Rolando Rosas started his entrepreneurship journey in 2002 while working for a tech telecom company. He was fortunate to still have some leftover gadgets from the previous work. So, he decided to sell them instead of throwing them away. He got business cards, brought out his college computer, and set up an office in his kitchen. And that gradually became a business.

He couldn’t hold his excitement when his first customer reached out to him from Michigan. It wasn’t until 2014 that he started looking at Amazon. In this interview you’ll learn these from Rolando:

  • The better and clearer you sound, the easier it is to do business and engage customers
  • A valuable CTA attracts people to follow you or engage with your content.
  • You must have attention-grabbing headlines or topics to get to the next step
  • If you never experienced failure, you won't experience much growth
  • You Can’t Let Things Slide on Amazon
  • Understanding your audience
  • Finding your own lane in your business

Rolando’s Interview with Nick Shucet

Nick: (00:04)

Welcome to the Million Dollar Sellers podcast show. Today we've got Rolando on the call. Welcome to the call, man. Thanks for taking some time to chat with us.

Rolando: (00:15)

Sure thing. Thanks for having me. I'm glad to be on.

Nick: (00:19)

Yeah, man. Do you want to let the audience know where you're zooming in from today?

Rolando: (00:23)

I'm zooming in from the great state of Virginia, or I should say the Commonwealth of Virginia, just outside of the nation's Capital.

Nick: (00:32)

All right, very nice though. I'm actually in Virginia myself, here in Virginia Beach. Good to chat with someone else who's in the area. 

We don't have a lot of MDs members in Virginia. I think it might be me and you. We used to have Adam Schodde, but he had moved to Texas, I think.

Rolando: (00:52)

Well, you know, it's one of those states where we don't have a ton of Amazon folks, to begin with. Unlike in New York and Jersey and probably on the West Coast, we're ‘The proud, the few’ just like the Marines.

Nick: (01:06)

Yeah, absolutely. Hopefully, we can connect sometime soon here in VA. I haven't been able to do that with another member yet.

Rolando: (01:12)

sure. Well, there we go.

The Journey Into Amazon

Nick: (01:14)

Yeah. So we'll make that happen, man. So we're... Rolando, we know you've done, done pretty well on Amazon, you know, clearly, you've done over a million dollars in revenue. But I'd like to know, you know, how did you get into this world of, entrepreneurship and how did that lead you to Amazon

Rolando: (01:33)

Well you, My journey started in about 2002. At the time I was working for a company, that was a Tech company and the Tech telecom companies had a bubble that burst. That's how I ended up needing to look for another job. And luck would have it that, I had boxes of a bunch of leftover stuff from the last place I was working that they never asked for.

Contacting Previous Customers

Rolando: (02:04)

After several months of trying to just get work, everybody that was in telecom was out of work. I could not find a job no matter where I went. So I decided, instead of throwing these things away, why don’t I just call up a previous customer and see if they can just take the stuff? So sure enough, I said, “Hey I've got a box of this office equipment and gear. Would you like to take it? And they said, “Sure and we'd love to do more with you if you can get some more stuff.”

And I thought, "Oh! maybe I can make this a business. And so I started calling a few previous clients and I said, “Hey, I've got some stuff that I can get for you. I know that you were looking for headsets and office equipment, do you still need that?” So if you fail at something and take those learning lessons and apply them to the next thing, then you're gonna be better off for it.

Sure enough, they said, “Come on in and show us.” One thing led to another. And so I went out and got business cards and I started using that as my way of getting in touch with people.

Working in the Kitchen With the College Computer‍

Rolando: (03:09)

And I brought my old college computer out of the closet and that was my first computer. I started the business in my kitchen. So I started in my apartment with a computer from college and started in the kitchen. I got somebody to put a website together for us, nobody was really doing a lot of web stuff, but I figured I could not get out to the world by myself.

It'd be a long mission to travel everywhere I want to go. So why don't we do this online?

The First Customer

Rolando: (03:44)

And I remember to this day, the first customer that came to us was through an email that saw the website from Michigan. and said, “Hey, you have some office equipment and headsets that we'd love to outfit our office with. And I was like, “Whoa, somebody from Michigan. Somebody from Michigan wants this?” I was living in Florida at the time.

One thing led to another, and it wasn't until about 2015, 2014 we then started looking at Amazon. Because prior to that, Amazon was basically selling books, for the most part, they weren't really into gadgets. It took them a while before they came out with Alexa and the echo and all that. So I approached one of the suppliers we're working with and said, “Can we take your products and put them on Amazon as a new strategy?”

There really weren't a lot of companies at the time doing gadgets on Amazon, especially in our field, ‘Headsets and Speaker Phones and video equipment.’ So they said yeah whatever. And that started the journey of Amazon as a channel. Before we thought, “There's nobody buying on Amazon, and a real business doesn't buy on Amazon.”

