From the July 2021 issue of Direct Selling News magazine.
Recent events in the direct selling channel have mentioned, focused or alluded to the critical importance of reputation. Kevin Guest, the new Chairman of the U.S. Direct Selling Association and Ryan Napierski, the Advocacy Chairman of the World Federation of Direct Selling Associations, have both named reputation as a priority on their agendas. Individual brands always acknowledge the importance of reputation. When induvial brands use the same channel of distribution, they collectively form a brand.
Direct selling, as a form of selling, has been in existence for over a century, a testimony to the relevance of the direct selling model and recognition of direct selling as a relevant channel of distribution. Direct selling is also a brand. No brand or channel of distribution is ever immune from scrutiny or perceptions associated with the brand; therefore, the reputations we are creating are always very important, individually and collectively. Direct selling currently finds itself in the conversation of both regulatory and public policy makers. Whenever we experience changes in governance, local or national, possible changes or adjustments to policy are to be expected.
Our purpose in this month’s cover story is to encourage the discussion about the importance of reputation and support the objectives of both domestic and global channel leadership. Both Mr. Guest and Mr. Napierski have chosen to focus on the importance of reputation. What builds our reputation, and what detracts from it? Reputation is critical to public perception and effectiveness in attracting those in the marketplace who represent the brand and choose to be clients and customers of the brand. Therefore, reputation is definitely a factor when evaluating marketplace potential and growth.
The Realities of Reputation
As we reflect on the state of direct selling, we see a model we have proudly reported on for over 17 years, and we are excited about the future of the channel. The gig economy and its focus on providing new microentrepreneurial opportunities have created new channels of distribution, disrupted old/outdated channels and created new ways to connect products and services with clients and customers.
There are more ways than ever before for the average person to turn their time and resources into viable income opportunities connecting products and services with those who seek excellent products and services. Direct selling models are expected to benefit from the growing interest in micro-entrepreneurship and the growing importance of digital platforms. Direct selling models are unique. They are changing—becoming more customer-focused, embracing more technology, becoming more digital, becoming less complex, easier to engage and embrace. More personal relationships with customers and independent contractors will create new competitive advantages, necessitating a focus on the ever-evolving reputation that defines our channel. Reputation is generally based on what an entity has been. The focus on what direct selling is becoming will be defined by our collective efforts. The focus on reputation is both timely and of critical importance to optimizing the possibilities.
To gain more insights into the importance of our collective reputation, we reached out to the new DSA Chairman and the WFDSA Advocacy Chairman. They are focused on reputation as a vital domestic and global initiative and … it’s easy to understand why. The channel’s overall reputation impacts the reputation of each individual entity, and each individual entity’s reputation helps to shape the collective reputation of the “direct selling” brand. We hope this month’s cover story inspires you to reflect on the importance of your brand and your reputation as we collectively continue to navigate the challenges and activate the possibilities.