90 Days of Direct Selling – Day 52b

People are no longer willing to put their future in the hands of someone else. They aren’t willing to take time away from their families to build someone else’s dream. People are wising up and taking a stand–making it a priority to put a Plan B in place in their lives.” — Greg Provenzano, President & Co-Founder, ACN

Quote from ACN President & Co-Founder, Greg Provenzano on “The Future” from the supplement below.

 

The New Main Street in The Wall Street Journal

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The New Main Street is a 16-page supplement that appeared in The Wall Street Journal that educates and informs readers of the incredible opportunity and the positive economic and social impact of direct selling.

 

A Voice for Women: Tupperware’s Rick and Susan Goings

Photo above: The Sewall-Belmont House sits opposite the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.


The Sewall-Belmont House & Museum in Washington, D.C., recently honored Tupperware Brands CEO Rick Goings and his wife, Susan, for their ongoing efforts on behalf of women worldwide.

The couple accepted the second annual Voice for Women Award during the museum’s Alice Award Luncheon, which pays homage to National Woman’s Party Founder Alice Paul. The historic party, a leader in the campaign for equal rights and women’s suffrage, owns and maintains the Sewall-Belmont House & Museum on Capitol Hill.

Along with the Goings, the museum lauded Democratic Sen. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland with its Alice Award. Both awards recognize individuals who have broken down barriers and advanced women’s progress toward equality.

Tupperware empowers women through its business opportunity and its global Chain of Confidence initiative, which Susan Goings represents as Global Ambassador. The Chain of Confidence is Tupperware’s commitment to equip women with the opportunity and support they need to thrive economically and socially.

The kitchenware company shares the vision of U.N. Women, which recently welcomed Tupperware’s CEO as a founding member of its Private Sector Leadership Advisory Council. After receiving the Voice for Women Award, Rick Goings wrote a Huffington Post piece calling for businesses and governments to unlock their economic potential by training, educating and hiring women.

Controlling the Conversation: Balancing Product and Opportunity

by Lori Bush

Click here to order the September 2014 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.


At Rodan + Fields, when we made the decision to pivot from our department store marketing channel to direct sales, a great deal of consideration was given to protecting the brand equity that derived from our founders’ legacy in the skincare segment of the beauty industry. As we looked to transform our go-to-market strategy, we wanted an independent business ownership model with low cost of entry that afforded our Independent Consultants the opportunity to compete with other industry players. The key here is what we define as our “industry.” While there are many definitions for the word industry, the most relevant ones read something like this: noun \ˈin-(ˌ)dəs-trē\: a group of businesses that provide a particular product or service. By this definition, Rodan + Fields is in the beauty industry. The business opportunity derives from product leadership coupled with our sales and marketing strategy: The opportunity itself is not our principle product.

Sounds simple enough, right? But gaining buy-in and protecting and advancing this aspect of our brand equity is a challenge that requires rigor in monitoring and compliance, especially when it comes to engaging direct selling veterans as employees or as Independent Consultants. Our investment in product and brand development is materially eroded when a successful business-building Consultant is dismissive or even disparaging to those who want to engage as product ambassadors rather than promoting the business model. The worse-case scenario of this is the proclamation that “it doesn’t matter what you’re selling as long as the compensation plan works.” Not only does this fly in the face of who we are, but it generates ill will and validates the position of those who challenge the legitimacy of our business model.


Out of a deliberate exercise to define the soul of our company, a clear set of business values emerged, which we call our “True Colors,” and we constantly assess our people and programs for demonstration of these values.


So what is direct selling to Rodan + Fields if it’s not an industry? We see direct selling as crowdsourcing our marketing and sales initiatives. And with the advantages of social, mobile and web-based tools for customer acquisition, engagement and monetization, it is a highly effective, modern business model that provides individual micro-enterprises the opportunity to participate and capture market share in an important, lucrative and growing consumer products category.

Soul Searching

When we launched our current business program in 2008, we believed we had the opportunity to help shift public perception of direct selling and went as far as to bake this notion into our mission statement: “Our mission is to redefine independent business ownership with brand presence and transformational products and programs that change skin and change lives.” It didn’t take us long to learn that walking the talk requires constant commitment to education and compliance because, when it comes to salesforce behavior and performance, the simple fact that something works doesn’t necessarily make it right.

Another part of our mission statement, the creation of “an enduring legacy for our Consultants and our employees,” led us to take a deep dive into the soul of our company. To truly have a company soul requires a shared understanding by everyone who is involved as to purpose and values. Out of a deliberate exercise to define the soul of our company, a clear set of business values emerged, which we call our “True Colors,” and we constantly assess our people and programs for demonstration of these values. One of these key values is Assurance.

Assurance is about brand and business integrity; it’s the commitment to our Consultants and their customers that what they signed up for is what they get. If we promise a unique brand and uplifting culture one day and they show up to find a generic, hardcore moneymaking scheme the next day, our soul is eroded. “Assuring” that the Rodan + Fields brand and business models continually meet or exceed expectations requires surveillance of how our programs manifest into and through our sales organization.