And we were so wrong and we should have been on Amazon years before that. there was really nobody selling electronic gear, but you know, you live and you learn. So it turns out now that there are a lot of business customers, big enterprises and a really big chunk of our business are businesses that are buying through Amazon.

Nick: (05:30)

Nice man. So another success story bred out of hardship. I love hearing those things where people really don't give up. You could have gone a different way, you could have just given up, but you didn't you kept moving forward, man. And it's obvious, it worked wonders for you.

Initial Distractions

Rolando: (05:54)

You know, my dad told me to get out of that. He wanted me to go back to corporate America and I said, "Dad” (this was like four months into it). And I said, “No, Dad, I think I could see this through.” And at the time I could tell you, today we make in two days and some days one day, as much as we made that first year. It was a really tough first year because nobody would return your calls, or I should be fair, very few people return your calls.

And you're going to meetings and nothing happens. And nobody wants to deal with the new guy on the block. Nobody wants to deal with an unknown commodity. They say, “I know you, but your company is unknown.” And it was tough. It really was tough in the early days. Nobody wants to deal with the new guy on the block or the unknown commodity. They say, "I know you, but your company is unknown." And it was tough. It really was tough in the early days.

And I'm sure a lot of folks that are MDS can all relate to that. When you're starting out, very few people want to give you a shot. But you know, you scrape here, you get that one here and another little thing there. And you say, “Oh, wait, nobody's on Amazon. We're going to go there now. There's a lot of lessons. Once you're on Amazon, it's not just being on Amazon, but staying, maintaining, and growing on Amazon, that's really the challenge.

Our Parents Want the Best for Us

Nick: (07:02)

Yeah. You know, man, that reminds me of what I saw this morning, on an Instagram channel. It was Jim Carey giving a speech at a college. And he was talking about his dad. His dad went to school, did the traditional thing, got a degree in accounting, and like 40 years later, they let him go. You know, they fired him. And Jim Carrey said, “You know what? You can fail at doing something you don't want to do anyway.

So you might as well work on building the life that you really want for yourself because either way you go, you could still fail. So you might as well take that other path, man.” And that really hit home for me. What you said reminded me of that. You know, our parents want the best for us and they usually push us to take that safe route that they feel is safe for us. I can definitely relate to that as well.

Motivated by Fear

Rolando: (07:59)

Sure. I think me, I've always had it that, “the fear of failure was a driver.” I played college sports and high school sports and that fear of failure was a motivation factor because I don't want to fail. But I can't remember who I recently read or saw an article on, Maybe it was Gary V. He was talking about, if you experience failure, it's one way to learn and grow from that. Because if you never experienced failure, sometimes you just won't grow as much.

So if you fail at something and take those learning lessons and apply them to the next thing, then you're gonna be better off for it. And I think it was Colonel Sanders who failed, I don't know, seven or eight times and lost his business several times until he made the hit and decided, you know, oh it's KFC. So if you're an entrepreneur, the road is bumpy, and you have to know that the road is bumpy. It's never paved with gold, and I think very few people no matter the line of business.

You can fail at doing something you don't want to do anyway. So you might as well work on building the life that you really want for yourself because either way you go, you could still fail. Or if you're Tom Brady, which is a rare breed and he's the goat or you're Elon Musk or anywhere in between, very few people get to that instant success.

Because the road is usually paved with a lot of grit, and a lot of work, it's very bumpy. And then most of the successful people almost all have the same story. You know, there's a lot of bumpy choppy waters, but you just gotta keep going, learn the correct course, and keep moving forward with the ideas that are winners.

Embracing Failure

Nick: (09:40)

Yeah, I 100% agree with you. I think there's a big disconnect between, for lack of a better word, I'll say regular people; That’s people that go to school, get a job, and just go live that life and being an entrepreneur.  I always say I was kind of forced into entrepreneurship and I'm grateful for that because up until that change happened for me, I had that school mentality, I had to prepare, prepare, prepare, and try to be perfect to ace that one test and not fail.

Failure was just not an option in my mind for so long and now, six years into being an entrepreneur, I kind of embrace failure. When it happens, I'm like, all right, cool, I'm learning stuff. There's something exciting on the other side of this.  And I see that disconnect still to this day in the world. You know, I see it in my oldest son, who's nine, he's going to school and he's so afraid to get things wrong. And I'm trying to show him to, embrace that process of failure and don't try to be perfect.

Rolando: In “The Crisis,” We Have to Look For “the Opportunity”

Rolando: (10:55)

Well, that’s just saying perfection sometimes gets in the way. Especially if you're an entrepreneur, you sweat over a lot of details because you want to get things right.  But I've coined a phrase in our organization, ‘in the crisis, we have to look for the opportunity.’ And it doesn't always come right out like, “Oh, there's the opportunity.

...In a crisis, we have to look for the opportunity.

