I’ve read a lot of updates from people who were disappointed with Amazon Prime Day… and in my own opinion, many of those people missed the point. (Devil’s advocate post coming…) The one thing everyone had in common with their issues… they relied on what Amazon “recommended” to them (which was way off) rather than looking at the actual deals. And yes, some sales weren’t great and better deals could be found elsewhere. But some of them blew me away. So I had a lot of fun checking in on the sales throughout the day and picked up some great deals for myself as well as gifts for others.
And then I saw it… the one thing that I really wanted. And I wasn’t able to get it. (Boo.) But then something awesome happened… (Yay!) And you’ll have to read this whole article to find out what that something was! (See what I did there? 😉 )
So overall, besides the fact that I probably spent way more money than I should have, Amazon has once again amazed me with their uncanny marketing skills. I woke up on Prime Day excited to check what was on sale. Truthfully, I actually started looking the previous night. Can we spell #shopaholic? What I found was a mixture of what they had on sale on the last Black Friday, but true to their word, a lot, lot, lot more… A WHOLE lot more. And the genius wasn’t only in what was for sale and how they’ve been pumping up the Amazon-loving world for the past several weeks, but also in their delivery.
Here’s how Amazon totally blew my mind, and how you can apply their marketing genius to sell more books and increase your business:
1. Build Anticipation
Whether it’s a new book you’re writing or a sale you plan to run on existing products and services, building buzz is a golden key to getting traffic. Amazon started promoting Prime Day several weeks before the main event. This caused many people to wait in anticipation and mark their calendars for the event… then when the site went live, customers were already there en mass ready to buy.
Action Step: Start building buzz for your next book or product now. I set up a pre-sell page for my first coloring book, Process: Coloring Journal for Writers over two months before I expected to finish it and send it to print. The buzz of people pre-ordering the book continued when I mailed out autographed copies, which resulted in me hitting Amazon’s Top 10 Best Sellers list a full two months after the book was released. This is the best way to market a book—to keep the buzz going well before, during and after a book launch so you keep selling more books.
2. Make it an Event
Book launches easily lend themselves to putting on an event. Product launches are the same way. But there are no rules that say you have to only promote something during a launch. You can create your own event at any time. Tie in a special promotion with something trending in the news, an obscure national holiday, a date that’s special to you like a birthday or anniversary, etc. After you’ve built the buzz around your event, create mini events inside your main event. For example, Amazon’s main event was Prime Day. Every sale they ran on Prime Day was a mini event that ran for a limited time or until supplies ran out. They made it a celebration—a party. And that got people excited to spend money. And whether you thought it was a dud or stupid, the fact is millions of people spent a lot of money on those “deals.”
Action Step: Brainstorm events you can create around your book or other products/services. Then schedule it!
3. Give the People What They Want
Now, I’m usually the first one to teach you to NOT write books only niches that are selling, for no other reason than because they’re hot niches. The fact is, if you’re passionate about something, you can sell it. And that also means you should do a little research and see what people want—not only in the subject matter you’re writing about, but look at the reviews of books similar to yours and add in your book what the reviewers are saying those competitors’ books are lacking. Amazon follows trends and they offered a hefty sampling of popular toy lines like LEGO, Ever After High, and Barbie. There was also plenty of other “stuff” available that wouldn’t necessarily be considered as popular, including some items I still don’t understand what they are or why anyone would want them, but there were enough trending items to keep people like me scrolling through the deals… and buying. And for those people who complained about toys being recommended by Amazon for them to buy, well, read on…
I noticed that toys were the first thing to sell out (in fact, I clicked on the same item three times throughout the day right when the “Add to Cart” button appeared and I still didn’t get it) while items like shoes, women’s dresses and men’s watches were still available when the deals timed out. It’s hard to buy items like shoes online without trying them on and expect them to fit perfect, so this information made sense to me. But besides that, toys are something that almost any kid—or in my case, adult—can get excited about.
Action Step: The bottom line lesson to take from Amazon in this case is to watch what your audience is buying. An easy way to see this is to join social media groups where your audience hangs out and just watch what people talk about. Then make sure you tap into what they want with your own products and services.
