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Archive for the ‘Content marketing’ Category

j0438691Do you have a newsletter for your direct sales business? Perhaps your company provides you with one (hopefully it’s one that you can add content to yourself), or maybe you create and send one yourself. Regardless of the source, an e-newsletter is an important part of your overall social media strategy. Why? Because content marketing is essentially about lead generation. Once people opt-in through your blog or Facebook Page, then you have permission to market to them. And the best way to market is a content-driven approach through the vehicle of your newsletter.

So what makes a great e-newsletter? First of all, there still needs to be content. Remember, people opt-in for content. They don’t opt-in for ads. If you’re just going to be a commercial, don’t even bother. There’s a reason most e-newsletters have a 5-10% open rate. There needs to be a compelling reason for people to open your newsletter…there must be something in it for them. So be sure you’ve got GREAT content that is very relevant to the target market you’re trying to reach. Just like with your blog content, the content in your newsletter should be free and actionable steps that your target market can use right now without spending a dime.

Once you’ve created some great content, then you can include a special offer or product/opportunity highlight that may be of interest to your target market. I like to refer to this as the “content sandwich.” Make sure you surround your advertising with great content that will draw people in. That will lead to more success than just flinging ads at people. And be sure you’re including visuals. People will more easily consume your content if you give them a visual break. So learn how to add pictures through whichever program you’re using, and use them often to highlight the content and offers you’re making.

If you’re a direct sales company, consider providing your sales force with a newsletter service that allows them to add a content-driven article, based on the needs of the target market they’ve defined. However be sure that you as a company are also providing content that will go even if the salesperson doesn’t have time to add an article. That way all prospects are gaining value from your company, and will be receiving the all-important follow-up that leads to sales and reorders.

And if you’re a salesperson with a company that does not provide you with an e-newsletter (and understand that it’s an investment that not all companies are able to make right now), you can still create your own. Services such as Constant Contact and AWeber (my personal favorite) provide attractive templates that you can use to follow up regularly with your prospects and customers (as well as provide regularly-scheduled training to your team if there’s a robust auto-responder like the one AWeber offers.) You’ll pay a monthly fee for these services, but often just one sale as a result of this follow-up will pay for the month’s service.

Finally, be very sure that you don’t use your e-newsletter to spam anyone. Remember, people MUST opt-in for your newsletter, or else it’s considered spam. So don’t sign up your friends, your mother, and your dog for your newsletter without being sure you have permission. A simple strategy is simply to ask every contact, “Would you like to receive a free copy of my newsletter, which has great articles about…?” If they say yes, then you have permission to send it.

By making your e-newsletter a strategic part of your overall content marketing strategy, you will be able to provide the follow-up necessary to convert social networking contacts into customers and recruits for your business.

What do you think? Do you provide a newsletter for your prospects? What do you include? How does it work for you? Would love to read your comments below!

Note to Readers: This blog is moving!  I am in the process of moving my blog over to my new website at http://jenfongspeaks.com.  While blog content will be shared between these two sites for the next couple weeks, eventually everything will be moved over and I will no longer be updating this site.  If you subscribe to this blog via email, you will need to update your subscription in order to continue to receive content from my blog.  If you’d like to update your subscription now, just click here: Subscribe to Direct Sales and Social Media by Email

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CB107234One of the biggest concerns I hear from direct sellers when they contemplate blogging is the fear of what to write about.  “How will I think up new stuff to write all the time?”  “I’m not an expert on anything!”  As a result, they paralyze themselves into complete inaction.

But here’s a news flash.  Your blog doesn’t HAVE to be a great work of literature (in fact it shouldn’t be!)  And it doesn’t have to be the length of War & Peace either (and it shouldn’t be!)  Here’s a little test.  Get out a pen right now, and come up with 3 things your customer can do right now to solve a problem he/she has.  Now this should not involve BUYING anything.  Instead, if you sell kitchen products, it might be 1) Plan weekly menus, 2) Prep veggies ahead of time, and 3) Stock up on staples.  Quick and easy, right?  And that’s the foundation of a blog post…3 quick and easy ways to save yourself headaches at dinnertime.

Don’t let your need to be perfect or your fear of not having all the answers keep you from writing the blog that will help you make more money!  Just get out there, share little tips, and make the world a little better for someone.  After all, someone NEEDS your content right now!  You are solving PROBLEMS, after all.  Don’t keep it to yourself!  Get out there and start blogging!  You’ll be glad you did.

And if you’re ready to start blogging for your direct sales business, you may be interested in my new course, Blogging for Direct Sellers.  You can get all the details by clicking here.

