From the February 1997 issue of Startups

How to perk up sales during the post-holiday slump

The perennial holiday event most dreaded by retailers is the traditional "Slowing of the Retail Sales." As the Season comes to an end, the selling frenzy of November and December peters down into sluggish sales. But after the holidays this year, the savvy network marketer can chase away those winter doldrums of the post-selling season. How? With some clever marketing campaigns (provided by four network-marketing mavens below), and some plain old hard work, anyone can turn the post-holiday slump into a present-day triumph.

Seasonal Changes

As the seasons change, so do your clients' needs. For instance, the moisturizer a customer needs in the spring may be useless in the winter. A good network marketer educates his or her customers about their seasonal needs and, while doing so, sells additional products. Kay Young, a distributor for Elysée, a company specializing in skin-care products, cosmetics and supplements, avoids the post-holiday slump by educating her consumers about winter skin care. Besides teaching classes, such as "How to Winterize Your Skin," Young also selects a product-of-the-month to feature during her classes, which gives her a ready excuse to phone all her clients about this "special item." Young suggests choosing wisely the product you plan to promote, tailoring it to the particular time of the year. For instance, Young finds February a good introduction time for spring makeup. "It's a matter of choosing what products are important at that time of the year," she says, "and emphasizing those while selling."

Young, who has sold Elysée products in her salon, Kay Young's Facial Fitness Center and Skin Spa in Boulder, Colorado, since 1984, racked up bonuses of $1,100 a month in 1996, and anticipates bonuses of $2,000 to $3,000 a month in 1997. A 12-year user of Elysée herself, Young's downline consists of 35 people.

A New Year, A New You

The new year starts with self-improvement, says Charlotte, North Carolina's Phyllis Johnston, a distributor since 1992 for RMC, a network-marketing company that sells nutritional products. Her personal sales were an estimated $25,000 in 1996. "Most people have been taking care of other people during the holidays," she observes, "and after the holidays, they want to take care of themselves."

By promoting January as a time of rebirth and a time for "a new you," network marketers can capitalize on the "New Year's resolution" crowd. While everyone is seeking some form of self-improvement, you can promote products geared toward better health, a better self or a better home. Start mentioning your "better-self promotions" during the holidays, while you're seeing customers regularly. Then, after January 1st, do your follow-up calls.

Houston's Jeff Nicholls, director of Sportron International Inc., a nutrition and personal-care company, also uses this concept to generate excitement within his downline of more than 500 people in three countries. Nicholls, whose estimated 1996 volume was more than $300,000, believes in creating anticipation and encouraging goal-setting among his downline. To ease them into the post-holiday period, Nicholls conducts contests. Downline members who recruit four distributors during the month of January, for instance, receive a four-day/three-night getaway package, which Nicholls pays for himself. The results of the contest justify his expenses, according to Nicholls.

Seasonal Sales

Nothing tempts customers more than discounts. Offering special "winter savings" can jump-start your post-holiday business. Each January, for instance, Leigh Davidson of Greenwood, Indiana, a senior regional vice president with Party-Lite Gifts Inc., a direct-selling candle company, blazes into the new year with a special hostess promotion. Customers who book a party during that period receive a terrific discount on a popular item, such as the three-wick candle. Davidson's sale became so popular that this year, all her slots for that two-week period were booked by November. "It's all attitude," says Davidson, whose estimated 1996 earnings were $850,000, and whose downline contains more than 3,000 people. "I do not expect that my business is going to be slow; therefore, it isn't."

Turn Downtime into Profit Time

After ringing in the new year, many people use the post-holiday time as home time. Conducive to nesting, the winter months find more people inside than any other time of the year. But just because people aren't out and about doesn't mean you should close up shop. Retail activity may be down, but stores don't close their doors--neither should you. Even if no shows or demonstrations are scheduled on your calendar, says Davidson, "you still need to build your business. If January is slower, and you need to call twice as many people to sell, then that's what you have to do."

Nicholls also suggests calling customers and thanking them for their business last year. While you're speaking, find out what their needs are for this year. Phone work like this can promote present and future sales.

If demonstrations, parties and consultations lag, get on the phone and generate business--people may even be easier to reach during the colder months. You can also send out new catalogs, prepare for future parties and demonstrations, organize future marketing campaigns, or talk to your downline about setting goals for the upcoming year.


Sandra Mardenfeld has written about small business since 1990 and has worked within the network-marketing industry for the past eight years.

For More Information

PartyLite Gifts Inc.

PartyLite Gifts Inc. sells candles through more than 10,000 consultants throughout the United States, Canada, Germany and the United Kingdom.

PartyLite requires no initial investment. The company supplies the $300 starter kit (containing samples, brochures and order forms) to new consultants when they hold a $300 Starter Show and book six subsequent parties.

Elysée

Elysée specializes in personal-care items such as skin-care products, cosmetics and nutritionals. 1,500 distributors sell the products nationwide. For more information, or to receive the $29 registration kit (an $85 value which includes a training manual, audio and video tapes, and samples), call (800) 2-ELYSEE.

Sportron International Inc.

Sportron International Inc. sells nutritional, personal-care and home-care products through 40,000 distributors worldwide. For a free information packet, call (800) 843-1202. Interested applicants may register as Preferred Customers to receive 15 percent off retail rates, or they can develop their own downline and receive 30 percent off retail prices as Marketing Associates.

RMC

Founded in 1982, RMC sells nutritional and personal-care products. A $79 initial investment provides $100 worth of materials like brochures, audio tapes, and the choice of either a Deluxe Skin Care Program or the Body Management System, and covers participant enrollment (which entitles individuals to receive 25 percent off retail prices). Currently, RMC has 10,000 distributors. For further information, call (800) 982-8338.