first experience of party plan is an invitation to a relative's
home to view kitchenware or cosmetics, jewellery or giftware, or
to sample the latest rejects and returns from some local fashion
designer. Whatever the scene, the main objective is to
create a pleasant, welcoming environment, one where guests are
inspired to enter into the spirit of things - and BUY!
Party plan is just
another marketing method, probably originated in the USA, and an
extremely effective means of generating mountains of orders from
all over the country - or the world - for the organisation at
the heart of the plan.
There's a lot of
money to be made in this business, especially if you are the
sole supplier for goods promoted this way. So exactly what
does party plan involve and how can you grab your share of the
action - and the profits?
Mechanics of Party Plan
operates through agents who normally enrol with the company
direct on an undertaking to sell the firm's products in return
for commission on sales often a fixed percentage; sometimes
increasing at specified levels. Some companies reward
agents with additional gifts for achieving set targets, while
others operate on a networking - multi-level marketing -
structure, generating even higher profits for super-achievers.
Marketing is easy,
with guests invited into agents' homes - sometimes the host's
home, for a well-organised get-together which should be both
enjoyable and create an almost captive audience for the items
involved. Friends, neighbours, colleagues and relatives
are invited to attend and a few simple refreshments are usually
On the day - more
often the night - the party starts with the host welcoming
guests and encouraging a little social interaction before the
main task of demonstrating and selling begins. Guests are
usually allowed to try on samples and to pass items around
before orders are finally invited, usually as the party draws to
a close. The most common final task of the evening is to
invite guests to host parties in their own homes in return for
various incentives, usually a small gift coupled with a
percentage of the takings on the night.
Being an agent
means arranging parties yourself or looking for others to host
them for you. Party guests are your most likely source of
new recruits and others can easily be contacted through
advertisements in shop windows and local advertising freesheets.
Whether you want to become an agent for an established business
or you intend to market your own goods through party plan, try
to gain experience first by hosting a few parties yourself or by
enrolling as an agent with one of the major party plan firms
advertising in most business opportunity magazines.
Alternatively, become a regular guest at other people's parties,
noting what goes on, what literature and display equipment is
used, how goods are demonstrated, and how orders are taken and
No experience or
qualifications are needed to be an agent or host, although it
helps to have an interest in the things you are promoting and to
genuinely enjoy selling to a live audience. What you do
need, more than anything else, are products with universal
appeal, like current party plan favourites books, designer
clothing, costume jewellery, perfume and cosmetics.
What You Can
are inappropriate to this business where agents can receive
anything from a few pounds pin money to hundreds of pounds at
each and every event. Most importantly, the agent can
increase his profits in many ways, and might even consider
starting his own party plan business and recruiting others to
work for him as agents and hosts. It really is up to you!
What Kind of
People to Recruit as Hosts
Hosts must be
friendly and entertaining, not just interested in benefits to
them. Most importantly, they should have a wide circle of
contacts friends, relatives, workmates, neighbours.
A useful tip is to
keep your eyes open for anyone working for a major company or
living on a particularly large housing estate, as well as any
who have already hosted parties successfully and need little
prompting from you.
What Makes a
Good Party Great? Professional Tips and Techniques
Displaying your goods properly and attractively can increase
sales many times over. Products should be displayed on a
sturdy table with quality cover, preferably in a fabric and
colour to compliment your goods. Crushed velvet or silk is
excellent for silver and jewellery and increases the perceived
value of what you display. Go for pastel shades and medium
fabrics, not fancy textures or gaudy patterns! Have a
spotlight focussed on your display, especially for silverware
and jewellery. Where possible, stage your display to add
height at the back and make sure everything is easy to see.
Keep 'like' goods together fancy goods beside giftware,
jewellery next to cosmetics, household goods beside kitchenware,
and so on.
For jewellery and cosmetics, always have a few hand mirrors
available or arrange a fancy mirror on a small folding card or
picnic table covered with plain fabric. Place a chair
Evening parties tend to be most productive, with possible
exceptions Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and it seems the most
convenient time for most people to attend is between 7.30 pm and
When a party has been arranged and a host appointed, follow up
with a telephone call a few days before the event. Go over
the arrangements and send an informal note indicating the hosts'
responsibilities. Make a point of emphasising what
incentives the host receives. Ask the host to send out
party invitations and to remind their most regular contacts.
Don't forget it's a social event too. Arrange chairs in a
circle and place refreshments and nibbles close by. Allow
guests at least ten minutes to mingle and chat before the
Don't have television, radio, pets or children playing in the
background. Keep all distractions to a minimum.
Work to an agenda, including starting and finishing times and
the order you want to accomplish your major tasks demonstrating,
selling, taking orders, recruiting hosts, and so on. Allow
about 20 minutes for demonstrating the goods and follow up with
15 minutes or so for guests to get a closer look or discuss
their purchases with friends. Place order forms in a
convenient spot and announce the time when guests should place
their orders with the host, or with you direct.
Mingle with guests but don-t be too pushy. Have them wear
name tags and make sure your name is noticeable, too.
At the end of the party, make a big thing of presenting the host
with her gift and inviting her, publicly, to the next party to
receive her cash award. Hand out leaflets or business
cards to guests indicating when your next party will be and how
they might apply to host parties themselves.
Above all, be
enthusiastic! If you show you are enjoying yourself, this
will reveal itself in the way you demonstrate your goods and, in
turn, will mean increased profits for you. Have a good
Association, 29 Floral
Street, London, WC2E 9DP
Produces a number
of useful free leaflets to explain the basics of direct selling,
including party plan.
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