Entrepreneurship Podcast post

Ecommerce Marketing with Darren Saul

George Grombacher December 19, 2021

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Ecommerce Marketing with Darren Saul

LifeBlood: We talked about ecommerce marketing, effectively using Amazon, Walmart, Google and Facebook, working with influencers, and how to bring it all together with Darren Saul, CEO of Vendo, podcast host and ecommerce marketplace expert.  

Listen to learn what the future holds for brick and mortar as well as digital commerce!

For the Difference Making Tip, scan ahead to 19:05!

You can learn more about Darren at VendoCommerce.com, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.

Thanks, as always for listening!  If you got some value and enjoyed the show, please leave us a review wherever you listen and subscribe as well. 

You can learn more about us at MoneyAlignmentAcademy.com, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and Facebook or you’d like to be a guest on the show, contact George at Contact@GeorgeGrombacher.com.

Invest in yourself. Bring it All Together.

Work with a coach to unlock personal and professional potential.

Our Guests

George Grombacher

Darren Saul

Episode Transcript

Come on.

He is strong. He is powerful. He is Darren solid. He is CEO of vendo. They are an e commerce marketplace expert. excited to have you on. Welcome Darren.

Darren Saul 0:23
Thank you. Thanks for having me on Saturday here.

george grombacher 0:26
Tell us a little about your personal life more about your work and why you do what you do.

Darren Saul 0:31
I am a very passionate e commerce enthusiast I’ve been selling. Gosh, for the last couple of decades, decades before Amazon was the thing. I actually sold my first product on Amazon, back in 2001. Before FBA, only these things existed. So I literally was dropping off the item in a parking lot to somebody who I’d sold the item to. So that that dates me in terms of how far back I go. But yeah, I love all things e commerce, big avid athlete and fan of all things sports, and big family man with three beautiful kids and an amazing wife.

george grombacher 1:06
I love it. It’s perfect. So what is top of mind for you? This is a digital marketing digital marketplaces ecommerce seems like it’s always moving faster and faster. what’s what’s?

Darren Saul 1:18
Yeah, I don’t know. Great question. It’s a it’s changing as we’re sitting here. As you and I are talking, there’s a new thing that happened on Amazon on Shopify and walmart.com. But I’d say the biggest thing that’s happening is, brands are starting to realize that they’ve got to win online in the marketplace. Otherwise, bricks and mortar and typical retail distribution points are no longer the only place that customers journey starts and ends. So very much the digital space as it’s evolving and growing, is something that brands need to pay very close attention to. And that’s all brands. That’s all brands, big and small. You know, Amazon had different iterations of its lifecycle. It started with resellers, then it moved to private label sellers. And now it’s very much evolved to, you know, the biggest brands in the worlds are now playing and spending 10s of millions of dollars on Amazon, realizing the power that it yields,

george grombacher 2:12
what instead of spending 10s of million dollars on Amazon, what does that mean?

Darren Saul 2:16
advertising, so used to be used to go to Google and Facebook for ads, they used to lead with about 20 billion, roughly 25 billion a year each, they were producing an ad revenue. Amazon now has caught up to whether it’s like 18 or 20 billion, I believe in ad revenue, which is the amount of money people are spending on their platform to drive awareness. I had no idea. Yeah, it’s crazy, it is become more and more I pay to play platform. which is unfortunate, because it’s it’s leaving a lot of smaller sellers in the dust. But there are still different ways to win on Amazon. And that’s where something like Venmo comes in.

george grombacher 2:52
Yeah, tell me why people come to you.

Darren Saul 2:55
So people come to Venmo, because we’re basically a team of marketplace experts, that we act as an extension of their team. There’s a lot of these smaller businesses that I referenced earlier, that don’t have the budgets and can’t compete on Amazon, because they don’t have five people or six people against Amazon, we are their outsourced team on the ground. For that business. You know, you need customer service, you need reviews, you need to add management, you need optimization, you need contents, creation, all those different things require a lot of people to manage. And we are the solution to a lot of those clients to be an extension of their team for them. So

george grombacher 3:33
got it. So let’s just pick a fictitious brand. Let’s say that you pack shoes,

Darren Saul 3:42
as supplements or as a good one. Okay,

george grombacher 3:44
so so I am a supplement company and I say, you know what, there’s just no way that that or? Or maybe there is is is? How should I think about? I come to you I say I want to make more sales?

