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Tips and insights from the blog team at Calliope - Presence in media for branding and polishing graphics, writing, social media, and online presence for yourself or your small business.

How to stand OUT while signing UP (Direct Sales Edition)

Well, it's official... everyone and their mom is trying direct sales. We personally think they can be great. Direct Sale Companies give the sales representative/ brand ambassadors (and any other flowery marketing term) the things that are on EVERYONES career priority list... those items typically include: working remotely, competitive pay, absolutely no glass celling, doing something you are passionate about, being able to travel, making your own schedule, and working with a productive team. It is easy to see why so many people are signing up. 

I am sure we are all being inundated to support, buy, sign up, or subscribe to another product a friend is now promoting. Our social media feeds are being littered full of the requests for virtual parties, hosted parties, promo here, or there. These solicitations are not coming from the giants of retail marketing but rather Suzy, your next-door-neighbor. 

Working with my clients, I get asked a lot about how to make themselves stand out with a sudo-franchised business with thousands of other sales representatives fighting for your mutual friends attention. So, we wanted to compile a list of how you can stand OUT while signing up for a direct sales company. 

1. Is this the right fit for your personality?

Direct Sales are not for everyone! They are not! Swear it! If you are not the type to happily tell everyone what you sell, let it permeate into your social life, make business friends and business trips a constant in your calendar, then maybe you are not made for direct sales. Friends and acquaintances who have succeeded are unashamed to tell people what they sell, they hear the criticism and ignore the nay-sayers (knowing that you can't please everyone), they promote, they are super active on social media or email marketing, they drink the direct sale companies kool-aid if you will, and follow the promotion plans to a T. If this sounds like something you can do, excellent, you can make some serious cash!

 

2. Find the right company for YOU!

I see it all the time, friends signing up for a direct sales company because a friend has been super successful and has earned a Mercedes in the brand's custom color. Or their parents need one more person on their "leg" of a sales team. $200 later, you are selling a brand you could care less about. The key we have observed is to find a company that fits into your already established personal "brand". Do you already share story after story of cloth diapers and alternative medicine? Then maybe you should try one of the "granola" brands selling essential oils. Or do you post selfie after selfie of post workout sweat? Well then maybe you could try Beachbody or ItWorks! Check out our quick reference list below. 

You Post:

  • Fashion/ Style  - Check out {Origami Owl, SouthHill Designs, Paparazzi, Miche}
  • Fitness/ Health - Check out {Beachbody, ItWorks, doTerra, Young Living, Rodan&Fields}
  • Makeup/ Personal Aesthetics - Check out {MaryKay*, Jamberry, Avon*, Younique, Jutsuru}
  • Parenting or Books - Check out {Usborne Books, Discovery Kids, Simply Fun}
  • Home DIY or Savings - Check out {Scentsy, ACS}
  • Adult - Check out {Pure Romance}
  • Food and Restaurants - Check out {Pampered Chef, ManCave World Wide, trading Vineyard}
*original bitches

The list can go on and on... but find something that you CAN back 100% without it feeling counterfeit or forced. 

 

3. Before you pay or sign up, check their logo/image clause in the contract. 

Every direct sale company will have a logo/image clause in their initiating contract. This is done to protect themselves and the brand they have created, and rightfully so! The key here is to check for companies that let you have some creative discretion with how you brand your independent store image. Do they allow you to have a custom and creative URL (ex - Greenfoodwithgwen.com) that can redirect to your "custom" store front? Will they allow you to put your own logo for personal branding on the same business card as their logo? Heck, can you even order your own business cards? Check out the terms of the contract and find a company that will allow you some flexibility. Then capitalize on that freedom. Create your own logo, business cards, custom URL that redirects to your "storefront" website. There are so many ways to differentiate yourself from other brands and even friendly competition. The key way here is to make yourself unique. 

 

4. Check out the residual/ passive income and weigh those against bonuses

The sales schemes and machines that each direct sales company has in place is a expansive and intricate algerhythum that is made to make everyone a load of cash. Ask your mathematician friend to crunch some numbers for you to see what really is the best deal. Some bonuses might outweigh the sales level maximum incomes. Do the math. 

 

5. Research reviews and success rates

Do some research before you go to the "party" to find out more about the company and how many people truly are successful. What are the stories from those who didn't succeed? What was the tipping point for those who were successful?

