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2012 DSA Annual Meeting Speech

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10 Steps To Writing An Unforgettable Press Release

At some time or other in your company's life, you will decide you want to write a press realease.  When you do, make sure what you say is newsworthy! A press release should deliver a real announcement.  Sounds simple enough, but most announcements being made these days just don't sound exciting anymore.  So let's start with a simple question: Do you have anything exciting to say?  The first step to writing a press release that won't be forgotten is to make sure the message is, well, exciting.  Worthy of being written about by reporters, and reported on.    

In order to illustrate how to write a really good press release for you here, I used an actual press release.  "The Most Amazing Press Release Ever Written" was crafted by Mitch Delaplane of PitchPoint Public Relations.  It's amusing, and at the same time instructive, and instantly went viral on Facebook back in January 2011.  I too saw it on Facebook, and one week later I saw it on the homepage of Wall Street Journal's website!  

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Analyzing The World's #1 Video Landing Page

I tried to pre-order Apple's new iPhone 5 yesterday, and found out it had sold out in 1 hour!  Wow.  Then I found myself browsing,  and realized that the homepage itself was a cleverly designed video landing page for the iPhone 5!  

I had been preparing a blog post about video landing pages, but I decided to put that on hold and run with this instead.  

I love Apple's website.  It's clean and simple to navigate.  I love the blue buttons, the fonts; it must be the most beautiful site on earth.  But not just because it is beautiful, but because it's effective.  Consider this: 

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CEO School: Learn To Read Financial Statements

CEO School is a series of posts that are aimed at helping founders of direct selling startups with the principles of knowledge they must possess in order to build a successful direct selling business.  This is Part 1 of 23.   

The first time I was exposed to P&L responsibilities was early in my career at Avon.  Introducing new products was fun, until I became responsible for the other end of the product funnel: disposition of excess inventory.  It was then that I became acutely aware of the wisdom of only introducing the most powerful concepts, while at the same time planning for their disposition after a certain time.  Later came country P&L responsibility, but I will always remember inventory control as the single most important step I took into management.  Later, as a General Manager, it was absolutely imperative that I learn as much as I could about financial statements.  The problem?  Although I read several decent books on the subject, I never really found a great book that helped me master the subject.      


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Inc 500 List: 9 Direct Selling Companies Make The Cut

Once again direct selling shows the world it is an avenue for explosive growth in this year's Inc. 500|5000 List.  Stella & Dot jewellry company makes another strong showing due to growing domestic sales, and with European expansion into the U.K. and Germany.  5Linx, a communication company, has made the list several times making them an official Hall of Famer.  And the weight-loss category in direct sales has been well represented every year on this List.

It's interesting to note that of the 9 direct selling companies, only 2 are party-plan compensation models.  Companies with Multi-level Marketing compensation plans are more likely to be on this list of high growth companies.

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Introducing HubSpot 3: The Future of Marketing

About two months ago I got word that HubSpot was building something special.  Knowing what an amazing software company they are, I was intrigued to know what they were going to come up with, and their new HubSpot 3 is absolutely groundbreaking.    

I have known about HubSpot for quite some time, and I've always been impressed with them.  HubSpot's all-in-one marketing software helps more than 7,500 companies in 46 countries attract leads and convert them into customers.  

They recently held their 2012 INBOUND Conference at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston.  Though I couldn't attend this year, HubSpot always makes the real meat and potatoes of the meeting available afterwards online.  Below is the Keynote Presentation with founders Brian Halligan, and Dharmesh Shah.  If you have time to watch it, I highly encourage it.  It might be the single most important investment your company might make.

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How To Get 546 Leads In Seven Days With A Simple Landing Page Using Video

If you are thinking about becoming involved in a direct selling investment, I always recommend you test the concept by testing its value proposition in Google Adwords.  If there is little interest, then your loss is only the investment you made in the AdWords ads.  If it's a hit, then you will be more confident with the idea, and the investment.  Allow customers to help you decide whether to proceed or not.   

This advice also applies to established businesses.  Before I work on a project to help companies,  I may begin by testing my own ideas for their current and new value propositions (at my own cost) by going to the customer first.  This is a simple way to determine how I can help them.  It also makes me feel "All-In", like Management.  And they appreciate it.  

