Network Marketing, or Multi-Level Marketing (MLM), has gone from being a suburban cliché, think ‘Tupperware party among friends’ or the ‘Avon Lady’, to a legitimate vehicle to open up a secondary income stream. Moguls Warren Buffet (Pampered Chef, among others) and Richard Branson (Vie at Home) have both personally invested in MLM with great success. Donald Trump has long been a proponent of the business model.
With so much recent interest in MLM companies, whose products typically focus on health the wellness, how do you select an opportunity that provides you the best chance for success? The following are some points to consider when assessing an MLM opportunity:
- Stability – how old is the company? Is it a flash in the pan, or a sustainable business?
- Products/services – do they solve a legitimate problem, who are potential clients, and are the products consumable? The products and/or services offered must be excellent and should be consumable to ensure repeat business.
- Pay plan – how fair is the compensation plan? Out of each dollar raised, how much goes to new distributors and how much goes to longer-tenured distributors? Do distributors need to purchase products to sell (which should go into the income return on investment equation)?
- The integrity of the company and management – what is the press about the company? Good company culture, transparent business practices, etc.
- Momentum/timing to join – how many distributors are currently selling (ideally less than 100,000), and in what geographic region(s) are they located?
- Support, training and business systems – will the company support you with excellent delivery, customer service and new distributor support?
My good friend Andrea Weiss, Presidential Diamond distributor at ItWorks Global, assessed the company and the opportunity against these six guidelines in the fall of 2014, with the goal of paying off her family’s lot before building their dream home. I recently conducted a virtual interview with her to evaluate how she went from an MLM novice to an expert, earning an annual average of nearly $200,000 at her level.
ASK: How did you go about starting to build your business?
AW: I have been in the network marketing industry for 3 years and as most business owners will tell you, changes in how you operate are necessary for continued growth and success. When I started in this industry, I utilized a lot of the traditional methods of growing my organization – emails and messages, phone calls, coffee dates, and in-home meetings. These methods will continue to be the bread and butter of network marketing; however, we are also in the age of social media, and many in this profession are seeing huge shifts in the way they work and how to get the word out about their products, services, and opportunity.
ASK: What will these shifts look like?
AW: Most network marketers start out introducing their offerings to their warm market – people who know, trust and like them. This is an excellent start for those in the profession because it gives them the practice and chance to dip their toes in the water with those they are the most comfortable with. However, there will come a time when our warm market can “run dry”. That is when it’s absolutely crucial to expand our network and reach out to our cold market – those whose needs we have a solution for but who have yet to learn about us.
ASK: What have you learned in the 3 years you’ve been building your business?
AW: Lately I have been researching and learning a ton about this. What I am learning is the most successful network marketers are those who provide valuable content to their audience – either through education or inspiration. Long gone are the days of simply saying “Buy this!” Or “Look what I have!”. With the influx of network marketers today on social media, it’s absolutely crucial to breaking through the noise and be seen as an expert in your industry. The best way to do that is to provide much-needed content for your target market.
Creating a blog and posting regularly is one of the best ways to deliver your messages. This is something I have started, and I believe it will propel my business to new heights. However, there is a real time commitment to managing this. Network marketers primarily focus on signing on new teammates, training them, providing support for their current team as well as investing in personal development and growth. Managing an online presence, while extremely valuable, can become yet one more hat for a network marketer to wear.
ASK: How can you increase your online presence while maintaining focus on business development?
AW: This is where a content writer comes in. He can not only lessen the load but can also be an expert in creating optimal and valuable content. Network marketers have a huge opportunity for massive business growth via online space and content delivery. It is wise to take full advantage of this vehicle; however, in order to effectively prioritize income-producing activities, outsourcing blog post and social media creation to an external writer is definitely the way to go.
Andrea exemplifies the power of network marketing, and is excited at the value external content marketing will add to blast her business into the stratosphere.