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Coming out of a DSA annual meeting in Phoenix gives one the feeling of having completed a most enjoyable full-course meal. As always, there were many takeaways.
The two keynote speakers, noted bestselling author Dan Pink and National Geographic award-winning photographer Dewitt Jones, delivered potent messaging focused on business process and potential. As always, industry C-level executives such as Michael Johnson of Herbalife, Kay Napier of Arbonne, Jere Thompson of Ambit, Brett Chapman of Herbalife, Orville Thompson of Scentsy, Truman Hunt of Nu Skin and John Parker of Amway, shared perspectives for the benefit of all who are on the same journey to build opportunities utilizing the direct selling business model. We also received a very positive report and outlook from the message delivered by DSA President Joe Mariano.
I always enjoy the many workshop topics, and once again, it was hard to make decisions on which workshop to attend. Most enjoyable is the opportunity to interact with the many DSA Member Suppliers who put so much effort into displaying their services and being available to the annual meeting attendees. Incoming DSA Chairman for this year Scenty CEO Orville Thompson, in his welcome to this year’s exhibitors, shared his story of how important suppliers were to the growth of Scentsy. As I walked the aisles of this year’s exhibitors, it was obvious that the products and services being provided touch every critical component of a direct selling company’s needs. Technology providers appear to be growing, which is also good news for an industry that is now using technology as well as any industry. Tools to enhance customer acquisition, convenience and retention will certainly serve the industry well.
In fact, direct sellers are so state of the art that companies can boast a certain level of quality, only a vision a few short years ago, in the types of tools being deployed and the support extended to their sales organizations. The impact of the best tools and support the industry has ever experienced will definitely continue to fuel an attraction to the business as individuals realize there may be no better way to embrace an entrepreneurial opportunity than through the vehicle of a direct selling company and the arsenal of support offered.
On my plane ride to Phoenix I thought about how I looked forward to the meeting and the many people I would have the pleasure of meeting or being in conversation with. The opportunity to network and converse with like-minded leaders of the many companies within the industry is about as precious as it gets. I wondered what Michael Johnson, CEO of Herbalife, would have to say about the challenges his company faced in 2012 from unwarranted attacks and criticisms by a hedge fund manager who was obviously intent on creating financial gain at the expense of the company—not to mention its thousands of employees and hundreds of thousands of independent contractors who have chosen Herbalife’s products and opportunity. Mr. Johnson basically responded with: “Those attacks and criticisms, regardless of how unfounded they were, have made us better!” It was a very positive response to a most serious challenge one company endured and, as we know, the attack on Herbalife was another attempt to attack the entire direct selling business model.
I also went into the DSA Annual Meeting anxiously anticipating the highlights of the industry report for 2012. Here at Direct Selling News, our own research and the compilation of the DSN Global 100 had already indicated that the industry is doing well. Mr. Mariano’s presentation/industry report and perspective confirmed what we had anticipated. Retail sales in the U.S. climbed to $31.6 billion, and the total number of independent direct sellers was announced at 15.9 million. This is testimony to the growing satisfaction of the overall customer experience provided by direct sellers. The new stats certainly supported the theme of the DSA Annual Meeting… Celebrate! Read more about the stats in the DSA Update by DSA President Joe Mariano.
The industry, overall, did very well in 2012—proof to the validity of the business model and the positive economic impact direct selling opportunities have on those who choose to engage. With the type of support companies now have, as witnessed by that journey through this year’s exhibit hall, one has to believe that the industry is headed for its “best of times.” When a brand-new independent direct seller can activate a business without typical business investment levels of expense and access the tools equivalent to those of the most sophisticated distribution channel, one has to be extremely optimistic about the future!
Don’t forget, we are now in digital format in both the Apple Store and the Google Play Store. If you are already a subscriber to DSN, your download is free. Enjoy reading the stories on your tablet or mobile device and share the stories with others who need to know what this industry is all about: how and why it does business the way it does. Celebrate because you and those who support you do it so well!
Until next time… Enjoy the issue!
Publisher and Editor in Chief