Just like other business owners, direct sales consultants are always looking for ways to differentiate themselves from other consultants within their brand. When there are thousands of other consultants selling the same thing, how do you set yourself apart? How do you provide the most value for your time, while reaching the most potential customers or team members? There are many ways to do this, beginning with the basics of excellent customer service and networking, then adding in promotion on social media. However, very few take it to the next level, hosting their own website and blog. That’s where there is a huge opportunity to use content marketing to set yourself apart as a brand ambassador, leader, and direct sales pro.
So, you represent a jewelry, wellness, skin care, or candle company. You're looking for sales leads online to add to your local networking efforts. Your company most likely offers you a replicated website that your customers can visit to order online. But what if they aren’t ready to order yet? Often potential customers will do a Google search for your brand. They may be asking specific questions about your product. Or they might be curious about the business opportunity you offer. It’s not uncommon for people to do a little detective work about a brand before they are ready to take the plunge. They’re looking for answers from someone with experience and a friendly face beyond the corporate logo.
What if you provided a site that was helpful, answering their questions, making them feel like they are “in the know” about your brand and the strategy behind a successful direct sales business. That would certainly set you apart from a “replicated website.” It would give you an opportunity to start building a trusted relationship with potential customers. When they are ready to purchase or join, they’ll likely come back to you.
Direct selling, also known as social selling, and blogging are a natural fit. Direct sales is all about building a relationship with the customer, offering them added value with their purchase. They not only get a high quality item, they get personalized service from the representative. It’s not uncommon for a direct sales consultant and customer to become friends. And, isn’t this the goal of having a blog? Inviting potential customers in to answer their questions, building relationships based on trust, and welcoming them as members of our tribe? Through a blog, a potential customer or team member can get to know a representative’s personality and see if they click.
Do a Google search for a direct sales brand. The corporate site ranks highest. Now do a search for a specific question such as How do I get started with XYZ company? It’s likely a blog article will come up. Use Pinterest for the search, and you’ll definitely see blog articles by direct sales consultants. Consider that Pinterest images reach 83% of US women ages 25-54 either directly on the platform or through Google image search. People searching for direct sales products and business opportunities are typically women. You do the math. And, the more content you add to your blog, the more blog images you pin on Pinterest, and your other social media channels, the more opportunities to be found in online searches.
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of consultants in your brand. A small percentage of those will have a blog. Brenda Ster, Social Media Consultant and owner of The Sassy Suite (http://sassysuite.com/), compares a direct seller’s social media presence to a pyramid (and no, not a “pyramid scheme”). According to Ster, “The higher you climb on the social media pyramid, the fewer people from your brand that are on that channel, so the easier it is for you to stand out when you post and engage consistently. Not to mention, the more places you are online with consistent profile naming, the more chances that Google will find you and return you in search results when someone is searching for your brand.” She knows what she’s talking about. She grew her own direct sales business, earning top sponsor recognition with her brand 2 years in a row, with a good social media strategy, including a blog and a strong presence on Pinterest and Facebook.
Setting yourself apart from other consultants in your company also includes branding yourself. One of the most effective ways to do this is through a blog and original content. Write from your own unique perspective, be helpful, authentic and show your personality. Mix in some video content so your followers can get to know you and you’ll be on your way to climbing the social media pyramid.
When a potential customer or team member does an online search they are looking for answers to specific questions about your product or your business opportunity. Put yourself in their shoes. What questions did you have before you started your business? Did you want to know how to get started, how to grow your business, how to set up a product display, or how to do a vendor event? Answer those questions on your blog. You’ll become known as a leader and trusted source of information. People buy from people they know, like and trust. A blog has the potential to position you as a leader in your brand. For an example of a direct sales representative that’s doing this right, check out the blog of Betsy Dirks of DOTERRA, here.
This goes hand in hand with answering questions. A blog offers the opportunity to provide support to potential customers and team members as well as current team members. It’s a way to communicate information and ideas to help your team grow. The more your potential team members see you supporting your current team, the more likely they will be to join with you. After all, you’re a great leader and they know they will be able to rely on you for support.
Compare what you spent last year on printed promotional materials with what it would cost to host a blog. For around $8 a month you can own a self-hosted WordPress site. You’ll have the potential to reach far more people than you would with traditional local marketing. And content that you create on your blog will be shared on all your social channels and will be shared by your readers, increasing your reach even further.
Before you decide to create a blog, do a little homework. Consult your company’s policies and procedures and make sure it’s allowed. If it is, sit down and plan out the purpose of your blog. Do some investigative work and check out the blogs of others in your brand and in other direct sales companies.
Then dig deeper and create your blog design and content strategy. How do you want your blog to look? (WordPress themes are available for purchase online so you don’t have to worry about being a web designer to have a blog.) What type of content will you provide – what questions will you answer for your readers? You’ll want to have a few articles written before your blog goes live.
There are tons of free resources online to help you get started with creating a website and blog. Pinterest is a great place to search, so spend some time educating yourself. If you would like additional training before you get started, consider an online course that will walk you through the process in a personalized manner and which will allow you to ask specific questions. I recommend Shannon Mattern's 5 Day Website Challenge. Her free course walks you through setting up your website and blog and she has a Facebook group for support.
Need help brainstorming topics for your blog? Check out this article on blog topics: How to Find Blog Topics That Improve SEO.
Before you start your blog, decide how it will fit your content marketing strategy. You’ll be sharing your blog articles to your direct sales social media channels. It’s part of an overall online marketing strategy for your direct sales business that will help you attract customers and team members, build trust and authority in your brand, and lead customers into your sales funnel so you can nurture a relationship with them..
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Editor's Note: This article was originally published in May, 2016 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.
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