We have a responsibility to our sales organization, their customers and the direct selling community at large to control the conversation so that it doesn’t become controlled for us.


Responsibility

I recently attended a training conducted by members of our field development team and discovered that some important aspects of our program had drifted away from our original intent in response to preferences of some of our Independent Consultants. Even though these preferences could, arguably, accelerate the rate of growth of a Consultant’s income, they could put the long-term value of the brand and business opportunity at risk. In a nutshell, there was an overemphasis on recruiting and building an organization without a balanced focus on engaging and servicing customers. Both aspects of the business model are important, but the training was heavily biased toward the former without first firmly establishing the brand, product experience and our overall approach to social commerce. We recognized the need to make an adjustment to our approach in order to reinforce key aspects of our value proposition.

Instilling an understanding of the rationale for our vigilance helps our internal team and our Consultant leaders appreciate the importance of governing the execution of our business programs in the marketplace. No matter how carefully we craft our compensation program and articulate our Policies and Procedures, if we promote or turn a blind eye to practices that undermine our brand value proposition, a handful of rogue players can wreak havoc and lead to significant net detractors for our products, our programs and even direct selling in general. We have a responsibility to our sales organization, their customers and the direct selling community at large to control the conversation so that it doesn’t become controlled for us.

A direct selling business model enables us to collaborate with passionate micro-entrepreneurs to market compelling, innovative products and services that might never see the light of day in risk-averse brick-and-mortar retailing models. Our future is dependent on continuous introspection as to how we guide our Independent Consultants to appropriately communicate our brand and business values. The meaningful marketplace value of our opportunity is part and parcel of our compelling product proposition. If we present this the right way, the word pyramid should never enter anybody’s mind, much less the conversation.


Lori Bush

Lori Bush is President and CEO of Rodan + Fields.

The Changing U.S. Market: A $4 Trillion Opportunity

by DSN Staff

Click here to download this issue to your mobile device.


It’s every marketer’s dream—a growing market, consumers ready to buy, with money in hand. Trillions of dollars, in fact. But are all direct selling companies aware of this growing, ready and willing group? Even more, are their executive teams and salesforces knowledgeable about how to reach them to influence those trillions of dollars they are willing to spend?

Perhaps, the most startling numbers on these graphics are those representing the jump in buying power between 1990 and 2017 among all four of these minority groups. The Asian-American percentage change in buying power shows an increase of nearly 800 percent between 1990 and 2017, increasing from $115 billion to $1 trillion.

Close behind these staggering numbers is the Latino buying power, increasing almost 700 percent in the same years, from $210 billion to $1.7 trillion. Also breaching the trillion-dollar mark, the African-American buying power will climb to $1.3 trillion by 2017. And beyond that? The U.S. Department of Commerce projects steady increases in these numbers, expecting minority purchasing power to exceed $4 trillion in a few short years.

Emergence of the Total Market

America has long been called the melting pot of the world—a term referring to the various ethnic and racial heritages of over 300 million individuals who live here. The truth is that unless one is a Native American, every U.S. citizen has ancestors that have come here from somewhere else.

For the last five or six decades, the term General Market has referred to the group that makes up the largest percentage of customers in the U.S. marketplace. This group has been mostly represented by what the U.S. Census Bureau refers to as “non-Hispanic whites,” also commonly called Caucasians or “Anglos.” This General Market has been mostly constructed of descendants of Eastern, Western and Southern Europeans.

Entire sales and marketing structures have been built over the generations geared toward this General Market. Other segments of the population—large Chinese and other Asian communities, Hispanic families, and African-American populations—in commercial terms have long been considered sub-groups to the General Market. These sub-groups might have been completely overlooked in the construction of sales and marketing budgets, or more likely, allocated dollars in accordance with their population percentage. In other words, a company might have determined a specific amount for their sales and marketing budget and, having checked the U.S. Census Bureau data, had specific percentages of that budget allocated toward Hispanic, African-American, or Asian-targeted marketing. From a company standpoint, this has worked fairly well; however, it won’t for much longer.


The U.S. Department of Commerce projects a steady increase in minority purchasing power, expecting total dollars to exceed $4 trillion in a few short years.


This approach is becoming increasingly outdated because the face of America is literally changing. Through marriage and family building across ethnic and racial lines, as well as continued immigration, the General Market and its sub-groups no longer fit into distinct categories. This is evidenced by the fact that Americans are finding it more difficult to identify themselves within one single category.

In 1977, the U.S. Census form had only five categories of race: Indian, Asian, Black, White or Hispanic. Only one box could be checked. According to an article by Jens Manuel Krogstad and D’Vera Cohn published by the Pew Research Center in March 2014, U.S. Census official Nicholas Jones is quoted as saying, “Increasingly, Americans are saying they cannot find themselves on census forms.”

The Bureau is attempting to address this issue, and its complexity is plainly visible on the form, as there are now 15 options that make up five race categories—white, black, American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian, or Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander. A separate question asks whether individuals are of Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin.