Darren Saul 4:00
Yeah. Great, great question. We get it all the time, right? The we do the exploratory introductory new biz call with a lot of these brands to find out, hey, what are they doing both in distribution at traditional retail DTC on their own website. We also manage a lot of walmart.com business at vendo against a fully dedicated team there. And so really understanding what the brand’s kind of holistic strategy is for growth, what they’re doing. We take it from there. And then we say, Great, we understand your budgets. We understand where you’re playing where you’d like to play. And then we start building out a really unique, holistic strategy that says, Okay, here’s how we want to launch your products on Amazon, or we merchandise them if you’re ready on there. Here’s how we want to launch on walmart.com and how we want to drive growth and brand awareness across the two largest marketplaces by leveraging our team skill sets to fuel that growth. As an example. Hey, you don’t have somebody managing your ads an expert, we can manage a Walmart Comments, we can manage your Amazon ads, we can manage your Facebook, your Google ads, and we can drive growth by really optimizing those things to drive both organic and paid growth at the same time.

george grombacher 5:12
That was my next question is, what what role does organic search play?

Darren Saul 5:21
You know, on walmart.com, it plays a much larger role today, because Walmart is trying to be omni channel. And so there’s merchants at Walmart, that will actually drive you up in search for certain keywords, there’s an actual human being driving some of the algorithm results. Whereas on Amazon, organic growth is a lot tougher to achieve, if you haven’t built out huge brand awareness off of the platform.

george grombacher 5:46
So that’s kind of the trick, right? If I’m, if I am a supplement company, I’ve been successful. And so I am in business for the for the long term, should I focus resources on building my off Amazon and off Walmart presence?

Darren Saul 6:04
You should you should focus your efforts on building your brand awareness for the purpose of driving growth on those platforms. So what I mean as an example is, are you engaging with certain influencers that are building more brand awareness that, you know, they’re agnostic as to whether they drive traffic to Amazon to Walmart, to bricks and mortar doesn’t really matter? Are you running TV, which still works? Believe it or not, in this day and age? Are you leveraging other aspects of paid search and paid social media to really drive brand awareness that will spill over onto all these marketplaces?

george grombacher 6:40
How often are companies that come to you working with influencers?

Darren Saul 6:46
I would say, when they come to us, probably five or six out of 10 are working with some form of an influencer campaign might be micro influencers or nano influencers, or they aren’t. So they come to us to help source and create an influencer marketing program.

george grombacher 7:04
Yeah, I imagine that there’s a lot of ways to do that wrong.

Darren Saul 7:09
Yes, there were, I can tell you a lot of ways a lot of ways to do things incorrectly. based on the experience we’ve seen from a lot of our brands, so yes, there are a lot of ways to do that. There’s a lot of ways to spend money and correctly I think is a different way to say that. Yeah, yeah.

george grombacher 7:25
lots of ways to spend money incorrectly. That’s, I mean, I imagine if to try to distill this down, that’s just a huge thing that why people come to you is because they’re just hemorrhaging cash at every single one of these steps.

Darren Saul 7:43
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, they’re either overspending on their Amazon or walmart.com ad budgets, and they’re not getting a return, you know, they’re spending $10, to sell $5 as an example, right, as opposed to spending $10, to sell $20 to actually get a return. That’s one area where we see a lot of clients just mismanaging their ad budgets. The other is, to your point, they’re spending on the wrong marketing projects. You know, they’re they’re running a lot of in store, Co Op, and you know, slotting fees, things like that. Whereas some of that money might be better spent and driving direct traffic digitally, in the new and evolving commerce world.

george grombacher 8:24
Interesting. Yeah. So I think it’s fascinating that Amazon is now opening bookstores, and they’re opening essentially, department stores and I just literally received what looks like a JC Penney Christmas catalog, except it’s Amazon in the mail. How How, how do you balance or not the balance but think about the world of online versus actual brick and mortar?

