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How to Avoid (Financial) Disaster When Hiring an Agency
Mina Elias is a multiple seven-figure Amazon business owner and the Founder of Trivium Group, a partial in-house group for Amazon to increase profitability and create winning strategies. While an engineer by trade, he ran PPC campaigns for his own companies and founded MMA Nutrition LLC. Mina has appeared on numerous Amazon PPC podcasts and created the PPC University course to help others grow their business.
He is a graduate of the University of New Haven, with a bachelor’s in chemical engineering and a master’s in industrial engineering.
Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:
- [05:04] Mina Elias talks about his transition from corporate America to entrepreneurship
- [10:04] What agency options are available for limited budgets?
- [14:06] How to manage expectations and benefit from marketing strategies
- [18:10] Mina discusses researching Amazon marketing
- [24:25] Can you scale without affecting your profitability and ad spend?
- [29:20] Mina explains marketing campaign costs
- [32:55] What are the benefits of hiring an advertising agency?
- [37:52] The four main focus areas: pricing, creative, data, and reviews
- [42:13] How does Mina measure the success of a new business?
In this episode…
Many agencies crumble when roles are not clearly defined. How can you manage unrealistic expectations to avoid failure? What steps can you take to delineate your goals for success and accelerate your Amazon conversion through PPC?
Mina Elias recommends you ask the right questions — like how the agency measures success — when choosing an agency to take the reins on your Amazon PPC marketing campaign. Communicating clear expectations on deliverables and products is crucial. By examining four key areas that improve conversion rates, Mina’s proven strategies can take your brand from mediocre to extraordinary. Are you ready to learn how to implement marketing strategies?
In this episode of the Quiet Light Podcast, Joe Valley sits down with Mina Elias, Founder of Trivium Group, to discuss educating yourself before hiring an agency to take over your Amazon PPC campaign. Mina talks about managing expectations with any budget, why research and education are necessary before selecting an agency, and measuring success and calculations for a successful marketing campaign. Stay tuned!
Resources mentioned in this episode:
- Mina Elias on LinkedIn | Instagram
- Trivium Group Website | Blog
- Quiet Light
- Quiet Light on YouTube
- Joe Valley
- Mark Daoust
- Walker Deibel
- Jason Yelowitz
- Quiet Light Podcast email: [email protected]
- The EXITpreneur’s Playbook: How to Sell Your Online Business for Top Dollar by Reverse Engineering Your Pathway to Success by Joe Valley
- Buy Then Build: How Acquisition Entrepreneurs Outsmart the Startup Game by Walker Deibel
- Buy Then Build
- Nick Shackelford on LinkedIn
- Mindful Goods
- Helium 10
- Amazon PPC Academy with Helium 10
Sponsor for this episode
This episode is brought to you by MyAmazonGuy, an Amazon agency to help level up your PPC, SEO, Design, and manage your entire Amazon catalog.
This episode is also brought to you by Quiet Light, a brokerage firm that wants to help you successfully sell your online business.
There is no wrong reason for selling your business. However, there is a right time and a right way. The team of leading entrepreneurs at Quiet Light wants to help you discover the right time and strategy for selling your business. By providing trustworthy advice, effective strategies, and honest valuations, your Quiet Light advisor isn’t your everyday broker—they’re your partner and friend through every phase of the exit planning process.
If you’re new to the prospect of buying and selling, Quiet Light is here to support you. Their plethora of top-notch resources will provide everything you need to know about when and how to buy or sell an online business. Quiet Light offers high-quality videos, articles, podcasts, and guides to help you make the best decision for your online business.
Not sure what your business is really worth? No worries. Quiet Light offers a free valuation and marketplace-ready assessment on their website. That’s right—this quick, easy, and free valuation has no strings attached. Knowing the true value of your business has never been easier!
What are you waiting for? Quiet Light is offering the best experience, strategies, and advice to make your exit successful. To learn more, go to quietlight.com, email [email protected], or call 800.746.5034 today.
Hi folks, it’s the Quiet Light Podcast where we share relentlessly honest insights, actionable tips, and entrepreneurial stories that will help founders identify and reach their goals
Joe Valley 0:32
Hey folks, Joe Valley here welcome to a another episode of the Quiet Light Podcast. today’s podcast is sponsored by My Amazon Guy. I know the founder Steven Pope personally, you may have seen him all over YouTube sharing free educational content. If you want to learn everything you need to know about promoting products on Amazon, just go to YouTube and search for My Amazon Guy. You can also find Stephen at MyAmazonGuy.com He will help you level up your PPC, your SEO your design and manage your entire Amazon catalog check him out at MyAmazonGuy.com. Second thing here is I want to give a shout out to Walker Deibel. Author of Buy Then Build, Walker is a friend of mine. He’s an advisor here at Quiet Light. And he also runs Buy Then Build. Walker just became a Wall Street Journal, best selling author also USA Today or no there’s there’s another there’s another thing in there. But the Wall Street Journal is the most impressive aspect of it Wall Street Journal best selling author, and he runs buythenbuild.com If you are looking to buy a business, and you want the fast track to getting it done, and getting it done, right, Walker has helped over with $90 million in acquisitions to buy them build check it out at buythenbuild.com. Now on to today’s podcast. today’s podcast is all about whether you should work with an agency or not. And what questions you need to ask them I’m talking with Mina Elias Mina owns an aging agency called Trivium. It’s Triviumco.com. Mina, it is a multiple seven figure Amazon business owner, an engineer by trade by training and eventually started his own agency as well. Now he’s got 60 to 70 clients, but he does a lot of educational content on whether or not you should be working with an agency what questions to ask what to expect, what kind of guard rails to put on on the agency in terms of if they’re going to double the spending, what kind of role as they need to have and things of that nature. We don’t really mince words very much here we get right into it. I question whether somebody should hire an agency or whether they should bring it in house or hiring a VA and he addresses that quite clearly. He also talks about the fact that you should hire consultants before hiring an agency so that you can know what questions to ask and become educated yourself. Not just on what questions to ask, but you need to get as deep and understanding how to how to do your own PPC as well. It’s mostly Amazon PPC that we’re talking about here. Very detailed. He’s a very experienced guy’s name is Mina Elias and again, he runs Triviumco.com. Let’s take a listen. Mina Welcome to the Quiet Light Podcast. How are you?
