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Master Amazon Advertising For Your Business With Brian Johnson

Posted by Wes Schaeffer | Apr 29, 2021 4:00:00 AM

The Secrets to Selling on Amazon

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Entrepreneur Tips you'll learn today on The Sales Podcast...

  • In e-commerce since 2007
  • Lured to Amazon by friends around 2015 and it was a “bit messy”
  • Sold his own products
  • Others heard about him and asked for help
  • PPC advertising was opened up on Amazon
  • There was no training out there
  • He started a Facebook Group and started leading the revolution
  • Now has 21,000 sellers in that group now
  • Created software and training courses
  • Then coaching and DFY

SELL MORE OF EVERYTHING IN THIS GROUP

What drains you and what energizes you?”"
  • If you are brick and mortar you need to also be on Amazon
  • He works with large brands who have resellers/distributors and he tells them to be careful
  • It’s a crowded space now in the Amazon PPC space
  • He had to put in the time and become the expert he says he is
  • He’s a “spreadsheet geek”
  • He had the pressure to solve his own problems
  • He saw the gap in the marketplace
  • Was not in sales and marketing at all
  • Has a “dry personality”
  • Had to learn to project confidence to grow and as he grew
  • He had to solve problems in an evolving space
  • He was not always a creative problem solver
  • The more he did it, the easier it got
  • It was a steep learning curve to do more in the sales and marketing areas of his business
  • His partner pulled him out of his shell via hundreds of sales calls and webinars
  • “You’re doing a disservice to the marketplace if you don’t do more to get the word out.”
  • Learned buyer behavior
  • Listen to the shopper
  • Speak to the shopper instead of the search engines
  • Sell the benefits
  • Your integrity defines you in your market
  • If you add value, your customers will sing your praises (See "The A.B.C.D.E.™ Sales & Marketing System")

Get "The A.B.C.D.E.™ Sales & Marketing System"

  • Selling on Amazon
  • Amazon Advertising
  • The three areas to focus
    • Created documented systems and processes (Get it out of your head!)
    • Hire a great team
    • Ask your team “what drains you and what energizes you?”
  • There is no perfect tool. Just find what works.
    • Zoom
    • Loom
    • Hand your videos over to someone to document it
    • Give it to your team to poke holes into
    • It takes time to build consistency
  • If you’re the SME and not transferring it to your team, you’re going to lose
  • Your ego will take the hit eventually
  • You don’t want to be the big fish in a poisoned pond
  • Get comfortable moving into the role of founder
  • Through pain, he was losing clients
  • Hired a CEO consultant
  • It was overwhelming and painful in the beginning
  • Learn sales, learn marketing, learn how to build a team

Links Mentioned In The Sales Podcast

Order Wes's second book to think, market, and close like The Sales Whisperer.

Topics: The Sales Podcast, Professional Development, Marketing Automation, Digital Marketing, Entrepreneur

Written by Wes Schaeffer

Wes and his wife just celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary. They have seven kids, which means Wes is motivated to find what works and help you apply it to grow your sales so he can buy diapers, groceries, braces...and bourbon.

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GMT20210405-201121_BrianJohnsonWes.m4a: Audio automatically transcribed by Sonix

GMT20210405-201121_BrianJohnsonWes.m4a: this m4a audio file was automatically transcribed by Sonix with the best speech-to-text algorithms. This transcript may contain errors.

Wes Schaeffer:
Brian Johnson, are you really living in a van down by the river?

Brian Johnson:
It is, yeah. No, actually at the moment I'm not by the river, but yeah, it does sometimes feel like, yeah, a Chris Farley moment for sure.

Wes Schaeffer:
All right. Whew, I'm glad you knew that one. And so you are in an RV -- hey, I was in an RV last summer with most of my kids and we came back with the 'Rona; all right? So don't do what I did, okay?

Brian Johnson:
Okay. Yeah, we are based out of San Antonio, that's where our house is, near San Antonio, between Austin and San Antonio, and we are on a two-month road trip up to Washington State, making a big loop to just see family and national parks.

Wes Schaeffer:
Very nice.

Brian Johnson:
It is a good trip for sure.

Wes Schaeffer:
We kind of did that. We took, golly, six of my seven kids.