4. Make it Easy to Buy
Amazon has been brilliant at this concept since day one, which is why I’ve always taught that if you’re publishing books you must have them listed on Amazon. Amazon keeps credit card information on file, which makes it easy to check out. But they go above and beyond that. On normal listings, they offer a “Buy now with 1-Click®” option that skips the entire checkout process, saving customers time. On Prime Day they had all the sale listings on one page so buyers didn’t have to hunt down what was on sale, then as soon as a deal became available, an “Add to Cart” button popped up on every item so buyers could pick and choose what they wanted… and race to get the best deals.
Action Step: Don’t make customers search for ways to buy from you on your website. Advertise your book and other products and services right on your home page. And if you have a lot of products as I do, create a store with all of them listed on one page, and link it in a very obvious way from the home page.
5. Group Like Items Together
Something I noticed midway through the day was how products tended to be listed. Not everything on Prime Day showed up available for purchase all at once, but rather mini sales were “released” throughout the day. Sometimes they were spaced only 10 minutes apart, sometimes 30 minutes or longer. But what I noticed was the tendency of Amazon to group like products together within these listings.
For example, toys were listed alongside electronic gadgets (think “toys” for grown-ups). Clothes were listed with accessories like shoes, purses, watches and other jewelry, even high-end wedding bands. Then just to mix it up, pet supplies were listed with baby supplies and toddler toys… which makes sense to me as pets are often like young children. While there was always an exception to the rule with something random thrown into each grouping (Amazon has to keep deal hunters on their toes), for the most part these groupings became predictable. So if I was scrolling through a grouping looking for something in particular, as they ran some of the same items again at different times of the day, I knew I was getting close when I hit that grouping.
Action Step: Groupings don’t have to be hard. Think about a companion workbook you can sell at the back of the room or at a trade show in a combo package with your book. Or include a pack of colored pencils with your new coloring book as a gift set. Grouping like items together makes people want those groupings… and people who want bundled products are often willing to spend more money on them.
6. Time it Right
Hands down the most popular items of the day were toys… specifically toddler and young child toys. These groupings were also timed to “go off” at the times of the day young parents would probably be most likely to buy on a weekday—lunch breaks and after work. While Amazon is a worldwide company, they were smart enough to not only run different deals for different regions of the world, but different groupings that made sense for different time zones.
In the U.S., I noticed toys and electronics were often on sale during the hours of noon to 2:00PM and then again after 5:00PM. The East Coast is a densely populated region and Amazon knows that. Think they’re not tracking everything you look at on the site, everywhere you click and what you tend to buy at different times of the day and different days of the year? Think again… Amazon used all that intel during Prime Day to reach the largest audience with the deals they would probably be most interested in at just the right times.
Action Step: In your own promotions, you can time them right by timing a book launch with a specific season or have your promotion (whatever promotion it is) have an extra special bonus time when customers can grab a free bonus. Use your imagination and study the trends of when people in your target audience are most active on social media, as that’s when they’re looking for something to do, ways to kill time, and are more likely to buy.
7. Price Competitively
One of the comments I heard from someone about Prime Day was, “Some things ‘on sale’ were actually things I could find at a retail store or online anywhere else for the same price or less.” Which is true. While Amazon had several things that weren’t really priced competitively, such as some already overpriced clothing that claimed, “Additional 20% Off,” they also had some pretty awesome deals. And they gave customers plenty of time to research prices so they could make a buying decision when the “Add to Cart” button popped up. I looked up several items I was interested in, like the various Dr. Who series on Blu Ray and found eBay to be almost half the price of the Prime Day “sale” price. Then there was something else I found that I’ll tell you about later in this article that was too good of a deal to pass up. It helped that Amazon told you the total %-off you were getting—though that was off of “list” price, not their normal sales price—so it really became a game of click through before the deal appeared, research the normal price, then decide what price would make it worth it. Then when the “Add to Cart” button popped up with the deal price you could make a very fast informed decision.
