We are all creative. No, you may not always feel like you are or you may think people lack the creativity gene, but EVERYONE has the potential to do “big magic.”
Big Magic is the concept and title of Elizabeth Gilbert’s most recent book. Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear* was a quick and inspiring read and illustrates that everyone has the potential to be creative.
One of the keys to big magic is action. If you do not act on an idea, someone else will. There are too many people in the world for good ideas to sleep for long.
Gilbert offers a few resources on her website that supplement the book, including a guide that kick starts your creativity and professional discussions. Pulling your creativity out regularly will not only help your career, but it will also make you feel ALIVE.
Direct sales is a popular way for women to be more independent in their careers and with their time. Direct sales is also known as multi-level marketing (MLM), next line marketing, or person-to-person marketing. Basically, certain companies sell exclusively through their sales consultants, allowing the consultants to build their own networks and business.
There are literally hundreds of direct sales companies, but here is a list of the top 10 companies in the United States. Why is direct sales popular? Because when done well, women can create a flexible schedule and make a robust salary. The flexibility allows women to can stay home with littles, travel all over the world, and manage a team of other sales consultants quickly.
There are many activities a direct sales representative does to drum up sales, referrals, and recruits, including parties or free classes.
As more women choose direct sales for their careers, there is more pressure to get creative to stand out in the crowd. As Gilbert says, everyone has the potential to be creative. Do not just show and tell your audience what your products do; create an unforgettable EXPERIENCE for them.
To jump-start your idea generation, here is a list of more than 35 direct sales ideas. There are some old tried and true ones mixed in, but hopefully reading the full list gets your creative juices flowing. Now go forth and SLAY.
Start with an Unusual Icebreaker
With almost any event, you will give your participants a chance to introduce themselves. Why just stick with a boring name tag and where-are-you-from question? Here is a list of 23 fun icebreakers, compiled by IcebreakerIdeas.com.
Bottom line, make your event fun from the very first minute.
Partner with Local Photographers for Portrait Sessions
Have you ever heard of stylized photo shoots? This is when photographers meticulously plan sessions that highlight their work. Sometimes they recruit a senior to use as an ambassador for the new school year, sometimes they have a woman wear a wedding dress to showcase their wedding photography skills, and sometimes they use their kids to test out mini session ideas.
See if any of your products align with a styled shoot. For example, you can offer to do Mary Kay makeup for the models, lend Stella & Dot jewelry to a “bride,” or place Scentsy warmers in the background of an indoor scene. Just have the photographer link back to your business page on social media and give you permission to share the images (best to get all of that in writing).
Sponsor Ladies’ Night at a Local Business
This one is fun. I’ve seen a beauty consultant do it, so I know it is not COMPLETELY new, but I wanted to share it anyways.
Partner with a local restaurant that has a weekly “Ladies’ Night.” Wait in the lounge with a fun freebie, like a rose or a beaded necklace. Then, ask if the women want to sign up for your free giveaway. New leads, a little fun, and hopefully future customers!
Build a Teacher’s Appreciation Basket
Can we all agree that life as a teacher is not easy? Either by yourself or with other DS representatives from your kid’s class, design a beautiful basket full of goodies for the teacher.
To go a step further, host a contest each year before Teacher’s Appreciation Day where parents submit their nominations for Teacher of the Year. Does your community already have this award? Donate an item from your line to the existing prize.
Partner with a Local Instagram Influencer
Are you on Instagram yet? In the DS world, visual proof is so important when converting leads to sales. Find an influencer on the social media platform your customers love most, and then collaborate.
Engage with influencers’ content and share them on your own feed. By share, I do NOT mean take a screenshot and just post it. Get the copy URL and share it like you would an article so that the original poster gets credit and traffic back to their site. The point is, you are sharing relevant information with your audience and the influencer can see you sharing it.
