Luce and Associates - Direct Selling - Direct Sales

Strategic Planning - Direct Sales Compensation Plans
Direct Selling Business Plans and International Expansion
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Direct Sales Convention Management - Direct Selling Event Planning
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Direct Selling Consultants

by Jennifer Fong

Jennifer Fong's Facebook Profile

Jennifer Fong’s Facebook Profile

I’ve noticed a disturbing trend recently where software companies claim to solve all of a direct sales company’s social media requirements with their latest and greatest software tool.  Companies can control the message their sales force sends, they claim!  You can build a whole community within your own little bubble, within your control!  While I am not knocking any particular software application, I think it’s important to realize that you don’t need to pay for a software platform in order to use social media effectively.

Part of the beauty of social media is the fact that the tools where the most people currently are, are free.  If you build your own social community on your own website, you’re going to have to complete the additional step of driving traffic there.  What’s the compelling reason for your prospects to come to your community?  Why not operate in environments such as Facebook, where your prospects already hang out?  Why would they go to your homegrown community for fun?  To be sold?  I don’t think so.

You also need to realize that the conversation is going to go on within Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking platforms whether you participate or not.  You will not be able to tightly control the message.  This is why monitoring is an essential component of your overall social media strategy.  When you know what people are saying about your brand, and participate when necessary to solve problems, you gain respect in the social media world, which brings increased respect for your brand.

Now I’m not saying that direct sales companies shouldn’t consider software solutions.  But it’s important to take a step back and consider the overall goals of your social media and total marketing program first.  What do you want to accomplish?  Who are you trying to reach?  Where do you want to drive traffic, and what are the conversion objectives? How will participation with your brand shape brand perception?  How will you measure success?  Without answering these critical questions first, investing in an expensive software platform is a mistake.  And if you’re a small to mid-size company, a software solution may not even be necessary.  After all, the popular social media platforms are free.  Your biggest investment will be the man-hour resources needed to implement your social media strategy properly.

Jennifer Fong

Jennifer Fong

Basic sales strategy says you go where the people are.  It’s not “If you build it they will come.”  People are already using free social networking tools such as Facebook and Twitter, and that’s where they’re connecting with others.  Some are already complaining that they’re overwhelmed with these tools.  Why on earth would you want to add another?  You don’t want to make doing business with you a social media chore.  Instead, blend into the communities that already exist, bring value, and drive traffic that relates to your conversion objectives.  That’s how you’ll experience success with your overall social media strategy.

Your thoughts?  Would love to read them in the comments!

Jennifer Fong helps direct sales companies leverage the power of social media marketing to increase sales and recruiting, and manage online brand perception. To learn more about how Jennifer can help your company, visit http://luceandassociates.com/Jennifer-Fong.html.

by Alan Luce

Alan Luce

Alan Luce

What a year 2009 has been so far!  For direct sales party planners this year of recession has been challenging in many respects.  A few companies seem to be blowing right through the economic downturn as though it isn’t there.  Other companies are struggling to keep their businesses on course.  It is a year of anomalies: for many companies the surprise is that the all important retail-sales-per-guest and party average retail sales figures have held steady or dropped just slightly, but the bottom has dropped out of the activity rate.  In these companies the primary obstacles seem to be a lack of confidence among the sales force that hosts will book in this economy and that the hosts will  be able to get guests to attend the party.  Though the statistics from the parties held dispute this belief, once that lack of confidence invades the sales force it is hard to displace.

The best solution that I have seen to the booking and attendance “confidence” problem is to find great “good news” stories and publish them frequently to the sales force.  Do not wait for your traditional communications vehicle schedule.  Create short attractive story templates and tell the stories about great new Consultant first party results, hostess success results where they set a goal to get $100 of free stuff and surpassed their goal.  In addition to publishing these good news stories out to the field weekly, put the same stories with new Consultant, new leader and host testimonials on the company public web site.

We all know that we are working with mostly part-time volunteer sales forces.  But sometimes we forget just how much of their party plan business activity is driven by their “confidence and belief” in the business.  The more that we can give them proof that their peers and colleagues are enjoying success when they choose to work in this economy, the more our sellers will get their sales “mojo” back and our businesses will grow again.

Few people in the direct sales industry can match the experience, expertise and successes of Alan Luce. With over 25 years in senior management, guiding start-ups and established companies alike, Alan has met virtually every challenge a direct sales executive can face.  Learn more about how Alan can help your company at http://www.luceandassociates.com/Alan-Luce.html.

Think Before You Cancel

Karen Peterson

Karen Peterson

The meetings & tourism industry is under siege. Recent stories abound regarding American corporations receiving bailout monies and then spending frivolously on meetings and events. This has led some companies to cancel planned meetings and events, resulting in an even greater impact on our economy and jobs. Perhaps worse, those companies are losing the benefits only face-to-face meetings can provide.

As industry professionals we must be ready to offer alternatives to cancellations. I invite you to check out a very enlightening article by Mary Boone in the February issue of Successful Meetings, entitled “Don‟t Cancel that Meeting—Rethink It!” Mary Boone is a highly respected industry authority and author. Her insights may help you, or someone you know, save an otherwise lost opportunity.

