When starting a business in direct sales, marketing can seem daunting. There were so many questions that ran through my mind in the beginning and I did not know where to start! What do I share on social media? How do I keep from annoying the peas out of my friends and family? When is too much, too much? What I did know from day one as a direct seller, was what I would not do.
I would not ram my business down the throats of my family and friends on my personal page. I would be classy. Guilting people into buying was not an option. So, how did I accomplish this? Mistakes. Hard work. Relationships.
When I began selling LuLaRoe, it was not well-known and I didn’t know how to build my market. I had to figure a lot of things out on my own through trial and error or googling! Using appropriate methods of direct sales marketing was important to me, but I still didn’t always get it right.
Hard Lessons Learned
My desire to not post on my personal page about my business led me to utilizing a closed Facebook group for my business. That is how I learned about LuLaRoe, so I thought it was a good starting point instead of posting about my business on my personal page. I decided to add ladies that I thought would love the clothes into this closed and market my business to them in “private”. Key word: THOUGHT. I didn’t ask if they wanted to be there, and that was a mistake. Doing so removed personal choice from many of my friends and I should have never done that. I am fortunate that my friends love me and know me well enough that adding them did not ruin our relationship. Sometimes you think you are being classy when you are really being a jerk.
I did an “add your friends for a chance to get something free” contest. This tactic is common in LuLaRoe circles and direct sales. This method will not build a community because it is manipulative, about you, and does not showcase the value of your product. Without a doubt, friends added others to my page that did not want to be there and did not see value in my product. Again, I thought I was being classy and fun when in actuality I was giving my friends permission to be jerks!
A better approach to my direct sales marketing would have been more organic. If I could do it all over I would have talked individually to my friends about my new venture. Then I would have asked their permission to add them to my group. I would have shared my page at in-home pop-ups and asked people to join. I would have joined Mom groups, homeschooling communities, and engaged in more conversations at my kids’ extra curricular activities. Instead, I spammed people (adding people without consent is spamming!) and I regret that! Once I realized I made a mistake, I set out to build organically and only added people to my page after I formed a relationship with them.
I learned that the key to direct sales marketing is to never assume interest in my product, and to ask first! Some other things that I saw happening, but never did myself, were CONSTANT talking about the business and the opportunity on personal pages. Desperate “I need to sell this much more for…” posts, that just made people look UNSUCCESSFUL. Lack of understanding about the purpose of a Facebook business page or failure to utilize them at all. Intense focus on the product, rather than the reason the person loves the business they are in to begin with.
Whenever I am asked how I built my online “shopping page” I offer them the following steps to building and online COMMUNITY:
- Create a Facebook Business page. I linked my “work” to it from my personal profile. My “work” shows up on my timeline and I get organic clicks that way. It is also searchable for my area, which has brought me customers and teammates! I do not spam my personal page asking people to join my business page. Instead, I build relationships, talk about my product, and if someone shows interest I share my page with them. My Instagram is linked to it, so I am only posting in one place for double the benefits.
- Do not rely on your warm market. 90% of the people in my online community came to my group because of pop-ups or other people personally inviting them. I did a huge cleaning of my page and deleted people who were added by others or never shopped with me after I realized my marketing mistake. I didn’t personally know them, so I didn’t think it was appropriate to reach out to them on personal messenger. If you grow organically from the beginning, you probably won’t have to do a page cleaning! Reach beyond your warm market!
- Start small. When starting out, do not invite your entire friends list to open houses and events. Invite a select group of people and encourage them to BRING a friend along. I encouraged them to bring someone because everyone loves to have someone they know well with them at events (besides the busy host). I have more success with ladies coming to open house and parties if they feel it is open to extra guests (everyone loves a girls night out).
- “People don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it.” – Simon Sinek I lead with my why. My business is about staying home with my kids, helping my Mom retire, and making others feel good about themselves. Every decision I make is led with my why. I share my family with my online community, I share my Mom with them (she is a big part of my business), and I NEVER stick someone with something they don’t love. Sales are nice, but not at the cost of someone’s self-confidence. Which leads me to 5…
- Always, always, always provide excellent customer service. Treat others how you want to be treated. People will remember you and want to stay in your community if you treat them well.