MLM’s Lack of a Marketing Plan

September 21, 2010 at 10:01 am (marketing, Networking)

Multi-level marketing (MLM), also called network marketing, is “designed to create a marketing and sales force by compensating promoters of company products not only for sales they personally generate, but also for the sales of other promoters they introduce to the company.”  Wikipedia has a great description and details some of the controversies.

I don’t want to debate the legality or legitimacy, but I will share what I think is a flaw in their approach to marketing.

The MLM company representatives that have approached me all have one thing in common—they don’t distinguish the consumer from the promoter.   Personally, I have no interest in MLM as a career, or even as a “residual income” source.  So, please save the “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” speech.  You lose me the minute you start! 

I may be interested in the products, but I’m not interested in signing on as a kool-aid drinking promoter. 

I propose that you start by qualifying your prospect as consumer or promoter.  Then, proceed with a customized marketing message.  It’s Marketing 101 (and common sense):  Understand 1) what you’re selling, 2) to whom, 3) what motivates them to buy, and 4) how do I communicate and deliver the marketing message.

If you’ve identified me as a consumer, focus on the features and benefits of the specific product that I am a prospect for.  And, please don’t ask me for my Social Security Number!  Have you heard of identity theft?  I don’t give my SSN to the drug store when I buy lotion; why should I have to give it to you?

Please share your thoughts.

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What I like about LinkedIn Today

April 28, 2010 at 1:04 pm (LinkedIn, marketing, Networking, social networking)

I have an acquaintance who is writing an article on LinkedIn for sales people for the New York Enterprise Report, which is a very nice business publication out of NYC that I subscribe to.   He kindly asked that I contribute some of my thoughts as quotes for his article, so I’m very much looking forward to my imminent fame! 

In my infinite wisdom, I scratched out the following thoughts, and gave him permission to cut, paste or delete! 

I provided LinkedIn tutoring last night (to a general contractor) and my client received an immediate response from his new connection: “Funny timing…we have a job we’d like you to quote.”  LinkedIn is not only a collection of your clients, prospects and referral sources–it’s a tool to build and maintain these relationships by staying top-of-mind.  (Do you need a general contractor?  I’d be happy to forward his profile.)

I’m often asked “to friend, or not to friend?”   I want to maximize the opportunities to leverage the people I know.  My LinkedIn network started with current and past colleagues, friends and family, and has expanded to vendors, networking associates, clients, prospects, referral sources, and more.  You never know who might be able to make an introduction for you.  And, it is also my goal to position myself as a reliable, go-to resource for things outside of my scope.  (If you need Organic Dog T’s, I know a guy, and would be happy to share his LinkedIn profile.)  LinkedIn houses my ‘stable of resources.’

The features are robust and LinkedIn is releasing product enhancements almost daily. 

The Event Application is a useful tool to find relevant networking opportunities.  I have one LI connection who is a current prospect, and the Event App informs me of the events that he is planning to attend (he uses the app too).  I need to continue to make an impression on this man and build rapport, so I have RSVP’d for an upcoming event so we’ll run into each other

I have connected my blog to my LI profile via the BlogLink application, and this has expanded the distribution of my articles.  The BlogLink automatically pulls my most recent posts, and shares with those in my network who also have this application enabled.  I see their blog posts as well on my LinkedIn homepage.  
 
LinkedIn Groups are invaluable to me because they give me the ability to email directly the people who are in my groups, even those who are outside of my immediate network.  This significantly expands my direct-contact abilities via this trusted medium.
 
I use the “introduction” feature pretty regularly in LinkedIn.  In situations where I am two degrees separated from a prospect, I’ll review the connection(s) we have in common, and then I’ll get introduced through this connection via the LinkedIn system.  My connection can decide whether to make this introduction (i.e. forwarding my message on to the desired recipient).
 
LinkedIn offers valuable functionality for sales account managers by providing up-to-date information, including the right person at the company you’re investigating, and then details on commonalities and mutual connections.  The Advanced People Search tool lets you target your search with very specific professional criteria (i.e. Partner, Accounting industry, Greater New York City), and will then let you know how you’re connected.
 