Mina Elias 3:21
Great, man, thank you for having me. I’m very excited to be here.
Joe Valley 3:24
Man. We’ve been bouncing around the industry together, never met face to face. But we’ve had lots of calls lots of emails. And it seems like I’m seeing you all over social media. Now you’re talking, you’re presenting your podcast, you’re doing some pretty incredible things. And mostly around the agency side of the business. So tell us let’s tell the audience, give us give a little bit of background for yourself. Please share what your full backstory is.
Mina Elias 3:50
Okay, I’ll give you the elevator background. So we don’t bore bore everyone. But I My background is in chemical engineering and chemistry. I came to America in 2011 to go to college, got my bachelor’s and master’s in engineering, worked up the corporate ladder, I was working in new product development for a medical devices company Medtronic and then moved around because I just was not happy, you know, doing what I was doing as a as an engineer. And then after the third or fourth engineering job I kind of I was like dude, I mean it would be insanity to keep trying the same thing and thinking that there’s going to be a different outcome. And so I decided to start a supplement brand. Not because you know, Amazon or anything like that just because I am a huge fanatic of supplements. And I’m I mean you should look at my cabinets. I have like 20 different supplements. You know, creatine glutamine. I’m always making cocktails every day, and I just love supplements. It’s like biohacking and that kind of stuff. And so I started this brand I was an MMA fighter and I wanted to create a an electrolyte powder that didn’t have sugar and everything that I found online had sugar. It had low sodium, which for me as a fighter, sodium was very, very important. And I was like dry scooping chicken broth at night after training to rehydrate because it’s three hours of like sweating intensely. And then after I created the brand, I someone messaged me and said, Hey, I have an MMA event, I’d love for you to come bring your your stuff and, you know, showcase at the event, I made the 40 bags I showcased at the event, I sold 25 of them. And people said, Where can I buy this? And I didn’t have an answer. And so I lied, and I said I was gonna get it on Amazon is gonna be on Amazon soon. And that’s what got me into the Amazon space is that one lie. And so I got completely obsessed. And I’m like, I can’t let everyone down. I already told them I was gonna do this, and immerse myself in the Amazon world, got the product up there, three weeks after that event, started selling. And I noticed that, you know, the two main levers that I can pull to increase my sales was PPC and reviews. So I really double down on those things. And one thing that I realized was PPC is a very like analytical pattern recognition, Excel sheet type of thing, which I was good at, because as an engineer, and so you know, as I got better and better, I noticed I was in the Facebook groups asking questions, and I noticed people were asking some of the questions I, I thought I had answers to. So I gave my opinion, I said, I’ve tried this, I’ve tried that this is what happened. That’s what happened. And then it felt like somewhat overnight, I became everyone’s like, favorite PPC guy. And all I was doing was just sharing my experience I wasn’t giving any like, this is the way to do it. This is a guide, I’m I’m like your Savior. I was like, you know, I just spent 10 grand in the last week trying these different things. And this is the outcome, this is what happened when I put 20 keywords in one campaign, it didn’t work out things like that. And that, you know, continued to happen, I was sharing value, and 2020 Hit COVID Hit and I’m like, You know what I’m staying home, I really think I want to add a lot of value and become like, you know, micro famous, you know, in the Amazon space. So I hopped on 5060 podcasts once a week. And then I shared as much value as I can I really like tried to jump back everything I can because I know there’s a few ways you can be famous one of them is like you put out a mixtape, I wasn’t interested in doing that. And another one is, you know, being like an entertainer. And then one of them is adding a lot of value. And I figured this probably what I can do is add a ton of value. And I went down that rabbit hole. And I became you know, more and more known for PPC and an aggregator probably someone you’ve dealt with hit me up and they said we need training for our team. But we want to test you on a brand first to see if you can walk the walk. So they tested me on a brand and I beat out like a bunch of other agencies that they had also hired for the same reason. And, you know, I was like, You know what, like me, I’m maybe I’m good at supplements, but I’m really great at this. And, you know, I didn’t have really I wasn’t married the day I started my business, I said I was never going to be married to a business, I was always going to do what’s right for my goals, which is complete and total freedom. So if tomorrow like a TV show came and said, Hey, we want you to be on this cooking show, we’re gonna make you 10 times more money, a fraction of the work and you can have all the freedom that you still want. I do that. So, you know, I got into the agency space because I figured I’m passionate at it. I can be the best in the world. And I can add so much value that I’m gonna get compensated according to that value. And that’s how I became Trivium.
