All posts tagged direct selling

Ethical Testimonials Help Build Your Brand and Your Business

Ethical Testimonials Help Build Your Brand and Your Business

Testimonials are one of the greatest marketing tools you have. Research tells us that people are a lot more likely to believe what others say about you than what you say about yourself. This is the reason that online shopping sites often have a place for customers to leave reviews about individual products (and why so many shoppers turn to them when making a decision about what to buy.) As a small business owner, you should be asking your loyal and enthusiastic customers for testimonials on a regular basis.

Yet it’s also important to be sure that your testimonials are accurate and ethical. This enables you to comply with Federal Trade Commission (FTC) rules regarding testimonials and endorsements, and also helps customers to trust you. After all, testimonials that go beyond the facts can damage your credibility, and lead to disappointed customers. And testimonials used in your marketing material that made health, income, or product claims beyond what you’re allowed to say legally can get you and your business into hot water.

So how do you get started using testimonials to promote your business? Here are some tips:

  1. When asking for testimonials, provide testimonial starters such as:
    • What I like best about (Your name/business) because__________________________________.
    • The product/service was great because (it was easy, fast) _______________________________.
    • Working with (Your name/business) was great because it was able to help me__________________.
    • I would recommend (Your name/business) because____________________________________.
  2. Use the complete testimonials whenever possible. This way you ensure that the customer’s intended message cannot be misunderstood.
  3. If you’ve got a parent company, get approval to use the testimonials that address product, income, or health claims. Usually your company has a legal department that can determine whether or not you can legally market your business using the claims in the testimonial. When in doubt, don’t use it!
  4. Use testimonials to overcome inherent objections in your business. If there are certain objections that you hear a lot, use a testimonial provided by a customer to address that concern. Print it in your marketing materials (with the customer’s permission, of course.)
  5. Use testimonials to make a point or promote your message. Rather than just lumping all your testimonials together, use them strategically throughout your marketing materials. For example, if you are talking about how quickly you deliver your products, use a testimonial of a customer raving about the speed of delivery. It’s like the exclamation point on your message.
  6. Asking for testimonials should be part of your sales process. Whenever you complete a transaction, make asking for a testimonial a part of your follow-up process. Once you’ve determined that the customer is satisfied, it’s a good time to say, “Would you be willing to provide me with a testimonial?”

Using testimonials that are accurate and stick to the facts can be a great marketing tool to help you build your business even bigger. How do you use testimonials to promote your business? Where do you put them? How do you ask for them? Would love to read your thoughts in the comments below.

Anyone Can Be a Direct Seller

Anyone Can Be a Direct Seller

Have you ever thought about joining a direct selling company? You may have heard that direct sellers enjoy making their own hours, earning extra income, and the friendship that comes with working with people you enjoy. But how do you get started? And is it too good to be true? Let’s explore:

First, what is direct selling?

Direct selling is the sale of a consumer product or service, person-to-person, away from a fixed retail location, marketed through independent sales representatives who are sometimes also referred to as consultants, distributors or other titles. Just about any product or service can be purchased through direct selling somewhere in the world. Many people think of cosmetics, wellness products and home décor as products that are often sold through direct sales, but add to that countless other product categories including kitchen products, jewelry, clothing, organic gardening supplies, spa products, scrapbooking supplies, rubber stamps and much, much more. (Source: Direct Selling 411)

Second, what’s the process of becoming a direct seller?

  • Many people begin by falling in love with a line of products/services and the company that provides them.
  • Sign up for the business kit from the direct selling company. Make sure there is a product buyback option.
  • Work with a mentor and follow the step by step training provided by the company.
  • Start talking to friends, family and neighbors about the products/services you love.
  • Share your experiences about using the products/services with people.
  • Set up meetings/parties to make sales.
  • Find people who love the products/services as much as you and help them get started.
  • Build a team and expand your business with people who want to own their own direct selling businesses.
  • Become a leader in your industry, continue your training and operate a successful business.

When you love a product or service, you naturally tell everyone you know. You want them to benefit like you have. In direct selling that process is weaved into a business system provided by a direct sales company. Word of mouth selling or promotion is one of the oldest and simplest business models. If you love something and can share it with others you can be a direct seller.

To learn more, check out this video about direct selling.

