Special Guest Andrew Morgans from Markology Talks All Things eCommerce!
Andrew Morgans from Marknology joins us to chat about his Amazon agency and how he’s helping Amazon sellers and brands navigate the platform.
See more from Andrew Morgans at https://www.marknology.com
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All Things eCommerce with Andrew Morgans from Markology
– Hello everyone, and welcome to episode 53 of Two Amazon Sellers and a Microphone. Today, Kris and I have a special guest with us, Andrew Morgans from Marknology, which is an Amazon Brand Accelerator. Andrew, welcome to the show.
– Thanks for having me, I’m excited to be here.
– Yeah, this is gonna be good. We’re excited to have you.
– Yeah, well also we have a fellow Kansas Citian on the show.
– That’s right.
– Fair enough, fair enough. So much so that I was like, “are you guys wearing St. Louis red, or what’s going on with that?”
– No no no.
– Like, you know, I don’t mind when it’s not go-time but right now, you know, it’s everything every superstition matters right now, so that’s right.
– That’s right. Yeah. Sometimes we’ll have people not from Kansas city and we have to endure some trash talk a little bit, but.
– Yeah. Really.
– Pardon me?
– Not at the top. It’s hard being at the top. You know, everybody hates you.
– It is hard to be at the top right now, man. Well, Andrew, I’m excited to talk to you and learn more about you. Before we get started why don’t you just let everyone know a little bit about your background, sort of how you got into the space, and what you’re doing at Marknology.
– Well, I’m a little bit of a storyteller, so I’ll try to keep it as trimmed up as I can but I’ve been in the Amazon space for nine years. We can kind of start there. I got a degree in computer science from Park University kind of local here to Kansas City. And I started networking at MasterCard Global down by the airport here and I was working in a knock. I was making more money than I ever had and I hated my job more than I ever had. And it was my first time in IT, using my degree and there was an interesting part to it. You know, it has some complexities. I’m not hating on the space in general but I just went from playing music, traveling across the U.S., going to school, like really creating things to a role where I was watching things and waiting on stuff to break, you know? And it just wasn’t for me. So I kind of swore, I was like I’m going to try one other job with my IT degree and if I still hate it, I felt like this is where IT people go to die. I’ll be honest with you. It’s like a dark room, no windows. Like, you know, you honestly went through four security protocols to get in there. You’re in this dark dungeon room at MasterCard. And I was getting depressed in there and, you know I was just like saving money cause that’s all I was doing working four twelves and just like hated it. And well I found e-commerce essentially, I finished my one-year contract there, took a chance at a startup that was paying me less and no security, really no insurance, things like that. But I was like, man I gotta try something just drastically different. And I fell in love with e-commerce. So that was probably about nine years ago. At that startup, I was employee number three and we were putting car parts online. And you know I was contacting manufacturers, getting parts lists. We were doing a bit of drop shipping, a bit of private label, you know, a little bit of everything and I was kind of the only person putting these parts up on eBay and Amazon. And we did over a million dollars in sales that first year. It was a crazy crazy year for me because I was learning everything on the fly. Even my bosses didn’t know how to do it. They were just kind of like, “We hired you to figure it out” and it was exciting. It was like, you know, you’re comboing deals up, putting them on eBay, Amazon still wasn’t even a big deal then it was just more like website and eBay. But I was putting the product on Amazon and learning why I went and I actually moved to Tampa for that job. So I was like a little over one year in Tampa at that startup. And then I got an opportunity to work at U.S. Toy Company here in Kansas City. So I moved back and was an e-commerce manager. So a bit of a roll-up from a step up from the startup. We did over a million dollars in sales that year as well and so it was like, it was like, man, this e-commerce stuff is exciting. Like when you’re, you know when the company is pumped at what you’re doing wherever you’re at, you’re like, this job is cool, right? If the box-like, you know, patting you on the back, it’s easy to go to work, but raise time came, you know it was like, I was still in that corporate environment, I was learning a lot at U.S. Toy, but raise time came I got like a 20 cent raise and I feel like something inside of me was just like, I can’t do this for 20 years. Like even if I’m the best and I climb all the way through, you know the e-commerce manager ranks at different companies like this, just isn’t going to get me to what, you know my passion is and I want to travel. I love traveling, I love like selling stuff, I love creating things, and in the corporate world, Amazon and e-commerce it’s booming now, but nine years ago, eight years ago, there were companies that were forward, there was even more than there is today that was like dragging their feet, you know? And I was super passionate about the space. And so I was wanting to I was just like studying, studying, studying, essentially. I was trying to make a little more money on the side. I started freelancing for anyone listening. Like I got on the sites E-Lance and Upwork, you know if you’re trying to get a hustle going and I essentially pitched myself to companies that needed help on eBay or Amazon I was like, hey, I’m an e-commerce manager but, you know in the daytime, I’m working on some projects at night. I’d love to help you with your project. You know? And I just started getting those under my belt. And after a couple, I even worked with Adidas through Upwork. It was crazy, I worked on an Adidas project through Upwork and my head was just like I didn’t always dream of being an entrepreneur. Like I was born to be an entrepreneur but I didn’t know that at the time, I’ll be honest. I didn’t even know what the word meant. It wasn’t trending to me. It was just side hustle. It’s like, how do you hustle? How do you get by? And I was going through like a bad relationship break up and you know just how a lot of time I was trying to get myself together and was like, just digging into work. Well, I got top 10 in the world on E-Lance. And when I did that in the marketing category it was just by doing jobs and getting reviews. It’s almost the same algorithm as Amazon really but you know, it was just like moving me to the top ranks. And I share the details because I think some people care about the details and like, how do you get somewhere? It was just a side hustle, you know? And it, by the light bulb went off in my head when I started working with Adidas I saw they had this big agency they’re probably paying as you know, 20, 30 K a month in a retainer for all everything they were doing. I’m not sure, but they needed me for some reason. And I’m like at this point I was just like, okay, this is an opportunity. Like, why do they need someone like me, a company this big, this world-renowned company needs me to help them on Amazon. It wasn’t an ego thing. It was more like why? You know, it was like, why do they need Me? And if you guys let’s just shout out to Adidas for being kind of forward for a big company, you look at Nike on Amazon, you look at Adidas on Amazon, Adidas looks way better.
