May 01, 2013
The LIMU Company: From Success to Significance in Under a Decade
by Barbara Seale
- Founded: 2004
- Headquarters: Lake Mary, Fla.
- Founder: President and CEO Gary Raser
- Products: Nutritional beverages, weight-management products and energy drinks based on limu moui and fucoidan
Gary Raser has his eye on “the 96 percent,” the huge majority of people who have never been in the direct selling industry. And he’s reaching them.
Even before he launched The LIMU Company in 2004, Raser looked for new ways to improve lives. In fact, his desire to start a direct selling company was fueled by his gratitude to the industry that had been so good to him and his family. He wanted to find a way to create that same success for others, so he searched the world for something unique that could become the foundation for a product line to support a successful new direct selling business. He discovered it in the waters of the South Pacific near the island nation of Tonga.
For more than 3,000 years Tongans have dived to the ocean floor to harvest clumps of limu moui, a sea plant that grows abundantly there. Natives attribute their vibrant good health and longevity to using it, but until recently they didn’t know what made the treasured plant so healthful. Today science has provided the answer. Limu moui is rich in fucoidan, a nutrient now cited in more than 1,000 unsolicited, independent, third-party scientific studies that all validate its life-sustaining, immune-supporting properties.
When Raser learned about limu moui and its key nutrient fucoidan, he knew immediately that he was onto something special. Now the next step was to turn it into a product powerful enough to build a business on. He worked with food scientists to develop a proprietary, chemical-free technology for extracting fucoidan in a form that’s usable by the body without destroying LIMU’s other delicate but extremely powerful nutrients. The result: LIMU ORIGINAL®, the first of what is now a carefully coordinated line of products. Along with fucoidan, the beverage boasts over 70 vital nutrients, including immune-supporting antioxidants, polyphenols, amino acids, glyconutrients, vitamins and minerals.
As the product was being formulated, Raser developed the bones of a business—the compensation plan and other essential elements. Then he tapped into the vast business network he had developed over 20 years in direct selling. The response was immediate. Over a single weekend, more than 9,000 people sent in distributor applications. In the first year, they reached $10 million in sales—and all without incurring corporate debt.
Slow Economy Changes the Game
|LIMU products all contain the supernutrient fucoidan, known worldwide for its health benefits.
That strong start continued until the economic downturn that slowed many direct sellers. But for Raser, the company’s President and CEO, it was a signal to step back and seek out better ways to do business. The process transformed the company into the growth machine that today produces greater sales each month. How? By thinking young.
“If you want to attract a younger, hipper crowd, you have to change,” Raser says. “Young people today use social media because they like immediate communication, and they like to see quick results, too. Our society wants it now.”
LIMU made a sweeping series of changes that overhauled its basic marketing methods, helped new distributors get profitable quickly, leveraged new products and revved up recognition.
First, it jettisoned traditional opportunity meetings and instead instituted LIMU Experience parties. Its distributors, which it calls Promoters, introduce others to the company’s products and opportunity through these home parties, which began in 2011. In the casual setting, Promoters set out shots of all three product lines—LIMU ORIGINAL, chocolate and vanilla LIMU LEAN®, and the company’s energy drink BLU FROG® ENERGY—along with marketing materials from the Promoter’s Fast Track Pack. LIMU trains Promoters to invite guests to taste, taste, taste each product, and then let the LIMU Experience video, one of the company’s many sales tools, tell the story. Success stories, product orders and enrollments cap off the social time.
Parties are designed to help new Promoters develop a customer base and also quickly enroll three other Promoters. It’s all part of LIMU’s “3 for Free” program, which lets them get their own auto-shipped LIMU products for free. Raser says it greatly increased distributor retention and total sales volume.
The switch from meetings to LIMU Experience parties has been a game changer. LIMU’s Vice President of Business Development Ryan Barson says they have overcome three critical challenges in direct selling.
“People don’t like to sell or recruit; they object to the cost of monthly auto-ships; and they’re concerned about the reputation of the industry,” Barson explains. “LIMU Experience parties help overcome all of them.”
|Held quarterly, LIMU corporate events attract a highly enthusiastic audience of Promoters.||The company rebranded its car program, officially calling it The LIMU BMW Club.||LIMU’s custom-designed mobile app is an important “new school” business building tool.|
The parties change recruiting and customer gathering into a social experience where, instead of selling, Promoters invite and share. The 3 for Free program kicks in at the same time when customers order and new Promoters enroll at a LIMU Experience party. And the industry’s old-hat reputation evaporates when guests learn that this isn’t their father’s opportunity meeting or network marketing company.
In fact, the combination of parties, new products and social media has shifted the Promoter demographic significantly younger. LIMU says parties helped because they’re simply more fun and they fit the lifestyles that people already have. The economy of the last few years has caused people to entertain at home, rather than spend the money to go out. People have found that they enjoy the casual atmosphere of socializing with their friends at home. LIMU Experience parties take advantage of that trend.
The company’s product line was carefully crafted to do a specific job: expand the LIMU Nation demographic. While LIMU Original appeals to health-conscious consumers, the other products attract a group with very little overlap. LIMU Lean was developed with the world’s obesity epidemic in mind. It is a line of three products that support the goals of people who want to drop pounds and get more fit. And BLU FROG Energy taps into the growing energy drink market—a market packed with that important 18- to 35-year-old demographic—with a healthy alternative to retail products that are hyped up with sugar. All the products are rich with fucoidan, of course.
As the products were introduced and the parties continued, a new group of customers and Promoters got hooked on The LIMU Company and told their friends. And many of those friends were young.
