As always, DSU was jam-packed with amazing content from amazing speakers. My notebook was crammed with all kinds of great ideas, helpful stats and interesting approaches worth considering for my own business. I learned something new from every single presenter.
But how do you turn all of that learning into action? The key is to pin down a handful of revelations that rose to the top, and then do something with them! In an effort to help us all take action, whether you were there or not, here are the next steps I would encourage any executive to take, inspired by Fall DSU 2023.
1 / Get Serious About the Hispanic Market
The most blatantly clear takeaway from DSU was a lot of companies growing in the US have one thing in common: a commitment to the Hispanic market. This was a key point in about four different presentations. Whether you decide to target the Hispanic market or not, every executive needs to be intentional about how you’re thinking about this market, both globally and especially in the US.
2 / Simplify until It Hurts
John Alcala, CEO of It Works!, reminded us of just how much distributors have on their plates…and that’s before we add all of our stuff (promotions, incentives, announcements, launches…) to the mix! We all talk about simplifying our business, but do we really do it? To experience the kind of simplicity that actually prompts growth and duplication, you’ve got to shed some of the secondary “stuff” that only gets in the way for the average distributor. Go find it and do something about it.
3 / Experiment, Learn and Adapt
pawTree Founder and CEO Roger Morgan walked us through a few scenarios where the company identified a problem; came up with a possible solution; and launched quickly. Some worked well; some didn’t; and some only worked within very specific circumstances, but not others. The takeaways from his specific examples were helpful, but the biggest takeaway is this: am I tracking everything I do well enough to know if it works and why? And then do I keep iterating to see the improvement?
4 / Compare Your Business to Neora
A huge perk of DSU was hearing from Founder and CEO Jeff Olson and Co-CEO Deborah K. Heisz from Neora about their journey in their case against the FTC. The work they’ve done is so vital for every single one of us—both in terms of validating what we do and also shedding light on how we should do it. But in Stuart Johnson’s words, “If you’re still doing things the wrong way, this is not a win for you!” Deb shared some of the elements of Neora’s business (like 80 percent of those who buy from them are Customers and receive no commission) that strengthened their case. It’s in no way the hard-and-fast rule that must be followed, but if you need a standard to compare yourself against, it sounds like we just got a new one.
5 / Start Using AI (whether you want to or not!)
I’ll admit I’ve been slow to jump on the AI bandwagon. It can feel a bit overwhelming to understand. And it can feel like “just one more thing,” when I’ve already got enough “things” in my life. But after listening to Blake Mallen and Brandon White talk about how they’re putting AI to use right now, I realized my excuses hold little weight compared to the unbelievable benefits that can come from incorporating AI into how I work and live. Rather than figure it all out, I’m simply dedicating 15 minutes a day to using AI in some form or fashion. It’s the only way I’ll learn it and appreciate it. Maybe you should, too.
6 / Success Is in the Segmentation
No single speaker focused on segmentation as a topic, but many alluded to it. Bridgehead Collective’s Founder and CEO Heather Chastain’s generational research certainly shines a bright light on the need for us to segment what we do. The panel on affiliate programs (and how different each program is) certainly showcases how companies are trying to segment the opportunity in new ways. We even learned of the differences among segments within the Hispanic market. We can all do a better job of segmentation. Whatever is holding you back—technology, resources, know-how, WHATEVER!—let’s make 2024 the year we do something about it.
7 / What We Do Still Matters
Vivian Mokome, Founder and CEO of Vivian Mokome Projects, shared a heartfelt reminder that direct selling changes lives…and, in her estimation, can change continents! She sees direct selling as a prominent force for change in Africa. We must evolve as a channel and respond to the market in terms of what it wants and how it wants it. But we cannot lose sight of the actual life changes that have occurred and continue to occur, no matter how tempted we may be to downplay it in the midst of so many changes. Remind yourself of the greater good your company pursues and provides regularly. There’s no other fuel like it.
Were there more takeaways at DSU? You bet!
This is just a starting place. If you were there, think back to the points above in context of your own experience and determine what makes sense for your company. If you weren’t there, this list can still prompt extremely helpful conversations for your team. And bring them to DSU 2024! DSN
Note from the Editorial Staff: We’re excited to include these insights from industry expert Brett Duncan. Look for more content from Brett in the coming months on the pages of DSN.
Brett Duncan specializes in helping direct selling companies evolve into modern social selling models while still maintaining the culture and essence of who they are and what makes them different. He is Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Strategic Choice Partners, a business development firm that helps direct selling companies take their next steps.
From the December 2023 issue of Direct Selling News magazine.