The idea of network marketing, or multi-level marketing as it is sometimes known, has been around for much longer than most of us have been alive.
There were many successful businesses based around multi-level marketing in the 1920s and 30s, and some of the biggest multi-level marketing companies that are still around today have been trading for more than 50 years.
How you define network marketing will depend on what kind of business you run. Some people think of network marketing as being only the “interactive distribution” types of company that rely extensively on sales teams.
Companies such as Avon and Tupperware fall under this banner. However, people who do a lot of work online will define network marketing in a different way, including word-of-mouth and relationship marketing under the network marketing banner.
Network Marketing is Sustainable
One thing that is important to remember when we think about how to define network marketing is that network marketing is sustainable.
There are still some detractors of network marketing who have some very negative associations with the term, thinking that it refers to unsustainable Ponzi schemes, fraud, and even aggressive chain letters.
This association is generally erroneous. The Direct Selling Association is a lobbying group and trade association that campaigns on the behalf of companies that make use of network marketing and multi-level marketing compensation schemes, and it has a large number of members who employ both MLM and single-level direct sales tactics.
Network Marketing And The Internet
The Internet has changed the face of network marketing forever, as well as how we define network marketing. Now, instead of having to rely on a large network of foot-based sales agents or hosting parties in your home, you can make money (and build an impressive downline) via the Internet. This means that network marketers have unprecedented reach and power, and can scale their operations much more easily than their predecessors from even a decade ago.
Thanks to the power of social media, mailing lists, RSS feeds and membership sites, online marketers can work smarter than other network marketers, achieving better results, reaching more prospective customers, and building a network of agents underneath you easily and efficiently.
Some network marketing programs, such as Juice+, even actively promote the idea of “virtual franchises” that include both online and offline selling. How much online and offline networking you do depends on your own preferences and the networking style that is most effective for you.
However, the most successful network marketers are the ones that devote time to true marketing, rather than chasing one prospect after another. A prospect that converts will pay your bills for a day or two. A good marketing campaign will pay your bills month in, month out.
Choosing the Best Network Marketing Opportunity
Today, there are quite literally hundreds of established, reputable network marketing opportunities with big brands in a range of niches, including weight loss, fitness, nutrition, property, home appliances, fashion, telephony and utilities and more. No matter what your expertise, you should be able to find a network marketing opportunity that will suit you.
If you choose a niche that you are comfortable with then you will be more enthusiastic about building your network, and this will translate to greater commissions too.
When you are looking for a network marketing opportunity, do not focus just on which opportunities offer the biggest commissions. Remember that big commissions are worth nothing if you cannot find customers to make a purchase.
Try to pick a product that you know a lot about and that you believe in. If you are going to be targeting a specific geographic area, consider how many people are working that particular program in your area. The last thing you want is to end up facing stiff competition from a more established affiliate. Of course, if you are the only person operating in your area, you might want to stop to ponder why.
A “legal insurance” affiliate is unlikely to find a lot of customers in an area that is populated almost exclusively by students, for example, so you may be better off being an affiliate for a fitness program instead.