Changes Made During the COVID

Rolando: (11:18)

But in the middle of something going wrong or for instance, during the last year with COVID, a lot has gone wrong with supply. We couldn't get equipment.  Our suppliers were backlogged and we had to change all kinds of things. But in the middle of that, there was an opportunity. As for COVID, for example, our products which are primarily headsets and office equipment were in high demand.

Next to mask and PPE equipment. So a lot of our suppliers were out and we were very much into dropshipping as well as using FBA. But if you can remember back a few months, FBA even closed their doors. So we were set up okay for dropshipping, or use FBA. But we had to rely way more on the dropship.  And the problem there again was our suppliers were so backlogged.

So we really had to go from a, “just in time” (because we were really into “just in time”). We don't really want to keep a lot of equipment. We wanted just enough for a couple of days, a week at most, because these suppliers, got it and they can send it out for us.  Well, we had to rely more on total inventory management because we had to define our winners and losers and then make a choice because we don't have unlimited pockets to bring inventory.

Looking Inwards

Rolando: (12:42)

And so we had to really change our processes, and during that, because it was a crisis for a while, We were like, how are we going to get equipment? And we realized, oh, we've got to do this and We gotta do that.  So we leaned in more on our ERP system vendor to provide better information. We integrated all of our drop shippers into the ERP system. So we had real-time inventory being flashed on all of our platforms. 

And that gave us a huge advantage against our competition, who we were totally relying on for the inventory management. Now we had to rely on ourselves and our own data for inventory management.

We integrated all of our drop shippers into the ERP system. So we had real-time inventory being flashed on all of our platforms.

So we were able to find some opportunities and we grew roughly 80% last year. So even though we had that problem for several months, where things were out here and there, we just decided okay, here are the winners, here's what the data is telling us. Here are the losers, we get to stay away from that.  These are completely backlogged for another year, we are going to leave those alone. 

And so, that was our situation. I'm sure a lot of folks that were dealing with COVID from Amazon selling, had all had challenges, whether it was supply or raw materials. But I think for those folks that were trying to find a way, you found a way.

Nick: (14:09)

Absolutely, Man. I imagine these systems and processes that you have put together are probably making your business run so much more smoothly. And as things improve over COVID, now you have this system that's probably a lot more efficient than the one you had pre-COVID. And it's amazing how that pressure really just forces us to adapt and grow.

Rolando: (14:36)

And now I want it to be the norm because I know that pre-COVID it was much easier for even our competitors to get products. But right now, even still to this day, there are a lot of products that are not available or available in limited quantities. And, the system that we've set up with our ERP folks, we can be informed as soon as the inventory hits our drop shipper, it's there, it's on Amazon and on all the platforms. 

All of our competition has to rely on the old-fashioned way. They have to either pick up the phone and say, “Hey, do you have such and such in stock?” Or they have to email, or they need to talk to the rep and then put a new feed.  We don't have to do any of that. We just sit back, as the inventory comes in, it goes right up on Amazon, or it goes up on eBay or any of those other websites.

Nick: (15:27)

Nice, Yeah. That's definitely exciting.

Rolando: (15:30)

Oh yeah, for sure. No, it's a game-changer for us.

Nick: (15:33)

Yeah. So you talked a little bit about your operation and some changes you guys have made. What does your team look like? What do you typically do in the organization as well?

Rolando: I’m Not an Absentee Owner

Rolando: (15:43)

I’m heavily into operations. I'm an operator at its core. I'm not an absentee owner. I'll give you a little bit of the lay of the land. So we have a team in the Philippines that does a number of things like,

  • Customer service
  • Operations
  • Logistics, and
  • Marketing

And now we've added a stack of social media to that as well. And then we have some folks that are stateside, and they’re more industry experts that help also on the operation and marketing. So as great as the folks that are in the Philippines are for us, there are some folks that just come with the built-in expertise in your industry. And that helps you run faster instead of walking, especially if you're in a position where we are.

You Can’t Let Things Slide on Amazon

Rolando: (16:32)

We've been in this for a while, I want to run as fast as we can. So we have some folks stateside. But for me, I'm involved heavily in the operations, because for us, we sell products. And anybody who's selling a product on Amazon knows you can’t let stuff slide. Whether it's the customer service side. I have an industry guy that I hired from within meant to do that. He's handling that. But in logistics and operations, I'm involved on a daily basis.

Every morning, I have a call with the person that handles all of the inbound, as well as outbound stuff that's going in and out of Amazon.  And ask questions like, are we on top of the inventory? What do we need to resource here and resource there?

Going All-in on Social Media

Rolando: (17:26)

And we've added something new to our playbook. That was our weakest thing, which is social media.  And I've always said this, even before we got on social media, have said to my folks that I would be so happy if I could just sit all day, making videos, or just shoot images of the product that we have. And I was doing the photo editing. That would be the killer position. 

And so out of necessity, again because things are changing in our industry. We started to go all-in now on social media. And so I'm involved in helping craft our podcast and helping the social media people understand what we need to promote.  What we should be doing planning-wise from a media perspective, for the next couple of weeks, so that we have the right message. And so that's where I'm involved.

