 6 between you or 7 [Jo says "7"] 7 upwards is it? Seven kids did you say?
Jo Cumberbatch [00:02:38] Yes. Seven kids aged five to eleven.
Anna Jonak [00:02:40] Holy moly. Seven kids and you when you've done so much in and around the kids and it, well, they inspired the journey of you creating a business which kind of all sat in around creating family games. And you guys are, how old is the business now? You've launched in 2012?
Jo Cumberbatch [00:02:54] 2012. Yes, that's what, almost seven years, which is scary.
Anna Jonak [00:02:59] That is scary. But as we said, time flies, right? We were just saying that before the call. But your flagship product which I personally have got to say, have played many times in the backyard with my kids is the Family Treasure Hunt Game and it is one of those games that you get for the kids when they don't want to stop playing it. They just want to go back out and lay the treasure hunt and go finding things. And, I've got some fantastic pictures and memories of my kids playing this game. But it's not just mine. You have sold, which just blows my mind, over 45,000 units worldwide. And just this year, you won the Gold 2019 Mum's Choice Award. Congratulations. Welcome. Wow. What else do you want me to say? [both laugh]
Jo Cumberbatch [00:03:54] Oh wow! When you said all of that, it makes it sound like it's been so easy and it's all come flowing in.[both laugh] We've worked hard and there's being like that squiggly line of success. But what I would say is that almost seven years in, the progress in the last year has been exponential compared with the six years before that because we've had the guidance from you and Flori. We've had tracks to run in and we've started to work out the beast, that is Amazon, and made that work to our advantage. The last year has been a great year. The six years before, it’s been tough and there's been some tough bits in the last year too. But yes, we're very proud of our award. Very proud of all we've achieved. We just want to achieve more. We are not done. We are nowhere near. We're not done. We are, we are going places. So, this next year, you better watch us, young lady.
Anna Jonak [00:04:23] Oh, I have no doubt. Like we were just discussing that you guys are on track to turn over close to a million dollars next year. AU dollars on track.
Jo Cumberbatch [00:04:31] Yes, that is the plan. Well, this year and the year we're in now, we should hit the million dollars, US dollars in this financial year that we are in now. So, we've already had some stumbles so far this year but I'm still aiming there. We will still get there.
Anna Jonak [00:04:43] You got to keep aiming. And you know what, as you said stumbles are a part of the puzzle and that wiggly line, we're all on it. I think that, I mean, obviously, we've been part of your journey for the last, I think, it's been 18 months. I swear it's been a bit longer. It's been, it feels like I've known you forever now but it's definitely...
Jo Cumberbatch [00:04:58] It's only 15 months. It feels longer. But it was April last year. It's 15 months, the best 15 months.
Anna Jonak [00:05:03] Oh my God. Seeing the progress that you guys have made in that time in terms of the leaps and bounds that you've made on the beast that is Amazon and not just that, but the personal development that you guys have done. The focus, the way you want to go, where you're getting to, the product development. It's been mind-blowing. But, we'll get into some of that along the journey. I guess what I really wanted to kind of drill down on is, I mean, you guys have done so much like from the fact that you conceptualised this whole game like your hero game in the first place, like something from scratch which you then manufactured. And then from manufacturing, obviously, at one level, you didn't scale that manufacture. And then you tapped into Amazon. I would just love to kind of learn and share with the listeners, I guess, a little bit about that journey. Like how you, like, the steps that you took. How you went from concept to production? And how the hell you found Amazon or why you decided to make that place that you were gonna go and yeah...
FROM CONCEPT TO PRODUCTION
Jo Cumberbatch [00:05:55] [laughs] Nothing else worked. [Anna laughs] So yeah, for those of you starting out early in your journey and you look at it as a million-dollar turnover and forty-five thousand units, that didn't happen overnight. That's seven years work. So, both Aley and I were at the point, we had a chat about starting a business. She had three children. I had three, just twins that were less than a year old. And neither of us wants to go back to corporate life in banking. And, she'd made a treasure hunt for her oldest and she went "well, maybe wait we can start a business". So, we sat down at the kitchen table. We had lots different ideas. And the one that stuck was the treasure hunt. And so, we made a mock-up of it, made a prototype just literally a piece of paper and gave it a go with kids and they liked it and then we kind of just kept trying different things until we, we had a game. Aley, herself would say it was pretty naff.It wasn't, it was amazing but it was not retail standard. It was not something you're going to see in a big toy shop or anything. But what it was, was a good, cool concept. We'd hit on something that people liked, that kind of harked back to our childhood where you're running around outside, running around the house and playing away from the screens and that kind of thing and just good old-fashioned fun. And yes, our friends, our family all bought them and we were like "oh they're just buying them because they know us and they love us and they're trying to encourage us". And yeah, that was true. But then, their friends bought them. And people started to make suggestions and ask things about it. And we thought, right, okay maybe if we invest a little bit more in this. We brought this product to market a thousand units of it, on a 250-pound R and D budget, which