In this interview, Annalisa DeMarta discusses keys to success on Amazon and her experience as Co-Founder of Lone Cone, the maker of Amazon’s #1 selling kids rain boot.
About Annalisa DeMarta
Annalisa DeMarta is the co-founder of Ridgeline Insights, an Amazon Performance Agency with over $60M in Amazon sales, as well as the Founder of Lone Cone, a $5M direct-to-consumer brand that has maintained the #1 selling kids rain boot on Amazon for the last 3 years.
Annalisa’s companies have earned the INC Magazine 5000 Fastest Growing Business Award for last the 5 years in a row. Her businesses have also placed on Outside Magazine’s list of the Top 50 Best Places to Work as well as the list by the Best Places to Work in Idaho™.
Read the Transcript
This transcript was auto-generated from the original video recording using Otter Voice Meeting Notes. While the transcript has not been human edited, we hope it will still help you to quickly find or reference useful information from the interview
Welcome to the deliberate leaders Podcast. I am Allison Dunn, your host. Today’s segment is part of our gems of Idaho series where we feature an Idaho deliberate leader who inspires us for a brighter, bolder future. Today’s gem we have with us Annalisa de Marta. It has a unique story of creating not one but two successful self-funded startups. She’s the co-founder of Ridgeline insights, which is an Amazon performance agency, with over 16 million in sales on Amazon, as well as the founder of Lone Cone, a direct to consumer kids brand that maintains the number one kids rainboot on Amazon for the last three years. Your companies have earned her the ink magazine 5000 fastest growing businesses for the last five years in a row. Best Places to Work in Idaho three years in a row and outside magazine’s top 50 Best Places to Work two years running. Annalisa, welcome to the show. Thank you so much for joining us.
Thank you so much for having me. I love that you’re doing this Idaho segment, I think it’s such a cool way to just feature some of our local businesses. So thank you, and thanks for including me.
My pleasure. So as I was just, we were just chit chatting before I happened upon your Lone Cone brand. I’m not even sure how but describing to you like I just couldn’t get it out of my mind. I find it amazing and inspirational. And was I think I was surprised when I found out that you were right here in Boise, which I think is fantastic. So I kick these off with a deliberate conversation. So I want to first ask you, what would be your number one leadership tip that you would give to our deliberate leader podcast listeners?
Yeah, I love this question. I love the previous folks, you’ve interviewed their answers as well. So I’ve taken a couple pieces away from that. But my I have two tips, but they kind of run together. The first one I’ve learned through experience is hire people smarter than you, it takes a ton of humility, I think to find people that are smarter than you and begin to be willing to empower them. But surrounding yourself with folks, either through consultants, advisors, or general staff. Having folks that are, you know, smarter than you in the room, they’re able to help drive your business forward can really be such a difference maker. But the second piece of this has taken me a few years to get to and I don’t know if it’s maybe like Annalisa thing or a female thing. Or maybe it’s just general business leadership thing, but it’s also trust your gut. And so the thing that I’ve taken away over the last five or six years is I’ve been surrounded by this amazing talented people that have, you know, 30 years of experience, or just, I just yeah, just a ton of really neat corporate experience, and just have gone through different things and that I haven’t, I don’t have that experience. And so when you get into a room and you’re trying to make decisions, I would find myself questioning those decisions. Because all of a sudden, this, this great person is asking me, they’re poking holes into my arguments, which is exactly what I wanted them to do. But when you’re put back on your heels, it makes you start questioning your own business and what you’re doing. But it’s really taken me a little while to come full circle and say, you know, I am in charge. And I value those people’s opinions and those insights. But really, I’m the decision maker. And so I’ll take what you have, and I’ll empower you to make decisions. But there are some things that I just need to trust my own instincts, I’m seeing all the balls in the air and you’re seeing a specific area. And so just being aware of that, and being confident that I think is something that’s taken me time to grow into. So that would be my tip.
