TITLE: 78 From Concept To Selling On Amazon with Tom Dowman, Pago Baby

EPISODE NOTES

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Today I am speaking to Tom Dowman, of Pago Baby. Full disclosure, Tom is a client of mine. Tom has a full-time job as a charted surveyor and is a husband and father of 2.

Inspired by his experiences weaning his daughter, Tom has developed a multipurpose floor protector mat. As well as being larger than the average mat, and easy to clean as it is machine washable, look and feel was also important to Tom. It is non-slip, and the neutral grey and white pattern is designed to look good in any home. 

We discussed Tom’s journey from product idea to manufacturing it to becoming an Amazon seller. We discuss how Tom did some brilliant groundwork researching his product, and how we worked together testing different advertising strategies and using Amazon Vine to garner customer reviews. 

Listen in to hear Tom share:

  • An introduction to himself and his work (2:56)
  • What prompted Tom to create the splash mats (2:39)
  • How a Kardashian inspired the design (12:01)
  • Researching and finding the right manufacturer (14:38)
  • Developing a brand(20:40)
  • Setting up a product page on Amazon (23:11)
  • Promoting sales on Amazon, including using Amazon Vine (29:56)
  • The next steps for Pago Baby (38:02)
  • The biggest challenges he has faced (44:53)
  • Balancing Pago Baby with a full-time job and busy home life (50:44)
  • His number one piece of advice for other product creators (35:28)

USEFUL RESOURCES:

Pago Baby on Amazon

Pago Baby Website

Pago Baby Instagram

Sam Priestly

Jungle Scout

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Transcript
Vicki Weinberg:

Welcome to the, Bring Your Product Ideas To Life podcast, practical advice, and inspiration to help you create and sell your own physical products. Here's your host Vicki Weinberg. Hi, and welcome to this week's episode today. I'm speaking with Tom Dowman from Pago Baby, um, full disclosure. Tom is actually a client of mine. Um, I helped Tom launches products on Amazon earlier this year, and we're going to be talking about that a bit on the episode. So I felt good to reference it here because you will hear us talking about working together. Um, Tom, that sells a range of play mats for babies. It's his first product. Um, and he talks a lot about how he, his motivation for, for launching his products, how he works around his young family. Um, he actually has a full-time day job as well. And, um, this is just a really interest in chats about, um, you know, being a startup product business. I hope you really enjoy. So now I'd love to introduce you to Tom. So hi Tom. Thank you so much for being here.

Tom Dowman:

Hi Vicky.

Vicki Weinberg:

So please start with you giving us an introduction to yourself, your business and what you sell, please.

Tom Dowman:

Uh, my name is Tom Dowman. I am the founder of Pago Baby. Which is a kids slash home product company. Um, at the moment we have, we have one product which is a, uh, sort of stylish, waterproof machine washable mat to help you keep your floor tidy. Um, when you have kids that love to throw food on the floor.

Vicki Weinberg:

Thank you. And obviously I've seen your mats. Um, am I, I think they're wonderful. I think, um, I'll definitely put a link in the show notes that people can go and take a look because I think it's a very hard product to describe people need to definitely go and have a look at it, to see exactly what it looks like. And I'd also say that it's a very, it's a really big splash mat. Isn't it? It's not one of these little circles, it's quite a big thing.

Tom Dowman:

Well, it became pretty earlier on, early on, pretty obvious earlier on when we were prototyping that, um, a small map isn't compatible with, with my children and therefore has probably not compatible with a lot of children because, you know, Nine months, they get a bit of a, a bend in the elbow and they can start to project and throw things across the kitchen or across the dining room. And, um, yeah, if you had anything smaller than our mat, then you, I think you did be doing a lot more tidying up and then you should be.

Vicki Weinberg:

Yeah. And I think that leads on quite nicely to what I want to talk about next is what prompted you to create your mats in the first place. Was it inspired by your kids or was it something else? I know your kids have been a big part of sort of the creation process, but what kicked it all off?

Tom Dowman:

