Is Multi-Level Marketing – MLM – A Legitimate Business Option For You?

Multi-Level Marketing (MLM), or network marketing, has a poor image in many people’s minds. But the truth is that when it’s approached correctly it’s a powerful business opportunity – and has a great deal more potential now thanks to the World-Wide Web. Let’s look at the pros and cons of MLM and how to best approach using multi-level marketing to become a successful entrepreneur…

The most important aspect to going into business for yourself is the same for network marketing as it is for any other business start-up: you have to approach it as a business. If you were going to start up a stereo store or a consultancy, what would you expect to need? A proper location, reliable suppliers, some start-up capital, targeted potential customers and a LOT of marketing buzz, right? So why would you expect direct sales to be any different?

Is Multi-Level Marketing - MLM - A Legitimate Business Option For You?

In some ways MLM is a bit easier – your location, for instance. In almost every case a multi-level marketing business is home-based, meaning you don’t need to go rent office or retail space to get started. There’s a downside to that too, though, if you’re going to be distracted constantly by kids, television, everyday household tasks, etc. Like any other business you need to be able to focus on the work at hand, and have the self-discipline to stay at it no matter what is on TV, what the neighbours may be doing, etc.

Next up is reliable suppliers… Just as you would with the stereo store example, you have to do your own due diligence to find a reputable company with good products – products you believe in and can stand behind 100%. Your decision shouldn’t be based on the products’ current popularity – that can change quickly. Instead, choose products YOU feel good promoting – then learn everything you can about those products and your competitors’ products.

Start-up funding is usually lower for home-based businesses than other commercial ventures, but you’ll still need at least SOME cash you can afford to invest (and risk losing, as with any business venture). You’ll be facing product costs and possibly membership costs to get started, need to make monthly purchases til the business is making enough to pay them from your profits, and should be able to purchase business cards, produce flyers (or at least distribute them if they’re supplied), and rent a booth at appropriate local shows. If you’re not going to learn to do your own promotion & marketing online, you’ll need to be able to pay someone to do that for you as well, but for best results, learn to do your own. It doesn’t need to be perfect at first, so don’t worry – you’ll get better at it as you go along.

And speaking of the Internet, that’s where the greatest potential lies for multi-level marketing today. There was an old saying amongst opponents of MLM systems, that it was a great opportunity ‘until you run out of friends’. And in the ‘old days’ that was true for most people trying direct sales – their family and friends were their main market, and they’d end up hounding those unfortunate few until they either bought or stopped taking your calls. These days there’s no need for that – you have a huge, global market as close as your laptop, desktop or smart phone.

Conversely, that also means you have global competition. The trick is to be consistent, be honest and keep working at it. How do you stay motivated when you’re first starting out and no sales are coming in yet? This is where careful choice as to which program to join becomes even more critical… If you TRULY believe your products and/or services will benefit your target market you’ll find you really want to help those people improve or enjoy their lives more and will feel it’s your mission to get the word out there. If you’re not a true believer in the benefits of what you’re promoting, don’t even start into MLM – you’ll give up before you see the returns.

As a final word, try to join the company under someone you see doing a lot to help their downline – but don’t ever count on that help to succeed. As long as YOUR efforts are making it successful, whatever they do to help is a bonus that can get you there faster or help you go farther. The reality in network marketing is that often those above you may disappear due to events in their day-to-day life, may decide they want to change careers or may even decide to leave and go with a different MLM opportunity. If you’re not counting on them, that won’t have much impact on your business – but if you go into it planning to lean heavily on their expertise or overflow from their efforts, it could shut you down for all intents and purposes.

There are some finer nuances and refinements you’ll learn from the day-to-day operation of your business and from networking with experienced direct sales entrepreneurs, but in a nutshell you can see from the above where the potential lies and that you have to treat your multi-level marketing as a professional business if you want to mine some of that gold from the industry. Go in with your eyes wide open, ready to roll up your sleeves and work hard at making it a success, constantly learning as you go – or stay out of it completely. Only YOU know if you’re willing to make the commitment to succeed and then follow through on that plan!

