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Posts Tagged ‘marketing’

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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dsa-meeting-jen_talk_show_small

Jennifer speaking at the 2008 DSA Annual Meeting

In 2008, I spoke on the main stage of the Direct Selling Association’s (DSA) Annual Meeting in front of 1,000 or so direct sales executives, and stated that I believe that social media is the future of direct sales.  There are so many parallels between what we do as direct sellers, and how social media operates.  What are some of the activities of a successful direct seller?  Networking, Providing valuable information, Developing relationships which lead to people buying our products and joining our teams.  And these are all activities that lead to successful social media marketing as well.

On a call I did yesterday with the beautiful Sarah Robinson of Direct Selling Leaders, I shared that most people don’t walk around with a sign around their necks that says “I’m looking for an opportunity.”  They also don’t walk around with a sign that says they are looking for products like ours to solve their problems.  However, in social media forums, people DO talk about their problems and needs, and when we do targeted searches and build relationships with people, this makes it very easy for us as direct sellers to specifically reach out to those people that ARE interested.  And that greatly improves our success rate.

So here are some specific things that I believe social media can do for a direct sales business:

  • FIND PROSPECTS who are looking for your products and opportunity right now
  • Provide BETTER CUSTOMER SERVICE than you ever thought possible
  • Position yourself as an EXPERT that people go to for product recommendations
  • BUILD COMMUNITIES of people that want what you have to offer, and who will refer their friends to you
  • SUPPORT YOUR GROWING TEAM members, and help them learn from one another
  • Grow professionally as you LEARN from the best of the best

All of this will result in additional income for your business.

Now it’s important to note, this does not REPLACE your core business activities: booking parties, selling products, recruiting new distributors.  Rather, it enhances these, because social media gives you access to MORE PEOPLE.  It also enables you to specifically target your niche market through keyword searches, so your efforts are more efficient and productive.

So what do you think?  Are you using social media marketing for your direct sales business?  What results have you seen?  I would love to read your thoughts in the comments below!  And if you’d like to receive more articles about how social media marketing can help your business, why not sign up for my newsletter?

Cheers!
Jennifer

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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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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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While there are many tools available for social media marketing and social networking, the biggies that emerge are Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.  While it may be tempting to view these tools as all pretty much the same thing, they have distinct differences, and as a direct sales professional, it is important to understand this difference.

by shashiBellamkonda

by shashiBellamkonda

First, a definition.  Social networking tools enable people to communicate with one another online.  People can set up profiles, find others with similar interests, and then build relationships.  As a direct sales professional, a great profile can be the key to that successful first impression that leads to a long-term relationship and prospects for your business.

But too often, I see people treating these tools as if they are all the same, and I think this is a mistake.  Tools such as TweetDeck and ping.fm exacerbate this problem, allowing people to update various tools with the same status update, all at once.  The problem with this approach is that different tools attract different kinds of people, and so you should consider using these tools for very different purposes, especially when you begin your foray into social networking and social media marketing.

For example, Facebook is an EXCELLENT tool for connecting or reconnecting with family and friends, and developing deeper relationships that are further strengthened by face to face meetings.  Facebook’s unique ability to suggest friends based on your information makes it easy to connect with people you haven’t spoken with in a long time.  And that, along with Facebook Pages, gives you a great platform to make your business more visible.

Compare that with Twitter, which is primarily for meeting NEW people.  I find that most people that use Twitter are business people.  This is a much better tool for finding people interested in joint ventures, business arrangements, and information (preferably free.)  People here have their own language, with # and @ symbols that confuse the heck out of people that don’t use Twitter.  So when people automatically import their Twitter status update into Facebook, they’ve already lost half their audience.  And the people that do understand your secret code have already seen that status update in Twitter…they don’t need to see it in Facebook too.

LinkedIn is comprised mainly of professionals supporting one another in business.  It’s a great tool for finding potential business builders to join your direct sales team.  But if you’re pushing your products here, you’re not likely to find much success.  You’ll have greater success here by interacting in the groups and providing value to others.

By mindfully using status updates and other interactions that fit the social networking tool and audience that you’re targeting, you’ll experience more success than if you try to use a one size fits all approach.  And that’s why it’s so important to clearly understand your social media goals and your targeted niche market before selecting the social networking tools you’ll use.

What do you think?  What tools do you use, and how do you use them?  What kind of success have you experienced?  I would love to hear your thoughts below!

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home-jewelry-party-largeIf you’re in direct sales, as either a direct seller or a corporate executive, you know what I’m referring to in the title of this post.  The pity purchase is the purchase a customer makes at a party because they feel that they should buy SOMETHING.  So they locate the cheapest item in the catalog and buy it.  If you’re a direct seller that depends on pity purchases to build your business, you are not creating a sustainable business model, and I dare say that if you’re not creating value for your customer, you will not be in business long.

When you begin to market your business through social media marketing, you need to realize that you’ve entered a realm where the pity purchase does not exist.  Not to mention, the pity purchaser is not a repeat purchaser.  People have a vast array of products available to them, and they can comparison shop to their hearts’ content.  They can compare product features, costs, shipping, and more.  They can read what other people have had to say about each product their considering.  In short, if you’re not providing a superior value at a decent price, it’s hard to compete.

