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Posts Tagged ‘Blog’

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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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 Julie Anne Jones

I’m going to be brutally honest with you…when I first began working with Jennifer Fong, I was certain that the whole “social media thing” was going to drain my time and stress my already packed schedule beyond it’s limits. Since we were putting together a course to offer to my client list called “Social Media Made Simple for Direct Sales Professionals,” and since I was the moderator, I had no choice but to at least be somewhat educated around the topic of using social media as a business tool. But I’ll honestly tell you, I probably wasn’t the most willing student Jennifer’s ever worked with.

We started with the one area where I already had a prescence – Facebook. I had a fairly active profile and a group called Direct Sales Success Made Easy with Julie Anne Jones that was filling up fairly quicky. I really didn’t know exactly what to do with all these people who were friending me and joining my group, but I was open to learning. Jen helped me tweak my profile and shared some simple tips for connecting with and supporting the members of my group.

Next we moved to blogging, LinkedIn, and Twitter. What I loved about what Jen was teaching me was the fact that her strategy for building relationships online so closely mirrors what I teach direct sellers to do in their businesses and at their parties; give people value, be authentic and build the relationship without trying to sell them anything up front.

Throughout the course of learning how to use these tools and this philosophy, I noticed a few things started to happen:

  • I was getting increased traffice (as in DOUBLE THE HITS) to my website
  • I was adding followers on Facebook and Twitter like crazy
  • My blog was getting a ton of hits and people were seeking me out after having read it

In short, my business was exploding! And all with, really and truly, I swear, only about a 30 – 45 minute investment each day. So, while I know I’m still in the beginning stages of learning about how to use the power of social media to grow my business and support my followers, I’m a converted believer. I don’t know exactly what my marketing strategy for my company will be in the coming years, but I do know that social media will always be a strong part of that plan.

So, the bottom line is, I’m an absolute believer now. Before I found Jennifer and her social media training, I’d been saying “I need to find a way to reach my niche audience on line” but could never figure out where they were “hanging out.” These social media tools have lead me to my niche and expanded my reach to new consultants and companies.
Julie Anne Jones is a direct sales coach and trainer and the CEO of Julie Anne Jones, Inc. She is known for her authentic and easy-to-use scripting and specializes in specific language and tools for success in direct sales.
As a former direct sales professional, Julie worked a party plan business for several years, consistently holding three parties per week and winning national awards yearly. She also built a National multi level marketing team through internet networking. For the past 6 years, she has focused entirely on coaching and training other leaders within the direct sales industry through live training as well as extensive webinar and tele-course training.

To learn more about Julie Anne and her products and services, visit her at www.julieannejones.com or check out her blog at http://julieannejones.com/blog.

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j0396108I love analytics.  I really do.  In fact, I’ll go so far as to say I’m an analytics junkie.  Why?  Because analytics are validation.  They show how your social media efforts are paying off, and what you should be spending your time on.  It’s the hard data that you can use to find out if what you’ve done is bringing you the traffic that can make you money, or if it’s a complete waste of time.

Which posts are people reading?  Which pages are they visiting on your website?  Where are they coming from?  Where are they going next?  Are they clicking on your links?  By using simple tools, you can easily measure the return on your social media investment.  And it’s also just fun when you know that people are looking at your stuff. :)

So what should you be looking at on a daily basis?

