AO2 is a data-driven, Amazon marketing firm co-founded by Justin Rapoport, Nathan Neeley and Jonathan Fuller. The name AO2 is an acronym for Amazon (A) and Oxygen (O2), as we are your oxygen on Amazon.
Since more than 20 percent of the world's oxygen is produced by the Amazon Rainforest, we feel a strong connection and responsibility to fight deforestation of the Amazon, by doing our part in donating to this cause.
AO2 is a full-service provider of Amazon account management with over 8 figures of Amazon sales per year under management.
Unlike most other digital marketing agencies, AO2 focuses exclusively on Amazon. We pride ourselves on our specialization, expertise, and most importantly, our clients’ results.
Those familiar with Amazon, understand it is a beast!
Up to this month, we have spent $0 on advertising our services. As a testament to our clients’ success and our client relations, more than half of all new clients have been word of mouth referrals from current clients. We want to continue delivering for our clients and are excited to see our clients’ trajectory in 2020.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
The origins of AO2 begin with Justin Rapoport and AmmoniaSport. Years ago, Justin became the first to manufacture, brand and market smelling salts to professional athletes. By focusing his efforts on Amazon, he grew AmmoniaSport to become the #1 smelling salt seller in over 10 countries on Amazon. Following the success, Justin became inundated with clients asking him to manage their companies on Amazon. From clients to friends of clients, his book of clients continued to expand.
Every time you hit your next milestone, look back because things don’t usually… if ever... pan out as expected.
Fast forward some time, and Jon Fuller approached him to scale up the venture. Jon had worked in private equity/finance and had a strong financial and institutional background—precisely the complementary skillset to make it happen. Jon leads the charge in finance, accounting, tax, legal, and institutionalizing operations to scale.
Concurrently, Nathan Neeley was running his book of business. With a background in project management (plus Six Sigma Certified) and institutional Amazon consulting, Nathan brought not only his book of business but also major industry connections and partnerships, as well as, a series of strategic and procedural improvements to the firm.
Instead of competing, the three partners merged to form AO2, bringing enhanced capabilities and immediate critical mass to the enterprise. With over 8 figures of annual sales under management, we are excited to continue delivering and growing organically.
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
We are in the business of managing clients’ Amazon accounts. As a services firm, we are constantly optimizing listings, creating/auditing/optimizing advertising campaigns, strategizing on inventory, maximizing brand awareness, facilitating international expansion, and much, much more.
However, because of our depth of knowledge, clients often ask us to consult on product selection, design, branding, manufacturing and other topics on a project-specific basis. Having managed and split tested (A/B) so many products, listings, and brands, it has certainly become easier for us to identify the winners and losers. As a result, we’ve become a lot more selective with the companies we take on.
Amazon’s algorithm is the world's first decaying algorithm. In other words, if you aren’t hitting their set KPIs (key performance indicators) Amazon knocks your listing’s ranking. In addition to the uphill battle algorithmically, the competition between sellers is fierce, which makes standing out increasingly difficult.
While the process of winning on Amazon is complex, the simplest way to explain what we do for clients is simple: Get you to rank on page 1 for as many search phrases as possible and then design the listing(s) to convert as much traffic as possible.
As such, the value proposition of specialized Amazon expertise is high, certainly now more than ever before. That’s where AO2 comes in.
We handle Amazon for companies from A-Z. This begins with listing optimization comprising comprehensive keyword research, high conversion copywriting, targeted search engine optimization (SEO) strategy, building out a brand store, A+/lifestyle and enhanced brand content.
Next, we deploy our review generation strategy maximizing social proof to increase customer purchase confidence. Through our omni-method approach, we build out, audit and manage high ROI pay per click (PPC) advertising using our proprietary software, and fully manage ungating, troubleshooting, international expansion, inventory planning and much more.
We take an individualized approach to each brand we work with, which scales from entrepreneurs looking to create a new product to start-ups needing assistance launching on Amazon, to enterprise clients who are looking to grow their Amazon presence, sales, and revenue.
Describe the process of launching the business.
Unlike a launch campaign for a product, AO2 is the result of years of experience and building a reputation for client success that resulted in the merger of two separate businesses.
After a thorough vetting process, client by client, we merged two businesses into one and adopted the best processes/SOPs/strategy from both firms to create AO2. Our complementary skill sets and capabilities made the decision to proceed with the merger obvious the deeper we entered negotiations. From efficiencies of scale to human capital capabilities, to partnerships, it made sense to link up rather than remain separate.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
We’ve been fortunate in that we have not spent any marketing dollars on promoting our services, while our client relationships have been the sole lead generator of business.
Going back to the origins of the business, it all started with friends of friends hearing AmmoniaSport had taken off through the grapevine or after viewing the company’s viral commercial on YouTube.
Although we continue to look into a digital marketing channel, performing for clients and getting them outsized returns seem to be the best marketing approach for the time being.
We have seen significant growth in revenues under management stemming primarily from client sales growth on Amazon.com over the years. It’s incredible to see company’s we manage to grow from startups to into mid 6 figure a month revenues on Amazon alone. That’s the power of what we do.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
Since launching, revenues under management growth has been pronounced with technically a $0 Customer Acquisition Cost, not factoring in time value or website development.
While our customer acquisition velocity continues to tick up, we only take on a handful of clients per month. We tend to be more client-centric than sales-driven. As such, we limit the number of new clients we onboard a month to the few with the greatest potential for success.
Short term company goals are to hit 9 figures of Amazon annual sales under management in the next 12 months. We love what we do and are excited to keep doing it.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
Certainly much to say about lessons learned, but the long and the short of it is reputation is everything. Warren Buffett said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you'll do things differently.”
In thinking about our business, we are in the “people business” as much as we are in the e-commerce space. We attribute most of the company’s success to our personalized and hands-on approach with every C-level executive getting into the weeds on just about everything.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
Our favorite in-house software is our proprietary software spearheaded by Nathan Neeley for PPC advertising. It’s incredibly versatile and has helped us tremendously on the auditing end.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
For those who have never listened, the former is an interview podcast focusing on the founders of some of the greatest companies in the world. It’s a fascinating inside look at the struggles, opportunities, and luck involved in building the brands we most admire.
The latter is devoted to economics and economic solutions to the world’s problems. Economists dive into some of the craziest stories from around the globe under an economic lens. It’s worth a listen and is certain to drum up high-level intellectual thought applicable to business and life at large.
For books, the most influential has been Principles by Ray Dalio.
This book highlights Dalio's story as well as the best practices he used while building Bridgewater Associates, the world's largest hedge fund.
We are also avid consumers of business and technology news online from WSJ to Wired. We think it’s essential to keep up with current events and anticipate change.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
Two of our favorites are:
There is no clear path and learn to manage stress.
By “there is no clear path”, we mean to say that your vision, by definition, has never been done prior to you making it happen. Every time you hit your next milestone, look back because things don’t usually… if ever... pan out as expected.
Between the risks of capital, competition, time, profitability and growth, there is no end in sight to stress. Acknowledge it is part of the game and try to play smart, not hard to make time for a work-life balance. We enjoy working out several times a week and often come up with great ideas when disconnecting from the 14+ hour/day office grind.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
Yes--we are selective but are searching for people with at least 3 years of real Amazon experience.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
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