Category Archives:Marketing & Design

Shave Years Off Your Learning Curve At The Direct Selling Symposium

Launching a new Direct Selling Company (home party or MLM) and getting it off the ground can be a very complex and difficult process. Especially if you’re doing it on your own. Unlike many things, the world of Direct Sales is not something that you can just YouTube and find easy-to-follow tutorials on how to effectively build and grow a Direct Selling Company. There are many areas that must be considered, such as building your compensation plan (and keeping it legal), training your field, compliance, legal, your sales pitch, how to motivate your sales force, recruiting, retention, logistics, what software are you going to use, how do you keep a balanced budget, communication with your field, customer service, social marketing, and the list goes on and on. The best practices for each of these disciplines is truly unique for the world of direct selling.  Much of what drives the peculiarities is the fact that your products will be demonstrated and sold by an army of independent field sales reps – who will make a decision each day whether or not to work their business and stay with your company.

Because of these complexities, only 20% of all direct selling startups are in business after one year.  The other 80% have failed in their attempt to launch.  However, what we have found is that if the entrepreneurs will take the time early to learn and follow proven best practices and processes for starting and running a direct selling company – that success rate is as high as 80% still in business and growing after one year.

We want more successes and less failures!  We’re sure you do to!  Failures are bad for the industry and leave thousands of independent sales reps’ dreams laying in the wake.  Successes breed confidence and good will in the direct selling industry and help independent sales reps reach their dreams and aspirations.  To increase success rates – YOUR success, we have brought together in one place, at one event, the industry’s leading experts in these different fields to educate you on Best Practices of Starting, Building, and Growing your Direct Selling Business.

The Direct Selling Symposium is a place of education, learning, and mentoring – and includes front-of-the-room instruction as well as individual coaching sessions.  It is NOT a time when services are sold – in fact it is prohibited.  Whether you’re an entrepreneur starting from scratch or leveraging your existing business by diversifying into the direct selling space – attending the Direct Selling Symposium will shave years off your learning curve, and dramatically increase the likelihood of success.  We look forward to seeing you there!100_6124.JPG

Dave Taylor

 

Create a Social Media Strategy

Tips and tricks about specific social networks are useful, but the whole endeavor can seem overwhelming without an overall social media strategy.

It’s tempting to create your strategy based on your internal team’s bandwidth. Some networks are easier to engage with on a daily basis than others, and we all know how important it is to stay engaged once you’ve committed to a network.

Networks that have been around longer and have robust analytics and business tools may seem more desirable. Facebook and Twitter are going to be easier to sell to senior management than Instagram because you can access a huge number of well-documented case studies online. But that doesn’t mean those are the only places you could be posting that have potential to show results.

cartoon expression of social media strategy

You Are Not Your Target Market

The most important thing to consider when setting up your social media strategy is your audience. Where is your target market engaging in social? Direct selling is unique because in the majority of cases, sales representatives start out as customers. They have a lot in common with their prospects and can easily speak their language.

But even with this advantage, it’s still important for direct selling organizations to do a detailed study of their customers’ and prospects’ demographic data before deciding which social channels to invest in. It’s usually a good rule of thumb to begin with the assumption that you are not your target market. Your social preferences may turn out to be exactly the same as the customers and prospects your trying to reach. But knowing for sure will help you make decisions based on real data.

Researching Social Networking Demographics

Each year, marketing analysts come out with reports and trends detailing the most recent demographic data for a wide variety of social networks. For instance, Business Insider’s BI Intelligence recently released a report, REVEALED: The Demographic Trends For Every Social Network. It’s important to regularly check in on the latest trends. Things change fast when it comes to the social media landscape. For instance, you can already find some early demographics for Ello, a social network that’s less than a year old, but making a splash. It could flop, but it could be worth paying attention to in the coming years.

Implementing Your Plan – Keeping Up

It’s no small achievement to plan and execute a great social media marketing strategy with consistency. As we’ve explored, each network is different. Simple syndication of the same message to each network doesn’t work. As Jonathan Gilliam says in Blastoff! Creating Growth in the Modern Direct Selling Company:

If you need to advertise, buy ads.