And both are excellent tips. And I think that too often we question our own level of intuition, right, where 1,000% a gut instinct, and they think when it’s our baby, like we know what our babies need, most often, but it is helpful to have people go Are you sure have you thought about you know what I mean? So it’s a challenge that so
It can be really intimidating, especially when you have somebody. I mean, I’m, I’m under 40. And I’m female, and I’ve been self-employed for years. And I all of a sudden either have an older male come to me or somebody with this robust background. And they’re asking me questions, and it’s really hard to stay stable and be confident, but you just got to you trust yourself and just read an article about small businesses and how you don’t have as much data, right? I don’t I now I have a lot of data. But three or four years ago, I didn’t have as much to make decisions off of. And so trusting your gut becomes really important, especially if you’re a smaller based company. So trust your gut, yeah.
And just to kind of pick up on that like reading about the fact that, you know, there’s more data than ever, but things aren’t the same as they’ve been, you know what I mean? So we’re looking at trends like you can’t even count on at this acceleration that we’re having in our world. You have to have some instincts as far as the data.
For sure. Oh, such a crystal ball of insight. Yeah, totally. It’s, it now becomes a guest. I think just given all the stuff that’s going on. It’s just throw a dart somewhere. Hopefully you’ve made the right decision. Yeah. Yeah.
So I think you just kind of teed it up. But you, I appreciated when you sent me your bio, you were sharing? How very important do you attribute your success to being here in Idaho? Can you kind of lean in on that and share what you mean by that?
I know, I would not be as successful if I wasn’t based in Idaho. We were lucky enough. So my husband grew up here. And when we got married, he’s like, man, I really want to move back home. And I was like, man, I just, I’m from New York. And I was like, I don’t know, I don’t know, if I could live in Idaho. It just every stereotype comes to mind. But he broke me down. And it’s been about 10 years. And I love it. I couldn’t imagine living anyplace else. And when we were getting our business off the ground, people just are generally a lot more open and supportive. And so just through like kindness, people taking me under their wing, I’ve met some amazing advisors, I first heard about going to score and Boise and those folks pointed me into some really great, different support resources. I actually ended up finding my HR person who’s a former fortune 500, HR director who’s really helped me curate an amazing team. And also Boise, I mean, our public land is something that, you know, no other state has, and it’s such a great reason to be here. And so we’ve been able to attain such wonderful talent, because people made a lifestyle decision. And our culture encourages people to get outdoors, we do unlimited sick time, vacation time, Fridays off, and I just really want people to have that ability to recreate in a place that they call home. And so being able to tie that back into Idaho, you know, just really was able to get me that these are great people. And then lastly, and it sounds basic, and maybe a little I don’t know, but I was really thinking about this with funding, we have met some great bankers, I’m self funded. So I don’t have any outside investors. every dollar that comes in and out is mine. And so really having a good bank behind you, I’ve learned more and more is very important. And I would not have made bank connections. I know if I was in a larger city. So those three things have really made my business successful, because I’m an Idaho.
That’s fantastic. And being someone who moved from the east coast. So I’m originally from New Hampshire, and moved here eight years ago. And like I resonate with what you’re saying and thinking like why here and not sure you do that, but then being in the very right place of where you’re supposed to be for making your dreams come true. So I connect on that level for sure. Which business and so I assume that LoneCone was your first business, correct?
No. So we started our we’ve had our agency for a long time. And we needed a sandbox, which is kind of how bone con was born. So our core business is this Amazon channel management where we work with brands, big and small. And actually, a lot of them are Idaho based now, which is really cool to see that it is become this incubator of small startups, as we’re some cities seem to be full of just a lot of bigger corporations. So this is a really cool environment for especially small businesses. But yeah, we when we work with brands, we do like merchandising, so making those product detail pages, tell the brand story, you know, it’s Amazon’s another consumer touch point. So really making sure your brand story, all the product details are correct. advertising and, you know, General Amazon logistics, Amazon can be a beast of a platform to work off of, and our team just knows how to handle all the supply chain logistics back end. And so we help brands really execute and manage their Amazon strategy. So as a result, we needed to sandbox and I had three little kids, and it kind of became this perfect storm of like, you know, I have all these theories about how Amazon works. And I’m also looking over here looking at my kids not getting the product they needed. And I was like, you know, I’m just gonna make my own product. And remember, my husband’s saying, that seems crazy. And I was like, I don’t know, just let me just try this. And I ordered like 6000 pairs a couple aces five years ago, worked with some really cool local artists got these patterns on some boots. And when we launched them, it was like August 1 or second. I remember by the middle of August, we had sold out which blew my mind because I was looking at it not in terms of product I was looking at in terms of Amazon expertise. So I was like, holy cow, like our team is great. Like, we know what we’re doing. And I’m confident in this. And my husband was like, Okay, you got to keep this going. And I was like oh no, I just sold my, my, my curiosities. And he was like, you just launched this product and number one bestseller. Why don’t you keep this going? And I was reluctant, but then I kind of went off into a corner and brought on a small team a year later and yeah, grew the brand. So it’s kind of a, I guess this sort of reluctance and dumb luck. So, but it’s the coolest thing I’ve done today.
