In this Prime Talk Podcast Video Sponsored by GETIDA, Will Haire, the founder & CEO of Bellavix, a leading Amazon marketing agency for ambitious brands, talks about his how journey turned to eCommerce whiz.
Marketing your business is a key component of growth. The old adage that “you need to spend money to make money” has never been truer than on this point. But there is always the question of how to effectively market your business in order to scale it the way you want. Yoni Mazor of Prime Talk discusses boutique marketing solutions for Amazon sellers looking to expand their businesses either locally or globally.
In today’s episode, Prime Talk has teamed up with Will Haire, the founder, and CEO of Bellavix, a boutique Amazon agency for ambitious brands. Bellavix offers fully customized strategies including support for Vendor Central, Seller Central, PPC Advertising, Amazon Display, and Product Launches. They are a full-service agency ready to help you in every step of your journey.
Will Haire shares his story from Navy electrician to founder of The Bellavix, a boutique marketing agency for brands that want to grow. So if you’re an Amazon seller who is frustrated with your do-it-yourself marketing strategy and you want to see real results, then this episode is for you!
Learn more about Bellavix!
Learn more about GETIDA’s Amazon reimbursement solution software
Find the Full Transcript Below
Yoni Mazor 0:06
Hi, everybody. Welcome to another episode of Prime Talk. Today I’m really excited to have a special guest. I’m having Will Haire. Will Haire is the founder and CEO of Bellavix, which is a leading Amazon marketing agency. Will, welcome on board.
Will Haire 0:21
Hey, thanks for having me. I’m excited to be here.
Yoni Mazor 0:23
Awesome. Where are you located?
Will Haire 0:24
I’m in Morrisville, North Carolina, but close to the city of Raleigh. So most people know Raleigh.
Yoni Mazor 0:31
I surely know Raleigh. I used to live there for a bunch of years. And I miss it. It was a great city. It’s in the great state of North Carolina. I have a very warm place in my heart for Raleigh, so shout out to Raleigh. How’s the weather? How’s the summer going over there?
Will Haire 0:46
Good, man. It’s beautiful. A large reason why I moved from Connecticut a little over a year ago to here it’s just no winters, no snow and just a different environment. So I’m really enjoying my trip. And my life down south. That’s for sure.
Yoni Mazor 1:01
Yeah, Southern beauty. So um, let’s start from the top. You know, where’d you grow up? Where were you born? And take us out from those stations back up.
Will Haire 1:09
Yeah, sure. So I mean, I’m from…originally from Long Island, New York. So I’m a Long Islander and I spent the first 18 years of my life out of Long Island. When I graduated Seaford High School, I joined the United States Navy, and I spent five years on ships. And a lot of people don’t know this, but I’m actually a licensed electrician. So I got my license while I was in the Navy for marine board electricity, and then got out of the service in 2007. Hard to believe it’s been that long. And it…
Yoni Mazor 1:43
So 2002 until 2007 you’re in the Marines. Sorry, in the Navy. Is there like a friction with the Navy and the Marines? They’re like a brotherhood or like?
Will Haire 1:52
There definitely is. So the Marines are a branch of the Navy. So they’re always underneath us, where…
Yoni Mazor 1:58
That makes some clarity into perspective. But why’d you go to the Navy? I mean, what was the trigger point for you? That’s pretty, it’s a pretty dramatic decision. And I guess a life changing experience.
Will Haire 2:11
Without a doubt. I mean, my time in the Navy, I was able to travel a lot of boats. So you work really hard, and you do a lot to serve your country. But I was able to visit one way or another 23 different countries and some really poor areas like Sierra Leone, and Benin, which are areas in Africa. And we did a lot of community building. So we went in, we donated books, we went and we painted schools, and we did know a version of Habitat for Humanity, but the ship would pull in, and we would do those kinds of things. And that really changed my life and how I view people and how I treat people. So the Navy, because it wasn’t all sunshine and fun, but I mean, it did learn a lot of discipline, I got to travel, became more worldly. And when I got out of the service, I was able to go to school, I went to a Quinnipiac University, which is a top 50 business school in the United States. And I got to go there for free. I got to go to a school that I probably wouldn’t have been able to afford if I didn’t join the service. So I got a really good education. And that’s kind of where my entrepreneurial journey started.
Yoni Mazor 3:24
So I’m turning into the Navy was like a new thing, or was it something in your heritage?
