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(NOTE — This is the first post in a series on social network marketing.)
Many network marketers (and marketers in general) have tried to use social networking to market their products. And they failed. Failed miserably.
As a result, many in MLM have written off social networking. Given up. Not worth the time, they say.
Good news. They’re wrong.
They’re wrong mostly because they tried to take traditional marketing methods and somehow graft them onto social networking. Even worse, some took traditional network marketing methods that don’t work and transplanted them into social networking.
Charles Heflin, the founder and CEO of SEO 20/20, has expertly pointed out how many businesses mistake social media networking initiatives for social media marketing campaigns. These businesses try to market their products and services in places better suited to social networking.
Heflin says he starts social media marketing campaigns from his blog. He syndicates the content, which greatly enhances its visibility, and then networks with prospects that come to the blog.
Instead of trying to network with hundreds, maybe even thousands, of people who may or may not be prospects, Heflin spends his time networking with people who have responded to his marketing campaign.
It’s like fishing in a small lake with only the fish you want rather than fishing in a huge lake filled with all kinds of fish.
Network marketers would do well to take note of Heflin’s strategy and his success.
Many in MLM cast too wide a net. They dive into Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace, YouTube and other sites looking for prospects. These network marketers are under the mistaken impression that the more people they market to, the better off they are.
In this and other ways, the missteps in social network marketing mirror errors made in traditional MLM efforts. Many network marketers are still taught to think of “anyone who breaths” as a prospect. They are taught the infamous “three-foot rule” — to present their business opportunity to anybody within three feet of them.
Many network marketers wrongly think the busyness of all their social networking efforts will pay off in their business. Then they wonder why hundreds of Facebook friends and thousands of Twitter followers don’t translate to a growing downline.
The reason is simple. MLM is at its heart a relationship business. People tend to get into business with people they know, like and trust. Sending “join my business” invitations to thousands of people does not communicate your openness, likeability or trustworthiness.
Others in MLM take a different approach, marketing their products or services on social networks largely populated by family members and close friends.
Old friends who want to know how you’ve been and family members looking forward to the next reunion don’t want to hear a sales pitch or even a low-key business presentation.
Networkers who prey on friends and family members are a big reason MLM has such bad reputation. When they meet someone new, they automatically think of them as a prospect, not a friend.
Hitting up friends and family doesn’t work despite the general inclination to join people you know, like and trust. This is because friends and family members see the business pitches as an abuse of the trust you had with them.
So sending marketing messages to friends on social networks is a wrong strategy poorly implemented.
OK, we know what doesn’t work. So what does work?
Glad you asked. Here are 10 social network marketing strategies that work. They will be further explored in future posts.
1. Build relationships. You can’t do that everywhere. You can meet people in various places, but it’s important for them to be where you can get to know each other better. That place is your blog.
2. Find the reason you’re in business and share it with others. Share what makes you do what you do. Tell people what’s important to you. Then help other people discover what’s important to them. Make your blog about you, not about your business. Provide valuable content.
3. Help people. Earn their trust. Show them the path to success. People should learn their own way. Interact with them on your blog. When you see they have a need, offer to help.
4. Don’t sell. Care about people. There’s an old saying that’s true here — people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Don’t make your blog or your other relationships about selling. Nine out of 10 people will be immediately turned off if you try to sell them.
5. Approach people where they are. Learn about different personalities. Look at their profiles. Learn about them. Pay attention to the way they interact with you. Then help them get what they want. Don’t try to manipulate them. Just help them.
6. Be up front about your business. Don’t hide what you’re doing. When they ask what you do, tell them. Consider what they’re thinking. Let them get to know you. Let them know, like and trust you. If they’re interested in joining you, help them believe they can do it.
7. Once they join, be sure you have a simple system for them to follow. Show them what you do and teach them how to do it.
8. Take advantage of the advantages you have. These days everyone is looking for ways to “monetize” their blog. They want to know how they can make money on the Internet. You know how. Show them. They’ll join you.
9. Don’t just show people how to make money. Show them how to live. Teach people how to think, not what to think. If you’re opportunity is right for them, they’ll join you. Build a community made up of people who are your business partners and others who just like your blog.
