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Posts Tagged ‘ROI’

CB104391What leads to success in social media marketing?  As a direct sales professional, this is a fair question to ask as you weigh the time commitments involved against the expected return on investment.  Is social media going to provide the results that you hope for?  How long will it take?  Is it worth the effort?

As a social media consultant and trainer, I have the opportunity to work with both companies and individuals as they plan and implement a social media strategy.  And I have noticed a real indicator of success.  In fact, within 24 hours of working with a company or individual, I can pretty much tell you who is going to experience the most immediate success.  Perhaps it’s not so earth shattering or surprising what the key is.  What I have noticed is that those people who will be successful in social media is that they are willing to TAKE ACTION.

Makes sense, doesn’t it?  People who are willing to dive in head first, once they understand the benefits of social media for their business, are the ones who will be successful.  They don’t worry or let fear hold them back.  Instead, they start smart: identify objectives and narrowly focus on a specific target market.  They choose the tools that will help them meet their objectives.  And then they dive in with confidence, focused more on connecting with others than they are on what they might do wrong.

I was recently working with a direct sales company on their social media strategy, and before I was out the door they were already assigning action items to staff.  Before a week was up they already had a plan and a presence in social media, and within a week their Facebook fan page already had over 200 fans.

On an individual level, I have a student in one of my social media classes who downloads all the materials BEFORE the class session (I post them 24 hours before each class) and works through the materials before coming to class.  That way he’s already familiar with the application we’re talking about that week, and he’ll get even more from that week’s session.  He also knows the right questions to ask, and is ready to put himself out there so he can be successful.

In both of these scenarios, it’s the TAKE ACTION companies and individuals who will be the most successful.  Are things new?  Absolutely!  But with a plan in place and the instruction to back it up, these people are willing to focus on the goal, and as a result are displaying the confidence necessary to get the job done well.  Social media is all about jumping in and experiencing it, and also projecting the confidence which leads to success.  By avoiding hesitation and getting started in a smart way, people and companies are setting themselves up for success.

What do you think?  How does this relate to your start in social media?  Would love to read your comments below!

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Social media marketing is changing the direct sales landscape.  For anyone paying attention, it is obvious that the companies and individual home based consultants that are employing a comprehensive social media strategy are seeing results.  Direct sales companies and consultants can make money using this new media, when taking advantage of the viral marketing and conversational elements of these sales techniques.  An excellent example of a company employing a successive social media strategy is Scentsy.

coverI had the privilege of interviewing Scentsy’s Web Marketing Strategist, Dave Sattler, and John Curtis, PR Strategist, last week, and finding out how social media marketing has been instrumental in the success that Scentsy has experienced.

Scentsy was founded in 2004, and currently has around 30,000 consultants.  It has experienced phenomenal growth, which the company largely attributes to its culture of empowering its consultants.  Orville Thompson, founder and CEO of Scentsy, believes strongly that it is the consultants that built Scentsy, and the company puts a lot of trust and equity in the hands of its consultants.

So what does this have to do with social media?  Everything.  One thing that I noticed while interviewing Dave and John is the trust that Scentsy puts in its consultants to use social media in ways that are beneficial to the business, without detracting.  “Our consultants are our main evangelists,” says Dave.  “We want to give them the tools that they need to be successful.  Viral is free on the Internet. By giving your evangelists a recruiting video to share online, you amplify the spreadability of that tool beyond what distributors can do with handouts.  It’s a lot more comfortable to share a video online than to hand someone a CD and send them home to watch it.

scentsy_utube

Scentsy's YouTube Channel

“We don’t really define what our consultants can and can’t do (online.)  Instead, we provide what’s easy for them to do, and a large majority will do that.  For example, we provide videos that are easy to share on YouTube.  And then we really trust our consultants with our brand equity, and allow them a lot of flexibility.  What we’ve noticed is that most people do what’s easy.”  So by making it easy for consultants to use company-provided social media tools, Scentsy is able to provide a consistent message that builds its brand while empowering its consultants.

