DSU Spring 2023: More than 500 direct selling executives gathered for inspiration, networking and game-changing advice from industry insiders.
Now more than ever, the direct selling industry has proven its resilience over the last three years. Breakout stars like industry mainstay PM-International celebrated its 29th year of consecutive growth. Herbalife Nutrition saw revenue top $5.2 billion and Amway, the number one direct selling brand in the world for the eleventh straight year, enjoyed revenues of $8.1 billion.
Amid these accomplishments, companies who only recently unlocked the best strategy to address the rapidly evolving marketplace post-pandemic, have now emerged from the chaos to face new and different challenges. Hot button topics like Generative AI, ChatGPT and the potential shift to incorporate omnichannel and affiliate model strategies into the existing direct selling structure are all swirling in the industry ether, presenting an interesting learning curve for executives.
At the spring session of Direct Selling University, more than 500 executives gathered to network with their peers and learn from 40 presenters who shared expert insight and the latest innovations regarding some of the most complicated challenges facing leaders today. Through their keynote addresses, workshops and power-packed panels, attendees had the opportunity to learn from acquisition success stories, gain new perspective from tech leaders and discuss the power of an effective Amazon strategy.
“We kicked off the event with our invitation-only CEO Forum,” said Stuart Johnson, CEO, Direct Selling Partners, DSN and NOW Tech. “Eighty C-Level executives representing $50 billion in global revenue came together and shared their thoughts on the challenges and opportunities facing the channel in a private, relaxed and very candid open forum. Remarkably, over 70 percent of them were repeat attendees, and this group would not come back together unless they were getting tremendous, measurable value by taking the time to be in that room.”
Unlocking New Strategies
Inspiring change at scale requires an open mindset and a safe environment to explore new concepts. At DSU, executives had the opportunity to learn from each other; share their experiences; and make new connections that will help them boldly lead and cast vision for their respective companies in 2023.
“One way or another, all of us are in a state of evolution. And, in some way or another, we are all in the middle of a revolution,” Johnson said. “Over two days, executives took time away from their day to day to rethink, reimagine, redefine and renew their commitment to the millions of entrepreneurs and customers that serve their companies on a daily basis. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, but at DSN and DSU, we bring early reads on emerging ideas and trusted advice from vetted industry insiders and fresh ideas from new voices to inspire, spark change and collectively build a better future for our industry. I am confident that each executive left with at least one—if not five—game-changing ideas or initiatives to take back and consider with their teams.”
Stuart Johnson, CEO of Direct Selling Partners, DSN and NOW Tech, set the stage for candid conversations about the industry’s struggles, challenges and best practices, while highlighting the companies who exhibited three consecutive years of growth.
Blake Mallen, Billion-Dollar Brand-Building and Community Marketing Strategist, discussed the importance of being on the right side of disruption; why the velocity of innovation matters more than ever before; and how creating a platform can expand brand influence in exponential ways.
Brandon White, File Finder Founder and CEO, examined the strengths and weaknesses of ChatGPT and offered new and innovative ways companies can leverage it to improve efficiency and cost savings.
Brian Underwood, Prüvit CEO, talked about how leaders can create a brand that is built to last through becoming aware of the company they are becoming.
Crayton Webb, Sunwest Communications Owner and CEO, spoke of the importance of telling positive stories to bank credibility for times of reputation crisis and shared the top five content categories that every team should be prioritizing.
Curtis Call, Xyngular Chief Sales Officer, pointed out how consistency in behavior, routines and character mixed with “wow elements” build trust, resulting in relationships that help move a business forward.
Emre Tuna, Farmasi Co-CEO and President, illustrated how to create a successful global expansion strategy and revealed his brand’s keys to an effective launch.
Erin King, a Digital Persuasion Expert and Chief Digital Officer, shared key findings discovered from working with AI, including why specificity rules when relying on robots to develop content and why humans are still a critical part of working with these digital machines.
Heather Chastain, Bridgehead Collective Founder and CEO and DSN Strategic Advisor, unveiled data discovered through a generational study of how different demographics perceive the direct selling industry, and proved the importance of combatting negative messages with age-specific language.