Well, um, If you trace it all the way back. I think it probably comes back to Malcolm Gladwell. I wouldn't, it wouldn't be appropriate to be on a podcast without mentioning Malcolm Gladwell and his 10,000 hours, because I was co I was on my shared parental leave. So I, my wife for my, my first Agatha, which is now, she was born in 2017. Um, my wife did the first six months and then we swapped and I did, uh, we were originally supposed to be six months, but it ended up being sort of, uh, 9, 10, 11 months. Um, fortunately the nursery and I was doing a bit of reading and I came across some Malcolm Gladwell, 10,000 hours concept. And I, there was a, there was a chap in America who was, he decided that he was going to play golf for 10,000 hours and break into the PGA tour subsequently he wasn't able to do that, but I also found a chapter. In Britain, who, who written a blog about Hughes, he decided sort of 20 early twenties. He decided to stop working and play table tennis for 10,000 hours. He was okay. It was pretty good table tennis player before no nothing major, um, very enthusiastic 10,000 hours. And then he was going to break into the UK top 100. That was his goal. And his name is Sam Priestley. And he didn't do it because he wasn't talented enough or maybe he didn't practice in quite the right way. It was a very interesting blog about how, um, sort of dedicated practice and effort, um, could lead to results. And he did, he did pretty well, obviously very good at table tennis by the end of the year that he spent doing this and he wrote a blog about it. And I sort of follow started following his blog. And he he's a serial entrepreneur was actually based in, in Tunbridge Wells. And, um, from the back of the table, the table tennis a year that he spent doing this, he decided to launch his own table. tennis product company. And so he used a sort of an intuition and also some market research. I think you've used Jungle Scout, um, to work out that there was an equal, there was a gap in the market for a company that they have, their product launch was, uh, was a table tennis bat, but they now sell other things. And his, his sort of, um, idea was to sell it mainly on Amazon. So he found his niche and he, uh, as you might do what to, worked out how to prototype it, prototyped the packaging and all of this stuff, but he, he wrote a very detailed blog about how he did it. And, you know, as I read the blog and found it very interesting because it's not something I knew anything about. It's like, by the end of reading this blog, several posts, um, have tens of posts, I suppose, about how one might go about developing a product to sell on Amazon or. Um, online methods. Um, I thought, well, you know, when you do this and at the same time I was looking after a baby that was, um, that was weaning, you know, aged six months, we started to wean her and she was eating the food and we did it at first, um, where, um, we don't really have to mess in the way that some people do. You know, that's a big factor for some people. Uh, also I think it was a bit of a pushback against my mum who was very much, you have to spoon all the food into their mouth without getting anything anywhere. And, um, so obviously you were anything she says, I have to go completely against it as a, as a good son. And, um, she, uh, so she my daughter Agatha was making a lot of mess and we bought some, um, uh, like a bit of tablecloth from a local shop to put underneath her. And it wasn't very satisfactory and it got wrecked straight away. And so these two sorts of Spears sort of started to combine. And I realized that, um, we sort of had a hunch that I could probably find a product to sell on Amazon. And, um, and this is, I'm making some assumptions here, but my assumption would be that people who were searching to sell products on Amazon, some of them might not be that into babies, but at the time babies was very much my, it was my entire life, you know, full time looking after a baby. And so my search for a product to sell sort of, um, sort of, uh, headed in that direction and I used Jungle Scout and, you know, I had a lot of, um, guidance online about what I might do. And, um, I came up with the idea of this baby mat and it, it fits it into certain categories and it was probably about. Um, price point, um, it was relatively easy to source. There's not many movable parts. Um, and it was obviously something that I I knew about and would be able to potentially, uh, have an insight into the marketing. But then I think the final point was at the time, and obviously this is our pre-baby life a little bit. We had quite a smart, flat, and it was looking pretty. It was pretty nice and it was all together. Um, those were the days. And the idea of when we sort of brought a bit of tablecloth to put under the mat, it was, you know, had maybe like it was like elephants or it was like a baby sort of bit of sort of liner, baby focused. We thought I wouldn't, you know, wouldn't it be nice? Cause we've got a baby when actually we thought to ourselves actually we'd like something that looks a bit nice in our flat that doesn't sort of clash up against all our, uh, all our sort of minimalism and tidy sort of stuff. And, um, so my again, sort of instinct was what, look, if we did, uh, a mat, but with, uh, you know, perhaps a slightly more stylish pattern on, uh, perhaps we could market it as something that, you know, it helps you keep your house tidy and it's to do with your baby, but it's not babyish. It's not, um, it's not, uh, sort of cutesy and all those sorts of things and maybe sort of have it appeal to people who are a bit more into, um, uh, sort of the design sort of aspect and wants to have that house. They can quite.

Vicki Weinberg:

Yeah, I know exactly what you mean because your mat is the practical, but they are also stylish and you're right I remember going through a similar thing with my kids and I actually remember buying like one of these wiped, clean tablecloths to put on the floor under the high chair. But the problem with that was it was slippy and we had wooden floors it would slide and it just didn't um, because yeah, you didn't, I didn't want a plastic sheet covered in primary colors at that time.

Tom Dowman:

Yeah. And it got, uh, you couldn't wash it tears machine washable, but you couldn't, it was a bit of a growth into the washing machine cause it would wreck it. And also, um, it was sort of transparent. I seem to remember it sort of had see through bits on it and it starts to cloud very quickly because it's not really designed to be, you know, wiped with. Uh, sort of, you know, when it's sort of spray done wipe clean stuff, you know, you're supposed to just use soap and water and it basically got wrecked really quickly. Um, and so yeah, that, that sort of attractive looking design, um, was, was one of the sort of, uh, main sort of points of difference, I suppose, that we were trying to get. And when I looked on Amazon and looked at the competition, um, it was a pretty mixed, pretty mixed bag. I think there was a lot of people weren't coming at it from that angle. We say that.

Vicki Weinberg:

Yeah. And I think what's really interesting about your mat and I think. Sort of shows the sort of amount of research you put into it. I guess, being in the situation where you had a young family and you were your own ideal customers, your mat I think when I, you know, cause obviously we've worked together and I've looked on Amazon I think your product, your product ticks all of the boxes, whereas some other products don't. So you know what, you know, cause it's big and it's stylish and it can go in the washing machine. And I'm not saying this just to sing the praises of your product, even though I think it's really good. What I mean is that clearly you put a lot of research in because it takes every single one of those boxes that someone might be looking for. Um, cause it would be a shame if it was, you know, really big and stylish, but you couldn't throw it in the washing machine, for example. Um, so it sounds like you had a really clear spec in mind.