In order to make sure you see results from your investment in social, it’s incredibly important to pay attention to how each network is different, who you’re talking to and how they communicate. Getting it wrong can result in penalties that will make it harder and harder to reach your audiences. For instance, on Facebook, you have a brief window of time during which you can either enchant or lose a new fan or friend. If what they see isn’t interesting, they will ignore it. Facebook’s algorithms will take note of this and it’s not likely that they’ll see many more of your posts in their feed going forward.

Social media is about excitement – and so is this business! If the things you’re posting will not foster an interesting discussion, reconsider posting them.”

– Jonathan Gilliam

Avoid Overwhelm With the Next Generation of Social Media Management Tools

Empower your reps with great content. Be sure your syndication tool allows your reps to be creative – to put their own spin on your marketing messages to share with their own personal accounts.

Enable internal engagement to keep your social media users on the same page. Provide your reps and marketing teams with a mobile app that allows access to company content libraries, training, internal communication with one another as well as ways to compete through rewards programs.

Coach your teams to become truly engaged on social networks by listening to and interacting with their followers and friends.

Let us help

Learn more about Social Partner, a simple yet powerful platform that enables direct selling organizations to deliver an effective social media presence to the field while keeping the brand message pure.

Organic Reach on Facebook: Pages or Profiles for Social Selling?

Facebook-logo-270x270Facebook is becoming a less and less hospitable place for businesses when it comes to organic reach. For the direct selling industry, each sales rep basically runs their own small business. But most of the advice out there about social selling on Facebook might not be right for every independent rep when it comes to representing their business online.

While there’s no question that the home office needs to have a Facebook page up and running as a way to show that the brand is active and engaged, it’s not necessarily the case for each individual rep in the field. While it’s still undeniably top dog, Facebook is just one of many ways to engage with prospects and customers.

The two most important things I believe should be considered when it comes to making this decision are:

  1. Reach – How many people actually see your activity?
  2. Quality of Engagement – How personal can you get with those individuals?

Does a Direct Selling Representative Need Their Own Facebook Page?

This is a very good question. And no one answer is right for everyone. In order to help your reps answer it for themselves, here are a few things they can consider.

In previous years, it made sense to have a Facebook page for business. It was a great way to keep work and personal lives separate. We didn’t bother people interested in our products with messages about our cats and friends did’t have to hear marketing messages from personal accounts.

In those days, enough followers saw our pages’ posts to make the effort seem worthwhile. But now, organic reach has become so low even for large organizations that a one-person shop doesn’t stand much of a chance of being seen unless they’re willing to shell out advertising dollars.

Also, the best “selling” that happens in social media isn’t about product messages. It’s about engaging and connecting with real people. That kind of engagement is more natural on the personal profile than the page. So there’s no easy answer – at least not anymore.

The Case for Individual Reps Maintaining Their Own Facebook Pages

The Facebook page is still standard issue when it comes to 101 advice about social selling. This works so long as you’re actively posting on a regular basis. It shows up in search, and it’s a way to show that your business has a pulse. Contacts who might not ordinarily need to become a “friend” can like your page and maintain a more distant relationship.

When funds are available for advertising, Facebook’s ad platform can help you introduce yourself to new people in your area who you might not have been able to reach previously.

For the sales rep who is willing to commit to regular posting and maintenance, along with an investment in advertising dollars, it might make sense to have a dedicated Facebook page for his or her business.

Reach: Without advertising spend, reach very minimal on a Facebook page. But when there are advertising dollars to spend, it can help bring in new prospects.

Quality of Engagement: Engagement on a page is not as personal as it is on a profile, but it’s a great way to engage with those who might want to maintain a more distant business relationship.

The Case for a Strictly Organic Social Selling Strategy on Facebook

Since organic reach has nearly disappeared for small businesses on Facebook without advertising spend, a strong case can be made for bypassing the Facebook page completely and using the personal profile.

Reach: The number of individuals reached organically is much higher on a Facebook profile than on a page.

Quality of Engagement: Social selling 101 is all about moving away from marketing speak and building real relationships. This happens much more naturally on a profile than on a page.