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How To Win Friends, And Influence Fans To Join Your Company 

If you check your Facebook page as most of the 900 Million users do, you will often see companies that advertise on the right-hand side of the page.  Because I am a fan of many direct selling companies,  I often see party plan companies trying to get my attention with their ad.  That doesn't phase me.

What does bother me, however, is the number of party plan companies that are trying to advertise to another company's fans for recruiting purposes only.  In some, if you click on their display ad, it will immediately take you to their "Become a Consultant" web page.  

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Direct Selling Startups Need An Incubation Phase

When I speak to venture capitalist these days, they are all paying attention to the direct selling industry.  Venture capital wants to invest in the next direct selling superstar because in the last 10 years, more than 11 direct selling startups have gone from $0 to $100M in just a few years.  I have seen these profit rockets several times in my career.  But I've also seen some collapse under their own weight.  The reason for their fall is usually a faulty foundation.  They try to grow too fast.  They haven't been battle tested, and usually they are not prepared for the investment needed to fund such rapid growth.  

Every direct selling startup needs an incubation phase.   A company evolves with time.  But in the first few years, the company looks nothing like it did only six months ago!  The entrepreneur (and even the Board of Directors) will have made some mistakes, and learn from those failures.  


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How To Discover Your Most Powerful Value Proposition Using Pay-Per-Click Ads

Last month I watched two businesses find a more powerful value proposition by using Pay Per Click (PPC) Ads for a short "testing" period.  One test ran for a few days (using a large advertising budget) and the other lasted a week.  Each company had different budgets, but both resulted in the successful identification of what proposition was of more value to the consumer.  Each company's test results yielded much higher clickthrough rates than their original ads, and most importantly, more leads were generated.  

I cannot think of a more efficient way to discover your most powerful value proposition.  Letting the wisdom of the crowds help you decide what value you will propagate should lead to clarity of purpose internally, and more business from the consumer. 

A young entrepreneur approached me last week about investing in his new direct selling startup.  I was skeptical of the market need for this product line, so I recommended he test the market for it.  If there were a sufficient amount of people interested, and if the company could develop that powerful value proposition, then I would be more likely to think about investing in the company.  I used Dr. Flint McGlaughlin's methods to discover whether there was a real opportunity with this startup, and after testing, it showed there was.  

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Crashing The Direct Sales Chasm: Integrating PR Across The Enterprise

If you are looking for a world class communications strategy for your company, you cannot afford to ignore the following advice from a leader at one of the direct sales industry's most innovative, and fastest growing companies.  Bobbie Wasserman, M.B.A., builds and restructures corporate PR departments, with a focus on direct sales companies. She is the former Vice President of Public Relations for ViSalus Sciences.

 In Crossing the Chasm, author Geoffrey Moore argued that direct sales at its best creates demand and fuels mainstream market adoption. While he was specifically referring to technology adoption, the two entities have converged with the advent of social media. Moore’s broad hypothesis still holds – direct selling creates demand – and leveraging new communication technologies accelerates it. How ironic is it then that direct sales companies are so slow to adopt technology shifts. What’s the disconnect?

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Amway President Doug DeVos Keynote Speech At The 2012 DSN Global 100 Celebration


ViSalus Sciences CEO Ryan Blair Receives Direct Selling News "Bravo Award" For 600% Growth In 2011


How Powerful Is Your Value Proposition?

Starting Butler Advisors, and not a consulting company, has given me the opportunity to partner with CEOs of direct selling companies large and small.  They are able to leverage my general management, marketing, sales and global operations expertise.  And I am able help them with their value proposition.  

Taking an equity position, and joining the Board of Directors, are two ways that have allowed me to become part of the management team, with a horse in the race.

What I have found is that most companies, especially startups, need to examine and re-examine their value proposition.  And this exercise is usually best done with someone outside the organization,  who is looking at the forest rather than in the weeds of the day to day.  Why do companies find this exercise so difficult, nearly impossible to do?  Because they already have a value proposition and it must be right, right?  It worked for the past years, why would it have to change?  Or, it costs too much to have someone look at it (and it will if nothing is done with the analysis afterwards).  

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Introducing Former President George W. Bush at the 2012 DSA Annual Meeting


The Search Box: Are You Really Listening To Your Customers?

Listening to what your customers really desire is the continuous exercise of any serious marketer.  The more you listen to your customer, the more you gain insights into what they want.   

