How do you bring a long-standing brand to the Amazon Marketplace?
Better yet – how do you revamp a 35 year old product, launch on the Amazon Marketplace and increase sales 971.67% in one month?
Oh, and did we mention this all happened during Q4 – when competition on the Marketplace is at an all time high?
Even for the most vigorous risk-takers, this sounds like an impossible task.
But not for Tony Stucker, an online advertiser turned Silicon Valley entrepreneur who teamed up with CPC Strategy in October 2017 to launch Pop-A-Shot’s new and improved basketball product on Amazon.
The Beginning of “Pop-A-Shot”
Before we dive into Stucker’s relationship with the brand, here’s a few things you should know about Pop-A-Shot:
Pop-A-Shot literally created the electronic basketball shooting game and it all started in 1981 with Ken Cochran, a longtime college basketball coach and former baseball Olympian.
While he was at home recuperating from a recent heart bypass surgery, he started to play with a mini basketball game on his desk to pass the time.
Eventually he realized he was going to have to give up coaching and needed to find a new way to make money.
It was then he decided to put three small basketball rims on side-by-side backboards with a net that would return the balls to the shooters. He called his first product the “Triple Shot” and brought the new invention to sports camps (charging campers $1 to play).
Needless to say, the game was a total hit and consistently drew long lines of campers.
But the “Triple Shot” was too difficult to transport – so Cochran eliminated two of the baskets, added a “scoring collar”, a 40-second clock, and a fiberglass ball return ramp.
The new single basket and frame called “Mini Basketball” was placed in local bars charging $1 per minute of play.
For many years, the coin-operated basketball game was a huge success but eventually the market became too saturated and Pop-A-Shot left the local arcades and bars for a new venture: non-coin operated games.
Pop-A-Shot Transitions to New Owner
In 2016, nearly 35 years after creating Pop-A-Shot, Cochran announced he was retiring and ready to sell his business.
By this time, “Pop-A-Shot” was a common term for a lot of other basketball arcade games – similar to the way we use certain brand names to refer to generic products (tissues as “Kleenex” or gelatin as “Jello”).
Even though the term “pop-a-shot” was popular – that didn’t necessarily mean the business was attracting a lot of interested buyers.
The problem was, from a financial standpoint – the company wasn’t doing well.
Stucker, an online advertiser living in Northern California got word that the Kansas-based brand was up for sale.
“At the time, it was tough to see the value of the business based on traditional measurements (like sales and profit). I think that is why a lot of people initially passed on it. But I knew from the beginning I wasn’t going to buy Pop-A-Shot just to maintain it as is,” he said.
The brand was in need of a revitalization, and Stucker was up for the challenge.
“Everything from the marketing to the product was pretty stale at that point, but I saw a big opportunity, so I made the decision to buy Pop-A-Shot on July 1, 2016.”
“Pop-A-Shot” Gets a Second Shot at Success
When Stucker took over the business, Pop-A-Shot was still manufacturing their non coin-operated games, designed for use at tradeshows and large corporations.
“At the time, they were only selling heavy duty, almost industrial type games. They were great products made from high quality material like steel and PVC pipe, but they were very expensive with a limited audience and small market segment,” Stucker said.
“One of the first things I did when I bought the company was search for ‘Pop-A-Shot’ on Amazon.”
Several basketball games for at home use showed up but nothing from the official Pop-A-Shot brand.
“From a customer perspective, I thought if we can build a great game and introduce it to the Amazon Marketplace – I think shoppers will want to purchase from the actual brand and that would give us a leg up on the competition.”
Pop-A-Shot Introduces New “Home Dual Shot” to Amazon
In the Fall of 2016, Pop-A-Shot introduced its first game designed specifically for the home market: the Home Dual Shot
The product was ideal for families with kids at home (ages 6-18), especially during the winter months.
“We distributed the product exclusively on Amazon and the website. In just a few weeks, we sold more than 2,200 games. That was the proof we needed – there was definitely a market for this product,” Stucker said.
Pop-A-Shot Teams Up with CPC Strategy
By January 2017, I was already planning for the next holiday shopping season,” Stucker said.
“We were determined to get this right, and we looked at everything from product improvements to inventory. We wanted to create a better version of what we had done the year before.”
Pop-A-Shot also made a bold move – they increased production by 5x.