10. Stay focused on your business. Concentrate on your blog — the place where you can network with people. Don’t get sidetracked by money-making schemes that come along. Don’t fall for the myth of multiple streams of income. You’re in this for the long haul. It’s your business. That provides your income. Specialize in it.
Those who are truly great at what they do have a die-hard commitment to it. Find your thing. Commit to it. Blog about it. Make it your business.
Earlier tonight my mother called me to ask how to get from a hospital to a highway in Raleigh. She has a doctor’s appointment tomorrow, then she and my dad are going to pick up my aunt in a nearby town.
She called because the last time they had to get to that town, they went in one direction on the beltline, but later thought that maybe they could have gotten there faster going the other way. They were right.
The beltline in Raleigh is confusing to many people. I had worked in the city for a while before I finally figured out that the Inner Beltline and the Outer Beltline are the same road.
You see, the Inner Beltline is the part of the road on which traffic goes clockwise around the city. The Outer Beltline goes counter-clockwise.
So when someone tells you to get on the Inner Beltline to go to one place and then to get on the Outer Beltline to go somewhere else, they’re really telling you to get on the same road, but just to go in different directions.
When my mom called, I told her that indeed it would be much faster to go to the right (onto the Outer Beltline) than to go left (on the Inner Beltline) as they had gone before. As a matter of fact, that had gone about three times as far on the Inner Beltline as they would have gone on the Outer Beltline.
They had gone to the left, because they were sure that they could get where they wanted to go by going in that direction. They didn’t know, or at least weren’t sure, they could get there by going to the right.
Now they know the right turn to make, and they’ll get to their destination easier and faster.
When we’re trying to build a business, we face similar choices. It helps to have mentors and coaches who have been down the road before and know the right turns to make.
The other day I was driving down a road that I hadn’t driven in a while when I noticed a grand opening sign at an eatery of sorts. Someone had decided to make an attempt at building a business where a barbecue restaurant had earlier failed.
I initially thought it was a biker bar that had moved from about a quarter mile down the road. The sign looked like the sign I had seen there. But when I passed that establishment I saw that it was still open.
Clearly, however, the new place was similar to the existing joint just down the street. I immediately wondered why someone would try building a business so close to a competitor.
It brought to mind how the traditional business world is largely based on competition. Since there are only so many customers, each company tries to get as many as they can. Often building a business means trying to eat into your competitors market share.
That’s one of the main reasons I appreciate network marketing — its non-competitive nature. As a matter of fact, I think folks who bring a competitive sense to MLM tend to not fare very well.
I expect this is mostly while building a business in network marketing, you are rewarded when you help people in your downline succeed. This spirit often carries over within a company with what is often called “sideline support,” which means people helping others who are not a part of their organization.
This cooperation sometimes even extends beyond companies with networkers helping others in the profession. I’ve made it part of my mission to help anyone in network marketing no matter the company. I do this even while building a business of my own.
I’ve helped many networkers who are not, and never will be, in my downline. I’ve even offered tips to MLMers who live in countries where my company doesn’t even offer distributorships.
Many rooted in the traditional way of doing business struggle to understand that way of thinking, but I’m convinced it’s the best way of building a business.
Anyone who’s been in multi-level marketing (MLM) for long realizes the old way of doing the business doesn’t work anymore. That’s why many successful professionals have learned network marketing online.
In years past, MLM trainers would teach distributors to make a list of friends and family. Then they’d encourage their reps to buy leads. This continues even though the opportunity exists to build a downline by network marketing online.
Unfortunately, even some who recognize the benefits of network marketing online often carry over bad training habits from earlier failed strategies. The old technique of “getting a lot of ‘No’s’ so you can find a ‘Yes,’” has found its way to the Internet.
One way this occurs is when trainers encourage people who are network marketing online to build a large list. Having a large list, they say, will increase the odds that a few will join you in your business.
Such list-building strategies are nothing more than the old “numbers game” revisited. It might work in direct sales, but network marketing, even the online version, is a relationship business.
