Ashley Armstrong began her Amazon journey by writing and publishing books for her children. Just a year after putting her first books out on Amazon, she had written six more books and even became an Amazon best-selling author. Seeing the wonders of Amazon made her curious about the true potential of the service. So, she dove deep into research and soon discovered how to become a successful Amazon seller.
For her research, Ashley Armstrong attended every program and every event she could find that would give her the necessary knowledge. She also invested a lot in mentorship from business experts and built her own company. In less than two years, her company reached a value of more than $1 million.
Then, Ashley Armstrong teamed up with successful marketer Dan Hollings, who was the man behind the hit book and movie “The Secret.” Together, they consulted with clients, trained them online, mentored interested students, and even helped develop software tools. These activities helped Ashley refine her knowledge and acquire new skills and techniques.
Now, Ashley Armstrong’s success has led to recognition from the industry. She has been featured in several major publications, such as Medium, Authority Magazine, Thrive Global, The List TV, CBS, NBC, ABC, and Fox News.
Ashley Armstrong has also established her own eCommerce consulting firm that has helped thousands of sellers position themselves on top of the market through navigating the “hidden rules” of Amazon, driving up their sales and building a loyal customer base. With her help, these sellers have seen an average of 140% sales increase in just 30 days.
Check out more interviews with business experts here.
Jerome Knyszewski: What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Ashley Armstrong: I believe what makes my company different is the fact that we live and work by the motto “When I Rise — We All Rise!”. This motto is based on the fact that while climbing the ladder of success, you are no better or worse than the people above or below you and all can add value to your journey to success. If I succeed, so do my clients, students and team, not just financially, but on a personal level as well.
For example, as my success grows I am introduced to even more entrepreneurs who are also on the road to success. Those entrepreneurs may express to me that they need a content writer or website programmer to help them along the way and someone on my team may be the perfect fit to help them grow. Therefore, I make the introduction, helping my team members become entrepreneurs themselves building out their own agencies and providing jobs to more people. Therefore they become stronger in their own fields while building long-lasting working relationships!
Their success then helps me grow and vice versa! My team is my rock and I always try to lift them up whenever possible for when one succeeds, we all succeed making for a strong team who always helps each other grow and prosper! We truly love what we do!
Jerome Knyszewski: Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Ashley Armstrong: The dreaded “burn-out”, unfortunately, happens to the best of us during the building of a successful business and even today there are times I need to remind myself to step back, take a break, and focus on self-care. There are tips and tricks to help avoid burn-out, and the ones that have always worked best for me are:
- a) Find Yourself a Mentor — someone who inspires you, someone who aligns with your goals and energy, and someone who can help you overcome the obstacles all entrepreneurs face. A mentor will be the best addition to your life and your success as they will help you realize you are not alone on this journey. They have been there, done that, and can help you avoid mistakes that they themselves made along their journey to success.
- b) Focus on Fewer Tasks — I am known for having a million ideas all at once, and although they all may be great, if I focus on too many at a time…none are successful. It is important to give every task its due attention as trying to complete millions of things at once only allows for millimeters worth of progress. If you focus on fewer tasks at a time, you can make miles worth of progress on each, allowing you to achieve your goals faster and more efficiently.
- c) Create a Great Team — As an entrepreneur and business owner it is often hard to release responsibility to someone else, but you cannot achieve success on your own! By creating a team of like-minded specialists, you can build trust and begin delegating responsibilities to others, especially the $10 hour tasks, while you focus on the $10,000 hour tasks. Plus it allows time to focus on other aspects of your life such as family and self-care.
- d) Learn from the Best — I was fortunate enough to be asked to be a contributor to Steven Samblis and Forbes Riley 1 Habit for Entrepreneurial Success book. It turned out to be not only a best seller but the largest entrepreneurial book ever published of 300 life-changing habits to turbocharge business. From some of the top authorities and celebrities today like Les Brown, Chuck Liddel, Alec Stern, Sharon Lechte, Joe Theismann, Prescott Ellison, Brian Smith, Rob Angel, Bas Rutten, Kevin Sorbo, Kerry Gordy, Paul Logan, and Marla Gibbs, to name a few. This 800-page book is the secret key to not only avoid burnout but succeed with ease. Found in 39,000 places off and online like at Amazon.
Jerome Knyszewski: None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Ashley Armstrong: First and foremost, my spouse David Forward High-End Closing. Whatever crazy dream or idea I had, he fully let me run as hard and as fast as I could, and every time I crashed and burned, he picked me back up again with reassurance.
