If you are a direct sales consultant, you may be asking yourself whether it’s worth investing your time to learn about social media. After all, as a consultant, you’ve got three major tasks: book parties, sell products, and recruit new consultants. These three tasks are the foundation of any party plan business. Can social media help you with these tasks? There are several tools that a direct sales consultant can use to build her business. In a series of posts, I will be discussing how these tools can help your business.
Today’s post will discuss the benefits of using Facebook to help build your direct sales party plan business.
Now I want to be clear. Nothing will REPLACE the essential activities of getting in front of as many people as possible, learning the skills required to book at parties (I personally LOVE Karen Phelps‘ booking game), and knowing the features and benefits of your product line and opportunity. These are the tasks that will give you an immediate income stream. But social media can take you beyond the boundaries of what you currently do, providing an additional revenue stream, and giving you the opportunity to build relationships beyond those you can build face to face.
Let’s begin with Facebook. I think Facebook is the perfect tool for the home party plan consultant to use to begin her foray into the use of social media to build her business. And the best part is, you should use it at first for the pure fun of it. Now that doesn’t sound like an income-producing activity, does it? But it actually is, and the reason is because, first and foremost, social media tools are for the purpose of building relationships.
It begins with an excellent profile. Add pictures, your education, the company you work for (with a link to your website), etc. Choose a profile picture of your face that shows you looking professional, open, and friendly. If you a woman, put on makeup, dress well, and choose an attractive background. As a man, put on a jacket and tie, and again choose an appropriate background. This is your first impression to your potential customers and recruits, so put your best foot forward.
A point of caution, however, as your build your profile. NEVER forget that this is first and foremost a BUSINESS profile. Remember that your customers (and your company) could very well see everything you post. So be sure it’s something you feel comfortable having them see. I advise people to leave strong feelings about politics and religion out of it, as these can be polarizing and can turn people off. There is nothing wrong with stating your religious view (aka Presbyterian/Christian, Jewish, etc.), but leave it at that. Don’t put up links to your local right to life group, your liberal rally, etc, unless those are the only customers you wish to service. I know that I personally shy away from connecting with those who I feel may aggressively subject me to opinions that I don’t necessarily agree with. And your customers may too. So keep in mind your objectives, and design a profile with that in mind.
Then connect with everyone you know…friends, family, old classmates, church members, etc. Facebook very helpfully recommends people you may know, so pay attention. Reconnect, share stories, catch up. Join groups based on your interests, and the interests of your customers, and find new people to connect with. Participate in discussions, share information, and build relationships. Post status updates that people will find interesting. The idea is to engage with your community, and enjoy getting to know people.
Once you have built relationships through Facebook, you can once in a while share information about your business through your profile. Post an occasional status update about a sale or special your company is offering, with a link. Write the occasional note about the fundraiser you are doing through your business. The key here is BALANCE. Don’t overwhelm your community with advertisements, or they’ll ignore you. So continue to build relationships while once in a while mentioning your business.
There are also other tools you can use within Facebook to promote your business. For example, you can invite your customer opt-in email list to join a group you set up on Facebook. Provide value in your group by providing content and information related to your products. For example, if you are a Tastefully Simple consultant, you might want to provide a forum where customers can share their favorite recipes. If you sell housewares, perhaps you might provide a forum where customers can post decorating photos, or run a contest where you’ll do a room makeover with suggested products. If you sell eco-friendly products, perhaps you can provide a forum for customers to share their favorite green tips with one another, talk about community events, etc. The point is to develop community, and give your customers a chance to interact in a way that they feel provides value. It also gives you a good way to connect with your customers and provide specials and deals just for them. Customers are more likely to join your community if they will get specials and valuable information as a result of joining.
As your customers interact in the community you’ve built, they have a constant reminder of your business. If they have a need for your product, they’re more likely to think of you first. If people are sharing their favorite products from your company, a customer may discover a need for it herself. These also become a great resource should you decide to begin offering online parties. If your customers are already accustomed to interacting with regards to your product online, it becomes very convenient for them to shop at your online parties. You can also encourage your group members to invite their friends to join the group, spreading your reach beyond those that have the time to come to a party. You’re not tied to a time frame to meet new people, because Facebook is available 24/7!
If you do it right, your group can become a good source of recruits. If people are committed enough to your products that they’re willing to join your online group, interact, and learn about the products, they may very well decide that your opportunity is for them. Especially if they’re having such fun in the community that you create, and are gaining value from the experience. And then you can create another group for your consultant team! What a great way to connect people who may be spread all over the country, and may not be able to meet in person.
There are other tools within Facebook that you can use too: Flair, Virtual Gifts, etc. But by using Facebook as a forum to build relationships and connect with people, you can develop a source of revenue for your business that will provide additional sales, community involvement, a source of new recruits, and additional bookings.
You have to invest time to get this return. You have to nurture your community, get to know people, provide useful information, and make it worth your customers’ time to participate and invite their friends. But once your community is built, you will develop a loyal following committed to you and your products. And THAT is good for business.
Would you like training for your direct sales team or company on how to use social media to build your business? Custom training available! Contact me at jennifer (at) learningisanart (dot) com.