Joe Valley 8:39
Good, man. Good. Thank you for first not doing the sex tape. I greatly appreciate that. If I recall, I mean, you’ve had seven, multiple seven figure businesses and you’ve exited. How many of you exited as well. Just one, just one. And was that with Jason here at twilight?
Mina Elias 8:55
No, it wasn’t I mean, we I think I tried one at one of the other ones with you guys, but it was too small to exit.
Joe Valley 9:01
Gotcha. Okay. On to like agencies and discussing agencies. You know, a lot of folks in the audience own businesses are trying to buy ecommerce businesses are FBA businesses. And they want to not do all of the daily work of promoting the product and think an agency is the solution to it. You know, I’ve been doing this for over a decade, Mina and I’ve had 1000s of conversations. And half of the people say, you know, I tried an agency and you’re better off just keeping it in house and the other half say, yeah, definitely. An agency is the way to go. Can you now that you are an agency owner, and I know you’ve done presentations like this before? Can you sort of address the top questions that somebody should be asking an agency before they make a commitment commitment to them? Yeah, so
Mina Elias 9:55
I think I think the best way to walk through the different asks Seems like the easiest way first, to evaluate this is like, let’s say what are our options? And the options are. And it’s very going to be very budget dependent, too. So if you’re very low budget, your options are do it yourself. Hire VA, do it yourself with the software. Right? If you have somewhat of a medium budget,
Joe Valley 10:22
well, you can finish and have a low budget and medium budget.
Mina Elias 10:25
So a low budget I would say is you you can’t in for the management x aspect, you can spend more than $1,000 a month
Joe Valley 10:32
for the management aspect. Yeah, that’s not for somebody like, yeah, so you’re, you’re paying somebody $1,000 a month. And then on top of that, you’re you’re you’re paying for that and spending the ad spend. Yeah,
Mina Elias 10:43
so for for management as a as a budget $1,000 in that range. Or up to it is you can either do it yourself, you can, you can hire like a virtual assistant, someone who is low skill, but trainable train them, have them do the actions for you. Maybe utilize a software, not an automation, I would stay away from automation, I would focus on tools that it takes you four hours to manage your PPC, it’s going to make it one hour, something like that. Tools are those. I mean, atomic is a good one, PPC Ninja is a good one, basically tools that have bulk, like bulk action capabilities, where you can filter through a bunch of data, say, Okay, show me all of the keywords that have spent over $20 Have not generated any sales in the last, you know, 14 days. Let me evaluate that. And then, you know, add negatives or whatever, by a click of a button, you know, sort of thing. So that’s the kind of software basically just a tool like using Excel instead of using your notebook. That’s kind of what I’m talking about.
Joe Valley 11:45
And so for the lower budget, what kind of money gets translated into how much of an ad spend people would generally have? If they’re having a management fee of $1,000 a month to any agency and your price about the same? What’s their PPC budget? Generally?
Mina Elias 12:02
I wouldn’t even look at that I would look at your profit, I would say your your sub $5,000 a month in profit, if you’re sub five, because it’s all about how much can you reinvest in the business. So if you’re, if you’re spending 30 grand a month on adspend, but your net profit at the end of the and so you said like me, and you had seven figure business, I’m like, great, but it wasn’t like a seven figure profit. It was like, you know, low six figure profits. So if you’re, you could be spending, you could be making a couple million a year with 5k a month in profits. You can’t afford like a 2500 a month agency because your your what happens when you have like a low month or something and now you need to buy more stock, and you’re completely out. So that’s kind of what I would look at look at as the indicator is if you’re doing $5,000 or less in profit, then you should have that low budget of 1000. And again, it’s it sucks because PPC is a huge pillar. It’s basically half of your business. The other half is your conversion. But budget is budgeted, it’s always going to hold us back at some point.
Joe Valley 13:04
And when we’re talking about this, and you’re talking about PPC, I’m talking about agencies in general, or do you recommend that you find an agency that is only focused on PPC or something that where they’ve got a variety of services that they offer under one umbrella?
