His thoughts on consistency and relevance in today’s marketplace
Executive: Stuart MacMillan
Location: Miami, FL
2018 Revenue: $435 million
2018 Salespeople: 200,000
This month, SSN interviewed Stuart MacMillan, president of personal-care company MONAT Global. MacMillan began his career in telecommunications and entered the direct selling arena in 1998 as president of Excel Canada after its acquisition by Teleglobe. MacMillan went on to serve as president of Arbonne International Canada and president of Immunotec. MacMillan helped co-found MONAT Global in September 2014 and has served as president of the company as it entered the multibillion-dollar haircare market with proprietary anti-aging products.
We’ve tried to leverage social media without abandoning the concept of face-to-face gatherings. From our perspective, social media is a way to get your message out, to gather people, to influence and to create excitement. But we are still firm believers in what we call the “rhythm of events.” We want to make sure that in any given geography, in any given week, people are gathering together to socialize and talk about our products and our opportunity. What we really want to do is create a social event that people want to attend.
SSN: What do you think consistency has done for your growth?
The consistency and the stickiness comes because of the discipline to focus on product innovation, the customer experience, and continuing to push the field to have events. We have regional salespeople that are in-market, and part of their responsibility is to make sure that those events are happening. We use social media a lot to talk about being a part of MONAT. We talk about making new friends, the financial opportunity and what it has done for your life. We don’t talk in terms of big houses and cars, etc., but we talk in terms of what’s an extra $500 or $1,000 a month? What’s that doing for your life? How is MONAT impacting your life? Invariably that impact is social, it’s financial and it’s product related.
It happens in the field because we try to lead by example. We’re very purposeful about our language. For example, we’ll talk about life-changing money with the caveat that it can be $350 or $500 a month. We talk about the goal of how many families receive $500 or more a month. We do have around 26 people who have earned over a million dollars in their career and we recognize that. We even have a couple of people who’ve made more than $5 million in commissions since we started, but we don’t focus on that. We really focus on what being a part of MONAT means to you.
SSN: You have an extensive customer program. How did that program come to be, and what is your philosophy behind it?
We’re product-focused, but we have an emphasis on bringing in actual preferred customers. We usually enroll about three to four times as many preferred customers as we do market partners or distributors.
We don’t want to be a good customer program for a direct selling company. We want to be a good customer program in general. People are used to buying online from Amazon Prime or Sephora or any other brand. We want our actual customer experience to be world-class in respect to the channel.
We look at current retail trends, and recently we launched something called Refer-A-Friend. We have a lot of people in the 19-to-25 age range now, and we’re adapting our model to the way they’re used to doing business. In this program, each VIP is assigned to a market partner, and if that VIP refers someone, we pay the upline market partner.
SSN: Why do you think direct selling companies tend to stick to traditional-for-the-channel methodologies?
I think some of it is fear of the unknown: “This is how we’ve always done it.” More and more, particularly over the last 24 months, we’re not looking as much at direct selling companies. We’re looking at other people in the health and beauty space or other people who are recognized as having a great customer experience.
SSN: Does your sample program allow MONAT’s market partners to focus on acquiring the customers?
That’s exactly right. We have an emphasis on bringing in actual retail customers. We usually enroll three to four times as many preferred customers each month as we do market partners or distributors.
There’s a challenge in that, as our warehouse operations and our delivery has to be quick; it really pushes us to be efficient in terms of getting product out. The demographic that we deal with is used to buying online. They don’t expect to go meet with someone. They don’t even do that in the store, they don’t shop that way. Although some say, “Sometimes I go to the mall to get a look at something, then I go home and order it and it gets shipped to my house.”
I don’t think it’s complicated to be honest. If a company is focused on selling a product to a customer, the direct selling model is just the channel to get that done, as opposed to really being about the channel itself. We’re 100 percent committed to this channel, but our focus is on healthy aging products for customers, for the public at large. It should be good fun selling a great product to customers and using this channel to get that done.
SSN: What do you think are the game changers for companies to thrive in the future?
Companies that are showing some incredible success are companies that are really focused on their end customer. I think that’s the game changer. Companies that are not focused on selling a quality product to a customer base aren’t going to last. That’s my opinion.
SSN: How did that decision to launch a skincare line come about?
I think the natural evolution for MONAT was skin care; people were using our flagship product on their hair, but they were also using it on their skin. We recognized that we were really an anti-aging haircare company and had become a fairly significant force in the premium haircare market.
We wanted to make sure that adding skincare wouldn’t change our brand. The care that goes into our haircare products is now also going into our skincare products. We’re still naturally based in both, so we wanted to be consistent in our brand as we did the product extension. We’ve evolved into a healthy-aging brand. One of the most popular mottos that came out of our launch was “Haircare, Skincare, We Care.”
We’re trying to do things in a way that’s customer-centric, so we ran through, in advance, the Purchase+ ideas and some of the shopping experience ideas with about 30 of our legacy leaders—those who have been with us from the beginning—and also a separate group of 30 who have the biggest customer bases.
SSN: What advice would you now give to your younger self?
I would tell my younger self not to take myself too seriously. And to figure out what’s important and what’s urgent, and not to confuse the two.
SSN: Who has influenced your career the most and why?
I try to learn from a bunch of people. I would say that if you steal one idea, it’s plagiarism, but if you steal a bunch of ideas, it’s research. So, there’s no one person, but a bunch of people who’ve been instrumental in helping me grow.
I learned a lot from Kenny Troutt and Steve Smith. Rita Davenport taught me a ton. And I think even being at MONAT, watching and working with the Urdaneta family. I believe we’ve learned a ton from each other.
John Maxwell has been a mentor. I’m fortunate now to actually be a friend of his, and so it’s even cooler for me to be able to reach out and get advice. He taught me that consistency is everything; being disciplined and consistent.
Part of his new philosophy is really interesting: Let things take their logical conclusion. Don’t give yourself end times, don’t give yourself a finish line. Just keep going, keep working, keep doing the things that you want to do, keep being consistent.
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