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.
Did not make up that phrase – it is the concept and title of Elizabeth Gilbert’s most recent book. Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear was a quick and inspiring read. The book illustrates that everyone has the potential to be creative. You can be creative no matter what your career or role yo have.
One of the keys of 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 career and with their time. Direct sales can also be known as multi-level marketing (MLM), next line marketing or person-to-person marketing. Basically, certain companies sell exclusively through their sales consultants, allowing them to build networks and sell to them. Another piece of direct sales is recruiting other consultants to work for you, expanding the network and growing company sales.
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 sales consultants in a relatively short time.
There are many activities a direct sales representative conducts to drum up sales, referrals and recruits. Many of them are effective, hence why party invites and promotions continue to pop up on your newsfeed or in your inbox.
But, as more women choose to go into direct sales as a career, there is more and more pressure to get creative with pitches and events. As Gilbert says, everyone has the potential to be creative. Do not just show and tell your audience what your products can do; create an unforgettable EXPERIENCE for them.
To jump start your idea generation, here is a list of more than 35 new direct sales ideas. There are some old tried and true ones mixed in, but hopefully reading the full list gets your mind a-churning. 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 the boring name tag and where are you from question? To give you a few ideas, here is a list of 23 compiled by IcebreakerIdeas.com.
Bottom line, make your event fun from the 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 or sometimes they use their kids to test out mini sessions.
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 have them give you permission to share the images.
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 a big winner!
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 in 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 to reach potential customers. Whether you have an IG or not, find an influencer on IG and collaborate.
If your company is all over Instagram already, engage with their best photos and share them on your feed. And 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.
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 all their [insert your product] needs!
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 could be helping a new mom tremendously.
Ask your local hospital if you can donate an item. It is as often as you want or as sporatic as you need (girl still has to eat, right?), but make that new mommy’s life a little easier when she gets home.
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. Volunteers and others would pay $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. Have some kind of giveaway to lure in the looky-loos and actually get some engagement.
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 ten women commiserate over the fact they can not change a flat tire yet. You tell them that you can (if you in fact can) and offer to teach them all at once. Set up a free live webinar or Facebook Live and show them how! Then at the end, offer them a great limited time offer exclusive to them because they joined.
Okay, now for the 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. Market and host a free live webinar or live stream 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, prioritizing or conflict resolution. Then give a very short pitch at the end, inviting women to learn more at another in-person event.
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, and when the cashier hands the customer his or hers order, your business card is right there too. 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 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 night kid-free?
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 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 other ways this fruit can help you, besides making delicious drinks or zesting food.
Have you found unusual ways to use your products? It does not have to be groundbreaking – if you sell makeup, find beautiful and easy tricks to go from day to night. Do a quick search online to see if any fun uses have already been found, and then do a round-up of those! 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 or something with their favorite sports team.
You just need to have a surprising, fun, 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 out there on the interwebz. 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, the company (and its benefits for consultants) or something in your industry in general.
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, you can offer something in return for customer emails – entry for a great giveaway, a free sample, free product guide 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 newsletters are pure value for their life without selling and 20% of newsletters are sales-orientated. Then, when you do have something big to sale, you have built trust and do not come off as sales-y.
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.
Showcase a Product of the Month
I know this gets done at the corporate level in many direct sales companies, but have you offered your personal monthly favorite? Share a photo demonstrating its awesomeness, offer a small discount and tell your customers there is a limited supply at that rate! Or, if you are overloaded on something you can use that and cut the price to move the product.
The main point of this idea is to personalize and humanize your company. People get tired of constantly being sold on ish, so make an effort to be a person recommending your favorites as opposed to sales 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, it includes birthdays and anniversaries, and it can be saved after the year is over.
What is my point? Instead of doing the typical percentage off an order, dollar credits or a free product, offer the 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 time frame and create a way to track submissions (hashtag, Facebook tag, email, etc.) then create your contest. Maybe it is the customer using your product or something completely unrelated to your work. Just get them engaged with you and your business. At the end of the contest, choose the 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 and photos and then try a new hair and makeup look each weekday.
You can do both contests and challenges on social media or through email. If you are not sure which one, choose the one in which your audience MOST engages.
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, right? ‘Nuff said.
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 from you (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 once every two months.
If you want to generate leads with the club, have fiction and non-fiction on your reading list. Keep the women engaged, having fun and wanting to see you every meeting. Then when you have a big sales event, it is easier to invite them.
If you want to network more with other ladies in direct sales, choose non-fiction business books that help develop your careers. Try and get women from all kinds of DS companies to vary the insight, knowledge and overall 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
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 it 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? Also, you can let your guests decide!
Are you ultra competitive? Make it interesting by putting one of your products up as the prize to winning the game.
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?
Too much work? 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.
Host a Recipe Swap Party
This idea is much less involved than the Tasting Bee and Cooking Class, and it can really 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 a dish they plan to share.
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. I always looked forward to leafing through the Avon catalogue I received every winter. But have you every made one of your own? You have probably seen eye-catching graphics with lots of products that are numbered and beautifully displayed on a white background. Those are widely shared, 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.
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
A simple trick 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 branding 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 label that tells them descriptions 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 gift buying where you wrap and later 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
Both haunted city tours I have been on were so much fun. It was not like a haunted house where people popped out to scare you and chainsaws chased you down an alley; instead, we walked around old parts of the cities as a guide 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, 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 also be getting new customers from those new contacts. And maybe you will get to swap for some great stuff.
Rent a Party Bus
Bring the college, bachelorette fun to your party! Rent a party bus, have each participant pay for tickets and enjoy the night. Hype the night up as a girls’ night out, and target your audience strategically. Women who sip martinis and wear business casual out for drinks are NOT the women who will most likely want to drink beer from bus-friendly solo cups.
Choose an appropriate time to give your pitch and collect sales, like at a bar stop or in a house before you depart. 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. Maybe you have a friend who aspires to be a mixologist – let them practice for you.
After each woman is served, give your pitch, try out your products and take orders. If at all possible, allow those ladies to walk out with their purchases in cute bags with your contact information attached.
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 booyah! 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, 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!