Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Gain More Customers by Offering Free Product Samples

Recently I came across a product I wanted to try before I buy. So I contacted the sales rep and she explained the products, its ingredients, and so forth. She informed me the company doesn’t offer samples however any purchase I make from the website comes with a 30-day, no hassle, money back guarantee. Fair enough I said. But I was thinking: is it that much work to assemble the samples yourself? When it comes to general products like personal care and household products, people are already using another product that's probably working just fine for them. So if you want to redirect someone's spending and gain new customers, offer people free samples of your products, especially to a prospect that asked you for it!

It wasn't that I was unwilling to spend the $20 on the product. It was more about making sure I can use the product without experiencing an allergic reaction. And truthfully, I'm not the type to return a product. It's inconvenient to package it up, drive to the post office, and pay for returning the product. Unless the return is super easy like Netflix or paid by the company like Zappos or Sephora, the product ends up in my trash.

But more importantly, the moral of the story is that I kinda felt like I was given the brush off. Maybe she was an inexperienced sales rep. Or maybe it was her company’s protocol in how they handle sample requests. Whatever the reason, I couldn’t help thinking, I was a hot prospect who just turned cold. The truth is it’s not even about the actual samples but the way the situation was handled. Product samples are a dime in a dozen and I could easily get free samples elsewhere.

Most companies are eager to let potential customers try before they buy because it’s an effective form of gaining a new customer. If you make a purchase at Sephora, a beauty online store, you get to choose several free samples of your choice. Email marketing services like Aweber and Constant Contact offer free trials up to 60 days because they know it’s easier to attract new customers with this offer.

Now, I’m not saying I haven’t made an online purchase without trying samples first or unwilling to. The moral of the story is that when you have someone contacting you with an interest to try your products, not only do you have a hot prospect, but you have a qualified prospect. This is especially an important lesson for direct sellers because the lifeblood of your business is generating leads. Experienced direct sellers know that one of the most effective forms of recruitment is to recruit their best customers into their business so you always start with having a satisfied customer first.

If the situation were reversed, I’d take the time to assemble the products, even if my company doesn’t have ready-made samples. The upside is huge and I’m not even thinking about the one time sale of a $20 order. I’m talking about the potential to build a long-term relationship with my customer.

Why do suppose a company like Zappos spends little money on advertisements? Because the majority of its business comes from their repeat, satisfied customers. Happy customers are more likely to make future purchases and they tell people they know. Zappos is all about customer service- it’s a customer driven company that happens to sell shoes, is the way Tony Hsieh puts it.

Regardless of what product you’re selling- a $20 vitamins or a $40 skin care product, understand that what people want most besides a quality product is to know their time and business is being valued and appreciated. Even if your company doesn’t have ready made samples available, make them up yourself. Do your best to get and retain customers by giving them an opportunity to try before they buy. It's one of the most effective ways to gain new customers!

Have you had a similar experience? Leave your comments or questions in the Comment section.

Friday, March 26, 2010

More Internet Marketing Freebies to Help YOU with Your Direct Sales, Network Marketing Business

My latest project is working on a blog that will expand on how to use internet and attraction marketing to build a successful direct sales, network marketing, or any home business, online. I'm hearing too many people say they've run out of leads or they just don't want to bug people they know to help them promote their business by hosting home parties for them. I hear ya!

My new blog MarketingDirectSales will offer much more bells and whistles with internet and attraction marketing techniques that are proven and used by some of the most successful internet, network marketers in the business! I will share some of those secrets with you.

Not to worry as this blog will continue to be active and have all direct sales and marketing tips that you've come to enjoy and refer to.

So, if you feel like checking out what's to come on my new blog, here's my latest article:

Are You Building a Direct Sales Empire or Babysitting Your Team? at MarketingDirectSales.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

6 Tips to Syndicate Your Blog Content via RSS Feed

If you have a blog, start syndicating your blog content via RSS feed (really simple syndication), for your loyal readers to subscribe to. It’s a powerful way as a blog owner to promote your blog’s RSS feed and for your readers to get updated news quickly. Let’s say you’re in direct sales or in a business that offers new products or special discounts only available to your blog subscribers, your blog content will be delivered faster via RSS feed. More people are getting their news via RSS because it’s convenient and a time saver to get all their important news in one place.

