Reputation is a topic that's vital to our channel. As an industry, we have been in an increasingly dynamic state of disruption that has required us to adapt and change.
And while chaotic, disruption has yet another byproduct: opportunity.
We see this massive growing gig economy - with an expected valuation of about $500 billion - growing at an annual rate of 30% during the next two years. We also see massive economic challenges ahead, and as companies across multiple countries and markets, we need to manage the change we are now facing.
We must lean in and act differently to seize the opportunity born out of disruption. Any company believing that conducting business as it always has will fail to embrace the opportunity disruption has born.
The first step we must take is to disrupt ourselves. We can move forward if we try to see ourselves in a new light.
Seeing our true selves requires looking at how others perceive us. Our image and competitive stance within a modern marketplace are about our values, how we conduct business, and how we treat people. And we need to think about how we are viewed within the market landscape so that we may evolve.
Bad actors in any business community take on an outsized role in shaping the narratives about that community. Too often, their misdeeds color an entire industry, thereby coloring how the world views a community.
Social media exacerbate this phenomenon. Online reviews are now the most trusted driver of consumer behavior. It used to be that word of mouth was the most trusted source. Today Forbes notes that online reviews are the most powerful driver of consumer purchases.
One negative article appearing on the first page of a search page has a 22% impact on your business. One negative piece on the first page of a website has a negative 10% correlation to how much a company will need to pay employees to return to work for a company.
Perceptions matter, especially as we look at the increased revenue loss that results from an image that does not represent who we are. As we work toward building a modern image of the channel, we do so as a community. Whether we like it or not, every Association member and non-member shapes how the market views direct selling.
I've had many conversations with new direct selling companies whose leaders believe their newness protects them from attitudes toward the channel bad actors have shaped. I respond by saying that the anonymity afforded by their "newness" will be short-lived: that first negative comment will cast their company in an unfavorable light.
The consequence of perception is especially true as we work to build our salesforces. While image and reputation have a one-to-one correlation for products, they have a two-to-one correlation for business: how people view our channel matters twice as much regarding salesforce recruitment.
It's time for our industry to invest in efforts - one that will require an expanse of years and consistency - to shape our image at the same level as other companies across other sectors.
Click here → to hear more from Ryan and learn what’s next in the channel’s effort to modernize its image and gain an increasingly competitive position within the marketplace.