Here are a few tips to consider sharing with sales reps who might want to take this approach with Facebook:

  1. Use your personal profile for business and pleasure. Just like with Twitter Lists, there are a number of ways to slice and dice your friends list on Facebook. If you’re friended by prospects that you don’t know well, create a category for them such as “Business Contacts.” Unlike Twitter, your friends can’t see the names you give these lists.
  2. Make business pleasure. Direct selling reps are already well aware of the balancing act required to sell into friend circles. Aggressive sales tactics can be hard on friendships whether online or off. Many individuals who choose to become a direct selling rep are already passionate about the products they’re selling. It’s a part of their life. That’s exactly the kind of sharing that succeeds on Facebook. Reps can share pictures of new items proudly displayed in their homes (next to their cat would be a nice touch). They can share their successes, such as hitting a sales goal they’ve worked hard for, which can inspire friends in their own journeys. There are many authentic ways to generate curiosity and excitement about their products without sounding like marketing copy.
  3. Make sure your posts are seen. Want to make sure your posts show up in peoples’ timelines? Engage with them. Pick a few people you want to reach every day. Go to their profiles and like or comment on their posts. The more you interact with an individual, the more likely it will be that your posts will appear to one another organically.
  4. Share directly from your company’s Facebook page. You can show off celebrity endorsements, success stories, new product launches and more. Your business is independent, but it shows that you’re tied in to something bigger – something successful and exciting.

Reach and Engagement: The Page vs. Profile Choice

In a perfect world, each sales rep would have both a robust Facebook page as well as a thriving profile with organic connections. But even after all of the best practices are followed and the page is set up, it’s easy to let it fall to the wayside. And an abandoned page can potentially do more harm than an active one can do good. So before diving in, it’s important for each person to consider their resources – money and time, then decide where they’re going to get the most reach and the highest quality of engagement.

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Contributed by Mick Twomey
Article originally posted on PointBurst

10 Steps Towards Launch! Part 9 - Marketing

The following is part 9 in our 10-part series entitled “10 Steps Towards Launch!” by Terrel Transtrum, President/Founder of ServiceQuest. If you are thinking about starting a new direct selling company, contact us today!

 

The ninth of ten business segments that make up the foundation for a successful launch of your MLM business is MARKETING.  MLM Marketing is often overlooked, yet it is at the core of the successful MLM.  Here is a closer look at the most important MLM best practices for MLM Marketing.

 

  • Brand Strategy for Your New MLM
  • Having the Right Product Plan to Sustain Success
  • Careful and Thoughtful Product Pricing
  • Implement Web Marketing Practices that Work with Social Media
  • Merchandise Your Logo with Apparel and Logo Merchandise
  • Implement and Monitor and Effective Web Marketing Policy
  • Get your Messaging and Stories Created and Aligned
  • Create a Back Office to Assist the MLM Distributors in the Best Ways
  • Understand your Customers and MLM Distributors with Profiles
  • Create a Network based on Sound Social Media Policies that work with MLM

 

Here are examples of descriptions that you might write for your MLM Launch Best Practice:

 

  1. Product Pricing – We have a clear understanding and analysis of our product margins, the features and benefits that hold up under pricing scrutiny, and a keen understanding of the consumer’s value perception and how to sustain that perception.
  2. Back Office – We have an online back office that contains all of our support materials and has analytics to tell distributors / consultants every useful thing about their business, ranging from news and company information to volumes and computations of commissions.


MLM is all about Marketing, and a sound marketing plan will cut months and years from the learning curve.  For more information, contact Terrel Transtrum terrel@launchsmart.com

Fast Start Success: The Critical First 90 days!

If your company performs according to direct selling industry averages – you will lose 80 out of every 100 field reps you enroll. What’s worse, as much as 50% of your attrition will occur in the first 90 days after enrollment.

If – like most – that is unacceptable to you, then we’re happy to share some specific things you can DO about it.

In a study lasting over 17 years and involving more than 120 direct sales and network marketing companies, we’ve identified retention best practices that lead to dramatic increases in field retention. The very best place to start is with a robust fast start system! Effective fast start systems not only cut down field attrition levels during the critical first 90 days, but also yield increased average order sizes and help secure long-term field loyalty to your company.

