Today, Malik McCray from SimpliWorks talks about scalable Amazon advertising solutions with no ad experience and how his company is launching winning Amazon advertising campaigns in one click, improving gross sales in as little as 14 days without ever touching an ad account, eliminating keyword research, campaign set up and daily ad management with the first one-click Amazon PPC automation software.
Today’s episode of Deal Closers is hosted by Izach Porter, brought to you by WebsiteClosers.com, and is produced by Earfluence.
Malik McCray:We’ll say, Four or five years ago, perhaps you might get away with having static type of campaigns. Maybe you run an automatic, whatever the case may be. But now, in today’s ecosystem, when we’re seeing a, an increase in competition, you have to be dynamic and it’s, you know, it’s gonna be near impossible for human to analyze hundreds of potential data points to make decisions in a time period that would actually be, meaningful or impactful.
Izach Porter: I’m Izach Porter and on the show today, Malik McCray from SimpliWorks will tell us how his clients are launching scalable Amazon advertising solutions with no ad experience.
All right, so check out this tagline from SimpliWorks homepage, launch winning Amazon advertising campaigns in one click, gross sales in as little as 14 days without ever touching an ad account, eliminate keyword research, campaign set up and daily ad management with the first one click Amazon PPC automation software. Man, as a FBA seller myself, that got my attention right off the bat.
So let’s bring on Malik to tell us how it all works. Hey, Malik, how you doing?
Malik: I’m doing well, Izach, thanks so much for having me.
Izach: Yeah, man. Good to, good to see you again. And, thanks for being on the show.
Malik: I’ve been looking forward to it.
Izach: Yeah, yeah, me too. So, you, you started this company in your NC State dorm room in 2018. What was the problem at that time that you identified and, how did you start to think about fixing it?
Malik: Yeah, absolutely. So, while I was at NC State, what I was doing primarily, I was buying products wholesale and then I was reselling them, on Amazon. And at the time, the brands I was working with had, you know, not a lot of interest in selling on Amazon or selling directly to their customers. it primarily was because it was a huge overtaking just to navigate the Amazon ecosystem, but even more so to actually market their products.
So they left it to folks like myself, to do that for them. And so what I started to see was that this problem was becoming more widespread during the, Covid Pandemic. What we actually saw was a lot of brands and, were looking to sell direct to consumer, primarily through Amazon, but had no means or ways to do so.
And so when we started SimpliWorks, we said, Okay, how do we make it, more accessible for these brands that didn’t previously have the experience or even the, the people, resources to get involved in the action in the e-commerce world.
Izach: Gotcha. All right, so that’s, that’s interesting. I’ve been in that situation myself, of trying to just muddle my way through PPC and kind of testing what works and what doesn’t work. So maybe that’s a good lead in to the next question, which is, what does SimpliWorks do, how does it work?
Malik: Yeah. So, primarily, what we’re doing is we’re taking a very complex and dynamic ecosystem advertising and simplifying that for the end user. You know, on our end we’re doing the complex, analysis on the market, the opportunities and looking for, ways that, kind specific products can compete better.
But for that end user, they’re getting a very simplified experience, simply inputting their budget and letting our system go to work.
Izach: And that, that’s probably a little bit, my, my next question was gonna be, why is it important that a business leverages this type of automation in order to scale?
Malik: Well, well yeah, absolutely. It’s what’s more important is that that business owner is actually marketing their products. You know, Amazon’s a free to play platform, but it’s absolutely pay to win. And as we the, the marketplace is developing, it’s becoming more and more an advertising dominant platform, and brands need to leverage advertising to even stay competitive.
The challenge is the market is just moving and changing so fast, you know? So if you were to rely on yourself to manage these campaigns every day, and you’re in your accounts, optimizing bids, finding new keywords and opportunities, trying to keep the competition off, all these different aspects or elements.
It’s, it’s a lot for, a business owner or even a skilled marketer. And so what, an automation type of solution or a platform does for you, it frees your time, but it also allows you to be, more agile in your decision making when it comes to competing in the market.
Izach: Okay. So as, as you know from our, from our prior conversations, Malik, our, our focus at Website Closers and a lot of what we talk about on the podcast is using new technologies like this to help brands grow and get ready for an exit process. So kind of with, with that in mind, you know, maybe it’s a two-part question, but, who is Amazon Automation best for?