was insane when we looked back because we spend a lot more now on our bringing products to market but it proved the concept. So, then we went to a designer and we got a kind of a shiny box done and we got some of the artwork within the product redone. But not all of it. Some of it had been drawn by Aley and her daughter would also colour things and draw some of it. So, we're very attached to that. So that continued through as part of the core of the product and the designer worked around that and created a retail standard box. And we had that box manufactured in the UK. And had various parts manufactured in the UK and then some stuff we bought in from India, some stuff from the USA. So, our supply chain was a nightmare. Every night, I used to sit and I used to make up 20 or 30 games in my lounge, literally cutting rows of dots and counting out card boxes and making these things up. My husband was like "What are you doing? Are you making any money?" [Anna laughs] No, no, but we're fine. We're having fun. We're learning this thing called business. And then we realised after the thousand units that just wasn't gonna wash. We got some third-party help. So, I found a little business in North Hampton where I live in the UK. You could pack these games up for us. Again, wasn't the most efficient. I was still managing stock and take it down in small batches to them. But our sales are starting to take off. At this point, we'd found Amazon. And we'd found Amazon at a good time in the UK. So, it was quite early as a small seller going onto Amazon and it was relatively easy to do and you could put a product on that. It would get found and it would sell as long as you did a couple of things. One was to, to store the stock with Amazon so they fulfilled your orders. Well, that's all good. That means I wasn't going to the post office. And two was just playing a little bit with their advertising platform and just spending a little bit of money. But I mean a little bit like 2 percent of the sales value would get you a sale. That is not the case now. And then we thought we need to scale this. So, we then went to China and we literally went on a platform called Alibaba which has various platforms you can go on to contact Chinese suppliers. It's a risky business because you don't know who you're talking to and you don't know how you find someone and our criteria was as simple as can we communicate with these businesses. We get 10 replies and eight of them, we wouldn't understand the English. They couldn't understand what we're asking so we cross them off. And then the two that we short listed, prototype, what we're looking for and go with quality. And so we found an awesome supplier and we hit lucky that we found a supplier we're still with now, who goes above and beyond I mean to the point where I remember getting a call from her the first time she's packing and saying I've had these sent from your other supplier to pack in them and that they're too fuzzy. They're a little bit softer than I expected. Are these alright. She was so, we told her what we expected and she was checking saying bits are falling off them and actually that sounds horrendous but that was part of that product. Those bits were not necessary. So, it was all good. But she was brilliant. So, she's helped us to get the quality we need. And we've, yeah, we've been with her now for four or five years. So that scaled the business. That meant, I was no longer packing games in my lounge every night. It meant that we had a consistent quality. I had stopped to cool off but it also meant we had a lot of money tied up in stocks. So, we made some fundamental mistakes at that point in order to get the unit cost down. We were ordering basically best part of a year's worth of inventory. That ties your cash up. That means you’ve got to store it.
Anna Jonak [00:10:39] Can I just break and for the record let people know that you guys are very financially minded because I think that a lot of people will be like "Oh my God". And I think that it pays to know that you guys have both got financial backgrounds. And so, when you guys are doing like cost analysis and like thinking about your stock, you've been very proficient and that's one thing that's actually stood out in what you've done the whole way through. Your management and your numbers analysis and seeing what your return is before you made all these decisions. So, that's played a big role in what you do.
Jo Cumberbatch [00:11:07] Yes. As Anna well knows, I made my cash forecast for fun in the evening because I really love my numbers and I need to know that what we're doing long term is going to bring the cash back in and that it's going to bring the profit otherwise, yeah, the tough days when it's all going a bit wrong if you think with. You need to know this product long term is going to work for the business. So yes, I do love my financials. And for those of you scared of financials, try and start small. Try and get in there because if you don't understand your numbers and at some point that could be a shock for you. So, you need to understand that stuff. You don't need to understand the way I do. Well Aley does. We are both trained accountants, so yes, we are going to love that stuff. But do do the Financial Module.
Anna Jonak [00:11:45] I was going to say, did you do... when you obviously see kind of doing all your early stages in manufacturing, were you looking, like how did you go about forecasting and getting to the point where you start, you said, you were like ordering a year's worth of stock, that's pretty like, you know, that's brave. That's ballsy. Like how did you make that decision? Because, obviously, and I'm going to have a chat with someone else about manufacturing in a few weeks but there's a lot of people out there that obviously, when they first start manufacturing, like yourself, they start small because whilst their margins aren't great, they start small because they're testing the product and then as you kind of go.