The Census Bureau statistics simply indicate we have moved into a time in which multi-culturalism isn’t just an idea, or a marketing plan, but the reality of most Americans. And this reality is changing the way companies do business.


To see this graphic larger Click Here.


Language Shifts

The substantial changes in demographic makeup have led many in the marketing world to talk about shifting the language that describes customers. The idea of a dominant General Market with a few sub-segments is no longer a viable marketing description of consumers. Marketers are increasingly looking for new and better ways to reach consumers, and are embracing new labels to more accurately describe the buying public.


The largest contributing group to the multicultural expansion is the Latino population, which will triple in size and account for most of the U.S. population growth through 2050.


In the graphic below, you can see the changing face of the U.S. market by age segment, most clearly indicated by those in the under-40 and youngest categories. These young people will be the customers, consultants and corporate employees of tomorrow. Marketers are increasingly aware that their messaging needs to match up with what these populations consider to be important in order to best leverage their strategic plans. The largest contributing group to the multicultural expansion is the Latino population, which will triple in size and account for most of the U.S. population growth through 2050.

The transition from viewing the consumer landscape in segments to viewing the total landscape as one made up of varied cultures is now so marked that some believe the time has come to dismiss race altogether as a useful social indicator. Instead, companies should focus on strategies that will appeal across the multiple cultures, and layer on strong, engaging and connective ethnic values. In other words, focus on the human elements and find commonalities across all segments, thus delivering marketing content that is engaging and appropriate.

New marketing terms—such as Total Market, New Mainstream and others—are working their way into the lexicon of business executives who are attempting to manage these ideas into workable strategies.



Capturing Market Share through Content

Here at DSN, we’ve been writing about the importance of content marketing for some time. Marketing entrepreneur and blogger Seth Godin, along with author and social media guru Gary Vaynerchuk and others, has convinced us that outreach to customers in the social network and digital age is all about content, content, content.

But now, the message of that content is ever more important because the audience that is receiving it is changing as well. Joe Pulizzi, founder of The Content Marketing Institute, says, according to his website, that the content of your message delivers “information that makes your buyer more intelligent. The essence of this content strategy is the belief that if we, as businesses, deliver consistent, ongoing valuable information to buyers, they ultimately reward us with their business and loyalty.”

It will not do a company any good to produce marketing messages and advertising content for their goods and services that do notconnect with the intended audience. Even if those messages have connected in the past, the profile of the customer is changing so much that even that success may no longer count. So what does matter?

According to Cuban-American entrepreneur and author Glenn Llopis, who heads up the Glenn Llopis Group business consultancy,culture is the new universal language of marketing. In a Forbes article on capturing the Hispanic Market segment, Llopis writes, “Cultural intelligence must replace the misguided notion that simply translating English copy into someone’s native language is all you need to do to reach them. Embracing cultural sensitivity has become critically important to the design of new business models, leadership development and the relationships that brands earn with their consumers.” Llopis makes the point that brands don’t necessarily need to communicate in a language to reach ethnic consumers, but they do need to communicate in the language of the group’s culture.



The Messages

Translating existing English copy into various languages has been a common business practice in the past. That practice may never have been the best solution for the targeted market, but the expansion of cultural practices across the broader market is making it more and more outdated, not to mention embarrassing.

Take for example, the translation of the California Dairy Board’s very popular “Got Milk?” campaign into Spanish. Because they didn’t take the time to consider cultural nuances, the Dairy Board created a campaign that asked, “Are you lactating?”

Similarly, General Motors wanted to market the Chevy Nova to Latin American customers. They didn’t pay attention to the fact that “no va” in Spanish means “no go.” After much wasted time and effort, they renamed the car for that market.

Mistakes as blatant as these are not happening every day; however, any misfire created by a lack of understanding is wasted effort. How exactly will all this affect your company’s bottom line in recruiting, sales, and even hiring employees? Well, it’s difficult to draw dramatic conclusions, but it does seem clear that companies seeking to understand the market changes that are occurring will benefit more in the acquisition of customers, consultants, and general brand approvals.

Some of the cultural messages that are moving to the forefront of the total market might seem simple, but including them in your marketing messages can create a deep resonance in the market. For example, the number of households containing extended family—whether that is two or more generations living together, or includes cousins and aunts and uncles—is growing rapidly. Those companies whose marketing messages value these family relationships are more likely to engage these consumers.

Securing a place among these multiple trillions is, or should be, the goal of any modern marketer. Though the cultural messages and nuances are vital to any successful campaign, it is useful to remember that everyone, regardless of background or heritage, seeks quality and authenticity in the goods and services they utilize. With that as the starting point, those companies who strategically plan to reach the total market and all of its diversity will certainly gain a competitive edge.

Marketing an Ever-Evolving Strategy

by Beth Douglass Silcox

Click here to download this issue to your mobile device.

