Embrace the highs and lows

and September 19, 2018

How has the outburst of digital technology altered marketing?

Marketers now have the ability to deliver personalized advertising to incredibly targeted audiences over an ever-present distribution network, the mobile phone. They now have access to nearly real-time information about the actions and engagement of their target audience and can continuously modify their message and audience parameters. Developments in technology have also created exponential growth in the number of advertising platforms and customer acquisition channels. This new digital marketing world places new data requirements on an organization and has created a new generation of data-driven marketers with analytical skills. It demands fast reaction and response times from creative teams. Organizations and individual digital marketers have become increasingly specialized in specific online customer acquisition channels. For entrepreneurs, this environment may lead to feelings of overwhelm, FOMO (fear of missing out), and distraction.

The concept of network marketing and its scope…

Network marketing is also known as direct sales, and represents independent distributors who sell products on behalf of a brand in return for a sales commission. Network marketers may also earn commissions on product sales of distributors they recruit, referred to as their ‘downline’ or team.

People are attracted to network marketing business for the low-risk opportunity to become an entrepreneur, the ability to work full or part-time from home, the ability to have a flexible work schedule, and the desire to build both a present and long-term income stream. Over 21 companies are members of the Indian Direct Selling Association including well-known brands such as Altos, Amway, Avon, Herbalife, Jeunesse, Oriflame, Tupperware, Unicity, and Vestige.

According to the Direct Selling Association, there are more than 103 million network marketers globally, and it is estimated that the vast majority of these people are women. An article on www.selfgrowth.com estimates that one million people in India are involved in network marketing.

Do traditional methods of marketing still hold value in today’s connected world?

Today’s connected world offers a way to market well beyond the traditional advertising channels of print, broadcast, telemarketing, and direct mail. The principles behind traditional marketing remain extremely relevant in today’s connected world, while the channels to share that message continue to expand. The 4Ps—product, price, promotion and placement—are a core principle of traditional marketing, and remain relevant regardless of the channel.

It remains critically important to know your customer and target market, communicate the benefits of your product in a way that offers a solution to the customer’s need, establish and maintain relationships with your customers, and include a clear call to action (CTA) in all marketing messages. Given low attention spans on social media, businesses must also ensure that their message is succinct, visual, and memorable.

You believe using social media to accomplish personal or business goals is a highly complicated blend of art and science. Why?

Effective social media captures the elements of a brand and connects with people at an emotional level. Social media is a highly visual experience, and increasingly includes sound. Communicating effectively in a visual and auditory form requires a strong focus on design, which we consider art. Understanding how the message is connecting with your audience and which messages and images are most effective requires data analysis, which is where the science comes into play.

Facebook advertising is a good example of the blend of art and science in social media. Creating the images to generate engagement on the post requires great design. Understanding the effectiveness of the post at driving the desired behavior requires data analysis. The results drive a recurring loop to refine the post and audience to maximize results.

Social media is all about marketing and building an audience, not immediate sales. Why?

Effective social media serves one of three purposes: educate, entertain, or engage. For the most part, people do not open their favorite social media app to shop. When people are ready to purchase, they prefer to do business with those they know, like, and trust. Using social media to grow a business requires time to develop the know, like, and trust elements of a relationship with a growing audience or following. Only once the relationship has a firm foundation will social media followers be open to the occasional product offer or promotion. One of my favorite experts on this subject is Gary Vaynerchuk, and I recommend his book, Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World, to learn more about this topic.

It is a fact that social media influences purchasing decisions. How can businesses employ this to their advantage?

Today’s consumers place increasing importance on the opinion of family, friends, and independent reviews when making purchase decisions. They also depend on user-generated content as opposed to corporate-generated marketing material.

As retail sales shift from bricks and mortar stores to online, consumers may become frustrated when they cannot see, taste, touch, try on, or sample an item. Personal recommendations, reviews and testimonials on social media may help bridge this gap. Four steps to increase social media exposure and drive specific behaviors are:

  • fun contests and prizes to encourage customers to post images and videos of themselves visiting the business, using the product, or before and after pictures of product results.
  • leverage unique hashtags for your business and products.
  • recognize and thank customers for social media posts.
  • monitor and engage in all social media posts about your business or its products.

Do you think network marketing events can create an enriched organizational culture apart from business promotion?

Network marketing is often described as personal development with a paycheck. Personal development includes technical or job-related skills, interpersonal skills, leadership skills and communication skills. Outcomes include greater self-awareness, knowledge, and confidence. Network marketing events allow individuals to experience this development in a supportive community of people who share a common interest, but different backgrounds, experience, lifestyles, and goals. The diversity of backgrounds with a shared common interest allows participants to learn from the stories of others. Company culture is built upon shared experiences and storytelling. Culture is taught, experienced, modeled, and rewarded. In-person interaction is a vital part of this development.

According to Eric Worre, author, Go Pro: 7 Steps to Becoming a Network Marketing Professional, network marketers should attend their company convention to reconnect with their dream, find reasons to move
forward, be a part of a community, and [experience] positive peer pressure.

Although technology has developed drastically, the way of working in network marketing has not changed a lot and there are many who do not understand how such technology works. How can these two different areas work together effectively?

There are several layers to the technology gap for people working in the field in direct sales or network marketing. Most brands offer great tools for creating a website, entering orders, payment processing, and tracking sales. Many network marketing companies offer back-end systems to manage customers, but very few of them focus on the prospecting stage. Many existing systems are not mobile-friendly.

In other words, there are very few tools available to manage prospects, 1:1 conversations, and follow-up steps. It is critical that these tools are easy to use from a mobile phone. Mobile devices are the one commonality in connecting with people today. Our mobile phones are with us wherever we go and are always on.

As creators of software, we believe the secret to bridging the technology gap is simplicity. Making things simple is not easy. That is where the magic happens.

Many marketers today consider network marketing as a get-wealthy scheme. Many entrepreneurs do not pull off the domino effect because of their lack of familiarity and knowledge. Also, they become pessimistic about network marketing, thereby damaging its standing. Why does the problem occur in this culture?

As with many things in life, strengths can also be weaknesses. The attractiveness of working for yourself, setting your own schedule and being your own boss may result in a lack of consistent business effort. The low cost of starting a network marketing business may translate into a lack of financial commitment. A desire for immediate financial gain may cause unrealistic commitments to be made, or shortcuts to be taken.

The motivation to commit to a network marketing business, learn the industry and the products, and work hard must come from within the individual. Network marketing should not be viewed as a get-rich-quick scheme. Building a solid business and team takes years of effort. All entrepreneurial journeys are a cycle of ups and downs, highs and lows, optimism and pessimism. Successful network marketers embrace this cycle, and never quit.

Network marketing has all the nuts and bolts to become the most extensively used marketing system in the world and the largely favored line of attack for purchasing products and services. What would be the biggest challenges?

Despite the fact that many of the best-known consumer brands in the world are network marketing companies, and the fact that many global business leaders embrace and support the network marketing business model, there are plenty of skeptics and haters. Many people have stories to tell about a negative encounter with an overly enthusiastic distributor. The negative stories are shared so much more often than the positive, which damages the perception of the industry.

Sharing stories of success from both the products and the businesses and leading by example are the keys to replacing negative perceptions. Fortunately, entrepreneurs are used to taking the road less traveled and make their own decisions. By helping others be successful, we will achieve our own success.

(As told to Melissa Fernandes)