 

6. Drink the kool-aid, go for it, make that first sales goal the first month

Its easy to see the appeal and sign up but how do you actually become as successful as the "president" or "executive" that was at the direct sales party? Well, you have to go for it. If you listen to their testimonials, they were mostly all in a place where they had to succeed or some serious result was going to befall them. Now, I am not advocating for you to not pay your mortgage for months then sign up as a means of motivation but your should find something that you want to work for. Quitting your day-time job? Paying off debt? Moving to Australia? Find your dream, work hard, and make that first sales goal in the first month or face the music that you may not be that "into" the company you signed up for. 

 

7. Don't spam your friends

The bread and butter of theses companies is the consumers who actually love their products. Yes, adding another excited sales representatives to your team is important but having a product that people love is more important. Don't kick your gift horse in the mouth. Ask before you add people to groups or events. If someone says no or is not interested respect their request and back away. Try to be genuine in your connections to people who you may have lost contact with in the past. Just messaging a friend from High School that you haven't talked to since graduation and asking them to buy your latest Mary Kay product is not a way to get customers, its a great way to lose them. 

 

8. Post often, post positive, post reflective

If you email market or partake in social media; maintain your previous posting average but change up the content slowly. Don't go from 1 post per week to 10 a day. You will get "unfollowed" in an instant. Don't constantly post about money, its gross. Make your content reflective, relatable, and relevant to the other "you's" who follow your lifestyle or interest. Get friends and followers involved with posts that solicit a response, even things that do not pertain to your business or work, random interactions create a personal brand that you can fall back on when content is sparse. 

 

9. Consider getting a leased wall or shelf in a brick and mortar store

Digital and virtual are great. Heck we love them, but few things can replace the instant gratification of getting what you want when you want it. If you are successful in your direct sales company you should consider it. Renting a space in a salon, spa, or green market would only make you a visible authority on the brand and it's products and would be worth the $50 a month for a shelf in the local office waiting room.  

 

10. Work with us!

Calliope - Presence In Media has already helped successful presidents and executives in direct sales companies. We have edited and reviewed landing websites to help those capture more attention. We have created personal logos for use on business cards and promo materials. Sometimes, people just need assistance in defining their personal brand. Let us help you be even more successful. Contact us at hello@calliopepresence.com

What advice or experience do you have with Direct Sales? Anything else that you would like to add? Let us know in the comments below.

why we sometimes will work for free

why yes... I did just say that I work for free on my business website... this is cray right?

The truth is, if you know me (Danette), if you know CalliopePIM, or if you know we have a "heart" for charity then it wouldn't come as a surprise at all. If you were to ask our clients how much we do for free vs payment, you might see a staggering ratio... probably 20:80. We have found that a generous and grateful business model will always yield an impressive client retention rate. We are not talking about giving away websites or logos, but reformatting a clients logo into a vector or creating a brand guideline or a posting manual to an order is not only a deal but kind also. While this might make us come across as magnanimous, it also holds a significant amount of purpose and value to us. Each project is a learning experience, and the story and interviews below illustrate our reason to work for free (sometimes):

A dear friend reached out to me about editing her 501c3's website. They were trying to do a few simple edits but the website was straight html on a FTP host. While I have some experience in coding, I would never sell this as a feature in our services. But, since she was a dear friend and heck, they run a charity, (I'm not Ebenezer Scrooge after all) I agreed to the few text and image edits. (At most it was going to cost me 2 hours including breaks for diaper changes and tantrums) Long story short, the code was a bit messy, full of bugs, and command after command lead me against a brick wall of messy css and js. In my 5th hour of frustration, I stumbled upon exactly what I needed... Codementor

Codementor is a lot like Fiverr. It connects you to top developers, makes them available via chat, shows you their rates, expertise, and makes it simple to pay your mentor when the problem is fixed. I was extremely lucky to reach out to an amazing developer and a man with the patience of a saint, Carlos. 


I asked Carlos to answer a few questions for me about Codementor and his background. Here you go:

How did you hear about Codementor? 

On Google, searching for a tool that helps me to handle requests from friends that always ask me for help with their codes.

What is your proudest or most impressive project you have worked on? 

Once I helped a guy who was developing very complex charts for a science webpage. I though I knew how to handle charts until this project came to me, took me extra hours that I didnt bill the client because I was frustrated, at the end, everything ended well.

Biggest developer win?

When someone asked for a twilio /php  developer and I had no idea what twilio was, I tell him that I was good with php but not with twilio, he gave me a chance to help him and within a few hours of tests and documentation reading, the project was up and running. It helped me to know that I can accept challenges without fear

Biggest coding fail? 