– Way different.
– Yeah. So, you know, long story short I started building clients through Upwork, I got like four or five on the side that I was working with on a monthly basis. They were just like, Hey you want to just continue to work on our Amazon account? I was like, sure. And this wasn’t like, you know Marknology is a brand accelerator, we’re an agency now. This was small-time compared to like how we work with brands and now it was just like, manage the ads, upload some listings. And I was charging people like 200 bucks a month to manage their Amazon putting up like hundreds of products and there was no one telling anyone what this space was worth. The work that we do, you know, it’s like, well I could bartend on Saturday night and Sunday night or I can work on it. Some Amazon stuff like, you know, what do you want to do? And so I was, I was kinda loving it. I built that business at U.S. Toy, in my off time and before I knew it, I had Marknology. Marknology almost is going to turn seven this year in August. You know, we got a team of 13 out here in Kansas City. We became an Amazon agency partner, January one of 2020, and an advertising partner much like Sellozo I believe, yeah, there we go. I’ve been working on the website a little bit so I’m proud to show it off. And you know, I work with my family. I worked with my sisters, they moved here about three years ago and really helped me grow Marknology. No one goes to school for this stuff. So it was sit down with me, learn it, you know be able to help me manage and take client calls and things like that. And it’s been really awesome to grow. We’ve worked with over 300 brands since we started. We have about 50 that we work with on a monthly basis everything from hundred million dollar brands to brands just getting started with a couple of products in a big heart and a lot of passion, you know we’re having a lot of fun, so I’ll stop it. There there’s a lot of other things I do like real estate I’m just acquired my second e-commerce brand. I’m super pumped. I’m like buying brands and trying to fix them up. So it’s making me a bit of an investor instead of just on the agency side. Yeah. I’m having a lot of fun guys. Like it’s year seven I think everybody has their own path, you know and I don’t feel like my business is almost seven. I really feel like it’s like three or four, I guess. You know, there’s a lot of freelancing years in the early days that it wasn’t really growing and scaling but it’s finally to that point where I’m trying to develop, you know internal systems and dashboards and, and really having a lot of fun, you know, grow in the agency.
– That’s some good stuff. I mean, there’s a lot of, there’s a lot of things I want to get to in that story.
– Yeah yeah. And you know, like for Dustin to just like how’s the process been, you know, it’s I skipped so many entrepreneurial lessons and all of that but it really just started from a side hustle. And now we’re really trying to get legitimate and scale and build the team. And, you know, we just had two team members, one moved here from Colorado and one just finished at Oklahoma state. You know? So it’s, it’s been, it’s not, we’re small, but like you know, bringing people to move here to work for you is like a crazy feeling to me. You know, that they want to be part of something we’re doing.
– It’s amazing. I love hearing the passion and talking about hustling. I mean, that’s what all of us do me. If you’re, if you’re starting out to be an Amazon seller, you better have that hustle.
– Yeah. Cause that’s, you’re going to have to learn a million things on that journey and you’re going to make mistakes and just I love how you’re talking about them and how all those things just led you to where you are now.
– Yeah. I think that’s how me and Kris actually connected even maybe before he was with Sellozo. We went to the same high school back in the day, up North in Liberty, a little bit different circles but it’s funny how, you know, world and life brings you back together and you know people find passions that they can connect with. And for me, e-commerce like, I’ve always been an artist. I’ve always been like a creative, whether it’s music or just imagination type person, you know, and business wasn’t a fit for me like corporate environments but e-commerce is that perfect blend of you get to be creative. You need to be outside the box, you know but it’s still data-driven and it’s still, you know so it’s this perfect mixture of art and science and I don’t know, I just wish for everybody they find that thing that makes them as excited about it as I am, you know? Cause it makes going to work pretty easy.