To read the article, go to http://www.SuccessfulMeetings.com, or click here: http://www.mimegasite.com/mimegasite/search/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003940258

How is your company handling live meetings and events?  Would love to read your comments in the section below!

If your company’s plans include travel, events or incentives, Karen Peterson is the one who can make it all happen … the thoughtful way … the cost-efficient way … the right way.  Learn more at http://luceandassociates.com/Karen-Peterson.html

dickwilson-headshot

Dick Wilson

I coined the term “Revenge of the Word Processor” in the early ’80s, when I first began using a computer. The phrase refers to the unintentionally amusing, embarrassing, or goofy results that happen when people let their spell check software run, well, unchecked.

A great example of this happened last week to a luckless copy editor at Brigham Young University’s student newspaper. Spell check turned what should have been the word “apostle” into “apostate,” which means almost the exact opposite. A quick proofreading would have revealed the mistake, but that didn’t happen. Instead, thousands of newspapers were printed, distributed and then hastily recalled.

The moral? Take the time to proofread. Spell check is a great first step to help catch common spelling or typographical errors. But step #2 should always be a careful proofreading by at least one pair of human eyes. That’s the only way to make sure you don‟t fall victim to Revenge of the Word Processor.

How do you handle the copy you produce for your events and publications?  Would love hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Dick’s an accomplished print writer, audio/video copywriter, promotional writer, script & speech writer, director/producer of conventions & events, he can craft an effective message in almost any medium. He understands how to motivate, inform and entertain a direct sales audience.  Learn more about how he can help you at http://luceandassociates.com/Dick-Wilson.html

Social Media is Great for Team Building!Social media can be an incredible tool your sales force can use for building and supporting their teams. As you know, an important way to build long-term income in a direct selling business is through recruiting other sellers and supporting them.  We value the leaders who help our companies grow larger, and help more people.  The compensation our companies provide to leaders for building and supporting their teams is the commissions that they earn on their team sales, and this provides more income than a leader can earn through his or her own sales alone.  As a leader’s team becomes larger, however, it can become challenging to meet that team’s needs, while building a personal business at the same time.  Social media can help with this.

Here are some social media tools that can be used for building and supporting a team.

  1. Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn: Social networking tools such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn are excellent for finding people that may be interested in your business opportunity.  Now this is not license for consultants to SPAM people.  However, as our leaders share delight in their successes, enthusiasm for their business events, and their love for their customers and team, they will naturally attract others who may want to learn more.Consultants can also use groups on Facebook and LinkedIn that are dedicated to people looking for work, and build relationships/provide valuable content there.  By participating as a relationship-builder and giver in these forums, people who are good prospects for the business opportunity will be interested in learning more.  And don’t forget to use searching tools to specifically identify those people who are interested in your product line!  People who are interested in your products are often your best prospects for the opportunity.
  2. Your Blog: A blog is such an incredible tool for a direct sales business.  It is a place where a company and its sales force can provide content of interest to prospective customers, and is your home base for building relationships with people.  A blog is also a valuable tool for team-building.  By providing content that is of value to opportunity-seekers, the author of the blog becomes a trusted resource that attracts people to your business.A separate blog can also be valuable for teams within your organization, providing team information, incentives, links, and a place to ask questions and make comments.  Imagine your leaders being able to provide their teams with articles specifically dedicated to skills the team is currently working on building!  Blogs make it possible for your leaders to provide that content without having to email everyone, worrying about spam blockers, etc.  Your leaders can provide a central location that the team can learn to come to as they need information.  Because all the information is archived on the blog, your leaders can also send team members to specific information as they need it, providing a valuable library of topics that will be of benefit to the entire team for a long time.And because blogs are easy to set up and maintain, they eliminate the need to go to the expense of setting up a personal website for the team.  Instead, your leaders can set up an attractive blog with a few clicks, and provide all the resources their teams need in one place.
  3. Groups - A Facebook group can be another valuable tool that leaders can use to support their team members.  Facebook makes it possible to set up “Secret” groups that are not available to the general public.  Team members must be invited by the leader into the secret group, and this provides an excellent forum for team members to learn from and support one another.  As the team gets large, your leaders may feel like they are answering the same questions over and over.  Imagine them being able to send their team members to a central location for the answers!  Leaders can set up a series of frequently asked questions on the discussion board of the group, and add to these as necessary. Team members can also use the group to support one another.  If someone has a question and the leader is not available, she can post her question to the group, and other team members can share what they’ve learned.  The collective wisdom of the team can help your leaders build a stronger team than they ever thought possible!  And social media enables that sharing.

By employing social media tools that your teams can access, and then teaching the team members how to make the best use of those tools, your leaders can be more efficient and effective in their team building.  Plus, team members will develop closer relationships with one another, and that will naturally attract more people to the team.  Social media makes it possible.

Are your leaders using social media to support their teams?  How?  Did you get some ideas from this article?   I’d love to read your ideas in the comments below!

