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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

MLM and the Path of Least Resistance

If you've been in MLM for any amount of time, you may have had that feeling of a fish swimming upstream against the current. Or, even like a fish out of water. No one seems to want your product, your opportunity, and they certainly don’t understand why you are doing this.

Have you ever felt this way?

I felt this way for years in the business. And, I struggled with my thoughts and feelings of being out of alignment. I felt that way until I finally found what was right for me in this business. I want to share that with you and see if it might help you in deciding where your fit is in the industry and how you might reach that place of feeling "in balance."

My journey down the "path of least resistance" started with determining who my target market is within the industry and defining what the characteristics are of this market.

Women make up the majority of network marketers, and that was a bonus for me, since I am a woman. I am also a stay home mom, raising my children and determined to be at home for that aspect of my life. I found that many in the network marketing industry also fit that characteristic.

Now, here are a few of the characteristics within that target market that are also prevalent.

First, many women do not control the checkbook in the family and this gives them a limited amount of money to invest into a business. Their spouses will okay a certain amount to invest in a business, and that is usually not enough to truly cover what is required to make a network marketing venture successful.

Second, women are not "natural born recruiters." Many must experience success with the product and have a sense that it performs as it should before they will naturally share the idea with others.

Third, women do not typically like to see themselves as "sales people."

Now, let's talk about some characteristics within the industry and how these may affect the performance of the female target market.

The network marketing industry is built largely on the concept of having an "auto-ship" of goods and services to the distributors in the field. Each month, a set product, or dollar amount ships out to the active distributors. Depending on the company, this product is meant for either personal consumption, or can be retailed to others.

Most typical auto-ship costs range any where from $100 - 300, depending on the company.

As I mentioned before, if a woman does not control the check book in her family, this leaves very little budget for marketing the business, which is required to build a large, successful organization.

And, in most companies, there is no real way to earn an income retailing the product. In most nutritional companies, the wholesale cost of the product is at or even above the wholesale cost of an equivalent product at a quality vitamin and supplement store. This means that $100 -300 auto-ship of products is left to the distributor to consume.

So, the whole focus is on sponsoring. In order to make money, one must be able to sponsor others into the program.

I also found that in many programs, as you move up the ranks, you must increase the amount of your auto-ship in order to earn your full paycheck.

While I do believe that network marketing is an awesome business and an incredible way to truly develop a "work at home" income, many of these characteristics about the industry were making it difficult for my target market to be a success. It could be done, but it likely would not be done by the masses.

Many women are looking first and foremost for a way to earn a couple hundred dollars extra a month. They want to find a product they believe in and a method for getting that product out there and pocketing the money.

They don't want to recruit or feel compelled to build a team of others.

And, I have found that given the chance, they will fall into team building in a very natural way if they can first experience some success within the other aspects of the business.

As I began to look for a company that would be a fit for me, I realized that a few things really needed to be in place for me to access my target market, and offer something that would appeal to them; that they could see themselves doing successfully; and that would fit into the monthly budget they have to put toward a business.

Here are the characteristics I determined must be in place for a business I pursued to be successful -

1. Product with strong market appeal - others would want the product without needing to be convinced.

2. Product had to have a wholesale price that was low enough to allow a retail mark-up where a distributor could put cash in the pocket right away.

3. This would allow the distributor to make money without being forced to recruit.

4. This would also provide a way for the distributor to develop a budget for advertising that came from the business itself - retailing the product. So, no extra money needed to come out of the family budget to fund the business.

5. Had to have a low, monthly auto-ship cost, and the ability to recoup that monthly investment through retail.

And, I am thrilled to report there are a handful of companies out there that fit this criterion. This meant there was something out there I could be successful with and then truly teach others within my target market to do the same.

Once I began to pursue network marketing from this angle, things really changed for me. Not only was I able to make my opportunity a success, but I have been able to sponsor others into the program and teach them how to also be successful.

Today, I am back in balance and no longer feel like that fish swimming against the current. I am on the path of least resistance within the network marketing industry.

If you do or have felt this way, I encourage you to spend some time defining who your target market is, and what fits this target market. Know the parameters you are working with for success within this market. Then, find the companies who will offer what you need to provide in order to be successful.

Good luck finding your path of least resistance within the network marketing industry.

EXPECT Success!

Jackie Ulmer

Friday, February 02, 2007

When MLM Company's Have Challenges

Probably like you, I've been online long enough to have seen plenty of MLM companies serve their time in the "hot seat" of media or other scrutiny.

Really, it's a sad time for us all because bottom line - the media loves to show over hyped national conventions with distributors "drinking the Kool-Aid" (sometimes, literally!) and it paints ALL of network marketing as a scammy business to be avoided at all costs.

So, as a professional network marketer, how do I (and you) work to overcome the negativity that settles over all of us when this happens?

Do we go online and post cut throat things, de-meaning the company and distributors?

Do we stay in the background?

Do we share how and why our own company would not fall into this same snake pit?

Do we reach out to those distributors, who in some cases, are not to blame at all? (And, in other cases, a small group of over zealous distributors caused the problem)

What DO we and what SHOULD we do?



EXPECT Success!

Jackie Ulmer