Second, was the Amazon and Marketing guru Dan Hollings who was the strategist behind the $300 million mega-hit movie/book, “The Secret” and over 35,000 students. He noticed not only my drive but my constant wins and we partnered up for over 4 years discovering and delivering strategies to this day that consistently finds hundreds of thousands of free-found-money for Amazon sellers.
Third, my PR and Media mentors Chris Winfield and Jen Gottlieb of Super Connector Media out of New York. They really do business differently and they had the most profound effect not only on my business but for me personally as well. The success of being published in Entrepreneur, Medium, Authority Magazine to name a few. As well as being invited multiple times to national Emmy Award-winning programs that air on ABC, NBC, CBS, and FOX NEWS stations coast to coast that reaches viewers in more than 40 percent of the country, is amazing. That is just the tip of the iceberg. I am so grateful for every single person who has been a part of my journey, unfortunately, there are too many to share.
Jerome Knyszewski: Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. The Pandemic has changed many aspects of all of our lives. One of them is the fact that so many of us have gotten used to shopping almost exclusively online. Can you share a few examples of different ideas that eCommerce businesses are implementing to adapt to the new realities created by the Pandemic?
Ashley Armstrong: When the pandemic hit, many people and companies were forced to pivot their businesses to online selling as more and more individuals choose to shop exclusively online. I have witnessed several brick and mortar stores begin the switch to online sales which creates a whole new set of issues when it comes to using and understanding platforms and tools as well as, marketing and sales.
The new realities of online shopping have skyrocketed, the ones that quickly saw the need to offer pandemic related items like gloves and face masks are the ones that really profited. They offered what the consumer needed, ignoring their other products for a short time taking advantage of the opportunity. Or they changed up their product from a bottle of booze to a bottle of sanitizer.
Another example is something I do with my clients. Create a customer retention strategy that moves new shoppers from say Amazon, over to their own website to capture their email and info creating a larger billable asset for the company. By example, implementing a support group for those who bought their product. It could be simply a how-to-use group, or a 21-day challenge group. Local businesses with already existing Facebook groups allowed their brick and mortar store owner members to offer a product, to help them gain sales when they had to be shut down. These “going the extra mile for their customer” actions created engagement like never before of loyal tribes over the last few months and the word of mouth advertising is going up drastically due to it.
It has become imperative for all new and existing entrepreneurs and businesses to move past their normal way of business and serve their audience in a different way in order to survive local shutdowns. It allows them to reach a whole new audience of shoppers they never have had the opportunity to sell to before. In fact, the companies that had help with pivoting from a consultant found that their online sales blew their brick and mortar sales out of the water!
Jerome Knyszewski: Amazon, and even Walmart are going to exert pressure on all of retail for the foreseeable future. New Direct-To-Consumer companies based in China are emerging that offer prices that are much cheaper than US and European brands. What would you advise retail companies and eCommerce companies, for them to be successful in the face of such strong competition?
Ashley Armstrong: First, most people do not realize that over 60% of sellers on Amazon are “mom-and-pop” businesses! So shopping on Amazon is actually helping a family put food on their table in many cases, especially now. Amazon said during the pandemic, small and mid-sized businesses earned an average of $160,000, instead of $100,000 year-over-year, a 60% increase.
The fastest way to cash for a retail business owner is to do a joint venture partnership with a professional Amazon seller. Or of course, they could set up their own online store and spend forever learning how to do it all wasting time and money. Think of it as a wholesale opportunity, it allows the brick and mortar to quickly move inventory using someone else’s expertise and already matured seller account. Also, it allows the professional seller to get inventory that is ready to be sold and shipped. The pandemic stopped all production for a while and left online sellers without inventory, therefore, It’s a win-win situation.
Everyone has been affected in one way or another by the pandemic but there is one thing that binds us all together, the fact that we want to support local people in order to save our own communities and help our economy recover. Start networking!
Regarding competition, that is part of the game and business. Get used to it but stay focused, stay in your lane and never get complacent. Always continue to grow and advertise and market your business, otherwise you will get left behind!
Jerome Knyszewski: What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start an eCommerce business? What can be done to avoid those errors?
Ashley Armstrong: I have worked with thousands of entrepreneurs over the years and have also heard from hundreds of typical 9–5 hard-working people who want to become their own boss and start their own company. This has become especially prevalent in recent months as job security for many no longer exists due to business closures and layoffs.
The one thing I find in common the most is that many underestimate the amount of time, energy, and capital investment it takes to run your own business or scale it. People seem to see the dream of being an entrepreneur but do not understand the actual work that goes into it, or where to begin to achieve it.