What do you think?  How have you overcome your fear and gotten started blogging?  Would love to read your comments below!

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CB107250Social media activities for direct sellers are primarily focused around two activities: relationship development and list building.  Through a content-marketing strategy, a direct seller provides free, actionable content that prospects can use right now without spending a dime.  After that, the direct seller builds relationships with prospects through social networking tools, and invites those prospects to consume her content.  If the prospect finds value in the content, that prospect may subscribe, and at that point, the list begins to be built.  You ONLY have permission to market to that prospect once they have opted in to your list.

As you can see, the foundational element of the entire social media strategy is the content.  Without content, you have nowhere to send people.  Without content, there is nothing to entice people to sign up for your list.

I believe that the BEST way to build a list is to start with a blog.  Prospects are more likely to sign up for your list because they know if they do, they will receive more content.  So it’s important to get inside your target market’s head, understand the type of content they’re looking for (related to your product line), and produce it on a regular basis.

So for example, let’s say you sell skincare products.  Your prospect will NOT say to herself, “What skincare solution should I buy?”  That’s not how she self-identifies needs.  Instead, she might say, “I see some fine lines on my skin.  I wonder what I can do to make those go away?”  See the difference?  She identifies PROBLEMS.  Not PRODUCTS.

Now on your blog, you should NOT be a sales pitch.  Your company’s replicated website already serves that purpose.  Instead, tell them through your blog what they can do right now, for free, to solve those problems.  What can they use that’s already in the house?  What lifestyle changes can they make?  By being generic with your advice, people come to know, like, and trust you without feeling like they’re going to be subjected to a constant stream of advertisements.  And once they trust you, they’re more likely to sign up for your list.

If you’d like to learn more about how to get inside your prospects’ heads, develop a blogging strategy, and create a blog optimized for a direct sales business, I invite you to check out my new course, Blogging for Direct Sellers.  This 2 session course, held at the end of August and recorded, will help you get started with your social media marketing strategy, and provide you with a home base where you can invite your prospects to join your list.  I would love to have you join us.  Learn more by clicking here.

So now it’s your turn!  Are you currently using a blog for your business?  How is it working for you?  Or have you held back from creating a blog?  Why?  Would love to read your comments below!

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crowd by James CridlandThe true value in using social media to find more customers for your direct sales business comes from going where the people are.  It’s a basic rule of sales, based on the law of averages…the more people you have access to, the more likely you are to find people who want to buy from you.  Unfortunately, some direct sellers translate this into thinking they need to join EVERY social media site that’s out there.  People often ask me, “is there a way to update all these sites at the same time? I need to have time to work on my business too!  And do I need to be on EVERY site my prospects are on?”

These are GREAT questions.  If you’ve been reading my blog for any period of time, you know that I recommend that you avoid services such as ping.fm that allow you to update your status on multiple social media sites at the same time. The audiences for each of these social networking sites is different, and the way you should be interacting with them is different.  Plus, relationship building requires your presence.

But then how do you ever get the rest of your work done if you have to visit each site individually?  If you’re in direct sales, you need to be meeting with customers, hostess coaching and doing parties (if you’re in party plan), providing customer service and follow-up in order to generate rebookings/reorders, etc.  There are simply not enough hours in the day to add a multitude of social media sites and build relationships on all of them well.

schedule by jrvetstonYou know what?  You are absolutely right.  There AREN’T enough hours in the day to be on every social media site there is, and still run your business well.  And that’s why you should be choosy.  As the title of this post says, less is more.  Rather than trying to find every single prospect that may possibly exist on every single social networking site that’s out there (and then not be able to do the relationship-building activities required to turn them from prospects into customers), instead focus on just a few sites with the highest population of your targeted niche market.

In my opinion, the best sites for direct sellers to focus on are Facebook (#1…biggest social networking site with the most people who are mostly in our main demographic), Twitter (when you’ve dried up that group of family & friends and are ready to build relationships with new people), and LinkedIn (where you can connect with people that may become business building recruits.)  You may also find niche-specific groups that are specific to your target market, where you’ll be able to build the relationships that lead to success.

Now this is not to say that new sites won’t emerge in the future (and when I know about them you can be SURE I’ll write about there here, so be sure you’re subscribed.)  But for now, if you’re just getting your feet wet in social media, start with Facebook.  Most connections are based on an underlying relationship that’s already established, and it’s a great and comfortable way to get started in social networking.  Plus the viral-sharing capabilities in Facebook make it a great way to share information without spamming anyone.  (And DON’T be one of those direct sellers posting things like “Join my business!” “We’re having a SALE!” “I need 2 more hostesses this month.” People don’t like it and they will ignore you in large measure.  While you may get 1 or 2 customers from this strategy, you will gain a lot more over time if you skip the spam and employ a thoughtful content-marketing strategy.)