Tom Dowman:

Well, yeah, I think that's right. Um, w when we were coming up with this sort of design, so the, you know, the two elements really that we had choice over with the size, we talked about that. We went for a bigger mat to sort of catch more of the food. And then the actual pattern design. I think when we were coming up with it, I was probably a little less bold than I would be now. And so I decided to take, um, uh, design language from existing maybe products. So over the last 10 years, um, probably more than that 20 years, like, you know, light, gray and white, it was very neat, very much being a sort of, um, a common motif on baby products. You've got all different patterns and things like that. And so, um, me, I and we, in ways interchangeable as my wife and I, um, w we sort of thought, well, that's do that because it's a. Yeah. I said, it's an understand, understood language it's, um, popularized by some of the big players. And, and then I thought, well, in that case, lets switch up the pattern. And I remember at the time it was, it was a back cover of a fashion magazine, I think. And it was an advert for Todd's shoes. And, um, it had somebody Jenner in it. I don't know all their names, one of the Kardashians and in behind her, she was, she was, there was a rug with, uh, with a certain pattern on it. Itwas interlocking hexagons, so it wasn't majorly complicated. Uh, but I thought, well, there we go. That's on a fashion magazine and that looks pretty cool to me. So let's go for that. And I sent it to, um, a pattern designer in, uh, Uh, in Middlesborough that I'd found on People Per Hour and say, could you even look me up something a little bit like this? Um, albeit not, not, not so similar that it, you know, might infringe on any copyrights. And, um, that was very quick and she did that. Vectorized it and everything. And that's where we came up with the initial pattern.

Vicki Weinberg:

Amazing. Thank you. So you had this really clear spec, you had your patterns, you knew exactly what it sounds like at this stage. You knew exactly what you were looking for. So what came next? What came next? How did you go about finding someone that could create this to your brief?

Tom Dowman:

So, um, uh, what I think probably the first stage was look looking at, um, the comments on the products that will be our competitors. So just doing a bit of analysis and I've got the spreadsheet somewhere about what people are saying, what's good, what's bad. Um, what they like to see and, oh, you know, this is great, but wouldn't it be great if it was like this? And obviously some of those things that people say you can't deliver to them, like you know, wouldn't it, wouldn't it be great if, um, it was, you know, made out of a different material or if it was lighter or, you know, some of those things, but if, if they say, wouldn't it be great if it was bigger, then you know, that's something you could, you can take on board, uh, or it doesn't look very nice in my house. Again, that's something you can take a little so that there was a, there was a list of, um, I suppose it's almost innovation through comments through user experience of, of things that we liked. We had these number of people saying this and that.

Vicki Weinberg:

I love that you did that by the way, Tom. I just thought I'd interject. So I love that you did that because I recommend this to people all the time, but I've never in fact came across anyone yet. Who's told me they have actually done it, but I think it's such a great way of just get, getting some real life, real, real research without having to go out and do focus groups and things like that. So, yeah, I think it's fantastic.

Tom Dowman:

Well my wife she works in innovation as a job, so she's quite used to, um, getting, I suppose what she does is gets you use a product, you use a product user feedback and then converts those into new ideas. In this instance, we weren't really coming up with anything groundbreaking, the new innovative, you know, high, highly innovative, but, um, it was useful to have those and actually that reinforced clearly remember that reinforcing uh, uh, view the, it should be a larger mat. Um, and once we had those, yeah, I think machine washable was and other ones. So that was sort of on our list. And actually that's a really important, um, characteristic characteristic. And then I went on Alibaba and I think I've found four, um, uh, manufacturers, I suppose, who, um, who were making a similar sorts of products. And I ordered them two from each one. Not exactly sure why I ordered two but there we go and, um, it was a real variety. Uh, some of them were pretty bad and couple of them were good, but what we went for, um, I had a bit of a dialogue with them about what processes they use and they talked about. Um, dual lamination and, um, the way they make the they're sort of edging the product, the way the product comes in a sort of carry bag. Um, and actually that, that became the only real option for us because the others were a bit substandard and we're just not willing to go down that road. Um, and so, uh, they sent over those two and then I said, okay, well, here's my pattern. Can you prototype it for me? And they did. And we got, we received that. And obviously the prototype isn't exactly as it will be, um, because of the way they manufactured the materials. But, um, it was, it was pretty good. And, um, that was that. And so we, we had found a supplier..

Vicki Weinberg:

Yeah, that's fantastic. And I feel, I really like what you said as well about ordering samples, because that's another thing I think people should always do, because as you say, it's amazing, you can be ordering effectively the same thing. When you look online, it looks very comparable, but actually when you hold it in your hands, the difference in quality can be vast can't it.

Tom Dowman:

Yeah. It was not good. And even like, just even we tried them out with the, with the high chair, uh, even within, a couple of days you could see things were going a bit wrong and yeah, it was, um, it was pretty obvious what we needed to go with.

Vicki Weinberg:

Yeah. And it's great that you actually used them as well. Cause I think that's also really good to actually use the things, what they're meant for rather than just taking them out and looking at them, actually putting them to use because actually you've got you can't always see from just glancing at something that isn't going to work.

Tom Dowman:

So yeah, we do use them every day, twice a day. Oh three times a day, sometimes lunch, um, breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And that almost feels strange. It would be weird. Now if we didn't have something underneath there, because it's so much part, so much part of our like routine and now the kids, um, I posted something on Instagram the other day about, um, my eldest she's three now three here. She will be like, we need to get the mat out. It's time for dinner. Let's get the mat out. And, um, if it's not, um, uh, on, if it's got any sort of ruffles in it or something, my two year old will like pull them out, try and pull them out and go, Hey,mat, mat. Um, so he's, I think he's developing a bit of OCD regarding it, which is probably unhealthy. Um, but yeah, it's a big part of our sort of routine for, for dining.

Vicki Weinberg:

Yeah. So, so once you found actually someone who could manufactured product, let's talk about a little bit about the steps you then went through to get your products on Amazon. Cause that was obviously the goal. I'm very aware that I know a lot of this already, but let's pretend I don't.

