Most moms are natural-born multi-taskers—an ability that many of them are nurturing as part of their transformation into effective multi-level marketers. This can be unofficially traced back to the advent of the home party, where moms emerge as effusive sales consultants for their favorite brands, inviting their friends over and for product-themed social events in a festive setting. These home-based entrepreneurs often followed the reliable wine-in-the-kitchen/products-in-the-dining room format, but once creative and smart marketers started catching on, they began offering moms new ways to sell more, more often, and without even popping a cork!
We have all been invited to the jewelry/candle/beauty product/[insert your favorite product here] party, and even though we know we’re being sold, we also know they can be fun. They’re a night away from the family, and a chance to socialize and shop all at once, while your BFFs make a little extra cash on the side. I, for one, usually make a purchase, and if I’m particularly impressed with the product, I’ll want to shop with them again without attending another “party.”
Many of today’s direct sales organizations must have gotten the memo—“your friends might not have time for another party, but they will certainly have time do a little online shopping”—because they’ve empowered their mom consultants to sell and entertain without the party. And they’ve accounted for things like brand control and messaging consistency along the way. Brands like Arbonne provide templates for Facebook pages, customer communications and sales emails that allow the entrepreneurial mom to show her own sense of style while living within brand guidelines. They encourage and enable repeat customers without necessarily waiting for the next party.
Moms are embracing Facebook to promote specials and wares. It’s perfect for product promotions, benefits and announcements. Great for sightings too: “as seen in Glamour/Home Beautiful/Coastal Living/SHAPE, etc.” We love products more when clever editorial or celebrity types have also discovered/endorsed them.
Pinterest is hot right now. Multi-level moms can pin products especially for new items. From fashions to foodies, travel to home decorating, Pinterest is making it fun to share products that can be discovered at home parties, on line or in catalogues.
It is estimated that there are 15.8 million people involved in direct selling, the majority of whom are women. U.S. Sales totaled $28+ billion in 2010 and is projected to grow. Smart marketers are helping these direct selling mommas continue to peddle their products in the home but also making it easier to sell and promote virtually as well.
Other brands are concerned that equipping these on-the-ground mom sales forces with ecommerce capabilities can create a channel conflict. After all, the point is to get women to PARTIES, where hostesses act as in-person consultants and create an atmosphere for buying. The dynamic process ensures the future of the organization by bringing new consultants into the fold and growing the sales team. While the exercise of signing up consultants can continue at the traditional parties, brands need to make it easier for multi-level moms to market to their broader virtual network, maybe those out of their town or state might to encourage sales via online channels.
In addition, there are many of us who just want to purchase the products and once we have tried the eye cream and love it, we don’t need to attend a party every 6 weeks to buy more. If we run out of our eye cream/candles/protein powder before the next event (which we may or may not have time to attend), well, then, I just might not exercise brand loyalty when I’m next at CVS/Target/GNC. Sometimes buying whatever’s available in the aisle is just easier.