It is it just being a, I consider myself to be a puddle jumper at hertz, and rain and the rain. And it totally speaks to me. I’m super curious, where does the Lone Cone name come from?
So when we first started, I wanted to be out to our families. I love this concept of getting families outdoors. We’ve got three kids under the age of 10. And it was something I felt really passionate about my husband I really into just outdoor recreation. And so an artist driven, driven drawn us this beautiful pine cone logo. And it was added to our families with the pine cone. And my attorney was like, so that’s a great name, but you can’t trademark it. It’s just like too easy generic, like you’ll never win. And so it was like this soul crushing thing that I was just like, see, you’re just driving along and like, Okay, how can I make this name work? And I don’t know, it just kind of came like lightning bolt inspiration of like, logo. I love that. Like it rhymes. It’s easy to spell like it just and I ran it by a couple of friends. And they’re like, no, that’s got some teeth to it. So that’s, that’s it. And then attorney thankfully came back and said, Hey, turns out you can trademark that. You can trademark that. Yeah, you can trademark it. Yeah. So it was like, well, it’s all the stars aligned? Yeah, that’s fine.
And where? Where do you find the inspiration for your designs, or the products that come out of there, because I just find them. So fun.
Thank you, that’s probably the best part of running the business. I have kids and I friends, their kids, friends, just you look around at different prints, they take inspiration from everything, like I was just going through cleaning out the garage this past weekend of Christmas supplies, and there were some cute little other animals with snow caps on. And I was like, shoot, we should take this and run with it. Like why don’t we have anything more woodland themed. And I’m really lucky. So speaking of Idaho gems, we’ve got two talented local artists that we work with. And I really attribute a lot of exalt their creativity, we kind of worked with them back and forth to curate the design and really bring it more to life. But it’s their talent, and I’m just lucky to have them in the back pocket.
That’s fantastic. I just, I appreciate all the color that they have in them. Thank you. It’s a lot of color. is, um, you mentioned that you had chose the path of self self funding. So can you just kind of share what the basis of that was? And how do you, you know, like, choose to do that versus, you know, like all the talking rages about your capital, and you know, everything that goes along with SBA loans and whatnot. So can you talk through kind of your thinking on that, and how that has served you? Well?
