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Hey Avon. Join the Social Media party. Here are 10 actions to take

Posted on May 14, 2012 by Rob Petersen

 

The Wall Street Journal, in a recent article, Avon Is Late to Social Media’s Party, reported sales for cosmetic products have steadily moved online to sites like Sephora.com, Beauty.com and Drugstore.com. This has contributed to a -75% decline in operating profit for Avon and their 5.8 million sales representatives that sell door-to-door over the last decade.

Recently, Warren Buffet and Coty made a move to takeover a company in crisis.

I feel bad whenever 1-to-1 relationships are replaced by computers. Even though WSJ says  Avon is late to “Social Media’s Party,” I don’t believe  it is. Social media is not about being early or late; it’s there for any brand that is willing to join.

So I called my good friend and social media colleague, Toby Bloomberg, founder of Diva Marketing and co-writer of this blog post and said: “Let’s put our heads together. What can we do to help Avon out?”

Here’s what we came up with; 10 actions Avon should take to Social Media party.

1. BUSINESS STRATEGY: Of any brand, Avon has one of the most powerful social business strategies available. They have a brand community of  5.8 million reps. There are great examples of brands that put their community to work and turned their business around. Take for example, Harley Davidson. This may seem like an odd comparison but stay with us.

On the brink of bankruptcy in the 1970’s, Harley Davidson overhauled their business to realize their most valuable asset was their riders. In other words, the people were even more important than the product so Harley: 1) Spoke to the shared interest of their community before product benefits 2) brought advocates together and let them help build new relationships. Avon needs a business strategy, not a social media strategy. Now, here’s what they can put it to use.

2. “AVON CALLING” ONLINE COMMUNITY: Avon’s famous slogan could now be a live, online community where their sales reps offer daily advice about Avon products, deals, help customers with a cosmetic question, refer someone to the Avon rep in their area and talk about who they are as people (e.g. where they like to go on vacation). By the way, this is what Harley does daily at HDTalking.com, a customer created content community of close to 400,000 members. P&G also has a highly successful online community, Being Girl, for their Tampax and Always brands that has achieved a 4-to-1 ROI over traditional channels. Avon even has a online community in the UK, Avon Connects, demonstrating they are not late, they just have to invite the rest of their reps from around the world to their party.

3. “LIKE” US ON FACEBOOK (AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS): Every brand wants you to “Like” them and Avon has a pretty robust but commercial Facebook page that 660,000 people already like. They could use their sales reps more and show a human side. For example, Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, recently produced a video called “Likeapella” to celebrate the people who like them. Not to suggest that Avon do the same thing but to make the point that major brands need to use social media to make a more personal connection. Here’s what Kraft did.

4. AVON CUSTOMER APPRECIATION DAYS (VIA TWITTER SEARCH): If Avon representative wanted to build 1-to-1 relationships in larger venues, they could go to high traffic locations in their area like a mall; then, if they use Twitter Search, they could find other women in the same mall and begin a conversation the very same way with the very same techniques they use when selling door-to-door.

5. KLOUT PERKS: With 5.8 million sales reps, they must have a very large number who have high Klout scores. Why not demonstrate to how powerful they already are in social media. Put this social influence to work and see how many rewards Avon reps can get through “Klout Perks.” This would show how much social influence sales reps already have.

6. AVON PINTEREST: The newest darling of the social networks, Pinterest, aligns with Avon’s targeted female demographic. Online products provide Avon with the base for creating a Pinterest page that has multiple benefits from reinforcing community with boards that highlight new and seasonal products, provide lifestyle the “Avon way” with beauty to showing the caring side of Avon through its nonprofit work. In addition, likes, repins and comments offer Avon new consumer insights.

7. AVON PINTEREST CONTEST: Taking Pinterest one step further is the idea of a “Pin It To Win It” contest. Avon has the opportunity to engage with its customers in creative ways that engages both customers and sales representatives. For example, many of Avon’s products are colorful from its nail polish to lip glow. A red, white and blue Fourth of July themed challenge could create fireworks of fun.

8. AVON SALES REP SOCIAL MEDIA TRAINING: Avon has created an innovative online training program, Beauty of Knowledge, for their sales reps. Topics range from how to start your new Avon business to money management, logistics, goal setting and traditional marketing support. However, in my research I came across sales reps who had posted on social networks the need and their desire for social media courses to be included in their training. Although Avon sales reps are currently involved in social media many are still have challenges on how to start and/or how to take their initiatives to the next level. In addition to the training we suggest that Avon consider developing a series of template models for Twitter, Facebook and blogs.

9. AVON MOBILE APP: Smart phones and tablets have opened additional eCommerce channels and created new ways to engage with customers. With the ubiquity of smart phones branded apps continue to grow in popularity. Research conducted by Women at NBCU’s Brand Power Index found that women are more likely to have gaming apps on their smart phone (75%of women versus 67 % of men). What fun it would be for Avon to explore developing a gaming app and of course, a mobile commerce app.

10. SOCIAL MEDIA MEASUREMENT: Including social media as part of a marketing communications strategy can help accelerate achieving your goals. However, with so many moving pieces, Avon doesn’t need more measurement, they need to identify the ones that matter, their Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s), and report, track and be prepared to take action on them.

Maybe, if Avon follows this plan, it would let Warren Buffet and Coty know just who they’re dealing with.

Some great brands have turned their business around when they realize their community is their strongest brand asset. Do you think these actions would help Avon turn their business around?

 

11 to “Hey Avon. Join the Social Media party. Here are 10 actions to take”

  1. Toby Bloomberg says:

    Rob – fun collaborating on this post with you. It will be interesting to see if/ how Avon goes back to its innovative roots of daring to ‘walk on the wild side.’

  2. Rob Petersen says:

    It was fun Toby; both collaborative and proving a brand is never early or late to social media. It just has to join in.

  3. Stephen C. Wakeen says:

    Maybe someone at Avon will even see this newsletter. Seems like a good approach.

  4. Rich Gee says:

    I love this approach! Teaming up to diagnose and treat ailing companies. Brilliant. Many of your ideas are easily doable – AVON should take notice.

  5. Dianne Zimmerman says:

    Strategically sound comprehensive approach. Great for Avon but also for any MLM beauty company. May want to approach Arbonne or Mary Kay?
    BTW Enjoyed your talk at Darien PL recently.

  6. Charlie Kellogg says:

    Great ideas and so logical. There appears to be a burning platform there that needs to be salvaged, and that spells urgency!

  7. Rob Petersen says:

    Thanks very much for the comment, Rich. Glad you like the approach and agree with the feasibility of the ideas. Rob

  8. Rob Petersen says:

    Thanks Diane. Sorry I didn’t get a chance to say hello at the Darien Library a couple of weeks ago. Thanks for the advice.

  9. Rob Petersen says:

    Thanks for the endorsement on the ideas, Charlie; means a lot coming from you. Rob

  10. Jay Gronlund says:

    rob – fabulous insights, a no-brainer for Avon. Would the message change?



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