Direct Selling Reputation – How to Improve It

In my last post discussing my take-aways from the DSA Whistlestop Tour, I went into the main causes of the industry’s reputation problem – a hot topic at each event along the tour stops. But diagnosing the problem is only the first step, and we need to focus on creatively developing real solutions.

solutions Direct Selling Reputation   How to Improve It

Working Toward Solutions

So the question is, what can we do to help improve upon the problem, to highlight all of the positive attributes of direct selling, while putting to rest the myths? I certainly don’t have all the answers, but here are a few actionable tactics that we can take toward improving the public reputation of direct selling overall:

Leverage the Sales Force to Spread the Message

Whether it’s your company’s messages about the positive benefits and strengths of direct selling, or the carefully crafted materials produced by the DSA, we should be strategically leveraging the over 16 million passionate direct sellers in the US as powerful vehicles of communication to the masses.

Of course this needs to be handled delicately, so as not to risk distorting the message or taking distributors off-course from the task at hand (selling and recruiting).

But the truth is, distributors on the front lines have the hardest and most direct challenge of overcoming our industry’s stigma – so they stand to gain significantly from improving the public perception of direct selling. Many will gladly help distribute the right messages as part of their daily outreach, especially on the web through their activity in social networks.

By providing them with company or DSA approved materials and assets (i.e. templated blog posts, Facebook updates and Tweets, videos, ads, printed materials, etc.), you’d be arming them with the proper artillery to fight the naysayers and boost the public perception of the industry.

SEO fraud Direct Selling Reputation   How to Improve It

Optimize Web Content to Drive Down Direct Selling Negative Spin

In Google and other search engines, it’s too easy to find “scam reports” and other negative drivel bashing just about every legitimate direct selling company, as well as the industry on a whole. For many people, this is their first impression of our industry, or a specific company they’re researching. So why don’t we do something about it?

Some companies, like 4Life Research, are ahead of the game and are optimizing their website content for the keywords people are searching them by – including the negative ones. Many companies haven’t employed this sort of SEO (search engine optimization) strategy at all, and thus have no presence in many search results that are flooded with negative articles and websites about their company.

The first step to having a presence in these results is to understand what people are searching for. Once you know the terms, you can optimize your website’s content for them so that you’ll start showing up.

happy reps Direct Selling Reputation   How to Improve It

Improve What’s Within Control: MLM Distributor Retention

Too many companies in the past (and still today) have been laser focused on recruitment – to the point that reducing distributor attrition is a distant afterthought, if given any attention at all.

I believe this is a very important aspect of direct selling that needs to be addressed head on, at each and every company. Think about it, it’s a Win-Win-Win: the company benefits from having more successful and more active distributors over time, the distributors prosper by sticking with their investment of time and money to grow their business, and the industry strengthens by having more concrete validation of the business model.

I believe the key to reducing attrition is a three-pronged approach:

1. Develop an Aggressive Quick-Start Program
The first 30-90 days are critical to the ongoing success and continued activity of any new distributor, and it’s when the majority of new recruits quit. Many companies have already created very sophisticated quick-start programs, but there’s still a lot of room for improvement. Companies should investigate the main causes of their distributor attrition problem, gain direct feedback from the field, and creatively develop programs to mitigate the issues and get new distributors started on the right track immediately.

2. Work Closely with Leaders
Companies should also work more closely with their leaders, to learn the best practices in recruitment and sponsoring that have evolved organically in the field, and develop duplicable tactics that sponsoring distributors can use, which should in turn be integrated into the quick-start program.

3. Give them Better Tools
Many companies are way behind the times in providing their sales force with effective marketing tools to use to grow their businesses, especially online. Most distributors these days want to expand beyond their warm market, and start recruiting and selling online. So why only provide them with a generic, ineffective replicated website?

tools mlm Direct Selling Reputation   How to Improve It

Companies should be developing social media strategies and guidelines, web marketing & e-commerce best practices, and more than anything they should be providing distributors with better, more personalized websites. After all, a website should be the hub for distributors, where traffic can be directed to, prospects can become engaged and build trust with the distributor, and product sales & enrollment can be generated.

Platforms like Empowerkit enable companies to offer distributors highly personalized lead capture websites with social media integration, easy content marketing, and streamlined lead follow-through – while still giving the company the control over compliance issues and branding. If you’d like to learn more about Empowerkit, click on the link above!

What do you think about the public perception of direct selling? What are the causes? And more importantly, what are the solutions? I’d love to see your thoughts in the comments below!

mage credits: Mykl Roventine (Answers), Igor (Google search) Blue Diamond Photography (tools to improve retention, like Replicated Websites)

April 13, 2011

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