Yeah, so I think when you start a business, I think the thing that I felt, so what am I was going through graduate school, it felt like everybody was working on pitch deck investor decks. And that seemed really intense. But then we, you know, we watched Shark Tank, and we kind of idealized this, like investor way. And that’s the way you should start a business, right. And so using somebody else’s money, we were lucky enough, when we started, this was $50, it started off with just learning how to sell on Amazon and eBay, buying Rare Books, used books, and that kind of escalated. So I was able to take the money early on and just keep reinvesting it. And because my husband, I both had full time jobs I have and not having to live off that income, it was just easy to kind of start this little nest egg was like slow and steady, learn from your mistakes, there was no consequences. And then finally, after like three or four years of just this casual thing, there was enough money that it was like, wow, we’re making enough now that we can quit our jobs. And so as you grow, you get more access to capital. And that’s where it became these dividing moments when reaching out to resources or advisors and asking people for guidance. Because there is a part of me that always wanted to like maybe I you know, you watch Shark Tank, you know, like, oh, man, one of the sharks could really blow up your business, they’ll give you this injection of cash. So what if they take 6% of my business, I’m gonna have all these other resources and, you know, maybe just different technologies and different access to people or different platforms, there was some kind of like white, or you know, White Knight, shining horse kind of sentiment there. But really, it was like, I was talking to somebody about this a couple years ago, they’re like, you know, you know your business better than any other investor. stay the course if you don’t need the money, don’t get the money. And that kind of stuck with me that it’s a great everything that I’m growing is mine. And that’s kind of cool. And I get as a result, I get to control how I divvy those funds. So we’re really big into profit sharing. And if I know if I had an investor, that investor would want to be compensated, and my team wouldn’t be compensated in the same format. So I love having that. And I think, you know, everybody’s got a different approach and feeling but for me, owning that responsibility and not having other voices in the room. Makes me feel better, but I’ve also learned that I can have Non fiduciary response people in my life that can give me some guidance and feedback for things that I’m not seeing, and I don’t have to bring them in as a state as a shareholder. So it’s not it’s not an easy path, but it’s definitely something not talked about. And I think it’s a heck of a lot more common than most people, you know, having a room of investors in their business. So yeah, so it’s a struggle, but something I encourage people to take the leap, and you’d be surprised how little capital, you probably need to get your business off the ground.
That’s a really good tip. I think, what is also really beautiful about your stories, your you know, you come from a partnership standpoint of with your husband, correct? Yes, I am. Often people seek additional funding, thinking they’re gaining partners in their business and does it off too often does not end up being that way.
I hear a lot of stories, and I was just talking to a couple of friends who are going into business. And the only advice I’d give to them is like plan for the divorce, there’s going to be a time where you guys are gonna be at odds. And so what are the things are how do you carve up responsibilities? Like, what can you do to help? You know, keep that relationship going? What do you own? And how do you not become resentful? It’s all those like school projects in religious projects. Today, we’re like, why am I doing this group work? Like, where am I ever going to use this? And that’s it, right? It’s like, you’re with the group. We’re like, there’s some All Star student and there’s somebody who’s like, you know, mailing it in, and that’s your business partner. And you just how do you balance that out? And, you know, not become a victim of Yeah, poor partnerships. Right.
So I, too, was raised in a family business. So you and your husband, I run Lone Cone both of the agencies together, correct? Yes, ma’am. Okay. Then you have also three young children are under the age of 10. I think you said, Yeah. Um, tell us, like, Where, where do you guys find that division for yourself and any other tips of husband and wife team or partnership teams that are thinking about going into business? Like how to do it? Well, or lessons learned?
Yeah, I mean, it’s taken us a long time to get here. And it’s not for everyone. Every time I tell someone, I’m like, Oh, my husband, I work together, the first reaction is, oh, I could never. And I think it’s actually a beautiful thing, like Ken and I spend a lot of time together. But we’ve learned over the time to divide and conquer and use what we’re good at. I love that we both have the love, we both have the capabilities of you know, we kind of know what the business works, we can support each other, we can just know how the good and the bad and we can celebrate all those milestones. So I think it’s a really cool thing. The things that I’ve really learned is just divide. It’s like any other relationship. And so you know, having staff, especially in the early days, and there was like three or four of us and we’re sitting around a table, there was definitely a time where people would tell me something, and they’d be like, Well, did you tell Ken? And I’m like, No, because I come home at night, I want to talk about my kids and my family and my vacation planning or whatever else is going on. I’m not talking about your situation, like go to Ken. And so there’s been this, you know, way of like, even though we’re married treatises, independent people, and that’s taken us a long time. And so we kind of sort of learn to set the record straight if, hey, you know, Ken’s can and azana. Yeah, don’t don’t look at us as one singular person. And I think for my marriage maintenance standpoint, it’s been really hard to sometimes you get to fights at work. Or sometimes you get in fights at home, how do you not carry that into the next setting? But what’s the secret? holding your breath biting your tongue? Definitely surrounding myself with really great people that just, you know, put up with us. And that’s part of the charm, I think of being a small business that, you know, they know that if we fight, it’s like, Mom and Dad aren’t fighting, Ken and Hannah, the business partners are fighting and that’s different than, you know, we’re gonna go home, we’re gonna be fine. We’re but we’re Yeah. And I think the last thing I think that we’ve talked about this with actually HR person recently, we, our marriage comes first. And I think that’s really important. Because even though my livelihood is here, I’m putting your marriage first, right? That’s the pillars of everything. And so it was like, no matter what’s occurring, it doesn’t matter, my marriage and my family will always be a priority. And so everything else can kind of go to the sidelines. It’s just, you know, I only have one, you know, this big priority that kind of keeps things in perspective.
