Network Marketing: Worth It, or Too Good to Be True?
Network marketing can be lucrative, but only a small percentage of people make serious money. Often referred to as multilevel marketing (MLM) or direct marketing, the idea of making money without any special skills or major investment with immediacy is appealing. And the promise of residual income fuels the desire to never wind up in your current financial position again if you've found yourself in a somewhat tough spot.
Some highly reputable companies have been built on this marketing and distribution structure: Avon, Mary Kay, Pampered Chef, and many more. But you may be asking yourself questions like, "Do I really want to pitch this to all my friends?" "Can I actually make money at it?" and "How do I know it's not a scam?"
If you're considering multilevel marketing (MLM), consumer direct marketing (CDM), or a network marketing opportunity, ask these six questions to determine whether any of them are worth your time, effort, and money.Who Is Your Upline?
Take it all the way to the top. Ask yourself questions about the person who introduced you to the opportunity and whether you can trust what they tell you. Make sure to ask if they are willing to divulge exactly how much they've been making. Probe into the founders of the company, assuming it's a newer company. Research whether they have been successful and reputable in their previous businesses. Investigate your entire upline just like you would a business partner you've never met before.What Is the Product?
Determine if it's something that would sell well in a retail store or via other traditional marketing and distribution channels. Examine the competition. You also have to consider how convincing you are going to have to be in order to sign up customers. If you're not an experienced salesperson, don't expect to become one overnight. You're going to have to become an evangelist for the product, so make sure you believe in it.When Will You Start Actually Making Money?
Don't fall for the line that it takes months or even years to show a profit. You should be able to recoup any investment and start earning income within just a few weeks if there's a real demand for the product. Making a living at it is another story. You need to be able to work part-time in addition to other steadier income sources. Assess whether or not you truly will be able to make money with this company.Where Is the Product Being Promoted and Where Can You Promote It?
Determine if the company is handling advertising and publicity on its own to help create demand for the product. Find out what restrictions are there on where and how you can promote it, such as advertising and websites. There's not a right or wrong answer to that question. A wide-open policy is more flexible for you, and for everyone else, too. If you're prepared to be highly competitive, that's fine, but if not, you may prefer to work with a company whose policy is more restrictive.How Were You Recruited?
Think back to when you were recruited and consider if it was primarily as a customer, with just a mention of "income opportunity," or if the primary pitch was for the business opportunity. The ethical way to build a downline is to sign up people as customers first, and then if they like the product, they'll be drawn to becoming a rep. A hard sell on signing up as a rep right at the outset should send up a red flag for you.Why Are You Doing This?
This is perhaps the most important question of all. If you're doing it because you think it's going to help you get out of a cash crunch, forget it. If you're doing it because you think you're going to be rich in a year, well, it's fine to have a vision but don't bank on it. On the other hand, if you really believe in the product, that gives you the best likelihood of success with it.
Many people have made a lot of money in network marketing, but many more have ended up wasting a great deal of time and money chasing a pipe dream. Ensure your success by researching carefully that you're seizing the right opportunity in the first place, and have reasonable expectations up front.