PROFILE

Phil Masiello

Founder and CEO, Hound Dog Digital Agency
Expert digital marketer for eCommerce, Mobile Apps and Amazon Marketplace Sellers. Author of Think-Engage-Thrive: Marketing Actions To Skyrocket Your Brand In The Digital Age

Phil Masiello has founded or co-founded several disruptive business models, focusing at the intersection of emerging digital technologies and consumer lifestyles.

Most recently, Phil was the founder and CEO of 800razors.com, an online seller of Made int he USA shaving products for men and women that compare in quality to the national brands at a fraction of the cost and conveniently delivered to your home. Prior to that, Phil co-founded Raw Beauty with former supermodel Carol Alt to market her skin care line Raw Essentials on the television shopping channels, retail and eCommerce. Prior to that, Phil founded The Daily Market Grab and Go Meal Stores, Fabulous Food Stores and several other notable businesses.

Phil is an expert business startup builder in the B2C channel with a primary focus on lifestyle, health, beauty and fashion products. Adept at developing effective digital and social strategies and campaigns to build awareness, brand recognition and top line sales growth.

For more information, visit <b><a href="https://www.hounddogdigital.com/">the Hound Dog Digital website... </a></b>
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  • Posted on: 08/17/2017

    Did retailers shine or go dark on the rare solar eclipse sales opportunity?

    Warby Parker announced that they will be giving away FREE eclipse glasses in their stores. There are still a lot of retailers with inventory that are promoting their last-minute deals. But I am not certain an in-stock position on glasses is the real retail issue.I don't see a lot of creativity around turning this into a fun event that can generate engagement online and in stores. Chiquita Banana made a funny video claiming responsibility for the eclipse and there are some other brands like Eclipse Beer and Eclipse Shoes that are doing a good social media job.I would have expected more fun themes around the event. Even from clothing retailers. The right outfit for eclipse viewing? A product so wonderful you can look at it without special glasses? That is where retailers dropped the ball. Having fun and engaging with customers.Warby Parker will get increased traffic from new visitors who may have never heard of them. At some point, they will convert a few into customers.
  • Posted on: 08/15/2017

    Is Target ready to make a move on the home delivery front?

    It took Target 11 years to take home delivery and click and collect seriously after other retailers proved the success. It took Walmart 12 years to add free two-day delivery after Amazon implemented it and proved the model. Target still has not implemented that program.I ask one question: What is the Target strategy? To wait a decade and follow along? Because I don't see anything new in this strategy or anything else Target is doing.Followers never succeed over the long term. They need to find something that is important to their guests that they can do and their competitors cannot. Otherwise, it is a black hole.
  • Posted on: 08/14/2017

    Does the internet know us better than we know ourselves?

    Ever since I founded my first e-commerce site in the early days, I recognized the power of live consumer behavior data and have never looked back. I have never relied on focus groups or consumer surveys. These are indicators of what people want you to believe they will do, but not indicators of what they really do.I do not see a downside to Big Data. I see a downside to how people use the data. With so much real behavioral information existing, I cannot see a reason anyone would ever use a survey again.The simplest pieces of data that exist are keyword and semantic searches. These simple little words and phrases tell us the issues and problems consumers are trying to solve.
  • Posted on: 08/11/2017

    Will Toys ‘R’ Us take Manhattan the second time around?

    From a branding and awareness perspective, it will benefit Toys "R" Us. Certainly the tourist traffic in that area is strong at the holidays, so it could reignite awareness of the brand when purchase intent is strong.Allowing users to engage with the products is never a bad thing. But using it as a pickup location for online orders? That is a tough one. Most New Yorkers tend to avoid that area during the high tourist seasons.Pop-up locations can work well for many retailers if they are well thought-out with the right strategy. Introducing new concepts, new ideas and new products work well. Popping up a store for the sake of trying to get incremental sales is only a good idea if the economics work.
  • Posted on: 08/10/2017

    Do Amazon Marketplace sellers need outside help?

