Business mogul Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, has said last month that obsessing over their customers was the secret of his success. Who can argue with him? Marketers know the importance of developing authentic relationships with customers as a key strategy to ensure repeat sales. Furthermore, social medias have increase the proximity between the brands and the customers. Clients regularly interact online with their favourite brands to share posts, ask questions, comments, complain and give feedback. This is important because 95% of Millennials are following a brand through social media (source: Dreamgrow). When customers are positively engaged with a brand or a public figure, they do not even have to promote themselves on social media: it is their customers who do it for them. The vast majority of consumers (71%) who have had a good social media experience with a brand are likely to recommend it to others (source: Dreamgrow). Therefore, how does positive customer engagement look like? In her article 7 Customer Engagement Strategies That Marketers Can’t Ignore, Audrey Ference states that “Customer engagement is about encouraging your customers to interact and share in the experiences you create for them as a business and a brand. When executed well, a strong customer engagement strategy will foster brand growth and loyalty.”
Direct Sales has never been a business for the faint of heart or weak-kneed. Stella & Dot creator Jessica Herrin succinctly expressed this sentiment in a 2016 Forbes interview where she noted the huge ‘ick’ factor associated with the industry. Direct Sales may get a bad rap because of its potential for people to feel locked-in by high quotas, awkward customer engagement strategies and defined territorial boundaries. However, by adopting a social selling approach that’s creatively coupled with the most visually engaging social media tools, Stella & Dot has positively re-shaped the image of direct sales in the jewelry and accessories realm. Under Herrin’s leadership, Stella & Dot is an indisputably profitable enterprise with $300 million in revenues. The company has also paid some $300 million in commissions to more than 50,000 stylists, who keep up to 35% of the value of sales they make. Herrin’s successful approach is an example of how to lead with product, be customer-obsessed and leverage technology. How has Stella & Dot managed to bring these three elements together so masterfully, and which technologies are incorporated into its social selling approach?