Archive for 2011

DSA on the TODAY Show!

Monday, November 21st, 2011

DSA on the TODAY Show

Thanks to all of the DSA member companies that once again generously donated to the TODAY Show Toy Drive! I just returned from my trip to New York to present the direct selling channel’s collective donation of more than $16.5 million in products live on the show! You can see the complete list of donors on DSA’s website. This is the 8th year DSA companies have given a collective donation, having given more than $85 million during that time.

After the show today my daughter, Kaitlyn, and I were leaving a shop near Rockefeller Plaza where we had stopped to get a quick bite to eat. A woman stopped Kaitlyn to tell her how nice she looked in her fancy dress and she proudly announced that she had been on the TODAY Show. I’m sure the woman was instantly trying to figure out what our claim to fame might be as her eyes lit up looking for an explanation. I obliged, telling her all the details of the wonderful companies and people that comprise the direct selling community. It probably wasn’t quite the brush with fame she had hoped for, but she nonetheless gave us an exhuberant thank you and congratulations and went on her way.

I tell this story because I frequently get the opportunity to tell people about direct selling’s participation in the TODAY Show Toy Drive, and I can’t help but feel a bit guilty about the fact that each of the donating companies can’t hear every one of the “thank you”s that I receive. DSA is pleased to serve as a conduit for these donations, but it’s really the generosity of the companies that make this possible. If it weren’t for their ongoing commitment to improving the lives of others – both members of their salesforces and those in the community at large – there would be no representation of DSA in this endeavour.

So to each of the donating companies, and to each person in the direct selling community who works to make a better life for themselves, their familes and others, THANK YOU. Your work impacts the lives of more people than you will ever know, and I’m proud to be able to play some small role in spreading that message.

See the video

Inviting Brands into our Lives

Saturday, November 19th, 2011

The Pew Research Center recently released a report examining the major reasons why Americans use social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and LinkedIn. “Roughly two thirds of social media users say that staying in touch with current friends and family members is a major reason they use these sites, while half say that connecting with old friends they’ve lost touch with is a major reason behind their use of these technologies,” the reports cites. While the study offered great insight on how adults of all ages use social media to strengthen their personal relationships, it didn’t address another important use of social media: the interaction between consumers and their favorite products and brands.

According to the DSA-commissioned report, “U.S. Consumer Trends Impacting the Direct Selling Industry” issued by GfK Roper Consulting earlier this year, 48 percent of social networking users say they use the sites to “post comments or read what other users have said about a brand, product or company.” Additionally, the report reveals that 67 percent of the total U.S. population considers online sites, reviews or online communities to be a trustworthy source for information.

Further, more than 75 percent of consumers get information about products through friends or family members (presumably often through online resources), and more than 50 percent go to company websites or look for online product reviews before buying a product they’ve never purchased before.

But have we reached a point yet where online marketing is accepted as a mainstream method of product promotion? The facts may surprise you.

Consider this: Facebook boasts more than four million product, public figure and company fan pages alone, and according to a study conducted by Digital Buzz in 2010, 40 percent of Facebook’s 500 million users followed brands through the networking site, while 25 percent of Twitter’s 106 million users followed brand-associated Twitter accounts. Astonishingly, the study concluded that 51 percent of brand followers (approximately 102 million people) on Facebook and 67 percent of brand followers (approximately 17.75 million people) on Twitter would go on to make purchases from that specific brand. While the study doesn’t account for any overlap between Facebook and Twitter users who follow the same brands on each platform, the numbers clearly illustrate that social media plays a huge role in the choices consumers make when researching products.

There’s no doubt online resources are key to purchase decisions for many consumers – and I believe one more example of direct selling on the leading-edge of consumer trends. Person-to-person communication about products and companies is at the core of direct selling – and that’s been true for decades! Direct sellers didn’t need the Internet to effectively use word of mouth marketing – but technology has certainly made it easier.

So the next time you’re online, think about how social networking has changed or enhanced your relationship with your favorite brands. You likely feel a closer connection to them because they are only a click away, or even better, they come directly to you based on your interests. Just last week Starbucks treated me to a coffee for my birthday – courtesy of the fact that I had connected with them online.

Whether we like to admit it or not, social media has become a critical part of our consumer identity – both individual and collective. Brands have been invited into our lives more intimately than ever before. The key for marketers will be to take advantage of that access without abusing it.

