Category Archives:Marketing & Design

Starter Kit Strategy Part 1

Starter Kit StrateDan Jensen Consultinggy by Andi Sherwood, Dan Jensen

Consulting Starter Kits. Business Kits. Enrollment Kits. All of these names refer to the same thing: a packet of materials and/or products that is purchased at the time an individual enrolls with your company to become an Independent Business Owner (IBO). More importantly, this represents a strategy.

There are many types of companies in our industry.

– Internal/Self Consumption companies center their pricing strategy on the IBO/Wholesale (discounted) price, which results in most customers enrolling as an IBO in order to purchase at that price. – Customer/Retail Biased companies center their pricing strategy on the Retail Price and their IBOs focus on selling their products to customers who will purchase at the Retail Price and use the products without enrolling as IBOs. – Affiliate Programs are kind of a hybrid of the two. I say “kind of” because it is not really as simple as that sounds. There are some unique nuances and very few companies fall into this category. For that reason, the Affiliate type is not addressed within this article.

While this explanation of business types has been simplified, it isn’t necessarily a choice of one or the other, it’s a spectrum with Internal Consumption on one end and Customer Biased on the other end and most companies fall somewhere in between. There are companies that have succeeded and failed throughout the spectrum so there is no right or wrong choice. Alignment to business type, including the Starter Kit, is critical to success.

The Starter Kit strategies differ based on where your company is on the spectrum and it is vital that you understand how this impacts your desired business type. For purposes of this discussion, we will refer to strategies of the Internal Consumption and Customer Biased companies, even though many companies have a bit of both.

In this three part series, we will address the following Starter Kit related strategies: 1) Pricing 2) Products/Materials 3) Presentations

Strategy #1: Pricing The Starter Kit is not merely materials and products, it is a strategy that creates a healthy “barrier to entry” that can (when desired) separate customers from business builders. It creates a monetary gateway that an individual passes through, whether low or high, when enrolling as an IBO. While you may question the logic of creating barriers for a potential IBO, it is important to understand how this decision will impact your business type.

When the price of the starter kit is low, your barrier to entry is low. Many of the people that join your company are likely to be customers who want to buy your products for the best possible price – like a buying club. This is the nature of the Internal Consumption business type and is reflected in common starter kit pricing ranging from $10-$30.

In this low price scenario, very minimal commitment is made at enrollment so while the customers become IBOs, they do not act like IBOs. These companies will have some business builder IBOs that develop very successful teams made up of a few business builders and lots of customer-IBOs. While the average per IBO sales volume may not be high, the number of IBOs makes up for that.

Higher priced Starter Kits create a stronger barrier to entry. This often results in fewer IBO enrollments but higher commitment to building a business and thus higher per IBO sales volume. In Customer Biased companies, the IBOs count on the retail profit that they make when they sell to customers (who purchase at Retail) as a major source of income. In order to protect this vital aspect of the business, companies of this model should price their kit high enough to discourage customers joining solely for the discount and ensure that the starter kits have the proper mix of materials and products (this will be addressed in strategy #2).

Unfortunately, failure to price the Starter Kit appropriately has destroyed many companies in our industry. A Customer Biased company that fails to protect the retail profit will find that their IBOs do not make enough money for it to be worth their time selling and building a business. When earnings are not sufficient, an IBO will stop working their business and become a customer purchasing at discount. The company will find themselves unintentionally moving more towards an Internal Consumption model.

For example, an IBO who sells $1,000 in products to customers might earn a 25% retail profit of $250. If those same customers enrolled as IBO’s, they would get a 25% discount – in other words the retail profit to the seller becomes a discount to the buyer. The sponsor (seller) who would have earned $250 had they stayed as customers might now earn 10% on the IBO wholesale price ($750) = $75 total (instead of the 25% profit on the retail price). If the sponsoring/selling IBO had spent 10 hours finding those customers and taking their orders, then they would have earned $25 per hour for their time when those individuals were customers. When the customer became IBOs, that dollar-per-hour dropped to $7.50. When an IBO joins your company to make money, the $25 per hour is critical to achieving their goal as quickly as possible, thereby making the barrier to entry vital to protecting the retail profit.