Between your partnership, do you each have like your own area that you kind of control the realm of so like, my husband would be logistics and contracts and anything systematization based, and I would be creative strategy. How about you? How is it divided in your business?
Yeah, so that’s where like so low income came from when Canada working together, we were like two cats in a paper bag. And so when he was like, go take this and run with it. So I did it went off in the corner, and I was like, I’m gonna go do my thing with my team. And then at some point, he was like, you know, me We all want to be involved too. And I was like, Oh, gosh. And so then I had to, like put people under me to report to him because I was like, I cannot come home and report to you. So we do, I guess within the agency cantons can handle a lot more of the agency and agency management, and I’ll do supporting roles. So maybe like some back end, like people run into issues with catalog management or something, I’ll kind of step in and pinch hit. But I typically tend to oversee our own in house brands, and, you know, help drive those things forward. But yeah, it is, it’s a lot better to be on opposite sides of the fence. Fantastic.
I don’t I’m asking this question, not because I feel like it deserves a special answer. But I feel like, if asked the same question, there’s things to be learned. So that’s my position on this, as I asked the question, what would you say are some of the lessons that you’ve learned specifically as a female entrepreneur? that over time, what are the lessons I’ve learned as a female entrepreneur?
Unknown Speaker 21:03
Hmm, that’s a good one. I’m gonna go back to what I said in beginning of the tip is, trust your gut, I think, learning a little bit about imposter syndrome, where people don’t feel as confident in the roles that they’re given. And it’s taken me a long time, I think, because as I’ve been, I’ve been self employed for so long, I haven’t had an external validation in the corporate world, right. So in the corporate world, you’d have this job, and maybe people are promoting you and hiring you. And that’s kind of validating your success. When you’re self employed. Even though I’ve had all of this great milestones and all this growth and these things that, you know, I can attribute to direct decisions that I’ve made are made with can, that still was a hard thing to like for me to justify and say, Look what I’ve done. So I feel really fortunate that I’m sorry, that unfortunate, I feel that I’m losing my train of thought I apologize, I hear my dog scratching at the door, which is always the problem being at home. Um, yeah, I think really just, I think being more confident in myself is probably the biggest thing that I’ve taken away. And that seems really basic, but it’s something that has really helped me grow quite a bit of just knowing that all the experience that I’ve earned, and I’m able to apply that to every situation has been, has been huge. So I don’t know if that’s helpful for other people to hear. But that’s been kind of my big realization in the last like, year, year and a half.
I think it’s some great insights. And for people who maybe are in the corporate world and aren’t getting that validation, maybe we do need to find it within ourselves to get the confidence and go do something. And often we do rely on others to give us that validation of that we’re on the right path. And as an entrepreneur, male or female, it’s a pretty solo game. And so that’s, you know, to recognize that
It’s lonely at the top, it is very lonely at the top. So I definitely hear that.