    There are two ways to approach selling on Amazon; as a reseller of existing products and brands or as a seller of your own brand. Each of these are different operating models with unique challenges.As a reseller, in order to be successful, you need to have some sort of supply chain advantage. Many resellers on the platform are either distributors or partners with distributors. The main issues resellers face is the fight for the buy box against the many other resellers who are carrying the same exact product as they are.If you have consistently low prices because of your supply chain advantage and can maintain a great seller performance metric, you will win the buy box a good portion of the time. But can you make a profit? That is the question. Resellers without a supply chain advantage play the online arbitrage game and their business is getting more difficult by the day.These sellers will also sell on eBay, Walmart Marketplace, Jet and a host of others. But Amazon makes up more than 70 percent of all marketplace sales for sellers.The other Amazon marketplace sellers are brands. If you own your brand then you can limit the competition for your product on any of the marketplaces. And if you are smart, you approach Amazon in the way Swiftkick laid out. As a discovery platform. Think about the customer online. They come across your brand through an ad. They are hesitant to make that purchase from an unknown. However, when the product is on Amazon, they are less hesitant because they know Amazon is a trusted source who will respond if there is an issue.Once a customer has bought your product on Amazon, you can use different methods to get them to your site and turn them into your brand's customer.As far as third-party tools, every e-commerce company needs additional tools to understand competition, keywords, optimization and reporting. Resellers need re-pricing tools to keep up with continuously changing prices while still maintaining profitability.As an Amazon brand seller for over 10 years and someone who helps other sellers on the marketplaces, we use at least seven different tools everyday. Just understanding how to optimize your product pages requires data that is not readily available from Amazon.
  • Posted on: 08/09/2017

    Is Wayfair Amazon-proof?

    All categories and channels will move to the online world. Even if customers use physical stores for showrooming to touch and feel the product and get the correct dimensions, the sales will move to an online order and delivery.But Amazon is not going to kill every category. Where specialization is involved, brands like Wayfair have an edge. Amazon is great at selling commodities but has yet to prove success in niche categories.Visual search in this category will be very important because this category is all about design. What will be even more important is the ability to show how the product looks in the users own space.As long as Wayfair keeps its eye on the consumer, it can always be successful against any competitor. Even Amazon.
  • Posted on: 08/08/2017

    Does Dunkin’ need donuts?

    It will be an interesting test of brand icon vs. name. From a consumer perspective, I think the colors, the font and the icons are more recognizable than the name. Purely conjecture, but I think people refer to the brand as "going to the Dunkin'" more than adding the donuts. I think brevity of name could be a positive.The brand has evolved beyond donuts, into a multiple day-part food retailer. Execution of this rebranding to help get that across to a new era of customers is key to its success.The key questions are: Do sales go up or down? Do consumers respond to the rebranding? Do consumers "get" that the chain is more than just donuts and coffee? Is this rebranding going to help them better engage with their existing customer? Will this rebranding reach new consumers?It will be interesting to keep an eye on this.
  • Posted on: 08/07/2017

    What made GameStop decide to open on Thanksgiving this year?

    GameStop's decision is clearly rooted in declining sales. They are struggling as gaming moves further into the cloud with mobile gaming and streaming gaming. Additionally, the competition for games and gaming consoles has heated up to where GameStop is not a leader in this channel.I do believe that there is a positive PR spin for retailers to close on holidays. But from a consumer perspective Black Friday deal shopping has become somewhat of a sport and event. Therefore, I do believe that many retailers will capitalize on this "sport shopping" on Thanksgiving. Especially the retailers who are struggling and grasping for any sale possible.Strong omnichannel retailers with a sound business strategy and solid customer retention will capitalize on the PR. They will more than make up any lost sales on Thanksgiving with aggressive online and offline promotions for the remainder of the holiday season.The shopping season is not completed on Black Friday. It is only the beginning.
  • Posted on: 08/04/2017

    Are the four Ps of marketing irrelevant for retailers?

    The Four Ps of marketing have always been irrelevant because they leave out the customer. The problem that brick-and-mortar retailers are facing is simple. Retail is retailer-centric and e-commerce is consumer-centric.Amazon wins because Amazon puts the customer first.A simple method for marketing is to think about your customers and determine who they are. Think about them in a way that allows you to build a buyer persona and give that persona a name, like Mary. Now you are no longer marketing to an abstract, you are marketing to Mary. Engage with Mary where ever she is and that will allow your business to thrive.Understanding your customer thoroughly is the most effective marketing tool in existence.
  • Posted on: 08/03/2017

    Are retailers squandering store traffic?

