Peer Education Day – SCOE 2011 Day 3

Bright Idea

Day 3 – Sunday, July 10, 2011

I’ve been going full throttle for three days now, including my travel day. I’m getting tired, but this is a big day. Because today is were several sellers get to share their experiences with the rest of the attendees.

My first session starts at 1pm. But prior to that, I want to have several serious conversations with some vendors…

8:45am – Opening Remarks

Rhonda took to the microphone again with timely information about the conference. I didn’t take too many notes because it was all conference specific.

I spent an hour or so mingling with other attendees, hearing about their businesses and strategies. Those conversations alone are invaluable. The insights I got from other attendees will profoundly impact my business when I return to Arizona.

9:45am – A Quick Visit with Chris Green

I’m going to talk about FBA Power, FBA Scout, and FBA Repricer a lot. The repricer is a new product. I believe this combination is the most powerful toolset on the market for the Amazon centric seller. I’ll reserve my thoughts for separate, more detailed posts in the coming days and weeks.

However, I wanted to mention that on my way to my 10am appointment, I stopped to say hello just as Chris started playing a .wav file ditty called the “FBA Rap.” Talk about hysterical! It’s the funniest thing I’ve heard in a very long time. Within minutes a crowd gathered around and began roaring with laughter. Want to hear it? Click this link for the FBA Rap and check it out! Make sure you turn your speaker volume up.

10am – Venditio

This was one of the most promising one-on-one vendor sessions I had during the entire conference. The Venditio representative was very forthcoming in his discussion about the engine that powers their inventory management product. They boast of having a repricing tool that can reprice an unlimited amount of inventory in less than one minute. A minute! How cool is that?

After expressing a great deal of skepticism, we started talking technology and how such a thing is possible. If what he told me is accurate, then I understand how they do it. While it’s not exactly “easy,” it isn’t all that difficult of a technology barrier either.

I won’t divulge his methods on the public blog, but I’m happy to share what I know in the Booksellers Discussion Forum, after all, he did speak about it in great detail in his public presentation so I’m not revealing any trade secrets.

You need to register with the forum to participate in the discussions. Read the Forum Guidelines to learn how to join.

The most appealing aspect of partnering with this company is their willingness to provide APIs into their product. This is important to me for a number of reasons. Some of you already know I’ve developed my own listing software product that interfaces with FillZ.

Next year I plan to release it commercially at SCOE. I’m even signing up beta testers to help me work out the bugs. However, I’ve been toying with the idea of converting it into a full scale inventory management system and interface directly with marketplaces.

It’s not a task I approach lightly because the resource, time and support commitments will be huge. Enter Venditio. It seems they’re willing to provide an API into their product to modularize the feature-functions of my system that their system doesn’t perform.

That would save me a lot of development time and money if we can pull it off. They’re even willing to discuss a licensing arrangement in which we market a co-branded version of their product. Sounds like an excellent idea to me, if the appropriate intellectual property safeguards can be put in place.

Software contract agreements fall well within my area of expertise and I definitely see the benefits of such an arrangement. Stay tuned.

11am – DV&A

This visit is a classic example of how not to work a tradeshow booth. Throughout the entire conference I notice no one was visiting their table. So I stopped by to say hello and as luck would have it, I recognized the same gal to whom I had spoken to three years earlier.

I remembered her as extremely friendly and helpful and I was all set for a similar experience. But I was to be disappointed.

The two people working this table seemed to have lost their motivation. There was absolutely no fire in their bellies at all. After less than five minutes of conversation I began to wonder why they were there in the first place.

It’s a shame. They have good products, but it seems there’s no motivation to sell them. Exit.

12pm – Lunch with Skip McGrath

I mingled a bit more when I bumped in Skip and his wife. They were on their way to lunch and the three of us found a table in the Atrium.

We had a rip roaring time as we talked about the conference, our books, and some of the marking ideas we discovered thus far. Skip reminded me of his Affiliate Marketing presentation at 2pm and I assured him I would be there. We exchanged a few more pleasantries and then I was off to do my own presentation.

1pm – The Future of Internet Bookselling

I had my back to the audience while I set up my equipment. When I started there were hardly a dozen people in the room. Ten minutes later, I turned around and found myself staring at nearly 150 people. Nice.

I started by giving a history lesson about the publishing industry and how we evolved to the current industry practices that are commonplace today.

Then I launched into the meat of my topic, which was how to change and adapt to the technological, cultural, and economic forces that are shaping the bookselling industry. Specifically, how can Internet booksellers not only survive, but thrive in a global market.

I discussed eBooks, print on demand publishing, traditional book publishing, used books, sources of supply, and how the convergence of those threats might affect the average seller of used merchandise.

If you’ve read my eBook, The Future of Internet Bookselling, you already know most of what I discussed. But I’ve made significant updates to it and I plan to launch a revised, updated, and expanded Kindle edition very soon.

I got a very healthy round of questions from the audience and I had to opportunity to pass out my business card to everyone.

I think it was a very successful presentation.

2pm – Affiliate Marketing

Skip McGrath was behind me. This was his second presentation. His first was at 11am. I peeked into the room and saw he had about 150 people in the room at that time. No doubt some of them hung around for my presentation because we used the same room. This time he had 80 – 100 people in the room. Naturally, the crowd thinned a bit for the follow-up.

His presentation was a fascinating one and I’ve actually been searching around for a practical way to monetize my website, InternetBookselling.com. Skip gave the audience a lot of great ideas and I’m eager to try some of them soon. Some of his suggestions included creating a relationship with one or all of the following websites:

Commission Junction

Share-A -Sale.com

Endless.com

SmallParts.com

MyHabit.com

The best part of the presentation was the real life examples of monetized websites Skip owns. He indicated that he earns $50k - $100k annually from 17 websites. I don’t know if I could keep up with 17 websites. I barely have time to keep up with one website and a discussion group!

3pm – The Future of Internet Bookselling Redux

This was my second and last session. Three o’clock rolled around and nobody showed.

What???

Was I that awful? At 3:05 I began to sweat. At 3:10 I was getting embarrassed. I stood at the door and tried to appear cheerful. But I was dying inside. Some guy walked up to me and said he had a few questions about my earlier presentation. We sat down in the empty room and started having a one-on-one that lasted about five minutes.

Suddenly, a rush of people burst into the room; over 50 of them. Feeling a bit bewildered, I asked them where they came from. They told me there was a presentation in the big hall and it ran late. They finally told the presenter to wrap up or they’d have to walk out.

I was relieved.

I did my spiel again. This time it was a much tougher crowd. One woman disagreed with my position that eBooks weren’t an immediate threat to used books. We went back and forth until I finally told her we’d have to agree to disagree. The audience was glad the exchange was over, you could tell by their faces.

More questions from other audience members followed. Many more than had been asked in the first, larger, session. It was fun and everyone wanted to participate. We ran over by about 20 minutes. Everyone seemed to leave happy, especially me.

4:30pm – Evening Activities

As is my tradition, Saturday night was victory dinner night. It’s my one splurge. Eric and I treated ourselves to a steak dinner in the hotel restaurant. I swear those guys make some of the best steaks I’ve ever had. It might cost an arm and a leg, but hey, it’s only once a year right?

Afterwards I retired to my room to read and write. There was a lot to document, and I always read the vendor literature I collect during the day when I get back to my room.

* * * * *

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