I’m a target for direct marketing. It’s rare that a week goes by that I’m not approached about hosting one for a friend or an out of touch acquaintance. And when I say direct marketing, I mean the dreaded “pyramid party”. It’s the one where you feel obligated (to some extent) to spend money for your acquaintance’s well-being and benefit.
Please, don’t get me wrong. I think it’s wonderful that so many feel empowered to build a business on their own – to network, extend, and try their skills in regards to marketing and personal development. What bothers me is that so much of this venture comes at the sacrifice of our relationship (or my personal sanity).
Last holiday season, fellow Reno Mom’s Blog correspondent, Lauren Bradfield, wrote up a blog on how to host a direct to consumer party – including tips on bringing wine, relevant product samples, and a good time for all. I’m going to take it a step further. I’ve spent the better part of my career helping large brands reach out to their consumers on Social Media, through interactive marketing, and I’ve come up with some rules for those of you who participate in this kind of sales model:
How to Use (Not Abuse) your Social Network
Rule #1 I’m your friend, not your customer: While this business can be a primary source of income for you and your family, it isn’t all of who you are. In fact, the people who are your friends on Facebook did, in fact, know you prior to you selling Arbonne. Remember that. I don’t talk about my work 100% of the time, nor should you. Don’t inundate your friends with posts solely about an upcoming sale. In fact, your ratio should really be closer to 20% business, 80% personal. You’ll notice this is actually in direct contradiction to the Party Rule #1, and that, my friends, is because you’re using a social network to disseminate your information (not opting in to a party meant to market your product).
Rule #2 Sell value, not products: Any good marketer knows that you shouldn’t expect someone to purchase something from you without valuing your stand point in that industry. I’ll give you an example: let’s say little ol’ me took up Avon. (If you know anything about me, which, you probably don’t, you’d know that makeup and I don’t get along). Why would you trust someone who doesn’t wear makeup to buy makeup from? So the first thing I’d do is go about establishing my authority within that industry. I’d share content from various blogging experts regarding makeup tips, tricks, and trades. And most importantly – none of it would be selling you anything. Build trust, and sales come organically. Share valuable information with your network that will help them when they are ready to make a purchase.
Rule #3 Bring them to your “house”: Want to share more information about your sales? Want to get more aggressive about the amount of content you post regarding your products? Start a separate, business page on Facebook. That’s why Facebook has a business page option – to promote your business.
Rule #4 What have you done for me lately?: Haven’t talked to me in four months? Don’t ask me to buy your product. It’s that simple. To be a more effective seller online, you need to be a constant presence in your connection’s lives. That means interacting positively (and without selling-ly) with your network’s social lives. Comment on their status updates, wish them a happy birthday (and by more than saying just “Happy Birthday Name”). Like their beautiful pictures of their kids that you’ve seen 100 times. Be an active presence in their lives before you expect them to come to you for product questions.
Does this sound like a lot of work? Good. It’s no different from what major business do to request your attention. You’re running a business – and “easy sale” isn’t often said in a tightened budget.