Mina Elias 13:23
Yeah, so that’s a good question. So so then you you move on to the second tier, right, which is agency or maybe a skilled overseas employee. Now, the, the agency is going to become more of an advantage when there they are, like a specialist that PPC and they have a team around PPC. With umbrella, I’m not going to say that they’re all bad, I tend to stay away from umbrella no matter what I do. Like if I’m looking to do SEO for my business, if I find a marketing agency that does SEO, and Facebook and Google and 700. Other things, I’m going to be a little bit worried that they’re not masters at their craft. So I think I think the it’s going to come down to okay, how good are they? And so that’s kind of the second thing is the questions that you should be asking agencies before hiring is, you know, are they gonna are they going to teach you and what is their strategy. So if I can break down the strategy very clearly for you, but before we start, this is what we’re going to do, here’s the actions that we’re going to take, you can actually do this. So the way that I do things is I can I can tell you everything that needs to be done. And if you want, go ahead and do it yourself like yours, all of our trade secrets, go ahead and do it yourself. My value is not in the in the knowledge and secrets it’s in the execution is how refined is your team and your business that you can run these actions very consistently and notice patterns and then recognize these trends in a cost efficient manner. So for us like when we manage ads, we basically have five people on the account, not just one and they’re not all spent In full time, right there, five people fractionally. But because I have, you know, 67 or something clients, we are able to make that cost efficient because it’s like the two euro model, right? Where it’s like, one guy only screws or not one guy only puts in the tire, one guy only does this thing. But because they’re pumping out hundreds of 1000s of cars, you can have one guy full time just doing it. And so that’s kind of where what you should be looking for as an advantage. So if an umbrella agency does have that sort of ability of like having a division, where every one is specialized, that one thing does it really well can explain to this strategy and then also has that added benefit of having like a photography studio, so they can help you with your content, or whatever it is, then yeah, that’s definitely an advantage. But if you notice that they’re more of a generalist, and they’re not a master of one, then I would stay away from the umbrella. And then the second thing is, so back to the questions that you should be asking agencies have a very clear identification of what the scope of work is, what the deliverables are. So scope of work is like, what are you going to do? What does that encompass? Let’s be very clear on what you’re going to do. The deliverables, so what are you going to deliver to me in terms of actions in terms of reports? What are the expectations? So let’s manage expectations from the beginning? Because I think 90% of agency failures, regardless of like, is it a good agency or a bad industry is from not managing expectations? I’ve been at fault many times for having unrealistic expectations when an agency when I when I hired an agency to build my website, and I’m like, I expected them to come up with this insane, like, you know, Nike website. And they’re like, Yeah, but, you know, we never discussed this. This is like completely out of our way. What
Joe Valley 16:49
if you got a new? What if you got a new business owner that’s, you know, in the corporate world, and they’ve purchased this FBA business, and they’re wanting to run it on the side? They don’t, they don’t know what questions to ask.
Mina Elias 17:01
Perfect. So I’m glad that you asked this question. That’s not a that’s not a good enough excuse. I think that’s that’s just the sad excuse. Actually, there is plenty of people like me, and who are, know what they’re doing. And plenty of people on LinkedIn, who are running ads for other brands that you can easily hire for hourly to show you what needs to be done. And so if you’re in that position, where you’re like, Mina, I want to give off PPC, because I just don’t understand it, and it’s not attractive to me, and I just want the experts to take care of it. It’s almost like you’re you’re waiting to be conned by that mechanic where you bring your car in with a check engine light. And he says, Well, your engine needs like 60 replacement parts and you know, your your whatever vacuum hose is broken, and you end up with a 2000 I
Joe Valley 17:54
don’t want to I don’t want to become a mechanic. That’s what I’m going to the mechanic. So Exactly. How do you find the one that you trust without becoming the mechanic in this case,
Mina Elias 18:03
you have to understand PPC to a certain extent. So it’s no longer acceptable for you to go hire an expert without knowing anything. So I think the first stop for you is, let’s say you find someone for $100 an hour to consult you. You just type in Amazon PPC on LinkedIn, you’ll find hundreds of people that manage PPC for different businesses, and maybe you find some brands that you you know, you’re a little bit familiar with or, or you look at their Amazon sales, and they’re doing well on Amazon, and you message that guy say, Hey, I would love to pay for a little bit of your time, you know, once a week or something to just show me how Amazon advertising works. That’s it. This Now the beauty is this guy has no incentive to sell you on anything, because they’re working a nine to five job, they’re managing Amazon ads, they know what they’re doing, and you’re looking to be educated. Now, I would do this with two or three different people to get two or three different perspectives. And I’m sure you’ve done this, like where you start to get into something. And so you hit up like four or five different agencies and you hear like different sales pitches. And you’re like, this one mentioned this, this one mentioned that and you kind of start getting a full picture. Just do that. But with consultants and so that’s where I would start is you can’t have zero knowledge you have to have at least some knowledge so that when when the mechanic comes and says hey, the check engine light is on. You have this this and that you’re like hey, but you did not plug in the car computer. What are the codes and then he’s gonna be like, Oh, this guy knows what he’s talking about. Well, okay here because he’s like, okay, that has nothing to do with the actual engine parts. Why are you saying this? This guy is a con. This other guy says shows you the computer says hey, check the computer. There you go. These are three codes. You can Google the codes and this is what needs to happen. And then you’re like, okay, cool. Now you know what needs to happen. So that would be my first step. If you are someone who’s looking to acquire business, you don’t understand anything about Amazon advertising. Find a few people who have no incentive. i My have an incentive to sell you, right? So so I’m not saying, you know, don’t trust me, but as an agency owner, I might, I might be telling you some things, you know, that are like, hey, you know, you should do this, you should do that, or this is so hard, you should just hire us, you know. And, of course, I’ve seen so many of those agency owners who will complicate and fluff and talk super high level. And I’m like, I don’t understand it enough. I just want to hire these people stay away
Joe Valley 20:24
from like, I like the idea of hiring a consultant for an hour two, or multiple consultants spend $1,000, you’re gonna get a great education to help you discern which agency is the best option? Can we touch on how agencies get paid? Right? We just talked about the flat fee. But how did it how do they generally on average, get paid?