    When you run an e-commerce website, you generally have three or four great tools that you review every day to see what is working on the site and what isn't. Conversion is a main focus and a good e-commerce retailer will continually modify their site seeking to increase conversions. And that is because the e-commerce mindset is consumer-centric. Always searching for ways to improve the customer experience to increase conversions and retention.Unfortunately, retailers are retail-centric and the data they review has to do with accounting and not customers.Conversion Rate Optimization is a consumer-centric mindset. Any retailer today would improve their results if they put the customer first. What you find in retail today is that most retailers are doing the same thing they have done for the past 30 years. They put displays in the same spot with the same items according to the same merchandising schedule that they have used for years.There was a book that was published many years ago called "Why We Buy" which addressed this point. Many retailers read it, but very few implemented the concepts because no one wants to go against the grain and try new things. When they do, like a Wegmans or Costco or Amazon, they achieve great results.Those who do the same thing they have always done, struggle.I think a focus on conversions will absolutely help any retailer and the biggest conversion rate killers are the operators of the chains who have become glorified accountants and no longer merchants.
  • Posted on: 08/01/2017

    Are private equity firms the true retail chain killers?

    As margins tighten and competition accelerates, the burden of debt has more of an impact. Private equity firms interested in building a world class brand can be a great partner for many retailers. Private equity firms strictly focused on stripping assets to maximize the returns are very damaging to retailers. You have to chose your partners wisely in this world.Leverage works well as a financing vehicle when cash flow and margins are strong. Unfortunately, we don't have that scenario today and I think we are seeing the tip of the iceberg.
  • Posted on: 07/14/2017

    Can retailers hope to compete this holiday season with standard digital marketing?

    I don't think a business should ever use "standard digital marketing" because I am not sure what the standard is. There is a better chance of getting hit by a truck than clicking on a banner ad. Pay per click has no efficiency and gets more costly at the holidays as competition heats up. Content is great, if it is done correctly. SEO is something you do every day. Video, social and TV are all great mediums -- if you have something to say.All retail brands need to think differently to succeed. They need to think about one thing. Online and offline retailers need to think about their customers. They need to think about what that customer persona is and how to best engage with that customer.There is no one-size-fits-all model for marketing. If a brand truly understands their customer, then they have no problem building effective marketing and advertising programs.Ineffective marketing highlights the brands who do not understand their customers. And those are the brands using "standard digital marketing" that is not working. Those are also the brands struggling to survive.
  • Posted on: 07/11/2017

    Will Prime Day give Amazon an insurmountable advantage online?

    Al, I think the reason you are seeing thumbs down on the profitability is that it is false news. Amazon absolutely makes a profit on selling goods. Even without AWS. Amazon generates a ton of cash as well. Most retailers today should be so lucky as to be as unprofitable as Amazon. Their operating cash flow in 2016 was $18 BILLION. They have had 16 straight quarters of rising profits. Again, even when you take away AWS, which is ridiculously profitable.
  • Posted on: 07/11/2017

    Will online games fuel mobile engagement for Jet.com and other retailers?

    This is a short-term event that will get some PR play. But I don't see people spending the time to play every day and make it a habit.Games are very popular. Game apps drive the app economy. But you have to look at the persona behind the game players and determine if this is the core customer you want to attract and who can drive your business.I am for anything that makes shopping fun. This should be a rotating tool in the marketer's box of weapons. But I wouldn't bet the ranch on it.
  • Posted on: 07/11/2017

    Will Prime Day give Amazon an insurmountable advantage online?

    What Amazon Prime Day shows is that Amazon is able to create a selling event that is bigger than any other retailer can build. Look at the press coverage this has gotten. Look at how consumers react and wait for it. That is the power that Amazon wields with the consumer.This event puts Amazon in a position that no other retailer can recreate. They have now created their own version of Black Friday and Cyber Monday focused on one retailer.In two years, Amazon has been able to achieve this. As they build upon this, over the next few years we will see consumers planning their purchase decisions around Prime Day.

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