Okay. So you’ve, you’ve accumulated a lot of recognition as a best place, repeatedly. What are the attributes that you put in your work culture intentionally or deliberately, and that are keeping you landing on that top list,
I have to say, of all the things that we’ve done, probably the coolest thing about running this business. And the thing that like really keeps me motivated is having this team of people like that was kind of an unintended consequence. And the thing that I can’t, and I really just shares, treat people how like you want to be treated, and you know, we, you know, have our mission and our values, but it’s really at the end of day, it’s pretty basic, it’s like, I want to have flexibility in my life, I want to prioritize my family, I want to be able to also have balance, but there’s also things that are really important to my job that I need to be able to make that time for as well. So if we treat, we treat our staff like a grownups, they’re adults. So when we hire, I need to make sure that people can work as part of a team, but also they need to be independent, and be able, you know, somewhat entrepreneurial, and handle some things that are vague. I think the driving force for is like, you know, I want to have medical benefits, and I want to have a 401k. And I want to be motivated financially. So what are the things that we need to put in place to make sure that our team feels like they’re part of this business? Big thing we started, we believe, well, you’ve always done but we really are Intuit is open book financials, which is a small business, especially when I’m self funded that that can be a little bit intimidating to say, this is this is the open book, you guys and Okay, let’s, you know, operate off of this. But I think it’s been really empowering, especially having younger folks that, you know, they have access to our systems, they can see the money that’s coming in and coming out. But I think it’s really powerful when like, you know, my junior graphic designer worked on something for a client and they can directly see the sales and the conversion and all you know, there’s the neat things that have occurred as a result of their direct work and they can say, you know, you did this like, this was a really, you know, small thing that maybe took you half a day But look at the impact this made on the organization, or like, Hey, you made this one supply chain decision, and it saved us, like, you know, $300,000. Like, that’s real money. And as a result, here’s how we divide up that bonus and say thank you to everybody. You know, I think that’s been really powerful to just offer some education to staff, but also like, okay, there’s a real cause and effect that’s occurring. So long winded way of saying transparency, as much as I possibly can and treat people like, I would want to know, like, no, because I said, so. But here’s the financial reasons why or here’s the goal and what’s going on, kind of giving people like more insight than just go do your thing like a robot.
Unknown Speaker 25:41
So a very much respect your choice and culture of open book management. I come from an open book management, which is where I, I learned everything that I know about business and can then share with others.
That’s so nice to hear. Because sometimes I feel like are we making this right decision?
You are and having people understand the impact that they have that is like an in a business world often, like that’s the proof, right? And when we don’t show it to them, and we don’t show them how they impact it, everyone loses in the end, especially if you also do profit sharing, they can understand the impact that they can have in every little thing that they do. So it’s so powerful. What would be I mean, I know that I encounter a lot of resistance, because I am very much about being transparent with the business, but it’s super vulnerable at the same time. So how come that vulnerability? And what tip would you give to someone who might be willing to do it? And just as just not feeling like, they’re not sure if it’s right for them? And how that will, you know, what they should expect from their team once they show?
Well, there’s definitely a way you can show your financials without breaking down every Chart of Accounts, right. So like, my, my office overhead doesn’t, you know, doesn’t need to include every single line item. And you can certainly dumb down. But you know, you want to see the parts of the business that people are working on. And they I want people to see what goes into our margins I want because I think if they have knowledge, that’s where then their wheels start turning. So let’s say Don’t hesitate. It’s like, you know, I think Get over yourself. You know, if you have something to hide, and that’s a whole different story, but probably you don’t. But having people see what goes into it, you know, as simple as this was the first year we did it, which I feel so silly, I’m not doing it sooner, but doing total compensation statements for people. Because as we were going through salaries, there was this massive disconnect. We had one of our employees leave right around Christmas time, and he’d gotten a job offer elsewhere. And we did an exit interview and the HR person had asked, okay, well, let’s talk about what you know, you lost because of compensation. Did you factor in all of these benefits? Your bonuses, your PTO, let me calculate that. And he was like, he kind of sat there with a dumb look and said, Oh, man, I actually think I was making more here. Now I feel really silly. He’s like, well, I guess too late. She’s like, I guess. So. It was an eye opening moment that I was like, you know, we pay people and but we’re not breaking down. Here’s what it costs to have you. Here’s what it, here’s the headers, we make an investment and we do unlimited sick time and vacation time. So if I tell you how many weeks you had off, that can be pretty powerful. But the same with the financials that showing my financials, people can see that I’m not making millions of dollars, when the time we started scaling back and saying, here’s how much employees cost. And here’s how much our technology costs. And here’s how much our advertising costs, you know, all of those things, people can start seeing ways of maximizing that spend finding automations like, it’s amazing how people come to the table prepared to contribute to make your business better when you give them that information. So don’t hesitate. Yeah, just do it and do it in a way that, you know, makes you feel comfortable as well.
