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THE INC. LIFE

Jeff Bezos Used to Mock This Marketing Strategy, But He’s Now Pouring Big Bucks Into It

As Amazon evolved, Bezos saw value in activities he previously wrote off as unimportant.

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BY Tommy Mello - 11 Feb 2019

jeff bezos mocks marketing startegy

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Ever had a situation where you swore you'd never do something, but then had to eat your words?

In 2009, Jeff Bezos famously said: "Advertising is the price you pay for having an unremarkable product or service." It's no secret that Bezos doesn't (or rather, didn't) believe in ads, but he's since changed his mind.

Consider this: in 2018, Amazon single-handedly boosted US ad spending by 72.5 percent, taking total ad spend in the U.S. to $1.8 billion. All in all, Amazon was the fifth largest spender among U.S. advertisers. What a complete turnaround, huh?

Obviously, Amazon's employees were curious about what was going on. During one of Amazon's internal all-hands meeting, a team member asked about the sudden increase in spending. In taking the question, Bezos laughed, acknowledging that he had changed his mind about ads.


Why Amazon is now investing heavily on ads

Amazon has evolved a lot over the years -- that much is obvious. Today, the company isn't just an eCommerce marketplace; it also has an entire portfolio of branded products and services. This brings about the need to run ads.

At the same time, big box retailers such as Walmart are starting to focus on eCommerce, and this poses a threat to Amazon. Knowing this, it makes sense for Amazon to invest in ads to maintain its market share, and hold its own against the retailers.

The bottom line? Never say never -- as your company evolves, and you diversify your portfolio, you might realize that there's value in activities that you previously wrote off as unimportant.


Why it pays to keep an open mind

My personal mantra is -- don't knock it till you've tried it. It's also important to make sure you've really given the strategy or channel you're trying a fair chance before you assume it doesn't work.

Here's an example: I own a home services company, and I see a lot of businesses in this industry writing off review sites. Business owners try to use sites like Yelp, but because they don't experience a ton of success right off the bat, they give up.

On top of that, these business owners also become highly vocal about how bad they think these platforms are. These folks will go on and on about how Yelp reviews are fake, that their positive reviews disappeared out of nowhere, yada, yada, yada.

Let me tell you, these business owners have gotten it all wrong. The truth is that if you set up a proper system to build your reputation on review sites, you can make a fortune. In fact, I've made $1 million dollars in new sales in just 10 months -- solely via Yelp.

Take it from me: marketing is the fuel of every business, and if you're not investing in it, your business will eventually struggle. Your best bet is to keep an open mind, and to experiment with different things -- don't just assume that certain strategies won't work, or they aren't worth your time.

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