Holiday time is party time if you’re in a party plan business. Most consultants find that October through mid-December are their busiest months of the year. I actually notice a drop-off in traffic to this blog during these months, and nothing could make me happier. It means you all are stepping away from your computers and getting out there making money! That’s what it’s all about.
However I recently received a message from a direct seller who, due to some life circumstances, could not get out there and do parties. Due to an illness in the family that required her constant attention, she simply could not leave the house to go to work. Could she still work her direct selling business?
And so it got me to thinking (again) about virtual (book/internet) parties. Now I’ve explored these on and off for years, and always retreated from them because I’ve never found them to make as much money as an in-person party. Add to this the fact that the consultant does not have the opportunity to offer bookings or the opportunity (and the industry averages show us this is true), and they truly are not the best option for the direct seller. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Given the choice, do the in-person party.
But sometimes, you truly don’t have that option. Sometimes it’s virtual or nothing. So what can you do to more effectively run a virtual event? I’ve decided to find out. For the next two weeks, I’m hosting a direct sales virtual party, and I’ve got it listed as a public event in Facebook. I’m working with a top-notch, director level consultant who is showing me some things already that I think are really smart. As I work through this process, I’m going to share my findings with you.
Now this does NOT give you license to run an internet-only business. You will make money and build a stronger team by doing in-person parties (are we clear on this?) But when you want to run that party for your sister in Toledo when you live in Nebraska, let’s explore ways to make it work.
For my first run, I’m only focusing on providing a link where people can order. Down the line, we’ll talk a bit about other technology that can be used, such as a virtual demo. But in the day that I’ve done this so far, here’s what I’ve learned:
- If you set up the Event as Public in Facebook, it automatically posts that Event to your Facebook Profile wall. Since you’re not posting identifying information such as your address or phone number for a virtual party, this is a good option. Just be sure to include a link to the consultant’s website, and instructions for how to assign those orders to your party, within the description of the event.
- Don’t limit yourself to the Internet. Even though I asked for an online show, my consultant is still sending me catalogs and order forms so that I can collect orders in person from friends should I choose to.
- I adore my consultant. She really is SO SMART. For every guest that orders, she sends a personal note to the guest thanking them for their order, providing tips on how to use the product they just bought, and asking their permission to add the guest to her newsletter list. By starting her message with a value piece, she engages that guest, even though it’s virtual. (Your value piece could be a recipe, a decor idea, makeup application tips, etc.) If they do have a question, they now know how to contact her. Smart, smart, smart.
- Another consultant shared with me that she posts tips and ideas, just like she would at her show, on the Facebook Event wall. She also includes reminders when it’s coming up to the time the show will close. (LOVE these ideas!)
So as you can see, the real key to success with this type of an event is the ability of the consultant to still create some kind of personal experience for each guest. If a company has systems in place to facilitate the ordering and connection, all the better. But even if they don’t, and the hostess is collecting the orders manually, be sure to get the emails from her so you can follow up.
My show is going to remain open until the 14th, so I’m sure I’ll have other insights to share with you as we continue. And I’ll do a summary post when it’s all over, bringing everything I’ve learned together for you.
In the meantime, I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences with online shows in the comments below. What are your best tips and ideas? What questions do you have? Since I’ll be working on this for the next couple of weeks, let’s see what we can learn and answer together!