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Who Took the "Networking" Out of Network Marketing?
Why Distributor Web Sites Don't Work

By Dan Hollings © 2005

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 help.

Buckle-up, the realities in this article will certainly throw many off your seat.


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.


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 to derail.

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


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."


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 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.


1) Most sites mix the business opportunity with the product.
2) Most sites force membership upon potential customers who merely want to buy.
3) Site content is typically full of hype.
4) There is little ability for a distributor to differentiate his site from another.
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 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 Scheme Alert (, 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.


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 it.

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 marketing?

About the Author:

Dan Hollings 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. provides web solutions based on Mr Hollings recommendations.