Brian Johnson:
On the road.

Wes Schaeffer:
On the road for three weeks, although my oldest that was on the trip, he was our second oldest, he flew back halfway through. He had to get back to work. So we only had five for the whole three weeks. But I digress. That's the beauty of today's world. As long as you have an Internet connection you can work from damn near anywhere, huh?

Brian Johnson:
Yeah, I spent a lot of money on my Internet and my cell phone boosters and SIM cards and all that kind of stuff just to make sure that I could have conversations like this.

Wes Schaeffer:
Mm-hmm. So you've spent a long time kind of on your own in the Amazon space. You founded some different companies. But is PPC, like, has that been kind of your jam or e-commerce, and so you had to learn PPC to boost e-commerce? Like, how was that transition or evolution?

Brian Johnson:
Yeah. So I started out originally -- I've been in e-commerce for about 14 years, combination of selling through my own site as well as heavily on eBay; used to distribute money counters, coin sorters, banking equipment, that kind of stuff. And then I was lured over to Amazon by some friends of mine about six years ago. And I get over to Amazon and it was a lot of -- you know, it's a bit messy about six years ago. Not a lot of people had a whole lot of advice. There was like one course out there. And I started selling my own products.

But then some friends of friends got wind. It's like, hey, wait, you sell on Amazon; can you help us sell more? Like, sure. Let me see what I can do. I'm walking in as an amateur, too, but I knew five percent more than they did; right? Well, one of the things that I found out pretty quickly is when Amazon started opening up their PPC advertising -- their pay per click advertising -- that would be a great opportunity to promote a product. He was very rudimentary. But at the same time, I;m like, great, who has the information I need in order -- who's got the training? Crickets. Nobody. So I started a Facebook group and said, okay, let's talk to a few people and just kind of collaborate and figure out how do you do this thing, because Amazon didn't have any training.

And so I kind of basically created -- started my own world from there. That same Facebook group has about 21,000 sellers in it now today, just focused on advertising for Amazon. But really what happened was because I was trying to find the answers, when I found the answers, I go and share it back to the group and then they started expecting me to start having the answers. And that just compounded year over year over year. So I created software to help with advertising; a training course to help with the advertising.

And ultimately, people just kept coming back to me and said, hey, can you coach me or can you just do it for me? And that's what formed an ad agency and a coaching program and all that kind of stuff. But yeah, ultimately, I had to kind of educate the market as I learned. And it just kind of -- it was a perpetual wheel. You know, you get a little bit information and somebody wants it and they want some more from you and you got to research it and figure it out and kind of had to solve my own problems. And then that's how I ended up specializing in that. It wasn't intentional. I was just trying to solve my own problem.

Wes Schaeffer:
That's awesome. So, I mean, I'm linking to you. So BrianRJohnson.com. Because your specialty is Amazon sellers, right? So either those that are already doing pretty well that want to get better or -- we were talking before we hit record, I mean, if somebody has -- if they sell a physical item, certainly retail, they should also be on Amazon doing what you teach, right?

Brian Johnson:
Exactly. Yeah. I mean, if they're selling on brick and mortar, if they are selling on Wal-Mart, on Shopify, on any kind of e-commerce channel, and they're not selling on Amazon or as I mentioned earlier, even worse is we work with a number of quite a few large brands that sell in brick and mortar stores, and then they allow distributors or wholesalers to sell on Amazon. And that's a huge mistake because a number of reasons as far as risk, lack of control, lack of the ability to really leverage the system properly and really boost sales and magnify the sales on such a large e-commerce channel that it's become now.

Wes Schaeffer:
Yeah, because if they -- people are going to cheapen the brand and they're going to take shortcuts to make a buck, and the next thing you know, you just shot yourself in the foot.

Brian Johnson:
Yeah, it works on that. Usually they simply just don't do enough. They simply just don't care enough in order to put the best foot forward of the brand or each individual product; let alone, try to position the product among competitors and really play the game and really compete well.

Wes Schaeffer:
Yeah. Well, I want to dig into how -- going back to how you got started, because I think that is applicable to everyone listening, because there's someone there say, oh, I'm a W-2 salesman, I'm going to tune out of this. Like, no, nope. Because there's -- you've got something interesting in there. Even like coaches, speakers, authors, I mean, people that may not be in this space or they're not going to go there. But this story of how you started, like they say the definition of an expert is that you come from out of town, you carry a briefcase.

