The concept of direct selling can be traced back to the beginning of civilization, when hunter-gatherers began selling their wares across Europe, Africa, and Asia. This direct-to-consumer method of distribution made it’s way to the United States in the 18th century when Yankee peddler James Robinson Graves implemented a business model in which young men would go door-to-door selling products.

Since then, the development of new technology and marketing strategies has made direct selling a popular profession around the globe. Thanks to the influence of online networking,  today more than 20 million people are involved in direct selling, with estimated retail sales reaching $36.12 billion. If you’re interested in joining this rapidly growing industry, check out these five tips for how to make money with online direct sales.

  1. Know Your Target Market

Whether you’re wanting to start a career in direct selling or own your own multi-level marketing (MLM) business, it’s important that you study your target market if you have any hope of being successful. Keep in mind that direct selling is a vast industry with hundreds of different markets, and determining a specific target audience is necessary. A target market is a segmented group of people within a particular demographic who are most likely to buy what you are selling.  

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Take ASEA, for example, which specializes in science based medicine and develops products that enhance cellular function to achieve optimal health and wellness. Instead of promoting products to the general public, ASEA direct sellers target people who are seeking to live a healthy lifestyle or promote their body’s health. By seeking out a specific type of audience, direct sellers can develop better marketing campaigns and strategies.

  1. Determine A Unique Selling Proposition

Having a unique selling proposition (UPS) is critical to making money in online direct selling because it’s what tells your target audience why they should do business with you rather than one of your competitors. Find what makes you and your product or service different by taking a look into your company. Do you have a unique sales approach or appealing incentive? Does your company have a special story or distinctive values?

Keep in mind that although there is no one-size-fits-all equation for how to create a USP, there are a few best practices that you should implement to make your USP worthwhile:

  • Audaciously appeal to your ideal customer through every aspect of your selling
  • Leverage unique personalities in your industry
  • Avoid the “Superstar Effect” of trying to be the best; instead, focus on standing out
  • Be personable and infuse your strong personality into the USP

Once you’ve developed your USP, use social media to share it with your target audience. Use the attributes of your USP and let them reflect throughout every aspect of your direct selling marketing, strategies, and follow-up efforts.

  1. Pick A Platform

One of the most powerful aspects of online direct selling is the ability to connect with your target audience in an effective way. That’s why it’s important to pick a social media platform where you can best reach your ideal customers. Consider the following:

  • Facebook: Facebook is a powerful tool in direct selling because it allows you to actually connect and communicate with current and potential customers. Things like sharing content that relates to your products or services, posting photos of your products, sharing success stories, and much more can all widen your reach and help you target your ideal audience.
  • YouTube: Create a YouTube channel where you post videos that help give your direct selling business a personality. Do a behind-the-scenes look at what makes your product or service so unique; compare and contrast what you’re  selling with others in your industry; show your product or service in action – all of these things can be much more powerful than just talking about what you’re selling; they can show them.
  • Twitter: Twitter is similar to Facebook in the sense that you can like, share, retweet, and post your way to success. With millions of users, Tweeting will help you identify and access the customers who will help you make money.

While it’s not a bad idea to pick multiple social media platforms, don’t spread yourself too thin. Find one or two platforms where your target audience spends the most time, and focus on doing them right.