Jeannie Price, USANA Executive Vice President of Sales Americas, Europe showed how USANA moved beyond competing to winning by embracing change; simplifying its compensation plan; and how affiliate marketing has enhanced their customer experience.
Jesse McKinney, Red Aspen Co-Founder and CEO, discussed how they captured the younger demographic by reworking their product categories and packaging line to become more sustainable and Gen Z-friendly.
John Wadsworth, Jr., Partner.Co Chief Brand Partner Officer, told the origin story of Partner.Co and how he and his team wove a number of disparate brands together to become one cohesive unit.
Kent Wood, Amare Global CFO, shared the five prioritized pillars of Amare’s Year of Transformation, including changes in perceptions, culture, customer experience, brand and global business expansion strategies that led to positive 2022 results.
Kindra Hall, Bestselling Author and Storytelling Expert, expressed how story helps brands connect with people and illustrate value and offered specific strategies companies can follow to tap into their own storytelling superpower.
Kody Bateman, Promptings Founder and Chief Visionary Officer, explained how connecting with content on a constant basis can actually create disconnection and how companies can brand their mission with story to help people find and build community.
Marc Ashley, Market America Worldwide/SHOP.COM President and COO, discussed how leaders can protect their brands and intellectual property from unauthorized sellers by leveraging Amazon’s compliance technology, creating a zero-tolerance policy and developing a strategic approach to compete with and eradicate these unsanctioned sellers.
Melissa Thompson, BELLAME Founder and CEO, explained how her company leaned into an “affiliate equipped and network marketing blessed” model that removed all fees to participate and reinvigorated their entrepreneurship opportunity.
Noah Westerlund, NOW Technology President, gave a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the importance of a mapped-out sales system and how it can help companies properly onboard customers and distributors, measure results and make data-driven decisions.
Onyx Coale, LifeWave Senior Presidential Director, reminded executives about the characteristics of hero products and why duplication is essential for success.
Reco McCambry, Novae Founder, President and CEO, explained how FinTech is helping his company provide people with greater access to financial literacy, credit and capital to help close both the ownership gap and the wealth gap.
Sheryl Adkins-Green, Mary Kay Chief Experience Officer, shared the governing principles behind the Mary Kay brand and how their founder’s example taught them to prioritize treating every person they encounter in a way that makes them feel important, valued and respected.
Dawn Speaks, LimeLife by Alcone Regional Director and Gary Montalvo, LimeLife by Alcone Chief Development Officer, gave a leadership training masterclass that included their cheat sheet for the Three Laws of Performance.
Heather Chastain hosted a New CEO Panel with Josh Paine, IDLife CEO; Warren Schlichting, LegalShield CEO; and Gene Tipps, Plexus CEO, to learn what keeps them up at night; how they help their people win; and what’s next for their companies.
Stuart Johnson led a panel discussion with Terry LaCore, LACORE Enterprises Owner and CEO; Jared Turner, Amare Global CEO; and John Wadsworth, Jr., Partner.Co Chief Brand Partner Officer, to discover the motivations, strategies and surprises involved in their successful acquisition accomplishments that together represent $1 billion in revenue.
A DSU Workshop panel featuring Amanda Tress, FASTer Way to Fat Loss Founder and CEO; Christina Helwig, AdvoCare Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing; Shanae Arave, ALIGN Co-Founder and CSO; Jesi Condor, ALIGN Co-Founder and CEO; and a Q & A session led by Heather Chastain and Stuart Johnson, discussed the benefits and hurdles faced as their brands successfully implemented an affiliate model.
Wayne Moorehead hosted an Amazon Success Panel with Marc Ashley, Market America/SHOP.COM President and COO; Al Bala, Mannatech CEO and President; Blake Mallen, Billion-Dollar Brand-Building and Community Marketing Strategist and Jeannie Price, USANA Executive Vice President of Sales Americas, Europe, to discuss the role of Amazon in building customer trust; how to help distributors understand the vision behind an Amazon strategy; and the role strategic pricing plays in protecting value propositions.
From the June 2023 issue of Direct Selling News magazine.