Copyright © Donovan Baldwin
NOTE: Although this article is about network marketing, its principles can be applied to its newest and increasingly common cousin, internet marketing. A majority of internet marketing programs and businesses are network marketing programs in the final analysis. One common error shared by new internet business owners, or non-internet business owners, is the assumption that they should market their program in a more standard manner. However, if you consider the cost of advertising your new internet cellular phone service against, let's say, Verizon Wireless or some other major wireless service provider, the task of competing with such a giant in a normal advertising arena is daunting at the least and frankly impossible at the worst.
That's where the network marketing thing comes in.
When most people sign up for any network marketing programs, internet based or not, they usually have no idea what they have actually gotten themselves into. Many will join a network marketing program in the expectation of easy money, an idea often provided by the network marketer who brought them into the business. They commonly try to apply standard marketing techniques, or at least as they understand them, without also understanding the forces which they are operating against as pointed out in the Verizon example shown above. Even those who simply want to start their own home business just to get out of the rat race, spend more time with the kids, or start a retirment fund, find that the costs in money and time of running a real business, internet business, brick-and-mortar business, face-to-face network business, or lemonade stand goes against all their expectations if they try to do it using standard marketing techniques. Their dreams of financial freedom often become a financial ball and chain attached firmly to their wallets and their watches.
However, all is not lost if they apply the purest form of network marketing and forget about going head-to-head with the Verizons of the world.
In its purest form, network marketing is simply one person telling another. The classic example is the time you chose to try a certain restaurant because a friend recommended it to you. I recently had my car repaired at a garage recommended by the home inspector I used when I bought my house. The home inspector seemed to be an honest fellow with ties to the community, so I was happy to take his advice, and I was not disappointed. I could have looked all day in the phone book to find a mechanic who may or may not have been as reliable.
Unfortunately, a network marketer cannot rely on this passive sort of word-of-mouth alone. He or she must become active, hence the "networking" aspect of this sort of business.
No matter what goods or service you choose to represent, there is almost certainly a business entity capable of providing it as well as you...perhaps even better! Even so, many network marketers make an excellent income because there ARE plenty of people willing to buy from someone they know and trust, even in those cases where the product may be more expensive or delivery takes longer. Sometimes, these sorts of purchases will be for convenience as well as for friendship's sake. Take Avon, Mary Kay, and Arbonne, to name a few. Excellent products, but anyone can go to the abundance of drug stores, groceries, and Wal-Marts and purchase cosmetics...perhaps even at a lower price. They buy from their distributors out of friendship with their distributor, respect for the product, or the benefit of having their order dropped off at their home or office...or a combination of these.
The most important point is the personal friendship with, or respect for, the distributor, but the most important aspect is probably trust. I can purchase synthetic motor oil anywhere, but my friend sells AMSOIL, and it is a reliable, dependable product, so I buy it from him.
So, how do you network market in the purest way?
As pointed out, the big boys probably have advertising and supply channels pretty well locked up. There's not a whole lot that you can do against that, although this does remain a possible way of gaining customers, particularly if you are at a point where you can afford extensive advertising or a widespread sales team...the reason for building a downline if the company uses a multi-level marketing model. Under normal circumstances..."normal" to me means not a lot of money, a hearty dislike for sales, and being an amateur compared to the professionals...you delay the "marketing" part of the equation and concentrate on the "networking" side.
In a standard network marketing situation, you can do such things as join organizations, offer free information or services, or participate in community activities. These bring attention to YOU, as opposed to your business, but, once you become known to, and respected by, the people you come in contact with, they will be more likely to purchase goods or services than if you were to merely offer to sell them something.
In an internet marketing model, there is not that much difference. Again, going head to head with the major players in your arena might not produce much, particularly as you are not known to your potential customers, and you probably do not have the budget or expertise to overcome this disadvantage. However, you CAN offer free information or services and gain the respect and trust of potential customers in this way. You can join discussion groups (most commonly, forums), or groups which might have an interest in your product or service. Again, the purpose is not to "sell", but to "network".
In either scenario, if you and I were to meet and I were to immediately tell you that I sell website hosting, for example, or an internet marketing course, your defenses would be immediately raised, and you would be prepared to defend yourself against my efforts and perhaps even sever the budding relationship. If, however, I can prove to you that I am on your side, am interested in many of the same things as you are, and that we can have a fruitful relationship whether there is an attempt at "selling" or not, a point may eventually be reached where you will reach out to me and ask me about my website hosting services or the internet marketing course.
You know the funny thing about this? I am forced to be a nice guy! I have to be a contributing member of society and have redeeming social value. I must make friends or fail! The old saying is, "to have a friend, be a friend." How tough is that?
About The Author:
The author is retired from the Army after 21 years of service. He has worked as an accountant, purchasing agent, optical lab manager, restaurant manager, instructor and long-haul, over-the-road truck driver. He has been a member of Mensa for several years, and has written and published poetry, essays, and articles on various subjects for the last 40 years. He has been an active internet marketer since 2000, and now makes his living online. To learn more about improving your marketing performance, please visit http://marketingsecrets.xtramoney4me.net. To read more articles by the author, please visit his blog athttp://donovanbaldwin.blogspot.com/, or http://xtramoney4me.net/internet_marketing_links/articles/index.html.
Dotcomology - The Science of Making Money Online