Defeating Unemployment – One Direct Seller at a Time

Sunday, November 6th, 2011

For finance analysts and business owners alike, the end of 2011 means one thing – budget outlooks for the coming year. And for many, it comes as no surprise that the latest reports released by the Congressional Budget Office are far less than ideal.

While forecasters estimate that the national unemployment rate will remain well above 8 percent through 2012, and perhaps even longer, even Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke stated earlier this week that the pace of progress of labor market conditions will likely be “frustratingly slow.” Several analysts have largely credited the slow progress to structural impediments in the labor market, including the “mismatch” between existing job openings and the characteristics of job seekers – many of whom are highly qualified college graduates and experienced professionals in search of a new career path.

Where does direct selling fit in, you ask? With countless individuals facing job cuts, reduced pay or hardship in applying for their first job out of school, the direct sales channel offers a unique, challenging – and rewarding! – opportunity for people of all ages to launch a business with the backing of an industry that has been in important part of the U.S. economy since the early 20th century, not to mention the network of millions across the globe who find direct selling to be a source of empowerment and extra income.

Consider the millions of people out there who are unemployed or underemployed and searching for an opportunity to put their skills, knowledge and motivation to succeed into practice. These men and women of all ages and backgrounds can each find their own personal success in direct selling, whether it’s a stop-gap measure until they find a new traditional job, or something they find to be a long-term source of income! With so many individuals striving to earn an income, many of the jobless are merely looking for new ways to channel their energy into a career that produces results, provides opportunities for flexibility and enables individuals to gain invaluable business experience.

While it may be cliché, recognizing the “glass as half full” is as important now as ever; while the national unemployment rate has seen little improvement over the past few years, now is the perfect time to spread the word about all of the opportunities direct selling has to offer!

‘Tis the Season for Direct Selling

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

Less than a week ago – and much to our amazement – here at the DSA office in Washington, D.C., we saw the first snowflakes of the 2011-2012 winter season. Whether or not we were ready to acknowledge that it’s already November, Mother Nature stepped in to remind us all just how fast the year can fly by.

While the holidays are just around the corner, for many direct sellers, the next few months represent one of the biggest – and busiest – seasons for sales, party bookings and outreach to potential customers. With that in mind, Jay Rudman, CEO of DSA member Paperly, put forth an exciting idea to encourage direct sellers to show their support and dedication to the industry.

Inspired by American Express’s successful “Small Business Saturday” campaign last year, Jay proposed a “direct selling only” holiday season campaign, whereby direct sellers everywhere could show their love for the industry by completing all of their holiday season purchases only from direct sellers.

With nearly 16 million people involved in direct selling in the United States alone, committing to a “direct selling only” holiday season presents not a challenge, but a fun and creative way to illustrate how direct selling impacts the economy, as well as the livelihoods of countless people across the globe. Just imagine – a “direct selling only” holiday season would not only provide revenue for direct sellers throughout the country, but it would also spread the word about the credibility of this phenomenal industry.

As nearly 200 companies have formally pledged to adhere to DSA’s Code of Ethics, holiday shoppers who commit to this campaign will not only find that there is a direct selling company out there for everyone on your gift list, but also that your purchases will support local businesses that have demonstrated a firm belief in ethical and reliable business practices.

Whether you’re shopping for your family, friends or co-workers, consider just how many types of products are offered through direct selling companies everywhere! From home decor and clothing to cosmetics and bed linens – or even chocolate and jewelry for that special someone – there’s no question even Santa could fill his sleigh solely with direct selling products!

Let’s support one another and make the 2011 holiday season one that direct sellers everywhere will never forget!

We’re Having a Party! – DSA on the TODAY Show

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

Check out this segment that ran on the TODAY Show June 11. It’s a great overview of the benefits of direct selling and we’re so excited about the many people who called and emailed DSA to find out more information about becoming a direct seller.


Fast Facts

  • 76% of sellers have been with their company 1+ years
  • 78% of sellers say direct selling meets or exceeds their expectations
  • 82% of sellers report a good, very good or excellent experience with direct selling
  • 74% of US adults have purchased products from a direct seller
  • 15.9 million people in the U.S. are involved in direct selling
  • $31.63 billion in total US sales
  • $166.9 billion sales worldwide