MANAGING STOCK AND INVENTORY
Jo Cumberbatch [00:12:16] We've done the testing. We've done the testing with the first 250 pounds R and D budget and those first thousand units, we knew there was a market. We just haven't solved two things that the cost price getting it to a level we can make money so that the retail price is reasonable. And then assuming success on that, because we assumed success, we would need more volume. There was no point in getting... and then the way to get that cost price down was to be ordering in greater quantities. I would not advise ordering a year's worth of inventory in one go. Not the most sensible choice. And that was a mistake, really, in many ways, but it was based on getting the unit costs to a level that would make it profitable and make the RRP acceptable. Now I'm running on and I'm doing other thing on the other way. I'm consciously managing my stock with just three months’ worth of inventory and in one time and that is really difficult for other reasons because it takes four to six weeks to manufacture. Four to six weeks to ship and get it in stock. So that's 12 weeks of my 13, 14 weeks, three-month period. So, as soon as the stocks are arriving, I'm ordering the next batch and I really really want to order more. So, I have four or five months to give us something more break. But, in order to free up cash, I need to keep it tighter. And also, there's lots of costs that you cannot account for in a business if you’re not careful like storage and storing a pallet of stock per week cost me two pound fifty in the UK, three dollars in the US. That doesn't sound like much but if you're storing 12 -15 pallets every week in the US and another 10 in the UK, that soon adds up to some pretty hefty costs in your PNL. So, I had to understand those dynamics. I was very clear when I ordered a year's worth of stock that it probably was a year's worth of stock but I could afford that the offset between the lower unit cost and the storage I would pay meant it was worth doing and it meant that when we got that massive success, we had the stock and were ready. That success took longer to come than we hoped. But now I'm in a situation where actually the stock I've just ordered that arrives in April, it was supposed to be three months’ worth, we sold out in just over two months. So, that's an awesome place to be from a sales, marketing, advertising point of view. I'm doing my job. "Oh Sssh. Holy moly, I've got no stock" So I'm literally emailing my freight forwarding saying what's going on and they email me back saying oh the shipment is being delayed, it's stuck, there's too many ships at port. I'm like "Just get that shipped into port get it up to Derby so I can get it to Amazon please". Like we can't do anything I'm just gonna relax [Anna laughs] and you know I'm a control freak, there's nothing I can do. I'm asking the questions. I know these times, I'm going to put that side and look at other things and wait for that parcel to come in.
Anna Jonak [00:14:42] Well, at least it shows people like the realities of the fact that you do have to do stock management and I was talking to another Masterminder, recently she had a similar issue where she wasn't managing her stock at the level that she should have been or just wasn't aware what's going on and suddenly ran out of stock and had to like ship it in or airfreight it in and then it cost her an absolute bomb. So, there's definitely, like some lessons here for people is certainly to, you know, have a good stock management process but equally as you said on top of that is you also have to get your pricing to a point eventually you have to start being brave in the decisions you make and potentially as you said it may have taken longer. But it has paid off in the end with where you are right now.
Jo Cumberbatch [00:15:21] Yes. It has and you look at it and you manage it. So, in the UK, I had the option to shift it all into my garage. And at one point we did that because it saved us 300 quid a month and it was worth doing it. And so, we did that, not on our flagship product, on another product. Yeah, this is an area I manage very closely and very carefully and we've talked before about doing the thousand-dollar tasks and not do the ten-dollar tasks. And I'm a huge believer in that and I spend a lot of time over the last six months shifting ten dollar tasks off my desk and this is a task you could argue is a ten dollar task because when it's all going fine, it's not that important but the minute it goes wrong, you overstock or you understock, you've got a big problem with your business. So, this is still something that's on my plate. I'm looking to outsource it at the moment and I'm being extremely fussy and I'm not even interviewing. Because so far, I've not seen the candidate I think could give the care and attention I need. Not the level of care attention I will give [Anna laughs] because no one will do that as you know Anna, but someone who would do 80 percent of what I would do and if we got our stock for a week or two that's cool but if we got our stock for six weeks, that's my business dead in the water and Amazon, there are a lot of things you can do on Amazon that will hurt your business. But number one thing that will kill your business is running out of stock for more than a few days. They absolutely shut you down. Your algorithms, everything gets blacklisted. To rebuild your sales is very, very difficult. So, running out of stock there to the point where I'm sending 8 units in because I can fiddle about and find 8 units in the garage to get it in this week just to keep myself in stock until the bigger shipments arrive. Eight units is nothing. It's half day in the UK but it's just another half day, it's buying me. And, those are ten-dollar tasks. I get that but right now, my number one priority is to keep my existing business as healthy as possible.
Anna Jonak [00:16:56] I hear you. And just for the record, ten dollar task versus thousand dollar task, just to put this in context is about, we've talked about this with some of our students about time management and when you get to a point when you're running all areas of your business, you have to start to look at where the money makers are and where you should be spending your time to grow your business and where you should be outsourcing to VAs or support staff or hiring people in. And Jo’s done a lot of work over the last six to eight months in terms of like offloading lots of tasks and bringing in a support team so that she can be more focused on what she does best, numbers aside and management aside. So, I'd love to ask you some questions about Amazon as a platform because it's a platform that we don't know much about like I hold my hands up like it's not something that I guess we have a need for particularly in our business. So, you said that originally you went down the route of Amazon, it was easy to set up. Was there any... you said was nothing else is working that's why you went for Amazon.
