The importance of using samples to promote your direct sales business can’t be exaggerated. Having samples on hand that you can offer to potential customers, new prospects and recruits, and just about anyone who will take one can be a great way to entice customers into buying that product. And even if they don’t buy that product, it might make them interested enough to look into other products that you sell.
But what many direct sales consultants don’t realize is that handing out samples can actually hurt your business instead of helping it if it’s not done properly. Here are some tips on how to properly distribute samples, so you get the business you want.
The most important thing to remember when distributing samples is to do it professionally Simply tossing a product in a small sandwich bag and giving it to a customer will certainly send a message, but not the right one. Packaging samples this way will only tell customers that you haven’t put any real thought into the samples you’re handing out.
Your motives will also be transparent. Customers will know when they receive your poorly wrapped package that you’re only looking for a sale and you really aren’t interested in giving them a product that will genuinely help them. They may still use the sample product, but they most likely won’t call you to order a full size of the same–even if they decide to buy it.
This doesn’t mean that you have to spend all your profit on fancy, expensive sample packaging. A roll of inexpensive cellophane wrap and some ribbons will give you everything you need to professionally distribute samples.
Many direct sales companies have samples of their products that their representatives can purchase to hand out. If the company you’re selling for doesn’t offer this option, or you’re running your own company, choose a larger product such as a gift basket that’s stuffed with smaller items. Open up the basket and repackage the smaller items into smaller, individual items. This will cost you a small investment, of course, but the orders that come in because of your efforts will more than make up for it.
Another important item to remember is to act fast. Whether you’ve just met someone and want to give them a sample, or whether a customer has specifically asked you for one, send it to her as soon as possible. Having a customer wait a month to receive a sample of your product will cost impact.
Your prospect may not remember meeting you after that long a time, and she may wonder why you’re sending her a sample. Or she may be so discouraged that you took so long to get the sample out to her that she’s no longer confident buying from you. Any time you want to send someone a sample, do it as soon as possible while it’s still fresh in your mind–and theirs!
Everyone loves getting something free. And offering free samples is a great way to give your customers just that. You don’t need to spend a huge amount of money on samples or even give them out to every customer or prospect you meet. But when customers know that you’re willing to hand out freebies, they will certainly become more interested in your product. And when they’re in the market for a certain product, you’ll be the first one they call.
Advertising your direct sale business with flyers is a great way to find new customers, team members and hostesses. But not everyone knows how to design a “killer” marketing flyer that will attract attention and get results. Here are some things to consider when designing yours:
• Keep It Simple Sister. Don’t go overboard when designing a flyer. One nice graphic, one or two fonts and lots of white space make for a cleaner design, and one that’s easier to read. Since response will come only if a flyer is read, that’s your objective, and keeping your design simple will help you accomplish that goal.
• Consider what you want to accomplish with your flyer. Are you looking for orders? Hostesses? Recruits? The purpose of the flyer will determine the content.
For instance, if you want a flyer to recruit hostesses, be sure to include the benefits of hosting a party, the free gifts available, the flexibility of holding a catalog show or online party instead of an in-home show, etc.
If you’re looking for recruits, focus on the benefits of being a consultant for your company, the earnings potential, flexible hours, joy of owning your own business and more.
Let the desired outcome help you decide what information to include.
• Include full contact information. Name, phone number, email address and website URL are all important. You can even include a cell phone number if you want people to contact you that way.
• Create an interesting, eye-catching layout. One of the most common graphic design layouts follows a “C” pattern.
Look at a flyer or magazine ad that you like. Your eye typically gravitates to the top right side, then moves to the center left, then drops back to the bottom right. The effect is a visual “C”. It has a natural flow and works very well for ads and flyers.
Use this principle when creating your own flyers. Place a graphic or element at the top right, then another element in the middle of the page to the left, then let the eye naturally follow down and to the right as shown below in this sample from a Microsoft Publisher template which is included with the software.