Once the playground for little-understood creatives who whipped up sales collateral and spent the money sales teams earned, marketing departments grow more strategic and sophisticated by the day. In fact, the demand to understand and engage customers is driving an evolution in marketing and moving its role within the company straight into the executive suite—Chief Marketing Officer.

“Today, marketing plays a critical role in strategic planning and brand positioning, overall messaging and, perhaps most importantly for the direct selling industry, creating the lasting relationships every company, every brand and every direct seller desires,” says USANA CMO Doug Braun.

The gamut of responsibilities under the CMO umbrella is ever-expanding. Candace Matthews, Amway’s CMO, says her role, “encompasses all of the branding, positioning, and everything that goes along with establishing those brands at a global level—communications, PR, corporate social responsibilities, Amway’s brand and reputational work, as well as the digital side and market research.” Sheryl Adkins-Green, CMO at Mary Kay Inc., adds, “My goal is to anticipate what women want, and then convert those insights into irresistible beauty products that women love. I’m responsible for leading the development of a product portfolio strategy that generates a sustainable stream of innovative skin care, color and fragrance products.” There’s a lot of work to go around and much to keep track of. Divvying responsibilities differs from company to company. USANA, for instance, separates communications, PR and social media. But one thing is consistent: The marketing group and the individuals who lead the charge, whether they are CMOs or heads of departments, simply can’t be what they were a decade ago and expect to succeed. CMOs today must be a new, eclectic species, able to execute the demands of traditional marketing while stretching into roles of sophisticated strategists, sector specialists, innovative champions, digital experts and business leaders, according to Advertising Age. This isn’t, however, unique to the direct selling industry nor to the U.S. corporate world. In fact, The Guardian in the U.K. declared the traditional CMO role dead last February. Why the epitaph? Companies must drive deeper to develop customer intimacy and lasting consumer engagement. That, they say, is where true growth lies.


Companies must drive deeper to develop customer intimacy and lasting consumer engagement. That, they say, is where true growth lies.


At the Crossroads of Consumer Engagement

Today, a carefully crafted marketing message isn’t the one-way communication it was decades ago. Instead, it’s really a conversation starter between brand and customer—a conversation to be taken very seriously. “Now consumers and the general public have so much power with the Internet. They can say anything. They can create a following. So you need to have brand advocates and ambassadors within the people. It’s that relationship, that bond, and that common framework and common vision for what we’re doing that’s so important,” Matthews says of marketing at Amway. Marketing leaders stand at a crossroads between consumers who yearn for engagement and companies who strive to meet that consumer need. And it’s the work that happens at this juncture that informs the way forward-thinking, direct selling CMOs see their jobs today.


“There’s not one area that doesn’t have some sort of interaction or dependency on the marketing department. I actually feel that it’s the driving force behind the business.” —Alec Clark, CMO, Plexus Worldwide


“We [marketing] are the keepers of the entire, lifelong Nerium experience,” says Amber Olson Rourke, CMO, Nerium International. “How the customers come to know about the product—how they experience the product, how we treat them. We are also the keepers of the whole Brand Partner experience, whether it’s marketing the trials, their check-out process, their training, events they go to, the partnership they enter into with our charities like Big Brothers Big Sisters. It’s really all-encompassing.” Alec Clark, CMO at Plexus Worldwide, adds, “There’s not one area that doesn’t have some sort of interaction or dependency on the marketing department. I actually feel that it’s the driving force behind the business.” Marketing is nothing short of the “soul of the organization,” according to Braun, and deserves a seat at the strategic planning table. Working hand-in-hand with sales is the only way to successfully meet the promises direct selling companies make to their consumers. “I look at the CMO as the connector, the integrator of products and experiences,” Matthews says. “I don’t see marketing and sales as independent functions. I see us fully integrating and putting our minds together to deliver what is the right thing for our IBOs.” It’s a holistic approach, meshing both the marketing and sales contributions that enable Amway’s IBOs to not only receive the company’s message, but also really get it. “It’s succinct, it is simple, and it’s very beautiful, and they can leverage it right away. That can be digitally or physically. It’s a unified thinking.”


The world’s leading information technology research and advisory company, Gartner, believes CMOs will outspend CIOs on IT by 2017.


There’s Power in Perspective

When Arbonne’s Chief Creative Officer Michael D’Arminio and Senior Vice President and Chief Sales Officer Heather Chastain sit down to the strategic planning table, each brings a slightly different perspective. “I want to make sure that everything our consultants feel, taste, smell and see embodies the best Arbonne experience,” D’Arminio says. D’Arminio and Chastain come together, challenge each other, learn from each other and ultimately make the right decisions to formulate a three-year strategic outlook, annualized plan and bimonthly plan they call a cycle meeting. “We have both a long-term and short-term plan in place, knowing that we need to be agile in order to take advantage of key opportunities as they arise,” D’Arminio says. Partnering with Chastain’s sales department, D’Arminio and his creative team get the kind of immediate feedback on products, innovations and ideas that can make slight course corrections for effectiveness more timely and successful. This blend of sales field insights paired with market trends and product innovations makes Arbonne’s ability to evaluate strategy, core initiatives, opportunity, return and risk more effective.

