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Friday, 22 March 2013

Direct selling men. Not a done deal. Yet.

Giving it a go - at a mikegetscooking event

I said I'd get back to this 'getting men involved'  topic once more.  So here we are again.

I'm a bit of a lone voice in all this. For a variety of reasons. I think it's fair to say that some people are uncomfortable when the status quo is challenged and some women have previously said that I (as in, me) fundamentally don't understand the whole concept of direct selling and the selling of a product such as this. Kitchen tools  in my case.

So that's a pretty  clear viewpoint.  Not much room for misinterpretation there.  I don't get it, apparently because I see business opportunities for men.

I'm going to be the last to challenge that because to begin with, everyone is entitled to an opinion.  And secondly, they may well be right, of course.  To trot out a cliché; only time will tell.

So this post follows on from the last and you've already read, no doubt, the previous offering which kind of spells out the initial thinking.  So here's some name-dropping: I talked about all this on BBC Radio 4's You and Yours programme a few months back.  I was asked to guest on the programme because of this very topic - more men entering direct selling.  And I said then - in front on the nation, dear reader -  that something's gotta change.

Men are looking to direct selling, such as Pampered Chef, for opportunities.  Over the past three years the numbers of men entering the direct selling industry has jumped by around 30% in the UK.  And from what little I know, the increases are there too in the US.

I read a posting from a director with a very well know plastic box direct selling company.  It read...
 '...It is for your kitchen. It is for your garage. It is for your tackle box. You can use a plastic container anywhere you need to organize! It is NOT a women's only product!..'
So basically, it was about pitching the product to a way of thinking.  But I reckon men also like to buy based on an event.  They buy to remind themselves what a great time they had at...XYZ event.  And then when they use the product, the memory of that returns.   I also think there are three types of cooking males: 1) toolbox man 2) store cupboard man and 3) details man.

I'll get us both confused if I launch into all that explanation now, so I think I'll leave that floating in the air for now.

Sampling the end result at a blokes-only mikegetscooking night  

But the common thinking here, for me anyway, is that we need to consider and plot how and why men would want to buy these kinds of products, what's in it for them beyond using them day to day, how to build that level of reliance and expectation from the product, in the eyes of those men.  Selling in the home, following the 'party-plan' rules just doesn't do it for many men.  I've spoken to them.  Of course, there are men out there perfectly happy to do so - I do, quite obviously.  But many potential recruits are not. They don't want to buy that way or sell that way. They're uncomfortable with the whole 'home' thing: having a blokes at home party is so far off the radar as to be invisible for these men.  And they don't envisage a fast enough return.

So, we need to seriously, seriously think about how we physically (or virtually) meet these men; how do we sell to them, how do we allow men entering the industry to build a sustainable business in a reasonably short time.  Please, that's not to suggest women don't also want to build quickly, all I'm suggesting is that men often lack the patience for the longer haul and sometimes, as a breadwinner now redundant, time is not on their side.  And if this doesn't click quickly then maybe they have to move on to something else that will.

And yet as I said in the last post - there is a man cooking and demonstrating every day on television.  The marketing of the notion has already been signed, sealed and is delivered seven days a week.

And yes - blokes will have a go too.

There is a business here for absolute certainty for men.  I'm hoping more will tell me what it would take to get them to look at this seriously, because the number one barrier is preconceived thinking; that this is a woman-only industry.  Well it's certainly been female dominated and there's nothing wrong with that at all.  Heaven knows there are still  more than enough male dominated industries.

But there are opportunities here if a clean piece of paper where to be placed on the desk ready for a new range of ideas, bonkers suggestions, brain storms, thought-showers or whatever phrase we're allowed to use these days.

The first to blink, might well be the winner here.

Anyway, look, this is all a bit serious considering the usual nonsense I write on here.  I'm thinking that maybe I need to create a new 'mikegetscooking blokes blog' and move stuff of this sort across to there.

I've got pressing matters to ramble about on here, such as deep fried battered creme eggs and shrinking chocolate bars. The big subjects, to get off my chest.

If I create a parallel blokes blog you'll be the first to know, although where the time comes from, I don't know.  I barely get time to keep this one on track.  And maybe it will be there that I explain the 'three types of cooking blokes' theory in my head.

Get in touch. Please.  I'm serious about cracking this issue as described above, and the opportunity to make an impact is huge.  Seriously.  No daft promises, just a fair amount of uncharted waters to navigate.

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