So remember, less is more!  Don’t join every social networking site there is and overwhelm yourself.  You also don’t want to get so busy with social networking that you forget your income-producing activities!  By being strategic in the sites that you join, you’ll experience a lot more success in your social media marketing.

Now it’s your turn!  What sites are you a part of?  How do you manage the time and relationships?  How does it relate to your overall business?  Would LOVE to read your comments below!

Jennifer Fong

Photo Credits: James Cridland, jrvetson (Creative Commons license on Flickr)

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Facebook Page suggestionThis post was written because my friend Heather McCarron Allard over at The Mogul Mom blog, where I’m a regular columnist, asked for it.  You see, sometimes when I’m trying to think up great blog posts, I ask for help from my regular readers.  After all, you all come and subscribe to my blog because the content is helpful to you.  So who better to ask when I’m trying to come up with more content that’s helpful?  So I put out on Facebook a request for topics that my readers would find helpful.  And here’s what Heather wrote to me:

I get SO MANY requests to “Become a fan” of XYZ’s page on Facebook and sometimes I think to myself, “WHY??” Not to be rude, but to discover the value of becoming a fan. What are people doing with all these fans? Does it strengthen their brand? I would love to know more. ;)

So today’s topic is Facebook Pages.  What are they?  Do direct sales companies really need them?  Do direct sellers need them?  And if so, where do they fall within the entire social media marketing framework?  How do they benefit your brand?  Heather, this one’s for you. :)

Starbucks_PageA Facebook Page is a marketing tool that businesses can use to build brand awareness, engage prospects, and promote viral visibility.  The only part of Facebook that is by default indexed by Google, they are good way to improve your business search engine rankings, and help people find your business.  Companies such as Coca Cola, Starbucks, and Victoria’s Secret have all had great success engaging their target markets through their fan pages, and you can put this power to work for your business too.  While you are only allowed one personal profile on Facebook (per Facebook terms of service), you can have multiple business pages.

I recently did an informal poll of direct sellers, asking them what the number one thing they wished their direct sales company would do in social media to support them.  Surprisingly, the number one answer was that they wanted their companies to have a regularly-updated Facebook page.  A consultant-facing Facebook page that contains contests and incentives for consultants, specials that consultants can pass along to their customers and prospects, photos of fun events such as recognition, team meetings, and convention, etc, can all be a way to engage consultants, helping them to be a part of the community, and providing them with tools they can use to market their own businesses successfully using social media.

Vantel_PageFor independent direct sellers, a Facebook page is an OPTION, but in my opinion not a necessity.  Since a direct seller’s primary purpose in social media is to build relationships and drive traffic to a site (such as a blog) with the conversion objective of subscribing (you want people to come to your blog and subscribe, so that you then have permission to do more overt marketing), you can just as easily (or more easily) build relationships through your personal Facebook profile.  If it is important to you to have a separate business presence on Facebook, a page is the way to go, but realize that it will take work and time to build an engaging presence that causes you to benefit from this presence.  Some of the benefits of a Facebook page include the fact that Facebook caps your number of profile friends to 2,000, while a Facebook page can have an unlimited number of fans.  You can also add some nice applications to your Facebook page, making it interactive.  However, your page needs to be compelling and, frankly, fun enough for people to want to come back.  If your page is just an unending series of ads that provides value for no one but you, even if people become fans they’re not likely to come back.

So that brings us to the value proposition of your Facebook page, as well as Heather’s question.  She gets plenty of invitations to become a fan of friends’ pages.  But the question is WHY?  What’s in it for her?  If you don’t have a compelling answer to that question, you shouldn’t be creating a Facebook page in the first place.

Consultant_PageYour entire social media marketing strategy should be designed around the concept of providing value, positioning yourself as an expert, and providing the content that people need to solve their self-defined problems right now.  (“Self-defined” is the key term here.  You must get inside your prospect’s head.  People don’t say to themselves “I wish I knew which widgets to buy.”  They have PROBLEMS they define such as “I wish I knew what to do to relax and relieve stress.”)  Then, as part of your marketing strategy, you provide free, actionable content that provides solutions.  So in the context of your Facebook fan page, you might import your blog that contains helpful articles, and provide little tips through your status updates.  You might have someone design and build an engaging application for your page where people measure their stress level.    Notice you’re not pitching products with this approach.