Strategic, Creative Innovators and Brand Stewards

The changing role of CMO is opening the creative floodgates to innovations and solutions for direct selling. The relationship building of the past still takes place at events, but as Clark says, “Masses of people are now contacted with one click. Technology has changed our whole industry and how it works.” In fact, customer engagement is so dependent upon technology that the world’s leading information technology research and advisory company, Gartner, believes CMOs will outspend CIOs on IT by 2017. Just spending the dollars, however, is no guarantee of success, and as the role of marketing expands so, too, does the CMO’s responsibility for strategic planning that balances the best use of technology with traditional brand stewardship and customer acquisition activities. “If the CMO of a company has only one responsibility, it is to keep it relevant. I don’t mean trendy, but relevant,” Braun says. “It’s easy for us to get distracted by a shiny new ball, and every once in a while a shiny new ball is needed, and it’s fun. But as a CMO, I think it’s our responsibility to continue to be true to who we are as a brand, what we can be the best at, and remain relevant to the rest of the world.” Matthews agrees, saying, “We are global and operate in over 100 countries and territories, so it’s important that people understand the position of the brand and of the company. Amway is the overarching brand, but how other brands link to it is equally important. To make it globally relevant, we have to stay within a global framework, and it must all align.” Amway’s leaders are more global and less market-specific as access to information via the Internet continually increases, and it has changed the way they perpetuate their brand. “It’s very important that the brand people see is consistent around the world,” she says. Not only consistency of brand, but also of systems and culture played a huge role in Nerium International’s lead up to global expansion to Canada and beyond this year. “What we’re building from an online perspective is a global digital experience where every country uses the same technology and interface from a website standpoint, for the back office and for mobile applications,” Olson Rourke says. “It’s all tied into one universal platform and message. There are a lot of offshoots, but it will be one experience.” This type of platform simplifies the Brand Partner experience of running a Nerium business anywhere in the world and allows the company to convey its corporate message on a global scale. “Making people better is our mission,” she says. “That’s reflected in the company’s relationships with charities like Big Brothers Big Sisters and Live Happy magazine, as well as the company’s focus on personal development. We’re truly focusing so much of our energy around that message of building people first beyond anything else.” Getting an entire direct selling organization to walk the walk, talk the talk, and live the brand is complicated and depends as much on people as it does on technology. At USANA, Braun says the brand experience manager keeps the corporate office on message and everyone moving in the same direction. “They look at everything we’re doing from a different perspective—a brand perspective,” he says. “They have a seat at the table for those conversations, so that our experience doesn’t become different on the web than it is in our call center.” Plexus’ Clark says, “Our content, our delivery, our message truly matter. We love our brand, and we take that very seriously. Hundreds of thousands of lives are affected if we make a bad decision and we start chasing rabbits down holes. So we need to keep our heads, look around and make sure we are doing the right things for the right reasons for all of our Ambassadors.”

