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Direct Selling News  > perspectives  > Publisher's Note

This month our cover story returns to one of the hottest topics to emerge in the past few years: how best to use social media functionality and how to measure its effectiveness if you are using it. We all agree that Facebook and Twitter are changing the way many of us communicate. While Facebook started out as a tool for individuals to use in forming communication networks, today you can find a Facebook page for practically every major company, including each branch of the U.S. armed forces.


One half of another year means so many different things, depending on one’s perspective. The discussion about the economy continues and is often one of much debate. While some success stories have emerged in the first six months of the new year, challenges remain, and celebrating the economic recovery appears to still be on hold in most mature markets. These times call for careful analysis of the editorial calendar for publications like ours, as “content relevance” becomes even more important with so much uncertainty.


Each of us, during the course of our lives, celebrates many accomplishments and achievements that affect our own lives as well as the lives of others. This month is a time to acknowledge and celebrate the 100-year anniversary of the Direct Selling Association (DSA). Founded in 1910 as the Agents Credit Association, the DSA has protected the rights of direct sellers, fought for our way of doing business, and done more to preserve the freedoms that allow a direct selling business model to exist than any other single entity. Of the 10 founding member companies, only one remains in the active ranks of membership today: Avon Products Inc.


Our cover story this month probes how important it is to understand the changing demographics of America, with a focus on the Hispanic segment. As we assigned and reviewed the story, including thoughts from the executives we interviewed, it became apparent that we would also share information smaller companies may appreciate. Larger companies always have internal market-research departments that make significant investments to stay abreast of changes in the marketplace. However, smaller and newer companies that are not yet ready to invest extensively might be well-served by what we share.


A time to reflect, a time to evaluate and a time to celebrate! This month will be a very special one for us as we announce the results of our research—identifying the top 100 direct selling companies in the world—at our inaugural DSN Global 100 Celebration on April 7. We contracted experienced researchers for this project, and their findings will provide us with, to the best of our knowledge, the first such recognition ever published. We embraced this project to respond to questions that often arise from within the academic and private investment communities who watch our industry and our companies for potential involvement. Every other recognized industry ranks its companies, so we felt it was our responsibility to do the same for direct selling.


As we worked on the cover story for this month’s issue, Top-Performing Global Markets, I found myself taking a mental tour of the various countries that have become billion-dollar markets for direct selling. I was most interested in the stats and facts to see what countries, if any, were experiencing growth. I soon realized that the stats and facts were what we wanted to bring you, but behind those were the stories of people. A billion dollars in sales is a very significant number, and it is the result people saying “yes” to the opportunities provided.


Last month, our cover story was “Turning the Economic Corner.” With the economy still at the forefront of our minds, I thought I would pass on some thoughts shared at a recent breakfast meeting. T. Boone Pickens was the keynote speaker, and several other notables here in the Dallas-Fort Worth area spoke to those in attendance. The basic message we are hearing over and over is that we have hit the bottom of this recession and the worst is behind us. However, I think the mood of the country is still one of cautious optimism.


Happy New Year! As we kick off 2010, that expression may very well be shared with more heartfelt reflection, optimism, hope and enthusiasm than in any new year in recent history. I am personally pleased to be looking toward the upcoming 12 months and to all the opportunity that’s activated when we wipe the slate clean and begin to paint the masterpiece of another new year!


We end the year with a cover story on something near and dear to me—listening to your field leaders. Many years ago, I was introduced to the direct selling business model.


Letter from John Fleming

November 01, 2009

The industry has always prided itself on using word-of-mouth as the primary method for promotion and that the enormous amount of money traditionally spent by retailers on advertising was invested in the salesforce instead.


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