10 Reasons Avon Is Not Too Late To The Social Media Party

05/14/2012

Avon good housekeeping oct 1953

In 1886, Mr. D. H. McConnell launched what was to become one of the most beloved brands... Avon

Let’s flash back 126 years when women were expected to be housekeepers, wives and of course mothers. In steps a man who defies convention when he builds his sales force with a team of women. D. H. McConnell intuitively understood that as salespeople women could relate to other women and bring a passion to his new perfumes better than men. 

Based on its direct sales approach, which was built on developing relationships and sharing conversations, Avon has been called the original “Social” Brand. However, its competition has left it in the 18th century “social media” dust.

Avon has seen a 75% decline in operating profit over the last decade. A Wall Street Journal Avon sales stats article, Avon Is Late to Social Media’s Party, reported sales for cosmetic products have steadily moved online. Although Avon does have online channels it's not been as aggressive as other cosmetic companies.

Recently Warren Buffet and Coty experssed interest in this iconic company now in crisis. In a 5/13/12 media release Avon said it would  "..consider Coty's letter.."

Update: 5/14: Coty has back off of its offer. "Your total lack of engagement with us leads us to believe that you remain reluctant to explore a friendly, negotiated combination on a reasonable timetable," Coty Chairman Bart Becht said in a letter to Avon dated Monday and made public. "Two months is enough." - Reuters

When my pal and social media colleague, Rob Petersen, founder of BarnRaisers and co-writer of this blog post, invited me to collaborate to bring Avon some 21st century social media ideas I was there. So Avon bebe .. this one is for you! 

10 reasons Avon Is Not Too Late To The Social Media Party

Subtitled: But the clock is ticking, the cake is getting stale and the tinis are getting warm.

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 an online community in the UK, Avon Connects, demonstrating they are not late to the party, they just need to join in.

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 they 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 includes 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.

In April, I had the honor of speaking at the Possible Woman Conference about social media marketing. Among the brands represented, by over 400 women attending the event, were sales reps and leaders from Avon. I saw first hand their enthusiasm mixed with confusion and frustation about how to leverage social media. After one of my sessions an Avon rep spent two-hours talking about her social media efforts with a speaker from the panel.

Sidebar: Founded by the visionary Linda WindPossible Woman is an excting conference that brings inspiration and leadership training to women in business.

Although Avon sales reps are currently involved in social media many still have challenges regarding 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 to identify the ones that matter most, 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 .. a Top 50 Cosmetic Brand. No matter how this plays out Avon's legacy of empowering women will be part of history.

Avon ad 2012

Some great brands have turned their business around by realizing and reaching out to their strongest asset .. their community. After all, they call it Social Media for a reason.

What are your thoughts? Do you think it's not too late for Avon and their 5.8 million sales reps to join the Social Media party or is the cake too stale?

 

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Comments

Toby, Thanks for the collaborating. Glad to show and tell how Avon has a community it can rely on when it needs some help and glad you are a part of my community. Rob

Posted by: Rob Petersen on May 15, 2012 8:14:59 AM

No it's never too late. Social Media's popularity is ever rising. And now is a good time to join because we no longer have to do much trial and error as those early adopters did before us. Avon join the party!

Posted by: SEO Shrewsbury on May 16, 2012 4:44:38 AM

Avon has way too many resources to be late for anything. A company of this size can catch up pretty quickly as long as it invests enough resources... Social media is still in its infancy so the company is really not that late :-)

Posted by: Cidem on May 18, 2012 12:34:06 PM

Funny that you mention this... A friend's mom recently joined Facebook and added me only to promote her Avon products... Smart, as now I receive a booklet from her monthly.

Posted by: Aby @A10sm on May 18, 2012 5:33:26 PM

It sounds as if Avon has a great many strengths to build on, in bringing its brand into the 21st century. I don't think they're too late to the party at all.

Posted by: alanc230 on May 19, 2012 3:36:19 PM

Enjoyed the article, keep up the good work!

Posted by: Kevin Hennessy on May 20, 2012 3:11:32 PM

First of all, I love Avon so I'm glad you are helping them see the light! I work for an Australian company (Think Big Online) and we work with a lot of small businesses who want us to set up a website but they don't want to be part of the social media game. http://www.thinkbigonline.com.au/why-twitter-facebook-and-google-are-must-haves-in-your-seo-arsenal/ We work with one bloke who says, "I don't have a Facebook account but I've got lots of friends."

You say: "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."

Excellent point! Alisa

Posted by: Alisa on May 29, 2012 5:03:51 PM

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