November 01, 2010
Letter from John Fleming, November 2010
With less than two months left in another year, many are already offering their assessments as to which companies were truly able to adapt to and benefit from recession in the United States. We know the direct selling business model is well suited—if not an ideal solution—to challenging times, when job eliminations have become the norm along with a high anxiety index… if there is such a thing. We also know the direct selling business model cannot sell itself; therefore, the messaging companies use to gain the attention of their sales organizations will always be critical to the performance of those companies. It is always what a company does with the model that makes the difference between survival and the ability to maintain or grow during the challenging period.
While speaking to a group of direct sellers recently, I was asked a question that I thought reflected on the importance of the corporate message that the opportunity presentation is built upon. I was asked whether I thought the message of direct selling has shifted from an opportunity to achieve goals and make some dreams come true to one more focused on replacing lost income or the best possible insurance a person might embrace in times of uncertainty. The question actually speaks to the importance of the corporate message and how distributors are guided in their business-building efforts. As I continued to think about that question, I also thought about the incredible value a direct seller gains by being able to purchase, at a discount, those products/services they use for personal consumption. Depending upon the product or service being offered, the money saved on personal consumption may be enough reason for a person to enroll and try their skills at building a unique home-based business. I would never use this column for commercial purposes, but if you have not yet read the book The Business of the 21st Century by Robert Kiyosaki, with J. Fleming and K. Kiyosaki, I do recommend it. A lot of what is discussed will definitely impact the message of direct selling companies and their sales organizations. I did not answer the question about whether the message of the opportunity has changed; we went on to discuss what direct sellers are running into when talking to prospective customers and new entrants, and of course, we did hear a lot about basic needs versus goals and dreams. The conclusion of the conversation: There must be great sensitivity to and understanding for where people are, and most people are in a very different place today.
We also know that global expansion is a serious strategic objective in more and more companies. This is also why we chose global expansion as our cover story for this month. As many companies have struggled over the past two years in the United States, their global efforts have often fared quite well. One might think that to experience challenges in the United States would mean one should expect challenges elsewhere. Or, if the model is experiencing growth in certain places globally, why would the same not be true locally? Of course, we know that other countries and cultures often value products and opportunities quite differently, and the impact of technology on a society, along with the changing dynamics of how people live and work, can be very different from country to country. However, as we look at the last few years, this fact remains: The direct selling business model appears to be going through adjustment and extensive learning.
My guess is that when we get into 2011 and look back at the data for 2010, we will find some very new examples of companies that are thriving, having created the right messaging and tools for the times. Our industry is so flexible in so many ways, and with people on the ground (the sales organization), direct selling companies who are listening to their people and gaining from their experiences will enjoy the benefits of a very unique asset that most industries do not have. After more than two years of a severely challenging economy, direct selling companies remain well positioned to make this their moment!
We now close the year hearing much optimism from you, the leaders of the industry, and those who supply you with the products and services that you need. It has definitely been a different type of year, but once again, the most gratifying aspect has been the realization that the spirit of entrepreneurship within this industry remains strong!
Regardless of the magnitude of the challenge, hope still inspires! And when people from all walks of life can be inspired with hope, they will also find the will to persevere! As we now approach the season of Thanksgiving, there are a lot of families who will thank you, the leaders of these companies, who continued to make opportunity and hope possible!
It is, indeed, a pleasure for all of us to report on and write about all that you do! Happy Thanksgiving!
Enjoy the issue!
Publisher and Editor in Chief