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CB107234One of the biggest concerns I hear from direct sellers when they contemplate blogging is the fear of what to write about.  “How will I think up new stuff to write all the time?”  “I’m not an expert on anything!”  As a result, they paralyze themselves into complete inaction.

But here’s a news flash.  Your blog doesn’t HAVE to be a great work of literature (in fact it shouldn’t be!)  And it doesn’t have to be the length of War & Peace either (and it shouldn’t be!)  Here’s a little test.  Get out a pen right now, and come up with 3 things your customer can do right now to solve a problem he/she has.  Now this should not involve BUYING anything.  Instead, if you sell kitchen products, it might be 1) Plan weekly menus, 2) Prep veggies ahead of time, and 3) Stock up on staples.  Quick and easy, right?  And that’s the foundation of a blog post…3 quick and easy ways to save yourself headaches at dinnertime.

Don’t let your need to be perfect or your fear of not having all the answers keep you from writing the blog that will help you make more money!  Just get out there, share little tips, and make the world a little better for someone.  After all, someone NEEDS your content right now!  You are solving PROBLEMS, after all.  Don’t keep it to yourself!  Get out there and start blogging!  You’ll be glad you did.

And if you’re ready to start blogging for your direct sales business, you may be interested in my new course, Blogging for Direct Sellers.  You can get all the details by clicking here.

What do you think?  How have you overcome your fear and gotten started blogging?  Would love to read your comments below!

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CB107250Social media activities for direct sellers are primarily focused around two activities: relationship development and list building.  Through a content-marketing strategy, a direct seller provides free, actionable content that prospects can use right now without spending a dime.  After that, the direct seller builds relationships with prospects through social networking tools, and invites those prospects to consume her content.  If the prospect finds value in the content, that prospect may subscribe, and at that point, the list begins to be built.  You ONLY have permission to market to that prospect once they have opted in to your list.

As you can see, the foundational element of the entire social media strategy is the content.  Without content, you have nowhere to send people.  Without content, there is nothing to entice people to sign up for your list.

I believe that the BEST way to build a list is to start with a blog.  Prospects are more likely to sign up for your list because they know if they do, they will receive more content.  So it’s important to get inside your target market’s head, understand the type of content they’re looking for (related to your product line), and produce it on a regular basis.

So for example, let’s say you sell skincare products.  Your prospect will NOT say to herself, “What skincare solution should I buy?”  That’s not how she self-identifies needs.  Instead, she might say, “I see some fine lines on my skin.  I wonder what I can do to make those go away?”  See the difference?  She identifies PROBLEMS.  Not PRODUCTS.

Now on your blog, you should NOT be a sales pitch.  Your company’s replicated website already serves that purpose.  Instead, tell them through your blog what they can do right now, for free, to solve those problems.  What can they use that’s already in the house?  What lifestyle changes can they make?  By being generic with your advice, people come to know, like, and trust you without feeling like they’re going to be subjected to a constant stream of advertisements.  And once they trust you, they’re more likely to sign up for your list.

If you’d like to learn more about how to get inside your prospects’ heads, develop a blogging strategy, and create a blog optimized for a direct sales business, I invite you to check out my new course, Blogging for Direct Sellers.  This 2 session course, held at the end of August and recorded, will help you get started with your social media marketing strategy, and provide you with a home base where you can invite your prospects to join your list.  I would love to have you join us.  Learn more by clicking here.

So now it’s your turn!  Are you currently using a blog for your business?  How is it working for you?  Or have you held back from creating a blog?  Why?  Would love to read your comments below!

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WAHM 2.0 Direct Sales Blog

WAHM 2.0 Direct Sales Blog

One of my favorite direct sales blogs is Laurie Ayers’ and Leslie Truex’s WAHM 2.0 blog.   If you haven’t read it, you really should, and you should also consider subscribing.  They really have a handle on the issues that today’s direct sellers face, and always share great ideas.

I enjoyed Laurie’s article today: 7 Replicated Website Mistakes.  You can read the whole article here: http://www.sparkplugging.com/wahm/7-replicated-website-mistakes/

While the article today raises some important issues about what you should consider when customizing the website that your company provides to you (which is an important part of your overall social media strategy), what I really wanted to point out today is that this blog is a really good example of a blog designed for recruiting.  Now I don’t know Laurie and Leslie, and I have no idea if this blog is actually designed for recruiting, but it is a good example of a blog that COULD be used for recruiting.

CBR001028It’s pretty easy to design a blog to find new customers for your business.  Simply identify the problems your customers have (related to your product line), and then provide simple, actionable solutions that your prospects can use right now without spending a dime.  As your readers come to know, like, and trust you, they may become customers for your business.