Brian Johnson:
That is true.

Wes Schaeffer:
Right? And that was kind of you .I mean, as long as you're one chapter ahead, you can lead the class. Right? And that's kind of where you found yourself.

Brian Johnson:
To a point. Yeah. Well, I think it was pretty easy on the earlier -- in the early years to -- you know, there were very few of us who really understood what was going on, and usually it's because we were collaborating with each other. And so there was a handful of Amazon PPC experts today; every single VA who's had two weeks of training from a brand is now saying, oh, I'm a PPC expert for Amazon. It's like, okay, now it's like I'm just one of 10,000; right? And so where it was pretty easy - it was blue ocean for me. It was pretty easy because, yeah, I had to put it in the 10,000 hours; I had to do the work in order to figure out, to test everything. Thankfully I'm a spreadsheet geek and I'm a research and development geek, where I am going to experiment with things and try to figure out how to break things and make it work.

Fortunately, I had that combination of my own brain coming into it. But honestly, it's the pressure of needing to solve my own problems and then having other people wanting me to help them solve their problem, too, and just expanding the diversity of the sample size. You know, it's one thing to be a brand owner and saying, well, this is my experience with my blinders on. And then it's another to be working with tens of thousands of brands selling on Amazon and having that kind of diversity to be able to see every single flavor of what's going on with every single product niche; pretty much have touched just about everything on Amazon over the years. And just forced into it, forced into just grinding and just learning it.

Wes Schaeffer:
Yeah, and that's what I was going to say. It's like there's good pressure and there's bad pressure. I mean, we see all these guys online pictures of their Lamborghinis and they're surfing and like this glorious life. It's like, maybe it's true. I think a lot of them, it's crap. But those that got there, they went through some crap to get there, right? Unless you're a trust fund baby -- and why do you want to follow those guys? You know, I want to follow the people that encountered some adversity and made something of it. If there wasn't big problems to solve, would you be where you are now?

Brian Johnson:
Probably not. I probably not -- I'd probably be still -- I mean, I still do sell products on Amazon, but I'd probably just be a product seller, solving my own and not having to worry about both the positive and the negative of kind of being in the public eye within this specific marketplace. But yeah, if there wasn't big problems, then I probably would have been a lot more W-2 mindset than I than I am now. I've been kind of forced through a certain amount of pain to adapt over time.

Wes Schaeffer:
So, you know the old story of guy's boat sinks and he's in a life raft, he's praying to God, like, please save me. It's like here comes this fishing boat. Hey, you need some help? Oh, no, God's my savior. Okay. Then storm's getting worse and a cruise ship and, no, God's my savior; then a helicopter. No, no, God's my savior; finally drowns. He's like, God, what happened? Yes. I said three damn boats to get you. You know, like we say no to these obvious things. Right?

Like, how many times did you have to get slapped around before you go, oh, man, there's an opportunity here. Because a lot of people are just head down. Like, oh, no. I'm a carpenter. I'm going to do my own things. Like, can you build my deck? Can you build a patio for me? No, no. I just do my own. Maybe there's something here. I mean, did you see the opportunity right away or did you have to get slapped around a good bit?

Brian Johnson:
Well, I think I saw the opportunity because there was a gap in the marketplace. There was a lack of something that I needed personally. And so I was trying to solve my own problem. I'm like, okay, well, I knew software. I knew the technical aspect. I was not a sales and marketing person at all. I had a very, extremely dry personality. I mean, I still do if you ask any of my business partners.

But at the same time, I've come a long way. I've adapted quite a bit, have had to adapt myself in order to project out more project confidence and a lot of these things that make it so that people like, okay, I actually trust -- I see you've got integrity by what you're saying and the actions you take and that kind of thing. But ultimately, I had to -- when it came to solutions, I continually had to solve, solve, solve. And of course, on a platform like Amazon that's up and coming, they're constantly trying to introduce new things; that creates new confusion every single time they do it. And the eyes turn around, they look at somebody like me and say, it's like, what do you think? You know, it's like, they came out yesterday. It's like, you got to -- you have to act pretty quick. There's something that -- somebody has asked me about that before; have I always been creative and being a creative problem solver. I said no, absolutely not. But being pushed to have to create something for my own purposes, for my clients' purposes, for my audience's purposes, I had to come up with that. And the more that I did it, the easier it got, year over year over year.