  1. Blog/site visitor counts – You should have site analytics built into your blog and website.  If you’re using a wordpress.com blog like this one, the site visits are built right in.  If you’ve got a website, you should be registered for Google Analytics, and put the code on each page of your site.  Then watch the numbers over time.  When are people coming to your site, and how much time are they spending there?  Are you getting more visitors over time?  Then your strategy is probably working.  If you’re not, then you know where you need to focus your efforts.
  2. What people are looking at - Does specific content draw a crowd?  What type of content does your niche market value?  For this blog, one of my most popular posts ever was when I told people what NOT to do in social media. So I learned that people are looking for ways to improve upon what they’re already doing.  Good data.  And it helps me formulate what to write next.  It also helps me figure out what content to include in my newsletter.
  3. What people are clicking on - Where do people go next?  On your website, use Google Analytics to follow their path through your content.  Do people go where you want them to go on your site?  If not, what can you change so you get the conversion objectives you’re looking for?  If you’re a blogger, do people care about the links you post?  Are they subscribing to your newsletter or considering the product you’re highlighting?  By taking a look at the percentage of visitors that click, you can determine how engaging your leadup is, and if you need to make changes.
  4. Where people are coming from – What is driving traffic to your site?  Which search engine are most visitors using, and what keywords are they using that finds you?  Are other bloggers referring your work?  Are your social networking efforts resulting in traffic to your blog or website?  By keeping track, you can thank people that mention you, and focus your efforts on the areas where you need to improve.
    For example, when I was CEO of a direct sales company, we taught our sales force how to use Facebook to market their businesses.  Facebook became one of the top 5 referrers to our website, with 3-5 times the average visit length of any other referrer.  What did this tell me?  That our training efforts were paying off, and our efforts were effective.
    Another story…when I started this blog, I posted occasional articles to LinkedIn groups I was a part of.  I didn’t see many comments there, and it was tempting to think that this effort was a waste of my time.  However, I discovered through analytics that most of my weekend traffic comes through LinkedIn, and so it’s a valuable activity for me to continue.  Without analytics, I never would have known.
  5. Link analytics are also important.  By using http://cli.gs or the equivalent (there are plenty out there) you can see how many people are clicking on the links you use in your emails and throughout social networking sites.  Does the following you’ve built care about what you’ve posted?  Does anybody click in Facebook and Twitter when you recommend something?  By using a link analytics tool, you can find out.

There are many components to an effective analytics strategy.  But by keeping on top of your analytics, you can measure growth, and adjust your efforts accordingly.  And that just makes you better.

How are you using analytics?  How have they helped you with your overall social media strategy?  Would love to read your comments below!

Did you know?  Jennifer Fong is offering a course for direct sellers to learn step-by-step how to put the power of social media to work for your business.  Learn how to create an effective blog, and optimize your work on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and niche-specific groups.  You’ll get PERSONAL feedback from Jennifer on your blog and profiles!  To learn more and register, click here!

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Jennifer Fong

Jennifer Fong

Content marketing is a powerful tool for the direct sales professional.  By providing relevant, useful content in a format that is easily consumed and shared, you can greatly increase your brand recognition, as well as your chances that your content (and therefore you) will be referred to others.  As a direct sales company, or independent direct selling professional, it is important to understand the content your targeted niche market is looking for, in order to establish your brand and yourself as the solution people are looking for, and want to refer.  This is the first step in the online sales cycle.

The essence of content marketing is providing free, actionable content that people can use right now without spending a dime.  As you share this content with your online social networks, people begin to recognize you as a thought leader that they seek out to help solve their problems.  It’s important that you understand your targeted niche market intimately in order to be successful with this approach…if you want your target market to find your content valuable, it must be the type of information they need.  Be careful that the content never sounds like an ad…this will cause you to lose your audience and all that you’ve worked for.  Instead, be a relevant, useful member of the community, and you will build a reputation that will ultimately benefit your business.

The next step in a content marketing strategy is making your content easy to share.  So if you’re providing content through a blog, be sure to provide a means through which readers can share that content with their friends.  If you’re providing videos, be sure they’re on a site where they can be shared with the click of a button.  By making it easy to spread your content, you will gain referrals.  Chances are, the people in your targeted niche market have friends with the same needs.  And the beauty of online marketing is the fact that people can share easily, which makes your message go further than you ever thought possible.

You can also provide people with the opportunity to sign up for your newsletter in order to get more content.  (Sign up for my newsletter here.)  When people invite you to contact them, then you can provide more content, along with targeted marketing messages that continue to move prospects down your sales funnel.  And this is the foundation for successful online marketing.

So what do you think?  How are you using content marketing for your business?  Would love to read your comments below!  And if you’re looking for more opportunities to learn how to use social media for your direct sales business, don’t miss my FREE call Thursday! Click here for all the details.

Cheers!
Jennifer

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woman_computer_parkAs a direct sales executive or salesperson, it is important to read and comment on other blogs targeted at your niche.  I’m often asked why this is.  There are several reasons why this approach can be beneficial for your business.