The key, then, is to learn how to build relationships when your network marketing business is principally online. To do this, you need a place where people can get to know you and, once they’re willing, you can get to know them.
The best method for network marketing online right now is a blog. This Internet journal can serve as a non-threatening way for potential prospects to get to know, like and trust you. One of the important principles in MLM is people join people they know, like and trust.
Starting a blog might seem intimidating but most people learn how rather quickly. If you want to do network marketing online, it’s the best thing going.
Once you have your blog up and running, you’ll have to learn ways to get readers and how to interact with them. In this way, network marketing online successfully is similar to proven offline strategies.
First, you need to care about people. Learn about them. Find out what makes them who they are.
Second, let them move at their own pace. Forget high pressure sales tactics. They don’t work if you’re network marketing online or offline.
And third, be professional. Be honest. Tell people what you’re doing. Be who you are and people will be comfortable being who they are.
Master these steps and you’re on your way to becoming a professional online network marketer.
Last weekend I had the pleasure of watching both my daughters play on a fast-pitch softball team that won the state championship.[caption id="attachment_156" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="The team celebrates the state championship."][/caption]
My oldest daughter played on a team that took the state title three years ago, but this was the first for my younger daughter, an eighth-grader who was called up from the junior varsity at the end of the year.
After the game, one of the coaches was talking to the team about the accomplishment. One of the things she mentioned was how impressed she was that the team always played like a champion. She explained that the players played the entire game as if every play was important.
She mentioned how one of the players was upset that she was thrown out at third in the game. She didn’t want to get out even though we had just scored to go ahead, 4-0.
A four-run lead may not sound like much, but the team had a great pitcher and played great defense behind her. As a matter of fact, the pitcher only gave up one run all year.
So a four-run lead was about as safe as you could get. It was very unlikely that the other team was going to score at all, much less four runs with only a few innings to play. The game was all but won.
But the girls on the team didn’t let up. They didn’t take it easy. They didn’t celebrate until the last out.
Think of how productive our businesses would be if we set our goals and didn’t let up. If we didn’t take it easy. Think of the celebration when we get to where we want to be.
I have a new car. Well, it’s not a new car, but it’s nice and I like it.
It’s a 1997 Buick Park Avenue with low miles. It needs a paint job, but other than that it’s in pretty good shape.
It’s doing a whole lot better than the last car I bought.
One of the coolest features is something called “head-up display.” I had heard of the technology on Air Force jets, but didn’t know it was available on cars.
The head-up display, also known as HUD, allows me to see how fast I’m going without having to look down at the speedometer. It projects the car’s speed onto the windshield.
There’s a couple of things I like about the feature.
This is especially nice when I see a highway patrolman coming in the other lane. Not that I’m ever going fast enough to get a ticket, of course, but I still want to know my speed immediately when I see blue lights headed in my direction.
Thinking of this reminded me of something my driver’s education teacher told me. He said to always “aim high” when looking out the windshield.
He said that when you farther up the road, you can also see things closer to you. Conversely, when you look right in front of the car, you can’t see things farther away.
This applies beautifully to life and business.
For example, if you know you’re long-term goals, it’s easier to set shorter-term markers to get there.
If you know the rank you wish to achieve in your company, then you can figure out what it will take to get there.
Aim high. You’ll always have your head up.
The other night I listened to a business training call about making decisions. It got me thinking about how great leaders are good at making decisions. They decide what to do and do it.
If you want to make money in network marketing, you have to be a leader. That might sound scary, but once you understand how to be a leader, you just have to do it.
Leaders get to be leaders by making decisions. If you want to be a leader, start making decisions. When you start making decisions, people will notice you. Some will follow, and you’ll be a leader.
The act of making a decision is more important than the decision itself. In fact, making a bad decision is better than making no decision. If it’s the wrong decision, you can change it. You can revise it. There’s no rule locking you into your initial choice. Change course if needed, but get on the road.
photo credit: dougtone
There’s an old saying that the only person who never made a mistake is the person who never did anything. Truth is, not doing anything was his first mistake.
Doing something is the most critical element of reaching your goals. As one of mentors says, you have a lot better chance to be successful by acting without thinking than you do by thinking and not acting.