Tom Dowman:

Um, just think about what the order that happen. So the, we, we developed a brand, so we realized we needed a brand. So, uh, we've got a friend of a friend who does some branding and I've had her over for dinner and said, right, we need to come up with a brand. Um, and uh, we thought about sort of Latin names and all this sort of stuff. And you know, the, what is this? I remember doing a, um, like a brand house where you have to like, it's, it's a methodology for coming up with a brand and talking about it. What your, the ethos of the brand is what sort of principles are, what it stands for. And then slowly deducing what you, um, how, how the brands are going about its business, I suppose now that was probably overkill. Um, but we, we sort of came up with the idea that, that the old saying that then it takes a village to raise a child and Pago is the fancy word for vintage. So we thought, okay, Pago, that sounds good. And there's a, there's a huge, like, drinks manufacturer calledPago. So right. It can't have that. What, what about Pago Baby? Um, and, um, the URL was available and we all liked it. And so we came up with that and then we, um, came up with a logo, um, again, got some help with that and had some prototypes and we didn't like any of them. So we, um, I think. Sort of drew some triangles and a circle and said, this is it. And then I said, well, it looks like it's a PlayStation game. And she said, no, it doesn't. And we, and then we use the Pantone colors of the year2018, I suppose it was. And that was it. So we, we brought that up, um, uh, branding. Um, so we sent those off to the factory and then I think probably I placed the order. I think I placed the order for a thousand mats, which was, which was quite bold at the time, but I just thought to myself, do you know what, um, you mean you could either do it or not. And, um, that's just crack on. And if I've got a thousand, it's going to sort of focus my mind a bit on it. And, um, and, uh, and, and it did. And at that point, Once the order had been placed, they realized they needed to get the shipping organized and, um, Amazon product page and all of that sort of stuff. So actually that was when I got in contact with you Vicki, I think. And, um, you incredibly helpful setting up the Amazon account and getting the product page, um, written, um, uh, you also helped understand the photographs we needed to get on there. And I got my next door neighbor at the time to do the photography, the whole initial product launch, a bunch of photography. Um, you have to, but we had, we did a photo shoot with my daughter, um, where we just asked, we just sat here and I translate right spill things. And she thought it was the best day of her life. And, um, so there's lots of photos up there on that, in that photo sheet. Um, and then it was a question of how, how many mats do we send directly to Amazon because it's expensive to store them with Amazon. So Vicky recommended me, uh, uh, um, sort of a warehouse service in Essex. And so they took the majority of the, um, they took all the whole shipping the whole thousand. Um, and then we, since then we've been dripping in 200 at a time to Amazon warehouse for them to do the, um, Primeso that they can do the prime FBA, um, service from their own warehouses. Uh, the shipping was a bit of a, um, an event in the end because at the end of last year, There was a big problem caused by, I think it's like COVID Brexit that big, that big tanker stuck in the Suez canal, everything sort of conspired. And, um, the shipping was delayed quite heavily by, I think it was about six weeks in the end, um, which came, just came from China. But to be honest, it was remarkably, um, straightforward, you know, spoke to the email, the Chinese, um, manufacturer and the shipping people who are British company were very experienced with dealing with all that. And they picked it up from the factory and took it to the ship and it came in and then it went to the warehouse a couple of months later, so that, so that's up to getting it live on Amazon.

Vicki Weinberg:

Yeah, I think that sounds about right. And I think it's, it's quite good. You touched on the ship and I think one thing I guess just highlight to people is that the shipping can be sort of scary and seem quite daunting, but actually if you work with somebody who knows what they're doing, I do agree to, um, actually if you know, it's in safe hands, it is something you can kind of, once it's in place, you can forget it. And yes, there might be delays. In fact, I don't think I've ever ordered a shipment from China where there hasn't been somekind of delay. Um, but yeah, I think it's good to know that. So fans, and, and also to elaborate on what you were saying about the stock, cause I just think this might be useful for people. Um, to know the reason I suggested that Tom didn't send a thousand units into Amazon and to send them to a separate warehouse is the Amazon storage fees can get quite high and they go up as time goes on. So once you hit the six months mark, so, you know, you've had stock there for six months, if you, if you get there and hopefully, you know, hopefully you will. Do you know, if you do, then you start having long-term storage fees on top of your regular storage fees, and then it adds up. And also if you decide, actually I've got too many in Amazon, I want to take them out again. They don't charge you for the privilege of sending your stuff back to you as well. So, um, yeah, just the context, people listening. That's where I suggested to Tom not to send all the stock into Amazon because at least if it's somewhere else you can sell on your own website, you can sell on eBay, you can sell anywhere you like. And that just, it's just a little bit easier just to get, you know, get your hands on your own products. Whereas once they're in Amazon getting them out again, isn't quick and isn't straightforward. So I hope you don't mind. Tell me what was good.

Tom Dowman:

Yeah, definitely. I mean the shipping, the shippers, were a British company based in the north of England and. The guy. Who organized. It, um, was very, experienced, it also had a very calming Yorkshire, uh, sort of accent. ..And whenever I spoke to him a few times around the end of last year, and whenever I spoke to him, I was like, I asked them quite reassured he's, you know, he's, he's on top of the, he knows what he's doing. And he was, he's very apologetic when, you know, even if it was going to be a week delay, he was like, you know, I'm incredibly sorry, this is, you know. Um, but because he has such a lovely voice, so it's like, I want to know what, um, I'm reassured and I didn't, I wasn't panicking despite the fact. Yeah, it was, um, uh, not quite to the schedule we had hoped

Vicki Weinberg:

well, that's, that's good. And I agree. They're very nice, man. Very calm. I guess you have to be, if you're gonna work and stuff, doing something so stressful, you probably need to be seen.

Tom Dowman:

Definitely yeah, sobriety. He probably started off his career with like quite a panicked voice. And then he learned how to sort of hear how to calm his clients down, but lowering his voice and slowing it down.