I’ve noticed, however, that people struggle more with recruiting blogs.  Perhaps it’s because we get into this recruiting mode where we only have one language that we use.  “Are you living your dreams?” we ask.  “Do you need extra cash?”  But the problem with this approach in a social media arena is that people are very wary of hype.  They’ve heard that too many times from aggressive, unscrupulous people, and so red flags go up any time they see those phrases.

So a soft sell is a much more effective strategy.  Instead of recreating the opportunity section of your company’s replicated website, instead solve PROBLEMS for your prospects, just like you would with a customer-facing blog, and keep it company neutral (don’t pitch your specific opportunity here.)  Some ideas include:

  • How can you manage working from home while keeping the kids entertained?
  • What technology do you absolutely need to work from home?
  • How do you evaluate a direct sales opportunity? (you might provide a link to the EXCELLENT http://www.directselling411.com produced by Amy Robinson at the DSA)
  • Websites to meet other work at home moms
  • Ways to be a more effective direct seller

And many other things.  The point is to be a valuable, company-neutral voice, with an opportunity to subscribe to your newsletter for more information.  (Sign up for my newsletter here.)  When you do so, people don’t get their backs up so quickly, and are more willing to consider what it is you have to say.  People will most likely be in the research phase when they discover your blog, and if you become a trusted resource, they will come to know, like, and trust you.  Then, when they begin to consider specific opportunities, they are more likely to consider yours (which you highlight on your About Me page, as well as in your content-rich e-newsletter.)

What are your thoughts?  Do you maintain a blog designed to find more consultants to join your team?  Would love to read what you think in the comments below!

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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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j0396108I love analytics.  I really do.  In fact, I’ll go so far as to say I’m an analytics junkie.  Why?  Because analytics are validation.  They show how your social media efforts are paying off, and what you should be spending your time on.  It’s the hard data that you can use to find out if what you’ve done is bringing you the traffic that can make you money, or if it’s a complete waste of time.

Which posts are people reading?  Which pages are they visiting on your website?  Where are they coming from?  Where are they going next?  Are they clicking on your links?  By using simple tools, you can easily measure the return on your social media investment.  And it’s also just fun when you know that people are looking at your stuff. 🙂

So what should you be looking at on a daily basis?

  1. Blog/site visitor counts – You should have site analytics built into your blog and website.  If you’re using a wordpress.com blog like this one, the site visits are built right in.  If you’ve got a website, you should be registered for Google Analytics, and put the code on each page of your site.  Then watch the numbers over time.  When are people coming to your site, and how much time are they spending there?  Are you getting more visitors over time?  Then your strategy is probably working.  If you’re not, then you know where you need to focus your efforts.
  2. What people are looking at – Does specific content draw a crowd?  What type of content does your niche market value?  For this blog, one of my most popular posts ever was when I told people what NOT to do in social media. So I learned that people are looking for ways to improve upon what they’re already doing.  Good data.  And it helps me formulate what to write next.  It also helps me figure out what content to include in my newsletter.
  3. What people are clicking on – Where do people go next?  On your website, use Google Analytics to follow their path through your content.  Do people go where you want them to go on your site?  If not, what can you change so you get the conversion objectives you’re looking for?  If you’re a blogger, do people care about the links you post?  Are they subscribing to your newsletter or considering the product you’re highlighting?  By taking a look at the percentage of visitors that click, you can determine how engaging your leadup is, and if you need to make changes.
  4. Where people are coming from – What is driving traffic to your site?  Which search engine are most visitors using, and what keywords are they using that finds you?  Are other bloggers referring your work?  Are your social networking efforts resulting in traffic to your blog or website?  By keeping track, you can thank people that mention you, and focus your efforts on the areas where you need to improve.
    For example, when I was CEO of a direct sales company, we taught our sales force how to use Facebook to market their businesses.  Facebook became one of the top 5 referrers to our website, with 3-5 times the average visit length of any other referrer.  What did this tell me?  That our training efforts were paying off, and our efforts were effective.
    Another story…when I started this blog, I posted occasional articles to LinkedIn groups I was a part of.  I didn’t see many comments there, and it was tempting to think that this effort was a waste of my time.  However, I discovered through analytics that most of my weekend traffic comes through LinkedIn, and so it’s a valuable activity for me to continue.  Without analytics, I never would have known.
  5. Link analytics are also important.  By using http://cli.gs or the equivalent (there are plenty out there) you can see how many people are clicking on the links you use in your emails and throughout social networking sites.  Does the following you’ve built care about what you’ve posted?  Does anybody click in Facebook and Twitter when you recommend something?  By using a link analytics tool, you can find out.