• Another simple, yet effective design is a center line. Create your various page elements–heading, graphic, content, contact information–and center the entire flyer on the page. This is especially good for inexperienced designers who still need an attractive layout.
• Use the largest font that will fit your headline on the page. Never let words break in the middle or use hyphens in your headlines, though. But you can let the headline break to two lines if you use a natural split.
For instance, if your headline is “Earn Free Hostess Gifts!” you wouldn’t want your line to look like this:
would work. You don’t want to split your line too much or it will take up to much room. But you can use a much larger font with the second example and still break your headline in a natural spot for easy reading.
• Give benefits rather than features. Telling people how your products or business opportunity will solve their problems will achieve much better results than simply telling them what products are available or what the sales commission is. Focus on the emotions you want readers to feel and create a flyer to draw out those emotions for the greatest success.
• Offer a solution to a problem. Consider your target customer and ask yourself why she would buy your products. Is she an aging career woman who wants to look younger? Does she want to redecorate her home without the hassle of hiring an interior designer? Let her know what you can do for her!
If you’re creating a flyer to recruit your ideal team member, ask yourself the same thing… why would she sign up with your company or your team? Is she a stay at home mom who wants something to do while the kids are in school? Or is she a single parent who needs to earn extra income? Once you decide what your prospect is searching for, you can create a flyer to let her know how you can meet her need and solve her problem.
• Remember Marlon Brando in The Grandfather making people an offer they couldn’t refuse? Do the same with your flyer. Add a discount coupon with at least 20%–most people won’t even bother with a 10% discount anymore. Or promise a surprise gift free with every order, or specialized training free to new recruits. Whatever you offer, make it exciting and something your prospect can’t live without!
• Add customer testimonials. Something simple like “Marie is the BEST direct sales consultant I’ve ever met!” –L.N., or “I am so glad Marie told me about this business opportunity! The money I make has saved my family from bankruptcy!” –A.R. Always include a name or at least initials with testimonials.
Just be sure these are real testimonials, never manufactured ones! If you don’t have any, ask current clients or team members if they feel comfortable giving you a recommendation. If they do, use it on your next flyer. It can make a huge difference in your marketing efforts.
Creating a fantastic flyer for your direct sales business will require some time and planning, but it’s a simple task that anyone can do. And you can use your flyer to promote your business in so many ways. Why don’t you get started on yours right now!
Business cards are one of the best, low-cost methods for promoting your business that you’ll find, yet so few direct sales representatives use them! Maybe you think the cost isn’t justified, but there are so many things you can do with business cards that no direct sales consultant should be without several on hand at all times.
• Post your business card on every local bulletin board in town.
• Leave 2-3 on the restaurant table with your (generous) tip.
• Stick one in every envelope you mail including invoices, bill payments, letters to customers, even complaints.
• Slip one in several books in your topic area ever time you go to the library.
• Drop one in every business card drawing fish bowl you come across.
• Attach one to your catalogs before passing them out.
• Ask if you can leave a few on the counter at the doctor’s office, dentist and other places you visit.
• Hand them out anytime someone asks for your phone number.
• Use them like the old-fashioned calling cards… present one each time you’re introduced. But use some finesse here. This could be perceived as pushy if not done with the right attitude!
• Ask friends and family members to take several and share them with them their friends and co-workers.
• Buy one of those inexpensive holders that attach to a car and leave a stack of cards in it for passersby to grab.
• Add a note on the back of your business card that you’ll give a free gift or discount to anyone who refers a new customer.
• Use the back of your business card as an appointment card by including a blank line for the date and time.
• Include an inspirational message or quote on the back so people will keep your card longer.
• Attach a piece of candy to the back to “sweeten” your card.
• Need to jot down a note for someone? Write it on your business card.
• Give new team members a welcome gift of business cards with their name and the company website.
• Staple a business card to the outside wrapping on gift baskets you give out, or tape one to the bottom of the basket so everyone knows where the gift came from.
• Try folded business cards if you need more space for product or service offerings, coupons, discounts, etc.
• Order magnetic business cards that encourage customers and prospects to post your card on their fridge and keep you and your company name in sight.