Darren Saul 8:51
Well, it’s fine because of our walmart.com practice that we you know, we’re focused on Omni side of the business there, whereby we are heavily focused on bricks and mortar, fueling the growth of online for Walmart. So a lot of Walmart coms growth, or e commerce growth, excuse me, lately that you’ve read about in the headlines is driven by order online and pick up in store. So very much true Omni true bricks and mortar meets digital retail shopping. Target is actually more Omni today than Walmart is, but Walmart’s getting there. They made a lot of progress, and they continue with their Walmart plus membership programs and other things they’re doing. They are definitely, I wouldn’t say catching up, but they’re definitely trying to innovate, to keep up with what’s going on from that perspective. And then, as far as Amazon Yes, I got the same catalog you did that you’re referring to. Amazon is not secretly anymore because it’s been leaked, going and finding 1000s of sites to start building out their grocery stores that they’ve now created several beta versions of across the country, whereby literally you’ll just put your groceries in the cart and you can Due to this, it’s fascinating. you scan your products, it automatically scans it in the cart, you go to the green checkout line, you hit your Amazon app, and you just walk out the store. And those grocery stores which are typically 30 to 40,000 square feet in nature, they are going to be building out a heavyweight to go after Walmart, specifically, who currently leads grocery in this country.

george grombacher 10:20
Interesting. Alright, so so so when you say, Omni that means it’s it’s it’s it’s the Walmart model, they have a massive online presence, but then also mass. Correct? And so, you know, it’s it certainly is, is that a play of that Walmart can save a ton of money by not having to ship everything. So they try to encourage people to order online and go to the store to pick up.

Darren Saul 10:47
Yeah, well, it’s actually it’s more so than that. It’s, you know, Amazon spent over 10 years building out their infrastructure, their FBA facilities to win the last mile delivery. But interestingly enough, Walmart realized a couple years ago, when they woke up and realized they had a website, that I believe it’s 95% of the country lives within five miles of a Walmart. So if you can leverage those 4500 stores or DCs, then they can start really taking over in terms of at least from grocery or online pickup. I know targets been very big in their growth with online pickup, excuse me, store pickup, Walmart is doing a great job catching up in that game as well.

george grombacher 11:29
Fascinating. So biggest mistakes that you see people make.

Darren Saul 11:36
Yeah, biggest mistakes, I think is trying to do, trying to do everything in house. Sometimes I know you would think like, as you’re building out a brand, you’d want to control everything and bring it but sometimes, I would say brand owners and people are building these businesses, their best serve strategically focused on those types of things, and bring in experts like ourselves, or passionate enthusiasts that would accelerate the performance versus trying to train someone in house and building Hey, I’ve got my Amazon guy or my Walmart guy in house. I see a lot of brands making the mistake of doing that. And then it fails, those people leave. You know, they’re reliant on them. They build out a big channel of their business online, and then it collapses, or it’s mismanaged in house. There’s structure.

george grombacher 12:35
Yeah, that’s certainly makes sense. Is there it’s fascinating to me that you’ve obviously been at this, you said you sold your first or bought something or sold something on Amazon in 2001. So you are in it, there’s Yes, this is this is what you sleep and eat and breathe. How, how else are you? And companies similar to yours, able to stay on top of everything as it’s changing? You’re obviously an expert. You’re an enthusiast. You’ve been at this for a long time. How? How do you invent a stay on top of changing algorithms or whatever the right term is for Amazon for, for Walmart for everything,

Darren Saul 13:19
a fantastic team, a fantastic team of people. So we’ve got people much smarter than me, just as passionate than me. In terms of those channels. We’ve hired former Walmart category specialists on our team, so they know the back end tools and how to navigate them and what strategies to employ. And then on the Amazon side, really, it’s it’s attending a lot of webinars, conferences, being a part of different groups, being thought leaders in the space, putting a lot of content out there, on our own podcasts and on site. It’s really just having a team of passionate enthusiasts like myself, is what’s really served us well, because we all find the answers together as being part of a team that’s as passionate as me.

george grombacher 14:02
Yes. Nice. Appreciate that. How much of it is cat and mouse versus these companies are really clear in what they want? How how they want advertisers to to interact with them.