Now that said, you can have a section on your page where you share the monthly specials.  People understand to an extent that a Facebook page is about business.  But if your Facebook page is an unending sales pitch, I don’t need to show up for that.  I’ve got commercials on TV that give me my fill of ADVERTISING.  This, instead, is MARKETING, and there’s a difference.  You must meet people at their point of need, and create the value that causes people to want to know more about you and what you have to offer.  It’s an engagement process.

When you succeed in providing a Facebook page that provides value, it does strengthen your brand.  Your fans are more likely to return because they’re engaged, and they’re also more likely to refer their friends.  The image and video files you share through your page can help you gain viral visibility through the news feeds of your fans.  And you can gain more readers for your blog (with its conversion objective of subscribers) by sharing it on your page.  The more interactions you have with someone through your page, the more they’ll remember you when it’s time to  make a purchase.

If you decide that a Facebook page is the way to go, I encourage you to check out my friend John Haydon’s blog.  Here’s got a great post on “How to Create a Facebook Page in Less than 4 Minutes.” But remember that’s just the creation.  Then you have the responsibility of creating an environment on that page that provides interactivity and value.  If you’re not willing to invest the time and effort that that will require, you may be better off sticking with marketing through your Facebook Profile. (And incidentally, I don’t have a Facebook page myself.  I have generated tremendous business simply through my profile and other social media tools, and have not felt the need to add a page I’ll have to support to the mix.  Will I one day?  Perhaps, when I hit the 2,000 friend limit on my Facebook profile.  But for now, I’d rather spend my efforts on other marketing efforts.)

What do you think?  Do you have a Facebook page?  Has it helped your business?  Would love to read your comments below!

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WAHM 2.0 Direct Sales Blog

WAHM 2.0 Direct Sales Blog

One of my favorite direct sales blogs is Laurie Ayers’ and Leslie Truex’s WAHM 2.0 blog.   If you haven’t read it, you really should, and you should also consider subscribing.  They really have a handle on the issues that today’s direct sellers face, and always share great ideas.

I enjoyed Laurie’s article today: 7 Replicated Website Mistakes.  You can read the whole article here: http://www.sparkplugging.com/wahm/7-replicated-website-mistakes/

While the article today raises some important issues about what you should consider when customizing the website that your company provides to you (which is an important part of your overall social media strategy), what I really wanted to point out today is that this blog is a really good example of a blog designed for recruiting.  Now I don’t know Laurie and Leslie, and I have no idea if this blog is actually designed for recruiting, but it is a good example of a blog that COULD be used for recruiting.

CBR001028It’s pretty easy to design a blog to find new customers for your business.  Simply identify the problems your customers have (related to your product line), and then provide simple, actionable solutions that your prospects can use right now without spending a dime.  As your readers come to know, like, and trust you, they may become customers for your business.

I’ve noticed, however, that people struggle more with recruiting blogs.  Perhaps it’s because we get into this recruiting mode where we only have one language that we use.  “Are you living your dreams?” we ask.  “Do you need extra cash?”  But the problem with this approach in a social media arena is that people are very wary of hype.  They’ve heard that too many times from aggressive, unscrupulous people, and so red flags go up any time they see those phrases.

So a soft sell is a much more effective strategy.  Instead of recreating the opportunity section of your company’s replicated website, instead solve PROBLEMS for your prospects, just like you would with a customer-facing blog, and keep it company neutral (don’t pitch your specific opportunity here.)  Some ideas include:

  • How can you manage working from home while keeping the kids entertained?
  • What technology do you absolutely need to work from home?
  • How do you evaluate a direct sales opportunity? (you might provide a link to the EXCELLENT http://www.directselling411.com produced by Amy Robinson at the DSA)
  • Websites to meet other work at home moms
  • Ways to be a more effective direct seller

And many other things.  The point is to be a valuable, company-neutral voice, with an opportunity to subscribe to your newsletter for more information.  (Sign up for my newsletter here.)  When you do so, people don’t get their backs up so quickly, and are more willing to consider what it is you have to say.  People will most likely be in the research phase when they discover your blog, and if you become a trusted resource, they will come to know, like, and trust you.  Then, when they begin to consider specific opportunities, they are more likely to consider yours (which you highlight on your About Me page, as well as in your content-rich e-newsletter.)

What are your thoughts?  Do you maintain a blog designed to find more consultants to join your team?  Would love to read what you think in the comments below!

