Monthly Archives: March 2014

5 Methods of Marketing your Direct Sales Business

Advertising plane over Miami Beach

Advertising plane over Miami Beach (Photo credit: lonnypaul)

One of the biggest obstacles for anyone in business, no matter the type, is marketing and letting people know you exist.  If they do not know your business, they cannot support you.  If you are lost for ideas of where to look, hopefully this list will help you.

Network with Others

Find other direct sellers and let them know you are out there.  Offer to swap parties – you hold one for them, they hold one for you.  This can be a great way to get your name out there.  This can be tricky if you are not interested in their products but you want them to book with you.

Small Business Groups

Look around where you live and see if there are business groups you can get into.  I know in my city there are several different organizations for home based businesses to get together and discuss a variety of topics.  Sometimes they have an evening where you can show case your business whether by giving a small presentation or having a trade show.  You may want to look to see if there is a chamber of commerce where you live and what type of activities they are involved in.

Print Advertising

There are many consultants who use print media such as the newspaper or local bulletins to put their ads in.  I have not done this but have heard from others who have been successful with this.  Make sure you do some research before investing as this can be quite a commitment in terms of money and time.  Contact those who are currently advertising and see if they would be willing to tell you what type of results they are getting.

Social Media

These days, sites like Facebook and Twitter are huge.  If you are not using these types of media to help you with your advertising efforts, you could be missing out big time.  How to use these is another article, but get out there and start using them!

Internet

No article about marketing is complete without some information on using the Internet to promote your business.  There are many different places that you can look, some of which are paid and some of them are free. If you are considering paying, make sure you find out the statistics such as how many unique visits they get a month, how long people are staying on the site and anything other information they will provide.  Email other vendors to see how much success they have had through the site.

Marketing your business can be very time consuming but it is worth it to try a variety of avenues to see what does and does not work out.  If you do not have a large budget, then it is a good idea to stick to free sites as paying for an ad does not guarantee it to work out better than a free advertisement.

 

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Having a Website for your Direct Sales Business

When it comes to your direct sales business, it is a good idea to have your own website.  There are a couple of options if you are not sure what you want and like anything, each has its own benefits and disadvantages.

English: "updating the website from work&...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Consultant Site

Most companies have a website that you can get through them to sell your product.  The advantage to this type of site is that it is easy to get setup and running as they have done all the work to create a professional site. You likely can customize it a bit with your own story and information.  One of the disadvantages is that this site will be very similar to every other consultant’s website so nothing will set it apart.  There may or may not be a fee for this type of website.  Find out if there are perks for having a site such as a customer newsletter or online leads.

Blog

Another option is to setup a blog.  These are popular as there are many sites where you can get one for free.  It is similar to having a journal online but you would use this space to talk about your business.  You might talk about how to use the product, how your business is going, specials that are coming up and information about the company itself.

A blog is about getting people to know you as a person and as a consultant and making them want to deal with you.  If people are choosing between consultatnts, they likely will pick the one they have gotten to know and like.

A disadvantage to using a blog is that you may have a hard time finding a setup or a style that you like.  You may not have the flexibility to set it up the way you want for a variety of reasons or have the knowledge and patience to get it working.

Website

A website is a site that does not change a lot but is more about getting information out than anything else.  A website is great if you want to have an easy way for people to find information and you don’t want to have to be updating it all the time like you do with a blog.  Of course, you could add a blog to your site or have an area for updates.

Remember though, before you set up a blog or a website, make sure you know what your company does and does not allow.  Some will let you have a site but you cannot name it after the company or sell product through it.  Others may have restrictions in how you advertise your site or represent yourself.

As with anything, if you are not sure what the rules are, contact the company and ask them.  You do not want to spend a lot of time and energy on something to find out it is not allowed.