– And you mentioned like they don’t teach this stuff anymore or they don’t teach it at all. Like I can speak for myself and you guys can jump in but you know, they don’t, they don’t teach an e-comm or they didn’t my David, when the high school they don’t tell you, you know how to sell things on Amazon. Like if this was something Cause I was flipping beanie babies back on eBay, you know back in the day, you know, and flipping sports cards on eBay and doing garage sales, you know if they had a course or about like Amazon, not Amazon but that e-commerce how was up and coming. I mean, that may be been a whole new chapter for me but he didn’t have that.
– I actually have a big passion. You know, I come from a missionary family. I grew up in Africa till I was 16. And for anyone listening not South Africa, Cameroon, Botswana, Congo, like in the thick and you know, one, it gave me an imagination. Cause I played outside all the time. Like there’s no electricity there’s no Walmarts and targets. You’re playing outside. You know, I did have computers. So I was hacking the satellite in Congo. I’ll be honest. I was hacking the satellite feed to get internet when I was like 12 years old. But you know, growing up like that has allowed me to think outside the box of what everybody else is thinking about and doing, at least like when you first come across like when I was first coming into e-commerce, there was so much feedback and push back against Amazon because people didn’t understand Amazon. Now there’s so much content going out there a lot more people fear it less, but you know, eight-nine years ago it was like, you’re bringing up. COVID like basically it’s like people think of it as a disease. I don’t want my business going into e-commerce. We’re not going to know how to do that. And you know, nine years later, 2020 we’re the lifeline, you know, knowing how to do e-commerce for companies is their lifeline. You know being able to save companies this year, helps them pivot. Like the ones we already had set up maybe from 2019 was awesome to watch them explode, instead of close, you know? And that’s like very rewarding, you know, space to be in but with e-commerce that’s why honestly I had a mentor at UN Casey, you know, I’m involved in Missouri State University and the design thinking program as a board advisor and helping them with that curriculum this year, because there is no school there is no schooling for this yet. It’s people like me putting out and people that even have less experience putting out courses on this stuff because there’s just nothing out there, the DIY hires. And that’s why I’m, I’m at, UMKC, speaking to those kids they might not be getting an e-commerce course but when they have their ideas and entrepreneurial program or whatever, I’m like, Hey guys, like, you know think about it like this, think about it like this, think about it like this there are different ways to do things. And you know the e-commerce model can be really lean, you know, as far as other businesses go like launching other businesses. Cause just like you, Kris I was the guy Mo in lines, you know, flip and stuff. I’ve always been a hustler. But if that, if you like that kind of stuff you should really look to e-commerce, you know, it’s got that, that kind of action to it.
– And I don’t know how to describe it, but it’s like a high or something. I dunno.
– Yeah Almost like I didn’t understand why people get into gambling, you know, but you have control over it. It’s like ma’am with control over the outcome. You know, that high I would get when I would put a new car product up there, like a, a Bushwhacker a fender for a truck or something. Cause we were putting Bushwhacker up. We were putting like weather tech. We were putting all these kinds of things up Anderson hitches for the very first time, like, you know I was literally putting some of this. We were, I was in Mopar taking photos of their parts in their Isles. We had worked out an agreement. I was like in Jeep, going aisle by aisle, taking pictures of all these parts because parts didn’t exist. But if I got them up, we were selling them and you’d put it up. You’d hear that should Ching or whatever you look the next, how many orders you have? And it was just like, Oh my God, I have to put more product up, like
– And now eBay has eBay motors, right? Like that’s probably the biggest thing they sell on eBay now.
– Yeah. eBay had stuff, but it was like, you know I was doing the kind of stuff like the hit in the hitch business. That’s where I kind of started trailer hitches. You know, it was like Curt hitches and Sequence. Sequence is a company that owns like eight of them. So there are really two manufacturers making all the hitches that we know. Anderson is a couple of small ones. But my idea on it, that the reason we grew was I started using one I don’t even know how to use Photoshop or paint, but I was like using paint and putting in like the hitch and then like the trailer light and then the ball, or like the things that they needed. And I, I was doing the mental work for the customers instead of making them like pick all five parts. I was making a ton of money on the shipping by combining them and then putting that in a package. Now, if you messed up, you got a lot of returns on your hand right? If you’re the one looking at what trailer wiring goes with this like Toyota Sienna, 2008 or whatever. But if I was willing to do that work and combo it up and take photos and get it up, we were getting crazy sales
– You were bundling before it was cool.