USING AMAZON AS A PLATFORM
Jo Cumberbatch [00:17:51] Yes. So, we've set up a website and we've waited for the hundreds of thousands of visitors to flood in and the sales to come and oh look, tumbleweed. [Anna laughs] Nothing happened. And, we tried Facebook and we tried Facebook ads but we weren't consistent. We didn't commit to anything at that stage. We just kept trying different things and Amazon was one thing that stuck and essentially, we added an account. We listed.And, in fact, start we didn't get a whole lot of traction. We were struggling to sell 10 units a month on Amazon and then I had a call with an Amazon account manager who said "have you heard of FBA?" Says no. So, I probably use some terminology, so stop me if I use terminology makes no sense. On Amazon, you can list your product and you can either fulfil it yourself. So, the customer orders the Amazon platform. You get an email through saying you've sold X widget and you pop down to the post office and dispatch it. That's FBM, fulfilled by merchant. Whereas, FBA, fulfilled by Amazon, I send X number of widgets into Amazon, they store it. And in fact, what they do, I send it to a central point say Coventry in the UK and they then disperse it around the whole of the UK, allowing them to offer same day or next day delivery on that widget to the customer. So, they've got a much more efficient supply chain than me getting in my car popping to the post office and also, they can offer next day whereas I can never do that. I can't rely on first class post ever getting that next day and I can't track it and all of that stuff the customers now expect to be able to check in at that parcel is down the road and their delivery number three coming up and all that stuff. So he talked me through this process and actually it was cheaper to do. Not only was it more efficient, it was cheaper to do because Amazon subsidise sending the stock into Amazon and then their fulfilment costs are about the same as Royal Mail in the UK. So, it's a no brainer then and in the third dimension which is they then push your listing higher. They put your product out there for more customers because they only want to show customers things that are prime. Things that are going to be next day or same day. So, our business went from selling 10 a month to five times, 10 times that volume purely because we were fulfilling through them, added in the advertising side of things and suddenly our business had gone from 10 units, 10 to 15 units a month to a hundred, 150 units a month. And then we took the decision to take a product that was working in the UK and instead of finding more products, we went global literally overnight. We decided to send stock into the US, will send stock into Canada. We're trying to get stuff out to Japan, will launch all the European countries at the same time. Don't do that [Anna laughs] but if you have got successful products, do look at expanding that. So, if you're successful in the UK then you could take it over to America and Amazon is a great way of scaling. If you've got success in one marketplace, then in theory, the platforms are the same across all of the different marketplaces they offer. There are some slight nuances, obviously language differences in Europe and I have to say Australian, so Amazon dot com dot au is complete dead duck at the moment. I mean there's nothing going on. You Aussies do not like Amazon.
Anna Jonak [00:20:40] Ah we do love Amazon. We just don't like dot come dot au because there's nothing on it.
Jo Cumberbatch [00:20:45] Well, this is the problem. You got a chicken and egg situation. You got merchants like me that don't want to put products on there because you guys aren't buying. But you guys aren't buying because there isn't enough choice on that. So, they are doing a lot of incentivised merchants like me to keep stock in there. But it's hard. The scale is not there. So, if every sale I may come losing a lot over there but of course I want to be in it for the longer term because consumer behaviour will change and you will get more listings and you will start to use it more often especially once you get next day delivery or same day delivery. And Australia is a difficult one for that kind of service because you're so big and sparsely populated versus America. So, you've got literally, you can deliver within an hour in America whereas Australia your years away from Amazon being able to offer that because they'd have to have so many fulfilment centres. But, Amazon will grow in Australia and it will be a good market in time. But, if you were thinking of going to dot com dot au with your product, I wouldn't prioritise. I'd actually prioritise America. I would start with America every time. The market's huge. The American consumer goes to Amazon first. They do the product research on Amazon. They buy from Amazon. So, it's a huge market. For those of you who are selling a physical product, definitely have a look at Amazon dot com. What was the question? [both laugh]
Anna Jonak [00:21:53] I don't even know Jo. I'm just learning about the platform and how you kind of, that's what, why you got onto it, how you got into it. And, I guess what you're doing now is great because I think it would be really useful for people to understand tips like that which are like what you would share with other business considering using it like that which is that for those businesses in Australia maybe not start here, start somewhere else [Jo says "I will start on dot com for sure."] And, you talked about the growth. You talked about what changed with Amazon.
Jo Cumberbatch [00:22:20] Yes. Going to the US is what changed. That changed the business. So, we'd almost got to kind of we got to doing about seventy thousand pounds in the UK on Amazon dot co dot uk and it kind of plateaued and about the same time we'd expanded into the US and it was a bumpy ride to start with. You're going to new country, customs, tax all of that kind of stuff is pretty painful but it's doable. And, that's what our growth has come from. So we went from, in 2015, went into the US. In 2015, 90 percent of our revenue was UK. We launched in September October 2015 and by 2017, 75 percent plus of all revenue is USA. We basically plateaued in the UK. We're now seeing growth as you know, I have literally danced when we've had calls because from in the UK from struggling to 20 percent growth year on year, I'm now doubling year on year and that's down to a lot of facts like the last year and you guys keeping me on track. So, yes, Amazon dot com is a really big platform. What I will say is Amazon's harder to crack now. There are a lot of people out there offering courses and hacks as to how to get round Amazon. Fundamentally, do not go near Amazon unless you have an amazing product that is high quality because if you take something to market that is just another me too or has some quality issues, you will die because you'll get bad reviews. Either you get no sales because of bad reviews or Amazon will even shut you down. So, if you've got a great product and a quality product, then Amazon can be a great place to go then your next bit of advice is to choose someone to mentor you. Get involved with someone that can show you how to operate on Amazon and there are a lot of people out there offering ninja hacks and so on. You need to choose wisely and I'm very happy if anyone wants to contact me, I can recommend people that I believe are, well I know working with them or above board and I can tell you who to avoid because there are a lot people that spend a lot of money on inventory, launch in Amazon, three months later they're like this is too hard because they've chosen the wrong product, hadn't had high quality and they try to do the wrong ninja hacks and they're getting shut down by Amazon.
