Who is your real customer? Customer centricity will keep reshaping the direct selling industry in 2021. Top companies agree that it’s important to dedicate significant resources to educate their representatives about how to build future-proof relations with their brands’ end-users for long-term acquisition and retention. In such a way, companies support distributors as independent entrepreneurs and reinforce their buyers’ loyalty.
The Round Table
PromoRepublic, a social media marketing solution well-suited to the direct selling industry, invited direct selling experts to gather around the table to discuss their views on customer centricity, proven tactics, and plans for new marketing approaches at their companies.
The event hosted by CEO and co-founder of PromoRepublic, Max Pecherskyi, brought marketing leaders from Amway, dōTERRA, ASEA, and Reliv together with John Fleming. He’s a direct selling industry leader, founder & CEO at Ideas & Design Group and former DSN publisher/editor-in-chief, and former Avon executive.
”What we are now doing at Amway is transition. We amplify and intensify our investment choices between distributor and customer,” reveals Imran Zaman, Chief Digital & Marketing Officer at Amway Europe.
Customer centricity is much talked about. But it’s been a long time since a team of experienced marketers agreed that the focus of marketing is one step away from returning to the customer side.
They expressed a firm position that should convince other industry professionals to accept that there’s no way back to selling without knowing their customers’ experience gaps.
Affordable technologies have empowered consumer behavior and forced brands to make a choice. Where should they focus: on distributors or customers?
Playing on the customer’s team means:
- knowing customers’ values and pains
- staying human, authentic
- empowering brand representatives to reach buyers
- building long-term human relationships.
But balance is still necessary. Successful brands are developing strategies to retain both of their ‘clients,’ the associate and the customer.
For example, Reliv has automated the building of associates’ personal websites, customizing them, and expanding their functionality.
“If we can make things as easy as pushing a button, it’s only going to help distributors in their customer acquisition,” says Erin Koch, Director of Marketing at Reliv International.
Everything that drives the evolution of customer centricity somehow proceeds from the expansion of technology. Innovations such as cloud computing, artificial intelligence, online payments, workflow automatization, data accessibility, and social media have drastically changed the way people want brands to approach them.
The pandemic has forced people to stay home while forcing companies to make offline customers feel comfortable online. The offline model of personal relationships has moved to social media, embracing a much larger audience through social selling.
Each of the participants led us to the marketing backstage of their brands and revealed some effective practices that are working well for their organizations. All those initiatives are based on the latest industry trends the speakers have followed.
- Dedicated education. ASEA, Reliv, and dōTERRA develop certification programs to teach their distributors how to tell brand stories and engage customers.
- Automation tools for distributors.
”We have a tool for automating our social media presence that takes the administrative tasks away from our Wellness Advocates and helps to establish and reinforce their relationships with contacts,” explains John Dye, Senior Director of Marketing at dōTERRA – North America.
- Offline to online marketing migration. Most distributors were taught how to build their businesses offline, and now they’re exploring new territories. The younger tech-savvy marketers are starting their careers in direct sales, forcing the older generation to keep pace.
- More solid relations between distributors and customers. Building community and a social following around the brand is of vital importance.
“Despite everything, we should think about people, not technology,” asserts Robb Bruce, Director of Marketing Communications at ASEA Global.
Takeaways: 5 Tips for Success in 2021
“Companies tended to focus on the distributor because they didn’t have proper capabilities. Today we have enough information about the end-user, thanks to digital marketers that play a vital role in collecting data,” explains John Fleming.
By leveraging data, customer-centric companies can roll out winning products that disrupt traditional businesses and benefit consumers. They embody a 21st-century direct selling business model that meets customers’ expectations, regulatory requirements, and companies’ sustainability goals.
5 strategic points take away from the marketing experts’ discussion:
- Build the brand, not a label.
- Simplify brand communication and tell a story.
- Make the distributor a hero for the end-user.
- Find the void in customer experience and fill it.
- Get the most out of technology and social media.