Even with its flexible approach, Scentsy still provides policies and procedures that guide what its consultants can do online.  For example, Scentsy allows its consultants to have one website beyond the company’s replicated website.  The return on investment (ROI) is that these sites send traffic to the corporate-provided sites.  Scentsy consultants must register their sites for review, but Dave states that the company has not had a problem with inappropriate content.  “Our consultants want to have sites that benefit their businesses.  We have the same goal,” he says.

Scentsy's Facebook Page

Scentsy's Facebook Page

The Scentsy approach balances the core business of parties with online tools.  Dave notes that many of their consultants do very little online.  Scentsy makes online tools available to its consultants, without pushing them.  “Those (consultants) on the internet that want to use the tools will find them.”  “Scentsy intentionally steers clear of defining how consultants should manage their Scentsy businesses. We don’t want to give the impression that they need to operate their business by tweeting or Facebooking.

“We provide trainings at different stages of a consultant’s career with Scentsy.  At the most appropriate stage, we go into Web Marketing tools they can use to connect with and build their team.”

The tools that Scentsy currently provides to their consultants that seem to provide the most value include:

In addition to using social media to share its message, Scentsy also taps into the power of online conversations to gather market insights.  “Valuable insights are available by engaging on the web – brand perception, demographic data about your evangelists, and insights for product development,” says Dave.

It is clear that Scentsy invests a good amount of resources into its social media strategy.  Dave invests most of his hours in the company’s social media work, and there are also in-house copywriters, web designers, and the art direction team that all contribute to the social media resources that the company makes available.  Yet these resources are also shared among other facets of the business.  Dave notes that social media is deeply integrated with the company’s overall marketing strategy…thus the sharing of resources.

Scentsy's Safe Candles Corporate Blog

Scentsy's Safe Candles Corporate Blog

So how does Scentsy measure its ROI?  Dave says, “We are still working on fine-tuning an accurate ROI model for social media. Web traffic, Twitter followers, and Facebook fans don’t translate directly into ROI. It is hard to know how many of the tools we provide in the social media sphere are used by consultants to find sales or recruit. With no conversion to the site’s objectives, traffic is useless.

“What we are doing is using web analytics to understand what drives traffic and to observe conversion rates. We are currently developing ways to make a tighter correlation between our web marketing and an ROI.  We should be able to better understand what the most valuable tools are for consultants. Beyond that, we follow interactions and usage down a weighted funnel:

  1. Engagement:  How much of what is published is followed, viewed, or shared?
  2. Behavior:  How much of what is shared drives traffic to the conversion site?
  3. Conversion:  How much of traffic converts, e.g. buys, hosts, joins?
  4. Loyalty:  How many that convert then recommend?”

As a result of its social media strategy, here are just some of the results that Scentsy has experienced:

  1. Scentsy’s Facebook fan page has more than 6,000 fans. (Recently Scentsy posted its company convention as an event on its fan page, and over 1/3 of the people coming to convention this year confirmed their attendance on the page.  This provides valuable market research data to Scentsy even before people actually register.)
  2. Sales from online events have increased. (Scentsy provides replicated websites for its consultants that allow customers to assign a purchase to a specific party.)
  3. Several of Scentsy’s social media sites are in the Top 10 sources for traffic to its corporate site. Says Dave, “Those that come from social spaces do spend more time and look at more pages than other referrers.”

One of the biggest recommendations that Dave shares for other direct selling companies considering a social media strategy is to realize that “social media is just one part of a broader Web marketing strategy.”

So what are some social media mistakes that Dave suggests companies should avoid?

  1. Not using web analytics on everything you do.  Put some kind of web metrics tool on your sites so you can see how it is relevant to other web traffic out there.
  2. Creating sites void of conversion objectives. It’s important to have a clear idea about what you want visitors to a particular site to do.  Without conversion objectives, the site does not provide value to your overall marketing strategy.
  3. Taking on web marketing without a clear understanding of your core brand attributes and the perception of your brand.  It’s hard to contribute to conversations about your brand, modify that brand, and create conversations if you don’t know what people are already thinking.
  4. Blogging just because everyone else is.  Make sure you understand ways to make it useful. There is a lot you can do with content and community that provides an ROI for your brand.

