I am greatly enjoying the comments and feedback I’m receiving from those who are reading my blog. Keep ‘em coming. I think the direct sales industry needs the debate in order to move into the future.
I was talking to my new Twitter BFF @DonnaSpeaks (check out her great website at http://www.donnaljohnson.com/) and she shared with me that she thinks that people need a basic introduction to social networking, and a definition, if they’re going to use it effectively. Mark Bosworth’s comment to my post the other day also got me thinking: if direct sellers simply think that social marketing is a way to a quick buck, they’re missing the point.
Think about it…what do we encourage our successful in-person consultants to do? Have you ever watched the best of them? Go to a DSWA (Direct Selling Women’s Alliance) meeting sometime and see what they do. Network, connect with people, build relationships. Relationships are not just about selling your widget. Relationships are about building meaningful connections with people, so when they have a need for your widget, they’ll think of you.
I went to Damon Gaylor’s website (thanks for the comments Damon, http://www.truestarservices.com) and I found it quite relevant that this is what he lists as the benefits of direct selling:
|Benefits of Direct Selling|
Research shows some of the most popular reasons people choose direct selling are:
- Direct selling is a good way to meet and socialize with people.
- Direct selling offers flexible work schedules.
- Direct selling is a good way to earn extra income.
- Direct selling is a good way to own a business.
- Earnings are in proportion to efforts.
How interesting that one of the very first reasons people choose direct selling is because they can meet and socialize with people. This brings be back to my point from a couple days ago: 11% of all web visits are to social networking sites. You can meet and socialize with people there, not to mention learn a tremendous amount.
Let me put it in terms of ROI for companies. Let’s say that companies have direct sellers join digitally (running the business exclusively online) and they pay a website subscription of around $10/month. Well they’re most likely going to want to sell enough to at least meet their subscription fee. If your base commission is 25%, they’re going to probably sell at least $50/month. I believe that’s in line with your experiences Mark. So the company benefits from the profit on that regular sale (and my experience is that many in-person consultants, without a monthly cost, aren’t that consistent), as well as the website subscription fee. So maybe the company is making $20/month as a result of the efforts of that one digital consultant, if they do just the minimum. If you’re just talking about 1 consultant, that may be small potatoes, but multiply that across 10,000 consultants and you see the impact. And if the company trains that person to do online parties and market online in other ways, you’re going to see them with higher sales and greater recruiting.
The other thing we’ve found in this economy is that $100+ for a traditional consultant kit is more than a lot of people have. But a low entry fee with a monthly charge (that they can earn) attached is a lot more palatable. This gives you the option of recruiting more people than a solely traditional model allows. And it can be a good springboard for them to earn the more expensive kit once they’ve started making money with you.
So this takes me back to Social Media Marketing and what it is (and isn’t). Social Media Marketing is a way to network with people, build relationships, and ultimately make the connections that can result in a thriving business. No, it doesn’t happen overnight, it doesn’t with any kind of networking exercise. But it does happen. And the consultant is richer for the networking experience, both in terms of cash as well as friendships and information.
The consultant that begins to embrace social media marketing needs to know that you can’t start with “Hi my name is X…buy my widget.” People will “unfollow” you faster than you can say “BOO.” There was just a conversation about this yesterday on Twitter, and it’s true. Direct sales is getting a bit of a bad name on Twitter because too many consultants are missing the point. Consultants, listen up: It is not all about you and your widget. If you’re looking for a quick buck, do a home party (although online parties are gaining traction too…but I digress.) Some people are very good at them. But if you’re interested in growing relationships, learning from others, getting better at what you do, and enjoying the experience along the way, then consider investing your time into social media marketing.
By building relationships first, people will be more interested in what you have to offer. And you will walk away richer too, from all you’ve learned.