There are many components to an effective analytics strategy.  But by keeping on top of your analytics, you can measure growth, and adjust your efforts accordingly.  And that just makes you better.

How are you using analytics?  How have they helped you with your overall social media strategy?  Would love to read your comments below!

Did you know?  Jennifer Fong is offering a course for direct sellers to learn step-by-step how to put the power of social media to work for your business.  Learn how to create an effective blog, and optimize your work on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and niche-specific groups.  You’ll get PERSONAL feedback from Jennifer on your blog and profiles!  To learn more and register, click here!

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Jennifer Fong

Jennifer Fong

Content marketing is a powerful tool for the direct sales professional.  By providing relevant, useful content in a format that is easily consumed and shared, you can greatly increase your brand recognition, as well as your chances that your content (and therefore you) will be referred to others.  As a direct sales company, or independent direct selling professional, it is important to understand the content your targeted niche market is looking for, in order to establish your brand and yourself as the solution people are looking for, and want to refer.  This is the first step in the online sales cycle.

The essence of content marketing is providing free, actionable content that people can use right now without spending a dime.  As you share this content with your online social networks, people begin to recognize you as a thought leader that they seek out to help solve their problems.  It’s important that you understand your targeted niche market intimately in order to be successful with this approach…if you want your target market to find your content valuable, it must be the type of information they need.  Be careful that the content never sounds like an ad…this will cause you to lose your audience and all that you’ve worked for.  Instead, be a relevant, useful member of the community, and you will build a reputation that will ultimately benefit your business.

The next step in a content marketing strategy is making your content easy to share.  So if you’re providing content through a blog, be sure to provide a means through which readers can share that content with their friends.  If you’re providing videos, be sure they’re on a site where they can be shared with the click of a button.  By making it easy to spread your content, you will gain referrals.  Chances are, the people in your targeted niche market have friends with the same needs.  And the beauty of online marketing is the fact that people can share easily, which makes your message go further than you ever thought possible.

You can also provide people with the opportunity to sign up for your newsletter in order to get more content.  (Sign up for my newsletter here.)  When people invite you to contact them, then you can provide more content, along with targeted marketing messages that continue to move prospects down your sales funnel.  And this is the foundation for successful online marketing.

So what do you think?  How are you using content marketing for your business?  Would love to read your comments below!  And if you’re looking for more opportunities to learn how to use social media for your direct sales business, don’t miss my FREE call Thursday! Click here for all the details.

Cheers!
Jennifer

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woman_computer_parkAs a direct sales executive or salesperson, it is important to read and comment on other blogs targeted at your niche.  I’m often asked why this is.  There are several reasons why this approach can be beneficial for your business.

  1. Visibility – When you comment on other people’s blogs, you become known in the space.  Especially when the blog is well-known to your niche, and has a lot of traffic, every comment you make provides you with visibility, both to the author of the blog (who is influential), as well as to the readers.  The more often you comment, the more visible you are.  Believe me, blog writers know who the regular commentors are.
  2. Knowledge –  There are incredible ideas being generated right now, across the blog-o-sphere.  And those ideas MAY be the ideas that your niche is accepting as the latest and greatest truth.  If you’re not aware of those ideas, you may miss the boat and appear uninformed.  Not to mention the fact that when you write your own blog posts with your take on those great ideas, you are contributing to a larger conversation, giving you credibility.  Plus, it just plain old gives you more ideas as to what to write about on your blog.
  3. Incoming Links – Every time you make a comment on another blog, you have the opportunity to include a link to your own site.  Each one of those links is counted by search engines, which can improve your search engine ranking.
  4. Relationships – It is imperative to your business and brand that you build a good reputation online.  One of the most powerful ways to do this is through your participation in online communities where you build relationships.  Well, some of the most popular blogs in your space are an extended part of those communities, and when you contribute your thoughts to a discussion through the comments on those blogs, you are engaging the community and building relationships.  And that gives you credibility that will benefit your business.

Commenting on other blogs can be a powerful, effective part of your overall online media strategy.  By contributing to the conversations going on within your niche, you gain credibility which establishes you as a thought leader people will consider when they have a need for your product or service.  That said, do NOT use the comments in other blogs for self-promotion…that will simply irritate people and get you categorized as SPAM.  But by providing thoughtful commentary relevant to the topic of each blog post, you can greatly benefit your business.

What do you think?  Do you read and comment on other blogs?  How has it helped you?  Would love to read your comments below!

And if you’ve found this post helpful, why not sign up for my newsletter?  Lots more good stuff like this is provided, along with information about my upcoming training events.

Cheers!

Jennifer Fong

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