– Yeah. I feel like, I mean, I ego aside, I swear to God guys, I feel like I I’ve been trailblazing in my own way. It just comes naturally to me as far as like, Oh what’s another way to do this. Like, you know, I think that’s almost like African ingenuity I’ll claim it. Like those guys, like growing up, they would take like an AC adapter that’s plugged into the wall that’s like got a short in it. They would cut it all up, rewire it, you know? And you got another AC adapter. You know, my dad was like, one time we were taking the strip across from, in Cameroon, our Jeep breaks down, it’s super dangerous to be out in the like jungle at night for a million reasons and he couldn’t have a stuck out there. So he cut up a tire, cut up a tire into strips, and use that as a belt to limp us home into a bunch of, to get us to the next village. And that’s, I can’t claim that idea, but it was just like growing up in that type of environment where you can’t just go to O’Reilly’s or wherever to replace something. And you have to actually like think of a way outside the box to get stuff done, is invaluable in, you know, it’s invaluable.
– I can just picture like I got a cook up a tire
– With two kids, two young kids in the back of this Jeep, just like, you know on this dirt road and just like, what are we going to do? And it gets dark out there. You know, it gets real dark and–
– Yeah, no street lights.
– You’d be surprised at what you do when you’ve got to do it, you know and you got kids or whatever, but it’s that mentality. And you know, I’ve taken it to e-commerce, you know, Amazon specifically as what my bread and butter and what I’ve really like, you know I guess got known for, you know, building an Amazon agency. I saw it. That was the loophole. Everybody knows how to do Facebook or Instagram or these things, you know, and it was like, okay, I can come into this space and try to be good, or I can go into this new space that no one’s really no real no one’s really in and figure it out and that’s what I did.
– So let’s talk about Marknology.
– Oh, no I was just going to ask real quick before he jumped at what year did you get started working on Amazon? Around what time?
– So I would say that the first year with the car parts was mostly eBay but they did have me putting the parts on Amazon. It was just like you had you didn’t have to have UPC’s for eBay, right? And if I’m creating combos and things like that it’s not really a UPC type of situation.
– And that’s where we were really getting our value was doing the mental work for the customers and bringing them parts. Another thing was, this is just tip of the day but the reason that we were able to compete with some of these big players, when the hitch world and the trailer lights and things like that was, my boss at the time was pretty savvy. And he’s now in prison I think by the way he was just doing some other savvy things too, I guess but I didn’t know that at the time but he was a shrewd negotiator and he was pitting FedEx and UPS against each other back then. And I really learned a lot through that. He was pitting them against each other and he essentially got FedEx to give us oversize rates that were just killer, like, you know for hitches and things like that because of the volume we were doing. And so we were able to get $30, $40 cheaper in shipping which allowed us to essentially charge a lot less for our products because we were making that up in the shipping and no one could really compete with our shipping rates. So that was, that was the ticket right there. But to answer the Amazon stuff like it’s been about nine years, it was 2012.
– Yeah. Cause that’s Kris and I got involved about the same time. Each was more like 2014 time, but it’s wildly different now.
– I think, I think, you know, there’s a lot of different paths that people have gone and you know there are some local guys here that have even exited businesses, you know for double digits in the millions, like, Alex loved the guy, multiple people like that. There’s a lot of people that like have the same passion as me that maybe they had a better day job at the time. I’m not sure, but they had capital and they started creating products and going all-in on that. And so some people have done it for themselves and exited or are still doing it very rarely were people in mine was coming down to money. Honestly, I was like what can I do that doesn’t cost me anything that I can do for other people and make money. And that’s where the service side came in. I will say that, you know nine years later, I regret nothing. Even though I wouldn’t have minded building a couple of businesses for myself and exiting them, I’m doing it now but I’ve been able to learn along the way. I think at a level that most people wouldn’t be involved in the strategy on probably all 300 brands that have come through Marknology and being able to see how this brain approaches this and how this brain approaches this. And what did I try here? And what did I, why did I lose these clients here? And you know, why did this work this time? And why did it not, you know just a whole bunch of AB testing, essentially most people think about one business, grow that business and obsess about everything, about like, you know plumbing tools or something, you know, whatever they’re on. And there it’s an obsession and, and there’s value in that. My approach has been more. So what do all these brands have in common or what makes them different and, and really be able to you know, conceptualize what makes brands pick on Amazon?
– Go ahead, Kris.
– Yeah. Well, the UPS guy just showed up. So here we go.
– Yeah. They’re going to go out here in a second
– But I want to talk about Marknology because that’s something you obviously created. That’s the Amazon space you’ve got brands are working with you know, fought for even four or five years ago. Brands were hesitant on this and they didn’t really know that I must go through a product up and we’re going to call it a day. You know, now there are ads, they got to run on their brand name and there’s a whole bunch of stuff you know, ABCs and videos and images, Tufts all that stuff. So that’s kind of where you guys come in.
– What is Marknology? What are you guys doing? Like if I’m a brand, how’s the process go off like onboarding if I need some help.