Technology has made this exercise easier and simpler.  Online polls, surveys, and feedback tools can be worth their weight in gold.  If you are looking for some great services, check out Feedbackify & KISS Insights.  

But the most powerful feedback tool I know is the search box.  Someone searching on your site is actively giving you live feedback.  Which is why it's so powerful.  Search Reports are a raw feed into what your customers are looking for.  

I learned this valuable lesson when I stumbled upon my company's search report.  It was a report of our webiste's top 500 search terms per month.  It amazed me.

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2 Tips From Steve Jobs That Helped Me Grow PartyLite Worldwide

To reduce something complicated to its simplest form is one of the most difficult, but most intelligent exercises one can do.  Steve Jobs was known for doing this, in his famous quest for focus.  The two most important things he believed one must do to win in business is assemble a great  team, and act like a startup.This is great advice for any startup, but very apt for extending your business internationally.  

This is exactly what I did when extending PartyLite's businesses into new European countries.  Quite simply, this became my key strategy in successfully turning PartyLite into a leading worldwide business. 

I treated every country like a startup.   When you do that, you force yourself and your team to think outside the box.  You force creativity.  What worked in Germany may not work in France.  And what worked in Finland may work exceptionally well in Australia.  This forces you to re-think every strategy and tactical play, justifying it all against the costs.

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3 Things Venture Capitalists Look For When Investing In Direct Selling Startups

 I recently heard Jason Stoffer at the 2012 DSA Annual Meeting in Dallas this month.  He's a great speaker.  He was very open and engaging in his style.  His slides were extremely informative, as I ended up taking the most notes from his talk.  Jason is a Partner at Maveron, a venture fund founded in 1998 by Howard Schultz, the founder and CEO of Starbucks, and Dan Levitan, the banker who took Starbucks public in 1991. (The name “Maveron” was coined from the words “maverick” and “vision.”)

As a venture capitalist, I am looking to discover and help build the next billion dollar consumer brands. Direct selling has created a number of large global brands and we believe the best is yet to come, as direct selling companies leverage social media and other technology to build their brand and develop closer relationships with their field and their end consumers.

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How Direct Selling Companies Can Use Transactional Emails To Boost Sales Overnight

Many years ago, my husband's family owned a successful textile shop in a small city in north-western Spain.  It was a very busy shop, with 8 sales people jammed behind a small counter.  Once you had selected your item, you would have to go to the cash register to pay.  Behind the cash register sat Pilar, my mother-in-law.  

She was a charismatic woman who controlled every peseta that went into the register, and tried her darndest to hold on to all the ones that left.  The register was her domain.  Not even her husband, Mariano, could remove her from her unelected position.  

Yet, what the customer never realized, was that Pilar was the best salesperson on the floor.  I personally saw her upsell hundreds of times.  She was amazing.  

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6 Tips To Turn Around Your Direct Selling Company

Jane Creed is the President & CEO of Wine Shop at Home.  She's also a friend.  I recently sat down to dinner with Jane a few days before the 2012 DSA Annual Meeting in Dallas, to catch up.  While talking to her, I decided she would write the first Guest Post on Butler Advisors.  She is a talented writer, and as you shall read below, a talented CEO as well.  Here is some of her wisdom. 

A Brand Is A Promise Delivered

I believe that the best definition of a brand is “a promise delivered.” The promises you make and keep with your sales field, your employees and your business associates. When I came onboard my company as its CEO in late 1999, I entered a situation, with my eyes wide open, where I was promising to do my best to lead to profitability a company that had broken its promises -- promises to employees, sales field organization and vendors.

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Moissanite Is A Jewel From The Stars

Last Wednesday I joined the Board of Directors for Charles & Colvard (CTHR). 

Moissanite has a beautiful history, beginning 50,000 years ago when a meteor struck in Arizona.  In 1905 French chemist (and Nobel Prize Winner) Henri Moissan identified the crystals found there as silicon carbide, not diamonds as originally thought.   For anyone who would like to know more about its history, read about it at  

Charles & Colvard is the sole distributor of this superior jewel called Moissanite.  I believe Moissanite is the most superior jewel in the world (yes, including diamonds).  As you can see in the picture above, Moissanite (on the left) has nearly 2.4 times more fire than a diamond, and 10% more brilliance. Its hardness is only second to diamonds.  And most important, the hardship and difficulty of mining diamonds is avoided.    

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