What else do people need to know about becoming a direct seller? Have you done it? Would love to read your thoughts in the comments below.

Doing the Right Thing Helps You Succeed in Business

Doing the Right Thing Helps You Succeed in Business

You’ve probably heard the saying that “what goes around, comes around” – when you and your business consistently do what’s best for your customers and promote good business practices, word will spread that you and your business will always do the right thing.  Doing the right thing builds trust, and trust means more customers and sales. More customers and sales mean a successful business.

Here are even more reasons why doing the right thing builds business:

  • Feeding and building your feeling of self-worth – Doing the right thing makes you feel good. That feeling inside shows authentically outside and attracts more people to you and your business.
  • It limits making wrong decisions – Like any foundation in life, with a strong foundation you can build anything. So, if you consistently do the right thing, that foundation increases your effectiveness and good decision making.
  • It doesn’t only make you mentally stronger, but also physically stronger – With the belief that you can do right, you’ll be able to draw on that momentum and tap your positive energy to get more things done.
  • Reduces worry and stress – Doing right helps you focus on making right choices, and if you know you are making right choices, that reduces worry and stress.
  • It makes you more understanding and compassionate – The process of doing the right thing will mean making difficult choices at times while also spending more time listening to others, and these experiences enlarge your capacity to be more empathetic and tolerant.
  • A brighter future – Doing the right thing will also mean following up the right way, thus increasing business and creating more opportunities for the future.
  • You will have better friends and support – Part of being successful in business is building up the people that surround and support you and your business. These people will share your can-do and positive outlook. They will want to be your friends and help you achieve your goals.
  • Makes you more positive – Like anything that is nurtured, your capacity to choose the right thing will grow stronger and better. The more you do the right thing, the more positive you will become.

The key to doing the right thing is to focus on transparency, fairness and creating a strong foundation for your brand and reputation. In return, you will be rewarded with personal and business success!

How do you keep focus on doing the right thing? We would love to hear about your experiences in the comments.

How to Handle Difficult Situations

How to Handle Difficult Situations

Once in a while, out of the blue, you’re surprised with an uncomfortable, unsettling and difficult situation. You may respond emotionally, and later stew over the aftermath. When in business, this can have a negative impact on what your customers say about you, as word of mouth tends to spread.

It would be great if you could press a do-over button, but even better than a do-over is not reacting in a way you’ll regret later. Here are some steps to help you handle difficult situations better.

  1. Acknowledge your emotions, stay calm, think and assess the situation.
  2. Gain perspective – give your difficulty a number on a scale of 1 to 10.
  3. Stay positive – think or write down some possible solutions.
  4. If necessary, find a place that gives you reassurance and peace – it may be a park or house of worship.
  5. Look for support from family, friends, co-workers and other professionals. Ask them what they think about the situation from an outsider’s point of view.
  6. Seek joy and laughter – play your favorite music, watch funny movies and surround yourself with positive people.
  7. Create and follow through on a simple plan:
    • State a goal – for example, I will stay calm.
    • Turn your goal statement into a mantra and keep saying it.
    • Develop a list of strategies to reach your goal – for example, put on a set of headphone for music, avoid tense situations, start counting backward from 100 in your head, and any other strategy that is appropriate for the situation.
    • You may need to write a plan to handle larger problems – For example, let’s say you have a customer that was unhappy with your business, and is telling people not to purchase from you. Develop a list of strategies such as calling the customer directly to assist with the problem, providing a refund and a gift certificate to apologize, posting in response to public social media posts from the customer asking her to contact you directly so you can help, etc. Think of things that will show that you are responsive and that you care, while understanding that you may not be able to resolve the customer’s issue or change her opinion. You are also managing what the people observing the situation think.
    • Check off your list of strategies as you slowly resolve your difficulties to help you stay positive and on track.
  8. After resolving the situation you may want to explore how it was handled, how you can improve the way it was handled, and review valuable lessons you’ve learned.

In business and in life there will always be difficult situations. Some will be small, and some may be devastating. The key is to always try to stay positive, think, assess the situation and trust that you’ll come up with the best solution at the moment. The more you learn from difficult situations the better you’ll be at resolving them and achieving a happier life, as well as a more successful business.