Purveyors of a New Experience

Providing the right tools to inform, educate and support the direct selling field remains a critical responsibility for marketers, but today they also innovate the entire consumer experience. USANA refreshed its brand from top to bottom a few years ago, and it wasn’t just the look and feel that got an upgrade. “It was really properly positioning USANA as a brand to be relevant and be the brand of choice for a wider audience, not just for today but in the future,” Braun says. USANA shifted corporate habits and internal language to reflect the brand refresh and introduced an online and iPad prospecting app called USANA True Health Assessment, which features a 10–15 minute health questionnaire that generates an overall health report, risk report and product recommendations at the end. Braun says, “It changed the introduction to the company. As an Associate, your methodology of bringing someone into the business or in as a customer isn’t through a meeting, a coffee shop or an event. It’s now through a one-on-one communication about health, and it becomes much more personal. You build the relationship. You build trust, and there’s value for the time spent, whether they do anything with USANA or not.” He adds, “We always had Associates who believed in our product, believed in our science and manufacturing, but they weren’t as engaged in the brand. With this change, they are wearing the brand. They are participating in the brand in new ways. Their use of and how they talk on social media has increased significantly. From an activity base and from an engagement base with the brand, there’s been significant change.” At Mary Kay, Adkins-Green oversees a wide variety of digital tools developed to engage customers and create experiences for them that keep them coming back. Their interactive eCatalog, which has generated over 23 million visits globally, has users spending an average of five minutes browsing, and viewing on average 34 pages per session. Adkins-Green says May Kay’s fan base has increased even more quickly than expected by the team’s creation and promotion of product trend updates, fashion news, and how-to tips across multiple social media channels. She says, “According to industry expert L2 (a subscription-based business intelligence service that benchmarks the digital competence of brands), Mary Kay has one of the highest social media engagment ratings in the beauty industry.” Not all marketing innovations are technology based. One of the boldest customer acquisition strategies recently is a free inventory replenishment program from Nerium International called Nerium Gives Back. Only through a successful customer acquisition model, Olson Rourke says, can a company create sustainability. So when a Brand Partner brings a new customer or a new Brand Partner to the company, Nerium gives them free product back to replenish their stock. “It’s really revolutionary and drives the right behavior. We’re able to have higher retention of Brand Partners because of small inventory costs, and we can continue to have very high customer acquisition because Brand Partners are getting the product out there,” she says. Plexus encourages its Associates by augmenting a tried and true tradition—events. By ramping up branding, the company strives to inspire engagement and also show support of the field’s business-building. “Leaders are born at events,” Clark says. “All those people share best practices. They hop across island to island and know they are not the only ones doing this. There are 8,000 people having the same trials and successes.” But to supercharge the synergy Plexus Associates felt, Clark and his marketing staff looked upon their recent annual convention with fresh eyes and new goals. “Whether it was the first person or the 8,000th person to see it, we wanted them to feel appreciated and important.” So Plexus branded Dallas. Every light post hung the Plexus flag. Every bus wore the logo. They wrapped the hotel and even lit up the Dallas skyline with Plexus lights strung outside the Omni. “The CMO’s role is still to enable the success of our IBOs,” Matthews says. “So everything we do has to be looked at through that lens. That may be to bring more consumers to them, provide programs that will engage them, or to engage others and bring them into the Amway business.” Sometimes that means innovating global compliance solutions, like the advent of Amway’s digital Nutrilite Recommender, which asks appropriate questions and enables IBOs to make vitamin and mineral supplement recommendations based only on the product line available to their market. Still for others it calls on global markets to promote a brand repositioning in some of the most relevant yet creative ways. Upscale and recognizable packaging, differentiated product formulations, a global face and consistent image are the pillars of Amway’s repositioning of its premium skincare brand, Artistry. Through sponsorships of artistic events in global markets, like China’s immensely popular figure skating event, “Artistry on Ice,” and Korea’s Busan International Film Festival, there’s a new level of engagement, which aligns the brand locally to the global position. As with any cost-benefit analysis, there are qualitative and quantitative measurements to the value marketing brings. That value will become increasingly evident as more and more marketers are invited into the executive suite and those CMOs sit down at strategic planning tables to weigh in on a broad range of subjects, such as communications, social awareness, emotional touch points and consumer insights. As the world continues to spin faster and faster, technologies mature and change again, and consumers demand something new, it will be the CMO who stays on the cusp of trends and emerging technologies, keeps tabs on what’s happening globally, and understands the cultures of the world. Stewarding that insight into the company may well be one of the most vital aspects of the CMO’s evolving role in direct selling.

Breathing New Life into the American Dream

by Amy M. Robinson

Click here to order the March 2014 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.


The American Dream is no doubt evolving. Gone may be the days when a house, two and a half children, a dog and a white picket fence were universally accepted as the be-all and end-all. But, the founding principle of this nation’s vision—the opportunity for prosperity, success and upward social mobility—remains highly sought-after, even as technological advancements, rising costs of education and economic challenges have changed the way many of us define success.

For those of us long familiar with direct selling, we understand wholeheartedly the many ways in which this industry touches the lives of millions each day. We see firsthand how mothers, recent college graduates, military spouses and post-retirement individuals pursue economic success, social networking and career advancement by way of the business opportunity. We take pride in direct selling’s ability to provide much-needed support to social causes around the world, and we experience the direct selling difference ourselves each time we stop to listen to a distributor’s success story.

While this industry presents a truly equal opportunity for both men and women, it is no secret that women have played an active role in transforming direct selling into what it is today: an industry that changes lives for the better.

Of the 15.9 million direct sellers in the United States, roughly 77 percent are women. What’s more, these 12.2 million women comprise a diverse group, not simply in terms of age or race, but also in terms of education, career experience, skills and interests. In fact, according to the DSA’s National Salesforce Study, more than half of all direct sellers have a bachelor’s or advanced degree. And, still, more than half of direct sellers have children under 18 at home.

Perhaps most telling is the fact that these numbers reveal an overlap between the two groups. Even as women in the direct sales channel pursue higher levels of education, many still balance family responsibilities and career aspirations simultaneously. These numbers not only reflect similar trends in the U.S. national workforce, but they also support recent findings regarding women’s perceptions of the American Dream.

According to a recent Forbes survey, 84 percent of working women say that staying home to raise children is a financial luxury to which they aspire either temporarily or long-term. This number is particularly astounding when one takes into consideration how the rising cost of living has made this dream more difficult to achieve.

In 2010, the Department of Commerce issued a study revealing what it would take for families to achieve the aspirations of the middle class—which it defined as home and car ownership, opportunities for vacations, access to health care and enough savings to retire and contribute to the children’s college education. The study concluded that even two-earner families today would have more difficulty achieving middle-class status than they had two decades ago.

Direct selling certainly offers a solution, which no other industry can match. Even more, countless women stand as mentors to those who follow in their footsteps, looking to provide much-needed support at home without sacrificing the opportunity to build a successful business.

