Being stuck indoors this year has meant two things. One: we don’t get to bounce ideas off of people face to face and Two: Amazon sales are through the roof. We talk to our founder and CEO, Phil Robinson, about how ClickThrough’s Amazon huddle tackles both these things head on.
“The More Expertise in the Room, the More We can Open People's Minds” – Our CEO Phil Robinson on the Amazon Huddle
JN: So tell me, what is the Amazon huddle?
PR: Our Amazon huddle is a peer-to-peer learning forum for marketing leaders, or people in marketing to share successes and learnings and challenges on how you grow your business Amazon.
JN: Where did the idea come from?
PR: We realised that because Amazon is changing so rapidly, has huge opportunity and is launching in so many different countries that there’s a lot of complexity about it. There was a genuine problem in trying to keep up with the constant developments, so it seemed to make sense to create a forum for people to learn from each other, made up of a trusted group that can share ideas, things that have been working well and any challenges.
JN: And it’s all virtual? Is it something that came about during lockdown, or was it in the pipeline before then?
PR: It came about through lockdown. We noticed that while on one hand the opportunity on Amazon shot up massively due to people not being able to go outside to shop, the same restrictions completely stopped any face to face learning sessions. I thought the idea of a virtual peer-to-peer space could work, so tested it with a few people I invited and the feedback was fantastic. We’ve seen that people joining the calls have been learning huge amounts from each other every session, which is a great positive.
JN: Given that it’s lockdown friendly, can I wear my pyjama bottoms if I look smart on top?
PR: Well there’s no formal dress code, though making yourself presentable is always appreciated.
JN: Duly noted - so what's the structure of a typical huddle? Do I need to join with something ready to share?
JR: It’s a huddle, so we’d like everyone to contribute. It’s nice to start on a positive note, so we’ll go around the group and each person will tell us what things have worked really well for them in the past two weeks and anything that’s been a big success. Then we’ll move onto the things that have been difficult and what challenges we’ve all been facing to see if anyone can share any solutions.
After that, if there’s any interesting updates with new features or big goings on in the industry we’ll share and talk about that, and what benefits it could bring for us all.
JN: Why was ClickThrough the right company to set this up?
PR: Well, we’re great at helping businesses grow on Amazon! So we wanted to think of a new way that could help people learn from each other. It seemed an ideal way to get some all-important face time with our clients and really get to know their pain points so we can help better. Also, even though Amazon is one of our specialisms, businesses often encounter and solve challenges we haven’t yet so we’re also keen to hear from others using the platform.
JN: So this is an all exclusive members club?
PR: Not at all! Businesses who don’t work with us on Amazon are welcome to join us too – there’s a wealth of knowledge out there we can all benefit from and I know that our own Amazon specialists could be providing value to businesses they don’t have direct contact with. I think a great thing about it is that people who are pretty early on in their Amazon journey have a chance to meet with clients who’ve seen the benefits and have developed a more sophisticated approach to their strategy, or can simply learn a bit more from others who might have picked up their skills from experience.
JN: This seems a bit backwards – are you suggesting you’re helping people not need to work with us?
PR: Actually, in some cases, yes. The huddle is for everyone and we have a no-selling policy, both for us and those who attend. There will be people who are really only just starting out with Amazon that we can’t really offer services to at this point, but what we can try and do is help them learn and pick up some things they can focus on themselves. If they do reach a point where we could help to boost their performance even further then it’s a win-win for everyone.
JN: You've mentioned that people bring along problems to the groups, are there any kind of commonalities in the issues that people come with? Are there any pesky problems that crop up again and again?
PR: One issue that pops up frequently at the moment is how companies are struggling to navigate Brexit and find out what it means for them in terms of taxes and shipping issues. I suppose that’s something that’s not been made clear anywhere so we’re happy to talk about it as many times as needed.
JN: You’ve talked about how we’ve created an environment for people to discuss all things Amazon, but there must be some kind of commitment? Do we ask anything from attendees in return?
PR: It’s important that everyone contributes and shares what they’ve learned, or how to troubleshoot certain areas, or else the huddle won’t work. As it’s peer-to-peer learning you get what you give. To learn from others, you really need to be bringing value yourself, but we hope we’ve created an environment that makes people comfortable with sharing ideas.
JN: So, if I was sitting at home (because that's where we all are at the minute) and I thought, “Wow, I'm only a couple of months into my Amazon journey, am I really going to be able to provide any value?” what would you say to me?
PR: Absolutely you will. My view is that whatever stage of the Amazon journey you are on, you’ll still have encountered similar issues to someone who’s been using it years. You might even be able to bring a relatively fresh viewpoint to the group, and as you’ll have been learning how to use all the latest developments from scratch you may have plenty to share from that angle.
So many of the issues and successes we encounter are universal, however much experience you’ve had. And the thing is, the group will always be willing to help – humans tend to like helping each other! Besides, you’ll have plenty to share and ‘give back’ once you’re further down the line and another newbie joins with their own questions.
JN: Can you share any success stories from how the group has solved a problem together in a Huddle?
PR: One big win for a few Huddle members was when we talked about the launch of sponsored brands in the US market which allowed you to create video advertising. As it was so new, it really was something that people were keen to just float ideas around about and we all left that huddle with plenty that we could try out and report back on later.
We’ve also faced a lot of challenges with Brand Registry and how to approach getting that resolved quickly. That’s a really important bottleneck for many brand owners so the huddle has been a great way for people to find out how they can quickly overcome that particular obstacle.
JN: What’s next for the Amazon Huddle – how do you think this idea could grow?
PR: Longer term, we do want to broaden to out to even more businesses so we can get engagement and insights from other sectors and countries – it’s easy to just think about what works for your sector, but taking note of what’s working elsewhere is always helpful. Amazon is a huge, global marketplace so the more expertise we can get in the room, the more we can open people’s minds as to what is possible.
JN: I’m sold. How can I apply to join?
PR: The best way to join us right now is to reach out to me on LinkedIn, or via my email if you have that, and ask to join, then I’ll send you an invite to the next Huddle.