Rolando:  Doubled Down on Where You’re Good at Within the Business

Rolando: (18:21)

I know my weaknesses are in paperwork and administration. That, to me, is like a fire going off in my head. So I know my weaknesses and the thing I would say for other entrepreneurs, whether they're coming up or they're further along is, find where you're good at, what you like within the business, and double down on that. Somebody told me that recently, and that's so true for the products themselves and as a function of what you're doing.

If marketing is what you love, focus on that, try to offload the other responsibilities to other folks in the organization, or get some VAs or other folks to come in and step in to do the counting, to do the CPA and other things that really are not what you like.

If marketing is what you love, focus on that, and try to offload the other responsibilities to other folks in the organization

If you like accounting or you'd like the finances great. But for me, I know that I know about it, but I'm not in it daily, and it's not my area of expertise. So I'd rather let the expert do that, rather than have a finger in that.

Your Energy Is Endless When You Love What You Do

Nick: (19:27)

Yeah, absolutely. I love that advice of focusing on what you love. It's great for the business and it's just great for your personal life as well. As you get less burned out at the end of the day, you almost get energized, right?  When you're in that role of doing something you really enjoy, it's like you have an endless amount of energy. And I think that's like those people that you see that work so hard yet seem so happy and satisfied.

I think it's because they've somehow positioned themselves in a role that they just truly enjoy doing.

When you're in that role of doing something you really enjoy, it's like you have an endless amount of energy

It just brings happiness to them and it's just better for everything. And I often wonder, what if the majority of people actually did that, you know, just focused on becoming good at what they really enjoy doing? What kind of shift that would cause in the world on a really big level, man, I think it could have a pretty big impact, honestly.

Find Your Own Lane

Rolando: (20:26)

Well, it can, but I think it's hard. As humans or as people, like you were talking about earlier, they all have these expectations. And I think a lot of folks, your parents probably would say, “I wanted you to be a doctor. I want you to be a lawyer.” And you don't want to let them down. You want them to be happy because you know if they're happy, you're going to be happy. But I think in the middle of that, you have to find your own lane.

And sometimes it takes a while to find your own lane, whether it's in the career or if it's building a business. And everybody can be an entrepreneur, but you have to look at the world just slightly differently than collecting a paycheck. Because if all you want is that steady paycheck, I would say it's virtually impossible for you to be an entrepreneur.

Because income is lumped a lot of times, right? Like you have great months, okay Months, not okay Months, great months. Okay, Months, and then great, great, great months, And then not, okay months.

...everybody can be an entrepreneur, but you have to look at the world just slightly differently than collecting a paycheck.

So you just have to accept that’s kind of the reality. Wouldn't it be awesome If I said to you, every month your income is going to grow? That'd be awesome, but that's not real for most people who are entrepreneurs because again sometimes it's cyclical. The holiday season may be the best part of the year for some, and so you're going to have some dry months. For some folks, it’s just mostly steady, but not all entrepreneurs see their income grow like this.

We want that. And as you grow as a business, you tend to see that. But the smaller Delta is like a stock market, every day is up and down, up and down. But over the last 10 years, it's grown and that's ideally the long-term is really kind of what I tend to look at. Because I want to be in this for another 10 years.

Nick: (22:16)

Yeah. I liked the way you related it to the stock market. I think that's a great thing that a lot of people can wrap their minds around, kind of how to really understand how that works. I totally agree with you.  So it sounds like you've got products you offer that can really benefit other businesses as well. And I'm interested.  How are you guys portraying that message on social media and where can we find you on social media?

Devices Made to Increase Productivity and Efficiency

Rolando: (22:46)

So the products themselves, are products, like I mentioned before, that are geared for professionals that want to sound their best. whether they're at home, whether they're in the office, or using their mobile phones. So we have a whole line of headsets and professional headsets. Things that you won't find at your local Best Buy or something like that. They're geared to allow you to sound your best.

I think the one thing that's become crystal clear in the pandemic is, that there are so many different variables of things that people will use now. And video is one of those things.

The Better and Clearer You Sound, the Easier It Is to Do Business

And even at that, the webcams that were out are all being changed because people realized a lot of them had really low audio quality in a lot of cases. Or what we call the endpoints were low quality. But the better you sound, the clearer you sound, the easier it is to do business. The more engaged customers become or potential clients become.

We've all gotten that call at 7:00 PM from a telemarketer, and it sounds like 500 people are in the room. You don't want to talk to them. One, because you're eating, and two, because of all that distraction going on in the background. You can't focus on what they're saying. So all of these devices allow you to sound like you're the only one in the room. And that's what makes a difference. In some cases, it could be the reason somebody decides to stay on the phone with you or continue engaging with you.

Because I hear you, I understand you, you sound clear and I don't have to ask you to repeat yourself. So these devices are made to also increase productivity and efficiency. Now from a social media perspective, I gotta tell you that's been our weakest point. Up until really the middle of last year, when we really decided to go all-in on that.