Videos are among the most virally-shared content on the internet

Videos are among the most virally-shared content on the internet

Social media is an excellent tool for finding people that have an interest in your company’s product or service.  Once a company has defined its social media strategy, along with its targeted niche market, then it’s time to use content marketing to provide value to that niche, and engage them in ways that lead to the behaviors the company seeking.

For example, if your goal is to find additional customers for your business, then you would provide content that provides solutions to problems that your targeted niche has.  This could be done through blog posts on the topic,  “how-to” videos, live events, etc.  If you sell skincare, the content might discuss how to keep your skin looking young.  If you sell kitchenware, your targeted niche may be looking for quick and simple ways to prepare family meals.  Whatever it is, you need to find your prospects’ common problems, and then give them solutions they can use RIGHT NOW without having to buy a thing.  This might mean changing up the way you’ve been used to presenting your product line.  If you’ve been used to just selling the features and benefits of your products, you are going to have to go further and become a true expert in your field.  Read what others are writing about.  Find the solutions your prospects are seeking.  By doing so, you will provide much greater value to your niche.

Once you have the content, use it on your blog, your YouTube channel, or your Ustream live events.  Provide content that offers solutions to your targeted niche.  Invite and encourage comments in order to engage your prospects.  And always give them a place to sign up so they can get more info from you, as well as virally share your content with their social networks.  After all, you’re positioning your company as the expert that gives them solutions they can use.  Why wouldn’t they want more?  Why wouldn’t they share with and refer their friends?

As you build a group of targeted followers on social networking sites, send them to your content that offers solutions, and then invite them to join your list, you help people work their way down your sales funnel.  You can then engage these highly-targeted content consumers on a level impossible through social networking (just conversing on tools such as Facebook and Twitter) alone.  They can join groups, receive targeted offers, participate in online events you offer, etc.  And the people who remain engaged become some of your very best customers.

Jennifer Fong, Social Media Associate

Jennifer Fong, Social Media Associate

So as you craft your social media strategy, be sure to keep content marketing in mind.  It is the strategy that works best in a social media arena that doesn’t want to be “sold,” but that consumes information passionately.  Be a part of their solutions, and new customers and recruits will follow.

Learn more about how we can help you with your direct sales company’s social media strategy at http://luceandassociates.com/Jennifer-Fong.html

What do you think?  Would love to hear how you are using a content marketing strategy below!

momchildcomputerWith the advent of social media tools, there can be the temptation to think that the party element of a direct sales business is a thing of the past.  Now that social media has arrived on the scene, do direct sellers really need to continue doing parties, and running the business the “old fashioned way?”  Can’t we just point everybody to our website, and call it a day?  And wouldn’t it make recruiting easier, if those people who don’t want to do parties could now be told they don’t have to?

For people who are serious about building and growing a direct sales business, the answer is a resounding “NO.”  Social media tools are fantastic for finding new prospects for a direct sales business, for providing superior customer service, for participating in the conversation that is defining your brand, and for positioning yourself as an expert that people turn to for advice and products.  However it is my very strong opinion that it is NOT a substitute for booking, selling, and recruiting.

First of all, parties are where the immediate income for a direct sales business comes from, at least in the party plan model.  All party plan companies should have party averages, and when a consultant does a party, she can pretty much count on making a certain amount of money.  Parties also give people a chance to interact with a consultant in real life, see and touch the products, and enjoy the experience of being with friends while making informed purchasing decisions.  In short, nothing replaces the party.  (There are online party options, but in my experience they are not as profitable.  This is a conversation for another post.)

Social media marketing also has a longer cycle.  It takes time to build relationships online, develop content for a blog, and build up enough know, like, and trust factor to get someone to make a purchase from you.  You have to connect with someone 7-15 times online, typically, before they’ll make a purchase from you.  There are online tools that help you do this, but you do need to invest time into building those relationships.

Jennifer Fong, Social Media Associate

Jennifer Fong, Social Media Associate

Social media marketing is an additional tool to help build a party plan direct sales business.  It can enable a consultant to connect with people they couldn’t have met otherwise (cast a wider net), find people that are business minded and specifically looking for an opportunity, and provide superior customer service and customer contact through community-building online groups and events.  Once those initial contacts are made at live parties, customers can get better service and follow-up which can result in a thriving reorder business when they are plugged into that consultant through social media.

In short, social media complements a traditional party plan model in many ways, and can enhance what you already do.  But nothing replaces the core business activities of booking parties, selling products, and recruiting new consultants.

Learn more about how we can help you with your direct sales company’s social media strategy at http://luceandassociates.com/Jennifer-Fong.html

What are your thoughts on this?  Have you had experiences that prove or disprove this?  Would love to hear your comments!

This blog will provide infomation on all areas of Direct Selling.

Some of the topics will be:

  • Direct Selling - Direct Sales
  • Strategic Planning
  • Direct Sales Compensation Plans
  • Direct Selling Business Plans and International Expansion
  • Social Networking - Relationship Marketing 
  • Convention Production
  • Direct Sales Convention Management
  • Direct Selling Event Planning

Visit our website at http://www.luceandassociates.com

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