It's the same thing. They say that about comedians or creativity or -- I'm sure there's a lot of other things -- is the more you continue to put pressure on it and the more you work it day after day, year after year, the easier it gets. And so now I find that it's easy for me to see the gaps and the opportunities. Now, whether or not I take action on every one of those, that's a completely different skill set, which I'm still working on.

Wes Schaeffer:
Right. Well, but I love what you said, though, about dry personality. You know, you're more of -- I mean, you're like an introvert, right? Just a hands-on; probably fine if you don't see anybody for a week or a month. Is that correct?

Brian Johnson:
Yeah, I'd say a couple of days.

Wes Schaeffer:
Maybe back in the day.

Brian Johnson:
I'm probably on the cusp. Yeah.

Wes Schaeffer:
All right. So maybe seven years ago, would you say you're more introverted than you are now?

Brian Johnson:
No, I was actually more extroverted then.

Wes Schaeffer:
Oh!

Brian Johnson:
Yeah. Now, but I think the difference --

Wes Schaeffer:
Extroverted but dry? I don't understand that.

Brian Johnson:
Yeah, well, I'm not saying it's a great combination, but more geek engineer type.

Wes Schaeffer:
An extroverted geek?

Brian Johnson:
I know, right?

Wes Schaeffer:
What -- are you messing with me?

Brian Johnson:
Annoying, right? [laughs] That's somebody you say, like, get away from me.

Wes Schaeffer:
Wait a minute.

Brian Johnson:
I don't -- I don't know. I guess I probably would say this. I think early on in my corporate days, I tested the personality typing. I tested as an extrovert. But now -- and maybe it's just me being honest with my personality as I get older -- is now I as an introvert versus previously as an extrovert. But I actually find that I'm having -- I project myself a lot better than I used to. So who knows.

Wes Schaeffer:
All right. I think what we can still take from that is -- typically you see these flamboyant types, high-flying entrepreneurs, wheeling and dealing, and they're salesmen; right? But I mean, extrovert is one thing, that's typically a salesman; geek, though; that's more internal. So those listening, if they -- because most people -- I talk to entrepreneurs that are trying to grow their business or buying software -- Infusionsoft, HubSpot; they're very into their thing. And I'm like, man, you got to master sales and marketing. "I could never do sales." "I hate sales and marketing." But it can be learned, right? I mean, you've learned how to take your expertise and take it to the world. I mean, was that a hard, steep learning curve for you?

Brian Johnson:
Without a doubt. Yeah. So I actually had a business partner that -- I would say that he found me early on where I was the guy who had the information, he needed it for his own business, but then he saw the opportunity to say, okay, this guy's got enough information that we could actually do a lot with this. I had already created software, but we hadn't created a course, hadn't created an agency. And he basically pulled me up -- and this is my partner, Brian Burke -- and he spent the first couple of years as being frustrated just trying to pull me out of my shell. And the way he did it is he put me on 500 sales calls and 105 webinars and just trained the reserved nature and the hold-back and the qualifying and all these kinds of things that they would normally do as more of the engineer mindset.

And he kind of yanked me out and said, you've got to -- you have this information that's stuck in your head; you've got to get it out there to people who really need it. And you're doing them a disservice and you a disservice, and certainly this business, it's a partnership from a cash flow standpoint if you don't help people get what they need. And so I just started studying marketing technique and sales technique and just going through the motions and forcing myself -- it's kind of like if you had somebody who's never been in sales and you put them in a cold calling call center, that's painful. I've done that. That's just flat-out raw painful if you've never done it before. But if you do it for a year, guess what? You're going to be pretty savvy at it, or you're not going to be there, one of the two.

Wes Schaeffer:
Yeah. Sink or swim.