Posted in Entrepreneurial Success | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments

Not Everyone Can Be A Successful Entrepreneur

For most of the 20th century, being an entrepreneur meant starting a brick and mortar business, hanging out your shingle and going after targeted clients locally. Now the online world has made it possible for almost anyone to become an entrepreneur – but in spite of what many claim, not everyone can be a successful entrepreneur

Successful Entrepreneurs

Anyone who chooses to can set up a presence online, hook it to a payment processor and start promoting their new business, all for free. Or they can set up an affiliate marketing business and promote other people’s products for a slice of the profits – again for free. And that’s what has led to the claims that anyone with an internet connection can become an entrepreneur and launch their own business, full or part time. The high cost of retail, office or manufacturing space, furnishings, staffing and the like for offline businesses can be avoided by starting a virtual company, leading a far greater number of people to venture into businesses of their own.

Unfortunately, most of these people will not make it as entrepreneurs. Oh, they may make a few dollars here and there, but very few will make a sustainable income suitable to their investment of time and efforts. You see, there’s one factor they don’t know about…

Unless you can self-motivate and self-discipline, you need a boss.

It’s going to take twice as long – or longer – to see sales coming in than people anticipate. Plus, you have to stay very active at both educating yourself and finding the right opportunities, all while not seeing immediate results. And in most cases, people have no experience in that type of environment.

In school, most students learn to focus just on what NEEDS to be done – and what needs to be done is what the teachers or professors will be marking. Very few do the ‘extra credit’ type of additional work. Then you move on into your career, again doing just enough not to get fired. A few will always put in the extra time and effort to move up and build a stellar career – and those are the people who love their jobs and would be good as entrepreneurs as well. Problem is, most of them are happy doing what they’re doing, while it’s those who hate their current jobs that most want to be self-employed.

Want an easy test to see if YOU would make a good entrepreneur? Have you ever started a fitness routine – lifting weights, running or doing some form of aerobics or cardio? Are you still at it, or did you let it slide as other interests ate up your time? You know it’s important to stay fit and healthy, and you know why you need to maintain a healthy weight – but with no one over you forcing you to do it, did you stay at it? Once again, without a ‘boss’, for most people the answer is no.

Now that isn’t a definitive test – some people who fail that will still make great entrepreneurs so long as they can develop the self-discipline to stay focused on the tasks and their deadlines and learn to motivate themselves to persevere through the lean start-up period. Just don’t go into it blind and don’t be naive – do an honest self-assessment on your own habits, strengths and weaknesses before launching yourself out there in your own business… You’ll either know to avoid it and keep your current career or be much more like to become a successful entrepreneur!

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

Posted in Entrepreneurial Success | Tagged , , , , | Comments

Newsletters And E-Zines: What Should You Expect?

In the online marketing world, and especially the Internet Marketing/Make Money Online niche, pretty much every marketer or site owner offers incentives like free downloads to entice visitors to sign up for their e-mail newsletter or e-zine. You sign up to receive it and the e-mails start to roll in every day or every few days. But just what should you expect from these e-mails?

On forums and social media you’ll often see complaints that once they’ve signed up, all they receive is promotion after promotion with each e-zine issue highlighting another product or service for sale. This isn’t what most people expect when opting in, yet once you understand the issue and the industry it makes perfect sense.

The True Value Of E-Zines And Newsletters

When e-mail marketing first started in the 1990’s, most e-zines contained a lot of good information about whatever niche the e-zines covered. That was the right format for its time, since the world wide web was in its infancy and everyone was just getting started. It was also just about the only way to dispense the information outside of paid products. But then things changed…

The first change was spam filters for e-mail inboxes, originated by a couple of the big online e-mail platforms. In many niches (parenting, pets, etc.) they had little effect except to block some of the bulk unsolicited commercial e-mails, which was their purpose. But in a classic case of ‘throwing out the baby with the bath water’, in niches like Internet marketing, health, exercise & weight loss there was a LOT of spam, and the filters got a lot more aggressive in blocking e-mails – including many of the e-zines that covered those areas of interest.

