This week’s feature is a Q&A with Michelle Larter. Michelle Larter is the Worldwide Director, Direct Selling at IMN, a leading newsletter service provider for direct selling companies worldwide.
Michelle has over 20 years’ experience – nine years focusing specifically in the direct selling profession as a consultant/leader to build her own direct selling business.
Q: A few weeks into 2014, how do you see things going this year for the direct selling industry?
A: 2014 is off to a great start for the direct selling industry, Herbalife won a court case overturning allegations of a pyramid scheme, which has improved industry attitudes and image. And the trends that will guide the industry this year, predominantly around mobile and social enablement of direct selling organizations are becoming clearer.
Q: What trends do you see taking shape in 2014?
A: After spending some time last fall at the US DSA’s “Be Connected Conference”, and keeping a close pulse on the industry, the following trends are what I would expect to see becoming widespread in the industry this year:
* Social media is the way that messages are getting out now, but Facebook’s saturation has caused the younger market to increasingly utilize more “private” channels (Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest) to connect with peers. Consultants need to interact with each generation on the channels they spend the most time on in order to cultivate strong relationships and generate the best results.
* Consultants are using iPads and tablets to run their businesses—conducting presentations on them at parties and using them for order management. Printed materials—catalogs, order forms, invoices—will increasingly become electronic.
* Consultants who are serious about marketing will increasingly use their own social sites, track ROI on Google analytics and use Facebook graph to drive leads.
Q: Sounds like a lot of opportunities to use new channels and mediums for communication and lead generation.
A: Absolutely, the challenge for many consultants is that even large direct selling organizations run lean and mean and consultants wear a lot of hats, which means that they don’t always have time for marketing. Part of the trick is to find the proper cadence with which consultants should communicate with their customers and prospects—every eight days tends to be a good regularity to keep customers and prospects engaged on social channels, while a monthly newsletter works great for email. With regularity in communication timelines, customers and prospects will be anticipating the correspondence and will be more likely to engage with the content.
Q: What is new at IMN in 2014?
A: 2014 is an exciting year for IMN. After being acquired by Reynolds and Reynolds last summer, we have combined IMN’s expertise and Reynolds’ commitment to the growth of IMN’s direct selling division. With the addition of more developers and resources, we are growing IMN’s marketing services and digital technology offerings for the direct selling industry and continue to improve our award-winning product. We are more confident than ever in our ability to provide leading edge products that increase sales and recruiting along with exceptional customer service.
Q: Thanks for your time and insights, Michelle. Would you like to add anything?
A: Thank you, Hakki, here’s to a successful year for the direct selling industry!