Ladies sitting in a room giggling while drinking wine. Neighbors and community members renewing old friendships in a living room around a table full of products. The consultant getting ready for her big presentation. The women hear all about her brand of products and why every person in that room needs them. The presentation ends, she pulls out some forms, and hands them out to the guests – pay now, we’ll deliver later. Some guests stay and fill out the form, most don’t. Another party is done. This how direct sales parties ran for decades.
But not anymore.
Social Media & The Internet
Social media and the internet changed that. You don’t need to fill out forms or go to parties to buy products from your neighborhood consultant, you can just go online and get it yourself. She gets credit, you talk to no one – all’s good!
But the internet did something else. Something I wasn’t expecting. It took a legion of extremely capable and imaginative women and gave them an outlet for their creativity. We’re finding now that these same women, empowered by their dalliance with small business ownership are excited to try new things like adding variety to their product lines, shaking up their live sales, and using social media in novel and interesting ways. One of these ways as it turns out, is the way I like to shop.
Because my rolodex of direct sellers, are also my personal shoppers.
Like all of you, I am a very busy woman. I run a business from home, manage the household, deal with the dogs and the vet, I don’t have a lot of time. And I certainly don’t have any time to shop. I don’t even have the time to go online, find what I want, and buy it.
I would rather be forced to dive deeper and deeper into the “pile of clothes I never wear because I hate” than go online and find the detergent that I need and buy it. It’s a pain in the butt. Even with Google Assist and Alexa, I still find it too cumbersome.
I just want someone to buy all my shit for me. Just find what I want, tell me you have it, send me an invoice, it takes me 2 seconds to pay, and then I know someone else has me covered.
A personal shopper.
Direct sales have come a long way since Tupperware. It’s no longer a reason to buy 10 different types of something you don’t need to get your friend her freebie. Now, it’s a vehicle for empowerment. Women who couldn’t make money a few years go because the full time, and unfortunately underpaid job of mom took up every minute of the day, can now find pockets of moneymaking time doing pretty much anything they want to.
It’s not just for dresses and tank tops either. I can get tea, CBD oil, pet products, socks, mugs, cleaning solution, shampoo, soap, you name it. I can get anything I want, and I just tell Saira or Catherine what I’m looking for.
If they’re good (and they are), they know me well enough to know what scents I do and don’t like, what my color preferences are, what kind of person I am, and they act as my surrogates and find the products I want and take care of every step to get it to me. They message me when they have something they think I’ll like, but not otherwise. So far, I’ve bought everything they’ve shown me.
So, here’s my question. This is how Sai and Cat decided to run their business. By being the finders of special things. That’s how they’ve set themselves apart. This is just one way, but it’s not the only way. Building a strong business means knowing who you serve. Who are the people that want to buy your products and what’s important to them? For me, it’s time. But for other women, it will be something else entirely. Once you’ve identified that, then your customers will not only find you, but they’ll refer you.