The second major change helped to fix that though with the advent of blogging software. Suddenly there was an easy way to make the information available online without having to be a professional webmaster. Now much of the information people wanted from their e-zine subscriptions was available for free without having to wait for newsletter issues. The real issue became remembering what sites had the best information and remembering to go back and check for updates as time went on.

So then, and continuing to today, the information you want is readily available across the blogosphere and in various products, free and for sale. Coupled with that, especially in the Internet Marketing arena, you now have people who are just getting started, people who have been in the industry for a few years and have modest online marketing success and the pros who have been marketing online for years – often a decade or more – and are making 6, 7 or 8 figures a year online.

That’s where the online newsletters playing field is today. You can’t cover basics in it because you lose the interest of those at middle or advanced stages. Dealing with issues common only to those who have been functioning at a higher level means alienating those just getting started. So by default the most value a marketer can offer in today’s online e-zines is to point out the new products as they become available, being sure to feature products aimed at each level of user and covering the range of functions readers want to know about.

Make no mistake – the authors of the e-zines you receive do not expect you to buy 5 different products from them every week. They expect you will have zeroed in on the path your want to follow to achieve your goals and that you will check out the products or services that can help YOU with the tasks you’re facing RIGHT NOW. Presenting their thousands, tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of subscribers with a wide variety of products and services lets every level of subscriber find the right ones for them. And that’s what you should expect from a professional marketing e-zine.

There are many ways to succeed, whether in business, health, fitness, weight maintenance or any of the other niches online. Follow the topics that interest you on social media and across the various blogs in your niche and identify both your chosen path to success and the publishers and bloggers in that niche that resound with you and your personal style – then subscribe to their newsletters. And when the e-zines start arriving in your inbox, if the featured product or service doesn’t help you right now, skip it. If it will help you, or even might help right now, then click through and check it out in more detail to see if it’s right for you at your current level on your current path. Don’t just grab everything that comes along, but stick to your path and get just those products or services that can help you today, or at least within the next month or two.

Remember that you’re charting your own course online while people publishing newsletters and magazines need to address the needs of huge numbers of subscribers, not just you. If you want more direct help, invest in the best personal coaching and mentoring program you can reasonably afford without breaking the budget. And in the meantime, expect and enjoy exposure to a wide variety of products and services from the e-zines you subscribe to. After all, if you’re not kept abreast of what’s newly available in your areas of interest then you have no way of knowing whether the goods and services you’re using are the best for you, do you? Once you realize that, you know what to expect from newsletters and e-zines and are ready to use them as the valuable tools they truly are!

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , ,

Posted in e-mail marketing, E-Zine Publishing, Entrepreneurial Success, opt-in lists, Small Business Tips | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments

Online Marketing Tools: Consolidate To Save Time & Money

Successful online marketing – be it Internet marketing, affiliate marketing or marketing an offline business online – requires a number of tools and services. By using ONE site for integrated hosting, autoresponders, trackers and more, you can save time by having them all in one place and save a LOT of money over using all different service providers to get each tool separately.

So first let’s look at what tools and services are most commonly needed at each stage of your online marketing business…

Beginner Online Marketing:

  • Hosting: You need to have a place for your blog, squeeze pages, site, salespages, etc.
  • Autoresponders: If you’re not building an opt-in list and doing e-mail promotions, you’re not making much money online, if any. For this, you need professional autoresponders with good delivery – and often more than one, since various niches each need their own follow-up e-mails.