Tips for Keeping Your Clients Coming Back

Tips for Keeping Your Clients Coming Back

We all know it’s better and more cost effective to have a steady stream of returning customers than always being focused on finding new customers. So, how do we keep our customers coming back once the first sale is made? Think of the first transaction as the first date in a series of dates, which ultimately leads to a long and wonderful relationship. The way to keep customers coming back is to develop and nurture a relationship with them.

Here are some ideas to keep your new customer coming back, in order to establish a lasting relationship:

  1. Promote your strengths, best products/services and greatest value compared to competitors.
  2. Offer incentives/discounts for return customers.
  3. Develop a customer-based community online: create a Facebook page where customers can share ideas and communicate with others of like mind.
  4. Once you have a Facebook page, provide valuable and interesting information that can help your customers.
  5. Create trust: let your customers know that if they don’t like something you’ll fix it.
  6. Contribute to a cause in a way that involves your customers. For example, if you sell books, offer to collect old books to give to charity like your local library or women’s shelter, and in return your customer gets 15% off on their next purchase.
  7. Establish a loyal customer rewards program and make it feel like it’s personalized to each individual.
  8. Make the sales process easier, faster and better than your competitors.
  9. Establish a follow up process to check on your customer’s satisfaction and needs regularly.
  10. Offer free personal delivery service or shipping.
  11. Establish an online relationship with your customers and provide real-time customer service.
  12. Provide an easy and comfortable way for customers to provide feedback, and promote changes and improvements you’ve made based on the suggestions of your customers.
  13. Once in a while, surprise your best customers with a special gift and share what you’ve done with the world.
  14. Highlight loyal customers and promote their importance for the world to see (create positive buzz).
  15. Create a fun, interactive contest as part of your marketing.
  16. Provide memorable and excellent customer service and value consistently.
  17. Focus on making the customer feel special, respected, highly valued and like they are a dear friend.

The key is to focus your efforts on developing a relationship with your customers, offering excellence, value and unique service that only you can provide.

How do you keep your customers coming back? We love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

A World without DSEF: Reflections on the Foundation’s Past, Present and Future

A World without DSEF: Reflections on the Foundation’s Past, Present and Future

By Nancy Laichas
Chief Marketing & Development Officer
Direct Selling Education Foundation

I have heard it said that without the Direct Selling Education Foundation, there would be no direct selling industry.

Can you imagine? Millions of people unable to take advantage of a low-cost, low-risk way to be entrepreneurs. Billions of dollars for charitable causes not raised. Thousands of cutting-edge products not developed. And hundreds of companies unable to contribute to our economic landscape, our communities, our citizens, our world.

Can you imagine?

But in 1973, a few industry visionaries recognized that an independent foundation that served the public interest could change the negative perception about direct selling so prevalent at the time. A foundation—a 501(c)(3) organization—could turn foes into friends in a way that the Direct Selling Association (DSA), as a trade association, could not. And so began nearly 40 years of building relationships with consumer advocates, government agencies, academics, women’s organizations, public policy officials and members of the small business and entrepreneurship communities.

Today, through the efforts of DSEF, direct selling is acknowledged in colleges and universities around the country as a vibrant and relevant channel of distribution. Industry executives stand side-by-side with Federal Trade Commission regulators, teaching students about consumer protection issues.  They work hand-in-hand with consumer leaders developing programs that benefit the public. DSEF funds forward-thinking research that can give companies a competitive edge in the marketplace. We’re collaborating closely with DSA to develop online resources to benefit the field.  And we work with DSAs all over the world on global programs that support consumer welfare.

I’m the new kid on the block at DSEF, and when I came on board a little over a year ago, I thought I understood what the foundation was all about. Boy, was I wrong.  I was amazed to learn all that the small, but mighty team at DSEF had accomplished over the years: the depth of its partnerships, the richness of its programs and the power of its commitment to fostering a fair, educated and ethical direct selling marketplace.

And we’re just getting started.

Our ongoing partnership the Council of Better Business Bureaus continues to demonstrate to millions of consumers the industry’s commitment to ethics. We’re developing a curriculum, in partnership with the National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship, that will provide direct sellers with the tools and training necessary to become successful entrepreneurs. And we launched a new website and social media presence that helps us better communicate what we do and is building a community of more connected and better educated direct sellers who are can benefiting from and sharing the resources we’ve developed.