A guy asked me to help him with a webpage, mainly CSS but he offered to pay me a fixed price. Since it was one of my first projects and I find CSS easy to write I accepted and I worked a lot of hours. At the end  it was a big mistake, they asked for a lot stuff and took me triple the time we agreed. It was my fault for not setting rules at the beginning like max amount of time, schedule, and extra quote.

What is the craziest thing anyone has asked you for help on codementor? 

It was not what they asked me but how we worked. He wanted to improve his old code but he didnt wanted to give me access to the code. He wanted me to connect via Teamviewer to his computer and tell him what to code, which file to open and dictate sentence by sentence. I'm a patience person but after working two hours like this was not productive at all. 

What sort of work to you want to be doing in 5 years? 

I will lie if I say that I will quit coding, its something I really enjoy, but in 5 years I see myself working with people around the world, I call it being a "travel developer".  Like they hire me for weeks or months to visit them in their town and help them code a project or two and then go help in other project elsewhere.

Tips or resources you use in your coding knowledge? 

The best tip I have is never stop learning, I'm always coding something even small stuff just for me. My other tip would be, to never just copy and paste code that you dont understand at all, it could be full of bugs or security issues, try to at least understand what are you copying.

Websites or generators you would recommend?  

I would recommend Udemy and codeschool for learning and having good practices.

Any information about you that might be interesting for someone seeking your expertise?

My name is Carlos Guevara, I'm mexican and Im a very* patient person. If you want to learn php/css/javascript/html or if you want me to code I can do both. You can find me on codementor http://codementor.io/dejitaru or wizpert https://wizpert.com/dejitaru . You can take a look to my resume http://websco.mx/ . You can also visit our portafolio http://gestudios.com/

*I CAN ATTEST TO HIS OTHERWORLDLY PATIENCE WITH MY FAT HEAD

Programs, code languages you know, experience, etc.

  • PHP
  • CODEIGNITER
  • HTML5
  • CSS3
  • JAVASCRIPT
  • JQUERY
  • JSON
  • AJAX
  • MYSQL
  • BOOTSTRAP
  • API integration
  • Wordpress
  • Shopify

So what was this project that I needed the big and bad Carlos for? My friend's charity for sweet precious Airedale dogs. Check out their experience with Calliope - Presence In Media below:

Tell us about your Business:

The goal of Airedale Rescue and Adoption of the Delaware Valley continues to be to provide prompt and safe assistance for any Airedale who has no responsible owner or breeder to meet his needs. Simply put, our purpose is to find a suitable, loving home for any Airedale who needs one.  Airedale Rescue and Adoption of the Delaware Valley was established in 1995 in the New England states of NJ, PA, and DE. 

What were the special needs that you had for this project?

We needed to update and revise the website with the most up-to-date information and to be able to read things more clear. 

Did CalliopePIM capture your vision? If so, how?

Danette did an awesome job updating the website to meet our needs. She is very organized and quick to make revisions. Her professionalism is amazing! 

How was working with CalliopePIM different then other website designers, graphic designers, content authors, or social media managers?  

My experience has been very pleasant, and the updates to the website have been done correctly. Danette is very personable and delightful to work with. What would have taken forever to complete, she did in one day. Thanks! Look forward to working together in the future. I highly recommend!

So there you have it, I did a job for free and I ended up learning more about my skills and abilities than I could ever have imagined. Has working for free with a honed skill of yours ever worked out better than you could have ever imagined? Let us know in the comments below. 

 

 

Leave it to the Pros

Networking

It is probably pretty obvious that we make professional networking a priority at Calliope (see this previous blog post and about half of the posts on our Facebook page for examples), but what does that actually look like? Well, one of the most significant aspects of networking is giving people business. We don't pretend to be experts on everything and when it comes to things like printing, we leave it to our professional friends over at Able Printing. This brings them more income (duh) and helps to solidify our good rapport with them (bonus!).

tribal.png

Don't Be an Amateur

One of our new clients, Traditionally Trendy uses a diligent, perfected (and top secret, shhh!) process for framing their Peppy Plomas. Like printing, framing is something we could certainly attempt from the comfort of our own home offices, but the finished product would pale in comparison to the professional and polished Peppy Ploma. But most importantly, the little bit of money we would have saved from our botched DIY project would be nothing compared to the benefit to our own and our client's businesses.

