Online Marketing

How Do I Get My Direct Sales Business to Work?

Ok… first of all, company websites almost NEVER do a good job of “selling” the product or the opportunity. If cannot tell within 5 seconds, from their site, what it even IS, then it isn’t going to work to persuade people to join or purchase. Generally, if all you are using to promote your direct sales business is the company website, you are losing every person who goes there without having a personal introduction from yourself. In fact, that is the only thing company websites are good for  – to send someone to once they ALREADY want it. They aren’t good for anything else.

Search engines will never index your company site either – to them it is the company site, not yours, and yours is the same site. Many promotional sources won’t allow you to promote there either. Kinda hampers your ability to get the best free traffic.

So… My first advice is sound, even though I am a web designer.

Get a website of your own. You’ll have to research company policy on this, they’ll have requirements to meet, and they vary widely from company to company. If you work with a web designer, they need to know what those requirements are too, and they need to help you comply with them.

Use this website for the following purposes:

1. Introduce the BENEFITS, which should be two concise and meaningful statements, one about the product, one about the opportunity.
2. Talk about what YOU like about it, and why it makes sense to you.
3. Discuss comparisons of this program with other business programs.
4. Present relevant and current information which supports claims made by the company.
5. Introduce YOURSELF, and begin the relationship building process.
6. Your pages are all linked in with a “go get it” type button, which leads them to the company website, and tells them to use the signup button, or to view product listings (best if you take them right to where you want them to be, if you can). YOU do the pre-selling. Just let the company be there at the END of the process.

Once you have that, you can then feed ALL of your social networking traffic to that. Not only that, you can interlink a website WITH your social networking, operate a blog if you want (right in the website), and you WILL get additional marketing benefits from it IF you do it right.

You can build an entire marketing network if you have your own website, and the website sits as the hub of the wheel, with other things coming into it, and linking together.

Without it, your marketing efforts end up fragmented, and separate, and you chase yourself around trying to drive people here, or there, and not knowing where to send them, or how to initiate contact.

With it, you can focus on about FOUR basic marketing efforts, and they work together synergistically. Those four efforts are:

1. Regular Tweets, which are piped into your FaceBook Profile, or updates to your FaceBook Business Page, which are then piped to Twitter, and then to your FaceBook Profile. Social networking WORKS, when you do it professionally, and when you focus on relationships and not on advertising.
2. Regular Blog Posts, which are piped into Twitter, then into FaceBook, and which are posted automatically in the sidebar of your website. Blogging also works, when you focus on building relationships, giving value, and not on advertising.
3. Answering questions on Forums, or Linked In Answers, and just being a real person, helpful, etc. Your choice where you do this, do it where it works. It works when you are helpful and interesting, and kind.
4. Building Backlinks – good quality directory links, high quality swaps, and article marketing links. You choose which suits you best, we usually recommend doing these in a specific way to simplify it. Backlinks work when you learn what constitutes a quality backlink, and don’t try to take shortcuts that sabotage the effort.

You may optionally use a newsletter – a good website can have a newsletter manager built into the site, where you can send newsletters to any number of groups, and which allows a signup box on every page to politely invite people to sign up. You don’t need to bribe people or push them into signing up, when you do it right, an invitation works wonderfully. An opt-in list is NOT required for ANY successful business (in fact, more than 50% of successful business owners don’t even know what one is, and only about 2-3% of successful business owners actually USE one), but it is one that can work for people with the skills to operate one effectively.

It is not a FAST process. But it is very POWERFUL. Lay the foundation right, and your website becomes the center of where you do business, even though you don’t spend any more time there than anywhere else, the website becomes your virtual sales person.

There are rules and skills about making each of those things work – you have to do them right, but if you do, they gain power over time. If you do them wrong, you’ll beat against a wall and never make headway.

We’ve worked with hundreds of people in direct sales, MLM, network marketing, etc. This is the method that works to promote online with this kind of business. The ones who get this working are the ones who can eventually break out of the “I have to contact every prospect individually in order to make every sale”. If you want people to eventually come to YOU, you need to have some permanent, search engine indexable presences out there working for you.

If you can WRITE competently, you have a tremendous asset. If you use it creatively, and maybe differently than you have thought, you can bring people in to teach them, and they’ll learn to trust you. But you can’t always do it in the way you first think about doing it. If you can’t write well, then you will need to hire more services, and investigate methods of networking which depend upon it less.

It is actually HARDER in many ways to promote a direct sales business than it is to promote an independent business. But if you think of your business MORE as an independent business, and treat it more like one, you can be more successful. I don’t mean ignoring the company requirements, just that you need to WORK it like a business, and MARKET it like a business, and not expect that everything that the company hands you is all that you need. It never is.

Choose a reputable company, commit to it, and then invest in the necessary foundation for marketing. Do it right, and you’ll never regret it.

The Delicate Art of Article Writing

I notice that I learn things, and never really realize that I’ve learned them until I see someone else who hasn’t.

