Direct Sales Tips – What is Direct Sales?

Direct sales is a method of selling a consumer product or a service, person-to-person and away from a fixed retail location. These consumer products are sold through in-home product demonstrations, “home parties” and one-on-one selling by salespeople. Such products or services are usually marketed to customers by independent salespeople or teams of salespeople. Depending on the sales company structure, the salespeople may be called consultants, distributors, representatives, or a number of other different titles. Direct selling can be a part time job or a full time business, depending on the needs and wants of the salesperson. Direct sales is one of the oldest sales methods still going strong today.

Industry representative, the World Federation of Direct Selling Associations (WFDSA), reported that its 59 regional member associations had accounted for over US$114 Billion in retail sales in 2007, through the activities of over 62 million independent sales representatives.

According to the WFDSA, consumers and customers benefit from direct selling and sales because of the high quality of service, convenience, delivery method, and the satisfaction guarantees provided. A major benefit to an individual that wants to begin a career in the independent direct selling business is the usually low startup costs. Most companies require little or no required inventory or other cash commitments to begin. If a company you are interested in joining does require high costs for inventory and startups, be very careful. These companies may actually be pyramid schemes, not direct selling or sales companies.

Research by the United States Direct Selling Association (DSA) reported that in the year 2000, 55% of adult Americans had at some time purchased items or services from a direct sales consultant and 20% reported that they were currently(6%) or had been in the past(14%) a direct sales consultant.

Direct selling is different from direct marketing because it is focused on individual sales agents contacting, networking, and dealing directly with clients and customers. Direct marketing is business organizations more focused on seeking a relationship with their customers without going through a salesperson or retail outlet.

Direct sales companies also usually offer a multi-level compensation plan that greatly benefits the individual consultants. Not only does the company pay commission to the salesperson for their own individual sales, but they will also pay bonuses on sales of other salespersons that were introduced and trained by that particular salesperson. Not only can someone make decent income by networking and selling the services or products, but by building and training a large successful team of individual consultants.

Direct selling can be the key to running your own business and being able to control your income. With a successful direct sales company and a well thought out plan of attack, Direct Selling can be your ticket to freedom from bosses, commutes, and time restraints.

How Article Marketing Will Help Your Home-Based Business

There are many ways that you can market your home business so others know what you are doing. The obvious is placing ads in newspapers, mailing flyers and brochures to potential customers, and setting up a website where you can direct people to see your business online. If you are not using article marketing as a tool to promote your home business, you may be missing out on a lot of potential customers that otherwise would not know how to find you.

Understanding

Article marketing is a campaign that you undertake by writing articles for the Internet. These articles are then distributed to various article directories. Once your article is approved, it is listed in the article directory and picked up by search engines. Thus, when a potential customer types in keywords that pertain to your home business niche, you have a better chance of them finding your website. Many people will also search directly for articles within article directories, making the chances of them finding you even greater.

How to Set Up a Campaign

There are a few points that you must adhere to in order to make an article marketing campaign work for you. First, you have to make sure that your articles are original and written solely for you. You cannot copy someone else’s article, slap your name on it as the writer, and expect article directories to pick it up. In fact, if you do this, chances are you will be banned from many article directories. You can write the articles yourself, or have someone else write the articles for you, but they must be original.

The next step to a successful campaign is to avoid selling yourself in your articles. You want people to find you and buy your products or services. That is the whole point behind article marketing. But, your articles cannot sound like sales ads. They have to be based on good quality information that customers are looking for. You will have the opportunity to direct people to your website through an Author Box at the end of your article. This is where you put your name and website address and highlight any promotions or sales that will drive traffic to your website. Articles that are written to sound like sales ads are often rejected by article directories, and your efforts and time are wasted.