So on social media, we started a podcast in December called ‘What the Teck.’ So we're educating customers and folks who are interested in what's happening in the tech world. It's a little more broader.

We have some broader themes like: 

  • Remote working
  • What works in remote working
  • What doesn't work, and
  • Pure product reviews

Sometimes, we switch it up, so for instance, if somebody wants to know what the best product to use wirelessly We give them that. what's the best Bluetooth, we do that. So we do some of those and we do deep dives and some masterclasses so that people can also have some education on how to pick things out. And what's right for your business then you're looking at this gear.

Understanding Your Audience

Then we're supporting that with LinkedIn, we're doing stuff on Instagram and we just started TikTok. So if you've got TikTok ideas, I'd love to hear them. So TikTok is like a new frontier, it's like the wild, wild west. You could be as wild as you want or you can be as serious as you want. LinkedIn's a little less wild, let's put it this way, It's a little more like you're talking to a business crowd. Though the same person that's on LinkedIn is probably on Facebook or TikTok later in the afternoon. But somehow LinkedIn, you're going to be, I wouldn't say completely square but you are in an ovalish kind of environment.

So knowing how to address the different audiences has been the thing that we've been trying to discover. Okay, so TikTok is a much wild, wild west, and Linkedin is a little more buttoned-up. You know, I don't have to have a tie on, but it's kind of business casual as I would call it, and trying to hone in on that message.

Nugget From Niel Patel for MDS Members

I'll tell you something that I learned today, actually yesterday. It was almost like 1 am, so it is today. I read something from Neil Patel. Now this would be a nugget for our MDS folks. If you're on LinkedIn and you post something in the morning, let's say 9:00 AM or whatever it is, maybe a video, repost it later at 5:00 PM. Now you probably think that's counterintuitive because of the algorithm and all. But it is not, I thought that.

I've read this long article that Neil Patel put out about it. He basically gave a few examples of people who repost things and the algorithm treats it favorably. Even though it's the exact same content that you reposted. And so I haven't tried it, but I read it and I'm going to try it soon. So if you're an MDS member, try it, I would love to see what you have on your end of the equation, and how it works out.

If you're on LinkedIn and you post something in the morning, let's say 9:00 AM or whatever it is, maybe a video, repost it later at 5:00 PM.

Because we're going to be trying it here soon, no reason not to do it. You know, all we get is a few people that may say, “I saw this again.” But it seems like the way the algorithm works is, that it rewards that repost, and a whole new bunch of people who didn't get to see the post in the morning, see it in the afternoon.

Nick: (27:53)

Very interesting. I've been on LinkedIn for like a year now and LinkedIn is great, man. It's a good platform. I'm going to have to try that tip.

I follow Neil Patel's stuff as well, but I didn't come across that one.

24X Your LinkedIn Post Views in a Single Day.

Rolando: (28:09)

I happen to still have it on my other screen here. It's called how to 24 X your LinkedIn post views in a single day.

Nick: (28:21)

Wow. Okay.

Rolando: (28:23)

I'll take 24 X.

Nick: (28:25)

Neil has some very clickable stuff, man. And his call to action always gets me. It's like, do you want more traffic? Yes, No.

Like who doesn't want more? You know, no one's going to click ‘No.’ I'm like, where's the X man, I need to see the X.

When Clickbait Makes Sense

Rolando: (28:41)

He’s the king of clickbait, I know. Just saying clickbait makes you think, “Oh.” But I heard someone say, “If somebody is clicking on something clickbaity, and they have value once they click on it, it's much better than saying, “The five outfits that Brad Pitt wore.” And you're disappointed because you’ve already seen the movies of him wearing these outfits. You didn't learn anything new.

But if on the other side of that were “the five outfits he wore at home,” and then you have never seen because he's never published it, then that’s okay. I see some people wanting to see Brad Pitt in some outfits that they've never seen him in before. And it's the same thing with clickbait.

if somebody is clicking on something clickbaity, and they have value once they click on it, it's much better than saying, “The five outfits that Brad Pitt wore.

You can use clickbait, but if you have value, the studies say, If you use clickbait, and your call to action has value, people will either follow you or engage with the article. Whatever the call to action is. Rather than just “Oh, that's just fluff. I already knew that.”

Nick: (29:44)

Yeah. That marketing stuff works, man. I mean those titles, those headlines, and CPAs. Growing up. I thought that stuff was a little cheesy, but it works, man. There's a reason why people are still doing the same things over and over.

Using Attention-Grabbing Headlines

Rolando: (30:02)

Yeah, it works. And we’ve had some success and we've been playing around with titles and things like, ‘Top three mistakes that I made.’ and people want to know that, or ‘The biggest failures in my business and what I would do to fix those’.  Those are the kinds of things we do, and I know Neil Patel talks about them. You need to have attention-grabbing headlines or topics otherwise, you don't even get to step two.

