Powerful Messages From the DSA USA Conference 2017

Angelique du Toit, Director at Annique Health and Beauty, attended the June 2017 USA Direct Selling Association (DSA) conference. At the DSA SA meeting held in November, she shared some of the highlights from the best speakers and presentations from the conference.

While this is an American conference, with the focus very “American”, Angelique says this content is still very translatable to South Africa.

Focusing on who we are

The first presentation she reports on is Joseph Mariano, who is the USA DSA President and who has incredible passion for direct selling. He started his presentation by saying that as an industry we need to focus on who we are, not who we aren’t.

“If we do not know who we are, the marketplace will not know who we are. How do we relate to the market place and does the market place even know the value that direct selling is adding to the nation. We need to pay more attention to how the market place perceives us and the value we add to the market place – many think we are a pyramid scheme. We can change this message if we focus on who we are.”

To do this it is vital that we focus on the consultant (direct seller) first, and then the client. Why? “Because we may have the client, but we need the consultant to build our base, so let’s look after the consultant first. Then the overflow to the client will happen naturally,” he says.

If we focus on the consultant, then we must make it our highest goal to make them leaders. Our ethos should be to bring people in and teach them to be business builders, he says.

“Entrepreneurship is the DNA of direct selling, so we must ask ourselves, what is the soul of my business and are we leaders worth following? To lead is to have followers, so as an industry, are we taking the lead or not? “

Part of this is about inspiring the organisation from the inside out. It is not only about doing the right thing, he adds, but about making the change inside to get to the right behaviours on the outside.

“Part of this is making the decision to be all in. Direct selling is not an industry you can dabble in; you are either in or out. It is only when you are fully in that you have the ability to influence.”


Joseph Mariano’s Leadership principles:

These are basic but profound. They work.

  • Do well by doing good.
  • Make a decision to grow through the challenges because the challenges will always be there.
  • Rather choose the harder rights then the easier wrongs.
  • Focus on becoming better, then your consultants and customers will make you bigger.
  • We are sellers of hope before sellers of products: the direct selling industry offers hope, excellence, opportunity and unity.
  • Always strive to become a leader worth following.


Culture connects people

Angelique du Toit also attended the JEUNESSE case study workshop: Turning Strategies into Action. They believe that culture connects people and this took them from a start-up to a R1.4 billion business in only seven years.

This exponential growth comes from embracing diversity and being inclusive. It is easy to become exclusive, but by being inclusive and hearing what needs are out there in the market place changes the dynamics of your business. Research has shown that by the year 2050, America is only going to be 46% of white people. Jeunesse has seen this coming. If they chose to only market to the white market, they would have lost out by 2050. So their focus has been on being inclusive.


LESSON 1:  What is your business’ significant approach and how do you reach different cultural groups. They follow a multicultural approach, also focusing on minority groups, especially the Spanish-speaking market.


LESSON 2: Understand the culture of your field. They have different cultural languages on their products. They believe to speak in the language of their market honours their culture. They look at how best to meet the needs of all the groups they serve. They acknowledge that culture connects people.


LESSON 3: Meet the needs of every single group in your business. They also acknowledged that women make up 70% of their business, but their marketing can’t be to just one particular group and can’t be just to women.


Their motto, Redefining Youth, is the golden thread that is in all their communication and is central to any activity they host. Why? Because it forms a bond, it makes people feel connected. It is who they are as a business. For them their products and people must align and speak the same language and they have spent a lot of energy, time and money on this.


The battle for relevance

The third presentation Angelique attended was of USANA Health Sciences’ CEO, Kevin Guest, talking about the Battle for Relevance. He says relevance is the difference between being good or great, and it is the only thing that matters in a changing world.

“If we don’t meet a need, we become irrelevant. Where you spend your time defines your business and if that is not about making a change in the world, then you are wasting your time. Your time is what defines you, your aspiration is what drives you, and your values should guide you.”

He asks: “Does your business enliven, does it inspire the soul, and warm hearts? There is enough technology out there; direct selling will always be a face-to-face business.”

Relevance keeps you aware of the bell curve, he explains. Emergence is where we start and make ourselves known. It’s at this point we need to master the focus on growing or we will not finish where we should be finishing and the bell curve will have gotten the better of us.

Prominence is the Tipping Point. The tipping point is determined by two things: are you stuck on things that are irrelevant or sticking to what you are good at. Irrelevance is the Turning Point. Obsolescence is the Tanking Point. If you lose your relevance then you are just doing stuff and not doing what really matters.

His advice:


  • to non-core brands and products. Be very careful of doing what other people are doing. If it doesn’t fit your mould it doesn’t fit. Don’t try to do it because your competitors are doing it. Stay true to your values.
  • to new demographics that will drain your resources. Until you reach critical mass, don’t do it.
  • to the latest sales and marketing distractions. Ask does it align with what we do. Stay true to who you are.


  • to face to face. That is who we are.
  • to getting back to basics.
  • to incentives and great products, strategic alignment and execution, empowerment.
  • to telling the market why direct selling really matters.
  • to sound relationships and moderation, teamwork and finding your rising stars.

He finished by making a powerful statement. We’ve all heard the saying that “Winners never quit” but he says, yes they do. They quit doing the wrong things.


Social Media tips

The last break-away that Angelique attended was on social media presented by Sharma Hyder and Jonah Berger. It’s easy to get caught in the technological social media trap but always remember that direct selling is about people and face to face business. However, this is not to say you cannot have a successful social media strategy.  Here Angelique summarises some of the tips to avoid the pitfalls of social media especially for direct selling organisations.

  • Be in the digital ecosystem. Swim or never be seen.
  • The Internet helps you to pull business in but direct selling is still about getting to the people.
  • Mobile responds quicker and more efficiently, but only if you have the right strategy.
  • Avoid spam (anything that is irrelevant to your field).
  • Use social media to amplify the good that your company is doing.
  • Always tell the human story (this is what has made direct selling.). Ask people for their story, get video links and post them instantly – there’s nothing more genuine than in the moment.
  • Showcase your customer loyalty. Show appreciation for customer loyalty.
  • Give consultants and clients something to talk about.
  • If you only use social media to sell you will lose many people along the way. Social media requires content which takes time to plan, but pays off.

And remember: Top of mind means tip of tongue.

The Directors of the Direct Selling Association of South Africa (DSA SA) wish to extend their sincere gratitude and appreciation to Angelique du Toit for sharing this valuable information with the member companies.