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Your Website – 3 Important Things to Include

When it comes to your direct sales business, your website is one of the few ways that you can use to communicate with your customers 24/7.  For this reason, it is important that your site is professional and clean looking.  Most companies provide you with a site for this reason, but these sites are not always customizable websites.  That said, there are some things that need to be included on your site and you can hopefully add.

website ideas

website ideas (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

Contact Information

You are already putting your contact information everywhere possible, right?  Catalogues, business cards, flyers and whatever else you can get your hands on.  Your website is no different.  If your company does not already put your email address or phone number on it, you want to put that information on it somewhere.  Most consultant sites have an area that you are able to customize so use this to your full advantage.

Contact information to include:

  • Name
  • Phone Number
  • Email address
  • Facebook Site
  • Twitter Handle
  • Any other contact information you want them to have

Incentive

Why should they buy your products?  People do a lot of web browsing and find a lot of great items they want to buy, but the amount they actually spend is tiny in comparison.  How many times have you found products, put them in your online cart and abandoned them?  That isn’t even a party; that is just committing to making a purchase!  You need to convince them they want to contact you and host an event or at least purchase those items they were considering.

Value

Provide your potential customer with value when they come to your website.  If you are just using a consultant site that your company provides, this may be more difficult, but do your best.  You want these people to return to your site multiple times until they make a purchase, book a party or even join your team.  If your site is just like a million others, there is no reason for them to bookmark it and then return.

These reasons are part of why some consultants feel the need to have their own website to compliment the company’s website.  If you decide to create a separate site, make sure that it is within company’s regulations.

 

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5 Ways to Use Social Media to Help in Branding Your Direct Sales Business

Face it; to your customers, you are your direct sales business, and a big part of what that business is in their eyes. No matter what products or services your business might offer, how your customers perceive you makes up a significant part of the overall business brand. Choosing the right product or service is important, of course, but if you want your business to succeed, you need to promote the brand – and yourself – in the best possible light. Here are a few tips to show you how to do just that, using one of the most powerful tools available to you: social media.

1)      Choose the right social media networks.

Social Media Camp 2009 - Using Social Media fo...

Social Media Camp 2009 – Using Social Media for Small Business (Photo credit: deanmeyersnet)

Different social media services are geared toward different objectives, and you’ll want to set up accounts that will be most effective in reaching people who are likely to become your customers. Facebook is by far the largest of the social media networks, and it appeals to those who are into more informal and casual exchanges. Twitter is kind of an online soapbox, where people make brief announcements about pretty much anything that comes to mind. Yelp is a good resource to let people know what you’re about, where you are, and – by other people’s reviews – what it is like to deal with your company. And while Linkedin is a more professionally-oriented network, it offers access to many groups of people who share common interests beyond their careers, and might well be a good resource. There are, of course, many other social media sites and services that may serve to help you establish your presence and brand, but these few are good places to start.

2)      Make it personal, but keep it professional.

Endeavor to behave on the social media sites the same way as you would at a party you were having in a friend’s home. While you needn’t be shy in singing your business and/or product’s praises, avoid the temptation to sell. If others find you well-informed and likable, they will be much more inclined to look favorably at what your business has to offer. You want your brand – your business, your products, and yourself – to be invited to other parties, and for your prospective customers to want to come to your parties.

3)      Are paid accounts and ads helpful?

Many social media sites require that members who sign up primarily to promote their businesses take out a paid membership. The cost isn’t very high, and beyond helping you avoid violating the sites’ terms of service, paid accounts often allow you to post additional promotional materials and ads. Adding more compelling information about your product or service can prove useful, so long as you don’t overdo it.

4)      Include links to other sites and blogs that will enhance your brand’s image and visibility.

In addition to enhancing the perceived value of your brand among other members, additional links will increase your standings in the search engines’ algorithms, and can make your page and your brand-affiliated websites rank higher and appear closer to the top of people’s searches.

5)      Keep an eye out for what others are saying about you, your product/service, and your brand.

Knowing what about you and your business/brand is showing up on the web can be an invaluable tool. Run Google searches, sign up for Google Alerts, and access sites such as http://freepeoplesearch.org. You may find that your business/brand is being praised on other forums that you hadn’t known about, and which you might want to join, as well. You might even approach the people who say nice things about you and ask them if it’s okay to use their comments as testimonials on your other forums. Their responses will usually be positive, especially if you give them a nice thank you gift and some recognition. You might also find some negative comments, which you’ll want to address, either by resolving any underlying problems or by presenting your side of the situation.

