Question: How can I set a strategy today that will take me where I want to be in 5 years?
Virtually all successful direct selling companies have something in common: they started with written strategic and business plans and forecasts that described how their business would work. “Plan your work, then work your plan,” is a respected and valid business axiom that we also advocate. The very first step in the creative process is to formulate the idea and allow it to take root and become a vision. The next step, in order to turn the vision into a reality, is to create the plan. Whether you create the plan in your mind and attempt to hold all the details in cerebral storage, or write out the plan, the plan is the path to turning dreams into realities. This discussion will guide you through the critical planning phases, giving you the opportunity to assess and expand your plan for starting and running a successful MLM or Party Plan Company.
Business planning uncovers opportunities and exposes potential flaws that should be considered before going “live.” Done right, strategic planning and business planning give you the roadmap for your journey to success. This answer has been designed to cover the most vital planning considerations, beginning with the strategic plan and the business plan with forecasting tools, and continuing with the launch plan that will step you completely and concisely to launching your direct selling company, holding the launch event and going beyond.
The Strategic Plan for MLM and Party Plan
Strategy is focus. You also need tactics to implement the strategy, and tactics require concrete milestones and well defined management responsibilities.
Of the whole range of possible market segments and the whole range of services and possible sales and marketing activities, which are your main priorities? Avoid making long lists of priorities. More than three or four points make them more like a laundry list or to-do list than a strategic focus.
The Strategy Framework
The structure for your MLM strategy or Party Plan business strategy begins with a strategy at the top of the framework. A strategy is an area of resource focus. In the middle level, you have three or so boxes which contain tactics. In the third level, you have four to six boxes that represent programs.
Definitions don’t have to be exact. A strategy is a main focus, which might be on a specific target market, product opportunity, positioning statement, or some other important or fundamental element.
Tactics exist to implement strategies. For example, if your company’s strategy is to retain distributors twice as long as the industry average, the tactics might include the study and implementation of retention best practices in direct selling companies, training distributors, and training staff.
Programs are specific business activities, each of which has concrete dates and responsibilities, and probably a budget. In the retention example, programs for the strategy might include RetentionSmarts™ mentoring for the management team, a periodic newsletter with retention training for distributors, and monthly in-service training for staff, each of which is built on specifics.
One important benefit of the strategy framework method is integration and alignment. If your strategy is to focus on one thing, you should be able to trace that strategy into its tactics and, most importantly, into your actual spending and activity priorities. Compare your strategy framework and your specific programs, and ask yourself: “Do my programs match the emphasis I put on strategy?”
Be sure that the strategic plan thoughtfully addresses the following:
- The Value Proposition – What do people buy from us, and why do they buy it from us and not from someone else? In direct selling, multilevel marketing and party plan distribution, the value proposition is the lynchpin for success.
- Market Positioning – What is our most important target market, that market’s most important market need, how our product meets that need, what is the main competition, and how is our product better than the competition. Consider this template:
For [target market description] who [target market need], [this product / service] [how it meets the need]. Unlike [key competition], it [most important distinguishing feature(s)].
Example: “For the active, aging population committed to getting the most out of life, Zperion™ delivers the Zuperior Zutracon award-winning and patented compound, Zrotacon™ that helps users to feel great and to move freely all day long. Makes childbirth a pleasure.”
Example: “For families that quietly face worrisome decisions, we give members access to professional legal counsel.” (Prepaid Legal)
Example: “Being an Avon Representative isn’t only about selling a premier beauty brand – it’s about taking charge of your life. Be your own boss, set your own schedule – and get ready to make tomorrow’s dreams come true today!” (AVON)
- Pricing – With special consideration for the margins required to pay MLM distributors, Party Plan Consultants and field reps for selling and recruiting, the value proposition will normally include implications about relative pricing, and therefore, you should check whether your detailed product-by-product pricing matches implied pricing in the value proposition.
- Promotion – Think of promotion in a broader sense than simply sales promotion. Think of how direct selling spreads the word about your business to future consumers and distributors. Think of it in the broader context, including the whole range of brand development, public relations, web presence, events, seminars and meetings, and marketing tools and literature. Think strategically. What is your strategy on communicating with people? Do company tactics include “strafing” the marketplace with brand awareness that makes it easier for your sales force to capture attention and start their prospecting with instant credibility?
- Sales – Think of your marketing strategies as the broader effort of generating sales leads on a large scale, and sales strategies as the efforts to bring those sales leads into the system as individual enrollments and sales transactions. Generating MLM leads becomes a new game. Direct Selling Education takes on new meaning. Marketing may affect image and awareness and credibility and propensity to buy, while sales should close the deals and get the enrollments that marketing opens.
MLM and Party Plan Strategic Plan Checklist & Key Considerations
- What is the basic product offering, pricing and gross profit margin?
- What is our value proposition / Unique Selling Proposition (USP)?
- What is our positioning strategy vis-à-vis our competitors?
- Who will be our key figurehead and personality?
- Will we use an MLM, Party Plan or Hybrid pay model?
- What are our internal strengths and weaknesses?
- What are the external opportunities and threats?
- International at launch or later?
- In-house capability or outsourced?
- Should we use MLM consultants? Are there Party Plan advisors who can help?
- How do we get the most out of our Party Plan consulting team?
- Are the LaunchSmart™ MLM Start up manual, system, and tools a good fit for us?
- Are the Party Plan start up system, manual and tools right for our company?
- Have we defined the key elements of our offering?
- Product line / services to be in place at launch
- Product pricing and profit margin analysis
- Signup options, including value product packages
- Autoship program
- Preferred customer program
- Activity requirements and qualification