Tonight I’m leading a training for our consultants on direct sales online parties.
Since the whole concept of online parties is relatively new to me as well, I decided to do some research. The website momchats.com provides a great, free online chat room for parties, so this seemed like a good place to start. I looked at the schedule and logged in at the appointed time. When I logged in, there was only 1 other person there, and she was looking for a parenting chat. It was only after she started talking to me that the consultant finally showed up (a good 30 minutes after the party was scheduled to start). Then the consultant gave me her website link and that was pretty much it. No games, no discussion. I asked a few questions about products, and I had to ask 2-3 times, and wait forever for an answer. Very disappointing experience. And the consultant told me she holds 6-8 online parties a month!
Here are some conclusions I have drawn from my first foray into the online party experience:
- Get RSVPs. It is so easy to use a free service like evites.com to find out if people are coming to your party. And if you’re not getting RSVPs, that tells you that you need to do more advertising/inviting for your party.
- Make sure everyone understands how to use the tool. This goes back to my experience as an instructional designer when virtual classroom technology first came out. You can almost always assume that there is someone at your party that’s never been in a chatroom before, especially if they’re attending from your warm lead list. Take a couple of minutes at the beginning of the party to point out the features of the chat room so people don’t waste time trying to figure out how to communicate. Because if they’re trying to figure out the tool, they’re not listening to you. When I was in the chat room I kept getting private messages from the mom who wanted the parenting chat, and I didn’t know how to turn it off. Very distracting.
- Encourage your guests to keep the sound ON in the chat room. That way, when you’ve sent them to your website to play a game, they will know when you want them to come back, because they’ll hear it when you post something in the room.
- Especially if you are a slow typist, have your script typed up so you can copy and paste the main content. If people have to wait a century for you to answer their questions, they’ll be gone. You’ll also want to have a list of links you’ll send people to during the party, so you can cut and paste them as well.
- Offer specials if people order by a certain time. You really want to encourage sales while people are in the moment, because they probably won’t order if they have to come back later. So encourage people to order by midnight or something like that to take advantage of your specials.
- Don’t shoot yourself in the foot by offering to send samples/catalogs/other info before asking people to order NOW. One of the parties I attended, the consultant offered to send samples before I even had a chance to look at her site. She basically assumed I wouldn’t buy now, and guess what? I didn’t. Even though I had fully intended to.
- Games are essential. Don’t just send people to your site without an activity. You want them to interact with your website in a meaningful way, and then have a reason to come back to the chat room. Offer prizes to get people involved (it can be as simple as a discount on a purchase that night) and give them something fun to do. I think one of the mistakes we make as consultants is that we forget our basics in an online chat room. Just like a live party, if people aren’t having fun, they’ll buy less and they CERTAINLY won’t book a party with you. A thriving business depends on a fun party, so if your parties aren’t fun, go back to the drawing board.
I’m sure I’ll have plenty more conclusions as I continue to explore this topic (and I’ll write about them here). Online parties can be such a great tool to use to build your business and get sales. One of the best things about them is that typical online parties are held weeknights, whereas live parties often do better on weeekends. So if you have a multi-pronged approach to your business, you have double the chances to earn income.
But it does take planning if you want to do it right.
If you’d like to learn more about online parties, you are invited to attend my training tonight (FREE) at 9pm Eastern. Simply click here http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1191894950&ref=profile#/event.php?eid=54319631966&ref=mf to RSVP for the event tonight, include your email, and I’ll send you the info. You can also email me at jennifer at learningisanart.com and I’ll send you the info.