Marketing for a direct sales company is a funny thing.
Countless are the stories of companies within our fair industry who have welcomed an executive of the highest marketing pedigree with vast experience outside of direct sales, only to escort them out in short order, noting, most often, their lack of experience within direct sales. The very promises that allured us to them in the beginning (e.g. establishing a brand, updating our packaging, increasing awareness, incorporating true market research, etc.) become the central theme of the mutiny that rises up against them.
Don’t Be the Confusion
The uprising doesn’t end there. We then deny anything that vaguely resembles marketing of another ilk. “Retail concepts don’t work here,” we exclaim. “Don’t even start with that CPG mumbo jumbo around here.”
After kicking both the bathwater and the baby to the curb, we all pow-wow and work ourselves into a dither over all the stuff those of us in the club know that all those outside of the club will never know. We collectively flog sound marketing principles and start using phrases like “belly to belly” and “three-way calls” to make us feel good about ourselves. To remind ourselves of just how special we are.
What we do is really stupid.
The Answer to the Confusion
It’s hard for me to say that, cuz I’m part of that club. I’ve had those conversations. But I’ve always struggled with knowing exactly why sound marketing principles don’t work in direct sales.
It finally dawned on me that sound marketing principles do work in direct sales. They work very well, as a matter of fact. That’s what makes them principles; they work no matter what.
What’s different is the application of those principles. This is where the confusion sets in. This is where the stubborn outsider gets burned. And this is also where the complacent insider becomes irrelevant.
Good Marketing is the Foundation
Good marketing doesn’t have to be specific to an industry. Because good marketing starts with a great understanding of who you’re marketing to, and how they like to be treated.
More times than not, that’s where marketing in direct sales goes wrong. At the very beginning. We lose sight of who it is we are actually trying to reach.
We are a unique and unusual industry, indeed. But we cannot let our uniqueness tempt us to deny sound, proven marketing principles. Our job is to specialize in applying those principles to our unique market.
We are not completely different; we are just unusually the same.
About Brett Duncan
Brett is a founding partner with Strategic Choice Partners, and an experienced executive specializing in marketing, communications and digital strategic consulting.
He worked for his first direct sales company two days a week while still in college packing shipments in their warehouse from 5 until midnight. He began at the entry level of the marketing department at AdvoCare, International in 2002, rising to the position of marketing manager before he left in 2007. In 2009, he joined Mannatech as Sr. Director of Global Online Solutions. He was then promoted to Vice President of Global Marketing in 2011.