Big Brother has Arrived.

It’s that time of year when Brands/Sellers on Amazon start to gear up for holiday sales. A few years ago that would mean something really wonderful was about to happen, you could pretty much bet on 75% of your yearly revenue being generated in just a few months, but today…not so much.

All we hear about these days is Amazon Amazon Amazon. Amazon buying Whole Foods Market and Sears to Amazon Basics private labeling everything from batteries to mens shirts. Free Shipping. original content and the NFL with Prime, Americans are finding comfort in Alexa and Dash Buttons so they don’t have to do anything but consume, consume and consume from the luxury of their LazyBoy sofa.

Will agoraphobia be an epidemic in 10 years?

I’m not writing this because I care so much about the way we consume – that’s a personal choice. It’s really about the way Amazon treats Sellers and is using the consumer. Sellers were the foundation of Amazon, but today Amazon is eating them for lunch.

2-3 years ago one could launch a new brand on Amazon with great success – it was a wonderful platform for that reason – it was fair and it worked. Today the story it quite different. Amazon has quietly used Brand Sellers to test market products. Slowly but surely Amazon will pick the cream of the crop and create their own IP and eliminate the Registered Brands with strong category sales with an Amazon made IP product. This is clearly their mandate for Amazon Basics. “See what sells and then let’s make our own”.

About 2 years ago Amazon created a new division called Amazon Exclusives for artisans in all categories. It was suppose to be like a partnership, one that would help the artisan build their brand and reach millions of customers via Amazon’s powerful reach and support. It required that the artisan/brand give 100% exclusivity to Amazon for an addition 5% fee from the basic fees. Amazon promises went undelivered.

Then there is Amazon Vendor Express – a creepy mix between Amazon Retail Catalog (direct wholesale distribution) and Amazon Seller Central (Sellers/Brands control listings). Since Amazon Retail is by invitation only, Amazon Vendor Express gave Sellers possible entry into Amazon Retail, but what happens is you get caught in a vortex that is impossible to get out of, even after the items are delisted in Vendor Express. It’s a real mess and it is not recommended. You are asked so send in 6 items for free to be tested even if, like us, we had already sold 1.2 million dollars in sales – Amazon still had to test our product.

There is Amazon Lending or what I like to call the Bank of Amazon. An invitation only program, it’s great for cash flow for marketing and inventory needs but what happens is your marketing spend to drive traffic to your listings on Amazon and outside of Amazon – goes to waste as Amazon inserts the competition in the center of your listing page and directs the consumer attention away from your Brand, in our case they list the competition with a “Best Seller or Amazon Choice” banner smack in the middle of our Trademark Brand Listings.

Then, of course, there is Amazon bidding against your key terms in search. Amazon controlling the bid on the competitive products that you are listed against. Amazon marketing services – another money sucker as Amazon. Key search terms increased in 1 year time from about .17 cents to $3.00. Doesn’t that seem a bit odd?

Today there is no winning on Amazon – unlike 2 years ago. It’s only pay for play and the winner is always Amazon.

With $1.3 million in sales from the launch of a personal care item (we own the IP) in 11/2014 to 5 variations of that same item in 9/2016, we were headed for phenomenal growth – holding strong at 30% each month until Amazon Retail listed our main competitor and crashed us over night in their algorithm. A 70% drop in sales in October of 2016, nearly one year ago, has been impossible to turn-around.

Here’s our facts:

On an average as a brand we pay Amazon 40%-60% of each sale in fees. Our item is light-weight, stackable on the shelf, and retail lists between $21.00 and $24.99 – we are competitive in pricing and our item is made in USA to the highest standards.

When invited for a Lightening Deal the fee of $300 to $500 for Cyber Monday and Black Friday is on top of the substantial mark-down, FBA fees (mandatory) and listing fee, yet there are no guarantees Deals will run. BUT, one is expected to ship inventory to FBA warehouses by a mandated date to stay qualified. If FBA is bogged down and a product sits on the dock for weeks, even months, Deal is cancelled. There is now excess inventory in FBA and warehouse fees applied from date it arrived on the dock. December and November 2016 warehouse fees are triple.

If you want to play in Amazon’s playground get ready to leave with a few broken bones. Last year FBA was behind schedule and we were charged $12,000 for inventory that sat on the dock for Cyber Monday/Black Friday DEAL. Needless to say the Deals were cancelled yet we were left holding the bag on the inventory allocated to those deals and sitting in FBA. Amazon just didn’t care, although it was their fault.

Word on the street (that came out of a recent Top 50 Seller Conference in Seattle) is that Amazon is gearing up for Anti-Trust breakup of the company in 2020. What does that tell you about their ethos?

When Amazon uses, sellers and consumers to test market products and categories for their own benefit and gain market share without having to spend a dime in market testing…isn’t that deplorable behavior?