Will Haire 3:29
Yeah, so somebody actually my heritage, my great-great-grandfather served in World War Two. And then I’m sure we’re further back than that. But from what I know, from the family that I’ve been exposed to every generation has served in the Army or Navy. My brother, I’ve come from four brothers, including myself and out of the four brothers, three of us joined. Two of us did the Navy, one of us did the Air Force, my dad was in the Navy, my grandfather was in the Air Force. So we’re just a family of people who serve and it was a great experience. And you know, I had a lot of that from my parents as part of the culture growing up and it definitely, you know, definitely shaped me and it was overall was a great experience. I was really fortunate to get out all 10 toes and all 10 fingers and, and I got a lot of good worldly experience.
Yoni Mazor 4:18
Amazing. So this is in the family, runs in the family. So we do salute you and appreciate your service. Thank you so much for that, I guess. Being in the Navy, it gives you so many tools and it gives you so many values of the dedication for service, especially good for service, what is the mission? What is the purpose? And how do you bring it out in the best way possible? And I’m sure you probably today in your current business, we’re going to touch it later on but you probably utilize a lot of those values to you know, to service your clients and their mission, their needs. I share this…I do share these values with you because I was in the Navy but in a different part of the world. Israeli Navy but yeah. Definitely the dedication to service is something that is so valuable on the Navy level, but also on the business level. And it gives, I think it does give edge and advantage over others when you have that simply embedded into your mindset, which is great. Okay, but so it gave you that, but also give you the opportunity to go to school to top school, you did that you finished school, you got your education in.
Will Haire 5:24
Yeah, so I got a while I was going to school, I was working full time in the power industry. I started off as a technician at a power plant doing fuel cells and then worked my way to gas turbines essentially, and bigger power plants where I stepped into an operations role, in a manager’s role. So by the time I graduated school, I had a really nice salary. So the six figure job, but I was doing something I didn’t really care too much for. Great living. There’s nothing wrong with that industry. But it just wasn’t for me, I’ve always been passionate about business and marketing in particular, and helping businesses grow. So upon graduation, two of the guys I went to school with were starting their own agency, a little bit of marketing, definitely more tech, and we were focused on growing, growing startups. So they came with the opportunity. And I quit, and I went to go work with them for like 14 bucks an hour. But we had ambition. And we had a dream. And it was fun. And I think it was a three year period, we went from five guys in a basement to about 13 guys in a basement, and we had the opportunity to work on so much and learn so much about marketing.
Yoni Mazor 6:30
Give me the context of the year. So 2007, you left the Navy, and to school, you finished school what? Around 2010-2011?
Will Haire 6:33
2013. So it took me five years. I graduated and then I would say probably late 2013, when I started that until about 2016-2017. That was fun, you learned a lot about marketing, how to present information to clients, the types of client types of concerns, different size businesses have, where to meet the types of clients that you’re looking for.
Yoni Mazor 7:01
What was the startup? So you’re saying that you left a very comfortable position making six figures in the power industry. Nevertheless, you’ve gone, you know, once you kind of hit your mission and your purpose and goal, you felt like you know, I need a new purpose, a new mission, you know, as a good true soldier from the Navy. And you said, Now I’m going to reset all that comfort zone. And I’m going to go back into boot camp, you know, and start an entry level position making $14 an hour in an industry and in a prospect or an opportunity level that I am passionate about. But what was the company about?
Will Haire 7:31
So the company was about helping startup brands, full concept. So from their tech idea or their product idea, taking that idea, creating a minimal viable project product, building the website doing the design work, and then the marketing fundamentals to go from, you know, $0 to a million dollars, like what does that look like? And I spearheaded the marketing department of that. So we would get these companies they would come in, they would be e-commerce, they would be websites, they would be applications, that would be all sorts of things. And we would do the initial research, we would come up with the strategy. And then if they got the funding that they required, we would actually be the team that would implement that strategy. So when I said it was a learning experience, it was learned experience, we did a lot, a lot of marketing. And then we got to work with the different teams understanding how all the different parts need to work together to be a successful organization. So it was a good opportunity.
Yoni Mazor 8:29
Nice, amazing. So you started that 2013 until I guess around 2016-17. But I think there’s also a touch point with your wife. You got married at some point?
