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John: You want to be like Amazon? Even in your small business? I mean who are we kidding, Amazon? Well we’re going to talk with Bryan Eisenberg about be like Amazon. Check it out today.
Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing podcast. This is John Jantsch and my guest today is Bryan Eisenberg. He is a long time featured keynote speaker for things such as search engine optimization and conversion rate optimization, and I’ve had him on the show a couple of times, some of you may recall waiting for your cat to bark… maybe a call to action definitely [buyer legends 00:53] and a number of other books. Today we’re going to talk about Be Like Amazon a new book, even a lemonade stand can do it, it’s a book he wrote with his brother Jeffrey and… long time — I’ve been a long time fan of also contributor Roy Williams , wizard of ads [00:01:13] so Bryan thanks for joining me.
Bryan: I am so excited to be here. You’re actually the first time I get to talk about the new book so it’s always a pleasure and again having that long-term relationship, I value really being here with you.
John: Well thanks so much so yeah, dependent on when you’re listening to this we’re recording this mid-April 2017 and the book is freshly out at that point. So give me — what was the kind of big picture if you’re going to say, “Here’s the thing we wanted to accomplish with this book.” What is it?
Bryan: So actually two things. One to clarify, only the kindle version is out so far, we’re still coming out with the hardcover and audio version in the next number of weeks you know it’s all happening. The big picture is you know at the end of the day, Amazon has now captures 43% of all US ecommerce, they’re growing faster and faster and faster, 52% of households are prime members today and Prime visitors when they hit the Amazon website convert at 78%, 22 times better than any other website out there and so they built a business, a brand, a tribe unlike any other. And there are lots of little pieces on it and as you’ve mentioned you know I’ve talked about conversation optimization, search optimization, I’ve talked about little pieces. But when you fully dissect the beast of why Amazon has grown and why the growth has scaled so much and then you realise other business can also apply the same leavers that they are, we need to make sure it’s out there for everybody.
John: Yeah I’m that typical Amazon Prime buyer, if I want to buy something and this happens all the time my wife finds something and says, “Will you go on this website.” I go onto Amazon first and see if I can find it because I know they have my buyer information, I know they have my address, I know I’m going to get free shipping and so it’s you know, I’m sucked right into that. So the thing that I think Amazon does and we’ll get into the specifics of the actual book because while it is Be Like Amazon, it’s not really about Amazon per say. But one of the things that they do is they’re just time and time again, not afraid to take on markets where people have said, “You’ve got no business going there.” And they just go there and they take the storm and maybe they lose money for a while and the next thing you know they’re dominating and changing the entire industry.
Bryan: Yeah you know they’re definitely not afraid to fail and learn and I think that’s a critical component of what they do and we talk about that as one of their four pillars, this culture of innovation. We all know they went into the Smartphone market and that bombed, but that’s okay, they’re not worried about losing it. And I know the first thing people are going to say is that of course I’m not worried about losing because the stock market is basically funding their growth, they’re not profitable blah blah and I hear that all the time. Even this morning in the last couple of days there’s been a popular video going on this guy talking about how Amazon is not profitable and disrupting retail and it’s not true. They’ve been profitable since 2001. They just know that the times are changing, we’re leaving in a world where customers are on quicksand and the marketplace is on quicksand. They’re setting expectations no matter what industry you’re in for how experiences should be like, how fast you should respond to things, how fast you should take core of issues, how soon you should get packages to people, how soon you should you know respond to a lead form. They’re doing all this, they’re going into home services, they’re going into entertainment winning academy awards. So… the management style — and this is what we really talk about in the book, the thinking of doing it is what allows them to come in there and because they’re so obsessed with the customer — no one is very upset when they get it wrong because they know at their heart the brand is in it for the good of the customer and I think more brands need to start thinking that way and certainly we can look at the [00:05:21] and that may not be the case there.
John: Excuse me. So the — you already unleashed the four pillars so I want to come back to that idea but first I want to talk a little bit about the style of the writing of the book. It is different certainly for you and you know a lot of it is written in the metaphor parable style and you know like who moved my fish — kidding I was combining two [00:05:47] but somebody ought to — I’m going to write that, who moved me fish I like that.
Bryan: You should like that one.
