By Jordan Malik, MBA/MS & Award-Winning Amazon Pro Merchant & eBay Top Seller


The 3 C's You Should NEVER Do.

NOTE: This blog has moved to:

You've heard of the 3 C's of marketing, right? Contact, Connect, Communicate?

How about the 3 C's you should AVOID? I call it: Confuse the Crap out of the Customer. Your company or current employer is likely guilty of the 3C's.

Example: My previous employer (we'll call them RBA - Really Big Agency) shows this diagram (above/right) during client negotiations.

The diagram even has the uber-friendly name 'QueryMatrix'. Sounds like a game in the new TRON Movie.

If that wasn't enough, here's what accompanies the diagram:

"RBA provides innovative solutions within the areas of Digital Content Optimization and Consumer-Initiated Advertising. Our holistic Search Marketing methodology leverages four key strategies to connect your brand to your audience through queries. Each of these strategies corresponds with the intersection of Advertising and Content at the Point-of-Search and Post-Search. The RBA QueryMatrix helps marketers drive more profit from each Search Query by closing the loop from awareness to consideration to engagement to conversion. Click on each arrow to learn more about our Query Marketing Solutions.

Congratulations, You’ve Found RBA."

No: Congratulations, You've Confused the Crap Out of me.

What's wrong here?

Any agency - any company - must communicate the value of their service to their customer clearly and concisely.

Since I've left the agency world (last February), I've seen how ridiculous companies like RBA must look. They try too hard to be 'classy' (there's another 'C' word) when describing what they do. Their executives spend weeks huddled in their conference rooms, pontificating and blowing a lot of hot air around deciding what THEY THINK their customer thinks about them.

The end result? Lots of gobbledy-gook and 4-color diagrams. And a Customer Confused as Crap. Do customers REALLY want to "close the loop from awareness to consideration to engagment." Or do they just need to, um, I dunno, MAKE MORE MONEY?

So what can YOU do that's different?

Whether you sell widgets or marketing programs, DO THE OPPOSITE to your clients: Express your value to customers in 1 sentence, 2 maximum.

Here's an example:

"Tell me what you want to do. I'll automate it so you can make more money."
- Mike Koenigs' Social Media Marketing Machines (Not an agency per se, but Mike provides marketing services to people like Tony Robbins and Paula Abdul).

Clear? Yes. Concise? Yes. Confusing crap? No.

Here's another one:

"Skills to the Pay The Bills." Jeremy Schoemaker's Schoemaker is one of the most sought-after and revered Internet marketers today. His company trains people to earn a living by building robust websites and blogs and monetizing them, honestly and effectively.

Clear? Yes. Concise? Yes. Confusing crap? No.

So what about you? Can you say what your company does in 1-2 sentences? Tell me, maybe I can help you refine it.

Stay Classy, Internet.

-J.B. Malik, Founder


Hot Sellers This Xmas, and Some Duds

NOTE: This blog has moved to:

Hello, online sellers.

I hope you're wrapping up (literally) your Xmas shipments to customers and getting ready for at least one day off.

Today,  I'd like to share my online retail hits and misses of the season/year with you. What was hotter than the camera flashes behind Rachel Uchitel? What fizzled out like Michael Vick's season performance?

(Keep in mind that these are from the view of a reseller (like us folks). What was a dud for us to resell still may have been hot in the retail-to-consumer market)

1. DUD: Sing-a-ma-Jigs. Remember the press was ALL OVER this product and it was predicted to be a hit? As of press time, some of these were being sold on Amazon for as little as $6. Nothing like the Zhu-Zhu sensation of 2009 (I remember my Amazon merchant price point of the brown Zhu Zhu's peaking at $60 each last year).

2. HOT (Every Year!). Talking Buzz Lightyear. Every year around Thanksgiving, hocks their talking Buzz Lightyears for a super-cheap sale price of $14.99 to $19.99. I always pick up about 20 of the Ultimate Buzz Lightyears. Little boys DRIVE THEIR PARENTS CRAZY for the talking Buzz Lightyear and It's a hit every year. I sold all 20 for between $45 and $50 each (via Amazon FBA) and I just sold out (This is about a 100% profit margin after all expenses). MAKE SURE (next year) you buy the Talking Buzz Lightyear WITH the pop-out wings that light up on both tips (this seems to be a prerequisite for the die-hard boy fans of the doll).

3. HOT (Every Year Since 2008): The Dark Knight Stealth Launch Batmobile. This was released in 2008 only and it's a hard find. I buy these (new and used) throughout the year on eBay (via my arbitrage method) for $20 to $50 each.  Every Xmas, mine sell for $50 to $150 each via Amazon FBA. Profit margin of 100 to 200% after expenses.

4. HOT: Used and/or New, Out-of-Production Board Games. Make sure these are 100% complete before you ship them to Amazon FBA and/or your customer. Yes, USED games can be hot sellers. I pay $3 to $10 for each of these at thrift stores, yard sales, and/or via online arbitrage, throughout the year. They're actually hot sellers regardless of the time of year.  Examples:
Mall Madness: Used prices via FBA peaked for me at $80.
Acquire (very HTF) sold by me via Amazon FBA for $177.95 (it was new and sealed)
Cranium Cariboo (and other various used out-of-print games by Cranium) peak at about $40 to $90 used.

...Remember, these were picked up by me for $3 to $10 each!

5. HOT: Wisecracking (talking) Spiderman. I bought an armload of these from about a month ago for $14.99 each. They've been selling via Amazon FBA for $34.99 to $49.99 (profit margin of 100%-200% after all expenses/commissions). With the NYC Broadway Show of Spiderman in, ahem, full swing, some Spiderman toys will continue to be hot and I suspect this will be one of them, as it's sold out practically everywhere.

6. DUD: Wow Wee Paper Jamz. I REALLY expected this to take off, but it didn't (I'm lucky I didn't buy any for reselling). Brilliant product, but trying to compete with Guitar Hero, et. al. is difficult. Great execution, but tepid buyer's market.

7. DUD: Squinkies. Another one the press was all over in Oct./Nov. You can still find these on Amazon for $3.99 a pack and up. Not sure why this didn't explode either, but much like the Sing-a-ma-jigs there was a ton of hype and just not explosive demand.

Do you see a pattern above? My hottest sellers were from time-honored brands with a  lot of heritage: Disney (Buzz), Batman/DC (Batmobile) and Marvel/Spiderman (Wisecracking). I call these toys 'evergreens' because I can count on them yearly to bring me in a profit.

What were your HOT Sellers? Duds? Post away (below)!

Stay Classy, Internet.

-J.B. Malik