Tips To Using AMS Ad Campaigns on Amazon.com To Grow Your Sales

Advertise on Amazon.com with AMSAmazon has a really simple ad program available to help you grow your sales.

Many people refer to these ads as “AMS ad campaigns” because Amazon Media Services runs the program.

Here’s how Amazon positions these ads:

  • Start a campaign for as little as $100
  • Pay only when shoppers click
  • Optimize performance with detailed sales reports

3 ways to advertise your products on Amazon.com

Amazon Product AdsAmazon offers three different approaches to promote your products or brand.

  1. Product Display Ads are cost-per-click product or interest targeted display ads that drive traffic to your product listing on Amazon.
  2. Headline Search Ads uses keyword targeted cost-per-click search ads offered. They allow brands to drive traffic to a brand page or to landing pages at Amazon with 3 or more skus (Amazon calls them ASINs).
  3. Sponsored Products are keyword-targeted ads that allow you to advertise the products you sell on Amazon.com. They use keywords in your campaign to the search terms that shoppers use to search for products at Amazon.com. When a shopper searches for the keywords in your campaign, your ad can show up.

Your ads will appear on the product detail page, on the left rail of search results, at the bottom of search results, on the customer reviews page and at the top of the offer listing page – in other words, all over the place.

Use AMS ad campaigns to generate a >500% ROI

I haveamazon-marketing-services-ad been using AMS ads extensively for the last 6 months and have generated an average ROI of 500% on my advertising dollars. There’s no catch but it has been a learning process. Not every ad campaign has been a winner.

AMS ads are not pretty. The creative for your campaign is automatically generated through the Amazon Marketing Services ad builder. You can customize the headline and logo before you send the ad. Importantly, you don’t need an ad agency or graphic designer to create effective ads.

Best of all, AMS ads are inexpensive. Amazon Marketing Services uses a cost-per-click, auction-based pricing model. You set the maximum cost-per-click you are willing to pay. The more competitive your bid is, the more likely your ad will be displayed.

Tips to getting the most from your AMS ad campaign

  • AMS Advertising on AmazonFor your first ads, pick your best sellers. Don’t be tempted to bring attention to slow movers or new products.
  • Create a short catch-phrase likely to interest your target audience to use for your headline. Don’t simply copy your product description into the headline. I’ve found “Save Now On…” works well unless there’s a key benefit I can highlight.
  • Click the option to display your ad as quickly as possible (don’t let Amazon spread it out evenly). Unless you’re overbidding, it’s hard to make impressions, so get as many as you can.
  • Change the month of the end date. Set the end date as far into the future as the system will let you (several months). You can end it anytime manually.
  • I have found product targeting drives sales better than interest targeting.
  • Select at least 25 (more is better) products to target. Don’t focus on near in competitors – think about the larger category or space your audience could be searching for.
  • Enter specific keywords, even key-phrases, highly relevant to your product. Try a variety of keywords and phrases, but remember that relevance is key.
  • Relevance matters when targeting, not only to get the most out of your ad (you want it to sell once you get traffic), but also to prevent your ad from being stopped.AMS Ads
  • Start your bidding around $1. This is your max out-of-pocket cost per click and you may be forced to raise it if you are not getting impressions (meaning you are not winning the bid). You can always raise your bid later. I like to proactively raise the bids of my most expensive keywords when they are generating sales.
  • Your stats aren’t show in real-time and can actually be delayed by a day. Don’t rush to make changes, especially at the beginning.
  • We’ve found that it pays to touch our ads every few days. Add keywords, or pause non-performers, extend the end date or change a bid. Do this with winners and losers.
  • You’re not obligated to spend your whole ad campaign budget. You can pause or end your ad at any time.
  • Name your campaigns by what you are trying to do. The default names aren’t helpful at all. Trust me when I say you’ll never remember once you get more than a handful of ads running (we’ve run 47 different variations and stuck with only a handful longer term).
  • Amazon has an ad performance dashboard that you should check daily. If you’re spending money but not generating sales, stop your ad before you lose more money. Try to improve your ad before running it again. An exception to this is when you are trying to get attention to a new item but think of this as an investment.
  • Look at your short-term ROI (return on investment). If that ROI is uncomfortably low (let’s say 100%), step back and try to decide why. Something isn’t working, so either stop the ad or try to improve it.

Try many different approaches with small sums and commit more heavily when you see something working. This is the secret to our crazy high ROI percentages.

Good Selling!
Active Search Results (ASR) is an independent Internet Search Engine using a proprietary page ranking technology with Millions of popular Web sites indexed.

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Are You Asking These 8 Key Strategic Questions?

 

Don't shoot yourself in the foot by not asking these 8 strategic planning questionsOne of the worst things that you can do is to engage in the planning process and base strategies on a flawed set of assumptions.

8 Key Strategic Questions is a tool for strategic and business planning reviews designed to get you thinking differently. Some of the questions may not be applicable in all circumstances e.g. process groups probably do have competitors, although they do have customers, changing market dynamics, etc.

