When door to door needs a makeover

I was reading the other day about how one company successfully changed their ‘trademark’ model to beat lockdown restrictions and it got me thinking… 

When we were younger I remember the door going many times with people selling stuff. Whether it was the Avon lady, a window cleaner, or even a brave ice cream man. At that time (late 80s) door to door was a viable way of selling.

It meant that someone was knocking on the door and expecting the magic of the moment. As time went by I realised that many of the products they were selling weren’t what we wanted or even needed. That was my first moment in customer discovery. It’s all about giving the customer what they actually need…

One of my friends had washed a few cars in the neighbourhood and he wanted to do more, so I joined him, I guess we were twelve or so at the time. Everyone had a car, and everyone needed a clean car. In fact, the newer, bigger houses often had two company cars that needed cleaning. We got to know the neighbourhoods. The richer the neighbourhood, the more car cleaning was required.

We learnt young what I now know to be called ‘segmenting’ an audience. 

It was about becoming part of the dream. A four bedroom mock Tudor house with two brand new cars, clean and ready to gleam. Nothing said, “I’m rich” like having someone wash your car for you. We knew it, they knew it and I filled my Griffin savings account, helping them live the dream. We also learned the power of asking when to come around again. It led to repeat custom. Young as we were, we were literally ‘rinsing it! £5 a car, £10 for inside and out. In the late 80’s that was immense for a couple of school boys. In fact, our hourly car washing rate was the highest hourly rate I ever earned until I got a proper job. 

Door to door sales taught me many things, like the power of building relationships and of doing a great job. For three summers we did exceptionally well until the well started to dry up. The market had begun to change. Car washes had gotten cheaper and a bucket and sponge could only do so much. Door to door had had its day and served us very nicely, thank you very much. Before long, I had gotten a job at the local pub, serving the same customers, if in a slightly different way.

The right foundation
Another well known brand who have proven the efficacy of door to door over the years (to such an extent that this way of selling has become their calling card) are Avon. I was very interested to read that Avon’s IT team had put in place new processes to help Avon carry on selling despite the lockdown. They created a mechanism to ensure product orders could be delivered directly to Avon customers rather than having to be hand-delivered by the representatives. A ring on the doorbell and a paper brochure have been replaced by a WhatsApp message with a link to a digital brochure. The customers message back and the reps then use a web-based app to create a pending order in the system.

Lashings of brilliance
Cleverly using e-commerce to mirror the traditional door to door method, representatives could now customise URLs with their store name and receive commission for driving sales. In the UK alone, Avon reported that sales through that new e-commerce channel grew six times in the first three weeks of lockdown.

Facing the future
Under normal circumstances, it might have been very difficult to convince Avon’s loyal community of representatives to move from face-to-face selling to e-commerce and digital brochures but the situation with COVID 19 restrictions meant that suddenly both reps and customers were now much more willing to embrace the digital model. 

 I loved hearing about what Avon did. They didn’t stop relying on reps to drive sales but recreated themselves using digital methods to continue to offer the customer exactly what they needed… If there is a medal out there for staying true to your brand while moving with the times I would award it to Avon.

I think that behind every door there is a story worth telling and it’s great to have the opportunity to be part of other people’s stories – for us that will never change. If your brand needs a makeover to help you move with the times, whilst remaining true to your values, why not get in touch?

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