My last posting was about our culture of threes. I describe how when something comes into my life and consciousness for three times over a short period of time, I pay attention and act. The next three posts are a culture of threes story.
Recently I submitted my book, Financial Freedom Party for Women®, A Little Book about Money for Women, Workbook Edition, to Amazon.com. This will make it available to the general reading public. It also has put the book back into my daily thoughts as I often wonder if the financial services industry is ready to change and accommodate a new easy and fun way of teaching women about money and marketing to us. So this represents my most recent confirmation about the value of parties as a way to connect with women, share meaningful and life-changing information, and starting a personal connection. I count this as Number 1.
Recognizing the value of learning about party plans which are used by direct selling companies was a natural evolution for me. My entrance into becoming an insurance agent and registered representative was through a direct selling and network marketing company. Some of my friends were very successful in direct selling and network marketing and I listened and learned from them. This opened my mind to looking at more meaningful ways of marketing and selling complex products such as investments insurance, and financial analysis/planning.
I hadn’t grown up professionally in the brokerage and insurance industry. This meant I wasn’t saddled with industry paradigms and allowed me to seek out a way to really meet the needs of the women I was encountering. Having women clients was my main goal, but I believed they should be part of the process and have a basic understanding of the fundamentals of financial management so they could be more comfortable with their decisions.
This turned out to be a more difficult goal than expected. There are some real barriers to getting women interested in learning about financial management. Now there are always what I call the “MBA” women or those who are passionate about financial management, but there are many women who don’t meet that description. Women tell me that the information can be difficult to grasp at first and the presentations are pretty old school and boring. If a woman can go do something more interesting with her family or friends, why should she show up to a boring presentation? Think about it, going to a girl’s night out, watching sports with the family, shopping with friends, taking a walk, or just staying home and watching a DVD are way more attractive and acceptable options. As explained in my book:
The Financial Freedom Party (FFP) was created when I found many other women brokers, like myself, were frustrated when women wouldn’t show up at financial seminars. Only 3-4 women would attend, even though we mailed invitations with plenty of lead time, followed up, and targeted our efforts to women who needed this information, and who were not already working with a financial services professional.
One evening I attended a Pampered ChefTM party hosted by my next-door neighbor. She had made a last minute decision to have the party, and gave her guests about two-day notice. Nonetheless, when I arrived at her home, there were thirty or more women in attendance, and at the end of the presentation they were all buying — and buying “lots.” It became clear to me that we needed to change our approach in the financial services industry. From this experience and with the help from three other women brokers, the Financial Freedom Party concept began and the format was developed.
This seemed pretty logical to our team and it worked. However, as I reached out to professionals in the investment community to share the concept and expand its use, the reaction was rather unexpected. Some people simply couldn’t see how it would work (even after I explained it). Some were amused. Then there were those who asked me, “Oh, like Tupperware Parties?” At least this gave me an opportunity to explain that it is founded on the same concept but no product is sold at the party. So, the Financial Freedom Party for Women is an adaptation on party plans based on sharing information and building relationships. I found again, that some comments were little more than subdued snickering and amusement, However, there were some men and women who grasped the concept, could see the potential, were genuinely impressed, and encouraging. Overall, the people I spoke with really didn’t see a need for change. Obviously the timing wasn’t right. So I spent time doing Financial Freedom Parties and building my business, hoping for a more positive reception at a later time.
Business leaders tend to “get it” when products or services are sold and delivered with the result being money cash flowing into the business. Success is an attention getter.
Recently two more references to Tupperware and party plan businesses came to me from two unexpected sources. Both reflect success for women and money for the business. They confirmed my experience that marketing to women (and with women) is often different, but highly profitable. More to come next time about the second reminder I received about how women and party plans connect for both the consumer and the business.
Until next time.