Brian Johnson:
Definitely. Yeah, exactly. I definitely don't consider myself a salesperson. However, I definitely learned to study things like buyer behavior, especially in the Amazon products space, where I can actually do coaching and say this is why your products is not selling as well as it could be, because you're not listening to the shopper, you're not speaking to the shopper. You're not saying, here's the benefit of my product to you. Most of the products that I sell on e-commerce, especially on Amazon, are still trying to speak to the search engine that Amazon is instead of talking to the shopper and saying, this is why my product is better among these other 50 that are surrounding me, an that product positioning, that product differentiation, it's essentially a sales technique. It's a sales and marketing technique, but applying it to something that I'm more comfortable with, which is the magnifying the product sales.

Wes Schaeffer:
Yeah, very cool. Would you say -- like, what would you say is the top skill of a business owner now? You know, is it harder -- so let's say you have sales, you have marketing, you have this research that you do, knowledge of the back end of the Amazon advertising platform -- you know, like, what version of you would be the toughest to replace? The guy running the dashboard? The salesman?

Brian Johnson:
Yeah. I mean, one of the things -- I mean, certainly something that has been surprisingly, I guess, unique to me -- I mean, there's other people who have this also, but something that -- my reputation for integrity in my specific marketplace has always been strong. And so the knowledge that I have, the strategies that I have, the the ability to run advertising, run marketing for somebody else, the ability to do sales and marketing, all of that can be transferred to somebody else. But integrity is something that can really define you.

I mean, you're using kind of like the example as far as like you got the Lamborghini, the flashy Lamborghini and yeah, they could have gone through some pain. But usually the question, the doubt there, is does this person actually have integrity? Do I believe them? And so that, I think, is something where you want to try to maintain, but as from a skill set? Probably what I'm --

Wes Schaeffer:
The reason I ask is people -- I run across various experts in their field; right? And like, I just dropped our truck off to get some work done on it -- Eric's mechanic shop. Eric's a great mechanic, but there's a bunch of great mechanics out there. You know, I'm always telling the owner your number one job is to market yourself, because no matter how good you give the Amazon dashboard, no matter how you get good you get at repairing your cars, he can hire a couple of other mechanics. Maybe they're only 90 percent as good as him. You can teach them. He can QC their work. But they're not going to love his business and pour their heart and soul into marketing his business.

Brian Johnson:
No, that's true.

Wes Schaeffer:
Right. But you can get like a passionate diesel mechanic and like he's going to stay on that truck till it's frickin' fixed because that's like what lights his fire. Meanwhile, you can go market your business because I'm always telling them that you got to -- you can bring somebody in like you or me. You'll help on the PPC side, I'll help with their messaging or sales scripts and we're better at that than they are. But it's still their baby, right? We're just beautifying and amplifying their already existing beautiful message; they just maybe haven't quite been able to verbalize it yet.

Brian Johnson:
Yeah, I'd certainly agree with you on that. Is often the subject matter expert is sucks at other things, like actually saying like, okay, here's who I am. Here's actually how to market a presence -- unless their expertise is in marketing; right? Yeah, I completely agree with that. Typically I was going to say probably the three things that I would focus in on, based on my experience -- my journey has been to create systems and processes that are documented. I struggle with that so badly because I didn't want documents -- like, I've got in my head, I can just do it. Yeah, but the next thing is then you have to hire a great team and that great team needs to execute on something you've established there.

And then the third thing, exactly what you're talking about, as far as the passion, as far as whether or not somebody cares about your business as much as you, the third thing on that is making sure that you're asking the people that you have on your team is -- periodically -- of the job that you're doing, when you wake up in the morning, when you go to do your job, what drains you throughout the day? What energizes you throughout the day? Because if I can identify a task that somebody does that drains them consistently, I'm going to find somebody else to energizes by that same task and have them swap tasks.

So that they're constantly -- so they get most of their day energizes, so they actually literally -- like, yes, I have a job, but I actually look forward to do my job and executing on it because I have fun with it. It's that diesel mechanic. You know, it's like, man, I could work on diesel engines every single day of my life. Cool. I want you working on my diesel engine customers. I mean, it's aligning that team, and that is something that took me probably the last three or four years to really figure that out. And of course, you do that because you make mistakes.