“As soon as we started having parties and telling Promoters to just invite people to your home, let them taste the products and show them our DVD, our growth exploded,” Raser says. “We started having 20-year-olds driving BMWs. Their friends saw them and said, ‘I want one.’ We give them an absolute system that they like doing, and it works. When young people have success, they tell everybody. We’re blowing up with young people. It starts with the way we introduce the business.”
Introducing LIMU at a series of parties, earning free products and reaching the company’s first key promotion level, 2K VIP, opens lots of doors that Promoters can go through as they build their businesses: commission payments, qualification for The LIMU BMW Club, incentive trips and cash bonuses. LIMU even takes its LIMU Experience parties to the max with its own LIMU Ultimate Experience Party, which it holds quarterly. The recognition event is packed with prizes and fun. The company invites Promoters to submit their stories; then it chooses the top stories. LIMU has already awarded millions in product, prizes, cash and trips to the winners. Prizes included everything from Apple iPads and MacBooks to Limu Swag Packs and all-expense-paid trips to destinations like Disney World, New York and San Francisco.
From Success to Significance
The system is bringing a lot of people under the LIMU tent. The thousands who attended the company’s March annual convention heard Raser announce its biggest goal yet: to shift from success to significance.
“You’re successful as a human when you reach some of your goals, health-wise and financially, for example,” he says. “This company is very successful. This year we will pass $100 million in sales. We have many successful distributors. But when you’re focused on significance, life has more purpose. You’re helping new people become successful. The significance of the $100 million milestone is the hundreds of thousands of lives we have touched, the success people have had and the benefits people have experienced from the products.”
To help Promoters make the shift, LIMU recently introduced a new Quick Start Guide and Getting Started DVD, which feature top LIMU leaders teaching new Promoters how to prepare for and create success with LIMU.
“We’ve been growing so fast in the last 18 months, it’s been hard to keep up with the new people, to give them the guidance, training and leadership they need,” Raser notes. “These tools were developed for those new people to get them to focus early on helping others.”
Raser emphasizes that many of the recruits from the last year and a half are young people who have never been involved in the direct selling industry before—some of the 96 percent LIMU is beginning to attract. He says he has seen promoters enroll in the business and reach the 200K rank, the third-highest level in the LIMU compensation plan, within six months.
“Because we have so many new Promoters experiencing success, it has created momentum among young people,” he explains. “When you can get a BMW payment made for you by LIMU in your first month, other young people definitely take notice. They want that same success.”
The new Getting Started DVD features many of those rising stars—top income earners who explain in detail how people can party their way to free products, a new car, improved health and a better life, all by helping others. Partnering with the video is LIMU’s growing online presence. John Raser, the company’s new Director of Communications and Gary’s son, leads the social media initiative and took the stage for the first time at the convention.
The company also rebranded its car program, officially calling it The LIMU BMW Club. The video announcing it got 3,300 YouTube views in its first five days.
Despite its impressive growth, Raser says the company won’t have arrived until every Promoter is able to see true success based on their own commitment, dedication and sacrifice. He is also looking forward to taking LIMU into other countries and by the end of 2013 expects to announce plans for countries it will enter next year.
Those big plans are being fueled by the growth LIMU has seen recently. While Raser won’t reveal specific numbers, he describes the rapid expansion.
“In 2011 we were almost two times as big as in the previous year,” he says. “In 2012 we were 3.5 times the sales volume of the previous year. And in the first two and a half months of this year, we’re more than double where we were last year, year-to-date. We’ve grown by hundreds of percent a year for three years now. That’s significant in the recent economy.”
A Significant Hand Up
LIMU employees are personally involved in all of the company’s charitable initiatives.
While LIMU announced its shift “from success to significance” at its annual conference in March, its focus on giving back in a significant way to improve the lives of people facing tough times dates back to its early days. Its philanthropic initiative, LIMU GIVES, provides an official umbrella that lets the company give a hand up to people who need it.
LIMU’s Founder, President and CEO Gary Raser knows that need firsthand. He grew up in a poor family, even living with his dad in their car at times.
“Helping people who are less fortunate is a big deal to me,” he emphasizes. “I believe with all my heart that people want a hand up, not a hand out.”
So LIMU GIVES focuses on supporting organizations that help people get back on their feet, and stay there. Organizations such as Orlando Union Rescue Mission, Halifax Urban Ministries and Second Harvest Food Bank provide emergency services and then education and counseling that help people overcome homelessness and hunger long term. LIMU’s staff is granted paid time to serve the homeless at the organizations’ events. LIMU also dedicates services and funds to shelters that offer safety to women and their children and to research that seeks cures for catastrophic diseases in children. Its beneficiaries are organizations as varied as St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Ronald McDonald Houses, The Children’s Home Society of Florida and Meals on Wheels.
LIMU Brand Ambassador Rowdy Gaines is heavily involved with LIMU’s philanthropic activities, while helping Promoters with their business-building efforts. When he visits a community, the three-time Olympic gold medalist and Masters swimming record holder attends LIMU Experience parties and other Promoter-arranged events. He typically explains to attendees that he drinks all three LIMU products every day. Then he visits schools and hospitals to talk about the importance of good nutrition and exercise. In cities that are home to a Ronald McDonald House, he frequently visits the families of sick children. Gaines also attends gatherings at local swim clubs, speaking to kids, holding LIMU-sponsored swim clinics for kids and Masters-level swimmers, and serving LIMU ORIGINAL.
“We do all this to help people who are in challenging, difficult times in their lives in America,” Raser explains. “This is my home, this company’s home. Enough American people need help now, so we’re staying focused on philanthropy here.”