1. What is the market? (Past, Now, Forecast)

  • 8 key questionsHow do you define your market worldwide? Is it defined by technology? End-use application (products offered)? Customer type or characteristic (market need)? Method(s) of distribution?
  • How big is the worldwide market in which we compete? How has it grown? How is it expected to grow? What drives the growth? Which geographical area is growing fastest?
  • Which segments do we currently serve and why? Geographic? End-use? Price-point? Product performance? How have the segments (served and unserved) been growing? How are they expected to grow?
  • What trends are affecting this market today? How are these trends impacting the overall market and the segments we serve?
  • In what cycle of development is your market? (Start-up, early growth, maturity, decline).
  • What are the key characteristics of your market?  Concentration? Fragmentation? Oligopoly? Hostility?

2. What is the competition? (Now, Past, Forecast)

  • 8 key strategic questions to askWho are our major competitors? What is their share of market? Do they play in all segments? Where are they strongest? How has their market share changed over the past five years  By segment?
  • Do our competitors manufacture similar materials to our own? Did they develop their own technology? What are their facility plans? What are their technology plans? Are they a leader or a follower?
  • What are the competitors’ manufacturing economics? Are their plants small or large? Flexible/inflexible? Are they positioned to capitalize on trends in the industry? To drive trends in the industry to their advantage?  What is their pattern on bringing on new capacity?
  • Is this market subject to competing materials? What materials compete? What materials are expected to compete in the next five years?  Do these materials have large competitors or are they fragmented?  What are the technology and economics of the competing materials?  What are the performance attributes of the materials?  Is their penetration of the market drive by specific applications?  Is their penetration of the market driven by specific applications? Economics of the end-user?
  • How does the competition market its product? How do they price? Are they a price leader or follower? Are they engaged in market development? Which segments? Have we noticed trends in their level of marketplace activity?
  • Is any of the competition adding capacity? If so, where? Does this pose a threat? How? What are their economics for new capacity (both incremental capacity in existing facilities and greenfield)?
  • What key competitor actions have been unanticipated in the past?
  • How global are our competitors? What competitive advantages or disadvantages does their global network give them? If they are regional or national, do they have the capability of becoming global?

3. What are your competitive advantages?

  • 8 Key Planning QuestionsAre we the cost leader (including production, opex and capital utilization) in our major market segments? Are we cost leader at each level of the cost chain? Manufacturing? Distribution? Marketing and Selling? Are our customers’ costs lowest when they do business with us? Are their profits highest when they do business with us?
  • Are we the technology leader in our major market segments In our rate of development of new products or penetration of new markets? In our rate of commercialization?
  • What are our competitors’ costs? How does their technology compare with ours? What about their total delivered costs? What are the customers’ economics when they do business with our competitor?
  • Have we effectively differentiated ourselves in our market segments? Have we done this through brand? Service? Product design/features/technology? How does our differentiation translate into improved profitability?
  • What barriers exist to allow us to sustain our cost or differentiation advantage? Do we have proprietary technology? Economics of scale? Unique distribution? Government regulation?
  • What switching costs exist for our customers? How might our competitors try to lower these switching costs? How can we lower the switching cost of our competitors’ customers?
  • What strategic shifts have taken place in your industry over the last five years? Have they eroded or strengthened our competitive advantage?
  • What changes do we expect over the next five years? How will they potentially impact our competitive advantages?

4. What is your mission, objectives and goals?

Goals, Objectives (market share, revenue growth, profit growth, cash flow, geographic, technology position)

Mission Framework for 8 Strategic Questions You Should Be AskingGoals and objectives are definitive and results oriented, derived on strategic assessment and reflects what you must do to achieve your Vision. Accomplishment of the goal should be measurable.

  • Should we grow, maintain or harvest this product segment? / CUSTOMER segment? / geographic segment
  • If we are going to grow this segment, what is your growth goal – market share, revenue, EBITDA, cash flow?
  • Do you need a partner or strategic alliance to reach your goals?
  • What sustainable competitive advantage is your growth plan built upon?
  • If the goal is to maintain your product segment, how will you make sure that you are following a maintenance and not harvest strategy?
  • Why is strategy maintain as opposed to grow?
  • Which criteria should be used to measure maintenance?
  • Do we need to continue to own this segment? Should we joint venture it?  With whom? Should we sell it? Potential interested parties?
  • If your recommendation is harvest, should it be a slow harvest or a divestiture?
  • Does your business strengthen any of your sustainable competitive advantages? If so, how?

5. What are the key strategic programs recommended to achieve your mission and goals?

bang-head-against-brick-wallStrategies reflect most efficient and effective road to achieving goals. They should show best practices and innovative thinking.