John: But first off… clear up for some people because you know those books can be hoaky, they can be very message heavy and the story is sort of secondary or the characters or the dialogue are just really bad. So you worked with somebody who I think is brilliant [00:06:13] Williams in doing this and has done it in many ways and in many forms. How was that different for you in trying to write a book and how do you feel about how that turned out?
Bryan: So I’ll never forget, we had a friend of ours after they [00:06:30] and you know that was the number one Wall Street Journal best-seller and they came to us and said to us you know, it’s amazing, you managed to put nine books into one. And you know, we’ve always had that habit and Roy talked [00:06:44] presentation about Amazon and it really blew him away with the depth of information that we were giving people and it was overwhelming, there’s only one way to tell this story which is through a story which is what [00:07:01] was about. We know stories carry different impact. The problem with a lot of business [00:07:06] books is that you know you have to read 150 pages and to get one point across you know and it’s the effort of the story. I think what Roy and clearly you know way more talent than me or my brother have, did an amazing job of passing it full of great nuggets of information but also making the story really entertaining. I mean we talk a little bit about the kind of does a little self [00:07:34] in chapter 11 what a good book needs or what a good presentation needs, what a good pitch needs and I think he really did that in the book right, [00:07:43] it needs the hope, it needs the big idea, it needs the step-by-step and it kind of put all of that into the book. I think to really deliver something that you know — Jeffrey and I alone probably couldn’t have done. And as we’re reading the reviews on Amazon [00:07:58] Kindle for now umm we’re seeing that people that are not a big of parables [00:08:06] couple of others are saying but this one does the job [00:08:11] still giving us the five stars so you know, kudos to Roy for his talent. I wish I had you know, a 10th of it.
John: Well and it has a little of something that most business — in fact all business books lack and it actually has some humour.
Bryan: It does have some humour and some nifty lines especially when we start talking about marshmallows and yeah there’s a few good ones in there.
John: So how does this book then for people who have read Buyer Legends and again, we had you on the show to talk about that, how does this relate to that book?
Bryan: So you know one of the things that Amazon has done so well and I think what Jeff [00:08:52] did, he didn’t think of anything new in terms of thinking about the four pillars that we said we talked about, you know he’s not the first person to focus in on customer [00:09:01] that’s not it. This is something companies like [00:09:06] has done and plenty of other companies have done — we even have a free survey that people can take on the Be Like Amazon website where they can grade themselves on the four pillars and it comes from something that people have been doing for like 13 years. It’s just we’ve renamed to match our pillars, but it’s a study that we’ve been doing for these big companies and small companies for years and years and years. That part is nothing new. What I think Jeff [00:09:30] has done is how he’s turned it to scale. How he’s taken this [00:09:37] start-up and made it work which is two key things. One, small independent teams, nothing that [00:09:44] couldn’t feed right? But the second one is they actually use the concept of what we talked about in Buyer Legends, these small narratives. Before every meeting, all the executives have to write a five to six page document explaining what they want to cover [00:10:00] perspective of that customer. And I think once you start taking that approach and telling the story from there — of course we tweak it a little bit because we found Buyer Legends’ formula that’s worked when we brought it into other organizations [10:13] what Amazon does works for Amazon. When you combine the two and you understand how it all — you know how all the pieces work together that’s the brilliance of why they have such scale. So I don’t think you can just say, “Yes I’m going to raise my income and do all four pillars but now we also have to figure out how to inject it into our culture.” And that’s where the Buyer Legends falls in.
John: Yeah and I think that one thing — so we’re going to start with the first pillar that you’ve mentioned a couple of times, customer centricity. You know I think an interesting thing when you think about an online store, I mean there is no — I mean customer interaction in the same way, you don’t walk into your store and say hi how are you doing, how are the kids, I mean it is — it is essentially interaction through clicks and through hotspots on webpages and on forums, maybe some customer service interaction obviously, but how do you think that they do such a good job at understanding what customers want without essentially sitting down like a sales person might with the customer?