– So first we’re going to have a conversation just like this. Really. I’m going to say, Hey, tell me your story, tell me what’s been going on, tell me what’s been working. What’s not working. What’s your goals where you’re trying to go with it give me some context, you know, what’s been going on. So it’s kind of like this audit process, you know, and then then I’m going to dig in and kind of get my hands dirty and do an audit of the account. There’s like, you know, obviously different angles that different sellers are coming from. Some have been on vendor central, some haven’t been launched at all, some have just plateaued, some have grown at well themselves, but don’t want to manage it anymore. You know, there’s a lot of different reasons. Some people, some brands will just never bring it in-house. You know, some people always want out Spock to source it. So one, where am I coming from with that brand? And then we kind of do that audit and then from the audit, once we engage with them we kind of identify the priorities. So maybe the priority for them is their advertising has been horrible and they want us to clean it up, you know or maybe, you know, the very first thing before we can sell anything is getting the products listed you know, or maybe it’s just that the photography is awful. So I’ve built my team to basically fill those areas. Okay. Whether it’s photography I hated my brands going out and getting bad photography. I finally convinced them to go get photography. They pay a couple of grand to get it, and then they get crap. You know, I was like, I got to stop that from happening. I gotta be able to like, get some better deals for these brands that I really want to win. And so I brought photography in house, you know, content writing. We have account managers here that help them, you know get on the weekly calls and say, Hey this is priority one, two, three, four. Like, you know, this is how we’re going brand protection. We have brand protection in house. So giving them advice on brand registry and, you know resellers map, pricing, all those kinds of things. We have advertising in-house warehousing. Actually. Now we do warehousing. We have about nine brands with us, you know helping them a kit, make packs, inserts, things like that. So a little bit of everything but I’ve also been building Marknology not just to help brands in every single area that they’re going to need on Amazon. You know, as we like, you know we’re obviously gonna hit priority one and two and what’s important next and what’s important next but I want to acquire brands or, or build them myself and be able to do everything that I need to make them rockstars on Amazon. So I’ve been building my team accordingly for that. And, and another thing to the entrepreneurs out there whether it’s Amazon or not, I don’t love doing all that. Right. I like strategizing. I still like doing the advertising. I like fixing hard problems. I don’t love researching content. I don’t love, you know, taking photos you know, or those different things. So it was important to build a team here at Marknology that one, like each other and can collaborate and really like, you know, build something awesome. But also finding better people that are more skilled at the things that I’m not great at.
– But let me just jump in here, Kris because you said something that’s really important. I feel like to, to entrepreneurs that what you’re talking about, you don’t like every aspect of the process and that’s true and it is important. That’s a mistake I’ve made in mine early on is I would ignore the things I didn’t like to do. And like I loved researching products. I loved, you know, creating cool listings and but I didn’t like a lot of the other stuff. I mean, I liked the concept of advertising but I hated pulling search term reports and going through all of that and making the big adjustments to that. So things got left to the side and what you bring up having a theme or having experts manage that for you can be invaluable
– Agreed, and it allows you to focus on, you know we all do better work when we’re doing what we love you know, end of the day, or, well, at least what we enjoy even if it’s not love, do you enjoy it? Right? And we’re all going to do better work. So it’s like, Hey let’s get photographers doing the photography and let’s get designers doing the graphic design, and let’s get researchers that like doing that. And let’s get the people that liked being on calls on the calls. And that’s what, you know, my job now is at the top is getting people in the right position on the right teams and picking the right brands to work with. Like I am, you know, the thing I’m most proud of. I think the most excited about is, I don’t have any clients I don’t like working with anymore. You know, I’ll be honest with you. There’s a, I’ve either fired them or they’ve gone on there, on their way. You know, I think as our content has gotten stronger as a team like Marknology is putting out content and branding and materials and reputation, we’re attracting the brands that want a storyteller. They want to invest in photography, cause that’s what we put out, right. That’s, you know, the marketing material we’re putting out. So we’re attracting those brands that believe in that kind of stuff. That’s why they’re here. It’s just making it more fun, all around, you know versus working with brands that are resistant to change because I’ve convinced them that they need to be on Amazon but we’re not able to really do what we need to do to win. You know, I just had a conversation right before I came in here. I brought my two teams together, the social team and the advertising team, actually the whole company but it was, it was for those two teams and we wanted to talk about the custom creative and sponsored brand ads. Right. And so that’s two teams for me. I had my social, my content team that does like all of our social media and everything. And then I had my advertising team. And I think that you know, I only have 13 people. It’s not that big but you can compartmentalize pretty easily. And you’re like, that’s not my job. That’s not my job, but that’s not how Amazon works. Amazon is a flywheel. We know that right. It’s, it’s all working together. And so I said, Hey guys, like, this is one of those areas I wanted to call this meeting as a good point of reference of how we need to work together. You know, because up to this point before you’re doing a creative, custom creative on sponsored brands the advertising team doesn’t really need the creative team. Right. It’s like send me a logo maybe. And we just, you know, as data guys setting stuff up but I think that Amazon ads are going to get more and more like Facebook and Instagram ads and you know, more of those audience insights and lifestyle imagery type things. And, and so I don’t want to be behind and I’m like, Hey guys this is going to be one of those areas where we really need to start collaborating and have the creative team up to, up to speed on, on the ads and things like that. So, yeah, I think that’s just, you know, the importance of Amazon and, and what people don’t really understand on the outside that hasn’t been involved in this space is you can’t ignore the things you don’t want to touch just because you don’t want to touch them.