After a disappointing meeting with a prospect yesterday, I did some research on their behalf. The meeting was disappointing not because I did not make a sale – hey, that happens, and I can live with that. It was disappointing because they did not understand what I was trying to tell them. This became painfully clear when I began researching the marketing that had been done for them in the last year.

They told me that article marketing had been done for them. I went digging. I was able to turn up only three mentions on Google of articles with their URL in them. I found a gaggle of them on Yahoo though. And I wish I hadn’t.

The articles were full of gramatical errors, childish statements, wandering sentences, awkward phrases, and worse. They gave no new information, had no appeal. Reading them was painful – I had to force myself to read more than a paragraph because it was hard to follow the convoluted sentences. It had all the feel of someone writing in a second language – one they were almost, but not quite, fluent in. These articles will never be picked up by anyone else and reprinted – no one cares for such poor stuff. Google didn’t bother with them, and no one else will either.

I wish those were the only problems though. It was just the beginning.

First, was the glaring one. The potential legal issues. One article made MORE than suggestive claims of a guarantee on a service that could not possibly be guaranteed. I know for a fact that the owners of the site would never wish such information to be published in their name. Yet they are the ones legally liable for the information in the article, and that article is grounds for a lawsuit by someone who has a bad outcome. Another article made a statement that screening eliminated risks – again, in a profession where risks can never be eliminated entirely. This writer not only stuck their foot in it and dragged the client with them, they set up a legal time bomb. One which may come back to harm the site owner years later.

Second, the articles were not written as article marketing. They were merely thrown together using keywords as a guide for what to write about. There was no effort to target the messages as marketing messages – in fact, some of them were repelling rather than encouraging. They had hyped titles, failed to make any kind of useful conclusion, and often talked more about the negatives than the positives. Not one single article addressed the one compelling reason why someone might choose the site owner’s service over the competition. Not one addressed the one major reason why someone might NOT choose the site owner’s service over the competition. Good marketing messages are a subtle, and often delicate thing to pin down. But they are absolutely ESSENTIAL to successful article marketing.

If you write about a topic for marketing purposes, you must do two things:

1. Provide value to the potential customer. This doesn’t mean writing what you want to write, or just researching a topic and writing about it. It means you have to think about what motivates the customer. What do they want, what are their fears, desires, and hopes? What questions do they have that you can provide an answer for? Provide THEIR value, and article marketing works. But to do that, it is essential that you understand the mind of the customer, and how to address their needs a little, before the sale.

2. Provide information that leads them to you. I’m not talking about the signature line. I’m talking about not giving away your business in your articles, while still providing value. Write about topics that they need to know about as a CUSTOMER, not as a Do-It-Yourselfer (unless your customers are do-it-yourselfers). Consider topics about how to choose service (and give it some teeth, not the usual drivel), how to check up on a hired professional, how to care for their purchases, how to evaluate the value of a product or service, changes in your industry, applied technologies in regard to your product or service (things that predict industry trends, or that enhance value). There are all kinds of topics you can write about which help the customer, but which don’t try to make the customer into the expert.

It is a delicate art. And it is something which requires experience and practice to get right. If you are in a business involving legal, medical, business, financial, or other professional information, then you also need to make sure that certain safeguards are observed to keep you from being held liable for careless statements.

So if you are hiring article marketing services, how do you know if you are getting full value?

1. Ask to review all articles before they are published. You will be legally responsible for every word printed at your request. Make certain that what goes out is worthy of having your name on it! Check to see if it is original, fun to read, informative. Think like your customers – will they appreciate this?

2. Ask for a listing of every place the article was published. This is valuable for two reasons – you can make sure the article was actually posted, and if you learn later that something in an article is inaccurate or that it has a serious problem, you know where to go to start the recall process.

3. Make sure you check out examples of writing before you hire. Sadly, the company that published the articles I was so distressed over had similar writing on their home page. Had the people who hired them read that page, and really thought about it, they’d have hired someone else.

4. Expect to be involved. Any professional who claims to write for your business CANNOT do a good job without involving you. They need to know what makes your business unique. They need you to check to ensure that articles are accurate according to YOUR position on the topic (they can research all they want, but they won’t write what you want if you don’t get involved). Expect to have to brainstorm with a writer for new topics every once in a while – expect to talk things over with them, suggest new directions to go, and work with them. A motivated writer will be giving as many ideas as they get from you, but together you’ll do much more. And a good writer will consider you to be their best resource, and will want to work with you to produce the best possible marketing for your business.

Quality costs more. But what is the use of paying for bad writing that harms your company? Like feathers on the wind, an article carelessly loosed on the web can never be fully taken back. Making sure it is good before it goes is your only means of ensuring that it will go on promoting you well for years to come, instead of giving you a black eye every time you turn around.

The delicate art is worth learning. Because the power of good writing truly is phenomenal.

Grow a Garden!

Gardening doesn't have to be that hard! No matter where you live, no matter how difficult your circumstances, you CAN grow a successful garden.

Life from the Garden: Grow Your Own Food Anywhere Practical and low cost options for container gardening, sprouting, small yards, edible landscaping, winter gardening, shady yards, and help for people who are getting started too late. Plenty of tips to simplify, save on work and expense.