Will Haire 8:40
Yeah, yeah, actually got married while I was in college. So I met my wife in 2007. So shortly after I got out of the service. I met her in New Haven, Connecticut. And it was great. She was out with some friends as I was as well. And we got married in 2010. And we had our first first daughter in 2017. As I was going through the entrepreneurial phase, so we were…we had kids and we were doing a company thing and she’s been always more on the corporate side. So she’s my co-founder at Bellavix. But she went to school to get a degree in management. She got her Master’s degree in digital marketing and she worked more the corporate, she worked with big, high end brands. So Ethan Allen, Victorianox, which is Swiss Army, high end jewelry store in Greenwich, and she had kind of learned her chops there. And she’s always been doing e-commerce and marketing. And in March of 2018, we decided that, that this was fun, and we’d like to try to do this on our own, scraped up a bunch of money and left our full time jobs and reached out to our network and was really fortunate to get enough clients to be able to support the two of us kind of going on this venture. And I know I’m jumping a lot ahead, but since then we’ve been able to scale the team. We officially hired six people, and we just made our seventh job offer to somebody else actually today. So the team is growing, we manage over…
Yoni Mazor 10:09
It’s growing live. It’s growing live, it’s growing as we speak right now live.
Will Haire 10:12
I know in real time, and it’s so crazy how, you know, you go from A to B. And, you know, something we always did was write our goals down quarterly annually. And it’s amazing that you write these down. And sometimes you forget about it. And you go back to this little card that you wrote what you were going to achieve this year. And you know, when you hit all of them, you’re like, Wow, I can’t believe we got here. It never goes away. You think it’s gonna go. But I think the universe just as a way of…
Yoni Mazor 10:38
aligning things. Yeah, yeah. But your wife Yvonne, right, it’s what I find interesting is that she has the experience of, you know, she had a cushion job, you know, it was, you know, corporate, comfortable, probably earning very, very nicely, tremendous experience. And she also had the mindset of, you know, let’s cut it all off. Let’s go to the business world boot camp and take it from the ground up. How did this all boil down over the years? Was it just like something that overnight over the years, she also was kind of feeling that she fulfilled her mission and purpose on those highest levels? And now, so create our own ecosystem and try to bring it all the way to the top.
Will Haire 11:14
I can’t speak directly for her, but we always while she had a full-time, we always did side projects together, we didn’t, you know, retail arbitrage for products on Target, getting some of our own branded stuff from Alibaba, just kind of experimented. So we’ve always been curious marketers, and…
Yoni Mazor 11:31
So you guys actually did retail together as a side hustle, you and your wife?
Will Haire 11:35
Yep, as a side hustle. And then we also took on, you know, eventually, we decided that consulting was the way we were going to go. We weren’t into…especially marketing is kind of where we were interested. So from there, we started doing small freelance projects. And, and then we came to a point where, you know, it kind of made sense, like, we can do this, we’ve learned a lot, let’s just do it. And, and yeah, and she’s been, you know, I will say confidently, I definitely couldn’t do this without her, supports me 100%. And she picks up, you know, we’re lucky that we’re personality wise, we’re very different. So she was easy for her to assume certain roles, as it was natural for me to assume certain roles and I’m really lucky that my life partner is my business partner, and we just have, we’re able to do these different ventures and share these experiences together. So I’ve been counting my blessings, I’ve truly been lucky that that has just worked out the way it has.
Yoni Mazor 12:29
That’s wonderful. So as far as I can see from my angles, that you guys were able to pick up positive indicators over the years, that, you know, if you put them all together says, you know, we’re confident enough, we work together as a team, that’s a very important indicator, we’re able to service other businesses successfully. That’s an important indicator. You have the mindset of the seller, because you did your own venture, you know, sourcing products anywhere private label, or reselling, to the best of both worlds, it all culminated to a moment where you like this, let’s say this is the main goal, main objective. And now that you’re in that position, what you guys are facing? What’s your current challenges? You know, you look, we mentioned you growing by the minute by the instance. So what’s the current challenges you guys are facing? And how are you trying to overcome them?
