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Turkey: A Hidden Treasure? Guest Post by Hakki Ozmorali from http://lucemurphyfong.comToday we are pleased to welcome guest blogger Hakki Ozmorali.  Hakki Ozmorali was the first corporate professional in the Turkish network marketing industry. After serving various direct selling companies as Country Manager and Regional Manager in Turkey and Canada, he now provides consulting services to the industry in Turkey. Hakki Ozmorali is also the publisher of the popular weekly newsletter, The World of Direct Selling.

Turkey: A Hidden Treasure?
by Hakki Ozmorali

You decide it for yourself:

  • Turkey’s population is 75.6 million. This is the 17th highest in the world, and the 3rd highest in Europe after Russia and Germany. Turkey is expected to be Europe’s 2nd largest market by the year 2020.
  • 14 million people live in the largest city Istanbul. This is more than each of the European countries Portugal, Greece, Belgium, Hungary, Sweden and Bulgaria.
  • There about 3 million Turks who live in the European Union countries keeping very close ties with their relatives and friends at home.
  • Turkey has a growing economy. The GDP growth rate in fixed prices was 9.2% in 2010, 8.5% in 2011, and 2.2% in 2012.
  • Due to the birth rates and the increasing productivity in the economy, unemployment remains a major problem: There is over 10% urban unemployment. This rate is almost twice as high among the young and also among women.
  • To an industry that relies very heavily on communications, the physical infrastructure and people’s attitude towards these means are very important. Currently, there are more than 20 million Internet and 68 million mobile subscriptions in the country.
  • The direct selling model has been widely accepted by the society. The volume generated by the industry was USD 1.2 billion in 2011. This puts Turkey in the so-called “Billion Dollar Club”. Well over 1 million people are thought to be affiliated with at least one direct selling company on a full time or a part time basis.
  • There are now more than 80 direct selling companies operating in the market. Among those internationals that are currently in Turkey are: Amway, Avon, Herbalife, Forever Living, Kyani, LR Health & Beauty Systems, Nikken, Nu Skin, Oriflame, PM-International, Saladmaster, Sunrider, Tiens, Tupperware, and Vision.
  • Companies are required to get a license, a procedure that takes no longer than few days. Direct sellers on the other hand, are not required to get any licences, nor are they required to tax-register. Direct selling companies are to withhold a percentage of the commissions and transfer it to the tax office.
  • The Turkish economy has close ties with many countries, the EU being on top of the list. Turkey has customs union with the European Union since 1994 lifting any duties for products coming from and through this region.

So, what do you think? Isn’t the potential huge?

Alan Luce

Direct sellers across the globe are facing one of the most rapidly changing selling and recruiting environments in the last hundred years.  We see evidence of it everywhere.  Tried and true recruiting promotions no longer produce the expected results. Compensation plans and money prizes do not seem to drive the business as well as they used to.   Few, if any, have a handle on exactly what is going on.  The changes do not seem to flow from product innovations, new laws or regulations or political upheaval. Rather, the challenges facing the industry seem to flow out of a new set of expectations and preferences among potential customers of direct selling products and prospects for direct selling business opportunities.  I am talking about fundamental societal changes that are impacting the way direct sellers do business.

I am confident that neither I nor anyone else has a complete handle on the full scope and arc of these changes, but we have seen and experienced enough in the last 18 months to understand that direct sellers are not going to persuade Generation X and Y customers and prospects to do things the way we want them to do things. No, we direct sellers are going to have to change our practices to be more in line with their wants and expectations.

The most surprising aspect of these changes may be how quickly the attitudes we are seeing in the 20 to 40 year old customer and recruiting prospects in the US and Western Europe are becoming the norm for large segments of the population in nearly every market across the globe.   We can all agree that this outcome is probably a result of the global transparency fueled by the internet and social media communications.  What has caught most of us flat footed is how quickly these new generational “attitude norms” have spread.

Here is a short list of some of these new “attitude norms” that impact the direct selling business model:

1.         If your company does not have a transparent and positive image on the web and in the social media world of FaceBook,  Twitter and other social media venues, you will not be successful at selling products and recruiting sales people.

The company on-line image, message and reputation must be clearly established, supported and endorsed by customers, existing sales force members and independent third parties if you want to compete for customers and sales people.  Our 20 to 40 year olds check out everything on line before they commit to buy or join.  Top company executives need to check out their company’s on line information and image.  If you find it less than fully transparent, easily located, navigated and understood along with positive endorsements, so will your prospects.   You need to change that quickly.