I’ve noticed how people react to different leadership techniques.
I thought about this today when the pastor made an interesting observation during his sermon. He pointed out the difference between cows and sheep.
Cows, he said, have to be prodded. Cowboys herd them in a direction by yelling, shouting and carrying on in various ways to make the cows move in a certain direction.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with cows. That’s just the way they are. Similarly, sheep act the way they act because they’re sheep.
It got me thinking about how prospects act when presented with a home-based business opportunity. Some are like cows. They have to be cajoled into joining. Others, like sheep, are open to new experience and are willing to follow someone they know, like and trust.
This reminded me of two important keys to success in MLM or in most any business endeavor.
First, recognize when someone is hesitant. Trying to herd them into your opportunity probably won’t work. Even if you convince them, they’re likely to regret it later and either quit or shy away from doing what’s needed for success.
Realize, also, that there’s nothing wrong with folks like this. They often just need to make a decision on their own time. They might need more information or just need to think it over.
Second, be willing to lead when someone is willing to follow. If you’re open, likeable and trustworthy, it’ll show in your actions, your attitude and your voice.
As time goes on, these folks will need your confidence until they realize the success they need. There’s nothing wrong with these folks either. They just need you to show the way.
Using these important leadership techniques will greatly increase your chance of success.
Earlier today, I was out in my front yard doing my best Johnny Bench imitation.
It wasn’t a very good impersonation, but first my son and later my daughter needed someone to help practice pitching. I managed to keep the ball in front of me most of the time and give each pointers along the way.
One thing I noticed is that my son’s baseball pitching and my daughter’s fastpitch softball pitching both got better when they focused on my glove. When they kept their eyes on the target, the chances of hitting it greatly increased.
There is an obvious lesson that in our lives and in our business we should focus on the goals we want to achieve — the targets we want to hit.
But less obvious is what happens after the pitch. During a game, once a pitcher has let go of the ball, he or she must immediately prepare in case the ball is hit.
Of all the players on the field, the pitcher has the least time to react to a hit ball. The ball often comes back toward the pitcher as fast or faster than he or she pitched it.
What can we learn from that?
First, concentrate on one thing at a time. When the pitcher is pitching, that’s what requires focus. If he or she starts thinking about fielding while pitching, a strike is not a likely result.
In our lives and in our businesses, we often get ahead of ourselves. We waste time by focusing on things that might or might not happen.
Similarly, we get often spend too much time worrying about what we did in the past. While we need to learn from our mistakes, dwelling on them unnecessarily drags us down.
Second, know when to change your focus. Once the pitch is away, the pitcher has to immediately get ready to field the ball if it is hit.
In life and business, we often run around from one unfinished task to the other. We’re often lured by the latest, greatest strategy, when mastering earlier tasks would gain us more ground on the road to success.
I got tired of saying something lame like, “Congratulations! I know you’ll be very happy!” So I thought about what I wish someone would have said to me when I got married. Here’s what I say now:
“There are two rules to a happy marriage. Only two. The first rule is to realize that it’s not your spouse’s job to make you happy. The second rule is to act like it is your job to make your spouse happy. Do this and you will have life.”
Those two principles have helped me, although I admit I’ve still got work to do on rule number two.
It occurred to me that variations of those two rules apply to sponsoring in network marketing. After all, the best sponsors have good relationships with those they sponsor.
The first rule might be to realize that it’s not your sponsor’s job to make you money. Many networkers are constantly thinking that the next person they sponsor might be the one who makes them rich.
Such an attitude tends to dehumanize those you’re trying to recruit. Moreover, you tend to prejudge people and often unfairly give too little attention to those who likely need your help the most.
The second rule would be to act like it is your job to make those you sponsor money. Think about how different your relationship with them would be if you were willing to do whatever it takes to make sure they are making money.
And think about how much better your business would be if all those in your downline were making money. We can’t do the work for them, but we can be sure they know what they have to do to make money. The best way to do that is to show them. Once they see it, they’ll believe it and achieve it.
Do this, and you’ll have business.