Today, I’m pleased to share an interview with Lisa Robbin Young. I met Lisa through Twitter a few months back, and was honored to be invited to speak about social media at her Direct Sales Success Summit, featuring many excellent speakers who shared ideas to help direct sellers grow their businesses. In today’s post, Lisa shares some great ideas about how she’s used social media in her own direct sales business, as well as in coaching other direct sellers.
Lisa Robbin Young is a direct sales marketing coach that’s still in the trenches, selling and leading her own direct sales teams. Lisa focuses primarily on teaching direct sellers how to grow their business like a real business, instead of an expensive hobby, by marketing themselves as the go-to expert in their field. Her book, Home Party Solution, is a step-by-step 30 day guide to building a successful online presence without breaking your company’s rules. Sign up for Lisa’s free weely e-zine for direct sales professionals at http://www.homepartysolution.com.
Jennifer: Can you give us some background on your direct sales experience? How long have you been in direct sales, and what have been some of the highlights of your career?
Lisa: I’ve been a consultant with one company or another for over 12 years. The past 3 years I was with The Body Shop at Home, and now I’ve found a new home. I am now primarily a marketing coach. My direct sales business is a “lifestyle” business – meaning I’ve never done more than 1-2 parties a week (usually less). Over 70% of my sales and recruiting has been online using the internet. In January, I had 14 new recruits added to my personal team. In April, while my son was in and out of the hospital, I was still able to hit all my first month new consultant goals with only ONE party – thanks to the Internet.
Jennifer: How long have you been using social media in your business, and why did you start using social media?
Lisa: Social media is only part of my online marketing strategy. I built one of the first ever e-commerce sites back in the early 1990’s, when graphics on the web were still a newfangled thing. I set up a MySpace page for my music a few years ago, and then a personal MySpace page. I started blogging there, and eventually developed my own blog (http://lisamrobbin.blogspot.com) about 2 years ago. I migrated from MySpace to Facebook, and got caught up in the “activities” there – and had to reconsider my social media strategy (which there was none at the time). I found Twitter late last year, and haven’t looked back since. Now I’m primarily on Twitter because it’s fast, easy, and supports my lifestyle. I also maintain a fan page and group page on Facebook, post videos fairly regularly, and host my own online community for direct sellers (http://homepartysolution.com/member)I started using social media more for the social aspect of things, and quickly saw the marketing potential. Developing a strategy was the sticky part for me. (see next question)
Jennifer: What are some of the considerations that you’ve kept in mind when creating your online presence?
Lisa: My online presence spans multiple blogs, 2 websites, my consultant site, Facebook, Twitter, and others. I started with ONE thing (my website) and branched out from there. That’s huge. So many consultants want to do it all in a day – and that’s just plain impossible. Much like live networking, you simply don’t have time to do it all yourself. I had to start where I felt most comfortable, and grow from there.You have to have a strategy. I’ve posted on your blog before about this, as well as my own. I have a lot of online ‘real estate’ because online marketing is what I do. If you Google “coolest girl on the planet”, I’m usually in the top slot – that’s purely because of my marketing efforts – not because I really am the coolest girl on the planet. The online real estate that you control has the potential of making you as big a “celebrity” as you want to be – particularly with your customers. So my strategy has multiple components. Visibility, connection, value, sales, and more. Each piece weaves together with the other.Lastly, you need to know your target market. As a coach, my target market is other direct sellers. As a direct seller, my target it a customer or recruit that matches my business criteria. Really, this should be first. Once you know your market, then you know where to “shop” for them – where they hang out online. Then you can provide value and market to them – which is how I’ve created a business that is more than 70% driven by online marketing and sales.
Jennifer: Can you tell us about some of the social media tools that you’ve found most helpful in building your direct sales business online, both for sales and recruiting? How do you use them?
Lisa: Twitter is a lifesaver. It interfaces nicely with Facebook, so it does double duty for me. I keep everything sorted out with TweetDeck. Once you’re following more than 100 people, you need some way to navigate it. Twitter also cuts out all the fluff. You have to be brief – so people are more likely to listen because it’s only 120-140 characters. It’s also harder to “spam” your promotions, because people are quick to turn you off if you do. I’ve had some crazy posts on my Facebook page that you’d never see on Twitter. I use Twitter as a place to share ideas with other direct sellers. I started #dstips on Twitter, and it’s evolved into this group of people that share all the time. Twitter is a tool for target marketing, Facebook is my “developer” for that market, that feeds into my ezines, websites, and blogs. I actually have a flow chart that outlines how it all works, because if you do it well, one can feed into the other – there’s a flow both ways.
Jennifer: Please describe one specific time when social media made a big difference in your business.
Lisa: Twitter actually connected me to several direct sales coaches that have made guest appearances on my monthly training calls for my sales teams. I’ve also promoted online shopping events that were very profitable because of the instant promotional abilities of Twitter.I also host an online forum for direct sellers that sees a lot of activity – I’ve also incorporated it into my team training. Now everything is centrally located for my whole organization. Talk about a time saver! My team just logs in, accesses the content they need, and they’re on their way!
Jennifer: What advice would you give to the direct seller who is thinking about getting started with social media?
Lisa: Know your target market first. That’s absolutely critical. Create a customer profile for your favorite customers as well as your ideal recruit – then figure out where they’re likely to “hang out” online. Choose ONE social media outlet to connect with them. “Lurk” for a bit, and get a feel for the crowd. Then provide value FIRST. No one cares what you know until they know that you care. They don’t want your website link. They want your help. Give help first – people will naturally gravitate to you, want to know more about you, and pay for your products and services – IF you’re actively pursuing your target market, and not just shotgunning every social media hangout on the Internet.
Jennifer: What do you think is the number one mistake direct sellers make when using social media?
Lisa: There’s three actually:
1. Expecting miracles. It’s rare to have 5,000 followers in a month’s time, let alone overnight. Social networking – like any networking – takes time. you can’t just quit having parties because you have a website. Online marketing and social media are a PART of your total marketing strategy.
2. Taking before they give. Don’t spam your link and ask people to join your opportunity before you’ve had a chance to establish your expertise. This is SO critical. It’s akin to shoving a business card into the hands of everyone you meet – TACKY!
3. Trying to do it all. Pick ONE to start. Focused energy will net faster results. I started with my blog on MySpace – and eventually built my own blog, then expanded to Facebook, THEN Twitter. I’d do it a little differently today, but the suggestion is still the same: START WITH ONE! Otherwise, overwhelm creeps in and consultants give up before they see the results.
Jennifer: Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?
Lisa: Target marketing is such a foreign concept to most direct sellers, that I offer a totally free program to help you develop a strong target market profile for both your customers and your recruits. You can access it for free at http://homepartysolution.com/member, just click on ‘build a better customer’. I’m so passionate about helping consultants get this information, that I made it freely available to everyone who registers with the community.Lastly, there are dozens of direct sales trainers that are jumping on the social media bandwagon right now – and many of them don’t have a clue. But they realize that an online marketing strategy that includes social media is a requirement now – not an option. Coaches like Jennifer and I have been here from the beginning – with the stripes to prove it. Watch the horizon expand as more and more trainers tell you what you need, but look to folks like Jennifer to get the results that work now.