Amway: Building Business the American Way

October 18, 2010

By Guest Blogger Telisa Yancy, American Family Insurance

Over the last couple of days of the 2010 ANA Masters of Marketing Conference, I have noticed a distinctive pattern: great companies drive results, revenue and consumer engagement by staying true to two things: purpose and holistic "brand-driven" marketing.  Before this morning's session on "Building Business the American Way", presented by Candace Matthews, I was slightly tempted to begin playing the "yeah-but" game around this topic:

  • "Yeah, but...this is true of sexy brands within sexy categories that have sexy, large budgets..."
  • "Yeah, but....this is easier to do with a young company where the ground work for innovation, ingenuity and is part of the core DNA of the company."

Well, after Ms. Matthew's presentation this morning, I've decided that the pattern of driving growth, revenue and consumer engagement through purpose and commitment to authentically connecting to the consumers you serve best is a universal business truth that marketing must take a leadership role in helping companies exploit. 

To "keep it real", as #ANAmarketers power-tweeter, Hilliary_Ashton, posted during the presentation, there are real challenges to infusing brand excellence in a large, global company like Amway, who's DNA revolves around selling the "AMerican WAY" to distributors versus brands to people. A history of being committed to this business model, almost singularly, allowed Amway to maintain reasonable growth over a long period of time.  Ms. Matthews stated that her formula for infusing marketing into a relatively strong history of success was to "pervasively interrupt the status quo." With that in mind, Ms. Matthews and her team, went about the process of being committed to marketing fundamentals, like strong positioning, clear understanding of their purpose in the lives of end-users, and a methodical plan to move their power sub-brands into the spotlight.

What I found tremendously interesting about Ms. Matthews' seemingness flawless capacity to achieve her plans in an environment where marketing never truly existed before, is her capacity to leverage even "shiny marketing things" like apps, to move the business forward in non-traditional ways. While most marketers and undoubtedly some of their CEOs craved for an Apple app in the hands of their consumers, Ms. Matthews created one for the vast distributor network that has defined Amway for so long, and moved it to #4 in the free app section within 24 hours of launch.  She went on to describe a few other examples of how Amway is straddling the fence that so many marketers are facing---building relevance with consumers/end users while helping the distribution network (whether franchisees, agents, dealers, agents understand that consistent commitment marketing is a foundation for growth. 

With marketing clearly serving as a beacon for continued growth and profits for them, Amway still "sells" the American Dream to its vast network of distributors. It is also beginning to apply their commitment to the concept of the American way by positioning how its products can help the lives of consumers.  Their process for doing this is decided different than those we've heard about this week, but it is working--a 100% awareness in China after being in the marketing for less than 20 years... seriously!  She did not reveal a sexy-social media platform or a website with exploding triple-digit traffic increases--but she did show success, results, revenue growth and an engaged distribution network.    Marketing excellence may not be sexy in every industry, but it is a path to profits and sustainable impact in peoples lives in every business. 

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