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Guest Post by Lisa Robbin Young

There’s a horrible face of direct sales that, to my chagrin, I see more and more often now that I’m a coach.

The face of fear.

Maybe I was lucky as a young “orphaned” consultant, because I never really saw fear rearing it’s ugly head in my business.

But now that I work with other consultants regularly, I’m hearing the tell-tale signs of decades of fear that have permeated our industry.

“I’m afraid to give that booking to my new recruit because it means I’ll loose that train.”

“I’m afraid to share my ideas with others because it means I have to work harder in my own business.”

“I’m afraid of the fact that there are SO many other XYZ consultants in my area.”

And this is not your run-of-the-mill, everyday “fear”. This fear has a distinct aroma…

“I’m afraid to share the opportunity with her because she’s such a great hostess!”

“There are so many direct sales companies now selling the same kind of stuff, it’s just hard to compete.”

…It’s the fear of competition.

Its an easy trap to fall into. The belief that everyone and everything out there is “just like you”. Sadly, this problem is most apparent when examining teams within our own company – and even within our own downlines.

Top leaders in some well-known companies even propagate this nonsense by having consultants sign non-disclosure agreements at training events. I’ve not yet seen this at the corporate level, and hope I never do! The very thought that direct sellers would be reluctant to share what is working for them with others seems the antithesis of the direct selling concept: a rising tide raises all ships.

How does this tie into Social Media?

Social Media is a possible cure for this cancer we know as fear.

Via blogs, social media, and even newsletters and personal (not company owned) websites, a consultant can express his/her uniqueness – that thing that sets them apart in the marketplace.

The title of this post is one of the mantras that pervades my coaching: YOU, the consultant, are the most important product your company has to offer. It’s not your catalog items, host benefits, or even the comp plan. It’s the very nature of who YOU are, and what YOU bring to the table that makes you a valuable piece of the direct selling puzzle.

Think on this: at every party/presentation you attend, what is the ONE product that every guest will experience before the end of the evening? And what one product is very likely to NOT be in the catalog everyone is holding in their hands?

The consultant.

You make the difference. As a consultant, you are the face, the living breathing, interacting product that clients come to know, like, trust, and even make repeat orders for when they book parties over and over again.

The consultant is the best selling product of every direct sales company. When that product is no longer available, the company no longer exists.

So if it follows that you are a best-selling product, and you’re NOT in the catalog, shouldn’t SOMEONE be marketing your skills, abilities, availability and the benefits that you provide that are unique to you?

Enter Social Media & Online Marketing.

Social media is a communication platform that can no longer be ignored or poo-pooed. Jen is one of a handful of people that understand and communicate the value of that platform.

But social media is just one piece of the online markting puzzle. In Jen’s “preaching to the choir” post, she mentions newsletters. While not exactly a social media platform, content-driven communications are what separate the social media leaders from the also-rans.

Look at any trainer in the direct selling industry today and they are all using e-zines to reach out to their lists in a value-added way. I do it (online marketing for direct sellers is my specialty), Jen does it – even Tony Robbins does it! A newsletter/ezine is the single most effective way to consistently reach your target market.

Target marketing is another key coponent to your effectiveness in business. But Jen asked me to stay on the social media topic, so you’ll have to find me on my blog to hear about that.

Content is NOT a coupon or an announcment about the ‘greater than sliced bread’ offers your company has coming up next month. It’s not an enticement to “book now before my calendar is filled”. Those things have their place in a newsletter, but in reality, should make up no more than about 25-30% of the total content in the newsletter.

What kind of content CAN you include? Tips, hints, time and money saving ideas related to your product line are all great places to start. You can even recommend (in passing) a product from your collection that fits perfectly for the tip. But the content should be valuable whether or not you recommend your products or services. THIS positions you as an expert that is more interested in helping your target market than hawking your wares to anyone that’ll open your newsletter. Plus, it gives you the opportunity to share a little bit about who you are as a human being – a person with successes, kids, flaws, cravings, faux pas – warts and all.

It will require a little more work on the front end, but the return on investment is huge. Like Jen, I enjoy a very high open rate on my newsletters, which only confirms that I’m providing content that works for my market. And because I can monetize that traffic, it also yields a tidy little income from people across the country (or around the world) that I would NOT have earned any other way. It’s hard to do a party in California when you live in Michigan!

And content that you create for your blog can be re-used in your newsletter (and vice versa). Repurposing is TOTALLY acceptable, and it cuts the workload down. I frequently post my ezine articles to my blog for people that haven’t already subscribed.