Intermediate Online Marketing:

By this point you’re using your hosting and autoresponders heavily, with multiple squeeze pages, multiple salespages and multiple opt-in e-mail lists all humming along and making you reasonable money online. So now, along with those two tools you’re ready to add in…

  • Shopping Cart Manager: With a variety of products available now, you want to make it easy for customers to buy more than one product at a time to take advantage of their decision to buy from you at that moment.
  • Support Desk Manager: Your customers are important to you and by now you’ve learned that great customer service breeds more repeat customers and great word-of-mouth referrals. Make it easy on your customers and yourself by using a customer-care support desk.
  • Product & Customer Management: And with all of those new customers and more products, you want a simple system for managing those transactions and better records of who bought what & when they bought from you.
  • E-Book Generator & Brander: Now that you’re successful and experienced you’ll want to be writing and creating your own e-books or working with outsourced materials to created your reports. Why buy expensive software to create reports and brand them for affiliates when you can get the tools as part of your consolidated service provider?
  • Affiliate Program Manager: And speaking of affiliates, you’ll want other people promoting your products both to generate more sales and to help you build your opt-in list of buyers and prospects. Having your own affiliate program can make that happen – especially if it lets you easily add new products and list the products you already have online, no matter what site they’re on or where they’re hosted. You might have products on 2 or 3 different hosts and 5 or 6 different domains, so you want a system that integrates seamlessly with all of your products and sites.
  • Download Protection: It’s an unfortunate part of marketing online that you have to watch for those few people who will buy your digital products and then share the download link on sites set up for that explicit purpose – ripping YOU off by allowing their friends to download all your products for free. While you can’t stop that outright, you can protect yourself and limit your exposure in two ways – links that are only valid for the time limit you set AND only work for a limited number of clicks. For example, the buyer may get a link that’s valid for up to 3 clicks, with those clicks having to be used within 48 hours of their purchase.
  • Ad Tracking: By the time you reach this level, you already know enough to be using paid advertising to multiply your efforts and build sales and your opt-in list that much faster. You’re probably also using a number of other methods, including social media, video marketing, podcasting, article marketing, etc. So which ones are working best for you? Which methods should you be spending more time and money on and which ones should you reduce or drop altogether? The only way to know for sure is with professional ad tracking that shows you your cost per click (CPC), cost per acquisition or sale (CPA) and your cost per signup (CPS)
  • Link Rotator: If you want to hear a collective groan from your online marketing associates, bring up the topic of Split Testing. This is the biggest difference between good results and great results and everyone knows they SHOULD be doing it – yet it’s such a hassle very few online marketers are actually split-testing their squeeze pages and/or salespages. Yet with a link rotator it’s simple… Let’s look at a squeeze page example. There are three main variables here: your background, your headline and your body copy or bullet points.

    So you design your squeeze page and make 3 different copies of it – identical except each has a different background color or photo. You upload all 3, then put the three links into your link rotator. You buy a 200-click solo ad and when it’s done you check your stats to see which of the 3 pages got the most opt-ins. Next, you make 3 copies of the best-performing page and use a different headline on each. Once again you send a solo ad and by end of day you know which headline pulled best. Finally you duplicate the page with your best background and best headline, this time trying 3 different sets of bullet points and/or body copy. After sending this solo, you know you have your best squeeze page with the right headline, body and background.

    Your ad spend has been under $300 and all of your testing has taken 3-5 days. But for that extra bit of time and money you now have a much higher opt-in rate on a page you can promote full-blast for months and, if your follow-up funnel is effectively built, you’ll make back that investment and more just from the extra subscribers this page brings in – not to mention how much faster your opt-in list is building!

  • Membership Site Manager: The Holy Grail of online marketing is recurring income – income that continues for months or years from one initial sale. Granted, you can make that as an affiliate by promoting recurring billing sites, but as an affiliate you’re only making a bit of each month’s revenue and you have no control over the quality of the site or even how long it stays online. You could spend months promoting it and building up good residual income, only to have the site owner abandon it or simply shut it down. The safest way to build recurring income, therefor, is to launch your own membership site – or a few of them. And to make it simple, you want access to built-in tools to let you easily build that membership site and control the site and membership easily. And you want a simple way to contact your members at the drop of a hat, as they say.