“Although I knew the fundamentals of how to sell on Amazon, we had made such a big investment in our inventory, I needed to be sure we could sell it and I knew we needed some help.”
Shortly after, Stucker heard about CPC Strategy from a (non-competing) game supplier.
“Although I had a background in online advertising, I did not know enough about the Marketplace to manage the specifics. I spent a lot of time trying to learn more about Amazon, but it’s not just about having the knowledge – it’s also about having someone available to maintain your business.”
“Because we have a fairly small team – it’s well worth it for us to outsource our Amazon advertising to CPC Strategy.”
New Product Launch on the Amazon Marketplace
Pop-A-Shot phased out their current inventory, made some improvements to their product, and re-introduced the new and improved home game to the Marketplace.
“We definitely pushed the envelope with our inventory in 2017, but because of the work CPC Strategy did, we saw tremendous results. We almost sold out of our product – which was great!”
Pop-A-Shot’s Successful Plan of Action:
From choosing the right product to advertising techniques & inventory management—there’s a lot of factors to carefully consider when launching a new product on Amazon.
Our latest white paper, “The Amazon Seller’s Guide to Product Launches“ covers everything sellers need to know about expanding their catalog and launching a successful product on the Marketplace including:
- Product Sourcing
- Amazon Advertising Techniques
- Tracking & Reporting
But in the case of Pop-A-Shot, 3 specific advertising techniques we implemented directly impacted their success on the Marketplace including:
1) Focus on Generating Reviews:
Anyone who’s ever bought a product on Amazon likely checked out the product reviews before doing so.
Reviews are not only important to the customer shopping experience but they also have a significant impact on Amazon’s algorithm.
Now that Amazon no longer permits free or discounted products in exchange for reviews, advertisers are seeking alternative ways to gain momentum for new product launches on the Marketplace.
Not only did we advocate for reviews through friends and family, CPC Strategy also implemented aggressive bidding on certain keywords to improve organic ranking, and ultimately increase conversions.
Needless to say, it worked and Pop-A-Shot now has 180 reviews with an average 4.5 star rating:
2) Target Competitors & Non-branded Searches:
We also worked with Pop-A-Shot to create Product Display Ads, designed to go toe to toe with competitive products to drive sales and product awareness for the brand.
Product Display Ads boost product visibility by offering an “offensive / defensive” advertising strategy and are typically found on the right side of a brand’s detail page (or on a competitor’s detail page).
At the same time, we targeted non-branded search terms (and generic keywords) to go after a much larger funnel of traffic.
3) Implement Enhanced Brand Content:
Not only did Pop-A-Shot work with our Amazon account management team but they also connected with our Design Team to create Enhanced Brand Content.
When used effectively, adding EBC to your product detail pages may result in higher conversion rates, increased traffic, and increased sales.
“I started working with Stuart (my account manager) and then we brought on Ashley and AJ (from the Creative Team) for our Enhanced Brand Content.”
“I’m glad I got to work with them on that EBC project because I was so pleased with how it came out and it has been very beneficial to the brand,” Stucker said.
The Big Payoff:
In approximately one month (11/05/2017-12/3/2017), Pop-A-Shot increased their sales 971.67%
Because of the increase in good reviews, conversion history, customer demand, fulfillment method and customer search term rating, Pop-A-Shot was also selected as “Amazon’s Choice“.
“This further proves if you hit the ground running with all the right strategy in place, Amazon will take note of that and reward you with bumps like this. We were thrilled to see Pop-A-Shot take off and it definitely set the product up for success throughout the remainder of the holiday season and into 2018.”
– Stuart Dooley, Marketplace Channel Analyst at CPC Strategy said.
The Future of Pop-A-Shot:
According to Stucker, the result of Pop-A-Shot’s redesign, rebranding and advertising efforts “was definitely a home run”.
“From EBC creation to the content listing and advertising efforts, CPC Strategy was very helpful and we shot to the top quickly.”
Now, the home game product is driving the company and from a revenue standpoint – also allowing Pop-A-Shot to explore new production options including app creation.
“Right now, we are exploring lots of opportunities to engage the game using social and other forms of technology to connect Pop-A-Shot players across the country. ”
“The success of the home game on Amazon has allowed us to think bigger – and I think there’s still a lot of opportunity and growth ahead.”
For more information on how to successfully launch a product on Amazon, email [email protected]