The future of network marketing alone together
By: Steve Jamieson
While the rest of the world recently learned what “Alone Together” truly means, network marketing has been refining that socio-economic business model for many years.
One of the foundational principles of network marketing was based on the simple premise that you cannot be in two places at once. Hence, network marketing created a structure to leverage the time and efforts of potentially thousands of people to help individual entrepreneurs reach a financial success they could not achieve on their own.
Today, Zoom webinar services and similar platforms have taught us you can not only be in two places at once, but you can be in virtually any home in any part of the world, simultaneously—even in different languages—simply at the touch of a button. You no longer need five people to find five people five levels deep in order to reach more than 10,000 people. You can personally and interactively touch thousands of people with a few strategically executed Zoom webinars.
While the coronavirus has questioned our very faith in whether or not our daily lives will ever return back to normal, in many ways the new normal is based on the old promise of network marketing.
The best of network marketing was designed to connect us—socially, financially and emotionally. It was structured to work from anywhere, anytime and, most importantly, to work when we weren’t working.
Did anyone notice how well this business model worked while almost everything else seemed to stop working?
In the past several years the gig economy raced past network marketing as the most viable alternative income opportunity, or so we thought. How many Uber drivers are earning an income today, when the car is parked in their driveway every morning? Has the air been let out of Airbnb when no one can leave their home, never mind rent one?
Has anyone sent the memo to our friends over at the FTC or to John Oliver at HBO, that the network marketing business model allowed millions of multi-level marketing distributors from all around the world to receive income checks, during the stay-at-home quarantine orders, because millions of customers needed the goods and services that network marketing companies were able to provide?
It doesn’t begin to speak to the millions of customers who were able to continue to purchase products from direct sales companies because of the cash rewards VIP customers receive when they refer other customers to our companies.
Moving companies from an “inner circle, corporate top-down profit-sharing model” to a “bottom-up, customer-driven revenue-sharing model” was the original network marketing dream. While the rest of the world recently learned what “Alone Together” truly means, network marketing has been refining that socio-economic business model for many years.
Understanding that working together was far more attractive than standing alone, network marketing companies evolved their working relationships with distributors from an independent contractor mindset to more of a brand advocate partnership. This was all to show they valued distributors as an extension of the very company themselves. Today, the direct sales revenue sharing model is being taken one step further as customers are now embedded in the supply chain, being rewarded by shopping and rewarded when their friends shop—even if they never decide to do this as a business.
These times have sent us scrambling to be alone, safe and protected. It has also tapped into our inner desire to connect with those we hold dearest and those we may never know personally, but have gotten to know through their stories and acts of helping others before helping themselves. This is similar to what happens when someone is building a successful network marketing organization.
In the past several years, many network marketing companies have been looking for a technology breakthrough to redefine our business model and compete more effectively in the new landscape.
Zoom and similar technologies, which allow us to connect personally and professionally with a broad reach, is the beginning of a technology adoption on an unprecedented scale best suited to our business model.
We simply need to focus on the value proposition network marketing offers when we are all connected to our friends, family, and community—socially, emotionally and, yes, financially.
During these uncertain times, the certainty of revenue sharing among all of those who participate—customers and distributors—might be our greatest value proposition of them all.
We have taught ourselves and our distributors that recognizing the right time and seizing the momentum are key elements to positioning a company to be a viral and sustainable opportunity.
This is our time to recapture our position as the most viable and long-term alternative business opportunity.
In order to accomplish this, we have to align our core fundamental strengths with a vision for the future. We need to begin with residual income, our strongest competitive advantage, and build our model backwards from this starting point. We have to leverage new e-commerce and marketing technologies through partnerships or investments. We need to have organically driven compensation plans that start with the customer and not the distributor. We need to utilize technology to move network marketing to “network partnering” with our distributors by involving ourselves with their customer acquisition and experiences.
Technology can make us accessible while allowing us to stay personal in ways that were not possible before. Artificial intelligence and machine learning can also help our distributors reach the right customers with the right conversations like never before.
Other competitive alternative income opportunities made the leap into technology, jumped into personalization, and focused on customer experience and acquisition. It is our time to do the same with a stronger, advanced, and now battle-tested, business model prospering in the most challenging of times.
The future of network marketing is rooted in its past, but now is not the time to look in the rearview mirror when we need to see what possibilities lie in front of us.