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April 30, 2016

DSA News

Direct Selling: Adapting and Growing in a Changing World

by Joseph N. Mariano



Click here to order the May 2016 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.


The theme for DSA’s Annual Meeting in Phoenix this year is Reimagine. I’ll provide some context.

Direct selling has always been and will always be built on establishing strong person-to-person relationships. Direct selling companies differentiate themselves and their businesses from other forms of retail by the heightened level of customer service required of the model, and by the entrepreneurial opportunity provided by the particular nature of the selling itself. But while the distinct qualities inherent in direct selling won’t change, the marketplace always does. And as the marketplace evolves, so must businesses, including direct selling businesses. That’s why DSA is looking forward to bringing executives and thought leaders together in Phoenix: to reimagine the evolution of direct selling.

Technology is undoubtedly changing the face of our channel, and the adaptability of our business model puts direct selling companies in an ideal place to capitalize on an increasingly independent yet interconnected, cyber yet “social,” world. Technology enables direct sellers to reach current and prospective consumers more effectively than ever before, and it affords consumers easier access to their independent sales rep. The potential is truly limitless, yet this changing environment presents challenges as well: unauthorized online sales through e-commerce and auctions sites, fraudsters who target direct sellers and their customers through stolen personal information, and increased customer demand for immediate order fulfillment at little or no cost.

I have been witness to the growing conversations among direct selling CEOs, company executives, field members and even policy makers on how best to seize these myriad opportunities and meet the challenges presented by a rapidly changing marketplace. And DSA’s Annual Meeting this June will be the forum for that conversation to continue in earnest. The Annual Meeting will provide the resources and education you need to harness emerging technologies and apply them to your business in the most practical and ethical way. We’ve asked Daniel Burrus, best-selling author and New York Times top-three business guru, to kick start the discussion with his strategies for capitalizing on technology advances so that your direct selling business can prosper.

DSA’s Annual Meeting has always been the premier direct selling event of the year, and the best place to share solutions with your peers. I have no doubt this year’s meeting in Phoenix will offer that and more. Not only plentiful networking opportunities, but a voice in the discussion of how our individual businesses—and, indeed, the entire business model—will seize new opportunities and thrive in changing times. The economic landscape is evolving, and so can we. But let’s not simply follow the change; let’s lead the change. I greatly look forward to seeing you at DSA’s Annual Meeting in Phoenix this June as we reimagine the future marketplace and the future of direct selling. Please visit annualmeeting.dsa.org to learn more.


Joseph MarianoJoseph N. Mariano is President of the U.S. Direct Selling Association