As a rule of thumb, the higher your Starter Kit price is, the more Customer Biased you are and likewise, the lower the price, the more Internal Consumption focused you are. If I were to place a price on the Starter Kit for a company right in the middle of the spectrum, in today’s economy, it would be somewhere in the range of $50-60.

Please note that there are some legal requirements regarding the Starter Kit pricing in the USA. The are a number of states which specify a maximum amount that you may charge for the kit and there are rules that govern the cost of goods for the kit versus the selling price. Please check with your industry attorney for specific information on the legal aspects of the Starter Kit. In summary, the pricing of your Starter Kit is a very important strategy that should be considered in your business in order to create alignment between your kit and the business type that you intend to be.

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


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.


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

How do I create the identity for my company that will attract distributors?

Get positioned in the right places in peoples’ minds.

Like all great companies, branding and establishing the company’s position is the same for MLM marketing strategies and for Party Plan marketing strategies. The best MLM brands have followed important disciplines. And such positioning is equally important, if not more important, for multilevel marketing and party plan marketing because of the complexities of genealogies, distributor recruiting, distributor retention, differentiating among direct selling competitors, and educating distributors and consultants with effective MLM education systems.

Identifying your 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. The time-honored marketing fundamentals used by the best companies in direct selling will save immense time and energy as they dramatically shorten your learning curve.

When your “brand” is based on a simple, clearly defined idea aligned with a clearly defined business strategy it is much easier for your company to signal distributors, consultants and customers what makes it different and why this difference is worth caring about.

Foremost should be the answers to the following questions:

  • What is your business strategy? (Our company will make money by selling . . . or providing . . .)
  • What is your brand strategy? (Our company “signal” to those who consume our products or services is . . .)
  • What is your simple brand idea? (Our company’s simple brand idea is that . . .)

Although the following example is extremely over-simplified, it illustrates the point:

  • Pampered Chef’s business strategy is to make money by selling kitchen supplies.
  • Pampered Chef’s brand strategy is to signal that the experience of buying its products is more enjoyable than any other way to try and buy.
  • Pampered Chef’s simple brand idea is that being in the kitchen can be fun.

The following checklist will provide a useful outline for more closely considering the elements of your company’s brand strategy and how it can create an identity that will capture the imaginations and loyalty of MLM distributors and party plan consultants.

MLM Marketing Checklist and Key Considerations for Party Plan Sales

  • 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

How do I make sure our company's offering is unique and will really stand out?

Some MLM start up companies enlist the support of a marketing firm. Quite often, Party Plan start up businesses will carefully follow the advice of professional marketers.

Often, marketing firms will help develop the company and product/service names, logos, packaging, branding, sales tools, advertising strategies, websites, etc. These firms can be important strategic partners. You will find that the degree to which they will be able to effectively help you will depend upon how ready you are to help them to understand you, your products and services, and where you want to take your company.

The following list of questions, summarized from the LaunchSmart™ Marketing Design System, can help you to identify what you will need to interact with your marketing firm. The information you generate using this planning system will evolve as you interact with your marketing firm, but it’s vital that YOU take the first step in making the key decisions required herein. Don’t forget: it’s YOUR company. If you choose not to use a marketing firm, but to go it alone and create your own materials, really digging in to these questions is all the more important to organize your thoughts and define how your company’s offering will be truly unique.

  1. Basic Business Concept
  2. Basic Product Concept
  3. Branding
  4. Overall Market Description
  5. Specific Market Segment Description
  6. Target Market Description
  7. Competitive Analysis
  8. Unique Selling Proposition
  9. General Awareness Marketing
  10. Lead Generation Marketing Strategies
  11. Distributor Specific Marketing
  12. Product Specific Marketing Strategies

The most useful exercise for assuring that your company’s offering really stands out is to define and masterfully articulate the unique value proposition (USP) for the products and business offering. Party Plan business and MLM business opportunities are better thought of and referred to as business offerings rather than business opportunities. Bear in mind that as prospects consider your company’s offerings, they are looking at the entire package: products, management, and compensation plan (the business offering and what it means to them).

