Here’s a fun fact: we don’t have any clients.
The brands we work with are our ‘partners’, because it’s not a traditional client-agency relationship. We do more than ship boxes and sell products; we pride ourselves on being able to use the Amazon channel to tell a brand’s story with the same authority and conviction as the brand itself. It’s not about making a single sale. It’s about getting to know their Amazon customers and making sure they get the best experience possible.
Quarterbacking the relationship between brands and the various teams are our Brand Managers. They’re the chief communicators, in charge of turning the brand’s wants, needs, and goals into actionable strategies we can implement.
This week, we decided to pick the brains of two Brand Managers (BMs) operating on different ends of the marketplace. Meet Brittney Weissenbuehler (Enzymedica, Nordic Naturals, and Redd Remedies) and Terrence Saracco (Ruffwear, Strider, Peet Dryer, Nutcase, Do-All Outdoors, SixSixOne, and CatEye), one working in the Health and Personal Care category, the other in Sports and Outdoors. Not so much a yin and yang dichotomy, but definitely two growing categories with different landscapes to navigate.
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What’s the one word that best describes your role at NetRush – and why?
I work with a lot of different brands. They’re similar in a sense that they’re in the sports and outdoor industry, but each one has its own personality. Really, culture, challenges, and unique points of difference. Some have really small teams, others are larger. Amazon is such a large platform; every brand’s perspective is different and they all bring varying amounts of experience with Amazon to the table.
If you’re not organized, there’s no way to keep up with the number of projects we have going on right now. Just as things wrap up and calm down with one brand, something else is starting. The important thing is that we’re prepared and on top of things. I have to know what we need from each brand and communicate that clearly, so that we can give our teams the correct information. That’s how we hold ourselves accountable and keep everyone on the same page. All of my calls are scheduled and I meet with the teams all the time; trying to make something as wild as a brand manager role as structured as possible can be a challenge.
You both know Amazon, study the marketplace really well, and have all our teams on hand to help execute projects. How do you push a brand to do more or try something new if you see an opportunity?
Brittney: I think that type of thing comes with the trust we’ve built up over time — that’s why we have partners, not clients. We don’t really have to push our brand or sell projects to them — they know and trust us enough to work through project planning. The only challenge we really have is getting information and resources. Sometimes, we only have one contact and they have to go through a few different people to collect a series of images, videos, or things for us.
Terrence: There’s two ways of looking at this through conflicting viewpoints. How do you get what you need from a brand while managing the relationship? The truth is that you actually get what you need from the brand by building a good relationship. At this point in time with our brands, it’s like having coworkers. It’s just as easy as going to someone and asking for something. That also goes into why we’re in HPC versus Sports and Outdoors; we both have a tendency to work well with people in those categories. That’s where the role is a marriage of your skill set and personality. As far as getting what we need, our good relationship really drives that. When we want to do something, they’re really excited.
What are some of the things you do to stay educated about your industries outside of Amazon?
Terrence: Using the brand as a resource is a big piece. I can present myself as an expert on Amazon and really focus on their category on Amazon, research trends and be as knowledgeable as possible. Getting their opinion as the category expert on the other side and their feedback is really important. I’ve learned a lot from my brands over the years, during campaigns I’ve worked on. Part of it has also been staying on top of news — for example, I follow Outdoor Industry Association (https://outdoorindustry.org/). As long as they understand that we’re experts in the category on Amazon, we can also learn from what they know offline. An unknown advantage is that we’re sometimes a bit more removed from their industry, so we can stay objective.
Brittney: I’d agree with Terrence. New Hope is a resource that is really helpful, too — they have tons of great articles, news, emails, industry-wide stuff. A lot of our brands are often featured there. They’re working with New Hope to get word out about their initiatives, their efforts in transparency. Trade shows are also a great opportunity to get face time with our brands and see what’s happening across the industry on a macro level.
What’s the general working relationship like between brand managers at NetRush? You work with brands across categories, but your roles are so similar.
Brittney: We work well together and operate as a unit. Sometimes stuff comes up in a weekly meeting and we’ll address it in an open forum or problem solve together. I often just go to speak to others, ask them about an initiative they might have done before, find out if they have succeeded or failed.
Terrence: There’s no formula. Everyone gets along well and because we’re a pretty close-knit team, we know what’s generally going on with each other’s brands and have a good general idea of what’s happening.