Follow these simple tips, and you’ll be on your way to expanding the positive awareness of your brand. The more people know – and think positively – about your business and your brand, the bigger your customer base will be. And that is, after all, the name of the game in your direct sales business.

Author Bio:

This is a guest post by Sarah Brooks from free people search. She is a Houston based freelance writer and blogger. Questions and comments can be sent to brooks.sarah23 @ gmail.com.

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Managing your Social Media Accounts

Chances are you have several different social media accounts that you use for your business or for personal reasons.  But remembering to visit all the different websites, not to mention the passwords, can be a cumbersome duty.  Thankfully, there are some programs out there that will help you with this task.

The great thing about these programs is that you login with one ID and password and you have access to your different accounts.  They do require you to provide your username and password to start, and they request your permission to login to authenticate, but then you are set and ready to go.

Nederlands: Gebruikerspagina-icoontje

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hootsuite

This is the program I use to manage my accounts.  It is a web-based program which is great because you can access it from any computer that you may be on.  The free version lets you monitor five different accounts from various social media.  I personally use it to monitor Twitter, Facebook and my Fanpage.  But you can also add LinkedIn, MySpace and RSS feeds.  If you want to link and monitor more than 5 accounts on Hootsuite, you will need to pay for the service.

TweetDeck

I have recently started to use this program as I have more than 5 social media accounts that I monitor.  TweetDeck is a download so you do need to install it on your computer.  I am not sure if there is a way to set it so that you can use it on a second computer with the settings intact.  One benefit I have found to TweetDeck and Facebook is I can set it to view status updates and wall posts only so I do not get the game notifications like I do on Hootsuite.  You can hook up LinkedIn, MySpace and a variety of other social media accounts to this program.

These programs are capable of much more than just having all your social media in one place.  You can set them to watch for certain hashtags or words that are tweeted even if these people aren’t in your friends list.  You can program updates to be sent when you are going to be away or you know you can’t access your computer.  If you poke around in the settings, you can find different statistics about your account and what people are clicking on.

I know that these programs are not the only ones out there but they are the ones I am familiar with. Do you use one of these?  How about a different program?  Would you recommend it to others?

Using Social Media to Promote your Direct Sales Business

Everyone is using some form of social media these days whether it is Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or some other forum.  Google has launched their own version and there are likely to be other competitors to join in the fun.  Like anything else, to keep your business growing and moving forward, you need to embrace these trends as well.

Social Media Outposts

Social Media Outposts (Photo credit: the tartanpodcast)

Facebook

There is a wide variety of things that you can do on here.  You can create a business page (which is preferred) or you can create a personal page for your business.  You can use your own personal page with occasional blurbs about your business if you do not want multiple accounts; just make sure it’s a good mix of information.  Facebook allows you to share pictures, links and pretty much anything else you want.

Twitter

This site tends to be more about conversation, as it is like constant status updates.  You have 140 characters to post a comment, observation, etc and people reply back.  You can get some pretty good conversations going on and I have seen some interesting debates happen – it’s amazing what you can say in 140 characters when you want to.    It is still possible to share pictures, links and other information but it is harder to find historical items, like what Jane said yesterday AM if she posts a lot of information.

LinkedIn

Personally, I am not on this site so I cannot tell you much about it.  From what I hear, it is more about networking sites and there are more professionals on it.  I have heard of people making good contacts and it being a good option for them, so it does not hurt to try it out.

Google Plus

Google Plus has been around for a while now and many people have embraced it.  Some people prefer this site to sites such as Facebook as it is a bit more user friendly.  That said, I have not done a lot with this site so I cannot tell you much about it.  If you have a Gmail account, it easily integrates with it which saves you a lot of time and effort in setup.

