Location: Farmers Branch, Texas
This month, SSN interviewed Amber Rourke, chief marketing officer at Neora.
SSN: How have you dealt with the shelter-in-place orders in Dallas?
Our entire office has been working remotely. Thankfully, our IT team has done a great job keeping everyone connected to the servers, and our distribution has been up and running the whole time. When we get a delivery of a product to our warehouse, we let it sit in a quarantine area for a while just to make sure there’s no contamination on the cardboard. All our warehouse workers have on protective gear as well.
We have also increased the amount of all-staff and team huddles via Zoom. We do a meeting at least once a week with the entire staff, and then each of the teams are doing them more often. We’re also doing team shout-outs and fun little giveaways to keep the morale up. Today, we put everyone’s name in a drawing, and a few employees won a catered dinner delivered to their home. Finding ways to virtually double down on culture and community is what we believe people truly need right now. We are doing the same thing on our brand partner side as well.
SSN: What are you doing about compliance claims and COVID-19?
We came out really aggressively at the very beginning from a corporate perspective and said, in no way, shape or form does any product we have help with COVID-19 symptoms. And if we needed to, it would be a major termination-type event for any of our staff or brand partners if they made that claim.
SSN: What else are you doing in order to transfer your culture under these new circumstances?
People deal with isolation differently, so we are training managers to make sure they’re checking on their employees, not just on what they’re doing for work, but how they are personally doing, and that they’re making sure they’re okay from a mental health perspective. We want people to feel the community and support around them.
SSN: How well have all your jobs transferred into the virtual environment?
We haven’t had any hiccups, in terms of people being able to complete their work. It’s funny, but it feels like we’re almost getting more done because people usually spend 30 to 40 minutes getting ready for the day and at least an hour commuting. Our employees are saving an hour and a half per day. People seem to be able to be a lot more productive when they can roll out of bed, put on some yoga pants, and they’re ready to go. We encourage people to take breaks for walks, yoga and meditation in the middle of the day.
We also did a wellness week. Every day at 11:00 a.m. we had different brand partners host wellness classes. We encouraged our staff, brand partners, and even the general public to participate in yoga, meditation, nutrition, and total body fitness classes. We offered the classes with the purpose of getting people in the habit of taking better care of themselves. We also sent all of our employees across the globe a package of all our wellness products.
SSN: How do you think your field, in general, is handling the pandemic and its fallout?
At first, people were in shock and trying to figure out how to change their own realities so quickly. Then people went through a mourning phase, feeling really sorry for everyone that lost their job or has been impacted, and they felt kind of paralyzed. But, we were able to quickly move through those phases with them by asking ourselves how we could be of service to the community and what solutions we could provide. We created four core pillars: Self-care and skincare, health, business-from-home, and communities.
In terms of self-care, we talked to our field about the solutions they provide for their customers and wanted to help them see that, in this time, our goal is to be a bright light. First of all, they needed to focus on themselves; you can’t be a bright light if you’re not taking care of yourself. We have called on our field to practice authentic leadership in terms of not sitting back and being scared.
We put together an at-home facial set at a discounted price along with free shipping and a free gift with purchase. We wanted to create value for the customer while also giving them something that will help their skin stay healthy during this time of not being able to go to a spa or salon. We are also producing content for social media, doing videos to show people how to use a product and different things that add value.
Health is pretty straight forward. Since our model is direct-to-consumer, luckily we didn’t have partners who had inventory sitting in their houses and now can’t have any in-home parties. All of our partners refer people to their websites, so they were perfectly positioned to say, “My business is open, and here is how you can order and get it shipped directly to your house. You don’t have to leave during this time.” Even though there’s this chaos around us, we still have to be open to helping people, open to running our businesses, and open to serving our communities. That message really resonated with the field.
More people than ever need some additional income. We created a business-in-a-box at virtually no cost. When a person signs up as a brand partner for $20, we give them a $20 product discount to use.
In terms of community, we have just doubled down on who we are with our brand partners. I’m going live on our brand partner Facebook group at least three times a week just because I think they need to see us more during this time.
SSN: How has training your field changed with the current coronavirus imposed orders?
We started aggressively training how to do the things that they were already doing. We’ve launched into a lot of virtual parties with Facebook and Zoom with different themes, teaching them how to be effective on social media, reinforcing how to use Instagram stories, how to use Live.
Also, we typically hold several regional meetings each month for training. For the first time, we held one corporate digital meeting, and it was great. We had thousands of brand partners join in on a two-and-a half hour training. It was a combination of executive leaders and field leaders conducting polls and holding Q&A’s, making it so easy for our top leaders to answer anyone’s questions. We tried to make everything we do more interactive than just getting on a call.
SSN: How is the salesforce responding to your efforts?
I think as a leader of a direct sales company right now, your biggest job is to help manage the emotions of your field. I think you just have to do everything you can to be in front of them as much as possible with clarity and community. And that’s what we have tried to create. We did a roundtable last Monday where we had 10 people share their story of what the company, products, business, and personal development has done for them in order to help recenter their focus on why we exist—why they exist as a brand partner, and why we exist as a company.
Our mission is to help people and help make people better. And we can do that today even grander than ever because more people need that. That was kind of a tipping point for them. They were able to see, in an emotional way, the stories of the lives of their fellow brand partners, and it emboldened them to give that to other people. You have to meet people right where they’re at and figure out if you can help them. And if you can, great, and if you can’t, you can at least offer them kindness and love and support. That’s how we’ve approached it.
SSN: Has COVID-19 and the shutdown changed any of your strategic planning for the rest of the year?
It has really accelerated everything for us, in terms of things that we might have wanted to in three months, six months, or a year. It’s forced us to move faster. And it’s also put our brand partners in a position of having to learn. We had a big adoption of doing things like online parties, but then we had other people prefer the traditional way, which is fine, too. But now, they’re going to be fully up to speed on how to work with Zoom, how to do an online party, and how to be effective at social media—things they weren’t really “forced” to do before.
When life goes back to normal, they’ll be able to do both. They’ll be able to be great at the in-person stuff, but also really more knowledgeable in all of the technical elements. It’s accelerated consumer shopping, too. Consumers are getting comfortable with all these other platforms like Zoom. Now when we have a Zoom party and invite people, it’s not weird anymore. I think it has just accelerated the whole country’s adaptation of some of these things, which only benefits us because that’s kind of where we were heading.
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