Wes Schaeffer:
Right. Yeah, that's so cool. I ask my team at the end of the day, just tell me what did you accomplish, what obstacles are in your way, and what do you need from me? And we take it from there, and do it daily; right? Do it regularly. Otherwise it'll spiral out of control. It's that literally a stitch in time saves nine. Don't wait until they're ready to quit. What's going on? I noticed a change lately. And That's something you could have fixed three months ago.

Brian Johnson:
Yeah. Ignorance is not going to solve a spiraling death -- desperate -- it's only going to make it worse, you know.

Wes Schaeffer:
So how do you document? I mean, using simple tools like Loom or whatever, make a quick video? Is it super-elaborate?

Brian Johnson:
Now we even use probably 30 different tools. It always seems like productivity tools and that kind of stuff. You never -- no team ever finds ones, like this is perfect for our team because they always transition to something else. That's just kind of the nature of the tools.

But using things -- using some kind of a video screenshot recording or these days, things like Zoom, for instance. You can just jump on Zoom, you hit record, screen record and you just start talking to it. And it's ugly. And then maybe you hand that off to somebody else, like, okay, I saw good documentation. You're really good at documentation. Here's my video. Go document this, put it into something and then we're going to throw it at the team and say, OK, run through this and see where the holes are, see where it works and what doesn't.

Ultimately, the more you do it, the more you build it out, that's going to build consistency, but simply ignoring the problem, simply saying, well, I've got it in my head, you're only hurting your team by not -- if you're the subject matter expert, you're only hurting the rest of your team and your company if you are not somehow transferring what you know to something that they can execute on. Because if you think that you're holding on to it, because I don't want anybody else to become as much of an expert as me, otherwise I might not be as important as -- like, well, guess what? Your ego is going to take the hit and eventually it's going to happen anyway, except it's probably going to financially hurt you as opposed to if you solve it now and you execute well, then you're going to be able to help a lot of other people. And that's what you're going to get known for, is not your expertise, but because you actually did something with the expertise.

Wes Schaeffer:
You know, people always say, well, Wes, what if I hire you and you train all my people and then and they leave? And I'm like, well, what if you don't train them and they stay?

Brian Johnson:
And they stay -- I actually have that as a poster in my office. That is absolutely true. It's like, yeah, do you want to be the big fish in a poison pond? It's like, no. You want to be you want to surround yourself with people who are smarter than you, that can move faster than you, that can create their own ideas and you can sit back and say, okay, I'm moving into a founder role and I'm okay with that right now. Otherwise you're basically -- you just created your own job and you're stuck in it for as long as you allow it to happen.

Wes Schaeffer:
Yeah. How long did it take you to go from that hands-on/frantic to feeling like, all right, I am a founder now, I own a business; the business doesn't own me?

Brian Johnson:
Right. So I would say the first -- when we created the -- when I created the software I had to -- okay, here's all the rules the software's going to follow; here's how everything's going to look. I basically had to design everything and then hand it off to programmers. When I created the training course, I basically had to go through and do a video of every single topic and outline and all that kind of stuff. Subsequent versions of that, I had a bigger team to be able to help organize and project management, that kind of thing. When the agency came around, I was essentially running operations and my partner was running sales and marketing and I was -- through pain I was losing clients because we weren't executing consistently and fast enough on the areas that we knew we could do. We just didn't have -- even with the small team we had.

And so ultimately what we ended up doing, we ended up hiring a CEO consultant, Alex Charfen, out of Austin, Texas. And he basically pinned me in the corner and said, like, this is where you're screwing up; this is how you need to turn around. Basically you need to get this taken care of from an operational standpoint; otherwise, you guys are be gone in the next six months. And so it was kind of that "come to Jesus" conversation. And so we forced ourselves to start documenting. We pulled in people who were specifically hired to help us document, even on a temporary basis.

And eventually we got there and things got better; things improved. We got more consistent. Now we're known for our consistency. We're known for an awesome team environment and being able to execute on the systems that we have. But it was extremely overwhelming, extremely painful the first couple of years; very uncomfortable for me. And I was forced to grow. And so anybody who really wants even a decent lifestyle business or wants to evade avoid the pain of having it all collapse at some point, they've got to -- they've got to grow. They've got to go through some kind of pain to take care of the basics, to get -- you know, like I said before, you get it off of one -- if you've got one person on it, that's a single point of failure. They get hit by a bus, your whole business is gone.