Vicki Weinberg:

He's probably, he's probably seen it all by now as well. Probably nothing phases him either. Whereas with other sellers is when something happens for the first time, it seems like a really big deal. But I guess if you're doing it with that day to day, you gives you a bit more perspective. So we've got your products onto Amazon and it's early 2021, I think wasn't it, Tom, in the end, April.

Tom Dowman:

Um, uh, it was April this year. We actually started. So the, um, uh, yeah, cause when I looked through the months, April is the month we didn't quite started properly, so it's a very low sales month. Um, but, um, um, The sale selling didn't properly start, I think until beginning of May. So we had it online, but it wasn't, um, it wasn't being promoted. We hadn't started the advertising, anything like that.

Vicki Weinberg:

So that's actually leads us on quite nicely then. So let's talk a little bit about how we got those first sales and the things you did to promote the listing when it was brand new.

Tom Dowman:

So when it was brand new, I think we had, maybe we had one or two sales without any advertising or anything like that. So really surprised like someone is just found, it must be right at the bottom of all the lists, but they found it. Um, I think at the time it was also on the price of £19.99. which was, um, which was sort of the price that we had, uh, put in as, um, As sort of the, the maximum price that could be. Yeah. Which point he said, then apply a discount to it is how the Amazon system works. So our sort of initial price is £19.99, but actually we've only sold a few units at that price. Um, we enables you to vary the price, um, from point, um, we did, um, Vine, which is a, uh, Amazon run, um, service, which, uh, allows, um, I don't know if they are sort of vetted or they're just sort of, they sort of sign up to Vine, allows them to buy the products as a very reduced cost or sometimes no cost. And then they are somehow incentivized to review. And I think if they review them, it helps them stay on. Vine. Sorry if I can read a little bit.

Vicki Weinberg:

Yes. It's it's basic condition of being on Vine is that if you have one of these heavily discounted or free find products, you are obliged to leave a review for it. You don't have to leave a positive review. I should make that really clear, but you do have to leave a review and I believe you can be invited to join the Amazon Vine scheme. Although what the criteria is, I don't know, but it's kind of a way that if they're buying and let's call them reviewers signs up, who likes the look of your product, then yeah. It's a nice way to get some early reviews. It's definitely something worth doing in my opinion.

Tom Dowman:

So I think we've got probably 20, 20 to 25 reviews by Vine which is excellent. Really good start. Um, and that was for, I think for the first two weeks, Um, so obviously, yeah, it was really brilliant. Um, but it's not, you know, it's not for free, um, you pay with a reduced sale price, um, but definitely worth it to get things going. And then we did, um, uh, sort of a campaign of advertising through Amazon. So, um, I think there's two streams. One was, um, uh, advertising at the top of the product page.

Vicki Weinberg:

Yes, we did two seperate campaign. So one, we were targeting, we were doing keyword targeting where if someone typed in splash mat, splat mat or something relevant, your ad would show at the top of the search results. And then we also did some what's called asin targeting, which basically means you're targeting other a, so if someone was looking at a product similar to yours and we identified some that we thought would be good ones to look at then near the bottom, it says something like related products. I forget the wording cause it does change. And then your products would show up down there as well. Um, we actually stopped doing that because the return wasn't as good. And actually, um, you will see, you can often still appear through there via the keyword targeting. And if you're targeting the same keywords as the products you were targeting, which I'm not sure, I explained that quite well. Generally. I suggest to people try both because for some people that targeted on products works exceptionally well. Perhaps if your product is sort of, in some ways is superior to theirs,has a feature that theirs doesn't, um, it can actually, it can actually work quite well, but it doesn't work for everyone, which is why at the beginning, I always think of the advertising. It's a case of testing and seeing what converts I'll let you take hands on from here, Tom,

Tom Dowman:

and then I may need some help. And then I, you did some analysis. Vicki. Which as you said, showed that the keyboard advertising was more profitable per click and ultimately purchase than the other, uh, than the asin, um, targeting. Um, so that was the, sort of the launch, um, promotions, I suppose. And we're still doing the advertising. Um, as of now, um, just the key words and then not long after we launched it in June, this year was prime days, I think was two days. Um, and Amazon encourages the sellers to reduce or put in a prime, um, reduction in price to try to, you know, I guess it's two fold to, to, to, to try and, um, get more sales, but also to try and encourage people to use prime and to, to, um, go to the website, et cetera. Um, and so we put in a 20% discount, I think it was, um, to the sale price, uh, which was successful in a sense we sold, you know, a huge number of units on those two days. I think it was. Uh, 30, 35, 40 or something like that. Um, which, um, which was, which was great and really helps you get things moving along. Um, uh, after those days where you put the price back to £17.50. So we've been since sort of the mid, uh, early middle part of June until now we've been going at £17.50. And then last week, last week, um, was looking through the, uh, sort of proto accounts, I suppose, for the company, because I'm just moving now into, um, uh, having, um, you know, sort of an accountant or bookkeeper on board too. Make sure everything's being processed correctly and, um, had a review. And, um, one of the things from the review is that I'm sort of quite keen to move the stock on and get them to the sort of the next phase. Um, so, so, uh, the beginning of last week we put the price down to £15.50, just to see what impact that would have on the sales. And it's a small, but not insignificant impact. I think it's probably a, my calculations probably increased sales by about, uh, 20%.

Vicki Weinberg:

Right. No, I think it's good that you're doing all of this testing because, um, just subtle changes to the pricing can make a real difference.