To avoid some of the dangers of starting an eCommerce business, you must first calculate the amount of time you have to dedicate to developing your brand and products. You may be selling handmade blankets that take you an average of 4 hours each to make. Then you get an order for 50 blankets. Do you have 200 hours available to make that many and have them delivered on time? Do you have the time to research your competition, implement changes, develop your branding, messaging, and website, and deal with consumer questions and feedback?
You must always plan ahead and expect the unexpected because running an eCommerce business is often not a 9–5 job but more in the beginning. So you must evaluate what end result you want with your business and if it fits your personality…because sitting down on the beach doesn’t happen right away.
Capital investment is also something many eCommerce sellers do not plan for as many feel the initial investment cost is only getting the product produced. However, there are also fees for advertising, accounting, lawyers, copyright, software tools, etc., and you must also plan ahead for emergencies such as manufacturing breakdowns, product returns, shipping failures, and more!
Being an online entrepreneur is an exciting journey and one that needs a strong business plan that covers all aspects including time, energy, and capital investment. Do your research to see all the moving parts, the lead times, how long to profit, before diving in to ensure you are ready for everything the eCommerce world will throw at you, and you will find great success!
To truly avoid errors and to fast track your learning curve, hire a business advisor and or eCommerce consultant!
Jerome Knyszewski: In your experience, which aspect of running an eCommerce brand tends to be most underestimated? Can you explain or give an example?
Ashley Armstrong: Systems, processes and automation are extremely underrated. Think about a brick and mortar store. What do the employees do all day long? They stay in the store waiting for a customer to walk in, maybe cleaning up and folding the same shirt 10 times. They know people will be walking by and eventually someone will walk in.
That does not happen on the internet, you need to be seen, be found, searchable, and in everyone’s face all the time in order to get anyone to see what you have to sell. The days of 7 min attention span no longer exist, we are down to 7 seconds, so you better make the 7 seconds you get from a potential customer count. That is done with proper product positioning supported by SEO, advertising and marketing, whether done organically or paid and that takes a lot of moving parts and expertise.
Jerome Knyszewski: One of the main benefits of shopping online is the ability to read reviews. Consumers love it! While good reviews are of course positive for a brand, poor reviews can be very damaging. In your experience what are a few things a brand should do to properly and effectively respond to poor reviews? How about other unfair things said online about a brand?
Ashley Armstrong: Every eCommerce seller will receive a bad review at one point or another and the first thing you should do is not take it personally. You must avoid an emotionally charged response to a bad review as you mustn’t allow emotions to dictate what you write or you will come off as unprofessional.
Besides that as mentioned above nobody reads! We know people remember 10% of what they hear, 20% of what they read, and 80% of what they see. Most online sellers do not do a good enough job explaining the 5 W’s. Who, what, where, why, when, and of course how. So usually the negative review is because the customer didn’t pay attention, didn’t read something, and misunderstood something.
Always thank the reviewer, even the negative ones, to show that your company values feedback of all kinds. Offer an apology even if you feel the review was unjustified as it shows empathy and allows other consumers to see you care about making it right. Use phrases such as “We apologize that our product did not satisfy your expectations”.
Try to gain more information by taking the conversation offline. An example of this is to respond with, “We are sorry that your experience with our product didn’t quite meet your expectations. We would love to find out why so that we can deliver a better experience next time and improve our service. You may reach us anytime at [Email Address] or [Phone Number]. Again, thank you for your feedback!”
There are many more examples of how to respond to a negative review so try not to use a copy and paste response to each. Take the time to personalize it which shows that your company cares about each and every buyer!
When it comes to black hat review tactics, I talk about that on the Emmy-Award winning TV program The List and highly recommend you stay away from anything that includes buying reviews, or providing returns in exchange for a review or paying someone to leave a negative review on your competition (yes people will do that to each other)! Shoppers are getting smarter, there are more tools on the market that can spot fake social proof and there are eCommerce sellers groups who report any tactics that go against the platform’s TOS, not to mention possible legal action.
Jerome Knyszewski: You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Ashley Armstrong: The movement I would really love to see is learning to flex your failure muscle!
Yes, you read that right.
Ask yourself, “How Strong Is Your Failure Muscle?”
It’s a skill, you need to learn just like any other.
It’s a part of life, no matter how you shake it.
Get comfortable with the positive side of failure…
Sometimes SHIT needs to HAPPEN in order for a SHIFT to happen!
Schools and society condemn you if you fail, but it is one of the most important skills you can learn. The more you learn to push through, be ok with a little pain and struggle, see the silver lining, and have faith that something better will come along, the easier life and business will be.
Jerome Knyszewski: How can our readers further follow you online?
Ashley Armstrong: You can find me on the following:
Jerome Knyszewski: This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!
The post Meet Ashley Armstrong, Owner of Amaz Authority appeared first on Tekrati.