Bryan: You know I’ll never forget — I was joking around with a friend of mine who’s in charge of — who led the personalisation effort at [00:11:26] many years back and he had already left [00:11:29] and I think this was when call to action came out and they first started putting out you know people bought this were also interested in this kind of stuff. And at one point he had found a picture of people who like a particular type of sexual encounter book also like clean underwear okay? And he talked about how that made personalisation may have gone a little too far… and of course people got it wrong. But at the end of the day, it’s [00:12:05] it’s just data. Back in the day when you used to have a small store — and by the way this is something that frustrates me [00:12:14] retailers, I don’t care who you are. If you’re [00:12:18] if you’re [00:12:19] if you’re [00:12:20] okay. Let’s set you go to [00:12:24] and you have somebody there who takes really good care of you and I’ve heard it from many people. A lot of people — it’s almost like a personal shopper who — they know them, they know their family they know [00:12:33] they want to look a particular way [00:12:34] great. The problem is that person gets tired [00:12:39] or some illness happens, that history is gone, gone. Right? Those companies aren’t thinking in terms of [00:12:48] right? Basic customer management. How do I record those things? How do I turn those into insights? And that is one of the things that Jeff [00:12:56] has taken from day one. When people [00:12:59] customer centric company, talked about this you know in [00:13:03] 1995, this was his approach. It wasn’t that he was trying to be warm and fuzzy because he’s not that warm and fuzzy kind of guy. It’s just that he knew that every click, every affiliate site that had data on you that you visited, all this information, this book you read, this show you watched on Amazon Prime, everything you share, everything you put into the wish list… gives you insight into the kind of person you are right. And that’s how [00:13:33] it’s all about understanding and valuing people and the experiences and always looking to stay ahead of where they are and looking to give them great experience and it’s funny but it’s paying attention to tiny details, it’s not about getting what people expect right, it’s about what they don’t expect to get right. And so I love this, it’s a great example, two business, totally — had nothing to do with online this could be any business in the world. I have two friends of mine who run business is Tampa Florida okay, very different businesses but yet they both are incredibly customer centric. One of them, he decided he was going to do donuts, he wanted to sell donuts with his family and with his kids, stuff like that. So he started a mini donut factory in Tampa Florida and one of the key things he decided to do was that every single donut is made on spot, so you walk in there, if you’re in Tampa you need to go, you walk in there, not good for our diet but he’s got six pack abs and he still eats donuts every day so I’m thinking if he can do it we can at least sample a couple okay. You walk in there and they make the donut, they take it fresh out of the oil and every single one gets hand decorated and if it doesn’t look like it’s exactly perfect to share on Instagram or Facebook or Yelp or Google Maps it gets thrown away okay. It’s got to be absolutely visual stunning on top of the great taste and the combinations that he’s come up with. That’s customer centric. He’s always thinking about how to shine in the eyes of the customer okay.
John: Puts a little pressure on the decorator.
Bryan: But that’s it you know it’s not fancy people doing it but he teaches them how to do it and it’s funny there’s actually — you can go ahead and Google — there’s a morning show clip with him doing it and the morning show host trying to decorate their own one and he says, “Nah. That one would be thrown away.” Kind of teases them. The second one is a pest control business okay and you know in Florida as in Texas, we get some pretty nasty big bugs down here, you really don’t want to see bugs in your house so bad enough we see snakes and scorpions and [00:15:50] outdoors, you definitely don’t want them in your house. So they have — it’s a company called [Safer Home Services 15:54] they do one a year pest control [00:15:59] they come out, they plug in every hole so that not bug ever get into the place and again, they’re always trying to experiment and improve things, it’s always about delivering it so you never have to call the bug person to come back to your house again for the next year. And it’s worrying that how to get great at delivering these experiences, we talk about also with [00:16:21] how they do it in the book. You know any business can really like… just dominate their industry just by focusing in on the tiny little detail.
John: Yeah and I think that folds very nicely into number two, in fact I think they’re very related because I think a lot of people will say well you’ve got to be customer centric. Well you don’t get customer centric by having a meeting and talking about it and saying here this is what we’re going to do. It’s about paying attention and going oh, here’s how we can optimize this experience or here’s how this little thing you know didn’t work necessarily and in fact this is the money quote in the book, you ready for it?
Bryan: I’m ready.
John: “Continuous optimization is a by-product of caring.” And I think that’s the part that people completely miss.
