What is the “New Normal” for Direct Selling?

Woman selling makeup while streaming on social mediaFrom restaurants to business offices, everybody is talking about the “new normal” and what it means for conducting business in the aftermath of COVID-19.

How will consumers act as government-mandated stay-home restrictions relax? Will they flood back into the retail stores and restaurants they once frequented? Will they demand businesses be more mindful of sanitation? Will they be willing to spend money on nonessential products?

The answers are probably somewhere in the middle as some people remain cautious, moving forward, while others are excited to get their lives back to normal. Regardless of what happens, we can all agree that this has been a challenging time for many people and organizations — and that the next several months and years could look very different from a business perspective.

But challenging times are also opportunities for businesses to adapt, innovate, and overcome. After all, it’s easy to be complacent when everything is going well. When the going gets tough, the tough get going. Finding a way to thrive in the new normal is critical to rebounding and continued growth.

So what has the new normal looked like for the direct selling industry, and how can your business find success in a post-COVID world? Let’s dig in.

Digital Parties Take Hold

The industry as a whole has been steadily going digital for many years. In fact, hosting parties with live social media streaming had grown in popularity even before COVID-19 confined much of the world to their homes. However, shelter-at-home orders took the importance of digital meetings to the next level.

While individual direct selling companies haven’t released data regarding their consultants’ use of social media as it relates to social distancing measures, we can see how the demand for digital communication and meeting spaces skyrocketed as COVID-19 ramped up. Facebook saw a 50 percent increase in global messaging in March 2020, before much of the U.S. started enforcing stay-home orders. Meanwhile, the video communications website, Zoom.us, went from 10 million daily users in December 2019 to 300 million in April 2020.

It may not be business as usual, but the wheels of commerce found a way to keep rolling through online communications. So long as direct selling still emphasizes the relationships built between consultants and customers, these digital parties will continue to be important moving forward. Don’t be afraid to embrace these types of meetings.

Companies Must Show Empathy

Relationships are the cornerstone of direct selling. After all, people who purchase from direct selling businesses are often buying from friends and family members. As consultants and customers battle through the repercussions of COVID-19 and economic contraction, now is when those relationships matter the most.

You’ve probably seen message after message from businesses regarding the situation. The common thread is almost always that organizations want to be perceived as being empathetic to their customers. Now, and even moving forward in the next several months, is the time to emphasize the various relationships your consultants share with other consultants and customers.

While your goal and your consultants’ goal is to grow the business, putting too much emphasis on pushing products can have bad results. It’s essential to be patient and reinforce the need to be empathetic in your marketing and business strategy. Being an ally during a difficult time can strengthen loyalty during better times.

Communicate With Your Customers

While you should be cautious about what you’re sending your consultants and customers, that doesn’t mean you should be silent. As the situation changes and evolves, consistent communication is as vital as ever.

Whatever message you send needs to be relevant and tailored to the recipients. Blanket statements that don’t address individual situations can be perceived poorly. Sending information quickly and consistently will be even more critical as distancing restrictions loosen, since not every state or city will have the same timeline or measures in place. Keep your contact lists well-sorted and be sure the right people get the correct information.

As we move forward through these difficult times, always keep in mind that the customer comes first. Being empathetic of their situation, coming to them through digital parties, and offering consistent communication will ensure that you’re there for them even when the “new normal” starts to look more and more like the “old normal.”

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