Mina Elias 20:45
So I think there’s a few models, one of them is percentage of spend? And that’s the one that I don’t understand at all. And I think so, you know, Nick Shackleford, right. He mentioned the story when he used to work at Apple, and they used to penalize him if he did not burn through all of that budget, because then the, they would take away that budget. So I think that’s where it started, might have started where you are penalized if you didn’t spend all of the money. And so the agencies got like a percentage of spent as a bonus terrible, like that wouldn’t be a model, that model does not work. I mean, as an as a brand. Why would I ever pay you a percentage of what I’m spending, because you could just rack up a huge bill and not convert? Well, and then be like, okay, there you go. So the other one is just a straight up percentage of revenue. I think that one is all right, I personally wouldn’t go for it. Due to the volatility of like, what happens if you are not a stock or your conversion rate tanks because, you know, you got 10 negative reviews, or You increased your price by one and a half because you felt like it, then then so that one is not like a great option either, then you’re left with a with a combination of you either do a flat rate, which is like, okay, we’re managing three products for you, this is how much it’s going to cost for our work. And our incentive to perform well is to keep you so you don’t churn. And these will generally be a flat rate with with very low commitment, like, you know, maybe a three month commitment or something, then month to month, versus like, you know, a 12 month commitment. And then there’s the hybrid of the flat fee plus a percentage, which sometimes I like to do with certain brands that I feel like we can add value more than just like ads, where it’d be like, hey, it’s a flat fee, and maybe give us a percentage of the new revenue we generate. Because I feel like we can really like scale this and how
Joe Valley 22:33
you measure the new revenue. There’s inside of Seller Central and the PPC accounts, you can measure how measurable is everything in terms of new revenue or orders that are generated from the PPC advertising? And why not just pay per order or something like that?
Mina Elias 22:50
Yeah, so this so this is, so this would, I think, only I would like it if it’s a total new revenue. So if you’re doing $50,000 a month in revenue, and we take you 200,000, that net would be 50. And you can like take an average based on like the last few months. So on the last few months before you started using us, you’re doing on average 50k a month, now you’re doing 100k a month, that’s 50k in new revenue, I wouldn’t go with just PPC because I know that PPC affects organic. So, you know, so significantly, that if we killed your PPC with organic would tank and if we doubled our PPC your organic would double. And as a result, I’m like Amazon’s attribution is not that accurate. So it’s better off going as a total. And this is big, as soon
Joe Valley 23:35
as I get that, why not go on a, you know, a cost per transaction or conversion, you know, paid per conversion, and just do the math on it. Because you know, there’s going to be a halo effect where you’re gonna have organic orders as well, why don’t agencies do that kind of transaction? Because that too, I would think to the product owner, that you can build the in your profitability into that, as opposed to a percentage of that $50,000 in revenue. I guess the only caveat would be that that the advertising has to remain a small enough percentage or true revenue. Do you add that stuff into contracts?
Mina Elias 24:16
Yeah, there. There’s definitely a guardrail. There has to be a guardrail on like, you know, percentage of new revenue given that, you know, let’s say we’re doing we’re at a 4x return on adspend. Right now that we don’t do anything under three. And so it’s like, okay, I get it, we have to scale you, there has to be that margin, because you can never scale without losing profitability. So it’s like, okay, you can scale lose a little bit of profitability, but then, you know, you can just you can just go to like one extra return on adspend and say, hey, you know, we’ve scaled you.
Joe Valley 24:45
You just said you can never scale without losing profitability. Do you really believe that? I mean, what if I’m just absolutely horrible at PPC and then I hired your company, you can do better than I can.
Mina Elias 24:57
Yes, yes. But but he Here’s the thing, for you to scale, there needs to be a test needs to happen, right? Because there’s a certain number of keywords out there, each one of them at a certain bid is gonna get a certain return, that return is completely unknown to us. It could be a bad return, or it could be a good return. And there’s one way to find out and unfortunately, you have to pay to find out. So if you’re at a Forex row as and I’m like, Okay, I’m gonna test 20 new keywords, there is no way you can stay at a Forex row as unless you nail those 20 keywords, and they’re all magically, perfectly profitable. And so as a result, I think there’s, there’s way too many brands that, that actually feel like, hey, you know, we’re doing a for exercise we want we want you to, they come to you, and they say we want you to scale us and not affect our profitability or return on adspend. Or, if we can maintain this return on adspend. Scale us infinitely, I always get that I’m like, I mean, this is the best thing ever, right? If I could just magically figure out the results of every single keyword, that’s what we would do, we would only choose the ones that had a good return on adspend. But you have to go through that phase of where you buy the data, you spend the 10 or $20 on that keyword, and then you figure out, is it profitable or not profitable? So there’s always a factor of reduction in the return on adspend? To get that?
Joe Valley 26:23
How long does it take to sort of for you to to learn about the brand and learn about the testing and scaling and seeing what’s going to work and what doesn’t work? Is it one month, two months, three months to really understand it?
Mina Elias 26:39
No, I think it takes a month to understand the brand and not know how things work. And then from there, it’s an it’s an infinite cycle of buying data, or running it for profitability. So it’s up to you. So after one month, you could you tell me, we have a $10,000 budget, I want you to take 1000 of that budget and run it and spend it on the keywords that are the most profitable, and the other 2000, I want you to use that to identify new potential keywords that could be very profitable. And so we would take that, let’s say 2000, maybe we would identify 1000. So we add that 1000 to the 8000, we’d now left with 9000 profitable keywords. And then we have $1,000 left in the testing budget. Do you want to continue to test? Do you want to add another 1000? On your spend? Or do you want to retest that 1000 until you’re left with everything is profitable? And no, you’re running on only 10,000 and no testing budget. And so that’s the way to look at it. And the faster you spend money, the faster you’re going to learn that it’s that simple.