– And your, your intuition has good for you so far. So I think you’re right, as far as that ads go cause you’re starting to see it. I mean, in our own businesses, Dustin and they’re asking for creative and you can have a different image for a certain keyword and you can have another different image for another keyword and it’s a completely different message
– Right? So, you know, I think you’re onto something here with that.
– No, I think I just wanna, you know, we have hung our hat on being like, you know, we’re one of the at least this is what I’ve told and correct me if I’m wrong but this is what I was told of the 60 agencies and the pilot program brought in, in 2020 for advertising. I think there were 60 agencies that made the partnership. Marknology is one of, two of the 60 that’s a service-based company that made the advertising agency partnership meaning the other 58 are software companies, right? Like Sellozo So one of two out of 60 that still have humans doing the work and we use the software, don’t get me wrong but a service-based agency and what’s super important. And what’s always been important for Marknology is speed. Speed on the speed on the new releases, speed on what’s up and coming to be a first mover. Don’t be perfect to be a first mover, figure it out. And I’m, I’m lucky enough to have brands that have been with me for five, six, seven years. My company is six and a half now brands for seven years. Some of them have allowed me to grow together with them where we’re testing the new stuff out. And this is no different, you know I was preaching video ads before video ads dropped. And I know you guys know how well those do, you know like rates of two, three, four-plus compared to the stuff that’s like 0.33, a huge win for brands by having videos ready to go and being able to move on those and take advantage of the ROI wins. And I’m getting a little nerdy, but like, you know being able to move quickly on that video stuff was huge for a lot of the brands that were, you know in the Marknology family kind of getting that, that first look. And I think the next thing will be more of these like social type ads mirroring Amazon live with like spot displays, you know, ability to break out the categories and ages and things like that and I want to be ready.
– Yeah. You bring up such a good point because if being an early adopter of stuff has huge benefits. I mean the sponsored brand video right now is there still it’s not as compact and competitive as spaces it could be. And that’s why you have such big wins. And when, if you can adapt early to these new releases that Amazon rolls out, like Amazon live, as you talked about right now, it’s a much less crowded space exactly your ability to shine there and–
– Your winning easier, you know it’s just the same thing as being on Amazon nine years ago. I think about international expansion. You know, I have one brand that’s in 12 countries, 12 marketplaces, you know we were brought into Amazon’s HQ for their international board meeting of eight CEOs. I was brought in as like the one working with this brand, but they brought in our brand and we got to talk to them about international expansion because Marknology has a client that’s in 12 marketplaces and that’s crazy on Amazon standards. And they’re like, what’s going on? How do you like it? What’s going on? You know, like what have you struggled with? To me, the international expansion piece is like getting on Amazon 15 years ago. Why wouldn’t you want to be first? You know, especially if you know everything, how it works. So I’m really pushing into international expansion and figuring out, you know how to really do that at a high level. Because I think it’s, it’s like getting there first you get first to pick, you know, you get first to pick it’s a game first pick and a pickup softball game. You want, you want that shortstop? You know, at least I do. I want the shortstop for all the guys that can’t hit. You know, I, I don’t know. It’s just been, it’s been a tactic for me. I know everyone has different tactics. Some people like to be Apple, you know, Amazon is not Apple and I’m building a business around Amazon. That’s they move fast. They figure it out later, you know, they perfected as you go. That’s more of my method than being perfect before launching. And maybe Apple’s a bad example, but I think of them as being behind Samsung and the other Android phones that come out with better cameras first. And they come out with all this stuff first and then Apple comes out with kind of the better product a little bit later, you know it is what it is, you know, sponsor display. I used to hate it. I used to hate spawn because the ROI was horrible. There was no control, you know, you couldn’t segment down. It was just like, is it on or off? But I tested it and you could consider that failing. Maybe we lost some money. We, you know, we tried things but I’m coming back around now. And it’s a great opportunity. And you know, if I hadn’t done it at first I wouldn’t know that now it’s a good one to move on. You know?
– So that’s fascinating. Yeah. I love it. I love what you’re talking about. Just that. And that’s what feeds the entrepreneur spirit is just being able to move fast and make adjustments I think it touches on what you were talking about earlier. There’s a lot of big brands out there, a surprising amount of big brands that aren’t controlling their Amazon space. And it’s, it’s mind-boggling. They just, in a very old business model people will talk to people all the time and they’re arguing. They’re like, why would I want to be on Amazon? They charge so much. They take so much of the Myra like, well, do you if you’ve made a little bit less but you sold 50 times more isn’t that better?