Yes, the world would be a different place without DSEF. But it’s you—industry executives, companies, suppliers, individuals—who make our programs possible. Without your financial support, it would indeed be a world without DSEF. We have much more to do and will continue to count on your help. So click on that bright orange button on our homepage—the one that says “Donate Now.”

Nancy Laichas is Director of Marketing & Communications for the Direct Selling Education Foundation and collaborates with the DSEF staff and board to deliver contemporary messages that inspire people to get involved with the foundation’s important work. Nancy has more than fifteen years of publishing, marketing and public relations experience in corporate, entrepreneurial and nonprofit settings.

How Much Time Should I Spend on Social Media?

How Much Time Should I Spend on Social Media?

As an entrepreneur, you have a million things to do. From sales to finance to marketing, many entrepreneurs find themselves responsible for every aspect of their businesses. When you hear about social media, it’s often pitched as a critical component to the success of a small business. As a result, you take time away from other important tasks in order to optimize and maintain a Facebook Page, Twitter account, blog, or any one of a number of social tools pitched as the “next big thing.” And then you’re disappointed when it doesn’t bring the results you’re looking for.

So how do you balance it all? How much time should you put into social media so that it brings results without sacrificing other income-producing time for your business?

Here’s a process to follow to help you decide:

  1. Decide what your goal is for social media. What specific, measurable result are you looking for as a result of your social media efforts? Are you trying to increase sales? Find more recruits for your direct selling business? Increase reorders? Whatever it is, choose one goal to focus on in the beginning, and make a plan to measure your progress towards that goal.
  2. Decide who you want to reach. Who is the best target market for the goal you are trying to achieve? For example, if your goal is to increase sales, what is the demographic that you can reach who will buy the most? This is who you want to focus on. What is important to them? What need do they have that your product or service solves for them? Where do they spend time online? By answering these questions, you’re better prepared to reach out to them online.
  3. Decide when you can realistically use social media for your business. Try to choose a consistent amount of time each day, even if it’s only 20 minutes, and schedule it as part of your day’s routine. Obviously the more time you invest, the more results you’ll see faster, but plenty of entrepreneurs invest 20 minutes a day on Facebook and see results.
  4. Choose your social media tools based on your available time. If you’ve only got 20 minutes per day, choose just one (probably Facebook.) If you’ve got more time, you might want to add a blog to the mix. But don’t take on more than you can realistically manage. This is very important if you want to use social media tools to build the relationships that lead to business.
  5. Plan your tasks ahead of time. One of the best ways to keep yourself focused when you’re using social media for your business is to write down your tasks ahead of time. What can you do online to reach the goal you defined in step 1? Will you reach out to former customers? Search online for great content to share? Write blog posts? Respond to comments in online forums? By deciding ahead of time, and then sticking to your list, you can make sure that social media time is productive for your business, and you avoid wasting time that would be better spent on offline activities.

A little pre-planning is essential for effective business social media use. By making a plan, you can enjoy the benefits of social media for your business, without taking too much time away from the other important things you have to do.

How do you manage social media for your business? How much time do you spend, and does it translate into results for you? What tips would you share? Please share in the comments below!

20 Keys to Becoming a Successful Entrepreneur

20 Keys to Becoming a Successful Entrepreneur

Being an entrepreneurs is very freeing and exciting, but there’s a lot of hard work and sacrifice behind it. Simply wanting to be an entrepreneur doesn’t always translate to success. For those of you who are entrepreneurs, or are ready to take the plunge, here are some factors you must learn, improve on and master to become successful.

  1. Do what you are passionate about.
  2. Get organized and disciplined – time management, organization, and management skills.
  3. Create a business plan and follow through.
  4. Manage cash flow carefully.
  5. Develop salesmanship skills.
  6. Promote and enhance your brand at every opportunity.
  7. Be professional, personable, and inviting.
  8. Listen to your customers and improve.
  9. Use and build on your strengths and surround yourself with people to help with your weaknesses.
  10. Find a niche and become the expert.
  11. Use technology wisely to improve your business and processes.
  12. Focus on standing out from your competition.
  13. Make sure people can easily find you, promote all your contact information and make sure people can reach you any time.
  14. Seek and develop partnerships to help your business grow, add brand value and increase brand awareness.
  15. Establish continual professional development for yourself and team, and stay current on the latest information in your business.
  16. Your business focus should be about solving problems and helping your customer’s needs.
  17. Your business should be very actively involved in the community to increase exposure.
  18. Excel in customer service and satisfaction.
  19. It’s always about the customers. Follow up on every sale, listen and improve, befriend them and provide personalized excellence consistently.
  20. Establish a relationship and/or friendship with your customers. Stay in contact with them online and face to face.