Utilizing and promoting other small businesses in your own business endeavors is a great way to live out your principles and build a professional network with endless possibilities for growth.

It Worked for Us

We can personally attest to the benefit of supporting fellow small businesses. Our business is growing quickly and has become successful without any paid advertising—seriously! Not only do we and our clients end up with a better product, but through it, we connect people who never would have otherwise crossed paths and build an organic network of generally amazing entrepreneurs and creators.

Stay posted for a fully redesigned site for Traditionally Trendy and some exciting updates as we venture into new territory at Calliope - Presence in Media!

Holiday Client Gift Round-Up

Pinterest at Christmas is quite a phenomenon. While the online pinboard can be a helpful tool for all things holiday-themed, the onslaught of DIYs and wishlist updates can be a bit overwhelming. So, at Calliope, we've used our powers of deduction and tacky-waste-of-time removal to bring you a foolproof and fun round-up of client gift ideas that will fit almost any budget!

 

Living gifts are some of our favorites, but since it’s not always feasible to ensure the safe delivery of a sleepy, fluffy kitten, we tend to lean toward the flora variety of live presents. For lovely gift planters, it’s always best to check out your local farmer’s market, plant nursery, botanical gardens gift shop, or florist. But if you don’t have time to pound the pavement, we found some online retailers that offer lovely varieties that can be delivered to you or directly to your client!

Bird and Feather offers some beautifully potted air plants for a reasonable price and gives you a chance to support their growing business!

Uncommon Goods is home to many an intriguing gift option, including this fanciful DIY Cupcake Planter.

 

If you don’t go for presents that require maintenance, you can show your appreciation with a gift that keeps on giving! These gifts are good for the conscience and the world, with a significant portion of the proceeds going to a specially selected charity.

Global Goods Partners connects with women artisans from all over the world. They sell beautifully crafted, handmade, fair trade products. These business card holders are a perfect example of a lovely, fashionable gift that supports a worthy cause.

West Elm's charity mugs feature beautiful images that fit with a variety of aesthetics.

 

For the foodie clients, edible gifts are always appreciated.

After extensive research, we have determined that Williams-Sonoma carries the best widely available mulling spices. But if you happen to live near a Trader Joe's (I'm trying to contain my joy about the one coming to Palm Beach County next year), their mulling spices are a close second.

If you want to spoil your clients with some delightful decadence (and keep a clear conscience), Badminton Chocolate Co. will not disappoint. Their truffles are organic, vegan, and free of refined sugar, beautifully packaged, and oh so delicious. Try a seasonal truffle of the peppermint variety or a little sampler of their unique specialties: Lavender, bergamot, and classic.

 

If your budget is tight, try one of these simple DIYs for a truly unique and personal gift.

These yarn wrapped twig letters from Rust & Sunshine have a rustic feel without looking home-crafty.

These DIY coasters from Designlovefest are modern, chic, and super simple to create. Just add some pretty packaging and you'll have a fun and functional gift!

Remember to check out local vendors for client gifts, as well. Supporting fellow small business owners is a great way to establish your attitude of gratitude within your local community. And, of course, follow our Pinterest Board for creative ideas being added frequently!

Clients and the Season of Giving

prettytrees

The winter holiday season is a time of joy, pretty lights, slightly cooler weather (at least in South Florida) and for many, racking up consumer debt. Boo! But, the principle of giving is still an important one to highlight, especially as the owner of a brand or business. Here are some tips for how and why to keep your clients in mind in the season of gifts.

It's important to prioritize.

As a small business owner, the top priorities should be your top customers, but even your once-in-a-while clients deserve some gratitude. 'Tis the season, after all! But more than that, putting forth an effort—no matter how small—is what will set you apart in the clients mind as a thoughtful, kind, generous and memorable business owner. Even if the gift is as small as a coupon that goes out in an email newsletter—if it's accompanied by a holiday greeting and an expression of thanks—it will stand out in your customer's mind.

It really is worth it.

Giving unselfishly, although a financial or time sacrifice initially will foster many rewards in the long run.

  • Your customers will gain respect for you and your business and associate your name with generosity.
  • It creates an environment of reciprocity—people are more willing to give you their business when they recognize your expression of gratitude.
  • People talk about the gifts they receive. This isn't a pastime that fades in adulthood. If you give a meaningful gift to someone, they will tell their friends about it!

What's most significant is those personal gifts that you seek out and purchase, make, or send specially to your most valued clients. Stay tuned for Calliope's next blog post for a great round-up of client gift ideas!