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Mike Begg is the Co-founder of AMZ Advisers, a platform helping brands blossom in the Amazon marketplace. Since launching the agency in 2015, he and his two partners have generated over half a billion dollars in revenue for their clients. Additionally, Mike co-runs AMZ courses that educate Amazon sellers on elevating their sales. He is also the Co-founder of GoAvance, an end-to-end e-commerce solution that helps US brands expand to Latin American markets, and Magnifyde, a commission-only remote sales team servicing agencies and entrepreneurs with high-ticket programs.

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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • [04:29] Mike Begg introduces AMZ Advisers and the evolution of its services
  • [07:22] Mistakes people make with the Amazon Prime Day
  • [09:18] Mike shares his journey growing an Amazon brand and the challenges he encountered
  • [15:57] Categories that works well on Amazon
  • [17:32] Amazon product launches and review strategies
  • [21:54] Mike’s software recommendations for scaling an Amazon brand
  • [23:47] E-commerce enablement in Latin America
  • [27:10] AMZ Advisers’ ideal client profile
  • [31:01] Mike discusses the advantages and disadvantages of building a company in Latin America
  • [38:22] What were the key hires for AMZ Advisers?
  • [43:54] Mike’s advice on delegating tasks and letting go of control in a business

In this episode…

Growing an Amazon brand is a lucrative way to start a business and make a name for yourself in the e-commerce industry. However, it’s not an easy task. Hiring an agency specializing in helping brands grow in the Amazon marketplace can be a game-changer.

With millions of sellers and products on the Amazon platform, it can be challenging to stand out and significantly impact your target audience. From optimizing listings to managing customer feedback, there are endless hurdles to overcome as an Amazon brand. Furthermore, Amazon’s constantly evolving algorithms and policies can make it hard to keep up with the latest trends and updates. Hiring an experienced agency can help you optimize your listings, drive traffic to your products, increase your sales, navigate Amazon’s complex rules and regulations, and provide valuable insights into the latest industry trends.

In this episode of the Inspired Insider Podcast, host Dr. Jeremy Weisz sits down with Mike Begg, Co-founder of AMZ Advisers, to discuss how to grow an Amazon brand. Mike talks about the evolution of AMZ Advisers’ services, the challenges of growing an Amazon brand, categories that work well on Amazon, and e-commerce enablement in Latin America.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Special Mention(s):

Related episode(s):

Quotable Moment(s):

  • “The main thing that we do is we work with brands that are looking to go from 1 million a year on the Amazon platform to 10 million or more.”
  • “People are looking for deals on Prime Day. They’re not going to be the most loyal customers that are coming back for repeat purchases.”
  • “The challenges with sourcing products and managing the inventory were things we struggled with making sure that we were working with trustworthy suppliers.”
  • “I have good team members which means that I was probably holding people back from stepping up because I was doing so much.”
  • “We’re able to hire executives with 10 plus years of experience for half of the cost of what I would be in the US.”

Sponsor for this episode

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Cofounders Dr. Jeremy Weisz and John Corcoran credit podcasting as being the best thing they have ever done for their businesses. Podcasting connected them with the founders/CEOs of P90xAtariEinstein BagelsMattelRx BarsYPOEOLending TreeFreshdesk, and many more.

The relationships you form through podcasting run deep. Jeremy and John became business partners through podcasting. They have even gone on family vacations and attended weddings of guests who have been on the podcast.

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Rise25 Cofounders, Dr. Jeremy Weisz and John Corcoran, have been podcasting and advising about podcasting since 2008.

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Episode Transcript

Intro 0:15

You are listening to Inspired Insider with your host, Dr. Jeremy Weisz.

Jeremy Weisz 0:22

Dr. Jeremy Weisz here founder of where I talk with inspirational entrepreneurs and leaders today is no different. I have Mike Begg AMZ Advisers and Mike, before I formally introduce you, I always like to point out other episodes, people should check out of the podcast, this is one of the top agencies here’s it’s kind of also e-commerce series, because that’s Mike’s expertise. Some of the top agencies series I’ve had Todd Taskey, on, he kind of bridges agencies with a private equity. He’s got the Second Bite Podcast. So actually, when agencies help sell, sometimes make more on the second bite than they do on the first when the private equity sells on the in the next go around. So it’s really interesting to hear about valuations of agencies and in that world, also had Jason Swenk on who built up an eight-figure agency sold it. And he’s got a group for agency owners, but he also has been buying up agencies. And he’s grown very quickly doing that. So he talks about, again, valuation of agencies, what they’re doing there when they’re buying things up. And also, Adi Klevit was one of my favorite ones to Mike, which we geek out on processes and systems and she actually has it done for you service that does SOPs, so we kind of geeked out on productivity software’s, she was giving her suggestions I was giving mine and because if I can be a little more productive each day, or my team can, I’m all for it. So check out that on and this episode is brought to you by Rise25. At rise25. We help businesses give to and connect to their dream 100 relationships and partnerships. And how do we do that we actually help you run your podcast, we’re an easy button for a company to launch and run a podcast we do the strategy, accountability and the full execution production. Mike, we call ourselves the magic elves that work in the background and make it look easy. So the company just shows up and talks and then we do everything else. For me, the number one thing in my life is relationships. I’m always looking at ways to give to my best relationships. And I found no better way over the past over a decade to profile the people and companies I most admire and share with the world what they’re working on. So if you thought about podcasting, you should if you have questions go to I love introducing my guests to Mike. Yeah, we were just chatting before we hit record like anyone in my network for Mike now is his network. And hopefully I’ll introduce him to Jeff Collin. Shout out to Jeff at Amazon who does amazing things there. But Jeff works, he’s been in the E-commerce space for many, many years too. So I’m excited to choose Mike Begg. He’s an entrepreneur, expert, e-commerce and digital marketing. Mike co-founded AMZ Advisers with his two partners in 2015. They generated over a half a billion in sales for their clients. Mike and AMZ team also operate AMZ courses, which educates Amazon sellers on how to maximize sales on the platform. And they have GoAvance, which it’s a Spanish word for advance. So don’t mistake it’s GoAvance. They helped brands expand in Latin America, I’m really excited for you to share that service, Mike, because I think there’s a huge need. And people are gonna go crazy over it. And they’ve grown to over 60 staff and over eight countries at this point. So Mike, thanks for joining me.

