Who Took the
"Networking" Out of Network Marketing?
Why Distributor Web Sites Don't Work
This topic effects
millions of independent business owners (IBOs or distributors as they are
called), and unfortunately often in a negative way. Maybe this article can
Buckle-up, the realities in this article will certainly throw many off your
HOW COULD SO MANY GET IT SO WRONG?
Network Marketing online has so missed the mark, one wonders how so many
people and so many companies could have it so wrong. Typically one does the
obvious when seeking solutions that work online; they follow the leaders.
It makes sense to observe companies like Amazon, Netflix, or Google and adapt
winning concepts. But not MLM companies, they march to a different drummer
and relentlessly continue to push a square-wheel uphill.
The examples I've studied are far too many to cover in one article, but let's
look at a few.
Network marketing was built on the principle that one tries the product first,
they fall in love with the benefits, and they find themselves wanting to
tell other people about it (ie: word-of-mouth). However, in network marketing
you earn money as you tell your product story with others. Simple.
LEFT TURN, WRONG ROAD
Suddenly, the internet was born and MLM has great expectations. Instead of
"networking" and "sharing the product", we get the biggest left turn in marketing
that anyone could imagine. The age of super hype, lead generation, mass mailings,
recruit & forget, and bad PR is upon us. When the biggest company, Amway,
makes their "Quixtar" entry in 1999, what was already on a bad track seemed
And today? On virtually every distributor site (I've evaluated 115+) we see
"BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY", "MAKE MONEY", "IT'S SO EASY ANYBODY CAN DO IT"...
it's everywhere. On some, it's hard to determine what the product is. If
you're lucky enough to figure it out, guess what hurdle comes next?
MLM companies force new customers to "join first" and become a member/distributor
BEFORE they've purchased their first product. Can you imagine that offline?
Jump in the Chevy and head up to your grocery store. Buy a bar of soap. Next
go to the checkout and imagine them forcing you to become a soap salesman
BEFORE you can checkout. It gets worse, some sites require the customer obtain
a secret passcode just to look at the soap! Jeff Bezos, would be librarian
today if he had put a "password only" sign on Amazon.com.
YOU GET WHAT YOU ADVERTISE FOR...
Here's the sad truth: with few exceptions, no one in network marketing is
sustaining an profitable online business where products are sold through
the distributor sites to regular customers secured by common online marketing
techniques. In fact, I know of no example of a network marketer that makes
more money selling product than he spends on the site itself. Whoa, you might
want to re-read that one.
In a nutshell, I'm saying product sales aren't happening independently of
recruiting people into the business. And unfortunately, because of the hype
about "make money fast" and "how anyone can do it", the type of recruits
one gets, are often not good candidates for running their own business. Advertise
for people that can make money "doing nothing" and you'll attract recruits
that "do nothing."
NO SALES NO TRAINING
You immediately wonder why such a failed system would endure? Perhaps the
companies had initial high hopes of online product sales, but settled for
the revenue generated by selling the sites as a "tool". If 10,000 distributors
pay $10 a month on a square-wheel vehicle and never complain, that's $100,000
a month revenue.
Another fatal flaw is internet training. It is tradition that an MLM company
does not do "marketing" training, that's left to experienced distributors.
The company sets guidelines, but hands-on training is distributor to distributor.
This would be fine, but online marketing came about rather abruptly and
'old-school' MLM trainers did not keep pace. The industry at-large shot an
arrow into cyberspace only to miss the target. Instead, they hit the distributors
right in the wallet. Blind leading the blind? Yes.
To think that Amazon.com would flourish in the pure brilliance of a MLM-like
affiliate program starting at zero while the biggest of the big, Quixtar
slaps visitor password requirements on their IBO sites is dumbfounding.
13 DUMB THINGS ABOUT DISTRIBUTOR SITES
1) Most sites mix the business opportunity with the product.
2) Most sites force membership upon potential customers who merely want to
3) Site content is typically full of hype.
4) There is little ability for a distributor to differentiate his site from
5) There is often no way to build an opt-in list (a newsletter for example)
6) There is no forethought into designing the site for online marketing
campaigns, that is, most sites are built with the expectation that visitors
all enter from the home page and find their way.
7) Inadequate visitor tracking tools.
8) Crazy URLs are often three miles long. Trying to send a customer to any
page other than the home page is a real challenge.
9) OK, sorry to burst your bubble, but those 10 minute MLM flash movies are
not increasing popcorn sales much less product sales.
10) Purchasing opportunity leads is one of the worst ways to get traffic.
11) Auto-responders? In most cases you "Ought-o-forget'em"
12) It's useless to have a site without proper training on generating targeted
traffic (preferably, customer traffic).
13) Does your site require a visitor password? If so, cancel it. No store
ever succeeded by locking customers out.
WHAT'S WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE
What better place to network than on the world's largest network: the internet.
It's a world of blogging, social systems, podcasting, discussion groups and
more, all classified by the tags of Technorati to the keywords of Google.
Yet, few are "networking" in network marketing.
Compliancy issues are looming too. The FTC, consumer groups like Pyramid
and grassroots movements like "Let's Get The Word Out"
are applying pressure on companies and the industry to improve. The "tools"
part of the business has always been controversial and as Dateline NBC exposed
in their year long investigation
it's not a pretty picture.
HEAR'S A TIP
If you're a network marketer, the onus is on you to help your company understand
your needs. I would hope your upline or your company will not point back
at you or suggest the internet is not a worthwhile way to build your business;
it's not true. Online marketing does not replace offline; it complements
If you truly believe in your product and it has brought benefits to you;
your enthusiasm and your personal story is a "marketing machine" waiting
to happen. You need good tools, a good web site, and continuing training
on how to make it all work. If you're not getting that, it's time to kick,
scream, and rattle cages. Other industries have figured it out, why not network
About the Author:
is a former university instructor who has achieved the highest ranks in Network
Marketing. He is a formidable web technologist, systems developer, internet
marketing 'guru', and consultant. As an advocate of positive business change
in the MLM industry, he heads projects like "Let's Get The Word Out"
- Hundreds of thousands of distributors, dozens of MLM companies, trainers
& authors have benefited from Dan Hollings' consultation, trainings and
diverse web systems. BrooklineTechnologies.com provides web solutions based
on Mr Hollings recommendations.