Thank you, I hope anyone who’s on the fence on it that that’s some good tips. Thank you very much.
One of the things as I was perusing your website, I’m I was appreciating the level of give back that you give to the community. And I think that is one of the things that definitely makes someone a gem on my list. Thank You. You. Can you talk about what you’re doing and what kind of impact that’s making.
We have just been lucky, I think, United Way has always just knocked on our door. And so they’re just such a great organization and it kind of I love that they touch every other organization. So I don’t feel like I think part of the problem with being a small community is it’s pretty hard to you know, give somebody in hate, here’s 10,000 backpacks, they’re gonna go That’s nice. There’s only like 600 kids this entire school. So the United Way’s a great place where they just have done a phenomenal job of distributing products or coming to us and saying, hey, there’s a school. That’s Native footwear like, you know, we had a big refugee population. I think what we still do, but we had a big influx, I think in like 2019. And then rather than coming to me and saying, Hey, we have all these kids that are literally wearing flip flops in the snow, and I was like, That’s crazy. We sell snow boots, like, Can you give me some sizes and some genders and like, let me put together an assignment for you guys. And we’ll get those two. And it was only a couple 100 pairs, but it was enough that it made an impact that small community, but I would not have known that for the United Way. So we do that we keep an eye on our national stuff. But we really, I think I really just pretty good back at home, just because I can see the immediate, the immediate effects, and we are team left also volunteers we do a lot with public lands and cleanup. We just cleaned up the Boise River last week, just doing some brush cutting, which is a good team building activity and bring your shovel and you know, put on some boots.
That’s fantastic. Well, well, thank you for being someone who does serve the needs of our community.
Unknown Speaker 30:57
That’s fantastic. Happy to I mean, this community is such a great support. So it’s an easy way to get back.
I had two key questions that I definitely wanted to make sure that I also kind of circled back around. You have two types of Durban advisory panel, and then you have brand ambassadors. What role do they serve within your organization? Why is it important to get the tip of important feedback?
Man, this is something that I didn’t realize the power of we stumbled into it sort of accidentally. But we started this mom advisory panel out of this need to get consumer feedback. So you know, it was like one thing, they’re like you sell a product, you get some product reviews, or you get some feedback and the returns, but it wasn’t enough. And so my marketing director had this great idea. She’s like, well, let’s just, you know, reach out to people and say, Do you wanna be part of this panel. And I think we have about 150 people across the country. I mean, a lot of them are based here in Boise we used to do in person. And it’s a great place where I can ask for customer feedback on existing products, I can preview some products with them, they can do product testing for us. And so our moms were the moms advisory panels are they but it’s parents, and sometimes there’s some grandparents in there. And it’s just, it’s amazing how passionate people are, we pay them in product and gift cards, and we keep them in the loop with you know, things that are going on. And it really blows my mind how much customers want to be part of your decision making experience. So I would encourage anybody, it’s not an easy task to take on, it’s not impossible. It just takes you know, a commitment. But having that customer feedback, especially your customers can really make or break some poor decisions you would have made on your own. And then we have brand ambassadors that are people that are across the country that will do, you know, some social media influence, but for us, it’s really, we do before I put it back to the market, I want to have so many hours of play proof testing. So really take that product, run it into the ground, they’ll take pictures document their experience. And that’s been great just to get that additional level of feedback of the different user experience. And so it’s you send them products, once a quarter, they journal it any and if they have tips or tricks, or tips or tricks or anything that they’ve discovered, that’s also just a great marketing tool. And it kind of validates that our products are good quality or not good quality. And here’s what here’s how we should change it. But yeah, it’s a great, it’s a great way again, just paying people in product, you’d be surprised how much that much information they’ll give you. And it’s a wonderful way to get that customer feedback, pre launch. So if you have a product, I would highly encourage you to get in touch with your customer base, and really tap into how they’re using the products.