Anna Jonak [00:24:21] It's different, you guys have obviously, blood, sweat, and tears and produce something that you created a lot of people will just go and buy stuff overseas right and then kind of like try and sit on Amazon under a different brand or this kind of...
Jo Cumberbatch [00:24:32] Yeah. The perfect example is that there are so many. I don't know what the perfect example is but there's very few original, original ideas out there. You guys are sitting on an original idea and you have something that's unique to the market then awesome. Get out there. Get it selling, get it going. But you've got a challenge in this in yourself in that sense. If it's an original idea is that people aren't searching for it. People don't know about it. So, you gotta create a demand. So, that's one challenge and that's where I think your funnels and your marketing strategy will be perfect for that kind of business. If you're going onto Amazon and it's not an original, original idea, you're taking something that's already out there. Your treasure hunt game. Come on, it's not an original idea. We've all played treasure hunts. We've all had our parents make this up for us or your grandparents just scatter chocolate gold coins then say go on a hunt. Our treasure hunt game is not an original. What it is, is a ready-made kit in a box that works there and then when you need to go off and have some fun running around the garden, running in the house with the children. We're not pretending it's original. What we are doing is we've done it better than our competitors and we are aware of the demand. We know people are searching for outdoor games. They're searching for family fun activities for 4 to 8 year olds. They're searching for treasure hunt scavenge all of those. So, we own those kinds of phrases on Amazon. We've said those are our key phrases and we go after it. We own those advertising. We own those organically and we've brought something to market that’s a twist on something everyone understands. So, we don't have to create the demand. We just have to make sure we put it in front the right people.
Anna Jonak [00:25:57] OK. Yes, it does make sense. And, the more that you describe Amazon to me the more it just sounds like a version of Google. [Jo says "in terms of the advertising..."] In terms of like cost per click and kind of keyword. [Jo agrees] And like I guess a type of SEO where you kind of have to have certain things to get your listing kind of at a point where when people are searching for it, it comes up.
Jo Cumberbatch [00:26:17] Yes, exactly. Your images need to be spot on, your title, your products description or index within the Amazon system. And in fact, the index within Google as well. So, that's why when you search on Google, you might get a link into Amazon. You're paying Amazon but they're in turn paying Google to make sure if someone search treasure hunt game, the Google link will lead to Amazon before it leads to my website, which is frustrating but I don't care when sales come from Amazon as long as the sale comes. So, yes, exactly like Google. Its cost per click, its impressions, it's all of that kind of stuff and its visibility.
Anna Jonak [00:26:49] It's interesting because you kind of see these kinds of like little mini ecosystems that exist with Google and then Amazon each put your business out there and to be seen in one way or another. It's kind of mind blowing and I think from the work that we've done, certainly you can see that it takes up so much time managing especially when you've got them in different countries and you're managing what's going in, the stock, the listings, this constant tweaks and little things happening is like you know, is constant. So, I know that alongside that we've certainly been looking at kind of what we did a rebrand and we're building things around like building out our funnel alongside that kind of like for the website but Amazon still takes up so much time. And I think for someone starting out, do you think it's an either-or like you can’t attempt to do both. Like you focus on one and when you've now one, you do the other?
Jo Cumberbatch [00:27:33] I think it depends on what kind of business that you've got. So, I think that's... the way I am going to get a salary that I want to get from this business you know, the lifestyle that I'm aiming for, might reach my why, is going to be by scaling and so I could spend for me, and you know we've had these conversations back and forth, our business is a bit atypical versus the businesses you normally support in the sense that we could build out funnels, we have built out funnels but we can spend a lot of money driving traffic to our website then a part of that converts. And of course, our fundamental issue is I don't have a suite of things to offer them. So, whereas a service business like yours, you can always be adding on new offerings and evolving or a business with a wide range of products, they’d buy one product, they love it, they come back for the next 10. We don't have that. We still fundamentally have one hero product and some other things that we do that are all kind of similar. And, we're going to expand rapidly the next year with product offerings but we still don't have that much to offer a customer to return. So that repeat purchase which is so critical with marketing and your understanding or marketing cost upfront for your first sale versus then the sales the follow up, we don't get the sales the follow on. We get customers that come back and buy for their niece or nephew or come back and we do get repeat purchase but that's such a low percentage of what we're after. So, our business is all about that generation that first sale, first customer. Well, it was not even a customer, it's just a sale because that's it and the customer's gone. [Anna says "It's a transaction. That's it."] It is a transaction. Yes. And Amazon, that's what Amazon do. They don't allow you to build a relationship with customers. So, communicating with the customer post-purchase is very very difficult. And again, they can check your account down, all sorts of nasty things if you don't stay with in terms of service with them. The customer belongs to Amazon, does not belong to me. And, that is a problem in my business. So, I'm building a big business but I'm dependent on Amazon. So, if they, tomorrow, said we're no longer allowing third-party merchants onto our site, we're going to only sell our own products, that's my business dead overnight. And, that keeps me awake at night. So you know that one of our goals is to diversify our portfolio. We've got sales coming from elsewhere, that maybe through our website, more likely that's going to be wholesale or other platforms so there are other like Walmarts in the US [Anna says "other distribution channels