This is especially convenient for people who follow multiple websites. Instead of visiting each site, subscribing via RSS delivers the content to them in one place via a feed reader. Bloglines is a popular feed reader as well as Google Reader and there are many others to choose from. If you’re a blog owner and not using RSS feed to promote your blog, here are 6 easy tips to get started:

1. Burn an RSS feed using Feedburner. Feedburner will also socialize your feed and deliver content to Twitter automatically whenever you have new content.

2. You can also socialize your feed to LinkedIn, Facebook, BlogCatalog, Bloglines, Technorati, and social bookmarking sites.

3. Submit to RSS feed directories. There are free and paid ones. Feedagg.com is one of my favorites. Most of them is as simple as entering your blog’s RSS feed url. If you’re going to use a paid submission directory, make sure that it’s reputable and submissions are being reviewed by real people.

4. Submit to major search engines like Google, Yahoo, MSN and so forth. On my Google Reader, I can see my blog feed as well as others that I’m currently subscribed to.

5. Submit to niche social networks like Ning.com.

6. Ping it everywhere you can. The more you ping the more traffic is generated for your blog.

I have to admit I’m a fan and subscriber to multiple RSS feeds. I also see a huge potential in terms of search engine rankings by promoting my blog RSS feed. That said, there’s always a possibility that your readers might feel the need NOT to visit your blog often because they’re already getting the updates through their feed reader. Certainly something to ponder so I did some digging and came across a blog at Problogger addressing this.

What are your thoughts on this? What are some ways that you can encourage your readers to visit your blog in addition to subscribing to your blog feed? Be sure to leave your thoughts under the Comment section below. If you like this, click the RSS icon to subscribe via RSS.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Are You Overlooking Work-At-Home Forums and Groups?

Experienced direct sales, network marketing, and business owners know that the success of their business is all about marketing. Work-at-home, direct sales, network marketing forums and groups can be an effective platform as an add-on to your overall marketing efforts. My post: You Can’t Brand YOU if You’re Promoting Your Company’s Replicated Website attracted numerous comments on my blog, work-at-home forums, and groups on LinkedIn that I participate in. Here’s how I use forums and groups to attract comments on my blog and build an audience without directly promoting my business.

Even if you have the best blog or products but if no one knows how to find you, which means no one knows about you, then you might as well be in business for yourself. Starting a blog is just the first step. Besides churning out value-added contents, promoting your blog will require time and commitment on your part, because you need to ping it everywhere you can.

In addition to promoting your blog to Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, I recommend checking out forums and groups. You’ll find a ton of them on Google, Yahoo, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Ning which has a huge network of groups! Keep in mind that there are more groups than active members so don’t jump in right away but lurk around and see if it offers the quality of interaction that you’re looking for:

Do the members engage with one another?
Do the members offer helpful tips?
Or are they just promoting their products and business opportunity?

Here’s how to search for forums: topic/forum i.e. direct sales/forum. Within forums, you can advertise your business where appropriate however, keep in mind that other direct sellers are doing the same thing.

Personally, I would approach forums and groups as you would social networks. That is, you’re looking to meet new people and make virtual friends. Approaching it from a business opportunity or selling your products is not an effective way to meet people and you’ll find your messages ignored. If you’re new to a forum, participate by answering questions, or responding to comments. Once you’re more comfortable and have connected with some people on a regular basis, you can begin to share your blog posts that offers tips that other direct sellers can use to enhance their business.

In fact, I’ve found sharing topics that are helpful to fellow direct sales business owners, have resulted in frequent traffic visits to my blog, comments, followers on Twitter, and personal emails. None of my posts have anything to do with my company products or business opportunity! The more you share your knowledge, the more likely others will want to connect with you. Besides, if other direct sales folks are only focused on promoting their business, your value-added contribution to the forum or group will only enhance your visibly, and will surely create curiosity.