When Amazon controls so much of our lives isn’t that the essence of Big Brother? Isn’t Amazon slowly killing the environment with its delivery truck’s carbon footprint and waste of cardboard boxes. They already make shipping a box for an average person unaffordable with the dimensional weight rules put in place by carriers in 2015. That came to be because Amazon was shipping tiny little products in big giant boxes, creating waste, and taking up too much space. Their actions and carelessness directly affect consumer’s pockets but most consumers don’t attribute the high cost of shipping packages back to Amazon. They want it that way so you will even by more from their PRIME. Paper, cardboard, etc., it all comes from trees and we need our trees!

Amazon is crushing entrepreneurship, where it was at one time considered a best friend now one can’t afford to NOT list their product on Amazon – the sad truth is it’s a long haul and an expensive one.

As America grows lazier and fatter because it’s just a touch of a button or the sound of a voice to have whatever one wants at the door within 1 hour…how can anyone think Big Brother is not watching.

Man Sitting On Toilet Diarrhea
This is how vulnerable we are, you are, I am. 

Just a Genious, Really!

If you have ever wondered what it takes to be the the Senior Executive Producer for Murad Skin Care, wonder no more! Marc Kravets has accomplished the following: Launched and managed $100M automotive aftermarket brands via DRTV; managed $200M+ fitness brands via DRTV. Brands like Lifelock and CitiBank, Bettertrades and Billy’s Bootcamp/Tae Bo, CarMD, The Firm, Nu Wave Oven and StopRepairBills.com. We discuss Social, Youtube, Viral, CRM, and so much more. Find out what Marc’s most craziest moment in his 20 years of producing was, it has to do with battleships, helicopters and aerobics! Murad is one of the leading brands in skincare, located in El Segundo, California. We are all looking forward to see what’s coming next with Marc leading production. Kravets was formerly with EuroRSCG/Havas Edge’s direct response division for 8 years. Follow Marc on Twitter @kravetsm and me @cspotalk @cdirectresponse. Thanks for listening!

It’s not Myth – They really do exist!

How many people fit in the studio at one time?  You can read their accomplishments and bios below, or take the easy way out – JUST LISTEN TO THE SHOW!!!!

Here’s the link to listen to/or download the show:  http://ow.ly/qpQHo

The ARCHEUS AGENCY is a media production + marketing firm that develops and produces programming for both television and digital media that incorporates innovative revenue streams through expanding brands and increasing sales of products/services sold directly to viewers.

Cindi Anderson, PhD

An executive at several of the premier direct response television companies over the last two decades, Cindi Anderson is now a successful independent strategist, writer and creative producer in both the advertising and direct marketing industries. Her recent successes include the launch of Murad’s Resurgence skincare line for Launch DRTV and Stiefel’s Max Clarity acne line for Euro RSCG. Most recently, she has been collaborating with Patrick Raymond of Raymond Entertainment Direct on many successful international product launches, including The Torpedo kitchen appliance, Push-Up Pump fitness hit for Emson and Miracle Skin Transformer beauty sensation for Atlantic Coast Media Group.

Susan Agostinelli has a vast range of experience in the TV and filmmaking community, including finding and building new talent in to award winners and turning companies in to overnight successes. Her journey began at MTV on legendary shows Club MTV and “Unplugged”, then as Jr. Writer working on notable hits like “Sex In The 90s”.  Gravitating towards warmer climate, Susan left NYC for LA and the world of post-production in music videos and commercials at Propaganda Films.  Here she found herself in dark edit bays for months with likes of legendary directors Michael Bay, David Fincher, Nigel Dick, Mark Romanek and more… it was then that she learned to edit and she cut the first Pearl Jam video.

Cameron Casey studied Industrial Design, Graphic Design and Media Communications in San Francisco and began directing commercials and music videos while in college. Moving to Hollywood he forged a successful career in the entertainment industry that has spanned television, film and digital media. After almost 20 years in the business Cameron brings a unique skill-set as executive producer and director with experience in all aspects of direct response, digital content, broadcast, film, and commercial production. Cameron has worked with top brands across the US and internationally for Max Factor, Estee Lauder, Chanel, Unilever, P+G, Panasonic, Apple, Mercedes and Jaguar. His work with celebrities is vast, helming hundreds of hit music videos for Missy Elliot, Ice Cube, Warren G, Jay Z, Stevie Wonder, Phil Collins, Tears for Fears, Goo Goo Dolls, LL Cool J, Aretha Franklin, Chaka Khan, Mel C,

Gary Pilla

Gary studied Advertising and Visual Communications at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. An imaginative kid at heart, Gary created licensed products for toy lines such as Stretch Armstrong and The Nine Lives of Claw while still in college.  After graduation he quickly became an agent of change in Advertising, preaching connecting with consumers at a deeper, more emotional level.  Gary helped create groundbreaking campaigns for clients like Mazda (Zoom-Zoom), Expedia, Sherwin Williams, Coleman and Kay Jewelers. Then he hit the Direct Response market hard while managing the creative for ADT.  ADT hit record sales for new security installs and had their best year ever with the launch of ADT Pulse.