essentially"] Yes. We're not wholly reliant on Amazon but also you know, that's not going to happen tomorrow. Amazon could pull the rug but actually if you look at it and you watch the news all schools Jeff Bezos, the CEO and what he's saying, he's actually really frustrated right now because it's third party sellers like me that are outperforming his own products. And so, we are doing better. Our sales growth year on year is higher than what they were achieving. So, that's not something. He might be frustrated but he's frustrated as to why we're doing better with our products. Because stuff Amazon owns, they're listings are rubbish. The images aren't great. They don't actually optimise their own stuff. So Amazon have three ways of getting stuff to market. Third party sellers like me where they take very little risk because I hold a stock risk, I do all the advertising. I optimise my listing and so on. All they do and they get a commission from me and they fulfil it through their fulfilment centre then they have vendor accounts where people like me could sell in bulk my stock to Amazon and then I lose control of it. They can put the price down. They can change my listing and do whatever they like but I get an upfront payment so that's one route. That is something that was very popular and they are phasing it out. That's something they're not doing so much of. And the third way, stuff they have developed, stuff they own like Kindle, a lot of electronics and going into the kind of space to compete with the Microsofts and the Googles and all of that kind of stuff. And that's where Jeff Bezos wants to take the business. But actually, the merchant business like me, it's so low risk for them because they're not taking any of the stock risk. If my product doesn't sell, they just stop showing me on the algorithm. And, I die. Job done. And, they bring someone else. If someone else launch a treasure hunt game tomorrow at a lower price and high quality, with better marketing than mine,my product dies. So, there's risks with this model. But right now, it's definitely, there's plenty of mileage left in this model for a few years so I'm just going to tap into that and drive forward but I'm also not going to be naive and ignore the fact that things could change. So, I'm going to build other things in place. But fundamentally, my product's good and my products are good. So, I will find a way to get it to market be it Amazon or wherever.
Anna Jonak [00:31:38] Well, I don't doubt that at all. Just FYI. But I can say that the whole concept of Amazon is I would say like from an outsider looking in and especially [inaudible] in the depth I guess with which we've kind of been involved with you I have to say I think it feels quite an intimidating platform and one where you can quite easily get lost and not get results if you don't know what you're doing. And, I think as you said you guys have done seven years in this space. You've learned a lot along the way and you've tried a lot of stuff. You've worked with kind of account managers actually mentoring under a team who could guide you properly. So, alongside what we've been doing with you, we were able to help introduce you to a company. Remind me of the name, I'm happy for you to share.
Jo Cumberbatch [00:32:25] They've actually changed names to called REAL now, R-E-A-L. So, they kind of work with intermediate Amazon sellers. Your introduction, that's been life changing for our business.
Anna Jonak [00:32:34] Yeah. I was going to say I remember you from the moment that you went and did some day trainings with them, the kind of insights that you were able to gain in terms of I guess from the marketing side of things or kind of like listings and promoting your product all the way through to like product development and understanding how you could scale your business away from having one product but using it to kind of like you know drip down into similar products and Jo recently went to China. Oh my God. I can remember the hashtag China magic.
Jo Cumberbatch [00:33:01] That was absolutely insane. Yeah that's the one. I love that. But that's the power of envisioning the future. So, one of the things I find hardest is when we connected up with Anna and Flori last April, we did a mindset challenge, a 4-day mindset challenge and you know I went to that kicking and screaming because it was Easter holidays in the UK. It was sort of two sessions a day. You'd have the live, also the recorded session where you were chatting through the what we used to look at and the worksheets and giving us great information and you had the Q and A in the evening UK time. So to carve out that time each day to keep on top of it and do it. And my business partner was like you need this more than me. You need to do this. So I did it and it was such a light bulb. It was such a series of light bulbs like I was blinded and we signed up and we joined into what you now call The Academy. And, we spent the next three months hounding you and Flori. I mean you got to the point where you turned around after 6 weeks and said you guys spend the longest emails and it's got so many questions but they made us go right back to basics and we fought it. We banged our heads. [Anna says "you did"] So we did it. We really fought it. So, they were right back. So you know, who is your customer? What is your marketing plan? What is your messaging? Who are you talking to? What's your product USP? But we know all this but we didn't. And we start looking, we didn't. So, we did all this and we concluded and we literally almost crying on a call with these guys for two and a half months and we need to rebrand. We need to lift our game. We need to take this somewhere else. We haven't got a brand. We've got a logo and a name at the moment. We're like yeah yeah yeah s**t. So we did that and that process, it was April last year. So we launched the rebranded product in, it wasn't till April this year, but the lead time and so on to go through all this process and get the design done and get the shipping done. But it was the best thing we've ever done. It was to take those steps back even though it felt like we were going backwards so far backwards but we've leapt forward now. So, my sales are doubling and it's down to rebranding and even before rebranding because we were clear on our message to our customers, our existing version was selling better because we were niching it down to who we were talking to. So yes, we fought these guys and I've forgotten where I was going with this but basically we joined the Mastermind group after about three months, hounded these guys. I still forgotten where I was going with this. [Anna laughs] I was trying to... there's some really important but it was my idea. I swear getting older and kids, my brain does not keep on one track.