Joe Valley 27:41
Okay, one thing I’ve come across over the years, when I’m selling businesses, you know, they may have hired an agency partway through last year, and then they stopped four months later, you know, because the advertising budget blew up, and it didn’t really generate a return on investment. That is nothing we can do in the ad BEC schedule about that expense. It you know, because it’s testing and people test all the time, and the new owner will test as well. Therefore, it’s not an add back. But there is sometimes a setup fee. And I see agencies that will charge a setup fee to take the brand over and bring it in house and get the ball rolling. How do you in certain situations that can be an add back? Yeah. How do you feel about agencies that charge setup fees? What’s the logic behind? It doesn’t make sense, or does it not make sense to you?
Mina Elias 28:33
Yeah, I think the setup be make sense. You know, as much as obviously, it’s not attractive for a brand, I bet you that you can probably get away with the setup fee, if you did a longer commitment. I think the problem with the I think that the reason that setup exists is because agencies have been pinched too much in the past by someone comes in, they say okay, like let’s start working. You work with this brand. And then two weeks later, they’re like, oh, like our sales are going down, they freak out. And then they leave. And you basically got your entire team started working on this brand, you’re renaming campaigns, you’re building portfolio, you’re doing all of like the upfront work that is not like that steady state, like Let’s optimize and let’s launch to campaigns sort of thing. And you got all hands on deck to work on this brand. And then it was all for nothing. And you basically you got maybe a one month retainer where you actually lost money because the the amount of labor involved was a lot. And so we actually calculate how much time and money it takes for each of our team members to you know, work on this brand. So we know for now, on average, let’s say it’s going to take eight, you know, eight hours or whatever $1,000 to work on this brand every single month. And then sometimes the setup could be twice as much that time. And so you you just add like that additional $1,000 is a setup fee, something like that. And so I think that’s where the setup becomes from now if you’re going to stay with the way If you’re locked in for like six months, the agency might be like at school, we don’t need a setup fee, because we’re gonna make our money back. I mean, like that 1000 divided by six months is it’s we can waive it, versus
Joe Valley 30:10
let me just go with the math that you just said. And I, I know that you’re just ballparking numbers and just talking, but you just said, you know, eight hours, you know, $1,000 a month, eight hours a month of dedication? Did you mean eight hours a week? Or really? Did you mean eight hours a month dedicated to the campaign? Because if you meant a month, that’s $1,000. And you can hire a VA for $1,000, full time? Yeah, you know, as long as maybe you hire these consultants that you’ve talked about, to set up SOPs for the VA, and you spend $1,000, on the consultants, and then $1,000 a month on the VA? Well, you’ve got somebody dedicated 40 hours a week to your campaign versus an agency. Why, again, why the agency versus the VA? Rep.
Mina Elias 30:56
Yeah, so the eight hours is a ballpark. So don’t definitely don’t quote me on that, I’m just giving an example of like, it might cost twice as much time for for the team to work on the brand in the first month than it will on every other month, because you’re kind of cleaning up the mess and making everything nice building the dashboards, all that kind of stuff. Now, this is a very good question. Because you have a very good option of why don’t I just hire a VA or hire someone skilled overseas and bring on a consultant to train them, this is a very, very, very good option. And you can do that. And that’s kind of the route that I took, right? Because I didn’t obviously become an agency by hiring an agency, I became an agency. Well, I, as a brand owner, I learned how to do everything myself. And then I built standard operating procedures, I trained someone and I spent many hours with them, showing them how to do things, until they were able to figure some things out on their own. And I can kind of direct them and say, Hey, like, I want you guys to do this and that, and then they were doing it. So that is definitely a valid route, if you want to take it. And I think that’s another option.
Joe Valley 32:02
The now before before you go further, I want to I want to state that I asked that question. But I want everybody in the audience to know that Quiet Light does not do their PPC in house. Right? We’ve got an external agency, we don’t do Amazon ads, obviously. But we’ve got an external agency that we’ve hired, as opposed to going the route of a VA or bringing somebody internal. I just want to state that first. Content. No, that’s
Mina Elias 32:26
definitely good. So I think that there is some pros and cons, the pros are that you have someone that is dedicated in your team full time, the cons are there, they’re not going to be that same as the Toyota system, right. So you’re not going to get the benefits of having like five people, each one specializes in one thing, while working on your account are all really good at what they do. And kind of like sharing that because you don’t have economies of scale like an agency would do. You also don’t have the benefits of the sharing of information across different brands. So we see so many things happen across so many different brands. And we’re everyone is learning from everyone, but you don’t get that. But I mean, on the flip side, you could hire someone who does see that many brands, you know, for example, like thrive, CEOs head of advertising, and they could consult you because they do see like he probably sees like 200 different brands. And so he could kind of give you those learnings. So there are ways to go different ways to go about it. You know, it’s kind of tough to say, what what should you do, right? Because it’s all going to come down to but are you going to be able to hold that person in your team accountable? Or, you know, are you going to be able to find an agency that is an honest, hardworking agency, because I think when you find a really good agency that is hustling that’s hardworking, that wants to keep your business that is pouring different resources over the delivering because they care about your reputation, you’ll you’ll have something that’s better than a single person.