Will Haire 13:12
Yeah, I would say, you know, from an operational perspective, scaling, scalability. So, you know, I have figured out that I can generally sell this and I can get customers, but the issue that we’re having is consistent touchpoints. So like, we want our experience, and when a seller works with us, to be a high end, high touch experience. So it’s important, as we bring on talent, as we develop processes and procedures, that we keep the customer, the end user in mind with everything that we do, and hiring talent and establishing these processes. And then of course, like you don’t always get it right, making those mistakes, and learning from those mistakes. And clearly communicating with them has just been kind of the journey and the challenge. And I would say right now it’s finding quality talent. For sure finding the right partners too because while we can generally work with anybody, you know, there’s a lot of factors that come in the type of brand they are, the type of customer experience, how they work with vendors, if they understand the value that you’re adding as an agency. So these are all things that we’re learning, as I, you know, for me, for example, moving from somebody who’s owner operator inside the account and stepping out to doing more thought leadership, how do I market my agency? How do I promote the business? How do I share the good work that we’ve done with with other people in our network, and where I know Yvonne’s having struggles or where we’re learning is hiring the right talent, onboarding, the talent, helping that talent become knowledgeable in the services that we offer, and then also making sure that the team’s motivated, that they’re hungry and that we treat them well. We compensate them, they get time off. We do shout outs and congratulations. So like, we’re trying to create this agency that’s kind of a lifestyle where you can work remote, we value…One of our core values is that we want you to be transparent on a human level. So something we’re advocates of is like, if you have to take time off to go to your kids baseball game, or go do this, like, family first, we’ll work around it, you got to get your job done. But like this job is for adults who are responsible and have discipline. And if you’re able to kind of jive with what we’re doing, there’s a lot of freedom that comes with that. Creating that atmosphere and Jesus Christ, everything that goes into it, which is crazy is the biggest challenge. And we’re still fumbling our way through it, but we’re making progress.
Yoni Mazor 15:29
So you’re like, almost like George Washington, you’re trying to create your own army, you know, you used to be a general, you used to be, you know, what it’s like to being a soldier. But now your purpose as a general is to create soldiers, good ones, disciplined ones, they have that you know, the touch that you need them to have to represent, you know, the agency and the whole experience, you know, the high touch points. So it is in a way, a positive challenge to have, it’s growing pains, you know, how to scale your whole system up. So let’s blessed a challenge to be in, and you’re learning as you go. But I guess it’s important to mention or to clarify that you guys are in North Carolina, but you guys are a global company, you know, you guys are essentially a virtual, you cater to the, you know, to sellers all over the world. But your team is located all over the world. So I guess, a question for you in this regard is now that you know that the world is available for you, in terms of opportunity and talent. How do you tap into that?
Yoni Mazor 16:25
Yeah, so we are. We we’ve tried job boards, we’ve tried a bunch of stuff. And what I found is specialized recruiters have worked for us for acquiring talent. So we use some third party recruiting agencies, and we say, Hey, here’s the budget, here’s the job description, we give a few tests that that person must do before he even gets an interview. And we’ll get all that. And when we get that, then we actually start the process. And, you know, that took like two and a half years of just trying to do it cheap, and not try to pay for it because you’re a scrappy startup, but I learned that your time is valuable. And then you know, it’s really interesting, having a global team is like somebody caught them online almost all the time. And that’s kind of nice. And then also, technology is amazing. We use Slack for communications, Basecamp for task management, we have time tracking. So like, we do have an Interlabs, the team in our labs with the eastern standard time for about four hours a day. And we’re able to kind of get everything out in the open. We try to do team building, we do games to the best of our ability, we do regular video calls to just talk about priorities, and what are we learning as a team. And it’s great, because the team, you know, potentially seven people, we’re at six now, but it’s still very intimate. You know, we’re still, when I was working at other agencies, it wasn’t always that case, you know, when the agency gets so large, you know, you’re not, you know, talk to the owner, you talk to your project manager, or whoever’s in charge you and what’s really nice about where we’re at now is I get everybody’s perspective. And I know it’s not forever, but I’m really enjoying it.
Yoni Mazor 18:01
So you enjoy the, I guess, the feedback that you get from the team on the ground, the soldiers on the field, you still thoroughly enjoy what’s their point of view, because it’s never the same. If you’re going to general and you know, the command centers, but the soldiers on the field with the way they see things, it’s, I think it’s sometimes vital to win on all in on many aspects of the challenges and interactions for you guys as an agency, what would you say? Like makes you guys stand out? Or what’s your philosophy? What’s your take on how to get this right? Because, you know, we all know that, you know, there’s agencies, there’s a lot of them, everybody’s an Amazon expert. But I guess what is your approach that makes you guys a bit more different or differentiated?
Will Haire 18:41
So I think a big differentiator from us is that we have the omni channel experience working in marketing in different capacities. And we’re able to take those, those strategies and apply it to the clients we work with to grow their brand on Amazon. So, you know, at the end of the day, our purpose is to deliver value. And we want you to feel like we’re a part of your team, we’re high touch, we can always be reached, while at the same time helping with the other marketing tasks that need to be in place in order to grow your brand on Amazon. So our differentiator, what makes us unique is being able to implement on top of Amazon best practices operationally, and marketing wise, but we’re also to take best practices on Google, Facebook, in search to kind of drive growth with your brand on Amazon.