Finally, you must write informational articles often. Article marketing is only successful when you write on a consistent basis. Depending on the popularity of your business niche, it can take time to develop traffic to your website. The more you write good articles, the more you are setting yourself up as an expert in your niche. Writing only two or three articles will set you up for disappointment. On average, it takes about 20 or more articles to generate the kind of traffic that makes an impact on your website. Be patient.

Getting Your Articles Submitted to Directories

Submitting articles to directories can be a cumbersome task. Many directories require that you sign up with a user name and password before you are allowed to submit any articles. The actual act of submitting articles is very tedious as well. Many directories manually review each article before posting it to their site.

Thankfully, there are services that will submit your articles for you to hundreds of directories. These services come in the form of software programs and submission service websites. You just need an account, and they will do the work for you. You submit your articles to the service, and they take care of the registering and submitting of articles to the article directories.

Article marketing has become a very popular and proven marketing tool for home business owners over the past few years. It does take time to build yourself up as an expert in your niche, so give article marketing time to work. Most directories will give you stats on your articles, such as how many times it was read, so you can gauge whether or not your article marketing campaign is successful. The more articles you write on a regular basis, the better the chances that you will soon reap the rewards of your efforts by generating more traffic to your website.

Marketing Incest

I think we all know that “incest” is a terrible word. But how does it apply to marketing? Well, in this context, it applies when your products or services, your company, or your marketing methods or strategies are too closely related to those of your competitors.

In human culture, inbreeding dumbs people down and makes certain rare illnesses far more prevalent. The same thing happens in non-human populations. I’ve raised dogs all of my life, and I’ve learned that purebred dogs are the ones most likely to have health issues, because they’re inbred. Sometimes the healthiest dogs are what we call “Heinz 57″ dogs — the kind where you can’t tell what breed they are, because they’re a little bit of this, and a little bit of that. Well, those types of companies are the healthiest companies, too.

Marketplaces tend to be incestuous in the sense that they’re resistant to outside influence. Ultimately, you end up with the blind leading the blind, and to be blunt, the stupid following the stupid. Everyone following the same methods. There’s no innovation. People are afraid to stand out. There’s nothing that really separates one company from another company. Even if there are things that separate them, they’re not making a big deal about them in an attempt to attract new customers — and they should.

You could ask a hundred different marketing experts, “What is marketing?”, and their answers would range all over the place. Some of the people who have advanced degrees behind their names will give you very complicated answers that take fifteen minutes or more to explain. That’s not necessary. What it all boils down to is this: Marketing is all you do to acquire and retain customers. Period.

There’s a great book by Seth Gordon called Purple Cow, and it tells you how to transform your business by being remarkable. You do that by offering something that’s so great about you, your company, or your products or services that people talk about it. It gets them so excited that they feel it’s worthy of conversation. We’ve seen this in action with great movies, great restaurants, or excellent services. You can do the same with your company. Make people talk about your products and services with awe. If you do that, you’ll be rewarded with money.

This is extremely important, because effective marketing requires that you separate yourself from everybody else. Technically, this is known as “differentiation.” You must differentiate yourself to avoid marketing incest. You’ve got to offer something different to your customers, something unique and intriguing. So here’s the burning question: what makes you, your company, your products and services different from everyone else? What makes you important to your best prospective buyers or customers?

You have to ask yourself that question repeatedly; and I suspect that at first, your answer will be “nothing in particular” or something weak like, “We offer great service.” (This is normal, by the way.) But if you ask that question often enough, you’ll start zeroing in on what you do or can do better than anyone else in your market. That’s a great starting point. From there, you have to either discover or create your points of differentiation.

The average prospect will rarely ever say to you, “What’s different about you, opposed to everybody else?”, or “Why should I choose you over all the other available choices?” But nevertheless, you need to have an answer ready — because they’re all asking themselves variations of that question. They have a finite amount of money to spend, so they’re wondering, “What is it about you, your company, and your products and services that makes you different? Why should I choose you?”

