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December 02, 2011

Publisher's Note

Letter from John Fleming, December 2011

John FlemingI am going to start this note by referring to thoughts first brought up in my “From the Publisher” piece in the December 2008 issue. We reflected there on the challenges of a recessionary economy and revisited the discussion in 2010’s December issue, focusing on whether or not the nation was actually moving toward recovery. That conversation still has relevance today as we continue to ask the question about jobs and where they may come from moving forward.

Here are my previous thoughts:

“The opportunity for direct sellers will probably be contingent upon how products and opportunity are being discussed. Consumers will certainly appreciate the Price/Value relationship of products and services when it exceeds what others are offering. The recruiting pool will certainly increase over the next 12 months so it is unlikely that shortfalls in recruiting would be forecasted unless the sales organization is buying into the negative tone of the press versus the positive tone of the company’s leaders and company communication vehicles. Our industry’s common formula for success, regardless of selling/recruiting philosophy/methods or process, has always been rather simple. When direct selling companies have more people selling and recruiting in any given measurement period versus the previous measurement period (assuming no serious impact on average order) companies tend to grow!”

As we now close another year, the words of the previous paragraph appear to still ring true. Third quarter financial reports are very positive overall, meaning that there is much good news to share. However, as we all know, challenges remain for many and the industry is still searching for understanding as well as solutions.

The thinking of the masses is often influenced by what may be the primary media topic—and the No. 1 topic at the moment is jobs. This month we chose to go after this topic in our cover story. With a limit on the amount of words we can print, we are scratching the surface of a topic that will remain at the forefront of the nation’s mindset until the economy has fully recovered. However, the bigger question might be: When will people recover? The economic recovery and job availability are actually two very different topics.

Behind the jobs conversation and rhetoric we listen to in the media is a story that may be one of the industry’s greatest assets. Training and retraining is a critical part of the jobs solution but one that is very seldom discussed in the media. The reason why training and retraining are not being discussed is basically due to the fact that no one offers free training or even retraining. Or maybe I should have said, “No traditional company offers free training or retraining.” Could this be the new competitive advantage direct selling companies boast? We think so and believe it is a story that needs to be told.

Imagine the costs associated with any traditional corporation attempting to retrain a workforce that is more and more contingent upon a need for competency and skills that did not even exist 15 years ago. Today, we do practically everything we did years ago very differently. Direct selling companies do provide free training, and the tools made available are usually state of the art, utilizing the newest and most innovative forms of technology. They come in the way of social media, smartphones, mobile devices and e-commerce, connecting people on a global scale quickly and easily. The skills learned, along with a focus on the personal development and growth of the individual, regardless of the education level—current or past experience—is actually a nontraditional approach to education and skill development that probably exceeds the return on investment one might make if choosing to invest in a more traditional training or retraining program.

This past June, Direct Selling News told a story about the uniqueness of the business model in a supplement in The Wall Street Journal, which reached more than 1.2 million subscribers. We described direct selling as “The Ultimate Social Business Model” and, right in the midst of the doom and gloom that tends to monopolize our media, a refreshing story was told. In September, we told the story a bit differently in a USA Today supplement, embracing and defining network marketing for the benefit of more than 3 million readers. Our cover theme was “The Original Social Business Model” and “Why Direct Selling Works.” Reprints of the 2011 USA Today supplement are still available at! All of the partners that advertised their companies and brands certainly aligned with positive messaging while exposing their brand to millions. They also made possible the distribution of optimistic news that is so needed when negative press is often the dominating force. We believe positive press can make a difference and we strive to deliver on that belief each month. Because of this belief, and the need for as much good news as possible, we have already reserved our spots for The Wall Street Journal and USA Today supplements in 2012. In 2012, we will continue to do our part, with your support, to tell the stories that need to be told.

On behalf of the entire staff here at Direct Selling News, we wish for all of you a most glorious holiday season! The view into the New Year is full of hope as a result of what we have been privileged to research and write about over the past year.

Until next year … enjoy the issue!

John Fleming
Publisher and Editor in Chief