Ideally, companies would come on board with this, and start sharing more helpful content in their customer newsletters, but that is not the job of the corporation. Not to be too blunt here, but the company’s job is to help you sell more of their products and services. They’re in business to make money – and it’s reasonable to expect that their obligation begins and ends with their product line. That’s a forseeable, controllable situation for them. Consultants (in all their varieties) are an unknown.

YOU are in business to make money as well. So it behooves you to have your own method of consistently reaching out to your customers in a value-added way. The simplest, easiest way to meet your prospects where they are is the humble e-zine.

It can be text only – it doesn’t need to be pretty. It DOES need to provide value in such a way that people look forward to getting it, reading it, and USING it.

It is your responsibility as the owner of “You, Incorportated” to share with your prospects, clients, recruits, etc, the value of who you are, what you have to offer, and what sets you part in a field of hundreds, thousands, or even millions of other consultants in your very own company. When you do that, you don’t see competition anymore, because no one else is quite like you. You are the only you there is, and while this may sound a bit “Pollyanna”, it still rings true. When you no longer see yourself as a commodity, no one else can compete with you. Thus, competition fades, and all that’s left is YOU serving your target market to the best of your abilities – while your target market loves you more and more for it!

It’s the relationship you build that determines whether they do business with you (perhaps from across the continent) or the consultant down the street.

Social media, blogs, ezines, and the like make building and maintaining those relationships happen faster & more efficiently. Sometimes without those venues, it wouldn’t happen at all. And from an economic standpoint, you’ll stand a far better chance of surviving downturns when your income isn’t tied to your local economy, but is diversified across different localities. The Internet makes that possible for everyone.

But you can’t rely on your company to do it for you. That’s not their job. You’re a business owner, and it’s your job to promote YOU. If you don’t do it, who will?

(c) 2009 Lisa Robbin Young. All Rights Reserved.
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Lisa Robbin Young created the first certified Direct Sales Marketing Coaching program and teaches direct sellers how to transform their expensive hobby into a real business. Leaders, coaches and trainers look to Lisa for online marketing strategies that deliver results. Learn more about the Home Party Solution Live Workshop and sign up for her free weekly ezine, “PartyOn!” at http://www.homepartysolution.com

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42-16790355

I read this great article today by Chris Guillebeau that discusses the importance of building a highly-targeted list within your niche, rather than trying to get the whole world interested in what you have to offer.  You can read the whole article here: http://www.copyblogger.com/preaching-to-the-choir/

What I love so much about this approach for direct selling is that when we use social media, we can really use this for success.  We can specifically find those people who really want what we have to offer.  And we’re providing VALUE to people through our content, so when they buy our products and services, they really meet the needs of our prospects.  No longer are we cluttering inboxes with unwanted spam that just makes us annoying.  Even if your list is small, if it’s a highly TARGETED list of raving fans that truly want what you have to offer, your conversion rate is much higher.

Consider this…the standard open rate for an email newsletter is about 5-10%.  I’ve built my own newsletter list through the method of providing valuable content, and providing people with the opportunity to opt-in for more.  Guess what?  My newsletter open rate is currently 121%!!!  That means that not only are the people who signed up for the newsletter reading it, but they’re forwarding it to their friends who are ALSO reading it.  And it’s all done through a highly targeted list.  Do I ever sell stuff?  Absolutely, and I let people know about what I have to sell through my newsletter (and a tab on my blog).  But I ALWAYS provide valuable content of interest to my niche in everything I send out.  And that results in a market that wants what I have to offer.

You can do this with your direct sales business.  Start by following the people in social media who are a good fit for your business, and building relationships with them.  Provide valuable, actionable content through your blog that people can use right now without spending a dime.  Provide a group for them to participate in, and online events that they can enjoy.  And then, once they’ve opted in to your newsletter, provide targeted content and offers.  Your response rate will be much greater than sending out a newsletter alone, without the relationships and value behind it.

What do you think?  Have you built a targeted list through social media? I would love to read your experiences in the comments below!

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Jennifer Fong

Jennifer Fong

Today’s post is firmly tongue-in-cheek, however it contains an essential message.  Those that have been through my training know that I am a firm proponent of content marketing through social media channels, which means that you do NOT spam the world with your products or your opportunity.  Rather, you provide valuable, actionable content that people can use right now without spending a dime, in order to draw people into a relationship with you.  Once they know, like, and trust you, then you have a much more potentially successful opportunity to share your business.

So in today’s post, I am going to share with you the very WORST types of status updates and tweets you might find from direct sellers.  Keep in mind these are all fictional.  But if it sounds even remotely like something you’ve posted lately, take heed!  You’ll be a lot more successful with content marketing.

