The author of this article is Jonas Hedberg. Jonas has 20 years experience from leading roles at direct selling companies around the world, such as Oriflame, Stanhome, USANA and Isagenix. He served on the boards of the French and UK Direct Selling Associations. Currently Jonas is a consultant specializing in direct selling industry at Network Marketing Kitchen.
Guest Post by Jonas Hedberg
Marketing’s New Role To Keep A Direct Selling Company Relevant
Direct selling companies are being challenged on several fronts presently, where new gig economy alternatives and customers changing purchase behavior are two of the more important. This is great news! It’s the wake-up call the industry needed to stay, or in some cases, become relevant. It needs to be seen as an opportunity more than a threat.
What needs to happen for companies to stay relevant? In this article, I’ll address how the role of marketing needs to evolve. The old-school marketing modus operandi is often too back-office and sales tools focused. Marketing needs to become customer-centric, find a way to more actively contribute customer acquisition and loyalty and build brand awareness to fuel the economic engine.
This is how I imagine a testimonial from a happy Distributor could sound, in a company where Marketing took on this role:
“Before, in spite of having done my vision board, going to all trainings, learning Go Pro by heart and listening to three podcasts daily my earnings were far lower than expected. I struggled with signing up new customers and Distributors. Then something changed and the company started playing an active role in the customer acquisition process. As I understand it, the starting point was the customer insight initiative that Marketing led. Understanding the customers better allowed the company to target and reach out to new customers with an interest either in our products or for the earning opportunity. Put simply, we started fishing where the fish were. I still do prospecting daily but the additional flow of customers coming to me in the app makes a big difference. The company provides leads, I close the deals.
The customer insight also helped the company to improve new product development, at the end of the day we’re here to support customers with solutions they can’t get anywhere else.
The brand building efforts have also helped a lot with customer acquisition. Before few had heard about my company but after the different sponsorships and more focused social media actions (fishing where the fish are) the company got more known, which makes prospecting easier. People prefer to join something they’ve heard about and trust.
I also look forward to the customer loyalty program that will be launched soon. It will enable me to regularly contact customers with offers relevant to them and their needs.
Beside the Marketing area, also the Field Development side has evolved. I now get paid after each sale, which helps me manage my economy and it reinforces my belief that I can make a living as a gig economy worker. However, the most important impact from that change is that it how it helps newcomers. In the old system, it took too long for newcomers to make money, they often got discouraged and left. With this new system, the newcomers are guided to quickly make money which increases retention.
As a result of better customer and distributor understanding, the company has also stopped nagging me about going to the convention in the US. The show is fantastic but it didn’t make sense to me to spend a month worth of commissions to spend a week hearing about initiatives that mostly concerned other markets. It was also in the midst of our vacation season, and I chose to be a gig worker to spend more time with my family. I prefer for the company to spend money on brand building, new product development and giving back rather than putting on a convention show every year.
I feel that the company has cracked the code about what I needed as a Distributor to turbo charge my business. The parts I liked before as training, recognition and our community remains the same but in addition, Marketing has led the company into a new era”.
There’s no one size fits all approach for companies wanting to embark on this journey, it depends on where the company is in its life cycle, the product offering, the P&L, the competencies in the marketing department, etc. And it inevitably starts with a commitment from the board and management to stay relevant.