Tom Dowman:

Yeah, no, it's, it's quite it's um, Is giving me a bit of, sort of thought about where, you know, the profitability of it, where it's going and where, you know, if you sort of say, okay, wait, this is where we are. Is it going to be like this? And we just going to keep going on this level for the rest of time? What, um, what differences do we need to make in order to move from? I think from, I think at this point, I'd say we've gone from zero to one, but now we need to move up from one to two to three. And, um, it's, uh, some, sometimes a good time to have a bit of a reflection about where you, where you're going. And I think, um, yeah, it's, um, it's, it's got to this stage, I think, where we need to build on what we've got and sort of move to that next phase, which. Had in mind, but up until now, I've just thought, right. We need to just get from zero to one and start selling on Amazon. And now I think now we've got, um, you know, it's, it's successfully selling and you know, it has been selling at a profitable price, I think, ready to start thinking about the next, next step.

Vicki Weinberg:

Hmm. That's really exciting. And are there, is there anything about the next step that you're happy to share now? And no problem, if not Tom cos, I know I'm putting you on the spot. If you're not quite at that stage yet, we don't have to. Um, but is there any sort of thoughts that might be useful for people?

Tom Dowman:

Yeah, so I think so one of the things I think I've realized through keeping track of the Amazon sales and what's happening. Um, in terms of sales going up and down and, uh, you know, there's quite some, some quite interesting insights in the, if you look on a day by day basis, you can actually see that there's a spike about one, 2:00 PM. And again, about sort of 6:00 PM quite often. And obviously people have gone through dinnertime and being like, I can't stand a mess or I need to do something here. And then they've ordered the mats, um, which is, uh, which just makes me giggle sort of, because it's an insight into somebody's into something that's life. Um, it's there is an increase in sale, you know, we are, we are creeping up in terms of the number of sales. Um, you know, uh, August will be better than July, but it's quite a slow trajectory because I've got a thousand mats for better or worse, you know, there is a, there is costs to holding those mats. Yeah. Um, it, it's now become clear that if we keep going at this trajectory, then it's going to take quite a while to sell them. So, um, maybe nine months, uh, which is, um, which is fine, but I want to give it a bit of a boost really. So my next, um, so I think we, you know, I think the product works, the product page is great, but I think what, what I'd like to do is have a product that's a little bit more that stands out a little bit more. That's a little bit, perhaps less in that language of baby products and perhaps more in the language of, um, interior design, you know, a little bit more. Okay. Well, I really like. Rather than, okay, that's going to look fine in my house. Um, and you know, if you do do that, there's obviously some purchases that might be, uh, thrown off by that a little bit, you know, because if you do produce a slightly more design led product, you're naturally going to, um, there's going to be some people that don't like it. So there's a, so the next stage really is to, is to produce another, um, another design, well, perhaps more than one design. Um, and I think that that will be helpful in terms of product sales in a few ways. I think one is, um, uh, perhaps creating a little bit more of a story around the product. So what I'd like to do is get. Uh, you know, a mom or dad, who's, uh, who's an artist to have an impact to sort of come up with the design, very much able to use that personal brand as a way of selling the products. Um, and in that regard, I also like to have it as a slightly more of a premium product. So, you know, you've got the standard mat as it is, and then maybe the product that is, you know, specials, maybe he's sort of a limited edition sort of thing. Um, perhaps could have a high price point. So the next, the next phase is to, um, is to slightly broaden the product range. Um, and you know, w if it is a bit, the cooler mat, that's a bit more, perhaps more individual that more design led, you know, perhaps the, the Instagram marketing would be able to be a bit, might be a bit easier in terms of things that stand out a little bit more on Instagram, rather than. Um, rather than sort of blend in blended. Um, so that's really the next step, I think.

Vicki Weinberg:

Yeah. That's, you know, I'm really excited about that Tom. I think that's super, I think that's all super exciting and completely makes sense. I think also your probably, will findthat when you launch new design, a new design or more new designs, sales of your existing design will also increase because then you sort of have it more like an entry level product and then something slightly more premium. But generally um, what we find is that. As you add new products, people find your new products, but then they find your original products through your new ones and then sales of those sorts of increase in turn as well. So I think that's, um, I think, yeah, I think to me that sounds like you're definitely on the right track of that sounds super promising, so very, very exciting. And really looking forward to talking to you some more about that.

Tom Dowman:

Yeah, definitely. Um, and also I think probably sorting the website a little bit so that, um, you can make purchases through the website that will, um, that really helps the profitability.

Vicki Weinberg:

Yeah. And I think for you having your own sales channel and also been able to have, get customer data as well would be fantastic, especially if you're starting to launch and you designed, you have people to talk about and see, because one of the downsides with Amazon, as you know, is you just don't get any customer details. So you've got no idea who's buying from you and you can't then incentivize them to buy from you again, or let them know about new products or anything like that soyeah. I think having some sort of shopping facility on your own website makes total sense. It just gives you more control. So I'm keeping an eye on the time, Tom, because I'm, where am I don't want to keep you for too long. I've just got a few more questions if you're okay for time.

Tom Dowman:

Yes.

Vicki Weinberg:

Well, I'd love to know, um, some of the, I guess, some of the biggest challenges you've had to overcome to get to here and perhaps what you might have learned from.