2.         Today’s recruit prospects want the company to “show me some ways to be successful but don’t try to limit the way I do things.”  Any direct seller today has access to “sales training” and motivational materials readily available from a variety of direct selling industry experts on line.  No longer is the company their sole source of training and “how to” business advice.  This is why we see folks join network marketing companies and begin to hold parties, party planners recruiting wholesale buyers and every type of direct seller regardless of their company’s avowed method of doing business selling on line rather than face to face.

To cope with this “don’t restrict the way I sell” attitude company trainers, training programs, software systems, compensation programs and incentive models must be designed to support, reward and motivate a wide variety of selling methods.  Most existing technology support systems today are not able to provide such flexible support, making companies prisoners of their existing technology.

3.         Completely redesign the way you communicate with the public and your sales force and all of your training programs and materials.  For today’s customers and recruit prospects your company messages and training information needs to be:

- Compellingly visual.

-Succinct and to the point.

- Readily accessible at all times.

- Available in easily accessed archives for future review.

-Delivered via a variety of on-line mediums including proper use of social media forums.

If your communications and training strategy and materials are not aligned with these points your customers and potential recruits will simply not pay attention to you.

4.         Pay attention to how your newest sales folks are doing the business.  It is usually the case that our sale forces find ways to work new technologies and social changes into their businesses before their companies do.  In times of change it is very important that the company be open to input from new sellers as to how they want to do the business.  Companies most often look to the opinions and input from their top leaders when trying to figure out what is going on.  In my experience top sales leaders are among the most conservative folks in your organization and are frequently deeply opposed to needed changes.

It is critically important that the company create ways to access unfiltered input from their newest sales folks.  After all, our top leaders often represent yesterday’s best practices.  It is the new folks that will be your leaders of the future.   If you do not currently have effective ways of learning what your new folks are doing and what they want from the company you will need to create them.

None of these suggested actions will solve basic problems of the business. However,  all of them will help open up the process and enable the management team to begin to see what works and what doesn’t when it comes to meeting the desires and expectations of today’s customer and recruit prospects for whom the internet and social media are not tools but rather a way of life!

By the way; as you learn the answers let the rest of us know because we are searching for them too.

 

http://luceandassociates.com/02_About-Alan.php

Our experience with a wide variety of US and international clients in 2011 has proven conclusively that the convergence of direct selling sales methodologies is continuing at a rapid pace.   It is almost impossible today to find a “pure” MLM marketing program or a pure one-on-one or a pure party plan.  Almost all companies today find, sometimes to their surprise, that their enterprising sales people are using all of the traditional sales approaches depending on who they are talking to and in what setting.  Then to top it off, they are selling on line also, not just for re-orders on their replicated websites, but for first customer contacts resulting from Facebook, Twitter and Linked in associations.

There is no reason to believe that this trend will not continue and even strengthen in the coming year.  As usual the independent sales force is often out in front of their companies when it comes to employing technology in innovative ways and exploring their own way of doing things. Coping with these trends requires all companies to be ever more nimble when it comes to adapting to the realities of the marketplace. For 2012, change and adaptation move from the periodic and unusual to simply the normal way of doing business.  Be ready for it!

http://www.luceandassociates.com

image credit Creativity103

W. Alan Luce, President, Luce and Associates, LLC, Member DSA Hall of Fame

Few people in the direct sales industry can match the experience, expertise and successes of Alan Luce. With over 25 years in senior management, guiding start-ups and established companies alike, Alan has met virtually every challenge a direct sales executive can face.  Learn more about how Alan can help your company at http://www.luceandassociates.com/Alan-Luce.html.

 

Lots of direct sales companies have Twitter accounts today. The problem is, few companies seem to know what to do with them. Without a clear understanding of WHY the company has the account (besides, everyone else has one so we should too) companies are broadcasting a stream of ads, without anything to show for it.

If your company is trying to figure out the best way to use Twitter, the first thing you have to ask is “Who do we want to talk to?” And in order to answer that question, you need to understand how Twitter fits into your larger marketing plan, of which social media is a part. Are you trying to find new recruits? Increase brand recognition? Increase sales? Each of these marketing goals may have a different audience. So first figure out who you want to talk to, and then you can figure out if that audience is on Twitter.

If your goal is to reach a consumer audience, frequent tweets about the features and benefits of your product line is the wrong way to go. First, no one on Twitter likes a steady stream of ads, and they’ll simply ignore you. But also, a consumer audience is often easier to find on tools such as Facebook.

Does that mean you should abandon Twitter? No. But it does mean you need a different strategy.