Advanced Online Marketing:

First off, congrats on reaching this advanced level! By now you’ve most likely got multiple sites, multiple products, multiple opt-in lists with tens or hundreds of thousands of subscribers and either have or are considering setting up your own coaching program, right? So obviously you’re not about to switch all of your sites and lists to a new host – but have you ever added up what all of the 11 tools and services above are costing you?

Fortunately, by now you’ve probably come to realize the folly of having all of your lists with one autoresponder service and all of your web properties on one host. Otherwise, when your autoresponder is down your e-mail marketing is on pause and if your host is down you’re completely out of business until the service resumes. And if either simply disappears, you’re up the proverbial creek without a paddle. Ironical how your sites or lists go down just as you start a big launch or JV/Affiliate contest, isn’t it?

So rather than moving anything, why not use the one site that has all of the above for your future expansion? That way, if either of your hosting sites go down you still have the other – if either of your autoresponders is down you still have at least SOME of your lists to send to. That kind of protection can go a long way towards keeping your income from suddenly dropping to zero and reduce that hair-pulling stress you experience every time either is down!

Best of all, the services like the affiliate program and link tracking/link rotator work no matter what site or host you’re using – you just add a small piece of code to your existing salespages to include those products in your affiliate program. You can even set up different affiliate programs for different niches, or one for your products and a separate one for your coaching and/or membership sites. Want some of your squeeze pages to start building lists on your new service? Just replace the old autoresponder code with the new one – no need to design new squeeze pages or move them from where they are. You can even use the new site to create cloaked links to products, services and sites on your existing hosting!

Saving Time, Saving Money:

It’s easy to see how having all of these services on one site – one login to have the entire toolbox at your fingertips – is going to save you time versus having to run all over the Internet opening more and more tabs to access all the services you use.

So how is this eBusiness Automation Center going to save you money every month? Even if you’re only using a few of the 11 services and tools listed above, what are they costing you in total each month? For example, your autoresponders – how much do they go up for every 5,000 subscribers? Say you had hosting for numerous sites, 23,000 subscribers, 10,000 affiliates and 21,000 members in your membership program – what would your cost be? Are you using a link tracker yet? Add that cost in too. Pretty big total – almost scary, isn’t it? Yet all of that would just set you back $30 per month here!

That’s why I have most of my lists and most of my sites, including our 3,000+ page fitness site, on the site that offers all of the above. As I mentioned in the section on advanced online marketing, by the time you reach my level in the biz you need to be using multiple hosts and autoresponder services – but online marketers at every level should be using this site. And if I were just starting in the business, this is the ONE site I’d use exclusively until I was at or above 6-figures a year. I’ve been using the site since it opened years ago, and have recommended it to every online marketer I’ve coached or mentored over the years.

Take a look to see which of the silver, gold or platinum levels is right for YOUR online marketing growth plans while you can get your first month for just $4.95 before they decide to cancel the introductory special for new customers. You owe it to yourself to make more money in less time this year and every coming year, and this powerful toolset may be just what it takes to help make that come true for YOU!

Save On Common Online Marketing Tools & Services

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Posted in online marketing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments

Internet Marketers or Online Salespeople?

People engaged in the Make Money Online niche are most commonly referred to as Internet marketers. Truth be told, though, the vast majority are actually Internet salespeople as opposed to marketers of any stripe.

Part of reason is simple – many have little or no entrepreneurial experience in the offline world nor, in fact, any sales or marketing experience before starting their home-based business online. Added to it is the stigma the general public have towards ‘sales’ and ‘salespeople’, making marketer a more comfortable label for many.

Read Top Business Magazines To Expand Your Marketing Skills

To be successful as a marketer, you need to be constantly updating your skills and exploring new ideas and trends – top business magazines are the easiest way to stay current and relevant in your marketing endeavors. Improve your mind to improve your bottom line!

