Hire niche SMI* with the sole objective of getting feedback for samples received from the factory before placing a minimum quantity order with your manufacturer, and definitely before sending a new product to the Amazon (or Walmart) warehouse.
*SMI = Social Media influencers. Source: Who is an influencer?
I have been there. I was an Amazon Vendor and really enjoyed it. What a journey it is! It’s exciting to build a small empire, your own legacy, with your own brand and various products and creations that you have envisioned.
There is so much competition on both the Walmart.com and Amazon (or eBay) marketplaces, and their tools have their limits in terms of showing you which new product will do well.
Before you hit the market with a new product (a brand, or a concept) for your Amazon store. Before you put so many hours sourcing something new. Before you invest in a trip to China (and unlimited different time zone hours on WeChat, Skype and Alibaba interviewing partners). Before you invest your money in hundreds of sample fees, and then on minimum quantity orders. Before all that… make a reliable, stable, conservative test, to eliminate some of the risks. It will save you a lot. And here is my advice:
I. Hire SMI with the sole objective of getting feedback.
Social Media Influencer (SMI) is:
(1) Someone who owns a social media account (min. 50 followers), such as on Tiktok, IG, YouTube, etc.
And – very important too –
(2) Uses it for great – no, amazing – relationship building AND/OR content sharing with their followers.
So you know by now the boost you can get by hiring a good SMI, right? You can get instant gratification – people visit your website, you get attention, you get access to new communities you haven’t dream of, gain recognition, etc. Today though we will focus on you hiring the Influencers with a different goal: getting feedback.
From interviews we’ve conducted with various pets suppliers, the most interesting revelation was that most brands got really surprising, unexpected feedback from SMIs. Here are some examples:
The treat is too big, with low moisture. It’s hard to chew for small dogs, and so the focus should only be on dogs above 10 pounds.
The treat is intellectually stimulating (!!) for the dog because he spent 40 mins on the treat. He was intrigued about how to best eat the treat!
Yes, pet SMI are cute but unless a human is involved, we don’t look for for advice…
One influencer had dachshunds and we found out that they can chew only half the size of our desserts!
An SMI said that he is seeing more poop bags left on trails, possibly because people are walking more often. Unlike before when it was annoying and inconsiderate, it’s now an actual threat to health as well as the environment.Source: Interviews with Dog Brands: How They Work with Influencers
Ok so – how you do it…?
II. Ask the SMI for all kinds of feedback that you need
The feedback can be on your new product idea, new logo, new slogan, web-page, packaging, etc.
Ask the SMI to give you feedback on ANYTHING YOU NEED OR MAY NEED to make your product decision. Here are some ideas:
- Did you find any missing components?
- Does it speak the language (some products with Chinese language only…)?
- Is it “foreign” to understand? If yes, why?
- Could you use it < x times/days (the idea is to find out if it’s getting ruined easily or not)?
- Will your community love it? Why?
- Is it Instagramable/Ticktokble (today that’s how new products sell – if they fit well into Instagram or Tiktok video/picture/visuals or not)?
- Do you think you should add something to it, such as new features, colors, logo, attitude, plastics, etc? If yes, what?
Perhaps ask the infuencer or their followers to rank the product 1-5 (or 1-10…), and leave space for notes:
- Package look & feel
- Shipment time or arrival
- Unboxing experience
- Installation/assembly experience
- Do they like the logo?
- How much did they LOVE it?
Many don’t get it but SMI can be the best consultants! They know your community the best, they know how to tell a story, they know how to convince, they know how TO INFLUENCE, they really do. They’ve done so much A/B testing, and tried so many methods in marketing, publishing, UX, human behavior, emotional triggering, and unbelievable creative out-of-the-box of CTAs (Call-to-Actions), that you’d be kind of a fool not to take advantage of their experience. Their knowledge of your target audience is priceless and… real.
So, ask them:
If it was them, would THEY have sold this product to their community?
What would be THEIR strategy if they were you to bring the message of this new product/idea/etc?
If you hire them to recommend this to their followers, can they tell you how they plan to do it (and their costs)?
IIII. Who’s a good SMI for feedback giving?
Of course, not every SMI can- deliver such feedback. Hire those that are:
- RELATED: Find SMI that are related to what you do – if you want them to give feedback on dog collars, they should own at least one dog. Someone that has cats only might not be suitable.
PS/sometimes there are surprises in terms of relevancy that you haven’t thought about – read about the Orange People…
- LOVE: this is really important – make 100% sure that the SMI is someone who is CRAZY about what you do. Otherwise, it will be apparent and it won’t come truthful.
- RESPECTED by their community – go over past few months of the SMI social media post. Look at their followers’ comments – how involved are they? How much they care about the SMI requests and opinions? If not at all, then that’s not your candidate.
- SIZE: from research I’ve done, a repeated complaint is that big account SMIs don’t share feedback and that “all they want is more contracts, from all possible vendors.” i.e. greedy…. It is therefore recommended to work with SMI that are not too large if you are looking for feedback.
- REPORTING: Will the SMI be able to report well?
Find their qualifications via referrals and direct interview questions. Make sure you signed a contract that cements all milestones and commitments!!
Good luck my heroes, you CAN do it!!
I strongly recommend using a contract for any sponsorship to protect yourself and your business, such as my Brand-Influencer Contract
More related posts:
Why it makes sense for Amazon vendors to create their own Influencer accounts and how can they do it
Start your Influencer marketing early.
How much to pay Influencers (recommended rates included)?
Do I need to choose an Influencer from my same industry?
Which Influencers NOT to Hire, no Matter What #VettingInfluencers