There are many different social media sites out there that are nowhere near the size of these sites so you do not hear of them.  These tend to be more specialized but those that spend their time there tend to stay longer due to more common interests.  If you try searching for your industry and social network, you may find some of them.

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Why 3rd Party Marketing Can Be Just The Thing Your Business Needs

Every business owner runs out of ideas for marketing at some time. When this happens, calling in the cavalry is the only thing to do. In this case the cavalry are 3rd party marketing specialists! When you a hire a 3rd party marketing firm, you get access to expertise across a wide marketing base; marketing consultants can manage projects, build strategies and help your business with product management skills. These marketing firms can help your business get to where you want it to go by doing the following:   ID-100206876

Bridge Budget Gaps

Small businesses usually can’t afford to hire a team of marketing experts; if they did this, they would have to sacrifice operational goals. Every business owner knows that it is important to stay on budget while growing their business, so many of them never put together enough money for a marketing campaign; this leaves their business in a state of limbo where growth is stalled.

When you hire a 3rd party marketing team, you get inexpensive access to a team of dedicated professionals. Contract marketers are hired to help you build marketing campaigns; they are a lot less expensive than hiring a full-time team, so you have a chance to stay in budget and grow your business at the same time.

A New Creative Approach

In a small business, thought processes can get stale. When you work with a contract team, they help your marketing department think outside of the box without depleting your budget. It’s always nice to have a team of professionals come in and look at your efforts with fresh eyes; they may be able to think of a marketing angle that you had never thought of before.

For example, a contract team or company can give your business a fresh perspective and extra creative energy. With experience in everything from property management to dentistry these 3rd party companies can help any niche and oftentimes an outside source can be sure to get those creative juices flowing for your staff with different takes on how to generate quality leads.

Leads

Generating leads that turn into profit are a challenge for any business. Business owners often hire 3rd party marketing consultants to get leads for their marketing department and this should be no different for you. If you use a contractor, you can call them in when you need leads as this allows your marketing team to work at their own pace. You never have to worry about overwhelming your team and can keep a steady stream of leads coming in.

Reduce Overhead

When you hire someone new, you have to deal with insurance, training, benefits and the hiring process; this is time-consuming and expensive. Contract marketers save your company money. You can call a 3rd party marketing firm to have them send someone over quickly; you don’t have to worry about training them or hiring them full-time.

Lots of savvy business owners make use of 3rd party marketing firms as they can profit from outsourcing their marketing by giving them the ability to concentrate on important aspects of their operations like production, sales and management. They do this to increase profits and save resources; if you can’t afford to hire a team of experts, then hiring contract marketers will help your business grow.

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Meghan Belnap is a freelance writer who enjoys spending time with her family. She also enjoys being in the outdoors and exploring new opportunities whenever they arise as well as researching new topics to expand her horizons. You can often find her buried in a good book or out looking for an adventure. Meghan highly recommends using a company like DentalMarketing.net for your 3rd party marketing needs.

 

Shopping With You Versus the Mall: Customer Service

Why should someone shop with you instead of at their local mall or big box store as chances are they can buy a similar product for less money there?

The reason is customer service!  How often do you go to the store and the clerks are doing nothing and they ignore you?  Do you really want to shop there and keep them in business?  Probably not.  But if you found a store that was really helpful, brought you the products you wanted to see, suggested items they thought you might like and then contacted you later to see how they were working out, you would be impressed and likely would shop there again.

This is where you can excel in your direct sales business.  Treat your customers how you want to be treated.  If you have a favourite store, think about what they do and emulate it in your business.  If you do not have a favourite store, think about how you would like to be treated and implement that into your business.

The biggest challenge is actually following through with good customer service once the person leaves your party.  We have good intentions but life can get in the way and the follow up is neglected.   By not following up, chances are you are leaving money on the table and your business will not grow and flourish.

Give your customers a quick call after they have received their product with a few questions.  I always recommend writing them down or having a check list, as it is easy to get off track or forget what you wanted to talk about.

“Hi Sue, Its Sharon from XYZ Company.  Do you have a minute or two to talk?”