Just because they don’t say the words doesn’t mean that they’re not thinking then, because they’re always wondering. And as I’ve already indicated, the real answer for most companies is, there’s not a whole lot of difference between them and everyone else. That’s why behavior that some might consider outrageous stands out. Consider the entertainment world, where Lady Gaga might be the best example at the moment. She’s worth something like $100 million these days — and her fans adore her.

She does the most outrageous things. She showed up at the 2010 MTV Music Awards dressed in meat. I’m not making this up! It was outrageous, and people talked about it — a lot. Well, I’m not asking you to do anything like that, but you do need to make some effort to make yourself different. Don’t go too far, but don’t just copy everyone else, either.

Now, is Lady Gaga more talented than other singers? You make the call. If you’re reading this sometime in the future and the name’s not familiar, just check her out on the Internet (or whatever it’s morphed into by then). She’s a marketing phenomenon, if nothing else. Her name is kind of dumb, but it sticks, doesn’t it? And her outrageous performances make her memorable. She’s always dressed in something outrageous, something that looks totally different every time. As for her music, there’s not a lot of difference between it and everybody else’s. I don’t see her being especially gifted musically, though of course she does have some talent. But her big talent is standing out in a very crowded marketplace.

Personally, I’m a big fan of Bruce Springsteen. He’s got loads of talent, but he made his big mark through the length of his concerts. Where others might last 90 minutes to two hours, he’s up there performing for four and five hours, sometimes longer. He’s also a phenomenal performer, giving it all he has for all that time, putting it all out there for the fans. He’s remarkable, because he’s different from all the other rockers — and I’ve seen plenty of them.

Wichita, Kansas and the other cities I’ve attended concerts in aren’t exactly on the main circuit… and you could see how bored the performers were when they got up on stage. Sometimes they would even turn their backs to the audience. These guys were our heroes, and we paid big bucks to see them — money that could have gone for a million other things — and they were blowing us off like we didn’t matter. That’s like a slap in the face.

Bruce Springsteen wasn’t like that. He performed for us, singing his heart out. Not only did he go for two or three times longer than the rest of these guys, but he gave everyone a hell of a show. I became a huge fan of Bruce Springsteen and his band, because I admire them so much — especially how they’ve differentiated themselves from everybody else.

It’s easy to see real differentiation in the music business, which is crowded with clones. Most markets are like that, and again, many of the companies in all marketplaces are like the blind leading the blind. But in the country of the blind, the one-eyed man is king — so keep your eye open. Instead of copying others, reach for something different. Why don’t more people do this? Because they’re afraid to.

Look: people want to know who you are. They want to do business with other people. It’s the relationships that are important. So don’t be afraid to tell your story — and stop being a copycat. Sadly, you find Market Incest everywhere you look. Once you’re aware of this, it’s like the Jackson Browne song with the line that goes, “You take Sally, and I’ll take Sue, there ain’t no difference between the two.” You can’t let yourself be like that, so find those differentiations that make you unique. Look for weak areas that your competitors aren’t serving, jump in, and inject that “wow” factor to make yourself stand out above the crowd.

Here’s another useful idea: adapt ideas from other markets. My best example here is something you take for granted every time you go to your local fast food joint and don’t even have to leave your car to get your food. A McDonald’s executive was at a drive-through bank one day when it occurred to him that he could adapt the idea to his restaurant — and the rest is history. Nowadays, everybody’s got a drive-through window, even Starbucks. People are pre-conditioned to expect it. If you don’t have a drive-through window, they’ll go somewhere else that does.

So look for ideas outside your marketplace. The essence of creativity is combining existing ideas in whole new ways. Innovate. Search for new and exciting ways to do the same things that everybody else is doing. Look at it as a game — a challenge.

Remember: “In the land of the blind, the one eyed man is king.” All you have to do is find those points of differentiation that make you different, and build them into your business. Do that, and you’ll see a lot of prospects gravitating to you instead of your competitors.