Have you already planned ahead for marketing your FBA business this year?
The most successful business owners tend to be those who’ve organized themselves well in advance and keep themselves informed as to the opportunities ahead for their businesses. This is why, if you haven’t already, now is the time to sit down and plan out a marketing calendar for the year.
Don’t be that business owner who gets caught up in a rush trying to get in on special events because you didn’t diarize them first! Planning tends to be the difference between a successful holiday or promotion and one that is a complete waste of time.
Here’s where to start with your calendar for this year:
#1. Set Goals
Before embarking on any kind of plan for the year, you’ve got to know where you’re going, right? We don’t mean vague goals like “sell more” or “make more money” either. If you want to really have a plan that takes you places, you need well-defined goals, preferably with a SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound) structure. Your marketing plan then becomes a critical part of your road map for getting there.
“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery
You might have some big, overarching goals, but it can also help to create smaller milestones which will help you to achieve them. For example, if your goal is to make $100,000 profit from FBA this year, you might break that down into monthly sales and into targets for any holiday sales. (Speaking of which, stay on top of your numbers so you know exactly how profitable your products actually are and can plan accurately.)
#2. Stay on Top of Inventory
If you haven’t already done so, now is the time to make sure you’ve got a good system in place for managing inventory and avoiding costly stock-outs. You need to know your turnaround times for ordering new stock and diarizing order dates ahead of big sale periods.
Of course, if you don’t have historical sales data from previous holiday or promotional periods, you’re going to have to project sales based on what you do know. Most sellers do this by looking at the last 90 – 180 days of sales and projecting out from there. A good rule to follow is to ensure that you have 45 – 60 days stock available at FBA, although you do need to monitor closely to avoid long-term storage fees.
Speaking of those fees, the age of your inventory has to be another consideration going into your marketing plan. Amazon charges long-term storage fees for stock which has been in storage with them for 6 months or more twice each year; February 15th and August 15th. If you have stock which will fit within these fees, plan early to sell it off. You can check in your Inventory Health Reports ahead of time.
#3. Look Ahead at Shows
So, you have goals of being an FBA mega-seller? Jungle Scout recently talked about the importance of trade shows to top sellers. In a nutshell, high volume sellers are very likely to attend trade shows because they benefit greatly from forming relationships in-person and finding lucrative new products or supplier deals.
What does this have to do with marketing? Well, you’re also getting a valuable chance to connect with many different people, promote your brand and possibly form good new partnerships. The same can be said for attending good conferences within the industry such as AWS re:Invent.
There are hundreds of events every year so you need to be a bit choosy about picking out the best ones where you will be most likely to form strategic connections. Here are a few that are popular:
Give yourself planning time ahead of attending any show or conference, so that you are better-placed to make the most of it. For example, you should have business cards printed and have worked on an engaging elevator pitch (Jungle Scout demonstrates this well here).
#4. Create (or Leverage) Competitive Advantage
What is it that you have, or can build into a unique competitive advantage? This can form the basis of your marketing efforts because you should be highlighting any advantage you have.
If you haven’t determined competitive advantage already, a key question to ask is, what can I do better than my competition? Check out your competitors and assess this as it will become the core “hook” in your marketing plan.
Here are some examples of what might create a useful competitive advantage:
- You are an expert in the field in which you sell (perhaps you are a former pro athlete who sells athletic gear).
- You have relationships with well-known experts in the field. Could a celebrity chef use your cookware, for example?
- You have better suppliers or better supplier relationships which give you access to deals competitors can’t offer.
- You have strategic partnerships with others which your competitors don’t have.
- You have a unique, proprietary version of a product that others can’t easily copy.
Have your competitive advantage clearly developed early, so that you can get ahead on planning your marketing with a cohesive strategy.
#5. Make a Plan Now
There are many different theories on how to create the perfect marketing plan, but one thing we find works consistently is to have a clear written or cloud-based diary. If you have a physical reminder, it tends to be the best way to ensure things actually get done.
Here is a rough outline of how we’d go about a plan:
- Pick out key dates such as holidays and reminders to clear out aging stock prior to long-term fee dates. You don’t need to be on every single holiday, particularly if you’re newer or quite small, but definitely pick out a few big ones (Easter, Prime Day, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas …).
- Start planning for each of those key dates a good three months ahead if possible, particularly for holiday sales. You’ll need this time to source product and monitor trends ahead of time. (For example, FBA sellers tend to be monitoring trends in September and early October to figure out what is going to be hot for Christmas).
- If you haven’t already, develop clear buyer personas for who you are targeting with your products.
- Build out advertising campaigns at least a couple of weeks ahead of your sale date. You’ll have enough going on with organizing inventory etc. and you don’t want your advertising to be a last-minute rush job.
- Plan for advertising on multiple channels, e.g. Amazon PPC, Facebook sponsored posts, Facebook ads, Vendor Powered Coupons, Twitter …
- Diarize for ordering new inventory to cover sales and for getting it sent to your Amazon warehouse on time. For example, in 2016, inventory had to be with FBA by December 2 in order to be delivered by Christmas.
- Diarize reviews of your listings. Can you improve the copy or perhaps answer more common questions?
- Stay on top of pricing so that you can win the buy box. We recommend an automatic repricing tool to do this for you.
- Besides sale times, make sure you have a regular promotional schedule of things like social media posts and Amazon PPC.
As with anything in life, planning helps to keep you on top of things, but you also need to be willing to be flexible if you’re going to get ahead. Keep a close eye on what’s working so that you might be able to scale it up, but also be prepared to move quickly if your marketing is not working or if you have inventory which is particularly slow to move.
True success as an FBA seller is almost never due to last-minute scrambles. Top sellers make good plans to boost the visibility of their brand, take advantage of key dates and market their business wisely.
Start by setting goals for your business which are transparent and easily measured. Plan for inventory, attend events to boost your profile and create relationships, create and leverage a competitive advantage and create a diarized marketing plan with key dates for the year.
Plan, but be willing to be flexible at the same time. This is how FBA sellers can get ahead and avoid being caught unawares.