And then can you walk us through like a use case and I’ll give you an example that maybe to tee that up. We just, we just listed a, a premium sandals brand, an e-commerce store, on websiteclosers.com for sale. They’re mostly a D2C brand. They’ve got an Amazon channel that they’ve just started, but it hasn’t really taken off. I don’t think they’ve invested in it. You know, is that, is that your target customer? and then how would you go about helping them to scale that channel?
Malik: That’s an excellent use case, for a specific brand that can get value out of Amazon Automation or a tool like SimpliWorks, others on the platform, are gonna be ones that have established brands, you know, and primarily what we look for are founders or business owners that are invested into building brands as opposed to just selling products.
What Amazon provides for those types of, business owners is an alternative, but also a high growth platform like Amazon, you know? So if you look at where most of search traffic is being driven when it comes to e-commerce and product sales, it’s gonna be on the Amazon platform, over 80% of searches are gonna start there when it comes to product discovery.
So if you’re not on that platform, you’re missing out on a lot of the, potential of customers that are looking for even your product itself. And if you’re not there and they’re not sticky enough, they’re going to often, buy for the competition or another product on the marketplace.
You know? So if you use a tool, like SimpliWorks. You’re able to get directly into the market without having to worry about the hurdles of understanding the advertising, the marketplace and competition levels and things of that nature. And you can compete much faster and much more aggressively than you could if you were to, you know, take these tasks on yourself.
Izach: Gotcha. So how, how do you measure performance at SimpliWorks? What are kind of the, the performance indicators that you look at to know whether the campaigns are effective, you know, cost effective, positive ROI, those sorts of things?
Malik: Yeah, that’s, that’s a great question. one of the key measures that we’re looking at are gonna be your organic sales, but more specifically, the incremental increase in those organic sales. So why advertisers should be investing into advertisements is to rank better organically so you don’t have to pay for those sales long term, ongoing, you know, you can think of it kind of like, renting the real estate on Amazon versus owning it.
And so what Amazon does, you know, and of course, they have us pay for these advertisements, but they do reward us in the form of organic positions, especially as we start to con convert into a willingness to rank on, those specific targets. So that’s our primary measure. But we’re also gonna look at conversion rates, you know, so, things like, your listing conversion, but also your ad conversion. Those two elements together, is gonna give a much better picture for the business owner on what the potential of the platform or a specific product can be because you’re understanding one, what the conversion rate is of your product, but also how the, the advertising dollars are impacting the growth when it comes to organic sales.
Izach: Okay. All right. That’s pretty cool. So you made a comment earlier on in our discussion, you said Amazon is a free to play platform, but a pay to win platform. And I think that’s kind of the nucleus of the, of the KPI that you just laid out, right? So if you’re, if you’re paying for the advertising, you’re building that paid traffic.
But if you’re converting better, so if your ads are working efficiently, Amazon rewards you with better organic ranking, which means that over time you should pay less, or at least you’re getting, you’re getting more of that organic traffic because you’re, you’re at a higher rank. But they need to see that the ads are good quality ads or, or do you have any visibility into what Amazon is looking for to drive that organic search rank?
Malik: Yeah, absolutely. It’s a very straightforward approach for them. You know, they, at the end of the day, they wanna see product sales. You know, so if the, the product is selling in as a function of converting at a high rate and at a good price point, they’re gonna be more willing to show that product in more places.
However, you know, what we’re looking for is there’s not one size fits all. Your product may have different attributes, than the competition, and so generally we have to find the niches or the, what we call the themes of your product that you’re most relevant in, and those themes are what you want to double down on.
Kind of an approach that we take on and we call it theme-based targeting. And so we’re looking for, we’ll take the, sandals as an example. You know, it may be comfortable sandals that were, is a theme for us, or it might even be, vegan leather, as a theme for us. And what we’re doing is we’re trying to see, okay, within these themes, how many connected long tail or more specific terms are included in these, specific clusters of keywords?
And why we’re doing that is because Amazon is going to look at, where you’re converting semantically, so keywords that are closely related, and those are gonna all influence your rankings for those broader terms that you want to, inevitably win on. But maybe more expensive when you’re getting just started in the advertising.
Izach: Okay, so this is what I wanted to get to cuz we had this conversation, I think the first time we talked and you totally blew my mind. Right there, like you got way over my head in, in the le my level of sophistication on, on Amazon advertising. The takeaway for me was SimpliWorks can do this for me. I don’t need to know all that if I use SimpliWorks. Is that, is that a fair assumption.