By leveraging the power of social media marketing, Scentsy is providing the industry with a model of a company poised for success with coming generations.  As more and more prospective consultants search for opportunities that allow them to leverage ALL available marketing opportunities, Scentsy is positioning itself as a leader prepared to provide its consultants with the tools they need to succeed.  This results in success for the company as a whole.

To learn more about Scentsy, visit them online at http://www.scentsy.com.

Many thanks to Scentsy for sharing their ideas so freely!  If you are a direct sales company that would like to have your company featured here, please email me. I would love to hear what you think of Scentsy’s social media marketing strategy in the comments!

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Kristen asked a great question in the comments of my last post, about how to decide what social media information to use without getting distracted.  There is a tremendous amount of information out there regarding social media, and much of it is time consuming.  The tools themselves are also time consuming, and you want to make sure you are investing your time wisely, to get the greatest return on your investment (ROI once again!)

A lot of this goes back to your social media strategy that I talked about in my last post.

What are your objectives for investing in social media in the first place?  After all, there are many things that social media can do for your business:

  • Increase brand recognition
  • Gather/respond to customer feedback
  • Find new customers (find out what potential customers are looking for)
  • Find out what your competitors are doing/saying (and what their customers are doing/saying)
  • Identify new market trends
  • Drive traffic to your website
  • Find well-qualified employees
  • Etc.

Depending on what your objectives are, this will help determine the social media tools that you use. If you are trying to drive web traffic for example, find out what social media tools others are using to drive traffic.  If you are trying to collect customer feedback, Twitter is a great place to start, but also there may be social networking sites devoted to your customer base.

I recommend that you take some time to observe what tools others in your industry/field are using.  Talk to others.  Join groups on LinkedIn and ask people what social media tools they use, and how it’s working for them.

It’s the very rare company that needs to use EVERYTHING that’s out there.  Unless you have a huge budget to invest in using all these social media tools appropriately, you are much better off targeting a few, well-chosen tools, and using them effectively, than in spreading yourself too thin.  Social media tools are only as good as the person that uses them, engaging people and developing relationships.  So find the tools the make the most sense for your organization, and then make it somebody’s job to spend the time to make those tools work for your organization.

From what I’ve observed in the direct selling industry, the tools that make the most sense are Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

  • Facebook is a great place for consultants to connect with family and friends, build relationships, and post the occasional product update.  Companies can have a corporate presence through fan pages for the company and for best-selling products, posting event information, pictures of the company’s work, etc.  Facebook Groups are a great way to connect people in our market.  Facebook is also ideal for potential customers and distributors to relate to the company on a personal level.
  • LinkedIn is a great way to connect with serious-minded distributors.  These are the business builders that take themselves seriously as professionals, and want to connect with others that are successful in direct sales.  The number of groups devoted to the subject of direct selling, and the excellent flow of information being shared, is a great resource for the distributor that wants to make serious money in her direct sales business.  My favorite group for this purpose is the DSWA group on LinkedIn.Executives in the direct selling industry also have the opportunity to learn from one another on LinkedIn.  By finding out what others in the industry have to offer through talents and experience, the industry as a whole is elevated.  I have personally experienced a great deal of value through the connections I have made in this industry through LinkedIn.
  • Twitter is perhaps the most misunderstood tool in the direct seller’s arsenal.  Let me begin by telling you what Twitter is NOT.  Twitter is NOT a tool that can be used for a quick sale, to force people to go see your latest hostess specials, or to broadcast advertisements.  Twitter IS perhaps the most brilliant networking tool ever invented.  By investing time in developing relationships, finding people that value what you have to offer, and by offering value through the flow of information, you can create a great deal of loyalty to your brand.  Let me be clear: this is NOT a quick tool.  It takes time to develop relationships.  However it is an incredible way to reach a large number of people more quickly than you could if you only tried to network exclusively face-to-face.  It also gives you insight into what people are saying, and how you can help.