These women not only serve as leaders in the field, but also at the executive level. The female perspective of the direct selling industry is widely represented by women so inspired by the opportunity that they have risen to top-level positions in efforts to provide guidance to those who look to the sales channel as a source for supplemental income, social empowerment and personal growth. These women give selflessly of their time to spark a passion for social causes, raise funding for charitable organizations and drive more people to channel their creative energy to give back to others. These women also work tirelessly to remind key policymakers and regulators about the impact of direct selling on the national economy and otherwise slow-to-improve employment rates.

Perhaps most importantly of all, they inspire us each and every day to establish our own definition of the American Dream—such that we might carve our own paths for achieving it.


Amy M. RobinsonAmy M. Robinson is Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of the Direct Selling Association.

The Most Influential Women in Direct Selling

by Beth Douglass Silcox

Click here to order the March 2014 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.

Cover | March Issue

This issue of Direct Selling News is dedicated to celebrating the women of direct selling. Tenacity has certainly been a consistent trait among the women of our nation, as well as the women of the world. Always fighting to better the situation for their families, and for themselves, women have had to be tenacious to overcome all of the obstacles in their paths. Take into consideration that women couldn’t even go to college, vote, hold professional positions or practice law or medicine until our very recent past, and you will see that entrepreneurial stubbornness has been a necessity to get where we are now.

It is important to reflect on the past, in order to make the future better. It is especially important now since opportunity for women has become so much more widespread, and the daughters of this generation may struggle to even believe that their great-grandmothers couldn’t vote or have options in the professional world.

It is in celebration of all the women who fight for opportunity—those in the past and those currently fighting—that we bring you this issue. We asked 21 of the most influential executive women in direct selling questions about their specific journeys, their motivations and inspirations, and their preferences for mentoring other women along the way.

The path each woman took to the heights of direct selling corporate management is as unique as the individual. Yet all 21 are inextricably linked by the influence they have on the lives of hundreds of thousands, even millions of women across the globe who work in direct sales to enrich their families, make a difference in their communities and in the lives of others, and reach for their own dreams.

Direct Selling News selected this group of women based upon their executive leadership roles in companies that achieved inclusion in the DSN Global 100 list and the $100M Club. It comprises women who help guide our industry through their leadership and vision. There are many women hard at work in far more companies than we’ve listed here. But by proudly honoring these 21, Direct Selling News salutes every female leader—corporate or field—who strives for more, respects those who blazed the trail, and reaches out to those on the way up.

Cover Story | Women’s History | Sheryl Adkins-Green | Claire Bancino | Meredith Berkich | Lori Bush | Dr. Oi-Lin Chen | Doris Christopher | Angela Loehr Chrysler | Kathy Coover | Shelli Gardner | Jessica Herrin | Wendy Lewis | Candace Matthews | Sheri McCoy | Cindy Monroe | Kay Napier | Joani Nielson | Meg Sheetz | Pam Sowder | Jill Blashack Strahan | Connie Tang | Heidi Thompson

We Don’t Need to Change Or Do We?

by John Parker

We’ve all heard that it’s lonely at the top, or that leadership is the other side of the coin of loneliness. Many have embraced this notion, but I would invite them to closely study—and experience—how direct selling really works. It just might change their minds.

Entrepreneurship in our industry is far from a lonely proposition. In fact, it’s just the opposite. As insiders, we know that. But when a well-respected business professor and author on global entrepreneurship recently asked me about it, I realized we still have a lot of work to do to prove it. She said, “I spend every day with students, both in the U.S. and abroad. If there is one thing they seem to have in common, it is a desire for work that is meaningful above and beyond what it pays them. They want their careers to leave a positive impact on society. How is your industry changing to prepare for them?”

My first thought was: Changing? But we don’t need to.

Direct selling companies are unique in how we create an environment where communities naturally form. If we were a sport, we would be a team, not an individual sport.

But here’s what I think is tough for us to grasp as industry executives: Lasting communities form around causes or values—not products or brands. In fact, some of the most successful organizations at Amway have discovered that what identifies them as a team is not the dietary supplements or anti-aging creams they offer. It’s about a shared value system and the “something bigger—achieved together” the professor was asking about.

In 2013, two legendary Amway leaders passed away. As we mourned, we also reflected on this very concept. We focused on the legacies they left in the world, not as entrepreneurs, but as people. Their legacies were about helping others, whether it was building orphanages together, ensuring no one who needed a wheelchair in one country went without, eradicating hunger in a rural school system, or raising millions of dollars for Easter Seals families.

They are two reflections of the many real and powerful stories that prove what direct selling—communities with a common purpose—can do. These stories have little to do with product or compensation plans.


Lasting communities form around causes or values—not products or brands.


The opportunity we have as leaders in this industry is to respond to and state our support for the desire that people—especially young people—have to leave a mark on the world. It’s an opportunity to meet their needs as a community without attempting to define and manage them at every turn.