Create a Welcome Kit for Someone New
Again, not groundbreaking but worth mentioning in this list. This can be anyone new to anything: work, the neighborhood, the school, church. I don’t care where, but putting those altruistic vibes into the universe is only good for you. Make someone feel welcomed, and let them know you are the girl for whichever product you sell!
Support New Mothers
Do you know those bundles that hospitals give new moms before they go home? It contains formula, burp rags, and new diapers. What if you could slip in some LuLaRoe leggings or a Young Living Lavender Vitality essential oil? You’d be giving a big surprise to someone who needs it.
Ask your local hospital if you can donate such an item. It is as often or as sporadic as you want (or can afford).
Host a Tasting Bee
If your products are kitchen-related, this might be the idea for you. We did this in high school as part of a local pageant, and the community looked forward to it every year.
Basically, you get volunteers to submit their favorite recipe(s) for the annual cookbook. Then, on the day the cookbook gets released or goes on sale, those volunteers cooked those dishes and brought them to one spot. People paid $1 per ticket to try any and all of the dishes provided.
How does this work for DS? Have a table set up with your Tupperware or Pampered Chef products at the end of the food line. Host a free giveaway to pull people toward you and upsell your items.
Host a Live Webinar with a Free Gift
Is there an overwhelming need in your customer base, like they want to learn how to change a tire or they hate their 9-5 jobs? Host a webinar to provide a solution.
Let’s use the less realistic example first. Say you are at a party, and you hear ten women complain about the fact that they cannot change a flat tire. You tell them that you can change a tire (if you can) and offer to teach them all at once. Set up a free live webinar or Facebook Live and show them how! At the end of the class, offer them a limited-time offer for your paid products or services.
Okay, now for a more realistic example. If you constantly hear your customers say, “I hate my job; I wish I could stay home or start my own business,” then you may have a recruiting opportunity. Host a free live webinar or make a video that talks about the benefits of being an independent consultant. Don’t want to be so obvious? Talk on an adjacent subject, such as managing time, prioritization, or conflict resolution. Then give a very short pitch at the end that invites women to learn more at an in-person event or sells them your products.
Pay It Forward at a Local Business
You have heard of those Starbucks lines that have 37 consecutive customers buy the next one’s drink, right? There is hope for humanity yet. But why is that on this list?
You can start a Pay It Forward chain at a local business. Be the first to offer to pay for the next person’s drink, and leave a business card with the cashier. When the cashier hands the customer his or her order, your business card is also there. For more effect, give the cashier a few business cards and tell them to see how far $20 goes so you can impact multiple customers.
Give Away a Free Night of Babysitting
Okay, this is for your customer, not you. Sorry. Instead of the normal product, dollars-off, or credit prize, have you considered offering customers a kid-free night?
Yes, you are a stranger to most people, but you could also just offer to pay the babysitter for a five-hour date. Whatever makes sense, but give your customer or potential customer a peaceful night. Make this a reward for hosting a party or draw a name from your leads each month.
Make a Video of 10 Ways to Use Your Product (Beyond the Obvious)
Make people laugh and watch in wonder as you show them unconventional ways to use your products. For instance, this article talks about 10 unusual ways to use lemons! It is fun to learn how to use lemons besides cooking and drinking.
Have you found unusual ways to use your products? It does not have to be groundbreaking — if you sell makeup, find easy ways to go from day to night. Or, do a round-up from content other people have made.
Not good at editing videos? Write a blog post or create a photo slideshow.
The previous idea may be what gets you viral. People love lifehack posts, feel-good stories, yummy recipes, anything with cute/funny animals, and something related to their favorite sports teams.
You just need to have a surprising, short piece of content that can relate to a large audience. People do not just share willy-nilly, so create something worth sharing.
Write a Guest Blog Post for a Similar Audience
Guest blogging is big in the blogging world, but it may not be as obvious a platform for the direct sales world.
One way to build your credibility is to have published work on your area of expertise online. Find an influential blogger who writes for a similar audience and offer to write a blog post for them. Usually, bloggers ask for 1,000-1,500 words and a few images. You can write about an awesome product, your company (and its benefits for consultants), or something generally about your industry.