Mike Begg 3:50

Jeremy, thank you for having me. That was one heck of an intro. I really appreciate it. I’m really excited to be here today and tell you all about these things that I’m working on, and hopefully bring some value to your audience.

Jeremy Weisz 4:01

We’re going to talk you know, kind of how you went from umbrellas to what you’re doing today. Right? Who knew you’d start off with umbrellas, and this is where it lands you but let’s start with AMZ Advisers and just tell people a little bit about what you do. And from the agency standpoint, we’ll get into kind of how your services evolved from the beginning. But tell people what you do at AMZ Advisers?

Mike Begg 4:29

So the main thing that we do is we work with brands that are looking to go from 1 million a year on the Amazon platform to 10 million or more. We do everything from the marketing strategy, the advertising management, the brand positioning on the platform, pretty much everything they need to make that a possibility. And we essentially make it seamless for them. We have an entire team that handles everything and we just need to communicate with them on certain aspects of the marketing and make it happen.

Jeremy Weisz 4:54

You’re just waiting to hit this billion mark. So if you’re watching the If you’re listening to it only there is a video piece of this. And we’re looking at right now and I can see this, you’re just waiting for that to hit the 1 billion mark, I imagine.

Mike Begg 5:11

We are, we’re getting closer and closer, we just got our Amazon advanced partner status, which we’re pretty excited about means that we’re in the top 5% of agencies, for brands, so we’re really happy about that. We’re excited to keep scaling the advertising, we’re up 146% on advertising spend over the past year for our clients. So lots of good things happening with the agency right now.

Jeremy Weisz 5:33

Let’s start off, because there may be some agency owners listening to this. When you started out in 2015, what service did you offer? And just take me through a little bit of the evolution of how you iterated throughout, what you start off with in 2015, what was the service?

Mike Begg 5:51

Well, at that time, the Amazon platform was completely different, the level of competitiveness just really didn’t exist. Where we really started is similar to what we’re doing today, it’s just evolved into a more advanced form, the full management of the Amazon channel, again, at the time, it was really, from an agency standpoint, it was really a blue ocean, there really weren’t many competitors out there working with these brands. And you mentioned some of the products I sold. One of them was art supplies, and we were competing against brands like Crayola and beading brands like Crayola on the Amazon platform. And that’s when we realized that there was really an opportunity to do this. So from there, we started focusing on how do we take our knowledge of positioning products on the Amazon platform, and apply that to other brands. So that’s kind of how it started, we started working with some pretty large brands, because again, there really were no other agencies out there at the time. And yeah, we just again, handled everything from getting their products on the platform, making sure that the merchandising aspects of how the products looked on the platform were correct all the content aspects, the advertising management, and really helped them scale. I remember the first time that we took them through q4 in a black in a Prime Day. And the results were insane, like the clients never expected to see how much in sales because they didn’t know what they were doing wrong in the platform. So once we put in the right processes for them, they really started to grow faster. And that was probably the most exciting point from our exciting thing from our standpoint,

Jeremy Weisz 7:19

talk about some of the mistakes companies make with Prime Day.