Anna Jonak [00:35:27] We were just starting at the Mastermind and the transformation that the business had certainly over the last weeks, and the short... but a relatively short space of time.
Jo Cumberbatch [00:35:35] It's a short space of time and the transformation in our mindset. So, I was hating this business a year ago. Just over a year hating it, really having to take a deep breath like my emails whereas I'm back in love with it again. And that's down to getting all those basics in place. The business model is much more secure and I'm much more confident with the products we're offering. This was down to mindset. It's about down to how you react to things where things go wrong. We had a major setback last week which I will fill you in on later Anna. I'm literally five minutes afterwards and I'm doing it I'm ordering a new product. And then, it hasn't happened but my mindset is okay. Well, it could have been worse. It could’ve been a few more weeks down the line. It could have been worse if this but OK what we learned with this. What did we not do right to get to this point where it's fallen over and instead of wallowing, I'm like OK, we'll move on. And actually, our mindset is that is the biggest piece for us as you know Anna because I'm a completely different person. Eighteen months ago, my business partner said let's do new products. I literally cried. I mean I literally cried whenever she mentioned new product [Anna laughs] whereas now I'm the one going right, well we got this and we got that...so to China, that was it. So why, so I did my why and I did my vision board when in these early stages of working with Anna and Flori. I think this is pointless. I'm not a vision person. I'm a numbers person. But OK I'll do my why. I put pictures of camping with my kids. I put a picture of my kitchen because I want to take the wall down between the kitchen dining room and I put a picture of what supposed to dictate travelling. So lots of signs to places then on that sign, right in the middle I hadn't noticed the biggest sign said China. I had no intention going to China. It wasn't in my mind. I just want to travel with kids and go places and then suddenly, I'm off to China. I'm looking at this picture which I can see across the room and China just suddenly jumps out at me because I put it on that board. So even though consciously I hadn't chosen that, subconsciously that was what everything was leading to. So I went from not investing in ourselves to investing massively up to a point of two weeks in China with my husband in charge. Me out there meeting all sorts of amazing people, my suppliers eating the most disgusting food, really. [both laugh] But it's changed the business. I now have contacts, other suppliers, new products, a product pipeline which I didn't have before. So I've waffled. I apologise. Please put it back on track again.
Anna Jonak [00:37:44] No. Look. I think the thing is there's so much has happened in the last 18 months with regards to you and your mindset transformation to where you've taken charge in the business to the education that you've had to the rebrand. It's been an absolute like it's been a juggernaut of change but it's all working and I think that maybe what we'll do is put like a before and after up of the brand so that people can see the change because like the new brand and the game went through a change as well with a new iteration in terms of how it gets played which is so exciting.
Everything's kind of levelled up so you kind of had this amazing product and this amazing concept which is now kind of being taken to a whole another level. And as you said, it's being reflected in the sales in terms of like how people are responding to the product, into the brand and how people are kind of feeling towards it. But on top of that, just the fact that the understanding that you have of the platform and how to harness it to work for you is it's incredible. And, I think that's why I see Amazon as a beast and I thought it was an interesting topic for people to come in and to understand I guess what goes on behind the scenes because I think a lot of people just generally, just like in business they just think it's as simple as a listing or something like that. And it's kind of letting people know like just like with business like you said when you very first launched and you had a website and you didn't make any sales. Everything needs a plan. Everything needs a strategy. Everything needs like a marketing plan and a way of articulating, a way of presenting yourself. So, whether you're using Amazon as your main channel or you're creating your sales funnel, it's also important. You can't just put something out there like a website or a product and just expect it to sell.
Jo Cumberbatch [00:39:20] No you can't. Exactly. The funnel might look different on Amazon but you are creating basically a customer journey, exactly same customer messaging. And I would say be it'll be hard for a small business to do both, to drive a funnel and traffic to their website conversion and to Amazon. It depends what you're aiming for. If you want to scale a million dollars plus type business, Amazon will be a great platform for you. If you're doing this around your kids and you just need to bring in a bit of extra income then I wouldn't start with Amazon. You'd get lost in it. I'd probably go through a website and make your products. Our product’s been through four incarnations since we started this. So, we've never stayed still on it. And the last version not only changed, rebranded it, changed the packaging but also changed fundamentally elements within the game to get to a product now. We've been proud of it all the way long, but yeah, each time we take it to a whole new level. I need to send you one so you can tell me what you love. [Anna says "Oh definitely"] and what we’ll change time because I'm already thinking about what we will change when we look at it again in six months’ time. We're not going to stand still on it. And I think for any business whether you're doing a website, selling face to face with a service offering don't stand still. And Anna or Flori, the queens of not standing still. [Anna laughs] Always reinvent. I cannot believe in 15 months how many changes I have seen in the way your brand looks, the messaging. The core stays the same. The core being you and Flori but you don't stand still. You keep reassessing and I thought it was really interesting the way you talked about the reasons for your brand change this time. I thought it totally connects with me and you just keep niching down and then expanding slightly niching back down just making sure that messaging is so clear.