Marketing your brand will take time and loads of patience. Just remember that if you’re sitting back and doing nothing then you’ll get nothing. As Gary Vaynerchuk says in his book Crushing It “anything is better than zero” and everything starts with one. If you find forums and groups isn’t your thing, check out LinkedIn Answers. You might enjoy helping others by answering their questions.

As always, share your thoughts with us by leaving a comment in the Comment section.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Energizing Your Business With Spring Cleaning

I'm very excited to have Jeanette Eleffe with Focused Vitality as our guest blog this week! Focused Vitality is about helping you with Success, Happiness & Spunk for your life, career, and business!

Spring is traditionally a time when we get busy spring cleaning our homes. This is the season of renewal, pastel colors, blue skies and sunshine. Let’s review these traditional spring activities and apply them to our businesses!

General cleaning – What needs to be “cleaned up” in your business? Where do you need more elbow grease or a stronger detergent in order to make your business sparkle? When my house is clean and organized I feel good, creative and inspired; when my business feels clean I feel those things a hundredfold! This is a perfect time to do an inventory of your business to determine what needs to be cleaned: Marketing plan? New money goals? Redefine your target market? You name what needs to be cleaned.

Getting Rid of Clutter – Clutter and disorganization have a way of making you feel more disorganized and overwhelmed. What a timewaster; wading through clutter to find something! Where is there clutter in your business? What is causing you disorganization? What are you losing by this clutter? What will you gain by eliminating this clutter? Make a spring resolution to rid your business of one piece of clutter today.

Cleaning the windows – Oh I love clean windows! To be able to see clearly outside without streaks and marks is very gratifying. Imagine the window is the lens that you use to view how you run your business. What beliefs are you holding onto that keep your windows dirty and unclear? (Example: “I believe that making sale calls is being a nuisance!”) Change your view and change your beliefs to something positive that supports your vision for you a successful business. (Example: “I love helping people feel better about themselves when I show them my products.”) You have the window cleaner in you hand and you can choose to change the view!

Rearranging your wardrobe – Out with the cold-weather clothes and in with the spring and summer colorful threads! Where in your business do you want more color, more comfort, more dancing? What new tools or resources do you need? Visualize yourself in your favorite vacation outfit. Make this dream vacation come true this year. Create it through being successful with your business.

Repot the plants – The houseplants love new soil, fertilizer, and a bigger pot to stretch their roots into. What do you want to stretch into? Where do you want to grow? What kind of flower are you? Grow your own garden and give yourself flowers! Perhaps it is time to do some repotting of your business so it can grow too!

These are great questions to use in the spring cleaning of your business. Use them for some self-reflection and continue to support yourself and grow into the marvelous Energized Woman that you are!

Happy Spring!

Fondly Focused,

Jeanette Eleff
Focused Vitality
Be sure to visit Focused Vitality for additional tips and resources.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

You Can’t Brand YOU If You’re Promoting Your Company’s Replicated Website

Last month, I blogged about direct sellers and network marketers need to set up their own blog or website that is separate from their company’s replicated website. Here’s my original post

If you’re new to direct sales, network marketing you may not know the importance of setting up your own blog or website because I certainly didn’t. One of the main reasons why you need to consider setting up a blog (besides the fact that it’s relatively easy to do), is that it gives you the freedom to promote YOU. It’s your opportunity to tell potential prospects why they should partner with you. It’s your opportunity to talk about your company’s products and opportunity, if you choose to. It’s your opportunity to showcase the things you’re darn good at which you can’t showcase on a replicated website.

Your company’s replicated website is a generic website that has the same content and is given out by the hundreds and thousands to distributors. It's beautifully designed, no doubt, with important info about the company and products, however it's not about YOU.

Google, Yahoo and other major search engines index content. The more original the content, the better a blog or website, will be ranked. I could go on and on about why you need to have a blog. But if I haven’t talked you into the importance of starting a blog or website to brand yourself just yet, perhaps this article by Bill Hartzer will shed some light for you. The article specifically discusses the importance of search engine optimization for network marketers. Definitely check it out and share with your team!