Mike Begg 7:22

Well, again, it really depends on what the client goals are. And I think that’s where a lot of the confusion comes from. I mean, people are looking for deals on Prime Day, they’re not going to be the most loyal customers that are coming back for repeat purchases. We work with a lot of brands that are in the consumable category. So we’re constantly thinking about customer acquisition costs and customer lifetime value, how do we position our clients to get the best results and get the best outcomes in the long term for them. And Prime Day is one of the areas where Amazon really pushes you to give massive, massive discounts. And the reality is, is that it’s not necessary, depending on again, it depends on your product, depending on what you’re trying to do. If you’re trying to turn inventory, there may be reasons why you want to do it. But the main thing you can do as a brand is you can still take advantage of all the traffic coming to the platform, I mean, the traffic on Prime Day searches on Amazon. And by just positioning your advertising in the right place by having some type of offer to make them feel like they’re getting a deal. Doesn’t need to be like the 40 50% that Amazon asked you. But like 10 20% is is enough to capture a lot more of that traffic without putting yourself into the red from a financial standpoint, or putting yourself in a position where you’re burning through inventory that you don’t have enough cash to continue on. Beyond that, we’ve seen that happen before. Where people give away too much inventory or give away too much of a discount. They turn the inventory they get the cash back in, but it’s not enough to reinvest in their continued growth for the future.

Jeremy Weisz 8:52

I’ve seen interesting. I feel like evolution of sellers, which is they start off kind of with arbitrage. Then they do private label. And then the advanced one start a software or an agency because they’ve gotten so good at it. Was art supplies. was that your own brand? Or was that where you started off with just buying other things and selling? That

Mike Begg 9:18

was our own brand. So actually, the Jerry was just detailed was pretty close to what we actually did. We started the first thing I started with an E-commerce in general was selling eBooks on Kindle. That was the first one that was the easiest one to do. From there, I turned into we learned that we could sell products on Amazon. We were like wow, this is crazy. So then he got into retail arbitrage.

Jeremy Weisz 9:41

What were you doing at that time? You were going to stores and buying stuff up?

Mike Begg 9:45

Yeah, that’s what we were doing. On the weekends. I’m originally from Connecticut. So on the weekends we were driving everywhere between Fairfield County Westchester County, Bergen County, everything in northern New Jersey, Southern New York. Try to buy everything we could that was on clearance, and then reselling it, I remember, still the first product we sold was a internet router, Wi-Fi router. And we bought it for like $20 on clearance, and it was selling on Amazon for like $80. So we were like, wow, this is awesome. Like, buy as many as possible. Exactly. We literally would buy all of the inventory, we could still have photos of carts full of video games, and whatever we could find.

Jeremy Weisz 10:29

There’s a risk, though, I guess. Right? You’re fronting the cash for these things.

Mike Begg 10:33

Exactly. That is the risk. And it’s essentially unavoidable. I mean, you never know what’s going to happen. Like it’s a long game, though. It’s essentially thinking that no matter what, from all of these different types of products I have, I’m going to eventually make money from it, or I’m eventually going to get the cash back at least. And that’s the way that most I think retail arbitrage is play. It’s like how can I get a catalog with as many products as possible to give me the most potential to sell them. But you’re right, there’s a big sunk cost there, when you’re buying up the inventory to begin with.

Jeremy Weisz 11:03

But why for you in there as this college after college.

Mike Begg 11:09

This was after college. So at the time, I was working as a real estate developer for Sears, which kind of sounds irrelevant, especially in the marketing world. But it was an interesting look into what was happening within retail. And I think that’s kind of what pushed me more towards getting into E-commerce. We weren’t closing mall stores, we were selling off malls, like lots of assets that Sears had were no longer profitable. And some of the buyers in some instances were Amazon or FedEx, and they were turning malls or stores into distribution centers. And that kind of opened up my eyes. So like what’s going on here? Like how is this happening? And then from there, it just kind of became diving into the platform to keep learning more and more what was available. And we talked about retail arbitrage. Beyond that was building a private label. All of these things were things that I had no idea where possible until at least I started seeing what was happening in the real estate space or in the retail space kind of woke me up to what was happening in the E-commerce world.

Jeremy Weisz 12:13

What mistakes do you feel you made? So, after the arbitrage, you started your own brands? What were some of the mistakes you made with the your own brands and private label because you had the art supplies, you had umbrellas, and probably others what were some of those things you wish you would have known, then?

Mike Begg 12:31

I would say that the main it’s not so much that things that I wish I would have known, it’s that there are certain things that I understand are a big weakness for me. And one of those is inventory buying, I am very bad at sourcing products, I’m not very good at making sure that I have enough inventory. We have products in making sure that I’m doing all the compliance as well with that. So some of the issues we ran into where we bought a bunch of colored pencils. We didn’t know there’s a massive tariff on colored pencils from China. So essentially, we weren’t, we had to be twice the price of Crayola. We couldn’t compete with them on that category. We struggled with manufacturing, for one of our best-selling products, which was called brush pens, they’re essentially dual-tip markers. And that actually ended up to a Chinese competitor coming in and essentially killing the market for us. We sourced flippers and diving masks for another brand that we had. And those didn’t sell it all. So like that was an entire category that we got wrong. And the costs were so much because the product was so big, we were using Amazon’s fulfillment. So the FBA fees were so expensive because the product size was so big. And that was another thing that we didn’t consider ahead of time. So I would say we kind of rushed into it. Trying to figure out how to do this how to take advantage of the trend, how to find categories, sell products, and we made a good amount of money. But I think the biggest thing we struggled with was making sure that we had enough inventory that we were working with trustworthy suppliers, and that we knew what we were doing when it came to the important logistics.

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