Malik: That’s exactly right. That’s exactly right. You would be able to move more upstream and focus on those higher-level activities within your business.
Izach: Okay. So, and that brings me back to the theme of the show around getting ready to, to sell your business, right? Because as you go through an exit process, There’s, there’s some time that is dedicated to the exit, and then there’s a lot of strategy in thinking about, you know, who your buyer is and how, how you’re gonna grow your business going forward.
But the business has to continue to perform during that due diligence period in particular, and, and really for the six to 12 months prior to the sale. And taking something that can automate something as important as Amazon advertising. Taking that off the, the founder’s plate, especially if it works well, is, is a huge value add, you know, not only just for the business in terms of their revenue generation and profitability, but as they, but those things all add to valuation as we go into preparing for an exit and, and talking about, you know, the listing price of a company.
So, I think that’s, that’s really cool and something that, I wanted to talk about on the show today. So I appreciate you kind of digging into that a little bit more, so I’m gonna ask a follow up question on that. So, I’ve seen Amazon PPC advertising growing more and more complex, you know, dynamic bidding and a lot of different optionality that you can have into various campaigns.
Do you see more brands leaning into automatic or AI powered solutions? And then what are some tips you’d recommend for those looking to incorporate more automation into the advertising around their business?
Malik: You know, absolutely. I think it’s, it’s gonna be inevitable. You know, primarily because there’s just too many players entering the marketplace every single day, you know? And so for brands, Amazon’s primary goal is to get advertisers to spend. In order to do that, they’re gonna reward those advertisers that are willing to spend.
And so, as of previously. We’ll say, Four or five years ago, perhaps you might get away with having static type of campaigns. Maybe you run an automatic, whatever the case may be. But now, in today’s ecosystem, when we’re seeing a, an increase in competition, you have to be dynamic and it’s, you know, it’s gonna be near impossible for human to analyze hundreds of potential data points to make decisions in a time period that would actually be, meaningful or impactful.
So I think it’s absolutely inevitable for more and more business owners, particularly small businesses, are gonna have to lead into AI powered solution and automation.
Izach: So over time for the, for the clients that you’ve got, maybe this is goes into a kind of a success story a little bit, but what are you seeing for cost of advertising as a percent of sales for the clients that are using your platform?
Malik: Yeah, so what we’re targeting between 20 and 30%, as a percent of those sales when they’re in that growth stage, you know? So you talked about that six to 12 months, before exit. That’s kind of like that sweet spot where you can show a top line growth with a decent amount of profitability, for a wider range of clientele.
When you see a lower cost as a percentage of revenue, typically those breads may be in more of a stagnant type of optimized mode. And that’s okay if that’s where your business is at that point, you know, it may be worthwhile to kind of zero in on those profits. But if you’re trying to really push towards an increase in sales, potentially earn higher multiples, typically we try to play between 20 and 30%.
Izach: Okay. And how much does it cost for a client to use your products and how, how do you charge? What’s the fee structure look like?
Malik: Absolutely. So we look at products as their own individual licenses, you know, so we sell, for a single product, you will be able to manage for as little as $150 a month, per ASIN. And that includes all the variations with, unlimited ad spend as well.
Izach: Okay. All right. So it’s like way cheaper than an advertising agency.
Malik: Yeah, it’s, it’s actually interesting, you mentioned that, you know, and that’s kind of, the model that we’ve taken and when we’ve been in this space, we’ve spoken with hundreds of brands and, you know, there’s benefits of an agency and there’s also benefits of software. But for a lot of businesses that are trying to grow, there is an inherent conflict of bringing on an expensive agency to do so. You know, you’re gonna have to wait months to get results, large retainers often. And so what we provide is an alternative to a traditional agency model that allows users to get in, get active quickly, and see results that are gonna be as good and oftentimes better, than some of those higher cost agencies.
Izach: Yeah, look, and we’ve worked with a lot of great agencies at Website Closers and I’ve talked to a lot of them over time. And I think they’re, there’s some of them that do great work. The one thing they kind of always just pisses me off about the advertising agency model is it’s always based on a percentage of ad spend.
And so there’s this kind of misalignment of incentives where I know the agency is making more money, the more money they spend, but it’s not tied back to return. And of course, you know, we, we talk a lot about returns with my brand and, and with clients that are working with agencies. But I think the software model, it seems to be a lot more aligned with the, with your user’s incentives on providing value.