And so that is probably the greatest risk, because after a while we started having employees and those employees have families. You start realizing like, oh, I've got 10, 20, 50, 100 families that I'm feeding; I can't screw this up now. There's too much at risk, not even for me personally. You know, so it's just a case of you always have to continue to grow. You always have to adapt and you'll always have to recognize I'm not the person who should be -- who's best suited to execute on this aspect of my business, even though I thought I could wear all the hats. Not going to happen.

Wes Schaeffer:
When did you make that transition from employee to business owner? What were you doing? What was your last W-2 job?

Brian Johnson:
My last W-2 job was -- what was that? It was about actually about nine years ago I actually had a W-2 job, and that was mainly just because I had started over on e-commerce and I had built up a software -- previous company and the company that the software was built for, we were doing really well with the software, but then that company collapsed and of course, there was no need for the software anymore. And so ultimately, I was able to -- I had to suck it up and eventually support my family so I had to get a W-2. And that was extremely painful because I had already mentally made the switch like, okay, I'm a full-time entrepreneur, 14 years ago.

Prior to that, I was in Fortune 500 W-2 for two decades. And that's what I -- that's all I knew, but I was always fighting the urge of like, I really want to be doing my own thing, I've got -- I really am always trying to hustle on the side and on the weekends. That's you. That's not going to go away. If you're doing that, if you're doing nights and weekends, you're trying to figure out how can I hustle? What's the business aspect? Sales, marketing, all that kind of stuff. Learn sales. Learn sales for sure. Number one, learn sales; number two, learn marketing, and then number three, learn how to hire a team that can execute on all the stuff that you think that you're the expert at that you can hand off. That's how you build a phenomenal team around you. But most people like you had mentioned earlier is most people, they don't have the sales chops. You know, you've got to pair the engineers with the sales guys and then blend them together for the whole thing to work.

Wes Schaeffer:
So how did you find your partner? Right, because that's --

Brian Johnson:
He found me. Yeah. His story is actually is that -- because he was selling on -- he was selling products on Amazon and he was frustrated with the advertising side of it. So he started asking around the community. You know, like, who do you know that's really good at Amazon advertising? They didn't mention me; they mentioned somebody else. And then he asked, who'd you learn from. Okay, and then they point to somebody else. Who'd you learn from? And he kept on asking that question and they kept on coming back to me. So he just tracked me down. And at the time, I was doing an hour coaching session for, I don't know, it's like $35 or $50. And we kind of debated as far as what it was per hour.

Wes Schaeffer:
So basically nothing.

Brian Johnson:
Nothing. Yeah, pretty much, yeah, exactly. Yeah, compared to the rates that we could easily charge today, it was basically nothing at the time. And he's like, wow, this guy is a serious engineering geek who really knows everything there is to know about this particular topic. He goes, I know the sales and marketing -- he came out of the Russell Brunson school, and so he knew exactly how to create the webinars and the sales funnels and all that kind of stuff. And so he's like, hey, let's do tell you what. I've got this idea. What do you think? Within two weeks, he flew from Chicago down to Austin with a film crew in order to film our promotional videos for our first training course.

Wes Schaeffer:
Nice.

Brian Johnson:
One, we hadn't even created yet -- I had created yet, but he knew I knew it. And then he went through a whole lot of pain just to try to make sure that I was pulling everything I knew out of my head and getting on the paper. That was a struggle. But he knew that it needed to get done, and we're both certainly happier for both of us going through the pain -- him pulling me up and me saying, like, I'm uncomfortable with this transition. But ultimately in hindsight, I'm going, it needed to be done. Suck it up, Brian.

Wes Schaeffer:
Well, and I mean, you became easy to find and easy to choose because you had put in, what, three years, five years?

Brian Johnson:
Yeah, yeah. I mean, because I was always helping the community. I was always -- I was always the go-to person. So if you had a hard problem, come to Brian, because he could figure it out.

Wes Schaeffer:
Yeah. So that's a five-year overnight success, right?

