The basics of network marketing
Network marketing is a form of natural marketing which can have a huge impact on your business if you know how to manage it.
You probably already had this experience: you tried a new restaurant and had an amazing experience: low price, delicious food, good environment, polite waiters… The next day, you go to your office, as usual. When break’s time comes, you go to take a coffee, with some colleagues, some friends. What do you talk about? The first thing you share with them is your new experience. The previous week, you tried an awful restaurant: your first reaction was to tell everyone “never go there!”. But today, you have a good experience, and you feel like sharing it with others. You are taking your coffee, and you say “Yesterday I tried this restaurant. I did spend a good time, and I would go again”. Congratulations: you experienced Network Marketing!
Clearly, you didn’t do anything special. You have been natural, enthusiastic about a situation which made you happy. Then, your enthusiasm influenced your colleagues’ opinion, and encouraged them to try to have the same experience as you. Your colleagues, your friends, your relatives represent your own network.
Simply because it was real. By using advertisement, companies try to create, to copy, this feeling. However, the enthusiasm of somebody who lived a good experience, and the one of somebody playing it in order to influence people’s behaviour, are different. The first one is called natural. This one can be detected by other people: they can feel the difference between an actor and a person truly happy with the situation.
The result is that you influenced all of your colleagues, in a different manner. Some of them will immediately consider going there. Some would forget about your story but keep it somewhere in their brain: if later on they come by this restaurant, or hear about it, the feeling you shared will instantly come up. Some of them would not consider going, for personal reason, but they would be able to advise their own friends to go. Finally, some of them would not trust you: but to challenge your feeling, they would probably go to make their own idea about it.
Network Marketing is one of the most complicated marketing solution: it is impossible to measure efficiently its impact. The first information (yours) will soon be propagated as a virus. It will slowly be modified: this is the risk with oral transmission. This kind of Marketing is called Viral Marketing. The system is easy to understand: one person, giving the information to ten people. Each of them, give the information to ten others. Etc… The information moves fast, and the number of people who receive it increase exponentially. However, the primary information is never the same as the last one.
You are able to convince your friends that the restaurant in which you did go yesterday was good. Why wouldn’t you be able to convince them that any product is good? You would, at first, have this feeling: “how can I sell to my own friends? They are my friends, not my customers! I would have the feeling to betray them!”. It is a natural reaction, and you are totally right. Nevertheless, consider the following statement: the goal is NOT to sell ten vacuums to your grand-mother. The goal is to keep your habits. Your friends are the someone's customers. Why wouldn’t they be yours? You are used to tell them what was good for you, which good experience you had with some service or product. The next step is easy: continue to be faithful and to tell your own feeling, but make money with it! You probably think: “how could I lie to my friends to influence them to buy?”. You won’t! You won’t lie to them, simply because, if you do, you become an advertisement. And as I told you before, advertisement does not work as well as Network Marketing, because it is obviously not true. You have to be true, to love the product or the service you sell. If you try to influence your friends to buy a product you don’t like, or a product you don't even use, you will immediately fail. If you try to convince them to buy, you will create a tension, a risk to lose both the sale and the friend. The principle is easy: continue to say the truth, continue to give your opinion, do not change your habits, never lie, just get paid for that. The main ingredient for this success is trust.
Network Marketing is everywhere. It is the most natural marketing solution, because it doesn’t involve any other vector than people. This method is out of control; however, it can be encouraged. Now that you know how the Network Marketing works in the daily life, you can easily imagine how to use it in the professional life: everyone has a personal network. Therefore, each person in your network has his own network also. If you make use of it, knowing the principle of Viral Marketing, your network will soon infect another network, etc… The result is that, even if you cannot control the virus once it goes out of your private network, you can encourage the primal infection. Each business’ marketing should begin with a private network: it is the easiest and cheapest way to start a business.
I mentioned it already: everyone has a network. The first step of Relationship Marketing is to develop and solidify your network. Indeed, what kind of impact could have a network made of a few cousins you didn’t meet for 15 years?
First thing, estimate your network. You can divide it in four categories:
- Family (close and far)
- Friends (with several levels of closeness)
- Professional contacts (colleagues, customers, suppliers, partners, etc…)
- Forgotten (all those people you haven’t heard from for over 20 years but with who you have a common past)
Once you have clearly defined your network’s content, it is for you to give it life and make it strong! Start with re-building connections with the fourth category: all those people you haven’t seen for long but who would have such a good effect on your business!
Contact them, but not as would a salesman do: you are not here to sell them anything! Have a coffee, talk about each other’s paths, lives, experiences… Network Marketing will start by itself.
Force yourself to keep contact with all those people. A good marketer is someone who knows how to build contacts and how to use those in a smart way.
Then, think about building a platform to support your marketing. This platform must be:
- Visible (everyone should be able to see it)
- Accessible (easy to use)
- Dynamic (a static platform has no use, your content must be updated)
- Alive (people should be allowed to participate)
The easiest kind of platform to build is the blog: a blog is easy to create, easy to update, easy to promote and enable interactivity with visitors. It would be a simple way to enhance your experience and knowledge.
In addition (or alternatively) you should use social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Viadeo, etc… to handle you contacts more easily (sending mails, birthdays, events organization, …).
Once your platform built, use it as a window for your marketing: it is, before all, an information spot used to spread your message, but also a meeting point to unite your network and let it talk. Use your platform as a reference in your discussions.
The above animation shows the basic concept of viral marketing.
A network isn’t fix or limited. I previously listed 4 categories to divide your network: those are only basic categories anyone has. Those four categories regroup the people on who you may have the most influence and who are the easiest to contact.
But do not limit yourself to those four categories! Continue, endlessly, building and enlarging your sphere of influence. The best way to do so is indeed to meet new people. But how to meet new people?
You have here two solutions: the real world and the virtual one.
Building new contacts on the internet is easy. In terms of quantity, it is very efficient. In terms of quality however, it is much harder to trust someone you never met.
In the real world, there is only one rule: human relations. Go out, subscribe to associations, participate in cultural events, practice sport, … there is no better way making friends.
Here, it is exactly the opposite: the quality of contacts is better, but the quantity is much smaller – making 25 friends a day isn’t very easy in the real world!
My suggestion here is to mix both strategies.
Never consider it as a job: becoming social isn’t easy for everyone, but it should never be a hassle making new friends and meeting new people. By spending time with people you will understand humans and social interactions better.
Use forums to talk about what you like and share ideas and passions. There are forums talking about anything, you will surely find yours!
Never under-estimate the power of social media (Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, …): there is no better way to connect all your contacts and make new ones.
If you carefully apply this advice you will for sure become popular very soon and have a very strong contact list!
To go even further, I suggest you to read my article "Become a connector: the importance of building your network".
Tags: network marketing viral marketing viral network build your network manage your network build a contact list build your network