Have your own blog? Super! Keep that up and possibly mentor other consultants on starting their own blogs.
Write a Newsletter
In relation to the last idea, you can write a newsletter to engage with your customers and build your credibility. Like many companies and online businesses do, offer something in return for customer emails, like entries in a great giveaway, free samples, free product guides, or credit towards the next purchase.
No matter what your lead magnet is, have your audience subscribe to your newsletter. Adhere to the 80/20 rule: 80% of the email newsletters you send out should be pure value without selling, and 20% of newsletters are sales-orientated. This avoids being too salesy or turning off your audience quickly.
A newsletter can be done as often or seldom as you want. If your company churns out information quickly, you could send a weekly newsletter. Include company info, fun facts related to your industry, a customer of the month, etc. Sound scary? Microsoft Word has some decent newsletter templates to make it easy. If you and your audience prefer snail mail, go that route!
Showcase a Product of the Month
I know this gets done at the corporate level in many direct sales companies, but have you shared your personal favorites? Post a photo demonstrating its awesomeness, offer a small discount, and tell your customers that there is a limited supply at that rate! Or, if you have too much inventory of an item, use that and offer a quick-sale price for a limited time.
The main point of this idea is to personalize and humanize your company. People get tired of constantly being asked to buy things, so make an effort to be a person recommending your favorite products instead of a person selling stuff.
Offer a Customized Gift as a Prize
Every year, I make my parents a customized calendar for Christmas. And they love it. The photos highlight moments from the previous year, the calendar includes birthdays and anniversaries, and the whole thing can be saved after the year is over.
What is my point? Instead of doing typical promotions like discounts, dollar credits, or free products, offer the party host a customized gift with a qualifying party order. For example, if a host’s party order is a combined $500 or more, the host can choose a customized gift from a place like Shutterfly or Walgreens.
Not a calendar person? Coffee mugs, magnets, and portrait canvases are also options. Choose the gift that fits you best or let your host choose!
Run a Photo Contest or Challenge
You do not need to be a photographer to host a photo contest. Heck, hundreds of women send in photos of themselves with a magazine every month for a chance to appear in Cosmo.
Set a deadline, create a way to track the submissions (a unique hashtag, tag/mention you, email, etc.), then advertise the contest to your customers and leads. Maybe you ask for photos of the customers using your product, or maybe you ask for something completely unrelated to your work (like your best Spring photo). Just get them engaged with you and your business. At the end of the contest, choose a winner!
Another option is running a challenge. There is no winner, but the goal is to get everyone moving in a positive direction. Work as a Beachbody coach? Create a 30-Day clean eating challenge, complete with recipe ideas, shopping lists, and daily motivations. Represent Younique? Create a 5-Day New Look challenge where participants see your tutorials then try the new look each weekday.
You can do contests and challenges on social media or through email. If you are not sure which platform to use, choose the one on which your audience spends the most time.
Host a TV Watch Party
The Super Bowl instantly came to mind for me, but I’m a bit of a sports fanatic. Other reasons to have a television watch party are for the season finale of Grey’s, the Grammy’s, an episode of The Bachelor, or the Olympics. If your customers hate the Superbowl, an anti-Superbowl (or Puppy Bowl) might be of interest so they can get away from the football parties.
See which show or event your customers really love, and get them all together to watch it. Let them test your products while watching, offer snacks and drinks, then take orders before they head out the door.
Give a Get Well Gift to Someone in the Hospital
A get well card and balloons look lame compared to a new Thirty-One bag stuffed with get-well goodies, right?
Have an evergreen ad or consistently remind your customers that they can nominate someone in the hospital for a Get Well Gift from you. Design a gift that makes sense, obviously, but have fun with it.