Anna Jonak [00:40:52] Oh it's a journey. It's really interesting because I had a bit of a head to head with someone the other day who talked about things changing and always changing and always moving. And my husband said that to me as well like I'll just stop for a minute will you. And I'm like no, that you can't. And the thing is, you can't because you're constantly learning and if you don't apply what you learn then what's the point? Like if you're learning that something's not working or you could improve what you're doing or you could better a service or somebody needs something and you can kind of make it better and improve. Yes. Appreciate the customers have to go through bit of a change but for the most part, the whole point is it's for them. You're not just changing things for us. We're changing things because you want to improve an experience or you want to improve the consumer game or whatever it is. And the whole thought is about that process. And as you said finding the right people that kind of get where you're coming from or what you're doing.
Jo Cumberbatch [00:41:40] I think the minute you sit back and go right I'm there, I've done it, product's perfect, my platform's perfect, my funnel's perfect, Amazon's all working. The minute I do that, my business is dead. Because you've got to keep assuming things will change ahead.
Anna Jonak [00:41:52] Something would happen. Yeah. You can never sit there and just go yeah OK, I've nailed this. Because as you said the algorithm is changing whether it's Amazon whether it's on Facebook or something happens or like Facebook goes down for a day when you're going to run a big campaign. It's an evolution you're constantly changing and moving. I think for you, what I see is your business, you're just going to have more stuff coming on, taking on different roles and I see more products being developed. And once you've gone through that stage of having an army of products that match, that sit alongside your hero product, I think that is when I will see you come back to doing the website and you'll come back to do more of a funnel off of Amazon. So that as you said, you can then build out the customer journey from an average lifetime and take them through different stages and ages and different things. So, I have no doubt that that will be something else that you master not that you haven't already because you've been doing all sorts of different things. But you guys have done that. You've mastered a lot over the last 15 months, not 18 months, and it's been a fantastic journey to be a part of and we're so proud of where you ladies have gotten to and where to from here. Like I can only imagine. As we wrap up, Jo and I are going to go and have a chat and like I'm going to get the lowdown on everything's at because we're constantly touching base. It's been a little while. I said to Jo I haven't had my update in a little while and I'm going to learn more about what's going on and where to. [Jo laughs] But, I'd love for you to share I guess a parting thought to our listeners with regards to anything about your journey or Amazon or just something to inspire people I guess on the path that they're on.
Jo Cumberbatch [00:43:28] Oh there's been so many amazing things with the last 15 months. I'm looking forward to continuing with The Elevatory, the community that you guys have built and the willingness to help. As you know, I like to control things. I also assume everything in life is hard. And I also assume that scarcity is where everyone operates from. So those three beliefs are very negative things that Anna has helped me with on the mindset piece that directly impacts how I run my business and I still feel those at times. They still wash over me. But, I'm much more conscious of them and therefore able to put them to one side and put different thoughts in my head. So, for all of you out there wondering if there's a place for your product and a customer out there for you, just 'cause someone else is doing something similar it doesn't mean you can't do it. There's plenty of abundance out there. There's plenty of ways of taking things to market just be effective what you do make sure that the message you are appealing to your niche. So like what you guys do, there are many other people that offer, coaching and tracks to run in and so on. But you're very clear on what you're offering and to the point where I'm pretty certain you turn customers down because they're not going to fit with this group. So, don't be scared. Say yes to things that are gonna work for your business and come to the point there's plenty abundance. Help other people and just be generous with your time. Be generous with your knowledge and I am very happy on that, so if anyone wants to contact me about Amazon I would recommend starter, medium, advanced options and I would stay away from some of the other things. And some people in the community will say I have spent some time with them on this. If Amazon is something that works for you, come talk to me because I guess if I'm expert of anything that's I do know the Amazon platform pretty well now. I know some of the pitfalls to it. So come to life with a view that there's plenty of abundance in the world and that doesn't have to be hard. Just go out there and start winning. Start feeling like a winner.
Anna Jonak [00:45:11] Yes exactly. Everything is there for the taking. I think that the piece here is that you have to trust that it's there and look for the right, I guess, guidance to make sure that you are as you said niching. You're doing the right things and you're kind of owning something and putting that stake in the ground and I think that that's what you guys have done so beautifully with your product which is so awesome and you're going to learn all about it. We're going to put up links to it. Do you want to send people to anywhere in particular so that they can...?
Jo Cumberbatch [00:45:37] Just check out gotrovo.com or you can check out Amazon. If you search treasure hunt game because I own that keyword you will see GoTrovo popup.
Anna Jonak [00:45:44] You will find it and you'll see that awesome new brand and like I said we're going to do before and after shot because I think it'll be really exciting to see. Well, look. It has been a pleasure. I trust that you are going to blow people's minds as they look at what Amazon could do for their business and all that's involved but give them a really good idea of what they could be doing with this platform if it's something that could be right for them and definitely reach out to Jo. We'll make sure we put some details up if you'd like to learn more. And she's been very generous in our community with sharing what she knows and she's as she said she's certainly an expert on this topic. So other than that, ladies, we're going to wrap up and we're just going to say to elevate your business game.
HOW TO CONNECT WITH ANNA AND FLORI
Business School: www.theelevatory.com
Phone: 1300 634 230
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