Instead of engaging consumers directly on Twitter, you may be better off engaging the folks that INFLUENCE your consumers. This is often popular bloggers. They often do spend time on Twitter. However a steady stream of ads won’t work with them either. Instead, you need to talk to them. Find out what’s important to them. Retweet their content, and share content they’ll find valuable. You have to actually spend time on Twitter talking to people if you want it to work for you. Simply sending out a tweet a day with information about your product or opportunity won’t do a thing for you. It takes community management to be successful.

Twitter, along with other social networks, has particular types of users. Depending on your goals, you have to engage in a certain way. It takes a skilled community manager with the time to invest in building relationships for your brand, if you want your social networking engagement to bring measurable results for your brand.

Does your company use Twitter? How’s it working for you? Who are you trying to reach? Would love to read your thoughts in the comments below.

Jennifer Fong helps direct sales companies leverage the power of social media marketing to increase sales and recruiting, and manage online brand perception.  She provides strategic social media consulting to companies, as well as conference speaking and training. To learn more about how Jennifer can help your company, visit http://luceandassociates.com/Jennifer-Fong.html.  You can also check out her direct sales and social media blog at http://www.jenfongspeaks.com, and her Facebook Page at http://facebook.com/jenfongspeaks.

Do I have your attention? Sure hope so.  Because whether you are a sales representative in the field, a corporate sales leader or simply checking out the industry, this tip will serve you well.

While exciting new products, elaborate trip promotions and “raise the roof” conventions can increase performance; the best overall strategy to build sales and recruiting is to focus on finding and nurturing Prospective Team Leaders.

A Prospective Team Leader is one who is working to reach the first level of leadership as outlined in the company’s compensation plan. This typically involves a personal sales, sponsoring and team sales requirement. When these performance minimums are met, the Prospective receives a new title and substantial bonus increase.

Why are Prospective Leaders so important?  Because they need to sell more and recruit more in order to reach their goal. And when they succeed, their increased activity will be reflected in your company’s overall performance.  It’s a simple concept but one that can easily get by us.

Now, how do we find those prospective leaders?  Stay tuned…

Image Credit: pasukara76

With over 25 years of direct sales experience, Lori develops training packages for start up companies and works with established companies to update sales training and methods. Lori is an accomplished speaker and  specializes in creating presentations tailored to meet each company’s specific needs.

This post was originally published on Jennifer Fong’s Direct Sales and Social Media blog at http://www.jenfongspeaks.com.

Last night I signed up for NetFlix.  Now I realize that I am probably the last living American to do so.  But I’ve been a Blockbuster Video loyalist for decades, and wasn’t in any hurry to change that status.  But the Netflix business model finally hooked me, when I discovered we could stream videos on demand to our TV through our Wii, and have 1 DVD at a time, all for a monthly fee that was less than 2 videos a month at Blockbuster.

And it really got me to thinking about business models, and how getting too comfortable with ours can cause us to lose touch with what appeals to even our most loyal customers.  You see, Blockbuster was on top for a really long time.  And holding that percentage of the market share, in my opinion, made them short-sighted.  They didn’t even consider the competition anymore.

Yet the competition was innovating.  It started through a mail order service…where DVDs from a list you create online would be shipped to you to keep as long as you like. Then, when you’re done, you ship it back (postage free) and get another DVD on your list.  For some people this was super convenient.  Yet for people like me, their loyalists, we wanted to choose the movie we were in the mood for the night we wanted to watch it.  The NetFlix model didn’t meet that need, and so we stayed with Blockbuster.

The next thing I was aware of was the on-demand model.  We’re not big TV watchers in my house (heck, I’ve still got a VCR!), so we didn’t upgrade to a cable box until we were forced to by our cable company.  At that point we got a whole collection of on-demand programming that we could access for a fee similar to what we would pay at Blockbuster (as well as a collection of free children’s programming).  Without leaving our house.  You couldn’t keep your movie for a week (my kids like to watch things multiple times), but it was sure convenient to not have to leave the house on rainy nights.  We took advantage of some programming through the cable company. Yet we still remained loyal to Blockbuster too, signing up for the loyalty program, etc.

But then Blockbuster began to betray our trust.  They switched from 7 day rentals to 5 day rentals, and didn’t tell anyone (well I assume it was on our paper receipt, but they failed to mention it.)  We racked up late fees as a result (didn’t Blockbuster a while back do away with late fees?  Yeah, not anymore.  We didn’t know that either.)  The loyalists that they should have been rewarding and courting were experiencing betrayal after betrayal.  We didn’t matter to them!

