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How to Stand Out as a Major Holiday Competitor Without Ad Spend

We spoke with Akemi Sue Fisher aka the 'Amazon Queen' about grabbing those last-minute sales.

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When we think of dominating a certain industry or product space, we often think that a generous investment in ad spend is necessary. Nowadays — especially this holiday season — everything online is "pay to play," with more online competition than ever before due to social distancing guidelines and correspondingly vacant shopping malls. This new intertwining between financial investment and online visibility can be inherently discouraging to the millions of small businesses who can’t afford to invest heavily in ad spend after such a financially caustic year. However, there’s another way to stand out amongst the competition, in an arguably more potent way than ads alone. 

Danette Anderson | Getty Images

Ecommerce consultant Akemi Sue Fisher, known as the Amazon Queen, has helped her clients sell more than $2 billion in products on Amazon. From this vantage point, she has noticed just how quickly smaller companies can fall behind on major online-shopping platforms. In an attempt to innovate within business visibility, she recently launched a community called The Luminaries thats composed of professional women and mothers who want more options for making money online. 

Fisher urges us to think of it this way: “Rather than paying 30% commission to Amazon to sell on their platform, the money goes back to the people who need it most.” This, too, is more important than ever before as “between August and September 2020, nearly 1.1 million workers ages 20 and over dropped out of the labor force,” according to CNBC. This has disproportionately affected women, who are still on the market for employment or freelancing opportunities. 

To empower women looking for flexibility in bringing in income and to help small businesses make the most of their ad spend, Fisher is helping business owners launch this new form of social selling and earning to outperform their competitors through word-of-mouth marketing using their social media and user-generated content. Here’s how you can follow her tried-and-true steps and apply this method of affiliate marketing to rev up your sales this holiday season and into 2021.

Related: 10 Holiday Gifts for the Person Who Has Everything

1. Choose one or two key 'hero products'

Your "hero products" refer to the products within your company that tend to be bestsellers as is, so you can trust they can track high levels of success very quickly. Maybe they offer astounding results, are the easiest to use or just have the highest "wow" factors. These products will be on the frontlines of what’s being marketed or advertised.

“People always wonder why I encourage brands to start with just one or two products when they have so many others," says Fisher. "But here’s the thing: If someone can become fanatical about one product, they’ll naturally think, ‘What else does this company have?’ This helps both the affiliates and the customers fall in love with the company more broadly.” 

2. Create opportunities

“Next, offer the business opportunity to work with your company on your website, your social media and in your emails, so it gets in front of customers who are already using your product and who are therefore inclined to talk about them and get paid,” Fisher encourages. “This model works just like the affiliate model, but I also recommend naming the community and mission of these people so they feel like they’re a part of something bigger."

The commission opportunities for affiliates can work on a sliding scale. For an anchor point, Amazon takes approximately 30% commission when you sell on their platform. Through Fisher’s model, there’s a sliding scale starting at 10% commission that goes up as far as 36% commission. This ensures that when the businesses are handing out commission checks, they’re always receiving an ROI.

As for the community itself, this can be fostered via Facebook groups, GroupMe or the Mighty Networks app, another group communication platform that allows for encouragement, success trading tips and more. “This platform will be used to motivate the sellers with weekly power hour zooms to support their journeys,” Fisher explains. “You can teach them concepts such as, ‘The fortune is in the followup,’ and provide a space for them to share their top-selling tips with one another.”  

One of the primary benefits of this model is that the affiliate then owns the lifetime value of the customer they sell to. This creates a huge win-win as well as motivates them to keep selling. Small businesses retain the commission they’re used to forking over to Amazon, but without the need to back a generous portion of their marketing budget to get visibility on Amazon. Then, this commission goes in the hands of affiliates who market for them: individuals who are consumers themselves and are looking for flexible ways to make a living from home. And, as Fisher says, no one is nearly as motivated as a seller who has a commission in the final sale. 

Related: There's No Such Thing as Business as Usual This Holiday Season

This cost-effective approach to generating sales isn’t just for the holidays, to be clear. This is an evergreen technique that will determine which small businesses stand out amongst the others over this next decade. Ecommerce is rapidly growing and expanding, and new, innovative approaches like these will form the future of the space.

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