– They don’t understand. They don’t like and that’s why I’ve put out so much content. If you follow my YouTube or Instagram or, you know different things I put out, I’ve been trying to put out as much as I can while I’m busy as hell because I just feel like there’s a lot of bad information and it’s catching up, right? Because you know, THRASS that IO IPO thing is brought a ton of attention to the space. There’s so much money getting poured into Amazon agencies and things like that right now. But, and there’s a lot more than every year, you know it’s getting better and now there are Amazon conferences and stuff, but it used to just be as freelancers on E-Lance. Like there were no job postings, there was no honestly there was nothing. And you guys know if you’ve been into it since 2014 you know, there was nothing out there and it’s catching up but there’s a lot of misinformation, you know? And it’s like if I get past that e-commerce manager and I get the chance to talk to the owner a lot of times and we get to talk about the finances and really explain the differences in the models and how these things work. And a lot of times they’re not thinking about, you know when it comes to FBA, for example like this is your labor too are you building your labor into these costs? Because this is pick, pack, ship, everything like what’s your warehousing costing you what’s that time costing you. If you’re doing it yourself as a small owner that’s how you get true ROI is, you know being able to track all those things. Are these older businesses, like, you know we’ve got some big businesses. Faultless Starch is one local here to Casey. That’s kind of a success story. We’ve been with them for several years. And we took them from just a B2B on the shelf model, you know, with aerosols and all types of stuff like that too we were going to do we’ve already hit a million dollars. This year is our first million-dollar year on Amazon with faultless. But we had to completely restructure their work the way they did warehousing the way they’ve you know, prep products into kits and different things like that. You know, we had to do a lot of work, but three years later I think they’re going to be a healthy company long into the future because they’ve made that investment into e-commerce from the top down. You know, I remember sitting in a boardroom and telling them their shit sucked. Pardon my French. I did. And they, they, they quote me on that all the time but I needed to let them know it was not about sugar coating. It. It was like, man, we have a lot of work to do. I need buy-in from the top down. And we got it. We got that buy-in. And you know, we just hit our million dollars a year and we’re just getting started in my opinion, you know? And it’s like, but getting out of that old model it’s just really hard for the bigger companies because these companies have never had the B to C interaction with their customers. It’s been, I’m selling to Nordstrom, I’m selling to target I’m selling, I’m selling to Amazon vendor central. I am, you know doing these things where you’re just sending pallets. You’re not, you don’t have to learn how to sell. You just have to learn how to manufacture and make products and everybody else like the Footlockers of the world sell the DDA product, right? So they’re having to learn something as big as they are that they’ve never learned before. And I think that it’s just a bigger challenge than people think about. And you know, it’s really hard to turn the big ship. So I’ve worked with the big, big, big, big brands. I really like the kind of like, you know, 20 million and under brands, there are a lot more nimble and, you know seem to be commerce or digital forward. And I think that’s why the big brands on Amazon are so slow, you know, to really make changes. They don’t need it. So because they haven’t needed it hasn’t been an immediate either ignoring it.
– Yeah. I just want to talk a little bit about like last year during this whole pandemic and stuff brands have to shift, you know, they had the stores were closing down, people putting back orders they’re canceling orders, no POS were coming in they had had e-commerce was their thing. What, what were you seeing on your end as an agency?
– Well, it was stressful. I’ll be honest. You know, my family works with me like, you know, my mom my sister is a, we’re a family business and I know we are unique than a lot of people but like I grew up in Africa, like a tight unit, you know? So we’re better together. Honestly. We’re just a unit that looks out for each other and you know those thoughts were crossing my mind on my own even though e-commerce is going to be the future. I’m like, well, what if the brands I have now don’t pay? What if they all just freeze? What you know, like, am I going to let people go? What’s, you know, what’s going to happen. I know a lot of people and I’m so blessed to be in this space and on the other side but I didn’t know what was going to happen. And I had brands turning down my proposals. I didn’t have leads coming in. You know, they’re like we’re just going to wait and see what happens. But come like August, September we really saw a huge uptick, like toward the second half of the year after summer probably the PPPs and different things. You know, some people had let go of almost everyone and hired us, like, you know, it was it was moving like that. That was just like, Hey we’re putting all our eggs in the Marknology basket. And you know, it was, I also felt like a surgeon in the ER room in a way in, in regards to strategy is like my job is really important for these people right now. I didn’t take it lightly. And, you know, I was giving as much free advice as I could when all that stuff started hitting, giving people pointers, even if they’re doing it themselves, like go here talk to this person, like, you know really kind of treating it like a triage center, you know our food brands that we have here in the warehouse. And like they exploded. But you know, all the issues that came up were not just are we selling stuff, we have logistical issues, we had FBA issues. You know, imagine getting that email when you got 50 brands you’re managing and you see the email this like anything that’s not essential is not going to be able to send it, you know? And I’m like, why didn’t you listen to me when you’re like, you know what? We were able to help some people with the warehouses. I mean, it’s been a crazy year, man. And I had some lofty goals for 2020 after 2019 as far as growth goals I didn’t quite hit those, but we still grew and I know a lot of people didn’t, you know and so I’m just so thankful, man, you know to be in e-commerce at the, at the, we know we’re I think we have a long way to go but I dunno, it’s peaking, it’s peaking, you know it’s going to keep going, being, being Marknology where we’re in a position to help brands just really fits who I am as a person. So I’m loving it honestly.