“I was wondering if had gotten your order from Jane yet?  You have?  Great!  Have you had a chance to try it out?  Wonderful!  What do you think of it?  That is a product we just came out with and I’m trying to get feedback from people.   Do you have any questions in regards to it? “

From there, you could end the call or you could try to get a booking, depending on her responses.  If she starts raving about how great everything is, she likely would be receptive to hosting.  If she seems rather lackluster, then you likely won’t have much luck and you will want to move on.

“Sue, I’m going to let you go in a second, but did you know that Product A is our hostess special next month and with a party you would get it for Free?  Does that interest you?”

It is amazing how much business you can get with only a 2 minute follow up call.  You could end up a sale, booking or even a new team member!

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Using the Internet to Promote your Business

When it comes to the Internet, you could spend days upon days promoting yourself and still not be done.  Most methods have a free option as well as a paid option – which you use, will depend on your finances, budget and where you feel you will get the most bang for your buck.

Internet!

Internet! (Photo credit: LarsZi)

Classified Ads – Many people these days use sites such as Craigslist or Kijiji (popular in Canada).  The advantages to these sites are that they are free but due to this, they can be full of spam.  The people I know who use Craigslist have a hard time keeping their ads up as they tend to get pulled as others can report the ads which can happen on Kijiji as well.  Kjijii allows you to pay to have your ad highlighted in a variety of methods to get more people to notice and hopefully increase the return on investment.

Social Media – There are a wide variety of different sites that you can use to promote your direct sales business.  One of the most popular sites is Facebook simply due to the way that you can communicate with others and get to know them and engage them in conversations.  Other popular methods are sites such as Twitter, LinkedIn and Google is now getting into the game.

Websites/Blogs – Another great option to promote your business is to have a website or a blog.  This is separate from the consultant site your company provides as you are 100% responsible for the content.  You can use this to highlight different aspects of your business from customer specials, sign up specials, new product or anything else you want.  You can find places to host your blog for free and there are other places that cost money.

Paid per Click – Some people prefer to pay for advertising clicks.  For instance, you can buy ad space through Google where you pay every time people see your advertisement.  I have heard that there is a large learning curve with this type of advertising though so make sure you do your research well before investing in this.  It is a good idea to check your company’s internet advertising policies as some companies do not allow this.

No matter what method you try, it is important you give them time to give you results before you move on.  This means trying something for at least a month to see what types of results you are getting from it.

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Directory Advertising

New Dmoz ?

New Dmoz ? (Photo credit: Cmic Blog)

Everyone is looking for ways to get their name out there and expand their business.  One such way is to get listed in Internet directories.  Just like everything else out there, there are advantages and disadvantages to this type of advertising which we will look at below.  If the advertising is free, it is not such a risk as if you are paying for the listing.

Advantages

One stop shop – easy to find you or a consultant in their local area

Organization – tend to be categorized by area or company so easier to locate a consultant

The more people that get listed on the site, the better resource the site is and therefore, more people will use it.

Most sites tend to have more information than just consultant listings so people stay on the site longer and are more likely to find your listing.

Better advertising – as many sites are paid, they want to get traffic in order to get advertisers and be able to charge more for advertising spots.

Depending on the site, you have the opportunity to say something about your business and list various contact information including your website.

Disadvantage

One stop shop – easy to contact several people at once – same company or competitor and people will likely book with the first one to reply.

There is a cost – monthly/yearly to be listed (usually)

For the money you invest, you may not get any results

The site may only allow a limited amount of vendors for an area (can be an advantage too)

There are a lot of directories out there and it can be expensive if you start getting listed at multiple ones

Only you can decide if directory advertising is the right method for you to advertise your business.  Depending on the investment involved, it is a good idea to do some research on the site itself.  See how easily you can find it in the search engines and ask friends what terms they would use to search and see where the site ranks.

You should be able to email the administrator of the site and ask for the various statistics before you commit to the advertisement.  If they are not willing to share the information, then you likely don’t want to advertise there.

 

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