• Canvass your neighborhood and leave a business card on every door.
• When you go to a convention or a trade show, share your business card whenever you take someone else’s.
Having business cards printed is cheap and easy. But don’t let them sit in a box and rot! Get out those business cards and use them to build your business offline. You’ll be surprised at what a big difference those little cards can make.
Joining a Direct Sales company can provide you with an excellent way to earn a great income with the added bonus of being able to make up your own schedule. In addition, the ability to work online opens up a huge market in which you can sell your products. Yet another avenue you should consider when marketing your products online is fundraising. Fundraising is an excellent feature to add to your online direct sales business for several reasons.
Fundraising exists to help groups that are in need of money. Fundraising is not limited to charities although they certainly do use fundraisers. Some groups that regularly run fundraisers are schools, churches, daycares/preschools, scouts, and non-profit organizations.
Quite a few direct sales companies have fundraiser programs in place for your use. Others allow you to sell creatively and make up your own fundraiser and allowing you to determine the percentage of profits that are given to the fundraising group. You can help the group conduct their fundraiser offline, online or a combination of both. Since there are such a wide variety of a products being offered by direct sales companies, groups doing fundraisers have an excellent chance of being successful, as they will be offering something new and different.
Most groups looking for a fundraiser are looking for fresh ideas in order to increase their chances of raising the cash they need. (All groups get tired of the same old fundraisers year after year. Offer them something different!) Think about what products your company has to offer. Some products, like jar candles, can be stand alone products or part of a candle package while a beauty company might offer a package that includes several items. Ask the fundraiser’s leader to brainstorm ideas with you to help them feel more involved in the offering.
If you make product delivery part of your customer service why not go the extra mile and put together the packages for them and include a business card in each order. This is sure to increase your income when you they run out of the item and wish to order it again. Likewise, think about placing a small sticker with your contact information on each individual product. The fundraising group will really appreciate your extra effort and just might book you in advance for the fundraisers in the coming years.
Adding fundraisers to your online direct sales business may also help you to meet your sales goals. Say you need to make a certain sales quota each month, simply plan ahead to organize a least one fundraiser per month and you are sure to meet your monthly sales goals.
This will also work for longer term sales goals. For example if you are hoping to win a trip that your company is offering as an incentive, fundraisers can go a long way to help you meet that goal. Try to schedule at least one fundraiser each month, and see the difference in your overall sales.
As you begin to look for ways to build your direct sales business by adding sales and contacts, definitely consider the benefits of organizing fundraisers. Not only will they help you meet your own personal goals for yourself and your business, you will be helping very worthy groups get much needed funds to help run their programs.
photo credit: mattlemmon
Are you in a direct sales business and trying to figure out, like me, how to streamline your systems so that you can spend more of your precious business time working on income generating activities?
Well, I’m here to tell you that there are some simple steps you can take NOW to help your business for the long term and an Autoresponder is one of those ways! An autoresponder is an online program that takes a prewritten email message or series of messages that you’ve created and sends it out automatically when someone signs up either via email or a web form.
That sounds a whole lot more complicated than it really is. So let me give you examples that might work in various aspects of your direct sales business to help you see how easy this really is:
Lead follow up and tracking.
Do you advertise either online or offline? With an autoresponder you can put an email address into your advertisement and when one of your potential customers/recruits emails you to find out more about your company, they are automatically sent your initial packet of information instantly. Take it one step further and you can even put a different email address into each ad, making it easy to track which ads are producing results.
Do you have a coupon or e-book that you can give away to potential new customers or recruits? Set it up in your autoresponder and create a web form (all free with most systems) that you can place in your blog or on your website. Then just add a quick statement of “Request more information on my business today and receive a free gift” sending interested prospects to your autoresponder where the gift and the information are sent to them automatically!
If you’ve built a team of distributors under you, you’ll want to stay in contact with them regularly. An autoresponder can do that easily, first with a “welcome to my team” email and then later as you broadcast your team newsletter through the list.