– And we could go every direction right now. Like I could talk about Walmart or about Shopify.
– That’s the future with Marknology too. Let’s just take that as a little segment. Like my passion now is how to connect it all, right? and that is a true healthy ecosystem for a brand. It’s not about seeing them in silos. I mean, we got our expertise in Amazon but I quickly learned that the companies that were doing Shopify and Facebook well, and those things weren’t thinking about Amazon, they didn’t care. It wasn’t on their radar. It’s more like Amazon does Amazon. We do us. And I’m like, yeah, but that’s not how it works. You know, you run a Facebook ad you’re getting some sales on Amazon. You know, you build a brand on Amazon the website starts growing, but how can we use inserts or follow up emails or email lists or chatbots on Facebook or how can we make our packaging that we’re now selling on Amazon, be more well-rounded to to engage with customers on social media because we’re getting a lot of sells on Amazon. It’d be really nice to be engaging with those customers, you know or people will spend thousands of dollars on influencers or Instagram ads or things like that to grow social media. And I’m like, we’re not even doing the smallest things on Amazon to get these customers, you know, over there. And so my passion really, you know, in the future is now and in the future is how to connect all these things. You know, I’m doing a case study with Amazon attribution right now that I’m pretty excited about through our agency partnership and just like walking a brand through Q4 and like, what did we notice? And you know, all those kinds of things. So it’s kinda cool to be involved in pulling this all in together. Yeah. I know we’ve taken over your time.
– I know we’re over your time. I don’t want to, I want to respect that. Is there anything else that would you want to just let out there, let people know
– We might need a part two, sorry. I had a lot, I guess I had a lot to say but you gave me on a Friday, so.
– It’s all great.
– There’s no, that you’re never going to be an expert at something until you, you know, you have a starting point and it’s, it’s amateur to expert, you know and for the brands like looking to get started on Amazon partner first until you get some expertise and then you can take it in house if that’s your end goal like don’t just bring it in house and put your eye it guy on it. You know, this is, this is, this is e-commerce now Amazon you know, is e-commerce as well as Shopify or anything else. Think holistically. Think long-term think about doing it, right. It’s not just that you can just put stuff up anymore. And when, because you’re an early mover you gotta do stuff right now. And I just encourage brands. Like it’s never too late, you know we’re launching brands all the time and having the crazy success you know, with those products and those brands it’s not too late to get on Amazon or Shopify even like I mean, I’m, I’m a huge advocate of both. So yeah, you never know. Just take that leap, take that step. And if you’re already in e-commerce check Sellozo out, these guys are great. I’ll give them my own, you know, compliment here. I know that they’re really good guys. And even Doug that’s moved on to a different company. I think within the Sellozo family he was the first one to introduce me to you guys like a great guy. So I really like what you guys are doing in Kansas City. You know, it’s, it’s cool. Honestly, I thought I was the only Amazon company for a long time in Kansas City. That wasn’t a private seller. So it’s cool and I appreciate you guys for having me on the show.
– Sure and real quick, before we go, how do people if someone wants to start a partnership with you how do they contact you? What do they do to get, to get in touch?
– Yeah. Well, if you just want to be friends like hit me up on social or I’m on it all the time. I love meeting any entrepreneur. We’re in a pandemic and not everybody gets to just be out meeting new people. So like, I really do, you know, use social media as a way to interact with people, but I’ve got I have my own podcast, startup hustle. We Marknology.com. You know, we’re on LinkedIn, we’re everywhere. So if you type in Marknology, I invented the word. No one else is going to come up. So you’ll, you’ll find us. We would love to connect.
– We need to get you on Clubhouse.
– Hey, I just got on, I actually need someone to give me a little, like less than I, I just got in So I’ve got the invite. I’m in the secret club, so to speak we would probably need to have a room in there and just chat it up.
– No kidding
– I’m looking you up right now on here. Cause I, this, this app is amazing.
– I haven’t been able to give it enough time. I’ll be honest guys. I’m about to launch start a puzzle TV. I’ll give it a shameless plug right now. What about the wall with that? Which is a, with the host of the podcast. We’re doing TV starting February 1st just behind the scenes looks like my day all the other hosts on the show. We’re going to be bringing some great content. And for me, that’s a whole new arena doing video and daily updates and behind-the-scenes stuff. So I’m on Clubhouse. I need a cliff notes version of how to get up.
– Well, step one, you got to update your bio.
– Okay? Okay.
– I’m looking at it right here. Now I’m following you now. So we’re good to go. We’ll get on and we’ll start a room. We’ll have a conversation to be a blast.
– Invite me in. I’ll jump on. Even if I’m at the gym, I’ll just be like what’s up, you know, that’s how we do it these days.
– Awesome. Well, Andrew, thanks so much for your time. We appreciate it. And man, it’s great talking to you.
– Thanks guys.
– See you