There Are No Pity Purchases Online

home-jewelry-party-largeIf you’re in direct sales, as either a direct seller or a corporate executive, you know what I’m referring to in the title of this post.  The pity purchase is the purchase a customer makes at a party because they feel that they should buy SOMETHING.  So they locate the cheapest item in the catalog and buy it.  If you’re a direct seller that depends on pity purchases to build your business, you are not creating a sustainable business model, and I dare say that if you’re not creating value for your customer, you will not be in business long.

When you begin to market your business through social media marketing, you need to realize that you’ve entered a realm where the pity purchase does not exist.  Not to mention, the pity purchaser is not a repeat purchaser.  People have a vast array of products available to them, and they can comparison shop to their hearts’ content.  They can compare product features, costs, shipping, and more.  They can read what other people have had to say about each product their considering.  In short, if you’re not providing a superior value at a decent price, it’s hard to compete.

So how do you use social media marketing to your advantage in this type of environment?  First, you become someone that provides value for free.  Yes you heard me.  For free.  How do you do this?  My favorite way is through a blog, just like this one.  Give out tips, advice, links, guidance, and more, that can be immediately implemented.  Why do you do this?  Because you position yourself as an expert, and you build relationships with your readers.  A purchase (or a recruit) is more likely when a person knows, likes, and trusts you.  So provide valuable content, related to your product line, and you will find that people will come read your content, and will refer their friends to you as well.

Once you’ve established yourself as an expert that provides value, give people a chance to get more from you, and get to know you. This can be through social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, through your newsletter, or through communities that you build in places such as Facebook groups.  By giving people a chance to interact with one another, with you at the center seeding conversations and providing value, you continue to provide people with a reason to trust you.  So when you do make product recommendations, or talk about your opportunity, people have a reason to listen to you.  Help THEM first.  Then they’ll consider what you have to offer.

Finally, once you’ve got people signed up for your newsletter, or participating in your groups, gently provide them with the oppotunity to be introduced to your company and your product line.  Make special offers, just for them.  Provide online events (such as online wine/food pairing chats, decorating ideas chat, online party, etc.) that give education as well as the opportunity to buy.

By investing some time in providing value, you build a sustainable business model that does not rely on the “pity purchase.”  And that’s a business that you can feel good about.

What do you think?  How has this strategy worked for your business?  I would love to read your comments below!

6 Responses to There Are No Pity Purchases Online
  1. Becky Meredith
    May 6, 2009 | 7:45 pm

    I know my Company is one that has some restrictions, but I do find that they are starting to ease in some departments. We have a blog site thru Mary Kay and ust got the news this week we have a U Tube Blog, http://www.youtube.com/marykay in case you might want to check it out. They are doing more with our personal websites, making them more enticing to our customers and giving them fun things to do when they get there, such as a virtual makeover (Now for brides too!). I know that the Company is working with all the consultants to make our jobs easier!
    Becky Meredith
    http://www.marykay.com/beckymeredith

  2. Eleanor
    May 5, 2009 | 7:23 pm

    You are so right, as a Direct Sales consultant and a Social Media Marketing VA I see this big picture. I love that you have set out to open the eyes and ears of consultants and help them in their businesses.

    I only wish that that Direct Sales Companies would get a clue. Some companies are still “handcuffing” their consultants by not allowing them to participate in all the different areas of Social Media Marketing. I hear all to often “my company what let me have a blog”. “We can’t have a direct link to our personal website.” etc.. you know the song and dance…

    Again I applaud you, and I hope the HQ’s of direct sales companies get this. Because it is important to have passive income coming through those company websites that the consultants pay for. It only help the Consultants grow her business and the HQ’s benefit from this as well. More importantly they will be allowing their consultants to be better service providers.

    “Not everyone is a party thrower!” Not everyone is a party goer!” But everyone shops in one form or another.

    Ok I will stop my ranting and raving ;0) Great Post!

    Eleanor Prior
    http://YourVirtualGirlFriday.com
    http://Tastefullysimple.com/web/eprior

  3. Becky Meredith
    May 5, 2009 | 6:16 pm

    I have a question. I replied to this post, but did not see it come up on your blog. Are you screening posts?

  4. Becky Meredith
    May 5, 2009 | 5:52 pm

    I love getting in front of people to let them see my product and what it can do for them. I find I am not getting “Pity” purchases, because first of all, I find their need. Help them with a solution, and let them try the product to see how it will work.
    I also let them have a good time, feel better about theirself, and get a Special just for being at my event.
    For followups, they always get a free gift with purchase over a certain dollar amount, I put them on a Quarterly Mailing List so they can get the latest in Beauty Ideas, and I follow up with good customer service.
    They are not getting a rude employee at a dept store, who doesn’t want to be there, not really wanting to work, to take their orders and their money.
    I give them samples to take home to play with and put samples in their reorders to try new items in my line.
    I have a lot of customers around the Country, a lot I have met on line and thru referrals!
    I send them samples and call and check to see how they are doing with their products and how I can help them too. I also ship their order Free Shipping!
    I very rarely run into a Pity Buy. I want my customers to be in love with my product, so they will reorder. I have some customers I haven’t seen in 15 years, but still order 3-4 times a year from me.
    I do love networking on line, but love meeting my customers and new friends in person too!
    Becky Meredith
    http://www.marykay.com/beckymeredith

  5. Beth Caldwell
    April 29, 2009 | 10:50 pm

    I couldn’t agree more, Jennifer!
    I am always telling my client’s to provide value–don’t we all delete those emails and messages that are obviously sales pitches?

    Thanks for providing this helpful info–I just joined your facebook group.

    Beth

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