Nick: (30:36)

Yeah. Marketing was a big gap for me. I'm sure you know, you don't have to know marketing to sell on Amazon. You could do a little bit of PPC, especially if you're reselling. I did resell for a couple of years, and I never ran one PPC campaign.

Rolando: (30:55)

Wow! How was that, You didn't run one?

Nick: (30:56)

I didn’t run one for a couple of years, man. Then one day I did like an auto campaign for a little bit and got some good results. But we were selling really high-in-demand stuff.

Rolando: (31:09)

Oh. So the brand itself was the sales.

Nick: (31:12)

Yeah. The brand is the sales. But now I've dabbled in this world of marketing over the past year and we've made some changes. I've learned a lot. I came across a really good tool that's been blowing my mind, it’s called It's an artificial intelligence that does copyright.

Rolando: (31:37)

Have you been using that on your listings?

Nick: (31:39)

We just used it to create a listing. They even have an Amazon product description template. They have a YouTube script on a product description, bullet points, and a bunch of stuff in there.  It's really made things a lot easier.

Testing Secondary Images With Black Background

Rolando: (31:58) I'm going to look into that. You know something that we’ve just been testing in the last four weeks and has worked. And I can even give you some numbers. We took some secondary images on our Amazon listings. And we did it for like half a dozen, to do a test. And we looked at what the conversion rates were before we ran this test and then after.

So we took a lot of secondary images and added a black background. And would you know that the conversion rate by simply doing that doubled in a lot of these listings? Some listings already had high conversion rates of like nearly 50 and 60%, and those went up to 70%. Some had a conversion rate of five and went to 10% by adding a black background to the image.

We sell devices and we're seeing that again this might be counterintuitive, and every sector may be a little bit different than every category. But for us even switching out some lifestyle images and replacing them with a very nice secondary image with a black background, we found that that increased more than the listings that had beautiful lifestyle images.

Nick: (33:22)

Wow. So kind of like you would do for your main image on a white background, you're doing a secondary image kind of just like the product itself, but on a black.

The Longer People Spend on your Listing, the Greater the Chances That They’ll Convert

Rolando: (33:32)

Right. And so I started dissecting that and I started asking my web guys and one of my developers and I said, “What is it with this backpack? We have the data that says it works. So what is it?  So we looked at a few things, we looked at the listing on a mobile. When you have that black background, it is easier on your eyes than the blue light that's flashing and coming to you from your mobile phone.

So if you're looking at that listing on your mobile, it's usually a lot of white when you're on Amazon. And the moment you come across this black background,  there's a little bit of easiness. Or it's easier on your eyes physically because you don't get as much blue light coming or white light coming at you. And so you pause and you look at the listings a little bit more, the black-on-white catches your attention.

And so your eyes are drawn to that, and the longer you spend on a listing, the greater the chances are you're going to convert.  Whereas a ton of listings are white, there's a lot of white light, whether you're on your phone or computer. It's even more pronounced when you're on your computer, where that white is just staring at you all day long.

And then you go on the listing and “Whoop! What's this? you're drawn to the black. It takes some of the white light off your eyes. And now this is again, all of our high working hypotheses. We don't have a scientific way to prove it yet. But what we do know is that every listing where we did this increased in some doubles in conversions. 

So if you could double your money without having to add new ads or change copy, that would be terrific.

Nick: (35:19)

That's awesome, man. It definitely makes sense. Now I think a lot of people are doing the dark mode on stuff.

Rolando: (35:26)

That's exactly what I have on my phone. And look at your background. You have a white with black on the background and it does catch your eye when you're looking at that reverses and look at my wall. I have a plant here and I have a lot of white. Right.  But on yours, you have a white background with black lettering. So what it does is, it frames you very well. And the black on white does stand out versus, you know, a section that's all-white over here.

Nick: (35:53)

Nice man. That's a super cool tip, I have not heard that before. I'm definitely going to try it. I’ve got some products I’m definitely going to try them on.

What software are you using for the conversion?

Rolando: (36:14)

Very basic, you could use a lot of different software, but all we did was take the listings and the ASIN. Put them into a spreadsheet, and just put three things on the spreadsheet. So the ASIN, a column for the ASIN, a column for the current conversion, which is unit session percentage. So when you're on and you're doing the reports and the business reports, it gives you that.

So we looked at that. We looked at how many units were sold for the previous 30 days. And we also wanted to find out how many sessions. Because if sessions, all of a sudden, for whatever reason go up and your percentages go down, you can kind of look at the differences in the Delta. So we use those three things as our drivers for things that we were trying to measure.

And everywhere where we had say, three images that were black, two images that were black, or four images, wherever we had four or more, the effect was more pronounced versus three, versus two, versus one, all of which are better than none. One is better than none, but two is better than one, three is better than two, and four is better than three.