Your fast start system should address the period of time from a new field rep’s enrollment through their first 90 days. Just as a space shuttle uses over 80% of its fuel in the first eight minutes beginning at launch to propel it on its journey, your new field reps must have more support in their first 90 days as they are propelled toward success with your company.

There are several foundational elements that anchor your fast start system, whether at the company or in the field. These are the basic building blocks. The first order they receive from you is their first real exposure to your company. It must contain the right information, and the right amount of information, to help them get started. Within the first 72 hours they should receive a welcome contact from the home office or their upline leadership, as well as have a productive training and planning session with their sponsor during which goals should be set and a detailed action plan should be outlined.

They must immediately be introduced to their support team – both corporate and field – and get connected to all important company communications and events. They must be armed with “the stories” they will need to tell prospects and friends. And never overlook helping them immediately develop the first story they will have to tell in response to the “you did what!?” question – which they’ll likely be asked within a few minutes after enrollment.

Your job as a leader is to create a fast start system built on these foundational elements that makes sure that EVERY new field rep has the opportunity to get started properly. It must be a system. It must be built on sound, repeatable processes.

Often companies and leaders forget that people enroll for different reasons. Instead, we design a “one-size-fits-all” welcome and fast start system that – in most companies – is designed to meet the needs of the business builder. In truth, these business builders are the minority of our field organizations, and those who come with different expectations can find the fast start information to be irritating and even offensive.

We have found that new field reps generally fit into three broad categories:

  1. Those who simply want to purchase products or services at the best possible price. This is often as much as 75% of the organization.
  2. Those who are willing to introduce a few friends and family in hopes of making enough money to effectively get their products or services for free.
  3. Business builders who are willing to do what is necessary to build some level of monthly income. They will give various levels of time and commitment in exchange for various levels of income.

An effective fast start system will assure that we understand each new person’s goals and expectations during the enrollment process and capture this data in their customer record or in your planner. It will then provide each category of people with the necessary tools, training, and motivation to meet or exceed their goals. Our objective is to make sure they experience success – as they define success – within the first 90 days. We should then recognize and celebrate that success.

We must be certain that those in categories 1 and 2 experience the full benefits of our products or services within the first 90 days. This should be our focus. In addition, category 2 people must be given the tools and training necessary to introduce our products and services to their friends and family members, and must be shown how doing so will result in being able to cover the cost of their own involvement. Category 3 people must be provided with the business-building tools they need. They must also be taught our company’s success cycle – that set of specific activities which, if done over and over, leads to higher and higher levels of income.

Begin by asking yourself the following question for each category – What should each category of people DO in the first 90 days to experience success; and what are the tools, training, and incentives they need? Design your fast start system around the answers to that key question.

The fast start system you develop will be administered through a series of carefully orchestrated “touches” you have with the field: first orders, welcome calls and e-mails, conference calls, newsletters, websites, sponsor meetings, etc.

If we understand our field reps’ goals and expectations, we can periodically invite them to increase their level of activity. For example, it is very easy – after a successful first 90 days – to gently invite a person in category 1 or category 2 to invest a few more hours a month to generate some extra income.

A robust fast start system will not only cut down dramatically on field attrition – but it will also increase average order size, build long-term loyalty and strengthen commitment to your company.

The content of this article is extracted from ServiceQuest® RetentionSmarts™ Modules. For more information on RetentionSmarts™ training and mentoring systems, contact a member of the LaunchSmart Team.

Golden Opportunities To Convey Value

By Terrel Transtrum, Founder of LaunchSmart™

Golden opportunities abound for conveying value and enhancing the experience of reps and customers. When value is the primary focus, great things will happen. And retention will go up. Listed below are some of the opportunities to convey value that you should train your teams to watch for, building a culture of support and positive momentum as you help them to become experts at conveying value.

Enhancements or changes in your company’s compensation plan present opportunities to highlight the features and true benefits of the changes as well as those features and benefits that already exist.

New enrollments provide some of the most positive opportunities to convey value of products, special promotions, value packs, upcoming conventions (remember, we’re talking about knowing the value propositions for these and conveying the value as we help them to make good decisions).

