About 15 months ago I had a personal conversation with Paul Zane Pilzer—author, speaker, entrepreneur and former economist—about the economy because it was the No. 1 conversation in the media. To no one’s surprise the subject of the economy remains the No. 1 concern throughout the nation. Over a year ago Paul stated that more jobs will not be part of an economic recovery. The crisis in America is as much about retraining those eligible to work as it is about creating more jobs. We carried an excerpt of the interview with Paul in the supplement we placed in The Wall Street Journal, June 5, 2011.
In a speech made just a few days ago, Paul continued to support this optimistic view of the economy by saying: “America is still the largest and strongest economy in the world. We may not be growing as fast as others but we remain strong. The crisis in America is about retraining as much as it is about unemployment. People are still getting the goods and services they have always gotten even though there are less people working to produce them. We have learned how to produce more with less.”
We have certainly learned to do more with less and will continue to do so as technology continues to impact everything we do. However, direct selling is a channel of distribution, not a way of manufacturing, and the impact technology is having on distribution channels is nothing short of amazing! Since retraining is an important component of economic recovery, direct sellers and their companies are well-positioned to lead.
The good news for those using direct selling as the preferred channel of distribution is related to its continuing reliance on the need for more people to reach more customers, and the pool available is not limited. The young, mature, dissatisfied, bored, stressed, creative and innovative segments within the population that find themselves challenged are still looking for a way out, a way to reactivate dreams and aspirations in spite of the not-so-positive information shared in the general press. Perhaps there is a link between this statement and the strong and often increased attendance we are hearing about at this summer’s company conventions/gatherings. Along with the general good news we are also hearing new comments that reflect a re-energized channel, growth in the Gen Y segment and more focus on student entrepreneurship. Not to mention, a company in business less than one year has attracted more than 3,000 people to its very first convention.
In the S.W.O.T. analysis published by Direct Selling News last year, we mentioned a great strength of the industry—company-provided basic skill training with a focus on personal growth. We also stated in the S.W.O.T. analysis, “The great opportunity for the entire industry is a well-defined and clearly articulated value proposition.” When the value proposition is considered special and personal in regard to the buying experience, customers will be easier to acquire and businesses easier to grow. Growing the number of customers will always be a key component to overall business growth.
As I review what we wrote last year, it is apparent that we were pretty spot-on with the information we collected from so many of you. Much is changing. Every session at this year’s DSA Annual Meeting that focused on some aspect of technology or social media drew standing-room-only crowds. Based on feedback we are receiving and observing, in less than one short year, many companies are introducing customer acquisition strategies, supporting their consultants with more effective tools, appealing to all segments in the population and attracting a younger segment, which, generally, in the past, was very difficult to do. Three companies attending this year’s DSA Annual Meeting were actually being founded and led by teenagers. The registration fee is typically not appealing to teens.
Last year we stated, “In just a few short years, the direct selling business model has evolved into something far more efficient, more appealing and easier to do than at any time in its history.” In one short year, innovations that were being put into place are now making a difference. When ViSalus emerged just two years ago, we noticed the growth, but we also noticed the focus on its 90-Day Challenge—on the benefits of using the products to achieve a worthy goal.
Our Company Spotlight this month is about a company that has recently celebrated its 54th year in business, GNLD International. Upon a recent visit to their convention I met third-generation distributors, a testimony to businesses built on the satisfaction gained from both the products and the opportunity. Our Young Company Focus is about a company whose main objective is to pull people to their website. And Our Cover Story this month focuses on the impact technology has made on the ability of direct sellers to compete with any channel of distribution in terms of delivering information, education and unique products that meet the needs of a new and empowered consumer.
Until next month … enjoy the issue!
Publisher and Editor in Chief