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August 01, 2011

Publisher's Note

Letter from John Fleming, August 2011

John FlemingMy entire thought process for this month’s “From the Publisher” shifted when I read the news that only 18,000 jobs were created in the United States in June, against an expectation of approximately 90,000. The unemployment rate also nudged up, making June the worst month in the past nine months. It is constantly discussed in the media, and we do not mean to harp on a negative subject, but the situation appears to add strength to what we have been saying—this is prime time for direct selling.

In the supplement Direct Selling News distributed in the June 24 edition of The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), we provided insight from our interview with author, speaker, entrepreneur and economist Paul Zane Pilzer. Paul stated that generating more jobs will not be part of an economic recovery; the crisis in America is more about retraining those eligible to work than it is about some hypothetical force or entity creating more jobs.

Direct selling companies, the number of new recruits engaged each month, and the number of current active independent contractors are never included in U.S. labor statistics. Perhaps the direct selling industry will never be recognized in such stats, but direct selling companies and direct sellers have always provided solutions to what is now recognized as a national crisis.

Whether young or mature, the unchallenged, dissatisfied, bored, stressed, creative, innovative segments within the population that find themselves economically challenged will keep looking for a way out. The way out of the current challenge for many may be more related to opportunities that offer retraining with a focus on self-sufficiency (entrepreneurialism) than on waiting for things to change. Each month, this publication focuses on the stories of companies that distribute their products and services through people from all walks of life, based not on who they are but on what they want to become and what they are willing to do to learn new skills to pursue new goals and new dreams—or simply to help meet current needs.

You might think this message would resonate throughout our nation, but we cannot take for granted that others understand what we know. One of the major shifts taking place in our mature U.S. marketplace is from purchasing goods and services through traditional brick-and-mortar retail outlets to the more convenient vehicles of e-commerce. These new e-commerce vehicles are very personal because the technology brings more personalized service to more people. If we are indeed experiencing a back-to-personalized-service movement when it comes to how products and services are purchased, then a direct seller or network marketer would be better positioned to offer such service than any traditional company could ever expect to.

Perhaps one of the most effective solutions to a shrinking job market lies in how direct selling companies offer training in new skills and new entrepreneurial opportunities. This is why we recently described direct selling in the WSJ supplement as “the ultimate social business model” and why we say this is prime time for direct selling.

Over the last few years, the direct selling business model has evolved into something far more efficient, more appealing and easier to do than ever. Direct selling is the ultimate social business model for many reasons. Ironically, we are now living in a time where the words social and relationships are used to describe every aspect of a business, from its internal customer service department and methods of communicating and transacting to how sales representatives focus on the importance of serving and building a relationship with the customer. Of course, the word customer also refers to the fact that a direct selling company’s primary customer is first and foremost the independent contractor.

Regardless of how a direct selling company prefers to label its business model—networking, party plan, service provider or even more contemporary labels—the big story is about a business model whose time has come. With technology and tools that are more state-of-the-art than ever, the direct seller is capable of delivering on both the social and the relationship needs of our current society, while providing an entrepreneurial opportunity to engage in the distribution of some very unique products and services.

We enjoy telling your stories and we also enjoy exploring new opportunities for the distribution of our journalism. We recently engaged The Wall Street Journal and achieved a major first when they agreed to distribute our supplement. Reprints are still available through our website. Another first for Direct Selling News is about to happen as we continue to tell stories that need to be told, in a newspaper with circulation greater than the 1.2 million subscribers who saw our first supplement: USA Today goes out to more than 2 million people and has a readership in excess of 3 million.

 So coming soon—a Direct Selling News supplement in USA Today!
 Until next month … enjoy the issue!

John Fleming
Publisher and Editor in Chief