  1. Visibility - When you comment on other people’s blogs, you become known in the space.  Especially when the blog is well-known to your niche, and has a lot of traffic, every comment you make provides you with visibility, both to the author of the blog (who is influential), as well as to the readers.  The more often you comment, the more visible you are.  Believe me, blog writers know who the regular commentors are.
  2. Knowledge -  There are incredible ideas being generated right now, across the blog-o-sphere.  And those ideas MAY be the ideas that your niche is accepting as the latest and greatest truth.  If you’re not aware of those ideas, you may miss the boat and appear uninformed.  Not to mention the fact that when you write your own blog posts with your take on those great ideas, you are contributing to a larger conversation, giving you credibility.  Plus, it just plain old gives you more ideas as to what to write about on your blog.
  3. Incoming Links – Every time you make a comment on another blog, you have the opportunity to include a link to your own site.  Each one of those links is counted by search engines, which can improve your search engine ranking.
  4. Relationships - It is imperative to your business and brand that you build a good reputation online.  One of the most powerful ways to do this is through your participation in online communities where you build relationships.  Well, some of the most popular blogs in your space are an extended part of those communities, and when you contribute your thoughts to a discussion through the comments on those blogs, you are engaging the community and building relationships.  And that gives you credibility that will benefit your business.

Commenting on other blogs can be a powerful, effective part of your overall online media strategy.  By contributing to the conversations going on within your niche, you gain credibility which establishes you as a thought leader people will consider when they have a need for your product or service.  That said, do NOT use the comments in other blogs for self-promotion…that will simply irritate people and get you categorized as SPAM.  But by providing thoughtful commentary relevant to the topic of each blog post, you can greatly benefit your business.

What do you think?  Do you read and comment on other blogs?  How has it helped you?  Would love to read your comments below!

And if you’ve found this post helpful, why not sign up for my newsletter?  Lots more good stuff like this is provided, along with information about my upcoming training events.

Cheers!

Jennifer Fong

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A blog can be a powerful tool for the direct seller.  Your “home base” on the web, it is the foundation of a content marketing strategy.

by mangpages

by mangpages

How can a blog benefit a direct sales business?

  1. There may be many consultants out there that sell the same product that you do.  How do you set yourself apart?  By providing free, actionable content that gives real value to your prospects.  When you connect with people on social networking sites now, where do you send them?  To your company-provided website?  That’s not personal, and it doesn’t give people the chance to understand the benefit they get when they shop with you, specifically.  By sending people first to a blog, you have the opportunity to provide value that helps people know, like, and trust you.  You can also use your blog to encourage prospects to sign up for your newsletter, which helps them move down your sales or recruiting funnel. (You can sign up for my newsletter here.) Instead of just a one-time sale, you gain the potential for a life-long customer who connects with you on a personal level.
  2. You establish yourself as a thought leader when your blog, that people want to refer.  Who would you rather purchase from?  Someone who sells stuff they can answer only basic questions about, or someone who is passionate about the type of product that they sell, and can give you excellent guidance as you learn about it yourself?  In person, you can share that passion face to face at a party.  But online, the way you share your passion is through your blog.  People get a real sense of who you are and why it would be great to do business with you.  And if your content is truly valuable without feeling “sales-y”, people are more likely to take advantage of the viral nature of the internet, and share your blog with their friends.  It’s a win-win.
  3. You gain a far reach.  The internet is vast, and there are potentially millions of people that you can connect with at any given moment.  Through your blog you can share ideas, photos, videos, live streaming video…you name it!  Even though you may be far apart from your prospects, you still have the opportunity to personalize the experience of shopping with you.  That’s part of the beauty of the direct sales model.  Rather than a nameless, faceless website, your customers get the benefit of getting to know the real you.  You can meet their needs one on one in a way a faceless corporate can never hope to!  Use your blog as that connecting point, and you’ll gain customers that adore you, even if they’re half a world away!

There are so many free blog platforms out there now, that it costs nothing to start a blog except for time.  By employing a blogging strategy, and direct seller can reap many benefits that capture the beauty and essence of the direct sales model, while taking advantage of the far reach that social media and the internet provides.

What do you think?  How is a blog helping your business?  Would love to hear about your experiences in the comments!

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Today’s post is the next in a series discussing the successes direct sales professionals are experiencing through the use of social media.