Here we go…PLEASE don’t let this be you!

Bad Facebook Status Updates

  • XYZ Company is having a SALE! Buy my products right now and you’ll save 50%.  Shop now!  Here’s my link…
  • I have the greatest business on the planet! Have you thought about direct sales? Are you living your dreams? Join my team today!
  • XYZ Product cures cancer and will save the world (UGH! This one had BETTER not be you!!!)

Bad Twitter Tweets/Direct Messages

  • I saw you mentioned “Product.” I sell product! Here’s my link!
  • Thanks for following me! Click here so you can buy my stuff:…
  • You should join my company because it’s the greatest company in the world. Here’s my link…

Notice that all these are “me” focused.  They’re all about me and my product/opportunity.  Consider now some messages that are YOU focused.  People respond a lot better when it’s about them.

  • Let your white wine warm up a bit before drinking.  You’ll get better flavor.
  • This makeup tip will bring out your eyes…
  • Need a quick dinner tonight? Try this quick and easy recipe (Link to my blog)

See how now the messages are solving a problem for the reader?  Not all the messages immediately send people somewhere.  Instead, they are relationship builders that help a person know, like, and trust you before they ever spend a dime with you.  Once they like you and opt-in for your messages, they’ll be a lot more likely to buy or join.  Just like you can opt-in by clicking here for my newsletter. :)

And that’s just smart social media marketing.

What do you think?  Have you had experiences on either end of this type of marketing?  Would love to read your thoughts in the comments!

Jennifer Fong

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Today, I’m pleased to share an interview with Lisa Robbin Young.  I met Lisa through Twitter a few months back, and was honored to be invited to speak about social media at her Direct Sales Success Summit, featuring many excellent speakers who shared ideas to help direct sellers grow their businesses.  In today’s post, Lisa shares some great ideas about how she’s used social media in her own direct sales business, as well as in coaching other direct sellers.

Lisa Robbin Young is a direct sales marketing coach that’s still in the trenches, selling and leading her own direct sales teams. Lisa focuses primarily on teaching direct sellers how to grow their business like a real business, instead of an expensive hobby, by marketing themselves as the go-to expert in their field. Her book, Home Party Solution, is a step-by-step 30 day guide to building a successful online presence without breaking your company’s rules. Sign up for Lisa’s free weely e-zine for direct sales professionals at http://www.homepartysolution.com.

 

Lisa Robbin Young

Lisa Robbin Young

Jennifer: Can you give us some background on your direct sales experience?  How long have you been in direct sales, and what have been some of the highlights of your career?

Lisa: I’ve been a consultant with one company or another for over 12 years. The past 3 years I was with The Body Shop at Home, and now I’ve found a new home. I am now primarily a marketing coach.  My direct sales business is a “lifestyle” business – meaning I’ve never done more than 1-2 parties a week (usually less). Over 70% of my sales and recruiting has been online using the internet. In January, I had 14 new recruits added to my personal team. In April, while my son was in and out of the hospital, I was still able to hit all my first month new consultant goals with only ONE party – thanks to the Internet.

Jennifer: How long have you been using social media in your business, and why did you start using social media?

Lisa: Social media is only part of my online marketing strategy. I built one of the first ever e-commerce sites back in the early 1990′s, when graphics on the web were still a newfangled thing. I set up a MySpace page for my music a few years ago, and then a personal MySpace page. I started blogging there, and eventually developed my own blog (http://lisamrobbin.blogspot.com) about 2 years ago. I migrated from MySpace to Facebook, and got caught up in the “activities” there – and had to reconsider my social media strategy (which there was none at the time). I found Twitter late last year, and haven’t looked back since. Now I’m primarily on Twitter because it’s fast, easy, and supports my lifestyle. I also maintain a fan page and group page on Facebook, post videos fairly regularly, and host my own online community for direct sellers (http://homepartysolution.com/member)

I started using social media more for the social aspect of things, and quickly saw the marketing potential. Developing a strategy was the sticky part for me. (see next question)

Jennifer: What are some of the considerations that you’ve kept in mind when creating your online presence?

Lisa: My online presence spans multiple blogs, 2 websites, my consultant site, Facebook, Twitter, and others. I started with ONE thing (my website) and branched out from there. That’s huge. So many consultants want to do it all in a day – and that’s just plain impossible. Much like live networking, you simply don’t have time to do it all yourself. I had to start where I felt most comfortable, and grow from there.