If you live in a big enough city, you can offer this as a service as opposed to a volunteer activity. Set a price for your Get Well Gift and make it easy for customers to order it (on FB, email, an online landing page, etc.).
Start a Book Club
If you’ve browsed through this website, you know I am a book nerd. So naturally this idea came to my mind. Organize a local book club that meets once a month or create a Facebook Group for an online book club.
If you want to generate leads with the club, have fiction and non-fiction on your reading list. Keep the women engaged and interested in coming back each time. Then, when you have a big sales event, you have already added value to their lives and warmed them up to you and your network.
If you want to connect with other ladies in direct sales, choose non-fiction business books that help you all develop your careers. Try and get women from all kinds of DS companies to vary the insight, knowledge, and experience.
Organize a Cooking Class
Do you sell kitchen items? Show them off in a cooking class!
This could be as simple as cooking your favorite appetizers or healthy lunches at a party. It could be as extravagant as a six-course meal. Either way, make the spots limited, invite warm leads, and give them a reason to come (besides free food and a lesson!) with a raffle.
Host a Game Night
I LOVE game night. Not everyone does, but if you find that many customers in your target market do, it is something to consider. Figure out either which game they like to play or which game they most want to learn, and then host a game night. This does not have to be at your house — switch it up by having game night at a restaurant, a host’s house, or in a local bar.
Games could include boards games (Trouble and Monopoly), card games (Bridge and Rummy), strategy games (Settlers of Catan and Pandemic), and action games (charades and heads-up). What do you like to play? Which game can accommodate the number of players you plan to have? You can also let your guests decide!
Are you competitive? Make it interesting by putting one of your products up as the prize.
Celebrate a National Day or Month
We talked about Teacher’s Appreciation Day already, but are you doing something on ALL of the “days” or “months” related to your business?
Find a national month that aligns with your business and offer a small discount for all orders in that month. Have fun with it! Is one month traditionally slow for business? Run the promotion then.
Did you know January is National Soup Month? Didn’t think so. Find fun things like that!
Host a Recipe Swap Party
This idea is much less involved than the Tasting Bee and Cooking Class, and it can be done in any industry. Get a group of ladies together to swap their favorite recipe(s). Many women fill out multiple recipe cards ahead of time so they can just exchange them at the party. And no need to cater! Have all participants bring the dish from their recipe card.
Then, while people eat, give your short pitch. Place your contact info and the information for your next big event at the bottom of every recipe card you giveaway. Hint: give all of your participants your recipe, even if you do not swap for theirs.
Create and Share a Holiday Gift Guide
Many companies have holiday guides and catalogues already. As a teenager, I always looked forward to leafing through the Avon catalogue every winter. But have you ever made one of your own? They are widely shared on Pinterest, much loved by shoppers, and fairly easy to make.
Does your company already make an extensive gift guide? Think of a clever way to distribute them or highlight your favorites.
Partner with Etsy Sellers
If you are like me, you love browsing and shopping on Etsy. There are thousands of handmade, beautiful items that make me want to redecorate my house and makeover my style.
Is there a particular type of product you love or a certain seller you like most? Find a way to collaborate. Ideas include having your favorite hand-stitching artist take a behind-the-scenes photo in her LuLaRoe leggings or a decor designer drinking rehydrating after a workout with your Arbonne Fizz Sticks. The relationship you build is what will encourage them to tag you and give you some virtual love.
Place Mailing Labels on All of Your Products
This is a simple trick that one of my Mary Kay consultants does with all of her orders. She puts a mailing label with all of her contact information on every product she sells. Do not make it obnoxious, but a simple branding trick like this is genius. When the product runs low, the customer easily knows how to get in touch with you and reorder. Just do not cover the info they will need to reorder (like size or shade).
Have a Table at Local Holiday Parties
Does your significant other have a huge holiday work party every year? See about setting up a table in a discreet place on location. People can shop for themselves, or you can offer to wrap and deliver the gift for a small fee.