And that's why I'm saying the working thesis had something to do with the actual light and how your eyes are perceiving the page. And the image when you're looking at it. Why four versus one or four versus three versus four versus two? So yeah, so we just kept a spreadsheet. And I'm sure there are other software that could probably track it better. I've heard a lot of people have different ways of going about this.

You could use a spreadsheet and you can keep track of things a little bit better from the standpoint that you control the data. And you can add things the way you want.

If you're using Sellics, Sellerlabs, or any of this other software, it's baked in, you have to do whatever they got on the backend to calculate the way they present it. So we just wanted to be very basic. We just wanted to look at it and sure enough, every single listing that we experimented with, we saw an increase in conversion rates.

So try the experiment. I'd love to hear more from other folks that are trying that, to see if that improves conversion on their listings because it definitely worked for us.

Nick: (38:48)

Nice man. Yeah, that's an awesome tip I feel like we've covered a lot of good stuff here. Like Amazon takes a lot of good personal stuff,  I'm really enjoying this. I want to hear what you guys are working on now. Like what's the vision for your company? What are you guys working on?

Business Internet; The Amazon-like Experience

Rolando: (39:07)

One of the things that a lot of people are talking about is having an off-Amazon strategy. Because as much as Amazon has been good to us, every seller that has been doing a lot of business for years can tell you a horror story or two or three or four.  So in order to try to keep and mitigate those horror stories, we now have a company. We are kind of in a startup mode, that we've just launched called Circuitloops.

It’s a business geared towards other businesses that want business internet. Now that's not the new part. The new part is that you can go onto our site and within one minute, have a business internet quote. Because companies like Verizon and Comcast generally treat businesses differently than residential.

Business Internet vs. Residential Internet

it's very difficult today to get a business internet quote done without a human. And the difference here is that the reason why they treat business differently is that, if you are, let's say, a pizza store or a retail location, or even somewhere with a bunch of employees, they need to confirm your address and what's available there. And then let's say, you decide to do the contract. If you have, let's say, gig internet at home, the difference is at home, they will give you what's called the best available. 

So, we could give you one gig, but you have so many people that are logged in all around your neighborhood, that right now, you can't get one gig and that's totally legit and totally fine and totally within the contract.  But if you're a business and you're buying one gig fast internet, the business contracts for that internet is such that they're guaranteeing a minimum amount of, let's say 900 megs at all times, just below the one gig.

And if they don't deliver on that, you have a right to claim what they're not providing.  And a lot of times with the contract, there could be some penalties involved because they're not delivering what they say they can. They don't have that for residential, and that's why residential internet is so much cheaper. And that's why a lot of these times you get on a webinar or Zoom, and you're like, wow, you look good now.

Then five minutes later it gets all jacked because maybe all the kids came home from school in the neighborhood, and now they're all streaming.  So what we're doing on CircuitLoops is trying to create that Amazon experience because that's what was missing for a lot of these businesses. And in this industry, internet business connectivity is everything. 

If the rep is gone, let's say you are a business and you've got multiple offices. Those guys typically deal with reps at Verizon and Comcast. So the rep is gone. Let’s say he's at a convention center and in some far-off warm location and because they're gone, literally business stops, and that's kind of was the refrain. Speaker 3: Every time I talked to him, he’ll say “Well, you know, we got to go through this and that”

Then I thought,  wait a minute. What if we could give businesses an Amazon-like experience so they can at least start the first part of that journey, so they can get on the way to getting the internet they want? And it's more common in middle markets, where there are fewer offices available, in rural parts of America, where this is definitely a problem.  And they could just go online, and start the journey that way, without waiting for a guy or girl to call them back.

Nick: (42:55)

Nice. That's awesome, man. I like that. And you said that was called Circuitloops, right?

Rolando: (43:00) 

Nick: (43:02)

Yeah. That's definitely neat, man. You said you started that about a year ago.

Rolando: (43:07)

Yeah, we started about a year ago. It's taken about three years to put it together. Because there are a lot of things that we did not know at the beginning that we know now. In terms of trying to provide the information on, for instance, you're located in location X, there are only three providers in New York versus, you know, two providers in Sioux City or in Reno Nevada. 

And so you can look at it like an AI working in the background, doing some matchmaking for every request that comes through. So that business knows that what they're getting is right for their area. And in the internet world, that's all it's about. So who's the service provider locally and can we match that? And that's the difference also with the big guys.

Comcast is only quoting you Comcast, but we’re quoting you Horizon, we're quoting you T-Mobile. We basically look at all of those guys and say, here's the two that are in your area, this is the one that's going to be the best price.

Nick: (44:06)

Okay. Very cool.

Rolando: (44:08)

So like BI type of matchmaking.

Nick: (44:10)

Yeah. That's neat, man. Well, I hope that's working out well for you. And it sounds like a great market to get into

Market Disruption Aspirations

Rolando: (44:17)

It's ripe for disruption. It's very old school in a lot of ways. And as anybody that's watching this from MDS knows, some of you come in with market disruption ideas, like you know, a brand that turns things upside down. I don't know if we're going to get there, but we have the aspirations of turning some things upside down because customers can't get what they want the way they want it right now.