Darren Saul 14:19
Um, you know, it’s, it’s funny when you if, if I understood your question correctly, you mean that it conflicts with some of the store or merchandising opportunities,

george grombacher 14:30
just how how open Amazon is with, we’re changing our algorithm. We want more of this, or we want less of that.

Darren Saul 14:38
So yeah, interestingly enough, two, three months ago, Amazon introduced what’s called a brand referral bonus program, whereby they were incentivizing external traffic to come to their platform they were telling you, hey, drive traffic from outside of Amazon back to Amazon. We will give you a 10% rebate on your referral fees which is taken To sell a product on Amazon. So that’s one example of where they’re actually telling you, Hey, come here. But yeah, they’re a black box. As far as data is concerned, they have gotten better about releasing a little bit more information. And there’s a lot of great third party tools on Amazon today, like a helium 10, or Jungle Scout, which are popular names that a lot of viewers might be familiar with, to give you some of those insights and additional data points. But for the most part, Amazon reserves a lot of its data, you could argue for itself, especially given the recent articles on how they’ve been accused of knocking off a lot of sellers for their own game, things of that nature. So yeah, Walmart, same thing very much a black box in terms of

george grombacher 15:41
data, which is certainly their prerogative. Absolutely. So when how, how do you coach your clients through that,

Darren Saul 15:51
um, you know, look, it’s understanding the platforms, we all if you’re playing within the, the white hat tactics, which are within the rules of Terms of Service, then everybody’s got the same tools and in their tool belt to use on these platforms, I guess it’s being creative and innovative in terms of how to best use those tools, which I would argue our team does better than most. And then how to supplement or complement that with additional external tools and things like that, to really win on those platforms, and then leverage some of these third party platforms that I just talked about to get those insights. And then really use those to build up a strategy around ranking around sales around growth, from an optimization, things like that.

george grombacher 16:36
Love it. Well, Darren, people are ready for your difference making tip, what do you have for them?

Darren Saul 16:42
I’m sure yeah, I was thinking about this. I think, you know, on our podcast, we give out a lot of content, a lot of great information. I’d say from my perspective, if you’re going to be selling on any of these platforms, be an Amazon walmart.com your own website. The biggest difference making tip I can offer brands starting out today is think about how are you building brand awareness, because a lot of brands think, Hey, I’m just gonna go on a platform I’m going to pay for sponsored ads, etc. They fail to realize that just by building brand awareness, you are going to increase your organic sales and search dramatically and that investment is going to come back to you tenfold in the long term. Once you realize hey, have I built out an approach to really let consumers know who I am? What I sell, why I sell it, and why they should buy my product if you can answer all those questions. Offline you are going to win online and on the shelf nine times out of 10

george grombacher 17:38
Well I think that is great stuff that definitely gets Come on. Come on. Thank you so much for coming on. Where can people learn more about you How can they engage with you and vendo

Darren Saul 17:49
they can find me at Darren da r e n at vendo commerce calm that’s my email. They can go to our website Mundo commerce calm, and they can check out our podcast and content and blogs and a lot of great stuff there to find out.

george grombacher 18:05
Excellent. Well if you enjoyed this as much as I did for daring your appreciation and share today’s show with a friend who also appreciates good ideas go to vendo commerce comm check out all the great resources, check out the podcast. Give us the email address again there.

Darren Saul 18:19
Darren d a r e n at vendo commerce calm.

george grombacher 18:23

Darren Saul 18:24
Thanks again. Thank you. Thanks, George.

george grombacher 18:27
And until next time, keep fighting the good fight. We’re all in this together.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

Thanks, as always for listening! If you got some value and enjoyed the show, please leave us a review wherever you listen and we’d be grateful if you’d subscribe as well.

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