Joe Valley 34:00
Look at it, it comes down to individual choice, right? Yeah, you know, you don’t want to grow your business to the level that you become incompetent. If you’re not great at managing people, you need to be real careful about whether you’re going to choose to bring in VAs or employees versus outsourcing to agencies. So I believe it does come down to a personal choice and and you know, how you want to operate your business and what your goals are with the business. And it’s up to the individual Quiet Light, we’ve chosen to go with an agency for our PPC, totally, totally understand that choice as well as the choice to bring it in house. Talk to me about some of the other you know, things that people should ask agencies if they’re going to hire one of the mistakes that they can that you’ve seen people make and how to avoid them.
Mina Elias 34:50
Yeah, asking how do you measure success I think is one of the most important questions that you need to ask right up front because we are definition of success could be one thing and definition is another thing. So a lot of times I tell people when they come when they sign on, I say, Listen, PPC is we’re going to show your product to as many people as possible. And we’re gonna get a lot of them that are going to click on it. Now if they choose not to click on the product, even though so we just encountered yesterday, I had a conversation with someone who were talking about supplements. And we took him from like 5000 impressions a day to 25,000 impressions a day, so five times more. But but his click through rate is sub 0.1%. And so people just don’t want to click on the listing. So very, you know, at the beginning, we said, hey, like, we’ve noticed that this happens, if it happens is out of our control is just, we are doing our job in terms of advertising your product that people don’t want to kind of walk through the door, and click on the product. And then the second half of this is, hey, we’re advertising effectively, we’re showing your product, a lot of people that are clicking on it, you can see that we took you from 100 sessions a week to 1000 sessions a week. And Sessions basically means unique visitors coming into the listing, but your conversion rate is 5%. And so we need 20 people to come into the listing to convert, and let’s say at a half $1 cost for each person to come into the listing, your cost per acquisition is 12 and a half dollars if you have an agency
Joe Valley 36:18
like yours that focuses on PPC also help them with the ads themselves or testing new ads, or is that something else that they come up with?
Mina Elias 36:29
So the ads on Amazon, the good thing is majority of them are non creative. They’re just you’re advertising, the listing. So that sponsored products advertising, there is video and the headline search ads, which have creative, but you know, that’s a very small part of the business, I would say the majority of the ads is coming from people searching for a keyword and then your product shows very natively as if it would an organic search result, and would have a tiny word that says sponsored on it. Or if you click on a listing and scroll down, it will say sponsored products related to this item. And it’ll show you know other competitors. So that’s the majority of it, there’s still
Joe Valley 37:07
ways to improve the conversion rate once they click on the ad itself, whether it’s you know, improving your bullet points or your photos, your descriptions and things of that nature, do not get involved with that at all, or is that something that you would refer one of your clients out to? To somebody that’s an expert in that area?
Mina Elias 37:23
Yeah. So there’s, let’s say four main areas where you can improve it right, the general listing, which will say like title bullet points, you know, questions on the listing, simple things like that. That’s something we can get involved in, it doesn’t need a whole lot of expertise. It just needs like simple know how pricing. This is, this is something that, again, is not too hard, because it’s just split testing pricing and seeing what happens to conversion rate, then there’s the other two that are the big ones creative, which we I mean, I wouldn’t I don’t want to say that we’re a creative specialist agency, I we’re all of us are engineers, and we’re really good at data, analytics and interpretation. So we stay in our lane, and we refer to like mindful goods is our like, number one creative person. And we like to refer out to her. Her team uses PickFu, and they do split testing, and they come up with really good creative. And then the fourth one is the reviews. And this is something that no one really can touch because it’s a huge liability.
Joe Valley 38:24
I mean, my friend owner what’s mindful? What was the name of the group? You just spent goods,
Mina Elias 38:28
mindful goods, Daniela, her her name is Daniela mindful goods.
Joe Valley 38:32
I just went to mind for goods.com. But it’s it’s that’s not it, is it? Yeah, I
Mina Elias 38:37
think it’s mindful, good zip code. Let me see.