Nick: (44:44)

Okay. Very cool, man. And so you've mentioned MDS a couple of times here. How's the group been treating you?

Rolando: (44:51)

I love the nuggets that come out of there. Sometimes you feel alone when something happens to you, and so you find out you are not alone, you are not on an island, there are these other folks that and here's what will help me.  And we just had this recently, somebody posted a POA (plan of action) that had to do with our listings, where we had returns.  

So everybody who is selling a product on Amazon can relate to this.  You send stuff to FBA, a customer sends it back, and they don't like it for whatever reason. FBA then turns around, puts that in a box, or a plastic bag, and sells it back as new. And guess what happens a lot of time, the customers, that’s the second customer says, whoa, wait a minute. This box is all jacked up,  the charger was not in the box, it's missing the manual and by the way, it's got fingerprints all over it.

What is this Global Tech? You guys are scammers,  So what we wanted was a way to have those complaints resolved. There was another POA that had to deal with IP complaints, which was a totally illegitimate complaint. It was more like a bot, we took those POAs that somebody else said they had success submitting.  We submitted them, in both the IP complaint and in the case of a customer complaining that it was sold as new, or a  product condition sold. I can't remember the exact number.

Nick: (46:32)

Yeah. You probably sold it as new or one of those.

Rolando: (46:35)

There you go. In both cases, the POAs that MDS members had said they had success with submitting, both worked amazingly.

Nick: (46:42)

Amazing! Yeah, man, that's great. Without a template that works, you guys can be going back and forth on Amazon for like two weeks. 

Rolando: (46:52)

Easily,  because it’s what you don't know. So it's always trial and error. So you are like, what's the group that's in charge? Oh, it's the feed team. So I need to request the feed catalog team. Oh, what's the team that escalates? And so on.  And those are the nuggets that MDS gives you. So I went through that, and if you have a listing, that's not changing, no matter how many times you submit the feed, you gotta talk to a feed catalog team.

Here's how to get to them within the support tree, and it goes to the feed catalog team. And that's what MDs give you, especially if you're really selling a business, you're not really concerned about images that you can't get up, you can eventually get your images back up and restored, right?  It's some really heavy nitty-gritty stuff like IP complaints, product condition complaints, and maybe some seller hijacking listings going on.

You have a listing in Canada and somebody changed it over there and it changed your thing in the US. So you're trying to figure out these more heavy topics that support doesn't have the information at their fingertips to help you, and they just keep sending you a blank, or a generic copy-and-paste kind of response.

Nick: (48:09)

Yeah. Well, I'm glad you're getting some value outta the group, man. I always love to hear that. I definitely look forward to getting to know you a little bit better at some of these in-person events we're gonna be putting on.

Rolando: (48:23)

Looking forward to it. Yeah, for sure.

Nick: (48:26)

So man, before we sign off, you've given a lot of tips here. But I'd like you to give one piece of advice to the listeners, that is based on your experience.

Rolando: (48:37)

Wow. piece of advice, it's really all about relationships, and one way to succeed is by building relationships internally and externally. Obviously with the MDS group the better the relationship with other folks the better, obviously some of those take time and that's just kind of the nature of the beast. It's hard to trust somebody just on a phone call.

It's hard to do it on just one call, but relationships are built one block at a time and we are all looking for the edge, right? We're all looking for either a hack or shortcut, but sometimes it's hard to shortcut relationship building. And when you build good relationships, people walk you right through the door, past everybody that's in the line. And that's something that I've learned, as you can see, I'm getting grays here, going on now.

But I’ve been learning that as I've been getting older, the people component is really sometimes the most difficult aspect, and the better the relationships you can have with folks internally and externally, the easier your job gets as an organization. And then it allows you to find new opportunities rather than simply cold calls. I know that has some effect, but it's so much easier when somebody can say, I know Rolando, let me introduce you to him,  he's done this stuff that looks great.

And I'm sitting right at the table with the decision-maker. Versus sending him 10 emails that he never looked at. So, the relationship is the thing that I'm really focused on right now, and finding the most effect right now.

Nick: (50:33)

Yeah. I think that's a great tip man. The right relationships will completely change things. And I know early on, I think we try to do so much on our own and we miss that relationship part. It took me a while to learn that. So I think that's a great tip you've given out there, and hopefully, if there are people struggling with that, they'll start to get that and start to focus on relationship building,  I'm confident It'll pay off.

Rolando: (50:00)

It will, for sure. You just have to be patient because everybody has their own schedule and pace. But it has a big payoff when everything goes your way with the relationship building.

Nick: (51:14)

Thank you so much for your time. Rolando, it's really been good chatting with you. I’m looking forward to doing it again.

Rolando: (51:21)

No problem. No, thanks for inviting me. I appreciate it.

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