I conducted a poll a few weeks ago asking direct sellers what social media tools they are currently using. 37% said they use Facebook, 23% are using Twitter, 23% use LinkedIn, and 17% are using other niche-specific tools.  All of these tools can help you find success in social media, and it’s so important to define your goals in order to use each social networking tool effectively in direct sales.  You’ll read how one direct seller is using some of these tools below.

I’m so excited to share today’s story with you.  This is an email I received from a subscriber to this blog (you can subscribe by clicking here), and I left it intact so you can hear it in her own words.  I love that Melissa has shared the specifics of what she has done, because I think it provides great value for those seeking guidance on applying social media to a direct sales business.  If you would like to share your story, please email it to me! You may be featured here as well.

Melissa Laverty

Melissa Laverty

Jen-
First, let me say, that I have learned so much about social media and how it can help my direct sales business from you; so thank you.  In fact, I recently promoted to Senior Executive Manager because of social media.  The solutions that have most positively impacted my business are Twitter, my blog, and Ustream.  They all work in tandem.

I update my blog daily.  This is how I am able to establish a ”relationship” with my online customers.  It is here they can learn more about me and my business and decide if they want to do business with me.  A new recruit told me that she wanted to sign up with me because my About Me blurb reads, “I’ve been a Close to My Heart consultant for over two years and have loved every minute of it”.  She said she wanted to have that feeling, too.

Recently, I had a customer come to me from the UK because of my blog.  The most important thing I have learned about blogging for your business is that you HAVE to use keywords in your titles.  This is what will drive searches to your blog, and therefore allow you to acquire new visitors & hopefully customers.

I have set up my blog to “auto-tweet” so that when I have added a post, it automatically gets sent to Twitter.  I follow scrapbookers in the hopes that they will follow me and then check out my blog.

I also have a search set up on TweetDeck for “scrapbooking” & CTMH.  This way when someone posts a question or comment about either one of those things, I can respond as an expert.  Recently, there was a post from a woman who was looking for a good online resource for acrylic albums.  I directed the Tweet-er to my Shop Online site, and she purchased two.  I have sent an Idea Book to another Tweeter who scrapbooks weekly with her friends and has never used my company’s product.

Finally, I conducted a UStream webinar that I promoted through my blog and Twitter.  The purpose was to host an Online Opportunity meeting.  I told the attendees about the consultant opportunity and presented to them the contents of the new consultant kit.  I had about 6 attendees, and 1, from Alaska, choose to join my team.  (I’m in Virginia, so this would have never happened without Social Media.)

That’s my story so far.  I’m so excited to have even these few success stories because I know it will just continue to grow.

Sincerely -
Melissa Laverty, Close To My Heart Consultant
http://fancymelissa.myctmh.com
http://fancymelissa.blogspot.com

Thanks Melissa for sharing your story!  You are an inspiration.  Keep up the great work!

Jennifer Fong

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Direct sellers, and direct sales companies, have you thought about how a blog can help your business?  I found a very interesting article on the she-conomy blog today, which discusses how women use blogs to share recommendations and advice.  The whole article is here: http://she-conomy.com/2008/10/27/why-women-trust-blogs/

Some interesting facts from the article:

  • 36.2 million women actively participate in the blogosphere every week, either writing blogs or reading and commenting on them.
  • HALF of the women surveyed say that blogs influence their purchasing decisions.

With facts like these, it’s clear that direct selling companies and direct sellers that blog have an advantage over those who don’t.  By serving as a trusted resource for information, women (who make 85% of a household’s purchasing decisions) are more likely to purchase your product.  They are also more likely to recommend useful blogs to friends, which expands your reach as a direct seller.

Social media, including blogs, in so many ways mirrors what we currently do as direct sellers.  Think about it: when women sit at a home party, what do they do?  They learn from the consultant, give opinions to one another on the products, and are ultimately led to make a purchasing decision.  In the online world, the consultant provides information through a blog, prospects share their opinions through online communities, and ultimately people make purchasing decisions.  These conversations can happen over longer periods of time, however, and people don’t have to be present to be part of the conversation, since it’s available online 24/7.

To learn more about blogging and other ways to use social media to build your growing direct sales business, check out my upcoming training events by clicking here.

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