When you go to work on describing your unique selling proposition, ask and carefully answer the following two questions:

  1. What is it that customers and distributors are really buying from us?
  2. Why will they buy from us and not someone else?
  3. Helpful questions that guide this dialogue are the ones used by the LaunchSmart™ System and team, several of which are offered below to help stimulate this important discussion.

  4. What makes us truly unique?
  5. For each of our products and services, what do consumers derive from their use?
  6. How will we position our products and services vis-à-vis the competition?

Sample Value Proposition Statement

Below is a sample value proposition statement for use internally. It captures the essence of management’s thinking, and provides a springboard for a streamlined and more concise statement of value elements that can be communicated to the field.

Our company allows consultants to achieve their personal goals and desires while instilling their customers with greater enjoyment from decorating rooms in their homes. Many start with the modest yet exciting goal of earning enough money to pay for the wonderful collection of products and accessories they want to have in their homes. Many love the idea that they can build that product collection and earn a part-time income as well. And some have looked at the compensation plan and determined that this is one of the best opportunities they have seen to achieve a profitable, home based business – and certainly the most fun!

Products are uniquely designed and produced to accessorize every room in every home, reaching a spectrum of our 7 design groupings that reach 85% of decorating tastes. Our proprietary design wheel simplifies the process of identifying preferences and choices, narrowing buying decisions into style, rooms, budget, function, seasonality and customization.

Every employee at the home office is dedicated to seeing that consultants get the best service possible, from correct orders and fast shipping to accurate information and effective training. Recruiting consultants provide essential mentoring to new consultants, helping to assure their success.

Each time a consultant conducts a home demonstration, they engage in a fun, socially and professionally rewarding experience. Consultants are recognized for their accomplishments and thanked often for their efforts. They have the opportunity of working with the best products in our industry, provided by a company with total commitment to ongoing product enhancement and improvement.

Company events (from conventions to training calls) provide opportunities for social interaction and essential training. New consultants are provided with all the training (both product and business) to achieve their goals – whatever they may be.

And perhaps most importantly, consultants love what they do, and share what they love, as they help others enjoy creativity and worthwhile accomplishments . . . in this they make a difference – in their own lives and the lives of others.

What should be in our company's MLM distributor manual or Party Plan consultant guide?

At the heart of training is an effective MLM distributor manual or Party Plan consultant guide that offers guidance, reference, and training. Tools can be effectively deployed to augment the training philosophies and practices, but there is no substitute for an effective manual.

A party plan company shares many similarities with a multilevel marketing company. This is especially true in the realm of fulfillment and the reality of dealing with a volunteer sales force. Incentives, recognition, meaningful promotions, and significant earnings potential continue to be the appeal for MLM distributors and party plan consultants.

However, the significant differences between MLM and Party Plan can be illustrated through a comprehensive look at the typical MLM Distributor Manual and comparing it with the common Party Plan Consultant Manual, outlined below for your review and support. These outlines are excerpted from the LaunchSmart™ System.

Quite often, the crunch of time or limitations in expertise or resources will place a heavy burden on you. Help is as easy as a phone call away.

MLM Distributor Manual Outline

Welcome to THE COMPANY
Table of Contents
Letter from the CEO
Company Directory

Owner Profiles
You’re a Part of the Family
Build a Strong Foundation
Developing a Compelling Story
Crafting Your Vision
The Power of Persistence
Learn while you Earn
Conventions and Training Meetings
Conference Call Etiquette

What is Marketing?
Have a Realistic Marketing Attitude
Relationship Marketing
Permission Marketing
Mass Appeal – How to Reach Large Numbers of People
Words that Will Create Riches
Scripts that Capture Imaginations
Enrollment Techniques of the Rich and Famous
Harnessing the Internet
The Formula for Your First 100 Enrollments
Three Kinds of “No”
Third Party Credibility
Sources of Future Customers
Network Your Way to Success

