If you have an email address, then you have no doubt received countless messages touting the latest and greatest “network marketing program”, or MLM. Maybe you decided to try one of them. But, they all make great claims and promise to be the path to wealth. So, how do you make the decision, which one is good, and which ones are just hype. Here are some of my criteria for choosing wisely.
** The business should be established
OK, I know you have received emails from people touting their business with the tag line of, “get in on the ground floor.” There are times when you might want to do this. But, not in the networking business.
In the networking business there is only one reason to be in first. And, that’s if you are being paid “recruiting” bonuses and want to take advantage of the people who believe all the “get-rich-quick” hype.
In real networking, the money is made in the long haul. It does not matter if you get in the business the first year or the twentieth year. Look at businesses like Mary Kay®, Avon®, Watkins®, and Amway®. They have been around a long time. Their “ground floors” were decades ago. But, with companies with good products, and stability – there’s a lot of money still to be earned.
** There must be an actual product
Yes, no matter what some of the messages tell you, essentially no MLM type business is truly successful for the average person unless there is a real, tangible product.
Stop. Reread the previous sentence.
You will not make much, if any, money in a program where the product is MLM leads, recipe swaps, or mailing lists. These are mostly programs where only the members buy the product. It’s a requirement of membership. And, usually the product is not of good quality. But, legally, there must be a product. If not, it is not much more than a pyramid scheme.
Your product should be one that is of value, and available to the public – not just members. In most cases, this means a real tangible product or service. So, when making the decision of whether the program has a real product, ask this question: “Would I consider buying this product if I were not a member?”
** The Diversity Of The Products
Many networking businesses you can join have real products for people to buy. Some have been established for many years, some are just starting. Some specialize in vitamins; others in beauty aids, and still more in discount products. Most specialize in one line, or type of product. Some have dozens, or possibly hundreds or thousands of products for you to choose from.
The more products your program carries, the greater your sales will be. And, diversity of products will increase sales. If you sell products to 25 households, you have a limited amount of sales if your program only sells vitamins. You may sell only one or two products per household, per month.
I’m not picking on vitamins. I sell them, among other things. But, substitute any other product for vitamins. Is your programs only product Internet access? You only have one sale per household per month. I’ve seen networking opportunities where the one and only product was gold. How much gold do you buy each month?
How much more income would you get from those same 25 households if your product list included the following items:
Dishwashing Liquids & Powders
Paper Napkins & Towels
Shampoo & Conditioners
Weight Loss Products
Long-Distance Phone Service
Toothpaste & Mouthwash
Coffee & Tea
How many of these types of products will you buy this week?
There are networking businesses that sell all of those items, and more. It may take some checking, but you can find them. Don’t limit your income potential with a business that limits what you can sell.
** Does The Company Stand Behind The Products?
Does the company you are considering have any guarantees for the products? If the product is not as expected, may you return it for a refund? If your customers who are not members are not happy with a product, may they return it for a refund?
These are important questions. If the company has no written refund policy, preferably 100%, then why should you buy their products? If your customers cannot return a product they are not satisfied with, they will not continue to be your customers.
Not all networking businesses have a written return policy. The good ones do. The best ones will offer 100% return. There’s not a lot that do this. This one item separates the good from the bad very quickly.
** Product Ordering & Delivery
If you sell products to people who do not become members of your program, how is this handled? Do you order it for them? Is it shipped to them, or is it shipped to you? Does your customer pay you, or does your customer pay the company.
These are all valid questions, if your program allows selling to non-members. And, if it does not allow this, you should probably avoid the program.
We are in the technological age. With the Internet and 1-800 phone numbers for product ordering, and with inexpensive delivery services; your customers should be able to order by themselves. This is called “direct fulfillment”. Your customers have a catalog (online or offline), orders and pays for the product themselves, the product is shipped directly to them, and you get credit for the sale.
The networking plan you look at should have this feature. It’s easier for you, and it’s easier for the customer. It also eliminates you having to worry about whether the customer is going to pick up and pay for the products after you have ordered and paid for them.
** The Pay Plan
If you are familiar at all with MLM, network marketing, or anything similar; then you have come across pay plans based on a matrix. Plans that describe themselves as a 2 X 8, 3 X 5, or some other type of matrix. That means you are limited to a certain number of people in your organization.
As an example, in a 3 X 5 matrix, your organization can only be 3 legs wide. If you recruit more than 3 people, those people go down to the next unfilled level. The same for the people you recruit. As the 5th level fills, no one else who is recruited is a part of your business. You only earn money on the sales generated by the people who fit into your matrix.
So, if you recruit someone when your matrix is almost full, they will probably be on your fifth level. Then if that person recruits 100 people, you do not earn anything from those 100 people because they are six levels deep in a five level matrix.
Other plans sometimes refer to themselves as 2-tier. This usually means that you may have an unlimited number of people on your first level. But, your organization is only two levels deep. So, if someone on your second level recruits 100 people, they are not in your organization.
If you look at these plans closely, notice that the ones that allow you more people on your first level are usually the ones you can make more money with. So, a 2 X something plan will usually make you less money than a 3 X something plan, which usually makes you less money than a 5 X something plan.
The ideal plan will allow unlimited “width.” You width is the first number of the matrix. In a 3 X 5 plan, your width is limited to 3 people. An ideal plan would also allow unlimited “depth.” In a 3 X 5 plan, your depth is limited to 5 levels. So, your ideal plan would have unlimited width and depth. Not many pay plans allow this, but some do.
As an example: there is a man who lives about five minutes away from me. He is associated with the same networking business as I am, but about 18 years longer. I am on his 25th level – maybe deeper. But, he still earns some money from my purchases.
** Training and Support
One requirement in most networking businesses is that there be training provided. Basically, if you recruit someone – you do the training. In most networking businesses this is in the form of a members-only website. You sign up, pay the money, get access to a website, and that is considered your training.
The website will have the usual list of search engine submission services, FFA submission pages, banner ads for your use, suggested classified ads for online ad sites, etc. But, nowhere in the mix is an actual human for you to get advice from.
If you decide to join a networking business, be sure there is some real networking. Will you ever get to meet your sponsor; will you even get the real name of your sponsor? Who do you call if you have a problem? Or, can you call someone at all? These are all questions to ask before joining.
Some networking businesses have optional meetings or conferences for you to attend. This should not be regarded as a bad thing. It is at these meetings that the real training takes place. You also have the opportunity to talk to many other people who are doing the same thing. It’s an opportunity to share ideas & strategies. Personally, I try to get to everything within driving distance. It just makes sense.
** The nutshell
As with anything else, if you are offered a chance to get into a networking business that sounds too good to be true – it probably is. To make a living in networking requires committing to the long-term. The real money is in the residuals you get next month, next year, five years from now. You need to commit to 10-12 hours a week now to begin to see results six months from now.