Another option is to set up at a school holiday event. If your children’s school has a fundraiser or holiday bazaar, set up a table and donate all profits from the event to the school. This is a volunteer idea, yes, but put those good vibes (and your name!) out there. If the event is for vendors and holiday gift buying, then make that moolah, momma!
Give a Haunted Tour of Your City
I have been on two haunted city tours and both were so much fun. It was not like a haunted house where people popped out to scare you; instead, a guide walked us around old parts of the city and told us old, scary stories about the buildings and residents.
Do you live in an interesting place? Research haunted facts and offer to give the history buffs in your city a tour, ending at your house for drinks, snacks, and a quick sales pitch. Promote this tour with your local Chamber of Commerce, historical society, library, and membership clubs (like Elk’s Lodge and Rotary).
Organize a Kids’ Play Date
Are you a direct sales second, momma first? Combine your party with a kids’ play date. If it is during the day, you can target stay-at-home mothers and let them have a little fun shopping without actually having to go into a store. Want a night event? Make it kid-friendly to be inclusive of single mothers, parents with opposite work shifts, etc.
How will you keep those kids busy?! Recruit your significant other, hire a babysitter or one of your older children to supervise, have an activity room ready, or make it a movie night (fun movie and popcorn).
Host a Direct Sales Product Swap
This idea is more networking than it is sales, but both are crucial when it comes to the direct sales business. Find any and all direct sales representatives in your city, county, neighborhood, whatever, and gather their contact information. (You do not have to go door-to-door; find them by searching on Facebook and Google.) Send them an invitation to your product showcase and swap.
This event can be as big or as small as you like. Make this a high-end, exclusive event by renting space, selling tickets, catering the event, having a guest speaker, and giving out great swag bags. Looking for a simple way to start? Invite the representatives to your house with a brief career topic to discuss over finger foods and easy drinks.
Either way, your goal is to learn more about all of the other companies so you can easily refer customers to other consultants. Hopefully, you will receive referrals back.
Rent a Party Bus
Tie in your product to a fun night out. Rent a party bus, have each participant pay for tickets, then spend a night on the town. Maybe you offer to do makeovers before the event, with either makeup, clothes, or jewelry.
Follow up with anyone who did not make an order within a time frame so they can still get the “party” discount.
Host a Martini Mixer
In contrast to the previous idea, a martini mixer is for your more sophisticated potential customers. Make it an evening networking event where you offer four or five different martinis.
After each woman is served, give your pitch, try out your products, and take orders. If at all possible, have inventory on-hand so the customers can walk out with cute bags and your contact information.
Organize a Spa Day
Who doesn’t love to get pampered? Instead of just having a party, why not host a spa day for ten lucky ladies?
Hire a chair masseuse, nail technician, makeup artist, and hair stylist for a couple of hours and treat your potential customers right! (And some of the beauty technicians may even work in exchange for your products, referrals, promotion, etc. — work that trade.)
You can give your presentation whenever you feel it is most natural, and if you have products that can be used in a spa day, then even better.
Create a Gift Wish List
One of the most popular complaints I hear at direct sales parties is, “I just can’t spend the money right now.” Women think twice (and three or four times) before spending money on themselves! But they are usually willing to tell others what they want for their birthday/anniversary/Christmas/Valentine’s Day.
Have customers who do not immediately place an order go through the catalogue with a wish list. They write down the items they want most and the contact information for the person (or people if the list is long!) who plans on buying them something special. This is not limited to significant others; ANYONE who gives her gifts could be considered, like a sibling, parent, or Secret Santa.
With plenty of time in advance, contact that person and ask if you can order it as a gift. Maybe you even offer to wrap it. Make the gift-buying process super simple so they never want to walk in a store again.
Whew. Have you tried one of these ideas before or have a completely outrageous one I missed? Let me know in the comments section below!
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*This article contains an affiliate link for the book, Big Magic! As a bookworm, I only recommend books I really enjoyed reading. I hope you enjoy them, too!