And as the day went on, several items in similar brands were obviously going to be good deals, so customers clicked like mad on them as soon as they were available. I know this because I kept trying to get the Green Toys Seaplane and it was sold out the second the button went live… Every. Single. Time. (I tried three times… lol) Also some items are predictable. LEGO brand always commands a high price and LEGOs increase in value over time. So short of stumbling on a no-brainer clearance sale at Walmart, any sale on LEGOs is a good deal. Which explains why clicking like mad on those listings didn’t yield me any more for my LEGO collection either as thousands of other people were hitting the same button at the same time.
Action Step: Know what your products and services (including your books) regularly sell for on sites like Amazon. Do your research. Price your stuff at a similar rate or slightly lower than the others, and you’ll see ongoing success. Then if you run any special sales or deals, make it a no-brainer for customers to buy—even if they’ve bought the same thing before (hint: tell them to buy it as a gift or “stock up”).
8. Create Scarcity
A common theme, especially in internet marketing, is to create scarcity. And while a special sale price or deal for a limited time is probably the best type of scarcity you can create, there are other forms as well. Amazon combined limited quantities of items at the deal price with the deal only being good for a limited time (usually a few hours) to create the ultimate feeling of scarcity for buyers. This tactic created a frenzy of people clicking so fast that some deals sold out within one second of going live… and resulted in a very good day for Amazon.
Action Step: You can create scarcity for your book by offering autographed copies for a limited time before your book’s release as a pre-sale campaign. You can put your Kindle books on a Kindle Countdown Deal. And you can offer a limited number of bundle packs for a special event. However you do it, including scarcity is guaranteed to increase your sales as humans in general hate being left out.
9. Surprise Your Customers
One of the ways Amazon kept customers happy throughout the day was with their “Waitlist” option. If a deal sold out, you had the chance to click “Join Waitlist” to be put on a list of people who may or may not get a notify about that deal becoming available again. While I didn’t have much success clicking “Join Waitlist” throughout the day, I did end up with a nice surprise. There was one thing that when I saw it, I really, really wanted it. It was an insane deal and I was quite confident I’d get it. So imagine my surprise when I clicked “Add to Cart” right when I saw the button, only to be told I was person #20-something on the waitlist with a “Poor” chance of receiving it…
Knowing this could happen, as it had already happened a few times to me already, I shrugged it off, let it go and turned to Craigslist to hunt down a similar item and do some more price-checking. What I found on Craigslist made me decide it wasn’t really worth it and I just kept shopping the Prime Day sale for other stuff.
As the day went on, I bought a few Christmas gifts (yes, I shop early) and a couple smaller things for myself, then on a whim I decided to scroll through the “Available Deals” to see if there was anything I’d missed that I just had to have. There was the Casio AP250 Celviano digital piano—with bench and 88 beautiful weighted keys—with the “Join Waitlist” button. While I thought I had already clicked that button, I figured I’d click it again for good measure.
That’s when the BIG surprise struck.
All of a sudden the box that popped up wasn’t the typical “You’re #52,791 on this waitlist with a poor chance of getting XYZ,” but it was instead a notice that the piano had been added to my cart and I had 15 minutes to check out! I already knew it was an awesome deal (my mom is a piano teacher and this is the same piano she uses for private lessons… and she told me it was a killer deal—sidenote: always listen to your mother), so I wasted no time checking out and smiled as I handed Amazon that happy sum of money the company was probably thrilled to take from my account. This is what I’d call a miracle, as last year personal circumstances caused me to leave my old digital piano behind and in the past couple of weeks I was just starting to desire playing again, so I put out an intention for what I really wanted… and it came.
Action Step: When your customers aren’t expecting it, surprise them. This could be as simple as including an unannounced bonus in a training course, adding a call to a live training series, offering a page full of free resources on your website that you announce in your book, etc. Let your imagination run wild with ways you can thrill your customers, as happy customers come back for more.
10. Ask Them to Buy More
Anytime you buy anything from Amazon they’re always “upselling” to you. From the “Customers who bought this also bought” listing in every product to the “You might also be interested in” sections of the website, Amazon has taken the original, “Would you like fries with that?” to an entirely new level.
