Leading the way with a culture of innovation, ViSalus fuels its Body by Vi Challenge with the latest and greatest in technology.
by R. Todd Eliason
Since launching The Challenge in 2009, the ViSalus™ story has been rewritten completely. What had the potential to become a story of another company falling victim to the struggling economy is now the tale of a group that defied the odds and rose to new heights.
After their results in 2010, ViSalus was given the Bravo Turnaround Award by the Direct Selling News, a nod from the industry that The Challenge was being noticed.
When ViSalus claimed the 2011 Growth Award, and debuted at No. 47 on the DSN’s Global Top 100 list, they had put the rest of the industry on notice that The Challenge was only gaining momentum.
And as their 2012 results continue on that remarkable trajectory, everybody in the industry is ask-ing, “How?”
They reinvented themselves based on the “new” consumer.
They turned their focus to people, before products, with the Body by Vi™ 90-Day Challenge.
They became a totally transparent company, where the world would have a front-row view of their journey.
All of course are accurate factors of their rapid growth. But what’s left out is perhaps the most im-portant component of all: the ViSalus culture of innovation.
Co-Founders Ryan Blair, Blake Mallen and Nick Sarnicola have taken ViSalus and the Vi-Community to a level of technological savvy the industry has never seen. They didn’t build the company based on where the industry came from; rather, they built it based on where the industry was going.
In doing so, they set a new bar. The trio invested heavily to stay ahead of the evolution we have seen over the last half-decade. What started with social networking morphed into social media. What went next to mobile has now expanded to the realm of mobile commerce, and ViSalus has made it a priority to not just catch every trend, but be miles ahead of it.
We sat down with the person who has championed this commitment throughout the ViSalus Com-munity, Co-Founder and Chief Marketing Officer Blake Mallen, to see what drives him to keep ViSa-lus on the leading edge of innovation.
On the ViSalus culture of innovation…
“In order to succeed in business today, companies need to evolve and change with technology or they risk becoming extinct,” Mallen says. “A lot of businesses look at their past success to guide their future decisions. This strategy is not going to cut it anymore. In order to stay current, you have got to look at what’s going on today and where things are going, then determine a strategy to meet the trends of tomorrow, not yesterday.
“We are a young company with a young mindset, and that sets us apart. A lot of our corporate team has grown up in a more technology-driven world than others in similar executive positions. It works to our advantage. We don’t need to conduct a focus group or hire a firm to do our tech re-search for us. We are the super-users. As a company, we’re passionate about technology. We aren’t afraid to evolve and we don’t shy away from the latest innovations.”
On social media trends…
“It’s almost crazy to think that we were the first ones to really bring social networking tools into the network marketing industry. In 2008 we launched Vi-Net™, our online community. It merged busi-ness management tools and our web community so people could share stories, photos and videos with others on The Challenge. At the time, most companies had a distributor portal where a Pro-moter could log in and see the status of their business. We saw the future of the web not as a one-on-one-relationship between you and your information, but a more social way to connect your life to the rest of the world.
“Studies show that people are more successful in achieving their health goals when they do it with others. They need the community to support them and to keep them accountable. That’s the culture we’ve created here at ViSalus. When we saw the success of Vi-Net, it only made sense to progress more into social media where the Vi-Community could convene on sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagr.am, YouTube and Pinterest.
“Direct selling is based on people sharing their stories, yet, surprisingly, the industry has really been one of the slowest to adopt the use of social media. Ten years ago, those in the industry were taught to ‘go where the people are,’ meaning, have a presence at fairs, festivals or networking groups where you could promote your business to a lot of people at one time. Now you can jump on Facebook and 901 million people are just one click away.
“We develop our own Facebook apps to help our Community vote on a wide range of topics and contests, post New Year’s resolutions, or even share healthy shake recipes. Within the first two months of launching our Facebook Recipes App at Recipes.ViSalus.com, we’ve already seen thou-sands of favorite Vi-Shape® recipes uploaded, shared and liked. We’ve even launched a Facebook Promoter Tab, which allows any Challenge Promoter to add a tab to their page and help people start a Challenge with them without ever leaving Facebook!
“With the power of new media, you can get your message across to a massive audience at fast and furious speeds.”
On going mobile…
“In April of 2011 we went mobile with the launch of our Vi-Net Mobile App, a multi-platform appli-cation suite that allows the Vi-Community to enroll others, interact with new customers and Pro-moters, and manage their ViSalus business.
“Less than a year later, we introduced The Challenge Mobile App for Body by Vi customers. It had well over 15,000 downloads in the first month. The app offers an on-the-go shopping experience, and gives customers access to special group offers where the more people who participate, the more the prices drop. For example, a recent mobile offer helped more than 30,000 of our customers get ViSalus NEURO™ for 67% off.
“Our latest tech innovation was the Vi-Net Swipe, earlier this year. It’s our own credit card “swiper” that plugs right into smartphones and integrates with our Vi-Net Mobile Application, so the whole sign-up process can be done in seconds. It empowers our Promoters to give their customers an Ap-ple Store-like experience throughout their day-to-day lives. They can do business anywhere, any-time, with just a swipe of a credit card. It’s also got this cool end-to-end encryption so personal in-formation is not only delivered quickly, but also securely.
“Innovation is a part of who we are. Our goal is to have the largest mobilized sales force in the world. I think we attract people who like cutting-edge technology and want to be part of that inno-vation, too. We believe if you give people who are passionate about what they’re doing the best tools to succeed, odds are, they will.”
“Innovation is a part of who we are. Our goal is to have the largest mobilized sales force in the world.” —Blake Mallen, Co-Founder and Chief Marketing Officer
“As a company, we’re passionate about technology. We aren’t afraid to evolve and we don’t shy away from the latest innovations.” —Blake Mallen