And you just put the offer out there and people raised their hands. Yes. Yeah. Yeah,
I know. I feel sheepish. I mean, I feel silly saying that. But yeah, it. I moved on this now for three years now. I’m much more comfortable with it. But when we first started, I was like, oh, people are really going to do this. I would get eight to 12 women in Boise in our office downtown at six o’clock at night. And they would come in there and spend two, two and a half, three hours with us, telling me about how they pack their lunch and all the things that go into it. And the coolest thing though, is afterwards like a lot of them became friends. Like they just stayed in touch because it’s crazy, right? Everyone wants to be friends with each other. But yeah, people just are totally cool giving you their opinion and feedback. And one step further. And it’s amazing.
Oh, powerful. Thank you for sharing your insights and why some why companies should do that. I I’m going to wrap up in just a moment. But I do feel like it’s important for me to point out the concept of the Amazon strategy. And how fortuitous I guess might be the word I’d use on ensuring that you’re utilizing that marketing platform. If you have a product What would be your What do you see happening in the future? Is there going it? What shifts do you see happening?
With e commerce and the Amazon Marketplace and all that? Yeah, I, I think it’s gonna be an interesting shift in the next event with supply chain, I think. I mean, where I started with back to school, I was taught going into target like two weeks ago that there was school supplies were hit or miss. And I think Christmas is going to start being you know, buyer Christmas presents early is kind of the message. So I think will be this this interesting shift. Amazon’s also used to have this, you know, this giant group of Chinese sellers. And as they’ve changed their policies, and some of their backend stuff that’s kind of going away, which is opening more of an opportunity for us based sellers. So I see I don’t see Amazon going away anytime soon. And the thing that we communicate with our brands on the agency side is, Amazon really is probably more important than your consumer website, it’s getting a heck of a lot more traffic, and customers go there with the intention to buy. So if you are a brand selling or consumer based product, there’s a lot of people we’ve talked to those like, Oh, I don’t really want to sell on Amazon, it’s like, cool, you don’t have to but Own your Amazon space. That is precious real estate, put your brand on there, customers are making comparisons there. That’s the Google of product search. So if you are if you have a product based company, you need to be on Amazon have that page dialed up because if you don’t, somebody else will or your competitor will. And that that is the number one place that people go there are generic search terms. And if you’re not there for your eyeglass case, and you sell eyeglass cases, you’re not relevant. So I think Amazon is not going away. So I think we need to embrace it and use it as part of one more consumer touch point.
And hopefully, listeners who do their products know exactly what you’ve just said. But just to make sure it’s like really clear if you have a product, and you haven’t at least have your product feed as a cost per click on there. It’s really important that you show in that space, regardless of whether you sell it to Amazon.
Exactly have an Amazon presence on it. Yeah,
Fantastic. Annalisa, I just so much appreciate what you’re doing, what you stand for, and how well you’re representing Idaho as an entrepreneur here. So I just appreciate all of your insights today.
Thank you so much for including me in Idaho discussion. I think it’s super cool to just be part of this, this community of people that really do support each other. So thank you. And if anyone’s listening and wants to connect via LinkedIn or find us on social media, I encourage you I love talking to all business owners, but especially I know business owners, because it’s maybe go grab a cup of coffee or you know, do something so yeah, stay present and reach out. Yeah,
so I will include ways to connect with Annalisa in the show notes inside of both our YouTube channels and our podcast and I’ve got a quick offer for you if you bear with me for just a moment. listener if you found great value from today’s episode here deliberate leaders podcast, I would appreciate it if you’d write a review on one of your favorite listening channels. If you take a screenshot of your review and share it on LinkedIn and mention myself, Allison Dunn and Annalisa DeMarta Deliberate Directions or Deliberate Leaders Podcast we will gift you a one year membership to the world’s number one, business book summary services for leaders. It’s our gift to help you stay on top of the latest ideas, decide on which books you want to actually spend the time to buy and read next and engage your teams. Annalisa thank you so much for being here with us today.
My pleasure. Thank you, Allison.