We have the ability to do that. We can talk to prospects about their aspirations to leave a legacy, and about the platform direct selling gives them to do it. We can teach them to find others with similar passions. We can give people an opportunity to dip their toes in the water of entrepreneurship and economic freedom—all while building lasting relationships, developing others, and providing hope and change on a very large scale.

What better foundation than direct selling is there to make a lasting difference like this in the world?


The opportunity we have as leaders in this industry is to respond to and state our support for the desire that people—especially young people—have to leave a mark on the world.


The more I think about it, the more I realize this might make us uncomfortable because, as corporate employees, we exist outside of these naturally formed communities. We help them via our unique products, compensation plans, and support, but they live and breathe for each other, not for us. We’re not shy when it comes to talking to the media, or other influencers, about the unique “product + people + plan” equation that makes direct selling tick, but have we done our job describing our communities—and their passions—as fully as possible?

I believe the answer is “no.” Otherwise, questions like the one I was asked by that professor, and those by other outsiders, wouldn’t come our way.

We can start by reminding ourselves that “people” and “social networks” are not the same thing as “community.” Much like teams in sports, communities have a goal in mind and will not rest until it’s met. People are still individuals. Social networks allow people to communicate, but they don’t always inspire people to act on a common purpose or passion.

Communities share a common belief. Our industry community exists with the shared belief that individuals can control their futures and that raising up entrepreneurs is an important contribution to society. So we are a community, and we provide community. Great, but how do we help our next generation of independent representatives understand and embrace this?

Maybe it starts with less focus on independence. Perhaps our message should be: If you’re looking for a community in which you can make a difference, direct selling is already here! We allow and support you to make your mark on the world.

We need to use our time, treasure and talent to talk about the common-purpose communities that live within our businesses. Yes, it’s a little scary because those are the very communities we don’t always directly control. But it proves to others that direct selling is one very exciting, very doable, very legitimate route to working with others to achieve that “something bigger.”

In 2014, I challenge all of us to find the communities of direct sellers within our businesses making an impact that resonates with the next generation of entrepreneurs—to show prospects that we’re businesses that don’t exist for selfish reasons, but who work to solve the problems of one person, or one community, or one country.

Speak out about how direct selling communities are a unique way to pay it forward, and how direct selling embodies optimism, which is the first thing a person needs to change the world.


Modify the conversation about direct selling. Focus on how we have and how we will serve and better entire communities.


Show people that direct selling will help them make a difference in ways they can’t even imagine because of the sheer number of people they would be able to meet and energize around any cause they choose.

In other words, modify the conversation about direct selling. Focus on how wehave and how we will serve and better entire communities. Use a new communications formula that every time includes product + people + plan, just as before, but adds “passionate purpose.”

Let’s prove that no one understands people’s desires to start socially conscious businesses better than we do, and let’s remind everyone that with a career in direct selling it’s never lonely at the top—or in any position along the way.

Before we know it, smart people won’t be asking us if we’re doing anything to prepare for a new wave of worker. They’ll be asking how they can follow in direct selling’s footsteps.


John Parker is Chief Sales Officer at Amway.John Parker is Chief Sales Officer at Amway.

DSN Exclusive: Amway CEOs on Company’s Record Year

The industry’s top revenue-generating company for 2012 has announced another year of record sales. Amway reported its seventh consecutive year of growth with annual sales of $11.8 billion for 2013, up from $11.3 billion the previous year.

DSN spoke to the company’s Co-CEOs, Chairman Steve Van Andel and President Doug DeVos, who credit Amway’s growth to the leadership and motivation of its distributors. “It’s really their engine,” said Van Andel. “The great thing for us is that over longer periods of time, we see different groups coming into the business.”

Young people represent one group increasingly attracted to Amway’s entrepreneurial opportunity, Van Andel noted. “That bodes well for now, but it also bodes well for the future because that group will, I think, stay with us for a while and continue to have success, which contributes to the overall success of the business.”

The company’s 2013 Global Entrepreneurship Report, wherein two-thirds of the countries surveyed boasted a positive outlook on entrepreneurship, also bodes well for the future of Amway and the industry as a whole. “If people around the world support entrepreneurialism, if they support people going into business for themselves and operating their own businesses—they support our industry,” said Van Andel. “We’re very optimistic about the industry in that sense.”

The Co-CEOs expressed optimism about direct selling not only as a business opportunity, but also as a way to bring individuals into communities with a common purpose. “The people, plan and products by themselves are nice, but in Amway—and in direct selling—we have the capacity to bring them together. That’s what our industry does; it makes connections and creates community,” said DeVos.

One common purpose that Amway distributors and employees have rallied behind is the Amway One by One Campaign, which has impacted the lives of 10 million children worldwide. The organization has contributed 2.7 million volunteer hours and nearly $200 million to causes that support children in need.

The past year also saw Amway branching into a unique aspect of its business with the opening of a handful of physical locations around the world. Amway piloted its Amway Business Center model at New York’s Citi Field and most recently opened a center in Berlin, Germany. DeVos describes these physical locations as a place for people “to experience the business in a way that makes Amway real.”

Read the full announcement from Amway.