So how do you use social media marketing to your advantage in this type of environment?  First, you become someone that provides value for free.  Yes you heard me.  For free.  How do you do this?  My favorite way is through a blog, just like this one.  Give out tips, advice, links, guidance, and more, that can be immediately implemented.  Why do you do this?  Because you position yourself as an expert, and you build relationships with your readers.  A purchase (or a recruit) is more likely when a person knows, likes, and trusts you.  So provide valuable content, related to your product line, and you will find that people will come read your content, and will refer their friends to you as well.

Once you’ve established yourself as an expert that provides value, give people a chance to get more from you, and get to know you. This can be through social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, through your newsletter, or through communities that you build in places such as Facebook groups.  By giving people a chance to interact with one another, with you at the center seeding conversations and providing value, you continue to provide people with a reason to trust you.  So when you do make product recommendations, or talk about your opportunity, people have a reason to listen to you.  Help THEM first.  Then they’ll consider what you have to offer.

Finally, once you’ve got people signed up for your newsletter, or participating in your groups, gently provide them with the oppotunity to be introduced to your company and your product line.  Make special offers, just for them.  Provide online events (such as online wine/food pairing chats, decorating ideas chat, online party, etc.) that give education as well as the opportunity to buy.

By investing some time in providing value, you build a sustainable business model that does not rely on the “pity purchase.”  And that’s a business that you can feel good about.

What do you think?  How has this strategy worked for your business?  I would love to read your comments below!

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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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Social Media is Great for Team Building!Social media can be an incredible tool for building and supporting your direct sales team.  One of the ways to build long-term income in a direct selling business is through recruiting other sellers and supporting them.  Your compensation for building and supporting your team is the commissions that you earn on your team’s sales, and this provides more income than you can earn through your own sales alone.  As your team becomes larger, however, it can become challenging to meet your team’s needs, while building your own personal business at the same time.  Social media can help with this.

Here are some social media tools that can be used for building and supporting a team.

  1. Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn: Social networking tools such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn are excellent for finding people that may be interested in your business opportunity.  Now this is not license for you to SPAM people.  However, as you share delight in your successes, enthusiasm for your business events, and your love for your customers and team, you will naturally attract others who may want to learn more. 

    You can also use groups on Facebook and LinkedIn that are dedicated to people looking for work, and build relationships/provide valuable content there.  By participating as a relationship-builder and giver in these forums, people who are good prospects for your business opportunity will be interested in learning more.  And don’t forget to use searching tools to specifically identify those people who are interested in your product line!  People who are interested in your products are often your best prospects for the opportunity.

  2. Your Blog: A blog is such an incredible tool for your direct sales business.  It is a place you can provide content of interest to prospective customers, and is your home base for building relationships with people.  Your blog is also a valuable tool for team-building.  By providing content that is of value to opportunity-seekers, you become a trusted resource that attracts people to your business. 

    A separate blog can also be valuable for your team, providing team information, incentives, links, and a place to ask questions and make comments.  Imagine being able to provide your team with articles specifically dedicated to skills your team is currently working on building!  Blogs make it possible for you to provide that content without having to email everyone, worrying about spam blockers, etc.  You can provide a central location that your team can learn to come to as they need information.  Because all the information is archived on your blog, you can also send team members to specific information as they need it, providing a valuable library of topics that will be of benefit to your team for a long time. 

    And because blogs are easy to set up and maintain, they eliminate the need to go to the expense of setting up a personal website for your team.  Instead, you can set up an attractive blog with a few clicks, and provide all the resources your team needs in one place. 

  3. Groups - A Facebook group can be another valuable tool you can use to support your team.  Facebook makes it possible to set up “Secret” groups that are not available to the general public.  Your team members must be invited by you into the secret group, and this provides an excellent forum for team members to learn from and support one another.  As your team gets large, you may feel like you are answering the same questions over and over.  Imagine being able to send your team members to a central location for the answers!  You can set up a series of frequently asked questions on the discussion board of your group, and add to these as necessary. 

    Your team members can also use your group to support one another.  If someone has a question and you are not available, she can post her question to the group, and other team members can share what they’ve learned.  The collective wisdom of your team can help you build a stronger team than you ever thought possible!  And social media enables that sharing. 

By employing social media tools that your team can access, and then teaching your team how to make the best use of those tools, you can be more efficient and effective in your team building.  Your team will develop closer relationships with one another, and that will naturally attract more people to your team.  Social media makes it possible.

Are you a leader in direct sales?  How are you using social media to build and support your team?  Did you get some ideas from this article?  What are you going to implement?  I’d love to read your ideas in the comments below!

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Blogs are everywhere these days.  Chances are, if you’ve done a Google search lately, you’ve come up with blog posts containing answers to your questions.  Blogs are becoming an increasingly GREAT source of information on a large number of subjects.