Help your new consultants get off to a great start in their new business with a series of email training messages geared toward those days when they are waiting for their starter kit. It’s a great way to keep the enthusiasm high during those first days!
Is there a specific area in your direct sales business that seems to generate the same questions from all the distributors in your group? Set up another series of emails specific to that business topic and set up your team members there as the questions come in.
As your direct sales business grows you’ll promote leaders from your team. Set up a series of emails congratulating them on their promotion and encouraging them in their new role as leader. Many people in direct sales have no idea what it means to lead a team of their own and you can set up a system to get them trained and equipped as well. and have it work for
Stay in contact with your customers by using an autoresponder series just like you do with your downline. Have a welcome series for new customers to keep your name and information in front of them.
Set up a series of emails that highlight a product of the month from your product line, or an email class on how to use some of your products.
Set up a series of contest emails for either your customer base or your downline. For instance, have a “scavenger hunt” through your catalog and use the autoresponder system to create the excitement over a series of
I’m guessing that most of you, unless you’re brand new to direct sales, have much of the information for many of the above ideas already in your computer somewhere. With an autoresponder it’s just a matter of transferring that information into the system where it can work for you, even when you’re off doing other things. Give it a try. Many autoresponders have a free trial offer so you can check out how they work before you take the plunge. but after just 6 months of using it with my own direct sales business, I can tell you it’s well worth every penny!
In our last article we talked about some ways to get the word out about your direct sales business without spending too much money. As a direct sales business owner you want to have the opportunity to promote as much as possible and as naturally as possible!
1. Ask for referrals at your parties – the events that you do for your business are the most natural place to promote and find new customers as well. You have a captive audience already! When you have a customer enthusiastically ordering at a party, don’t be shy. Simply say, “Jane, I’m so glad you enjoy our products so much. I’d love it if you’d share what I have to offer with some of your friends. Can I give you some of my discount cards to hand out or better yet, let’s schedule a party like this at your place so we can have another night of fun!”
2. Follow up right away – If you happen to get some names from your enthusiastic customer, don’t wait to follow up with them. Pick up the phone the next day and give them a call. It doesn’t have to be a big sales pitch. Just something simple like “I met your friend Jane last night at a party and she mentioned you…”
3. Along those lines, make it a point to call at least 3 calls to potential new customers each and every day. The phone is your best friend in your party plan direct sales business – if you use it consistently with a goal of 3 calls a day before long you’ll look forward to making those calls more and more.
4. Use your email signature – Every time you send an email you can be advertising your business for free. But don’t just put a link to your website. Use that little section of your email to create some sizzle and demand a response. A one line invitation before your web address invites them to click even faster, email you to find out your specials, cash in a coupon or get a freebie from you.
5. Get a car magnet. Much like a giant sizzle card, a car magnet or decal shouts out your business to any and everyone out there. Make it colorful, fun and make sure the words include a call to action. Add some card pockets when you are parked so interested people can walk up and get information on their own without having to write down your phone number and web address themselves.
6. Your answering machine. Get a separate phone number for your business and make sure that your outgoing message is a clear promotion of your business. Even here you can be voicing a call to action on your message.
7. Carry your product with you. Keep samples of your direct sales company products on hand and show or give them out freely. Keep a box of “refills” in your trunk so you can put more in your purse or bag when you run out.
8. Booths and fairs – participate in local vendor events with the goal of getting the word out about your business and networking with other direct sales reps to look for joint venture arrangements.
9. Send thank you notes – one of the most powerful ways you can keep a customer and gain referrals is with a personal note to them in the mail thanking them for their order or just to say hello.
10. Plan customer appreciation events and hostess only previews. Make your current customers feel special by letting them in on your upcoming promotions first – before anyone else. Have a monthly preview party or take some time just to call those folks whenever you can let them in on something special that’s upcoming.
If you keep your business in the front of your own mind at all times, you will be able to share it with others very naturally throughout your every day comings and goings. Make the most of every opportunity and share from the heart!