Malik: That’s spot on. you know, we take no percent of sales, no percent of ad spend. You know, a lot of the businesses we’re working with, they’re very lean as is, you know, and we want to put those returns back into their pro pocket. and ideally they’re reinvesting that back into product line expansion, adding more SKUs and things like that so that those can enter into our ecosystem.
Our goal is to market more products in that, brand’s catalog as opposed to persuade them to spend more.
Izach: Gotcha. Okay. Yeah, yeah, that makes total sense. So are you working with any aggregators or, you know, companies that have maybe multiple brands with multiple products that you’re supporting, with your software?
Malik: Yeah, that’s actually exciting on the roadmap for 2023. Kind of what our approach has been is to get it right at the smallest level down to the individual brand work its way up to an agency. and then of course, by having those suite of tools, it’ll make it a lot more adoptable by an aggregator that has varying needs. but we have, some exciting tools that are on the way.
Izach: Yeah. And then the other thing I was thinking about is anybody white labeling your, your product, you know, an agency that’s using. You know, obviously I don’t, you don’t have to give out any names, but an agency that’s using SimpliWorks to kind of automate campaigns, and maybe that’s just one part of the services they’re providing to their client on the, on the end.
Malik: Right. So we have, a very small subset of clients that we’re beta testing, a white label type of model with. What they’ve usually asked us to do is to have a powered by SimpliWorks type of collaboration there. cuz it makes them, more attractive to their clients knowing that they can now support Amazon advertising along with, some of the other suite of services that they provide.
Izach: Yeah, for sure. That’d be, That’s really interesting. Probably do a whole show on that.
Malik: We can come back
Izach: Yeah, yeah. We’ll have to, we’ll have to do a follow up, in a, in a couple months and, and talk about that a little bit more, but, so couple success stories. You know, what, what kind of comes to mind when you think about, this is why you build the company and this was, you know, this is the success of how, how well this product works.
Malik: Yeah, absolutely. The first one that comes to mind, is gonna be a, company, a small company of two, a husband and husband and wife. You know, and they had a bag company. They came to us originally, with their own boutique. and they had an idea to launch a set of, leather handbags on Amazon. Didn’t know anything about Amazon at the time.
They just said we would love to sell a couple bags a month. and we heard a couple things about Amazon and so they came to us at the very early stages. you know, of course we advise ’em on kind of how to get the goods in to make sure that the quality’s okay and everything of that nature. But that first month that they launched with us, they sold over $10,000 in product and said, whoa, this could really, you know, get legs and over the next 15 months for that company, without adding any additional resources or people, everything exclusively SimpliWorks.
They were actually able to grow their revenue over 750,000 and sell their business for a few hundred thousand within less than two years. And so it was a massive success story beyond their dreams, you know, on what they were looking for out of the brand. but you know, they were able to accomplish that by leveraging, you know, SimpliWorks and Amazon automation.
Izach: Awesome. That is a great story. Alright, so if, if there’s one call to action that you would want for our listeners take from, from this conversation, what would that be?
Malik: Absolutely don’t neglect advertising. I know it’s getting expensive, you know, but it’s gonna be increasingly more important, as, we see this economic downturn play out. The best brands are gonna win that are gonna continue to advertise and market through those times. So find ways to do it lean ideally. If you could save on people resources and find more scrappy ways to do so.
That’s what I’d recommend. Feel free to, to head over to our website, simpliworks.io. and sign up for a trial, you know, and give us a try and we can see what we can do. see results in as little as 14 days.
Izach: Awesome. All right, so, how can our listeners connect with.
Malik: Yeah, so LinkedIn, Malik McCray, would be, a great place. you know, I’m active in the messages, so please do message me. as well, you can find us on SimpliWorks.io. and, those are gonna be the primary channels, as well as Instagram and Facebook
Izach: That was Malik McCrae from SimpliWorks, and if you’re looking for one click automation Amazon software, head to his website at simpliworks.io. That’s S I M P L I W O R K S.io.
Thanks everyone for listening to this episode of the Deal Closers podcast, brought to you by websiteclosers.com. If you like this show, be sure to rate us write a review, press the follow button and share it with your network. And of course, if you’re looking for help selling your e-commerce business, be sure to visit websiteclosers.com.
This episode was edited and produced by Earfluence. I’m Izach Porter. Follow me on LinkedIn and we’ll see you next time on the Deal Closers podcast.