The Successful Salesperson
The Winning Presentation – From Start To Finish
The 5 Steps of a Successful Presentation
Writing Customer Orders
Group Presentations – The 8 Musts
From Objection to Win-Win

You’re In The Service Business
Customer Needs
What’s In It For You
Today’s Consumer – Keys to Keeping Customers
Exceptional Service
Serving Customers in Just One Hour Each Week
Take Care of Your Customer in 3 Simple Steps
Managing Customer Care
Four Daily Disciplines to Success

Your Key To Success
The Million-Dollar Model
A Winning Attitude
Find Your Reason for Sponsoring
Set Sponsoring Goals
Be A Talent Scout
Time to Build the Business
Six Steps to Principle Centered Sponsoring™
The Oyster Story
Guide your new DISTRIBUTOR
Generate Increased Income
Build a Business that Lasts

Time Management
Your Business Plan of Action
Your Money Making Strategy
Financial Management
Record Keeping Made Easy
The Home-Based Business: The Last Tax Frontier
Business Deductions
Suggested IRS Publications


FORMS (provided by DSWA):
SMART Goal Planner
Who Do You Know List
Monthly Action Plan
Weekly Action Plan
Customer Profile Card
Distributor Profile Card
Opportunity Event Agenda
Event Supply List

Party Plan Consultant Manual Outline

Welcome to THE COMPANY
Table of Contents
Letter from CEO
Company Directory
Other CONSULTANTS on My Team

Owner Profiles
You’re a Part of the COMPANY Family
Build a Strong Foundation
Developing a Compelling Story
Remember the Power of Five
Learn While You Earn
Conventions and Training Meetings
Conference Call Etiquette

Booking Your First Parties
Why Hold Parties?
Have a Positive Booking Attitude
Ask Lots of People
Your Who Do You Know List
Memory Jogger
Making Your First Calls
Benefits of booking a party
Dialogues and Scripts
Hostess Rewards Program
COMPANY Hostess Program:
Tips for booking success
Mastering the Art of Booking
Sources of Future Bookings
From Objection to Win-Win
Creative Party Alternatives
Individual Sales Appointments
Network Your Way to Success

The Purpose of Hostess Coaching
What Needs To Be In Place?
Keys to Effective Hostess Coaching
Hostess Coaching Checklist
Coaching With a Hostess Packet
Hostess Packet Contents
Tips for Successful Coaching
How to Minimize Postponements

The Successful Salesperson
Selling at the Party
The 10 Absolutes of a Successful Party
A Presentation – The 6 Steps from Start to Finish

You’re In the Service Business
Customer Needs
What’s In It for You?
Today’s Consumer
Keys to Exceptional Service
Service Your Customers by Phone
Important Phone Tips
The 3 Purposes behind Customer Service Calls
Call Role-Plays, Dialogues and Scripts
Take Care of Your Customer
Managing Customer Care
Four Daily Steps to Success

Your Key to Success
Offer Customers the Gift
Duplicate Yourself
A Winning Attitude
Find Your Reason for Sponsoring
The Power of Your Beliefs
A Personal Exploration
Set Sponsoring Goals
Finding Your Future Stars
Plant Sponsoring Seeds
Be a Talent Scout
Qualities to Look For
The Desire to Achieve
Time to Build the Business
Setting Up a Sponsoring Conversation
Six Steps to Principle-Centered Sponsoring™
Step 1: Establish Rapport
Step 2: Ask and Listen
Step 3: Clarify Their Why
Step 4: Make the Connection
Step 5: Extend the Invitation
Step 6: Follow-up, Follow-up, Follow-up!
The Oyster Story
Guide your new CONSULTANT
Generate Increased Income
Take the Leadership Path

Time Management
Your Business Plan of Action
Your Money Making Strategy
Financial Management
Record Keeping Made Easy
Business Deductions
Suggested IRS Publications


Who do you Know list
SMART Goals Planner
Weekly Action Plan
Monthly Action Plan
Hostess Coaching Checklist
Successful Party Checklist
Party Supply Checklist
Customer Profile Card
Hostess Thank You letter
Guest Wish List
Hostess Wish List