So just what is the difference between salespeople and marketers? In its simplest terms, a salesperson concentrates all of their efforts on what they can sell today – or at least within the very near future. Marketers, on the other hand, strive to use multiplication of effort and mass leverage to build the bottom line along a continual upward curve.

For example, on any given day a salesperson will consider their current prospects and pick up the phone, draft an e-mail or head out to meet with prospects to try and close the sale. In retail sales, the salesperson will engage the retail shopper in conversation to discover what the prospect wants and/or needs and listen for evidence of buying triggers they can use to close that sale.

A marketer, by contrast, isn’t concerned with making a sale – they’ve already ascertained that the salesforce, website, catalog order desk and/or phone room people are in place and ready to convert prospects to customers. Their day will consist of research to discover any and every pool of potential prospects and devising methods to draw those prospects into their net.

This is where the ‘multiplication of effort’ makes the real difference. Instead of phoning 25 prospects today, the marketer will place advertising that reaches thousands or millions of people – knowing that a good percentage of well-placed advertising will end up in front of their target audience. Retail marketers will create, or direct their advertising agency or ad department to create flyers to be mass distributed in the vicinity of each of their stores to increase footfalls and keep their brand top of mind.

That brings up another major component of marketing – branding. In this day of social media and instant communications, building recognition and trust within your target market is crucial – as is effectively manipulating the prospects’ impression of your company and its products. Every major brand name you can think of right now is in your consciousness because of effective marketing.

Creating effective joint ventures with related businesses is equally important to marketers, as this lets them increase their reach by ‘piggy-backing’ on the promotional efforts of other businesses. A wholesaler will offer a co-op advertising budget to it’s retail customers, agreeing to cover a portion of the retailer’s ad spend in exchange for prominent or exclusive feature of their products. The proliferation of ‘points programs’ today is another great example of joint venture marketing in the offline world.

Look at any mid-size or big business – a retailer with 8 or 10 locations may have 50 or 100 retail staff, but their marketing is handled by 3-5 marketing professionals. Global corporations may have hundreds of salespeople scattered around the continents, but the marketing duties will be handled by a depart of 20 or 30 marketers – and often fewer than that. Simply stated, multiplication of effort and mass-marketing leverage allow top marketers to impact the bottom line at a rate 10 to twenty times that of even the best salesperson.

So what does this mean for the solo entrepreneur building an Internet-based home business? First, you need to learn a lot more about business and marketing. Having started your first business now, you’ve already had to learn a lot about technologies and systems used online – now expand that base by learning how bigger, more experienced business people operate. If you have access to a mentor or Business Success Coach start there, since they’ll be focused on helping you in your situation. And either way, set aside time for research…

The easiest way for most entrepreneurs to continue their business education is the myriad of business and success-related magazines. Marketing Magazine and Advertising Age, for example, are publications specific to the industry, while Entrepreneur, Inc. and Forbes are full of great info on business in general (and a great source for discovering upcoming trends). If Internet marketing is just the start and you intend to use it to create seed capital to get into bigger business pursuits, start reading The Economist each week for a more geo-political view of business worldwide. Larger cities often have their own business tabloids, and many countries have publications specific to doing business therein – Canadian Business magazine, for instance. The financial section of newspapers have a lot to offer too, if you can resist losing time from switching to the sports section, recipes, crossword puzzles or comics…

In short, spend a little less on each new shiny object that comes down the tube online and invest more in your own business and marketing knowledge. Most self-made millionaires have been bankrupt once or twice along their path to riches, but knowledge and experience are never lost to creditors and remain in full effect as you more successfully rebuild your empire.

As your business and marketing knowledge grows so will the available options you recognize. And as your experience grows with experience you’ll evolve into a true marketer, able to take your businesses to higher levels of profitability at a much faster pace!

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Posted in business strategies, Entrepreneurial Success, Marketing Mentoring, online marketing, succeeding online, Work At Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments