In most direct sales circles, I’m known as an online marketing coach. When you’re looking to build a web presence, get into social media or expand your reach online, I’m one of a few “go-to girls” in the Direct Sales industry. It’s how I got my start as a successful direct seller, and online marketing will always be part of my arsenal of marketing tools.
However, if you’re relying solely on marketing your business using online methods, you’re severely limiting yourself.
Sure, it’s possible to build a successful, nearly passive revenue stream using online marketing strategies and techniques. I’ve done it myself and helped hundreds of other people do the same. But it takes more time than it used to, and most direct sellers don’t have the patience or freedom to wait several months for the leads to start coming in.
Not only that, but you’re leaving good money on the table if you ignore offline marketing methods. Outside your regular shows or sales presentations, there are still a variety of effective means to market yourself and your products or services. Consider adding one (or more) of the following to your marketing mix:
I’m not a big fan of events that are strictly for networking. These “power breakfasts” often feel more like a scavenger hunt – where you’re the prey and the vultures are flocking for their next meal. That is not a beneficial use of your time. There are more social groups where networking is encouraged – like business clubs (Rotary, Chamber of Commerce, Kiwanis, etc), and other groups where the focus isn’t on networking, per se, but is a common by-product of being a member.
Clubs like Kiwanis have a civic-minded purpose, and most of the members a business people. Because of the service mentality, these groups foster long-term engagement, rather than a drop zone for your latest business card design. Because of the business-class membership, they make an excellent base of contacts for most any networking need.
Plus, there’s no restriction on how many similiar businesses can be members of the same group. Many “referral clubs” are designed so that only one member from a given industry is allowed. While it was designed to prevent competition, it also inhibits sharing of best practices, as well as limits your available choices to refer your clients. For example, if a client asks for a referral to a plumber, but you know the plumber in your referral group would be a poor fit, your choices have been limited for you. In a civic-minded business group, there may be five plumbers, and you could confidently select the referral you feel is the best fit for your client.
Social Clubs and Groups
One of my favorite activities is performing in one of our local community theater productions. In my hometown, there are six or seven independent community-based theater groups. Some people can be found auditioning for all the theaters, and some have a loyalty to one or two. each serves a different market in our community. I’ve met a diverse cross-section of teachers, therapists, state and federal employees, students, business owners, managers and even a house husband or two. Many of them have become clients to my direct sales business, and a few have even become team members.
Social clubs and groups, like book clubs, women’s groups, church societies, etc., are a great way to get involved, share a common interest, and build relationships. It’s like the offline version of facebook. You get to meet up with people that “like” what you like, build friendships, and over time, create customer relationships, too.
Publicity & Media Relations
Maybe you just came home from National Conference, or promoted to leader, or had one of your own leaders promote out? Contact the local media! Many direct sales companies have press release templates you can edit and submit to your local news and radio stations. If there’s a local angle, chances are good you’ll at least get mentioned in an upcoming news report. One placement can yield hundreds of dollars in sales revenue, not to mention business leads. One article my local paper ran about my business had the added benefit of reconnecting me with some long-lost friends from my high school days. Bonus!
At the very least, you should have some type of “keep in touch” program for your very best clients. A simple system should include a birthday note and a monthly update on the happenings of you and your company. People like getting mail from people they know, and the longer you wait to send them mail… the less likely they are to know who you are when they get that birthday card.
Not every contact should have an offer. Sometimes I’ll include a discount coupon with a birthday card, sometimes not. I don’t want my contacts to become too predictable. The goal is to have your clients know they can depend on you – not that they can depend on your to slam their mailbox with junk every month.
Hey, if you want to text message because the phone weighs 200 pounds, be my guest. One of the biggest complaints that hosts have about their consultants is that they don’t hear from you often enough. They WANT to hear your voice and know how things are going, so stop worrying and pick up the phone!
That said, it can be challenging to call past customers and hosts when you don’t feel like you have a legitimate reason to do it. You don’t want to sound pushy, right? This is where setting expectations comes in handy. When you add that new customer or host to your list of contacts, let them know that you reach out to your clients on a monthly basis. Get their permission to contact them – then DO it! When they know what to expect, it isn’t a surprise to them, and you’re not being pushy.
Have reasons for contact. Maybe it’s an item in the catalog that you think they would love. Perhaps its a host special, or special pricing for a limited time (both of which you could ‘manufacture’ just before the call). There’s always a good reason to reach out to your clients – as long as YOU believe it’s a good reason, they probably won’t debate it with you. Frankly, if they don’t want to talk to you, they just won’t answer the phone!
Any or all of these options can help you fill your business to overflowing with your perfect-fit customers and hosts. Pick one and get started. Keep a journal and write down the results of each interaction. What went well? What didn’t go according to plan? Document and tweak your offline marketing efforts as you go.
Lastly, realize that building business relationships takes TIME – and the best relationships are like fine wine – better with age. Don’t expect miracles overnight, just expect solid results over time.
© 2011 Lisa Robbin Young
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Lisa Robbin Young offers direct sales training and coaching to direct sales professionals looking to grow their business like a real business instead of an expensive hobby. Sign up for her free weekly ezine at http://www.homepartysolution.com.
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