Then I saw a blog post about how we could have 1 DVD at a time in the mail, plus on demand programming to our TV, for under $10 a month through NetFlix. I fiddled a bit and saw how easy it would be to set up. It was a no-brainer.

By the way, have YOU seen any online social efforts to reach me through Blockbuster, either through sponsored blog posts, Twitter, etc.?  To retain my business?  I certainly haven’t. Other than the regular email I get trying to sell me stuff, I never hear from them at all.

And so Blockbuster has lost another loyal customer.  Because they weren’t listening.  And they weren’t paying attention to my needs.

As direct sellers, we have to be very careful that we don’t make the same mistake.  We are VERY fond of our business model, and very slow to change.  And that’s because it works.  But if we don’t continue to adapt to modern technology, and the way our customers want to shop, we could easily go the way of Blockbuster.  It’s hard to believe, but in this day and age there are still direct selling companies that don’t provide their reps with personal websites for shopping.  There are still companies that aren’t reaching out to customers through the social web.  And yet consumers are telling us, loudly, that they EXPECT to be able to interact with their brands online.

Look at Stella and Dot as an example.  How did this direct sales jewelry company get so big so fast? By taking advantage of the social web, and encouraging its reps to do the same.  They haven’t abandoned direct selling principles.  But they’re smart enough to add online technology to the mix, in order to provide their customers with the shopping experience that fits into their lives.  And as a result, they are on par with the Silpadas and Cookie Lees of the world, who have been around a LOT longer.

Customers aren’t going to bend to your traditions.  At least not very long.  They expect you to adapt to them.  Are you prepared to do so?

Your thoughts?

Jennifer Fong

Jennifer Fong helps direct sales companies leverage the power of social media marketing to increase sales and recruiting, and manage online brand perception.  She provides strategic social media consulting to companies, as well as conference speaking and training. To learn more about how Jennifer can help your company, visit http://luceandassociates.com/Jennifer-Fong.html.  You can also check out her direct sales and social media blog at http://www.jenfongspeaks.com, and her Facebook Page at http://facebook.com/jenfongspeaks.

This week I wrote a post about a bad experience with Domino’s Pizza, and how I felt that they ignored me on Twitter.  My thought is that if you’re going to have a Twitter account, you need to be prepared to service customers there, even if it’s simply to direct people to the appropriate customer service channel.

And I had someone on Twitter question whether I was being fair to Domino’s.  After all, the national brand is represented by independent franchisees.  Shouldn’t we hold the individual franchise responsible for a customer service failure, instead of the whole brand?

And as nice as that would be in a perfect world, I think it’s unrealistic.  Fair or not, consumers do hold national brands accountable for the service they experience from franchisees.  And that affects our direct sales model too.  If a customer or prospect has a bad experience with an individual consultant, they are most likely going to hold your brand responsible for that experience.  They may tell others how terrible your brand is as a result of that experience.  And more and more, they’re going to do that on social networks.

And as a result, social networks hold both the potential for disaster, as well as the potential to identify issues and resolve them before negative word of mouth takes off.  Every company needs to take a long, hard look at their monitoring and customer service functions as they relate to social media.  This is where our customers and prospects will increasingly congregate.  And our response as brands to issues will have a tremendous impact on the public perception of our brand.

Maybe it wasn’t fair for me to expect the corporate Twitter account for Domino’s Pizza to resolve my issue.  (And incidentally, as a result of my post they did open a customer service ticket to resolve my issue.)  It doesn’t change the fact that I DID expect it, and was disappointed when they didn’t come through.  Maybe it’s not fair for a customer to complain about your brand online because of a negative experience with a consultant who was already on the way out.  It doesn’t change the fact that they will complain.

The only thing you can control as a brand is your response.  Begin planning now.  You NEED a monitoring solution in place, you NEED a support path in place to direct issues appropriately, and your customer service department NEEDS to be trained to support web issues.

We can talk about what’s fair until the cows come home.  It doesn’t change what IS.

Are you ready?

image credit: sdminor81

Jennifer Fong

Jennifer Fong helps direct sales companies leverage the power of social media marketing to increase sales and recruiting, and manage online brand perception.  She provides strategic social media consulting to companies, as well as conference speaking and training. To learn more about how Jennifer can help your company, visit http://luceandassociates.com/Jennifer-Fong.html.  You can also check out her direct sales and social media blog at http://www.jenfongspeaks.com, and her Facebook Page at http://facebook.com/jenfongspeaks.

The viral nature of the internet can be a wonderful thing.  Messages about your company can spread far and wide, resulting in new consultants and higher sales.  But that viral effect can be a double-edged sword.  Because if someone has a bad experience with your company, or one of its consultants, that can have a devastating effect on your company’s reputation, and its ability to recruit.