Brian Johnson:
Exactly. Exactly. Yeah. But certainly I wouldn't have -- I guess within the community, I've got name recognition. Outside the community, they could care less who I am and I'm okay with that. It's cool. Even though I want to try to reach people who are the brick and mortar brands and that kind of stuff who never heard of me and don't care who I am, so that's a different challenge there from a sales and marketing standpoint. But at the same time, if it wasn't for my business partner pulling me up and getting me out there and forcing me in front of the camera, forcing me in front of audiences that got bigger and bigger and bigger, not enough people would have known who I am.

Wes Schaeffer:
Yes, that's true.

Brian Johnson:
In order to get the information that I had for them, because it's not about me, really.

Wes Schaeffer:
Right. But you wouldn't have been worthy of being known if you didn't have the expertise, right? So, I mean, it cuts all ways. Well, "it's all who you know, not what you know." Well, bullshit, because what you know helps you expand who you know; right?

Brian Johnson:
Ultimately the who you know is ultimately going to point you back to the person who knows what they know.

Wes Schaeffer:
Yeah. But I mean, the people worth knowing, they're worth knowing usually because of the people they know and they're easy to know who they know because those people can get shit done.

Brian Johnson:
Yep. Ivy League College 101 here. It's not to get an education. It's to network with as many people as you possibly can.

Wes Schaeffer:
Yeah. So that's cool. I mean, put in the time. I wrote this big green book back there. I looked around, like, is there an Infusionsoft book? No. Okay, I guess I'll write an Infusionsoft book. I never wrote a book, and I was not the most technical guy. I literally learned as I went. I had used the software for four years, but I'm not a techie guy.

Brian Johnson:
And depending when you started on that book, that Infusionsoft was not the greatest platform to work with here.

Wes Schaeffer:
Yeah, but hey, there's a niche, right? There's people that use it. Nobody'd written a book on it. I was not the most technical. I got better as a result of writing it and made a name for myself. I mean, find a need and fill it; right? Isn't that what Zig Zigler says? You can get whatever you want if you help enough people get what they want.

Brian Johnson:
Yeah. I think there was a movie, Eobots, I think like, "See a need, fill a need." Very similar.

Wes Schaeffer:
Yeah. Just do it. So cool, man. So those folks that have a need to get mo' better selling their stuff on Amazon, you're the man with the plan, huh?

Brian Johnson:
Yeah. I've got a few plans. I've got my systems, my frameworks, yes. So it's not just the plan, but I actually have got it all documented. I've got a team behind me. So, yeah, it's an organized plan.

Wes Schaeffer:
Nice. So I mentioned it earlier, but it's BrianRJohnson.com. So they can -- should they go anywhere in particular or just start looking around and see what tickles their fancy?

Brian Johnson:
They can see my mug. I do have links on there. You know, certainly my flagship would be my advertising agency, Canopy Management, of course. And for those who sell on Amazon or wanting to sell on Amazon, advertising, marketing, product positioning, that is our highest focus. And if somebody wants to simply just reach out to me or an easy way to contact me, then, yeah, BrianRJohnson.com is an easy way. Maybe not easy to remember unless they know AC/DC or any actors, but --

Wes Schaeffer:
It's not hard. BrianRJohnson, man. C'mon.

Brian Johnson:
Well, there's a lot of Brian Johnsons in the world. Yeah. BrianRJohnson.com. Certainly an easy way to reach out to me. Glad to have a conversation.

Wes Schaeffer:
Yeah. Very cool. Well, enjoy your trip, I guess, if you come through SoCal, man, I mean, we could've done this in person.

Brian Johnson:
Yeah, not this trip. I think I'll probably stay out of -- I'm going to try to get off the West Coast here for the next year until things kind of politically settle down, they kind of recover some of their downtowns a little bit, hopefully. Hopefully Southern California is in much better shape than some of these cities up here. [chuckles] So I'll be back in -- in May I'll be back down in the Austin-San Antonio area.

Wes Schaeffer:
Oh, cool. Very nice. All right. BrianRJohnson.com. Man, thanks for coming on the show. It's been great.

Brian Johnson:
Wes, it's been a pleasure. I appreciate talking with you.

Wes Schaeffer:
All right, man. Have a great day.

Brian Johnson:
All right. You too.

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