As always, would love to hear your thoughts. Select Read More at the end of this article and leave me a Comment.

Search Engine Optimization and Network Marketing: How to Get More Leads

Monday, March 8, 2010

Repeat after me: Direct Sales is Selling NOT Sharing

Now that I've got your attention ... here’s the real scoop on what it takes to succeed in direct sales: recognize that you’re in the business of selling and sponsoring. It’s called direct SALES, not direct SHARE. When I tell people that I love to shop at Trader Joe’s, I’m sharing because I’m not being compensated. But if I tell them about my company’s amazing skin care products, I’m sharing with the intention of selling, so my motives for sharing is completely biased. Sharing and selling is not the same.

Why do you suppose people are uncomfortable even when they’re told to “share” their love for the products? Because deep down they know they’re selling. If they’re just sharing, they wouldn’t feel uncomfortable doing it, because we share our favorite restaurants, movies, and things all the time, without any discomfort.

Let’s be honest here, direct sales, network marketing, is a sales job, and it takes work if you’re planning on making a good income as a consultant. You’re in the business to sell products and sponsor people. Those are the ultimate end goals. However, selling is more than just saying, hey would you like to buy our best selling eye cream, or we’ve got the best compensation plan? Experienced direct sellers and network marketers know that selling takes time to sift through prospects, asking open-ended questions to pre-qualify their prospects, and evaluating their prospects to see if they’re really interested. You don’t have a prospect until someone has an interest in your product and is willing to pay for it. But before you can even begin the selling process, you need to learn the necessary sales and marketing skills. Mastering sales and marketing is an art and takes people years and years to learn it and top distributors never stop learning. They are constantly fine tuning this art form by reading and working on their personal and professional development.

So, the next time you have the urge to share your products, remind yourself that you’re in the business of selling, and if you’re still using the sharing tactic with no success, it’s time to pick up some books and learn the art of selling and marketing. Last time I checked, I couldn’t find a book on how to share but there are plenty on how to sell and market your business

As always, would love to know what you think. Click on Read More and leave me a Comment.

Monday, March 1, 2010

What’s Holding You Back from Becoming a Linchpin? Highlights from Seth Godin’s New Book

It seems like every time Seth Godin writes a new blog post or comes out with a book, we stop and listen to hear what he has to say. There’s a reason why he’s considered a genius by many. As an avid reader, I’ve read a lot of books and lately, I’ve found the new books to be the same old material, but regurgitated, and repackaged, and are somehow more expensive. Seth Godin’s new book, Linchpin, is worth every penny of my hard-earned money. In fact, I’m so moved by it that I’ve dedicated this post on how to be inspired and become a linchpin.

What is a linchpin? It’s somebody in a company or an entrepreneur that’s indispensable. They’re not indispensable because you can’t find someone to replace the mechanics of their job because you can teach anyone to plug in numbers, follow instructions, and so forth. What Seth’s referring to is that a linchpin is someone who is creative, imaginative, who’s able to see and seize opportunities, and someone who creates value in the work they’re doing. It’s what many great athletes have in common too and what separates a champion from a great player. In tennis, it’s more than just talents, but how you respond in those crucial moments determines whether you win or lose.

In this economic climate, your job can be replaced by someone else that can do the same thing probably better than you can but for a lot less money. You can teach someone to punch in numbers or how to do a PowerPoint presentation but it’s a lot harder to teach someone to become an artist. “Be an artist” according to Seth is what it means to be a linchpin. I thought he was suggesting that I hit the nearest craft store and pick up painting but be an artist refers to getting fired up and become emotional about the work you’re doing. Master your craft in whatever business or work you’re in, be different, be unique, and create value in everything that you do. That’s being a linchpin!

When you’re reading this book, Seth challenges you to re-train your lizard brain that has been wired to be resistant and to be afraid. This book will inspire you become a linchpin. It’s for employees, entrepreneurs, teachers, parents, and whatever business you’re in, you will be inspired by his words.

Leave a comment below and share your thoughts with us. More importantly, how do you become a linchpin in your direct sales business so that you’ll stand out from the rest?