Tom Dowman:

I think the biggest challenge is starting from scratch. So, um, you know, being sort of, or making the decision to move into a world that you really know nothing about, I don't have a history of product, um, uh, manufacturing or selling or anything like that. I'm, uh, my day job is it's a, I'm a chartered surveyor. So I, um, I know about buildings and that sort of thing, but really product development and sales is, is quite far out of my wheelhouse. Um, so I think the biggest challenge for me was not to get too disheartened when you come up against something, when it's not really obvious to what you're supposed to do or obvious at all, or it it's almost, um, not, not possible to know. Just by, just on your own, if that makes sense. So, um, things like, um, how certain things are the Amazon portal portal, which is just not possible to understand how you doing it without getting external help. Um, uh, um, I think some of the shipping terms and some of the way that it's dealt with is, is opaque. Um, and also the, just the order of doing things and the things you should think out, you should be thinking about is quite challenging. And Vicky that's where you'd been amazing because this is there's a few times when I've come up against things and just being like, what, why is this happening? Or what, why, why would it be like that? And in almost every circumstance, you know, I've just got me like a one-liner from you just to say, oh, don't worry about this. It's this, this and this. And I think, okay, well, there's no way I'd be able to do that on my own. So I think the biggest challenge is, is not getting disheartened when you come up against things that are difficult, but also not being afraid to seek help, to, to overcome those things, which in more often than not, uh, uh, quite simple for someone who knows what they're doing. Um, so that's probably my challenge and my learning. Um, yeah, there's lots of people out there who know what they're doing. Um, you're not one of them, you know? So just taking that on board and accepting that you can't do it on your own is a big one.

Vicki Weinberg:

Yeah, thank you for that. And I completely agree that it's a massive, massive learning curve as with anything. And also we have to kind of acknowledge the fact that while been doing this. You do also have a job and a family. So, um, I think even if you wanted to sort of taking it all along probably would have been a bit too much, um, which leads us nicely

Tom Dowman:

so just one more point in that there's lots of, there are lots of blogs and posts out there about, oh, how do I, this is, you know, these are the 10 things you need to do to get your product onto Amazon. Um, and, um, Jungle Scout have a sort of a web series, which I've seen some of the episodes of. And I mentioned the blog earlier on and you know, obviously his, his fewlong blog posts about how you might go about putting a product on Amazon. And it's not obvious from the initial read, especially if it's quite a, uh, you know, there's quite a concise sort of text. It's not obvious when you read it that actually, it's not as easy as, as reading a blog or writing a blog is loads and more stuff you have to deal with that just come up and, you know, if in the blog it says at that point, you just, you order from the factory and then get it shipped over to the UK. Well, that's, you know, it's easy to write it down and it's easy to read it, but actually it's quite a lot more difficult than, uh, a lot of people would have you believe.

Vicki Weinberg:

Absolutely. And I mean, I have listed, I don't know how many, lots of products on Amazon. I kind of want to say hundreds. I don't really know if it's that many. It could well be that many. And even now I come across again, a come up against things that were unexpected. Um, and you know, I will, you know, my attitudes Tom my belief that you can sort of get around to anything and that there's always a way and you just got to work through it, but things can and do happen that you weren't quite expecting because policies change or I don't know, you only have to tick the wrong box and things go a bit haywire and it's, it's, it's not a great system. Um, but you're right. A lot of the, sort of the blogs and the tutorials on there, don't kind of prepare you for when things don't go according to the plan when they do it's great, you know, you have a follow a step-by-step process and get your listing set up, but it's when things go wrong that you find that actually that's when things get tricky, because as we both know this support from Amazon on, I hate to say it isn't amazing as a seller and there's not layers of advice out there on what you do when things don't go as they should. So, yes, exactly.

Tom Dowman:

Yeah. Will be a good, uh, that would be a good blog when things go wrong launching your product on Amazon.

Vicki Weinberg:

I might write that one. Thanks for the idea. Thanks, Tom. So yes, we, we sort of touched on this a second ago, but you know, the fact that you also have your young family and you're also working and do I also SJ is also working alongside this. So, um, how are you managing to balance Pago with your day job with family life and with everything else that's going on?

Tom Dowman:

Yeah, so, um, yeah, so I, I, I run, um, the valuations part of a, of a surveying company. And I also have a property development company and two kids and a wife. The other thing is, you know, I've recently moved to the coast and I want to spend time surfing and swimming and all that sort of stuff. So there's even more stuff to juggle than there was a few months ago. Um, I think the tricky thing is one of the challenges I think I'm having at the moment is I'm very excited about the future of Pago, but it doesn't have a defined, uh, income amount next to it, or any sort of salary or any really any certainty without me putting in quite a lot of effort. Whereas I have you know, I've got another job or any job, and there's other things happening in my life, which, which do, um, Um, it, it can be quite difficult to reconcile. Spending time on Pago was the appropriate time all the time. I would like, um, when, um, you know, currently it's, uh, uh, it's a loss-making business. Um, so that's the real challenge. And you know, when other people are sort of shouting at you to deliver work for other things, or to look after kids or, or, or the beaches calling me, I think I can hear it now. Um, it's difficult to, uh, to say to yourself, oh, well actually, do you know what this is going to earn me this amount of time, this amount of money, sorry. In, in two years time, Um, and therefore I need to put in the hours now. So it's, it can be a bit of a motivational, um, bit of a motivational challenge. So how do I balance it generally? Um, a few hours a week grabbed here and there, I'd say at the moment, probably three or four hours a week, and then occasionally something big would come up and I have to put in, you know, a little bit more time, but yeah, it's grabbed here in that, around other demands.

Vicki Weinberg:

Yeah, thank you for, thank you for that. And for being so honest about it, and I think for a lot of it, that's where it kind of starts, um, where it starts off. And I guess it's just worth of, you know, knowing that yes. And, you know, it might take a couple of years to pay off, but, but it is, it's, it's a hard, it's a hard juggling act because obviously if you, you know, the more time you can put into it sort of the quicker, the pay off, but yeah, that is a really big challenge. And thank you for sort of acknowledging that.