If you are a direct seller, you should seriously consider blogging.  Why?  Because when people are searching for answers, you want them to find YOU.  Not to mention the fact that blogging is a FANTASTIC way to build a raving fan base that refers their friends, joins your mailing list, and gives you credibility as an expert.  And at the end of the day, who will people want to buy from?  Someone who provides them with value and a solution to their problems, or someone that just sells stuff?  This is a competitive advantage you will gain over other direct sellers when you blog.

I’m holding a live free call Thursday, 4/2 called Blogging for Direct Sales Professionals.  It’s at 12 noon, Eastern, and even if you can’t make the live call, we’ll send you a link to the recording as long as your register.  You can do that here: http://cli.gs/dEz1jj On the call, I’ll be talking about how to make a blog work specifically for your direct sales business, along with some of my favorite tools to make a blog work for your business.

Here is a great list of blog posts on the subject of blogging by Chris Brogan, who is a master of all things blogs.  You can check out his list here: http://www.chrisbrogan.com/my-best-advice-about-blogging/ (Good stuff here!)

I started my own business with a blog, and it has helped me meet some amazing people, and given me opportunities I never dreamed possible.  A blog can help your business too, and the only investment you need to make initially is time.

Do you blog?  Why or why not?  Has it helped your business?  I’d love to hear your comments and questions on this topic!

Jennifer Fong

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There are so many reasons why social media is good for a direct sales business.  There are so many things social media can do to help you grow your business in a powerful way:

  • FIND PROSPECTS who are looking for your products and opportunity right now!

  • Provide BETTER CUSTOMER SERVICE than you ever thought possible

  • Position yourself as an EXPERT that people go to for product recommendations

  • BUILD COMMUNITIES of people that want what you have to offer, and who will refer their friends to you

  • SUPPORT YOUR GROWING TEAM members, and help them learn from one another

  • Grow professionally as you LEARN from the best of the best

All of this results in additional income for your business.

There are a number of online tools that can make it easier for you to use social media effectively.  Some of my favorites include:

Facebook

Friend Lists in Facebook

Friend Lists in Facebook

  • Friend Lists – This feature of Facebook enables you to group the content from your friends in meaningful ways.  As a direct seller, this is a great feature, because you can make sure to keep up with the content, and build relationships with your targeted niche.  You won’t miss their content because of a very active feed.  The best part is that you don’t need to download anything.  It’s already built into your Facebook account.  Just click the Friends link at the top, and start sorting!

Twitter

  • TweetDeck – This is a great tool that can be used to sort your Twitter stream.  As you begin to gain more and more people that you follow on Twitter, the number of comments flying by can get a little
    TweetDeck

    TweetDeck

    overwhelming.  And since there are specific people and search phrases that you really want to pay attention to as you build your business, TweetDeck is a FABULOUS tool to help you keep up.

  • Twellow – Dubbed the “Yellow Pages of Twitter,” Twellow is a fabulous search tool that helps you find people in your targeted niche market to follow.  Simply enter the key phrases that your targeted niche is most likely to include in a profile, and a list of Twitter users will appear.  Browse the list, and choose who to follow!
  • Twitter Search – Another great way to search for people and topics important to your targeted niche.  Twitter search enables you to search conversations.

Blogs

  • Feedburner – Feedburner allows you to set up an RSS feed for your blog.  This means that the people who read your blog and like the content can be automatically notified, either through a feed reader or through email, when you update your blog.  Some of you have already signed up for this service on my blog.  It’s a great tool because it lets you know how “sticky” your blog is…how many readers want to come back for more.  And that helps you produce better content.

AutoResponders

  • Did you know that it takes 7-15 times for someone to hear from you before they purchase from your website?  Now if you’ve been in direct sales, you know the effort it takes just to do the regular follow up needed for your party customers.  How are you going to keep up with contacting the right people at the right time with the right messages in the right order?  It gets overwhelming!
    My Favorite Autoresponder

    My Favorite Autoresponder

    Fortunately, technology comes the rescue again, through the use of Autoresponders.  When someone signs up for your mailing list on your blog, you can have a series of emails, already in place, pre-written, that they receive on a regular schedule.  This might take the form of an e-course, valuable info, a newsletter, or some other information.  The point is, when people start receiving info of value from you, they start to trust that your emails have value, and they’re more likely to read them.  Then, when you make a product recommendation at the bottom of the occasional email, it’s taken a LOT more seriously.  Trust me, if you are considering marketing your business online, you NEED an autoresponder.

    I spent a LOT of time looking through autoresponder programs, trying to pick the best one.  After a lot of time, I’ve finally decided on AWeber.  It’s got the most user-friendly features and templates, and it makes your life a LOT easier, once you get it set up.  And for less than $20/month, it’s TOTALLY worth the investment.  Click here to check it out.

So that’s my summary of tools that I think are great when you’re implementing your social media strategy.  You don’t want so many tools that you get overwhelmed.  But by making careful, informed decisions about selected tools, you can be more efficient and effective, saving you time while reaping the benefits of social media for your business.

What do you think of these tools?  Do you have other recommendations?  I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

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