Bryan: Yeah you know and you know I started in this industry 1998, Jeffrey and I start the first agency for conversion rate optimization and this is why — part of the reason why we had to do this book as a [00:17:18] for 20 years, we had tried to get people to understand hey, you need to optimize, you need to take care of your customers right. And we’ve tried through analytics, we’ve tried [00:17:27] copyrighting and we see what happens. Amazon has completely dominated obviously [00:17:34] retailers fell on deaf ears [00:17:38] getting part of the tactics of [00:17:41] so now you see definitely doing some testing, stuff like that, but the challenge is this is not like you said, this is not a project this is about really accepting and caring about your customers and the pillars don’t work by themselves, it really is what we call a fly wheel, you’ve got to have all the pieces working together and it kind of accelerates one on top of the other so the customer centricity is the first push right? I’ve got to care about the customer, I’ve got to wow them, what am I going to do that’s just going to be so different from everyone else. Okay, what next? Now we focus on continued optimization, we’re going to do things — not everything’s going to wow them, not everything’s going to make the process better, not everything’s going to make the process more efficient for us and for them. We share all kinds of stories from [00:18:25] guys to Jewellers. Every business can find ways to optimize every [00:18:33] marketing, but every part of their operation so that you can find ways to wow customers through that optimization. And you’re going to fail sometimes and that’s okay. So you just take the data and you move to the next thing right. But it’s always about creating values for the customer, not just hey let me change the colour of a button, what value did you add for this customer? If you’re not adding value to the customer really you’re not caring and ultimately it’s not going to have a major impact to your business.
John: Yeah and I would suggest that continuous optimization has to go beyond the purchase, that’s where I think a lot of people drop the ball is you know okay I click the button or I came into your store and bought, what now? What do I experience now and I think that’s where a lot of people just don’t think about it and I think that’s where [00:19:17] major gaps anyway.
Bryan: It’s funny you mentioned that because I’m getting ready to do a keynote in a couple of weeks in New York at a retail conference. And one of the my favourite things to demonstrate this to Amazon — about Amazon is you know it’s the only company that’s ever really done this whole concept of frustration free packaging. Whereas I’m sure you’ve seen a Curb Your Enthusiasm’s clip where Larry [00:19:43] trying to break into his gift and he gets the screwdriver out and then he gets the scissor and then get some — just trying to fight into that package. So what I’m actually doing is I’m bringing two packages that I ordered, one from Amazon and one from Toys Are Us and I’m bringing them right on stage and I’ll invite some people on stage while I’m showing that Larry [00:20:04] clip in the background. And I’m going to invite them to open up these packages and inside — the very inside of these packages is a Rubik’s cube actually so two people are going to walk home with a Rubik’s cube. Difference is, the one from Amazon, the packaging is their regular Prime [00:20:22] you know you can rip it open easily with your hand but still seems to be sturdy enough, obviously someone who obsesses over packing tape, and the other one is like this plastic clear tape that if you don’t have a knife and of course I’m not going to get one from [00:20:35] nobody’s going to be able to even open. Okay but let’s assume somebody figures out how to open it, inside there right, the Toys Are Us one is a clam shell of a Rubik’s cube right and I know you’ve got grand kids and you’ve got kids you know, nothing is more frustrating than fighting through that clam shell to get to the gift that you want. And [00:20:58] made us realise, it’s not about delivering the gift it’s about when they’re finally enjoying it. So in the Amazon box it’s in a paper — in a little cardboard box, just opens up and you’ve got it already playing seconds later. Rules are different.
John: I’ll give them that, they definitely have somebody or an entire department that works on the exact size of boxes or something. So let’s talk about that because we’re kind of getting into innovation for many of the innovations of Amazon really come around shipping.
Bryan: Well it’s shipping, I mean also everything from you know what they’ve done with Alexa and I think you know, from a marketing [00:21:36] perspective, everybody last year kept asking me what do I think the big trend is going to because everyone was talking about AR and BR and stuff like that and I said no, the next big horizons going to be voice, be ready for it. And of course, that was [00:21:51] after I made those predictions and all of a sudden Alexa has 7000 now over 10000 new commands that it understands that you can integrate into it, skills. So yeah you know, the shipping certainly you know [00:22:06] robots and trying to get things to optimize you know how and where they put locations, to what they’re doing in the stores, they’re re-defining stores, Amazon Go project right? The [00:22:20] check-out that they’re trying to do you know, yes it’s not available yet [00:22:25] absolutely, will they lose some money doing it, sure, but they’re going to keep pushing because they know at the end it’s better for the customer if I can get [00:22:32] if I can get products to you in half an hour. I mean two minutes before we got on the call I saw someone drive up and drop off a box that my daughter needed for her class. I mean we ordered it yesterday! Beautiful thing.
