I used to be a huge whiner about how hard it was to market in my own area. HUGE. To give you an idea why, let me tell you about where I live.
My town has:
- 8200 residents
- 20 churches
- A Christian college with 2400 students
- Only recently stopped being “dry” in 2007
And I sell sex toys.
Yup. No market here, right? Population: 10,000 sticks in the mud. Okay, maybe they aren’t ALL sticks in the mud, but it can be a challenge to find those who don’t immediately put their hands of their children’s eyes and pull them away from my presence like I had some sort of really ugly and probably contagious rash when they find out what I do (this has literally happened to me).
As a result, most of my business is elsewhere. Still, I love my town and I love not having to drive 40 minutes to my parties. But how do you find new leads in a place where you never know who might be offended and/or horrified by what you do?
Step One: Stop Whining. If there are people near you, there is a market near you.
I was laughing the other day when I had a vendor shot booth next to a Dove Chocolatier friend of mine and the first thing she said to people who came by was, “Do you like chocolate?” Who doesn’t like chocolate?! This is best lead line ever.
I just wish I could lead with something similar like, “Do you like sex?” Somehow I don’t think it would go over quite the same way. (I’m back to envisioning someone pulling their friends away whilst covering their ears and looking suitably horrified.) Thing is, even I can’t quite so bold, the truth is that, like chocolate, the answer to “Do you like sex?” is generally going to be, “Who doesn’t?”
So, the question isn’t, is the market there. It’s how to find it.
Step Two: Make friends with people who know people – specifically other direct sales peeps.
I remember about four years ago, I got a random phone call from another local Pure Romance consultant. I wasn’t aware there was another one in the area. We met for coffee and I was dismayed to find out that she was quite busy. She had broken through and started to find customers. After huffing about for a day or two, I realized what advantage she had over me. She was already well connected with the town because she had grown up here. I needed to get advice from the people who were similarly familiar with all the ins and outs of this little community and who also understood direct sales.
Through various relationships I already had, I started making friends with consultants from other companies (Note: This is so easy. Be friendly, ask questions, and support their business). Most of them have never had a party with me, but I’ve hosted a few of theirs and what’s more, we know have relationships. We respect each other. They want to help me and I want to help them. We can leverage each other’s customer base.
Step Three: Combine Forces and make your own Market.
Since our town is not super hopping, we’re not the kind of place that has vendor shows all the time. There are a few events, but none were ever quite the right fit for me. Party Plan companies don’t generally do well at craft show events. The vibe is different. It attracts a different type of customer. What I wanted and needed was a show just of direct sales vendors. Not only that, but vendors who had camaraderie with each other and vested interest in the community.
So…I picked a weekend, I talked to my direct sales friends, and I found a good venue in our downtown with someone who was also invested in local business. I made my own market. And it worked. I was shocked (I will give you the skinny on the steps I took later this week), but the vendors all had a great time and did well. I stood there in the middle of the group at one point and marveled.
The Sex Toy Lady had organized a vendor show in Stick-in-the-Mudville
I felt all sorts of respected and stuff. Once again, I had put myself out there and something crazy good had happened.
So, how are you going to put yourself out there this week? Have you leveraged the combined power of your other direct sales friends? Stay tuned for tips on how to host your own vendor show.