The sales process is not always short, and for most of us it’s important to build a rapport with our prospects.  Thus, it’s important to refrain from using LinkedIn in an entirely utilitarian manner.  I try to regularly deliver value to my connections.  This has included: sharing articles that I think are relevant, sharing event invitations, making introductions amongst members of my network, and ‘listening’ to my connections and reaching out when appropriate, like offering a congratulations when a connection’s title has changed.

Brain dump complete for now. Log Out!

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Eating for a Cause

April 7, 2010 at 4:23 pm (blogging, food, Networking) (, , , , , , , , , , )

A couple weeks ago I attended Cooking for a Cause, an evening of food and wine to benefit the East End House, an East Cambridge community organization.   The event was held at the Seaport World Trade Center, and it featured food and wine from some of the areas most celebrated restaurants.  I graciously, and without hesitation accepted an invitation to attend from Bob down at Pugs’ Bar and Grill (the bar that we ‘frequent’ in our neighborhood).  Pugs is a community supporter of the East End House, so I’ve heard about the organization and knew a bit about its programs but I didn’t research the event before I went.  I was overwhelmed and felt like a big kid in a candy store!

We arrived, signed in at the front desk and received a Program with a giant number on the back, and then I grabbed a glass of wine at the cash bar outside of the Harborview Ballroom.   I proceeded into the Ballroom and realized that I needed two extra hands.   The room was set up with chefs, wine and beer makers, mixologists and specialty vendors each offering small plates or samples of their menu items.  I quickly ‘disposed’ of the glass of wine so that I could work the room.

My Favorites:

  • Will Gilson, Garden at the Cellar, offered a grilled octopus salad, which tasted fresh from the garden, with a variety of textures in the octopus, herbs, cheeses, beans and barley.  This was MY FAVORITE of the night.
  • Eric Brennan, Post 390, shared a Clam Fritter and Herb Salad with crispy chorizo and Duxbury razor clams.  The Herb Salad stood out on the plate and the palate with frisee, celery leaf, basil, red onion…and those razor clams and chorizo.
  • Paul O’Connell, Chez Henri, offered a French/Cuban ropa vieja (“old clothes” in Spanish) with braised flank steak, rice, black beans, sour cream and cilantro.
  • Rachel Klein of Aura offered lobster ravioli made with delicate wanton wrappers.  At this table, I learned that I have been cooking my ravioli at to rapid a boil.  The key is to bring the water to boil, and then turn down below a simmer, especially when I use wanton wrappers.  This keeps the ravioli from blowing up or falling apart.  I learn something new every day.  (ref #food411 on twitter.)
  • Rodney Murillo of Avila shared a hand-rolled, potato gnocchi with braised beef and fresh farmer cheese.  I never order gnocchi when I’m out because it lacks variety in flavors, but this plate had a lot going on.
  • I think it was Dana Seabury, of Tamo Bar, that offered an orange slushy drink with Knob Creek and these green lime/lemon leaves that I can’t recall the name of.  I might have to visit Dana at Tamo to get the recipe of this drink.  This is definitely a ‘try-at-home’ concoction.
  • I also found a new wine that I like.  But, let’s face it, this happens about three times a week.  It’s a Spanish wine called dominio de tares baltos, which is deep purple in color, with an earthy, cherry flavor.  It’s cheap too at $16 a bottle.

The food and drink was tremendous, and the live and silent auction, led by an energetic auctioneer was an exciting end to the evening. (This is when I realized what the giant number was for on the back of my Program.) The auction for an Iron Chef Competition at the Seaport Hotel Test Kitchen brought in $6000 for the cause.

The East End House is a community center in East Cambridge, which supports children, families and individuals in the Greater Boston Area.  Its core programs include childcare, after school and summer programs, youth mentoring programs (including its Generating and Evaluating New Adventures in Science After School program), an emergency food program, senior programming, and community events and workshops.  I am looking forward to getting involved with this excellent organization.

Thanks Bob, for the invitation.

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