There will be a process of trial and error as you learn, improve and master these factors. Start locally and build on a base of loyal customers. Become the master of your brand, establish a network of supporters and customers, and excel in helping your customers solve problems with your business. Here’s to your success!


Free Educational Series for Entrepreneurs

Free Educational Series for Entrepreneurs

Money Wise Women Educational Services is a non-profit organization dedicated to educating and empowering women to live financially healthy lives. DSEF proudly sponsors the free Money Wi$e Women Get Smart Teleseminar Series hosted by Marcia Brixey, Founder and President of Money Wise Women Educational Services and author of The Money Therapist: A Woman’s Guide to Creating a Healthy Financial Life. The series covers topics related to business and finances and provides women the opportunity to learn from professional experts in a safe, comfortable environment.

Here are only some of the topics that can empower your business, money and life. Listen to past interviews with professional experts:

  • The 5-Keys to Unlocking Passion, Purpose and Prosperity: A Transformational Approach to Goal Setting
  • Managing Your Time and Multiple Commitments
  • Tax Tips For The Self Employed
  • Reduce Debt, Reduce Stress
  • Your Money Personality And Self-Employment
  • Power of Vision Using Dream Boards
  • So You Want to be an Entrepreneur
  • Give Your Elevator Speech a Lift
  • Create the Life You Imagine: Dream It, Believe It, Be It
  • Goal Setting for Financial Success and Prosperity
  • Train your Brain
  • Achieving a Lifetime of Financial Security
  • Women And Leadership – A perfect match
  • Email writing that counts

And many more! To see the complete list and access each recording, visit

To find out about and register for upcoming teleseminars, visit

How to Find Customers

How to Find Customers

There are two major components to a thriving business: Happy and loyal customers that come back, as well as a steady stream of new customers.

The first is a matter of consistently providing excellent service that people appreciate and talk about.

The second one may seem a bit more challenging. So how do you find new customers?

Go to where the people are. You should not rely on your salesmanship, but instead focus on increasing the quantity of people that you engage with on a regular basis. People are around you all the time, and within that group are your customers. Your goal is to find them, talk to them, befriend them and nurture them so that they become the first group: happy and loyal customers.

First, let’s begin with where to find new customers:

  1. Join an association/club/organization
  2. Take a community-sponsored class or course
  3. Present a workshop or be a speaker
  4. Get a hobby and join others with the same interests
  5. Get involved with a charity or cause
  6. Go to a networking event
  7. Go onto social media networks, engage and find old/new friends
  8. Go to family parties, reunions, and social events
  9. Promote and sponsor a community activity/event of your own
  10. Start a book, breakfast, coffee, coupon, or arts & crafts club
  11. Network with other businesses and business people in your community
  12. Become a connector/referrer for others, and become a go-to person
  13. Start a referral rewards program with existing clients
  14. Use local advertising and marketing

Second, once you find them here’s what you need to do:

  1. Be curious and learn to enjoy meeting people
  2. Ask questions and improve your listening skills
  3. Be positive and inviting
  4. Be professional and authentic
  5. Don’t be a salesman, but be friendly and social
  6. Become a “let’s have coffee” person and meet face to face with people
  7. Be a social and party person
  8. Have all the possible ways to contact you on your business card
  9. Start using and writing notes on your business card to hand to people you meet
  10. Make yourself memorable, but not over the top. Make your first impression a lasting one
  11. Convey passion in what you do

It’s all about the numbers. Seek quantity. Quality customers will only come if meet enough people. Start with a new goal of meeting new people and engaging them every day.

Let us know how these tips help you increase new customers. What tips can you share for finding new customers for your business? Would love to read your ideas in the comments below!