John: Well and you know I’m sure a lot of retailers and certainly ecommerce folks hate this but that then becomes the norm too. I mean why would we wait three days for something or why would we get in our car and drive for 30 minutes when we know we can have it tomorrow and I think they’ve created sort of the norm.
Bryan: That’s it and it sets expectations for B2C and B2B right and [00:23:11] at this point as well. [00:23:13] Washington Post, I think every industry is going to be influenced by this, insurance, banking, they can get into any business they want to fast okay and I always like to remind people it’s like if they’re not in your industry yet, what are you going to do when they do decide to get into your industry? How are you going to approach that?
John: So let’s wrap this up because we could tell stories about Amazon and how — we’re both kind of fan boys so we could tell that until we’re blue in the face. I mean how can somebody take these four pillars if they are any number of businesses or a modelling contractor or a hair salon, not necessarily pure digital play but how do they take these four pillars and apply them?
Bryan: Yeah and so this is where we come back to the Buyer Legends right. You really need to get a good understanding of who your customers are. And you need to plan out what that experience is going to be and as we talked about in Buyer Legends but also in the book, you have to start from the end and work yourself backwards right. What’s it going to take in order for everybody to have a five star review? What would it look like, what would that experience look like, what would you have to do? What’s going to differentiate between your hair salon and every other hair salon in the world? And you have to map out what those things are and then you have to [00:24:33] what data can I collect that will let me know if that’s right or wrong. I have a friend of mine who owns a — another passion of ours, a baseball training facility and he’s applied the four pillars to his business and he keeps trying to find innovating ways of okay, how can he gather more measurement in terms of what’s going on with his players and the people visiting so like one simple thing he did was just instead of having a book where people can sign in he turned the sign in into an online checkout form right. So now it’s an electronic data form, little things and it just streamlined the process, nobodies waiting to sign in, everybody knows there [00:25:15] anyway, they go on there, they put it in and they’re done. It just takes a little bit of innovation, a little customer centricity, a little bit of optimization to keep testing it and of course, you’ve got to be agile, you’ve got to keep executing, you’ve got to get it until you get it right and do it over and over again. And you can be just like Amazon.
John: Well one of the things I love about this is you know in a lot of ways these four pillars, certainly they need to drive through the whole organization but they — you could look at this and this is the job of the CEO [00:25:49] organization with five or six people you’re still the CEO but quite often you know we’re doing whatever needs to be done work, as opposed to this idea of focusing on these four pillars and I think this would be the high pay-off work even in the smallest of organizations.
Bryan: We have seen that over and over again you know, every company we’ve ever worked with that we’ve started doing this four pillar work with, the dividends are multiples because it does, it does affect everything from boardroom to stockroom, it affects how your bathroom looks you know, it affects how your parking lot is going to look, how people are greeting people to how things are getting delivered and when you start — and you need the buy-in from the CEO because it’s not going to work if not and you know, I think when we look at — I think we all know retail is going through some terrible times and lots of business are transforming based on the industry we’ve been in that’s caused so much havoc has also been wonderful, this online industry [00:26:57] but I think when you realise that many businesses are not going to survive because of the expectations set by people outside of their industry and newcomers are just going to come in and say, “Oh, well we can apply these same approaches at Amazon to your industry.” You know if they haven’t taken the effort to do it they’re going to really struggle to stay relevant to their customers.
John: So Bryan, where can people find Be Like Amazon?
Bryan: So here’s the cool thing right because after having done this for 20 years, yes they can get a Kindle version right away on Amazon, they can find that. Like I said, we’re coming out with a hard cover, we’re coming out with an audio book, we’ll also be doing the book in Spanish. But even right now if they just go to the Be Like Amazon website just for subscribing we will send them immediately the first three chapters and every two days after that the next chapter so they can get the whole book for free. We just know that the information needs to be out there. So I don’t care whether people pay for the book, read the book for free, it doesn’t matter, the information needs to get out there because if not, we’re going to see a lot of pain in this industry.
John: Bryan thanks so much for sharing. Great book. Pairs well with Buyer Legends so maybe pick up both and hopefully we’ll see you out there on the road soon.
Bryan: Looking forward to it.
John: Hey thanks for listening to the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. Are you an independent marketing consultant or an agency? You might want to check out the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network, it is a growing group of independent marketing consultants and agencies that are partnering and collaborating and using the Duct Tape Marketing tools and really scaling their businesses, so check it out at ducttapemarketingconsultant.com