Alibaba.com has launched the B2B Breakthrough Podcast! Joining host Sharon Gai this week is Mike McClary, CEO of Amazing.com, who gave his insights on understanding customer needs to build a successful brand, the importance of product differentiation in a competitive industry, the growing importance of AI, and much more. Read on for a taste of Mike’s tips and advice.
Who is Mike McClary?
Mike McClary is the CEO of Amazing.com, the President of Zoof Seller Software, and the President and Founder of Intervene Consulting. He is an entrepreneurial mentor and coach who has helped businesses succeed in the e-commerce industry. With his expertise in product development, business management, and brand building, Mike has guided numerous entrepreneurs to achieve breakthroughs in the online retail marketplace.
Building your brand around the customer
Branding is everything. A well-established brand with a good reputation can help alleviate any concerns consumers may have about the quality of products or the reliability of the seller. Not only does this increase sales, but it creates customer loyalty, forging an emotional connection between company and customer based on trust. Branding is not just about a visual identity, it’s also about the people you serve. Mike explains that:
“We focused so much on the product back in the day because that’s all that mattered. But really understanding what a brand really is: it’s not just the logo, it’s not just a set of colors and hue tones. It’s really what you stand for, the problem you’re trying to solve and the people you’re trying to solve that for. I think that’s the main skill set, and I think anyone can gain that – you don’t have to be a marketing expert to do that.”
For Mike, branding and differentiation are important methods of speaking directly to customers, playing a crucial role in increasing customer loyalty and retention. When consumers are emotionally connected to a brand and perceive it as unique, they are more likely to stay loyal and continue purchasing from the same e-commerce store. By consistently delivering on their brand promises and offering a differentiated experience, businesses can foster long-term relationships with customers, leading to higher lifetime value and increased profitability.
How does AI factor into all of this?
AI is the brave new world of e-commerce. Mike’s view is that, although the technology is not quite there yet, we’ll soon be using AI for all our retail needs.
“I think that that’s going to be the next tool and service that I would imagine in the next six months. That’s all gonna change. We’ll have lots of good options for that. I think those are the types of services people need to invest in, because if I look at but look at anything about a product when you’re launching that is critical to it. I think your product images are the most important after the product itself.”
For most e-commerce businesses, it is easy to change the title of your project, the description, and the keywords, but images take time. If product and lifestyle imaging, customer targeting, and streamlining operations could be made easier, then retail could be revolutionized. This is why AI is so exciting. Mike currently uses AI to write video scripts with a specific tone of voice, research up-to-date tax and tariff codes, and generate persuasive sales copy for his companies, but he anticipates it becoming a far larger part of his e-commerce arsenal.
Social media and e-commerce
Mike believes that a strong online presence is essential for success in the e-commerce world. Effective branding and differentiation strategies can help businesses establish a memorable and consistent online presence across various platforms. From a well-designed website to engaging social media profiles, he sees a strong online presence as a method of attracting more potential customers, increasing website traffic, and improving conversion rates.
“I would start off again with your audience. Is your audience on Twitter and if so, be there. Is your audience on Pinterest? If so, you should be there. That’s a really good play. I think everyone should try all the major platforms out and see how it works, and then just assess and focus on what ends up working the best for you.”
In particular, short-form videos on sites such as TikTok are valuable as their relatively low costs lead to a significant ROI. Indeed, gone are the days when an impeccably produced advertisement was a prerequisite – a more raw, human piece of content is more likely to gain traction than something that’s glossy and seems professionally produced. Mike’s goal right now is not to sell anything, it’s simply to build brand awareness. He says that once customers get to know and trust you, they will buy products. After all, authenticity and genuine relationships are still of paramount importance, even in the digital age.
Interested in more of what Mike has to say? Check out the full podcast episode via the links below. Be sure to subscribe, rate, review, and share!
Click the Apple Podcast link
Click the Spotify link