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Alright, so I wouldn’t say I was a “loser” per se, but I definitely wasn’t a winner by my own standards either. When I started in direct sales, I signed up as a Kit-napper (someone who wants a discount on their products with no intention of selling). Since I had no intention of selling I never really jumped into the “business” with both feet. There was no plan, no goals, no strategy, and obviously no sales.
When I discovered how much I loved the products (and honestly, how much my family could use the potential income of a business like this), I started out like most people do. Pushing through by guessing, searching for help online, and trial and error. I can’t help but think now, how great it would have been to have a solid plan in place and someone to help me along the way.
I want to help you avoid the “I wish I knew what I know now, when I first started” phase, so I’m going to share with you some of the things I would do differently if I was going to start over. If you’re not new, but looking for a fresh start, this applies to you too. Remember, it’s never too late to get on the right track!
I’m putting this first because I think it’s the single biggest thing I would change. When Facebook was relatively new, if you marketed your business there you could be hugely successful. That is not the case anymore. It doesn’t take long to look around at consultants for different companies and see that the thing they all have in common is the struggle of exposure to customers on Facebook.
Facebook should absolutely be part of your strategy. If your customers are on Facebook you should be on Facebook too. However, expecting that starting a Facebook page or group will lead to instant sales is going to leave you terribly disappointed! Ironically, the harder you push promotional content (shop, host, join) on Facebook, the less you’re going to sell.
So where else do you go? To the other platforms that your customers are on. Are your customers on Instagram? Try partying on Instagram! Are your customers on Pinterest? Try partying on Pinterest! Are your customers on TikTok? Then be there! The point is, you go where your customers are. Even better, figure out where your ‘ideal customer’ is and go party there!
You might be thinking “well I’m not on Instagram or Pinterest, or music.ly”. You weren’t on Facebook before Facebook was popular either. That’s kind of the point. It’s not actually about you. It’s about your customers! If you want a social platform to have a big impact on your business, you need to be there before it becomes popular, and ultimately, spammy.
Here are the 3 things I would do if I had it to do over (in addition to a Facebook presence):
- Blog – I would create a website where I could blog about my company’s products and topics that are indirectly related to the product (i.e., In a nutshell, if my company sold eco-friendly bath, body, and home products I would blog about all things eco-friendly. Alternatively, if my company sold cooking products I would blog about all things food).
- Pin – I would spend a LOT of time on Pinterest because Pinterest is a search engine. I would pin all of my blog posts, as well as things related to my blog topics. I would also pin my products (ensuring the web link went to my own replicated site, not the company’s) so people searching for them would be redirected to me.
- Email – I would start building an email list and sending a regular newsletter right from the beginning. It not only allows you to more adequately maintain customer contacts, it gives you another place to be in touch with them, and top of mind. Social media is great, but you need this too. You can even find free options for newsletters from companies like MailChimp.
Create Your Own Brand
In practice, this should be the first step when starting your business, or starting fresh if that’s where you’re at with your business.
The reality in direct sales is our companies want us to brand them, not ourselves. When you consider that they are a business, it makes perfect sense. You do the work, they get the recognition. The problem though, is that if you don’t brand yourself you have no way to stand out from all of the other consultants in your company. You also have nothing left if at some point you want to leave your current company and do something different.
Taking care of the customers you have is WAY easier than trying to find new customers all the time. In fact, when you take good care of someone, not only will they come back to you, they will likely tell their friends about you. When they do that they build your credibility and your customer base will start to grow on it’s own.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t look for new customers. If growth is part of your business plan, you’ll definitely want to be bringing new people in. What I’m saying is not to focus all of your time on searching for new customers. Knowing what I know now, I would invest in a follow up software of some sort right from the beginning.
The other thing I would do with follow up is automate the process as much as I could. That way for example, when a product goes on sale, I could contact anyone who’s bought that product before to let them know. I would also schedule follow up for other things like wishing them a Happy Birthday, to help build the relationship we have and ensure not everything is about the sale.
Now you can see why having an email list becomes so important!
It takes time to build a business and direct sales is a business. You have the huge benefit of having lots of support from your company, so you’re not starting from scratch for things like marketing, but it still takes time to build a solid customer base.
Knowing what I know now, I would make myself dedicate one full year to the steps I listed above. Blogs especially take time to gain traction, and it’s easy to quit because you think it isn’t working when really you just haven’t given it enough time to take off.
Your business will be gaining momentum from all of the avenues you’ve created for yourself, because when you spend time in more than just one place, you’re building a following all over the web. And guess what, customers of consultants who weren’t patient, and didn’t hang in there long enough are going to be able to find you too!
My single biggest take-away from what I’ve learned would be to treat your direct sales business like it is a real business. Not like it was a quick and easy way to make money like people so often say it is. It might be at the beginning, but that’s not a sustainable business model. Do it right and set yourself up for long-term success!
I know it’s easy to say these are the steps you should follow, but knowing how to do them is a whole other story. You know we would never leave you hanging! Come and check out the mini-series we created to walk you through the process in more detail. The first step is Creating Your Own Brand.