Tom Dowman:

And it's really quite obvious at the moment, because there's certain things like you needed to, we talked about developing a new mat pattern, sorting out the website, paying a bit more attention to Instagram, certain things that, you know, I know that if I took a week off and sorted them all out, then you know, that would be, that'd be great. And that would really move us on to the next stage. It's probably more than the week, but, uh, I I'm also, I, I can't really spend that time or really want to spend that time necessarily. So it's a question of doing enough to get it to the next level within the time you have. And, um, yeah, it's difficult because other stuff is also happening. So, um, uh, I also, like, there's also a situation where I'm sure some people you got see where they have, uh, there is, uh, there is a, there is a point at which they say, you know, I could stop it, just let, let's just call it a day on it. And, um, and focus on, on other things you're doing. I don't want, I don't really want to do that, but also financially it's not probably not going to be a particularly good idea either because all those sunk costs will obviously not be able to be retrieved. As you say, Um, so, um, um, I guess I'm sort of locked in, but in a, it sounds negative, but actually I like the fact that I'm not saying to it because it is interesting and it's, um, does make my time a bit more varied. So yeah, as you can tell, like a lot of things in my life, there's a lot of things going on. It's quite a complicated situation.

Vicki Weinberg:

Yeah, definitely. It's worth remembering as well. I think for lots of people that it is a slow build up. Um, I remember I used to sort of look at companies and think, oh, you know, they're doing really well. And then when you dig into them a bit more, you realize it took them five years, 10 years, maybe even longer to get where they are. Um, and I don't, I don't know. I'm not sure Ibelieve in the overnight success stories anymore. I used to, I used to sort of, listen to podcasts or read about people think, oh, well, they've come from nowhere. But yeah, sort of the forever, I sort of go along with this, I'm realizing that that simply isn't the case that there isn't there a saying, like behind every overnight success, there's like five years of work or something. I forget the exact quote. I'm probably, you know, terribly misquoting that, but it's something like that. And I think the main thing is you've said is if you're enjoying it and you're getting something out of there. Yeah. Then it's definitely worth pursuing. I think if it gets to the point, um, for you or for anyone else where it's making you miserable or it's a massive financial drain or energy drain that is worth reevaluating. But I think as long as you're in a situation where you can continue with it in whatever form you can, then it's probably worth pursuing. And I do think you've got site for your business. I think you've got some exciting options ahead of you as well. And I think, you know, we're starting the way you did make sense, but I personally think sort of come out with some bold designs to do something a bit different. It's really brave, but because it's really brave, it's really exciting, but I'm not sure that perhaps you would have been ready to do that sort of a year or 18 months ago.

Tom Dowman:

That's exactly right Vicky. Yeah. I mean, you know, you're taking a huge, taking a risk with your time and your money to start with. So the last thing I want to do is to have a thousand mats that I know it becomes obvious quite quickly that I can't sell because nobody likes them which is obviously, I don't think that would have happened, but that's a bigger risk than if you come up with a pattern that is, you know, is, is lovely. And I, you know, I've had some good feedback from it. Um, but isn't going to set the world on fire. It's purposefully not going to set the world on fire. So yeah, I wouldn't, I definitely wouldn't have been able to do that at the beginning because that's not enough confidence, but it's only when you see those figures come in and you've talked to people and, um, you get, um, I think the competition element is, um, really interesting because Amazon is a bit of a crucible in terms of competition because people come up with stuff all the time. How do you distinguish yourself from the others who are doing a similar thing, but obviously they're coming up with new ideas and new products at the same time. And, um, so I think by, um, yeah, a bold pattern with a story behind it, that can't be that can't actually be replicated by anybody else because, um, You know that there's only one of the artists that's done it or the person that has done it, um, is I think so it's, uh, I hope that it will be a way for us to distinguish ourselves and really be able to compete on a S on a slightly different basis in a way that can't be replicated by other, um, sellers, which is obviously is massive on Amazon.

Vicki Weinberg:

So, yeah. Well, I think it's super exciting. Genuinely excited. Yeah.

Tom Dowman:

Thanks Vicki. It means a lot. That means a lot.

Vicki Weinberg:

So just one final question before we finished on which I asked everybody, which is, what was your number one piece of advice for other product creators? What's the top thing you want people to take away from this?

Tom Dowman:

Yes. Um, what was the top, top piece of advice? I think would be seek help, um, get help from other people is not possible or that you think I can do this, and I know what I'm doing. And I'm positive. Not only will you not be able to do on your own, but even if you do do on your own, you'll have wasted a huge amount of time and learning stuff that just don't need to know. I mean, it did come across earlier on when you were talking about the advertising, you know, the keywords advertising, but the asin. I know, I know what that is, but I'm not, you know, I'm not an expert and I'm going to have as an advertising, which is Vicki, why I've got you here. And, um, uh, so that would be my number one advice but the other piece, the other bit of advice would just be, just start like, just do the next from Frozen 2, but just do the next right thing, you know? Um, uh, but I've watchedthat film too many times, but if you just you're in, you know, you want to do so. Um, you want us to do selling on Amazon or selling a product like this? E-commerce the you're starting from scratch. Do a bit of research, decided what you're doing and then start. And, you know, it's probably not going to be a walk in the park. It might not be the right thing. It might not be exactly right, but you, the amount of experience you'll get just by starting, um, to do something, um, will be invaluable.

Vicki Weinberg:

That's amazing. Thank you so much. And thank you for everything you've shared today, Tom.

Tom Dowman:

No problem. It's been a nice chat, actually.

Vicki Weinberg:

Hi, thank you so much for listening as always. I'd absolutely love to know what you thought of this episode. Please do remember to rate and review the show and also most importantly subscribe. So you don't miss out on any future episodes. And as a reminder, I release a new episode every single Friday. So take care and look forward to speaking to you again, then.