Yoni Mazor 19:30
So basically, as far as I understand, it’s a holistic approach. You’re saying, you know, our core sales revenue generator is Amazon as a marketplace. But nevertheless, we’re going to use every channel outside of Amazon that’s open to us to feed the growth on Amazon. So for Google, you throw traffic from Google into the Amazon listings right? To the brands that you guys are servicing. And by the way, you guys are servicing third party sellers on Amazon, but also as 1P, first party. So your clients and the brands that you work with, they get a purchase order from Amazon purchases the goods, and they’re marketed on the platform. So you have these two hats that you guys wear, and help your clients generate the sales. And once again, if you have it on social media influencers, whatever it is just keep the growth, keep the drive. That’s a, that’s a holistic approach that you guys adopted, and a philosophy that you know, Amazon is the undisputed champion gorilla of the e commerce world. That’s probably where you get the best bang for your buck. But I guess another angle for the approach is grow your brand on Amazon. Right? So within the Amazon ecosystem, the brand gets recognized somehow, how do you do? How do you? How do you make a brand stand out on Amazon these days, as far as you are aware?
Will Haire 20:39
Yeah, so I’ve been, of course, basic listing optimization. But when it comes to branding, and this is a gap with a lot of the clients we work with, especially the small businesses like those who are doing maybe a little under a million dollars a year, and they’re having trouble growing that brand on Amazon. And what it comes down to is just basic marketing principles is that you need to go up, higher up in the funnel to start generating that brand awareness, a tool we have on Amazon that is really helpful with that as Amazon Display, or demand side platform or DSP, whatever you want to call it. But Amazon Display, which gives us the ability to target lifestyles to retarget customers to kind of pick where we are, consideration, research, you know, wherever they fall in that user intent funnel to have a presence so that you’re in that consideration. Understand that branding is similar to media buying, you know it a need to have good branding in place with regards to creatives and knowing who you are as an identity and the soul of your business. But you also need to know how your customer shops for your products. And that’s, that’s a very important piece if you’re going to target these people on the upper funnel level. And so that’s a big part using programmatic outside of that, when we turn it over to social, that’s going to be a lot of your influencer, your micro influencer programs, and then having a presence on search. So like those are the pieces we kind of put together that we specialize in that will help generate that brand awareness. And when we measure return on investment from doing brand plays like this, that isn’t generally going to be a direct dollar in, dollar out or whatever that ratio is that we determine it’s going to be through impressions, more exposure, more click through, more interest. So that’s different. And that’s the I think the hardest part to explain to somebody who, you know, has been really focused on creating a great product and a great experience, but doesn’t understand how to take that from a million dollars on Amazon to $5 million. And also what that means for their website, because Amazon is one piece and we know it’s exponential, you’re going to buy wherever you’re gonna buy from because you’re comfortable shopping on that platform. But the unintended consequences or the indirect benefit is that you’re going to generate more sales on your website, and people are going to search for you more on whatever avenue that they search to find information. So it’s important that you’re aware of this and that you’re strategically putting material in place so that at every touch point your potential customer goes on, you have the ability to touch them with something that is useful.
Yoni Mazor 23:03
You guys color them somehow? Do you guys have the ability to color these potential shoppers and identify them outside of Amazon?
Will Haire 23:11
Outside of Amazon, yeah, I mean, so there’s a couple ways. When we do videos via YouTube, we’ll do retargeting to people who have viewed a video. Website, we can retarget website shoppers, the audiences you can create are just based on demographic or lifestyles. That’s, that’s upper funnel, but that’s the point. And then the same thing on Amazon, it is often on Amazon. And we could technically use programmatic or DSP to drive, you know, from an Amazon resource or off Amazon property to their website. Generally, because we focus on growing brands on Amazon, we’re going to drive it to a storefront or a product page. But we do have the opportunity. And sometimes we’ll run super high level campaigns driving traffic to a website and then the bottom of the funnel will drive like right to a product detail page to try to get that sale.
Yoni Mazor 23:59
Got it. But let me ask you about your mindset. I mean, now that you are in the midst of creating your own army units, hopefully it’ll be regimen and the whole platoon and everything. You feel comfortable, you feel like you made it in life, this is it for you?