We saw this very thing happen to United Airlines when they broke a musician’s $3,500 Taylor guitar, and then refused to pay for it.  Google “United Breaks Guitars” and you’ll see a remarkable string of posts that have preserved this rocky patch in United’s history forever.  If United had had a strategy in place to deal with such situations before they became viral sensations, they would have been much better off (and you can bet they do now!)

This past year we saw a member of our own industry, Arbonne International, manage this quite well.  When the company went through a debt restructuring, it could have been very easy for negative information to fly, causing many of its distributors to flock to other companies.  But the company took a pro-active approach, creating a company blog as part of a larger communication strategy that kept distributors informed, and helped the company weather the storm.  Now this is but a far-distant memory that the company has been able to put behind them.

Does your direct sales company have a plan for when disaster strikes?  We all know that the information that the salesforce sees and consumes is essential when it comes to managing crisis.  What should you have in place ahead of time to be prepared?  Here are some tips:

  • Create an escalation procedures document. Make a list of “worst that could happen” scenarios, and who is authorized to make a public statement.  This will save you hours of meetings trying to decide who should take care of the situation, while it spirals out of control, and makes it very easy for the person who spots the issue to quickly route it to the correct person, no matter what the hour.
  • Create a “24 hour statement” for each issue you identify. This is a standard response that can be made in response to each of the scenarios you identified, so the company looks responsive while you’re crafting a more specific company response.
  • Have “community ambassadors” within your corporate structure. These are folks who work with influencers in the online communities most important to you.  When a crisis arises, chances are these influencers will reach out to the person they know and trust in your organization, for your side of the story.  This means these influencers are a lot more likely to provide a balanced view of the situation.
  • Create a culture that admits when you’re wrong. Transparency and authenticity are DEMANDED in social media communities, particularly when things go wrong.  Be sure the employees in your organization are able to admit it when you’re wrong, and empowered to fix it.
  • Have a place for your official corporate response. This is typically a corporate blog.  If the issue is big enough and mainstream media picks it up, they’ll have a place they can go that provides the official corporate response.

By planning before crisis hits, you can more effectively manage online crises before they go viral.  And if you handle them well, you might even get some positive feedback from the online community.  It all starts with a plan!

image credit: Jim Linwood

Jennifer Fong

Jennifer Fong helps direct sales companies leverage the power of social media marketing to increase sales and recruiting, and manage online brand perception.  She provides strategic planning consulting to companies, as well as conference speaking and training. To learn more about how Jennifer can help your company, visit http://luceandassociates.com/Jennifer-Fong.html.  You can also check out her direct sales and social media blog at http://www.jenfongspeaks.com, and her Facebook Page at http://facebook.com/jenfongspeaks.

image credit: jurvetson

Direct selling companies are in an interesting position right now.  Many executives who don’t know much about social media are looking to hire people who do, to guide them.  The challenge is finding people who also understand our industry and its specific nature. Just because a program or site someone saw is cool, doesn’t mean it’s going to work for direct selling.

It all comes down to understanding your business objectives before diving into social media.  By establishing a clear goal up front, every new program and site can be weighed against it, to decide if it’s a fit.  For example, let’s say that a social media advisor is in love with a virtual reality site he thought was cool when he worked at his last tech-savvy company.  This, he says, will be the shining star in the company’s social media strategy.

A quick look at the company’s business objective though, reveals that the goal is to increase consultant productivity.  Even though the site may be cool, it’s neither a) a place the company wants its sales force to be spending time (we want them selling and recruiting!) nor b) a tool that will in itself provide any tools to consultants to increase their productivity.  Sure, the site might help with brand recognition, but that has not been identified as the goal for the company’s social media strategy.

It’s critically important to ensure that companies start with business objectives, and not the “oooh! shiny” tools that try to sway our attention.  Focus is key.  The latest and greatest is not always the best solution for your particular needs.  Your best bet is to focus on tools that have the greatest concentration of your target market.  And then focus on ways to increase productivity by using those tools.  This is what will bring success with social media.

Jennifer Fong

Jennifer Fong helps direct sales companies leverage the power of social media marketing to increase sales and recruiting, and manage online brand perception.  She provides strategic planning consulting to companies, as well as conference speaking and training. To learn more about how Jennifer can help your company, visit http://luceandassociates.com/Jennifer-Fong.html.  You can also check out her direct sales and social media blog at http://www.jenfongspeaks.com, and her Facebook Page at http://facebook.com/jenfongspeaks.

image credit: jurvetson