The first two weeks of 2019 have already passed! Executives are back in their seats, budget requests are being finalized, and vendors are being contacted. Before you write your first big check, run your 2019 initiatives through our Three-Step Review to see how they stack up.
The Direct Selling industry is an industry of people. It’s an industry of personal connections, relationships, and growth. Companies live – and die – by the quality of their culture, and the level of interconnection and community fostered by both corporate leaders and field distributors. Headline events sponsored by Direct Selling companies often feature words like “Leadership,” “Neighbor,” and “Connection.” These companies recognize the strong social nature of network marketing.
However, there are unique challenges connected with that imperative to connect, lead, and grow. As your company grows and changes, branching out into new markets – and even new countries! – your message can get murky. It’s easy for rapidly-expanding companies to lose the belly-to-belly connection with distributors that keeps your business growing and protects your brand. Does your 2019 roadmap leverage modern technology to protect your company’s financial and human assets? Keep reading for a quick list of three key points that might impact your big picture this year.
Three Steps to Tech Success:
#1 Messaging is Mission Critical.
Every company in the Direct Selling space feels the imperative to control messaging and response, to distributors, the press, and subscriber-consumers. Are your communications fast, compliant, and easily-accessible? If you are considering a mobile app or back office platform, don’t neglect to fully define and test your messaging. Emails and blog posts are no longer sufficient to get the word out when a formula changes, a price drops, or a registration deadline approaches. Run through the following checklist with your current and prospective vendors to see where you can improve:
- Email & Text Alerts: What opt-in and alert process do you have for customers and distributors?
- Push Notifications: Your back office, website, and mobile app should all offer news and alerts.
- Conferences: Facebook live is great for hype, but how do you handle sensitive announcements?
#2 Compliance is King.
“This product cured my diabetes!” Unfortunately, your product isn’t the only one that’s reported by its enthusiastic distributors to have cured diabetes, high blood pressure, skin cancer, and clinical depression. Many brands promote a whole-self wellness approach, with dramatic and even life-changing results. However, effectively and compliantly communicating those results can be a challenge for enthusiastic brand partners who just want to share their victories and successes. Every company struggles with non-compliant messaging by distributors and customers that has the potential to damage the brand image and invite regulatory scrutiny. Review whether your critical toolkit – your back office, social media platforms, and mobile app – helps you put compliant language, images, and videos into the hands of your distributors. Is there room to improve?
- How easily can distributors share info with people they meet personally and on social media?
- What rebuttals and scripts do you offer to support distributors facing challenging questions?
- How do you use your technology to gently reinforce compliance and boost brand messaging?
#3: Too Big To Function.
Stability and scalability – the twin terrors of technology. Many technology vendors tout their scalability -their ability to quickly expand services to hundreds or thousands of users during the rapid growth of a company’s initial launch. Fewer vendors spend time building the solid, sustainable infrastructure that can carry a new company from its startup phase through to enterprise operations. They grow alongside their customers, instead of ahead of them. Is your vendor one of them? Ask yourself – and your vendor – these questions to see if they’ll be a good, long-term partner or just a quick fix to your immediate technology roadblock.
- Don’t ask vendors about theoretical limits; ask the size of their largest customer to date.
- Get detailed information on backup and redundancy for platforms in the US and overseas.
- Ask what alternatives exist if third-party integrations (like messaging & video hosting) fail.
Your organization exists not just to make money this year, but to sustain itself in years to come. Your technology upgrades, improvements, and long-term plans should support that mission by acting as an extension of your brand and culture, not just a platform. The vendors you work with should understand and embrace that imperative.
– Miranda K.