Requests to cancel an order or discontinue participation in an autoship or standing order program.

Loss of a key field leader or highly visible corporate officer presents the opportunity to emphasize the key features and benefits of your company’s long-term vision, commitment to building loyalty, respecting change and embracing diversity.

Discontinuing a key product presents the opportunity to emphasize the company’s commitment to ongoing product research and development.

The surest path to increased retention is simple: build a value-driven company that builds lasting value for the field reps and customers, and become proficient in conveying that value in everything that you do.

(The content of this article is extracted from ServiceQuest® RetentionSmarts™ Modules. For more information on RetentionSmarts™ training and mentoring systems, contact a member of the LaunchSmart Team.)

Marketing and Tools for Network Marketing and Party Plan

By Terrel Transtrum, Co-founder, LaunchSmart™

Get positioned in the right places in peoples’ minds. Identifying your network marketing company’s unique selling proposition and then developing the marketing plan to present the right message to your target customers, hostesses, consultants and distributors is critical. Here are the time-honored marketing fundamentals used by the best party plan companies and network marketing companies in direct selling, all at a glance.

In this article we will cover the following general marketing planning elements:

  • Design
  • Marketing Strategy
  • Product Launch
  • Distributor Manual
  • Party Plan Essentials

Marketing Checklist and Key Considerations

  • Design
    • Key design elements (logo, color palette, major design elements)
    • Web
    • Online documents
  • Marketing Strategy
    • The Three Stories (Company, product, business)
    • Retailing tools (catalog, brochure, DVD, CD, samples, flyers)
    • Company brochure
    • Business brochure
    • Marketing communications
  • Product Launch
    • Product / service lines, strategies and markets
    • Groupings, pricing, development, manufacturing, warehousing
    • Product copy, literature & brochure, descriptions
    • Legal reviews (including labeling)
  • Distributor Manual
    • Letters and introduction materials
    • Policies and procedures, FAQs
    • Product information
    • Compensation plan descriptions
    • Training essentials
    • Business system
  • Party Plan Essentials
    • Consultant compensation
    • Training and development
    • Hostess incentives
    • Promotions, contests
    • Bookings, business development

Marketing Design

Clients attending the LaunchSmart™ workshop participate in a creative design seminar that introduces participants to the, development and delivery systems of professional quality promotional materials for supporting your company. Use this training forum for organizing your plan to design logos, website, DVDs, CDs, distributor manuals, brochures, mailers, packaging, labels, core design elements, and more.

Marketing Strategy Planning System

This foundational tool is the template that guides the planning phase for designing your company’s primary marketing strategies, including USP (Unique Selling Proposition), positioning, delivery strategies and selection of the tools that will support behavioral objectives in the field to make it easy to tell the story and build business.

Product Launch Templates

Positioning, features & benefits, and user profiles are the core elements of a proper product launch plan. Often overlooked, and usually not understood, product launch strategy is vital to the success of any start-up. These templates shorten your learning curve and increase your product launch IQ.

Distributor Manual Templates

Why not just build on the best ideas from other distributor manuals? Well, that all depends on your own unique culture, intended market position, and design plan. These templates contain many of the best ideas, and they provide the distributor manual essentials and framework into which you connect your company’s distinguishing details and design elements.

Party Plan System

For clients with home-show and party-plan components, this system provides a model consultant manual, quick start guide for field consultants, and primer on hostess reward programs. Rich with templates for creating and adapting charming hostess programs, it has been created in collaboration with the founders of the DSWA and is a must-have resource if you are considering a party plan system.

Terrel Transtrum is the founder of ServiceQuest® and co-founder of LaunchSmart™. As a network marketing consultant he also specializes in startup consulting for party plan companies, multilevel marketing, MLM and network marketing. He is an experienced advisor in MLM software, network marketing legal, party plan business, distributor recruiting and retention, operations and fulfillment and MLM legal.

(The content of this article is extracted from ServiceQuest® RetentionSmarts™ Modules. For more information on RetentionSmarts™ training and mentoring systems, contact a member of the LaunchSmart Team.)