And Prime Day was no exception. On the Prime Day sales page itself, they encouraged you to buy more by listing not only available deals, but the daily deals (yes, Amazon has a Lightning Deal every day), additional promotions for services, special incentives to celebrate the day, and the deals that would be coming up within the next hour or so to entice buyers to come back to try for more deals.
Amazon’s sole existence revolves around selling. They sell most of what people need on a daily basis, along with millions of products people don’t need, but buy anyway. They even offer easy ways for customers to find the Most Wished for Items, Hot New Releases and Deals in Office Supplies & Electronics (because what self-respecting authorpreneur doesn’t like office supplies???). The bottom line is, they’re not afraid to sell.
Action Step: As long as you have trouble telling people about your book, products and services or “tooting your own horn,” your business will suffer. The best advice my first business coach ever gave me when I had this issue was, “You have a solution to someone’s problem, right? Then who do you think you are to keep that solution hidden from them—to not tell them about it? How selfish is that?” From that moment on I thought about marketing and selling much, much differently. I know my Kindle in 30 Challenge is the BEST, most comprehensive training on Kindle publishing available, so of course I’m going to promote it. I also believe my books help authorpreneurs break past their blocks and engage their creative selves. So if you’re one of those people reading this article right now, I’d be completely selfish not to tell you I have programs and books available to help you. So what’s holding you back? It’s time for you to look deep at yourself and discover why you have such a hard time telling people about what you have for sale and inviting them to buy it. Because I guarantee that if you have something that can help someone and you’re not sharing it with them, you’re doing them a huge disservice.
Count it on Amazon to create their own Black Friday in July event to boost sales during one of the slowest retail months of the year. Whatever you may think of them and their deals, I for one will continue to study how they market and how I can apply that to my own business and I encourage you to do the same.
I will also add that I’ve read the articles and the comments saying Prime Day was a dud and here are the few reasons people claim Prime Day “sucked:”
“Stuff wasn’t on sale that was in my Wishlist.” OK, so if Amazon knows you really want something bad enough to save it in a Wishlist, they also know you’re probably going to buy it at some point, so why would they offer it for such a deep discount? That would be a poor business decision. (Take note: Don’t put your best-selling stuff on sale for the deepest discount.)
“The deals were sold out in a couple seconds.” True. So are the major retailers that put 10 TVs up for sale on Black Friday to a line of 500+ people waiting outside for the doors to open… and I don’t hear people complaining much about that.
“There was a lot of junk nobody wanted, but it still sold out.” Hmm… so if nobody wanted it, why did it sell out? I saw about six things all day that didn’t sell out 100%. Obviously somebody wanted it, just not the person who was complaining. (Take note: You can sell just about anything online!)
“A sale is only as good as the items you want being on sale.” I’m making a HUGE assumption now that this person gets disappointed every time they read the ads in the Sunday paper or get an email promotion. Because while that’s true for individuals, it’s not true for all humans on the planet. (Take note: Know who your audience is and what they want.)
And my FAVORITE comment of all… “Breaking News: 12 people complain on Twitter.” (Thank you for the laugh sethistan, whoever you are.) This just proves the point that the media will always jump on the few negative commenters, make a huge deal out of it by posting those same negative comments across multiple articles and websites, then get people on social media to jump on the negativity bandwagon and share why they were disappointed until it becomes a phenomenon. This happens often, usually when someone doesn’t get their way. (Take note: Try to take the positive position and not be swept up in false negativity hype.)
What I noticed is humans in general are extremely selfish and always want to get their own way. If you know what you want and you know how to get it—and you’re not so attached to the outcome of getting that item that your life will be over if you don’t or your day will be toast—then you’ll be happy and see it as a positive experience no matter the outcome.
I’ve already used almost 4,000 words in this article to share what I learned and how you can smartly apply it to your business and have even more insights I could share, but I’d love to hear your thoughts on what you learned with how Amazon ran Prime Day. I look forward to seeing your insights!