From the August 2005 issue of Entrepreneur

Andrew Shure would love to party with your pets. The 42-year-old owner of Shure Pets, a Chicago pet products company that sells pet accessories, including Hawaiian shirts for dogs, water dishes shaped like bistro mugs and more, bet his business model on the fact that direct selling through home parties would be successful. And he was right: Almost two years after startup, his company has added more than 530 independent consultants throughout the country and Puerto Rico, bringing projected 2005 sales to $1 million.

That kind of growth is not uncommon, says Amy Robinson of the Direct Selling Association. In-home sales accounted for 62 percent of the $29.5 billion in direct sales in 2003, she says. Home parties appeal to people with busy lives and can work for everything from golf clubs to scrapbooking supplies. Robinson offers these tips for success:

  • Use word-of-mouth marketing. Representatives should tap family and friends to host in-home parties.
  • Showcase your product. Says Shure, "In-home demonstrations let us show our customers which products are the best choices for them."
  • Include an educational component. If you're selling golf clubs, include useful information on improving one's swing. Says Robinson, "People want to walk away with helpful information."

Quick Pick

Ever realized that you've run out of sales sheets a few days before an important trade show? PrintStock can keep you apprised of your inventory of brochures, sales sheets, annual reports and other printed matter so that you don't have to pay rush printing and shipping charges to meet a looming deadline. Both you and your printers must sign up for the service, which costs $14.95 per month for each party. You get online access to the inventory counts of your materials and where they are (at your office, at the printer and so on). If you're running low, simply place your reprint requests online. It's a good, affordable solution for companies managing a library of collateral materials.


Consumers exposed to online display ads conducted

61%

more searches on keywords related to those ads than consumers who weren't.
Statistic Source: Yahoo!

60% of

online retailers don't use personalization on their sites or in communications.
Statistic Source: The E-tailing Group