Gary’s unique ability to combine innovative brand strategies with direct response fundamentals helped created some of the most successful DRTV campaigns in recent history.  Nobody has led more award-winning DRTV campaigns than Gary since 2011 — winning 12 Moxie Awards over that stretch.  But it’s not really about the awards, is it?  Campaigns for Icon Health and Fitness launched at an 8 to 1 ratio, while campaigns for the Microsoft Store launched at a staggering 17 to 1 and, even hit an astounding 56 to 1 ratio over Black-Friday weekend.

It’s not Rocket Science it’s Entertainment – People!

Blair Taylor – Top Commercial Talent Agent in Hollywood is in-studio today and the show starts off with crazy laughter AND FUN.  We find out much more about Blair Taylor the person but also the do’s and don’ts of building your personal brand as a commercial talent and host on Television.  If you have seen the AT&T commercials with the kids, Blair is the agent for Beck Bennett – what it took to get there and how the commercials are produced.  The true Hollywood story of how Bruce Jenner deals with reality TV.  Larry King and saying I.  Rob Kardashian’s weight gain and Skittles.  What agents look for in hosts and talent.  Why commercial talent is different than actors.  What it takes to be a product pitch person.  Isaiah Mustafa (Old Spice Guy) how it got the gig and what it took to get there.  If you have ever wanted to know anything about being commercial talent, product host, or TV host, then this is the spot!  Blair Taylor is everything a Talent Agent should be and most are NOT.  Other clients are Simon Helberg from Big Bang Theory and Kim Johnson from Dancing with the Stars.  Blair Taylor – blair@commercialtalentagency.com www.commercialtalentagency.com – Remember to share!

You can listen to it as an ‪#‎iTunesPodcast‬ right here:  http://ow.ly/nALFJ

Protein People & Digital Purgatory

Guest Mitch Joel – President of Twist Image, Author of 2 books, Six Pixels of Separation and Control Alt Delete, and overall digital marketing guru, spends 50 minutes on The C Spot sharing his wisdom AND why we need to Reboot our Business and Reboot Our Lives.  Mitch is a leading digital visionary who also has a kick ass podcast called Six Pixels of Separation on ITunes.  Our conversation consisted of topics such as:  What is the One Screen Mentality, Simplifying through Utility, Mobile 1st, The Rules of Social and IRL (In Real Life).  Why our digital selves may be different than our protein selves – say what?  There’s so much to talk and way too little time.  You can follow Mitch on Twitter @mitchjoel  or www.Twistimage.com or buy his latest book on Amazon “Control Alt Delete” then you can  reboot your business and your life.  Thanks for listening!

You can listen to it as an ‪#‎iTunesPodcast‬ right here:  www.ow.ly/noWKr

BUNYAN MAN and BEYOND

Paul Greenberg – Founder of Greenberg Direct, is one of the hottest infomercial producers in the business and before establishing Greenberg Direct, Inc. in 2011 he produced just about every infomercial on TV.  Here are a few you may recognize and probably have owned or have one in your garage.

H20MOP, H20VAC, FlavorWave Turbo, Steam Styler, Orbitrek Elite, TotalVibes, H2O Map Ultra, AbtroniX2, Slim ‘n Lift Supreme, Abdoer Twist, Tobi Platinum Steamer, Flavorwave Express, Total Flex, Phase 4 Orthotics, Miracle Blade, Prosvent, Walk Fit Orthotics, Debt Cures- They don’t want you to know about, and FREE Money – They don’t want you to know about.  If you combined the revenue generated by these infomercials it may just surpass the GDP of Canada!

It’s a funny and always informative show as Paul shares secrets about over the top demonstrations, 5AM wraps, and why anyone would hire a real live Bear for a weight loss show! It’s just a good time when Paul is in-studio!  Visit Paul at www.GreenbergDirect.com.

You can listen to it as an ‪#‎iTunesPodcast‬ right here:  http://ow.ly/n28K2

Rise above JCP – Rise Above!

Branding expert David Brier of www.RisingAbovetheNoise.com joins me for an unplugged, unscripted, and never boring LIVE 50-minutes.  If you’ve ever wondered about branding, or get it confused with marketing, or trademarks, or whatever (now I’m confused), then this riff session is brilliant and entertaining.  Plus, I’ve been waiting to discuss the recent nightmare of JCP, I mean JC Penny, and The GAP’s failed attempt a couple of years ago, at rebranding.

Little did I know that my dream would come true today but even better,  David boasted about the blog he penned for Fast Company, or was it Forbes, that sent The Gap [new brand attempt] into a state of total crash and burn!

David is a total ninja; a Fast Company expert blogger; a SlideShare ROCKSTAR and total branding genius.  But wait there’s more!  David received 1st Place in the 2013 Shorty Awards, (Oscar of Social Media).  Enjoy and thanks for listening.

http://ow.ly/lFqCX