You have to have a strategy. I’ve posted on your blog before about this, as well as my own. I have a lot of online ‘real estate’ because online marketing is what I do.  If you Google “coolest girl on the planet”, I’m usually in the top slot – that’s purely because of my marketing efforts – not because I really am the coolest girl on the planet. The online real estate that you control has the potential of making you as big a “celebrity” as you want to be - particularly with your customers. So my strategy has multiple components. Visibility, connection, value, sales, and more. Each piece weaves together with the other.
Lastly, you need to know your target market. As a coach, my target market is other direct sellers. As a direct seller, my target it a customer or recruit that matches my business criteria. Really, this should be first. Once you know your market, then you know where to “shop” for them – where they hang out online. Then you can provide value and market to them – which is how I’ve created a business that is more than 70% driven by online marketing and sales.

Jennifer: Can you tell us about some of the social media tools that you’ve found most helpful in building your direct sales business online, both for sales and recruiting?  How do you use them?

Lisa: Twitter is a lifesaver. It interfaces nicely with Facebook, so it does double duty for me. I keep everything sorted out with TweetDeck. Once you’re following more than 100 people, you need some way to navigate it. Twitter also cuts out all the fluff. You have to be brief – so people are more likely to listen because it’s only 120-140 characters. It’s also harder to “spam” your promotions, because people are quick to turn you off if you do. I’ve had some crazy posts on my Facebook page that you’d never see on Twitter. I use Twitter as a place to share ideas with other direct sellers. I started #dstips on Twitter, and it’s evolved into this group of people that share all the time. Twitter is a tool for target marketing, Facebook is my “developer” for that market, that feeds into my ezines, websites, and blogs. I actually have a flow chart that outlines how it all works, because if you do it well, one can feed into the other  -  there’s a flow both ways.

Jennifer: Please describe one specific time when social media made a big difference in your business.

Lisa: Twitter actually connected me to several direct sales coaches that have made guest appearances on my monthly training calls for my sales teams. I’ve also promoted online shopping events that were very profitable because of the instant promotional abilities of Twitter.

I also host an online forum for direct sellers that sees a lot of activity – I’ve also incorporated it into my team training. Now everything is centrally located for my whole organization. Talk about a time saver! My team just logs in, accesses the content they need, and they’re on their way!

Jennifer: What advice would you give to the direct seller who is thinking about getting started with social media?

Lisa: Know your target market first. That’s absolutely critical. Create a customer profile for your favorite customers as well as your ideal recruit – then figure out where they’re likely to “hang out” online. Choose ONE social media outlet to connect with them. “Lurk” for a bit, and get a feel for the crowd. Then provide value FIRST. No one cares what you know until they know that you care. They don’t want your website link. They want your help. Give help first – people will naturally gravitate to you, want to know more about you, and pay for your products and services – IF you’re actively pursuing your target market, and not just shotgunning every social media hangout on the Internet.

Jennifer: What do you think is the number one mistake direct sellers make when using social media?

Lisa: There’s three actually:

1. Expecting miracles. It’s rare to have 5,000 followers in a month’s time, let alone overnight. Social networking – like any networking – takes time. you can’t just quit having parties because you have a website. Online marketing and social media are a PART of your total marketing strategy.

2. Taking before they give. Don’t spam your link and ask people to join your opportunity before you’ve had a chance to establish your expertise. This is SO critical. It’s akin to shoving a business card into the hands of everyone you meet – TACKY!

3. Trying to do it all. Pick ONE to start. Focused energy will net faster results. I started with my blog on MySpace – and eventually built my own blog, then expanded to Facebook, THEN Twitter. I’d do it a little differently today, but the suggestion is still the same: START WITH ONE! Otherwise, overwhelm creeps in and consultants give up before they see the results.

Jennifer: Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?

Lisa: Target marketing is such a foreign concept to most direct sellers, that I offer a totally free program to help you develop a strong target market profile for both your customers and your recruits. You can access it for free at http://homepartysolution.com/member, just click on ‘build a better customer’. I’m so passionate about helping consultants get this information, that I made it freely available to everyone who registers with the community.

Lastly, there are dozens of direct sales trainers that are jumping on the social media bandwagon right now – and many of them don’t have a clue. But they realize that an online marketing strategy that includes social media is a requirement now – not an option. Coaches like Jennifer and I have been here from the beginning – with the stripes to prove it. Watch the horizon expand as more and more trainers tell you what you need, but look to folks like Jennifer to get the results that work now.

Jennifer: Thanks so much, Lisa, for sharing your views on this important topic!

What do you think of Lisa’s approach?  I’d love to read your ideas in the comments below!

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