    Direct sales companies should be using Twitter to understand their customers’ and distributors’ needs, and to respond.  They should be using it to alert customers to company offers (with GREAT restraint), and to offer value to their customers and distributors through the flow of information.  Twitter should be used in conjunction with a corporate blog that provides information that customers need.
    Direct sales distributors should be using Twitter to identify people that need what they have to offer.  They should provide value to these customers by answering questions, providing information, and sharing (again, with GREAT restraint) how their business can meet customers’ stated needs.

The most exciting part of this new social media explosion is the fact that we can FINALLY get a much clearer picture when it comes to what our customers need and want.  We can also more easily identify our customers through searching public profiles and conversations.  We can identify the keywords that our customers most commonly use when looking for our products and services, and then make sure that our websites and other online presences make use of these keywords regularly.

By defining a clear social media objective first, you can then craft a strategy that makes use of the right tools for the job.  If you don’t know or understand which social media tools are available, then hire someone that does, who can help you craft and implement an effective strategy that positions you well to take advantage of all the benefits that a Web 2.0 interactive experience offers.

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roi1One of the questions we need to consider as we begin to contemplate integrating social media effectively into a direct sales company is the concept of social media marketing’s return on investment (ROI). I’ve already touched on this briefly, and certainly believe we need more conversation, and even debate, on the topic.  I think that a lot more needs to be said on how we measure the value of social media ROI in the direct selling industry. We need to consider how social media marketing can influence:

  • customer satisfaction
  • brand recognition
  • increased web traffic
  • increase in online/offline sales
  • distributor satisfaction/loyalty
  • increases in distributor base due to social media training/tools

Have I missed anything?  What do you think are other things we need to take into account when determining social media ROI for the direct selling / direct sales industry?

There is a GREAT deal of discussion about social media marketing ROI on the web.  A Google search will provide you with a lot of great reading on the subject.  However, here are some links that I particularly like:

A Quick and Dirty Guide to Setting Up Social Media Monitoring: http://www.socialmediaexplorer.com/2009/02/18/a-quick-n-dirty-guide-to-setting-up-social-media-monitoring/ If you’re going to be measuring ROI, you need data.  Here is one way to get it.  It’s a beginner’s article, but if you’re looking for a place to begin, there are some great tips here.

Twitter Drives Traffic, Sales: A Case Study: http://radar.oreilly.com/2009/02/twitter-drives-traffic-sales-a.html Do you want to see how some big companies are realizing, in 1 case, a 7 figure return on investment?  Here’s a great article that explains some of how they do it.

How to Measure Social Media ROI for Business: http://mashable.com/2008/07/31/measuring-social-media-roi-for-business/ Really good info here on how to begin to craft the metrics that matter, along with some valuable links to tools you can use.

Why Big Brands Struggle with Social Media: http://mashable.com/2009/02/20/big-brands-social-media/ This article discusses how to think about social media from a corporate perspective…where it fits among traditional advertising, PR, etc, and how to implement it effectively.

I’m curious…are you considering using social media marketing in your direct selling business?  What are the returns that you’re looking for?  What would convince you that social media marketing is relevant to your business?  Looking forward to the conversation!

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I’ve been rolling around in my brain the last few weeks a post on ROI of social media and direct selling / direct sales, and how sometimes short-term ROI can cost us big time if we’re short sighted enough to ignore social media because of it.  However, then Steve Woodruff, Founder and President of Impactiviti (http://www.impactiviti.com/) shared with me this wonderful blog post that sums up a lot of what I would say: http://www.mpdailyfix.com/2008/10/return_on_whatever.html

Now this is not to say that I won’t have more to say on the subject, because I think a lot needs to be said, especially when we begin consider how social media marketing can contribute to the bottom line of a direct selling company overall.  But I think this is the first thing that needs to be said.

Thanks, Steve, for the great post.  BTW, you can follow Steve on Twitter at http://twitter.com/swoodruff.

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