  • What are the key strategic issues in your segment?
  • What strategies will be implemented worldwide?
  • What strategies will be implemented in specific countries or regions? End-use customers?
  • How will technology flow between countries?
  • Do we want to have one face or multiple faces to the customers in different geographies/based on product mix, quality, technology level?
  • What growth opportunities exist worldwide and in each region and how will these be achieved?
  • What trade-off decisions between opportunities in this segment have you made?
  • Are there support products we must develop to implement a strategy?
  • Where are your centers of manufacturing, technological excellence (development) for this segment? Does one region have the lead in development? If so, how will the needs of the other regions be supported?
  • How will you encourage the development of different products based on the different needs and cultures of each region?
  • What support do you need from the staff groups to implement your plan? (Finance, Human Resources, Sales, Marketing, Sourcing, R&D, Ops, Engineering, Legal, others)
  • Does their need to be a high level of integration between the plan for your segment and another segment?

6. What are the resources required for the recommended strategies?

  • Are You Pricing For Volume or Profit?What capital needs to be invested in each year?
  • What R&D programs need to be started or completed?
  • What training programs, new skills, etc. Are required from our employees?
  • What support is needed from outside consultants?
  • What resources are required from each functional area?
  • What are the returns from these investments?

7. What are the risks in your plan?

  • 8 Key Planning Questions to ConsiderHow much of your sales/earnings growth is tied to increases in prices?Volume?
  • What is the impact on your financial results if price and costs are 1% higher or lower than you anticipate? 5%?
  • How much of your plan is dependent on the economic environment?
  • What change in customer need puts your plan at risk (or other customer actions)?
  • What is the supplier fitness-for-use criteria to which you are most sensitive?
  • Which competitor is best positioned to block your strategy?
  • Which competitor has a competitive advantage which would make him better at implementing your strategy?
  • How will we know if your strategy is not working? What is the lead time for major capital and strategic decisions?
  • What technological breakthrough is your strategy dependent on?
  • What technological breakthrough puts your strategy at risk?
  • What critical employee skills is your plan dependent on? What training/hiring plans do you have in place to meet these needs?

8. What is your track record/credibility?

  • 8 questions for strategic planningIf your business does not have a solid track record of performance, what critical success factors will lead to a different performance in the future?
  • How do you want your strategy evaluated? Measured?
  • Which elements of your strategy should be included in incentive compensation? Over that time period?

If you really want to succeed in your planning process, ask yourself this one simple question

If you were to join your competitor’s business tomorrow, what would you do to attack the business you worked on yesterday? What are the three most dangerous things competitors can do to you (can be from a product perspective, customer perspective, market access perspective, technology? What can you do to protect/immunize itself, offensively succeed?

Good Selling!

Are You Building Your Sales Plans Without the Customer?

Are you building your sales plans without the customerWhen it comes to building annual plans, how disciplined are you?

Lots of annual plans are built by the executive team, especially finance.

Where’s your voice?  More importantly, who’s talking to the customer about how to grow their business?  That’s their goal, too.

Mutually strategies don’t just happen.  They need a plan, good communication and, ultimately, agreement.

Use this approach to build an annual customer growth plan

1. Sales Review

Sales ReviewStart your plan by calling out a specific customer.  Not a channel or your “other” group.  Make it personal.

What’s been their sales history?  Break it out by quarter.  Forecast the coming year and compare it to the one just completed.  What’s the percent change? Do this for every pertinent product category

2. Product Review

Product ReviewNow it’s time to dig into what your customer’s product mix was.  What was their top sku’s?  Is this mix expected to change based on trends in the category?

3. Promotional Program Review

Enter planned promotions in this section.  Be sure to include an implementation plan and indicate who will pay, and how much.

4. Promotional Calendar

Enter your promotion and other customer events in the calendar.  Mark the months where the activity will be occurring.

5. Issues to Resolve

Issues to resolve with your customer to grow their businessThis is the section to outline the roadblocks to your success.  Maybe it’s the elephant in the room, but if you and your customer don’t address these issue jointly, the relationship can fray and the growth you plan for won’t materialize.

6. Customer Committed Actions

Customer commitmentJust as you’ll commit to taking certain actions, the customer needs to have skin in the game.  There’s a good chance they will willingly work to grow your product line but committing to specific actions in writing will give you something to measure against all year long as you update the customer on their progress against your joint business plan.  These steps could include price increases, commitment to take new products, joint calls, training and other activities that will increase their product knowledge, sales and profitability.

7. YOUR Committed Actions

Your committed actions to drive growth - for you and your customerEnter YOUR company’s committed actions such as:  Joint calls, customer call frequency, promotional support, customer events, availability, and product, training).  This is critical because in order to grow your customer’s business, you have to be willing to make an investment in that growth.  This commitment will reinforce the customer’s desire to do business with you and increase their confidence that they can achieve the growth you’re suggesting is possible.

Committing strategies to paper is different than having them in your head

Writing down a stBusiness-Planrategy forces you to think.  Developing a business plan with your customer builds your relationship, deeps their commitment to growing the business and helps you jointly work through issues that could stand in the way of success.

Good Selling!