Joe Valley 38:39
Fair enough. I mean, if we’re gonna mention somebody, we might as well give out the URL, right? Yeah, Amazon listings done better for E commerce brands, mindful goods.co. So check that out, folks, if you can. And I do see some images. There are some folks here as well. Okay. In terms of the commitment, how long I know, you mentioned one month before, but realistically, if I’ve, if I’ve got a business, doing a million dollars a year in revenue, and my profitability is a couple of $100,000 a year, you could break that down to, you know, on a monthly basis what I’m doing, how I’m launching new skews where I want to scale up, if we’re talking seriously, how long should I commit to you? How much time and effort should I be putting into this with you as an agency or any agency that I’m going to talk to? It doesn’t seem to me like one month is enough based upon my experience. Now, granted, we need to have what you said guardrail so that you’re not taking my budget from 10,000 a month to 20,000 a month with no additional profitability, the obvious, obviously, with guardrails that are put in place. Ideally, if you could just snap your fingers and have everybody say they’re going to commit to you for X amount of months. so that you can fully prove that you’re able to scale. What is that timeframe,
Mina Elias 40:05
I think three months. And I think there’s a few things that you can do to like, I mean, three months is three months, right? But you can have a bad three months where your communication is bad, and you’re not giving people what they need. And those sorts of things, you can have an amazing three months, and I think you, you always want to set up the agency for success, and then give them three months to show what they can do. Now, the things that you can do to set them up for success is, number one, make everything very clear for them in terms of what your products are. And then you know, like, basically, like what’s going on some history, things like that, number two, have a very clear goal. If you can’t have a goal of I want you to double my sales and improve my profitability at the same time, it’s like you’re trying to bulk and get shredded at the same time, you can’t really do the two lysis
Joe Valley 40:58
coming from an MMA fighter film. So we’re talking about bulking in terms of weight and defining your muscle losing body fat as well. Exactly, gotcha Is
Mina Elias 41:08
there gonna require two different things, one is going to require some extra cardio cutting down your calories, the other one is going to require, you know, less cardio and eating more. So what I would do is, I would say, in the first 30 days, I’d like you to clean up, what you see is obvious, it can be cleaned up. And you know, remove all of the deadweight basically any of the keywords that are spending money not generating sales, all that stuff. So what I should see is, my sales should be relatively the same, my sessions should maybe drop a little bit, my my spend should drop and my return on adspend should increase. And again, nothing like crazy, we’re just cleaning up here. So that should happen in the first month. And then in the second month, I would say spend six weeks growing and scaling. So I should see that spend is going up. And and obviously you you define it, you say in the next six weeks, take me from spending $1,000 a day to spending $1,800 a day as profitably as possible, or $1,600 a day. And they should be able to launch new campaigns, test new keywords, all this stuff over the course of six weeks, increase your sessions. So you can start measuring, how are my sales going up? Sorry, how was My spend going up? How are my sessions going up? Because that’s the direct kind of correlation to spend? How was my cost of each session? So am I spending more to get people into the listing? Or is it relatively the same, maybe just a little bit more, and are my sales going up. And if you see that positive trend, you know that they’re doing something good. And then it’ll take maybe a couple of weeks, two to three weeks at the end? To kind of reduce anything that wasn’t working and say, Okay, let’s establish a new benchmark. So at the end of the three months, you have two weeks where they cut down any of the stuff that didn’t work. So now you’re left with, you know, old spend New spend old sales, new sales old return on adspend, new return on adspend. And that is a very easy way to say over three months, what have you guys done? You did the cleanup. So we know when we started you clean everything up. You started from a fresh slate, we benchmarked how was I before we use do how was I before you scaled? How was I after you scaled and it tells the full story.
Joe Valley 43:13
Excellent. And how many conversations how often our clients communicating with agencies during this initial three month period daily, weekly.
Mina Elias 43:24
I think it should be daily, I really think that it should be daily. And definitely in the first month. I personally like push people to talk to us daily. So we can align like we’re getting aligned every day for 30 days. And it’s like, okay, there isn’t there. We’ve had, let’s say, 20 working days to make sure we’re on the same page. If we’re not, it’s either the agency’s bad or the person is not communicating and you as a brand. You don’t you you want to leave any, like let’s say relationship with an agency, you want to leave that knowing that you did your best, and that it didn’t work out not because of your actions. Because, you know, thinking back when I was a brand, I’ve definitely done some things where you can always throw the blame, right? I like to take full accountability for everything. But I used to, you know, sometimes the blame at the agency. And now I’m like, You know what, there was a certain amount of things that I could have done then after you know, it not working. I could have been like, you know, I can sleep well at night knowing that I did everything I can possible to make this work and they messed it up.
Joe Valley 44:27
Excellent. I like it. We’re going to wrap up there. I’m looking at a couple of locations where people can get educated on their own. It’s Triviumco.com. Blog. There’s a blog there where you’re talking about a lot of different information. And also on LinkedIn. I’m seeing, you know, found you on LinkedIn, Mina Elias, on LinkedIn. There’s a lot of videos and training that you do right there. You share it quite a bit.
Mina Elias 44:54
Yeah, I have a ton of value coming out on LinkedIn. And by the way, I’m sure a lot of people here Your are members of Helium 10. I have a full PPC training course on Helium 10. So if you’re a member there, just it’s the PPC, PPC, PPC Academy, Helium 10 PPC Academy. And it’s 35 videos, many many, many hours of me breaking every single concept of Amazon advertising down with over the shoulder like me doing things in Excel me changing things in campaign manager. So hopefully it’s the last advertising PPC, Amazon PPC training that you need. But that’s a huge resource. Yeah,
Joe Valley 45:33
you become the mechanic. You watch that instead of instead of becoming a mechanic, you watch that. And then you can communicate effectively with some expertise behind you with the different agencies that you may be interviewing. Like, it Mina not sorry. Ways to people to reach out to you most effectively is its email website. How do you want them to find you?
Mina Elias 45:57
Instagram at theMinaElias and then LinkedIn Mina Elias, those are I think the best two places to find me.
Joe Valley 46:04
Excellent. And we’ll share links for those things, folks. Mina, thanks for your time today greatly appreciate it. Thank you so much.
today’s podcast was produced by Rise25 And the Quiet Light content team. If you have a suggestion for a future podcast, subject or guest, email us at podcast at quietlightbrokerage.com Be sure to follow us on YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram and subscribe to the show wherever you get your podcasts. Thanks for listening. We’ll see you next week.