Step By Step Startup Plan

So you have just joined a new multi-level marketing program? What should you do now to help you be successful?

1. Become a business. Being in business has a better image than being an MLM representative. You don’t work for the MLM company do you? You work for your own business so you should have a business name.

2. Get business cards. Exchange them with other people that you meet for their business card so you can stay in touch.

3. Announce your business to your family and friends. Let them know that you are going to sell your products at cost to the people you know and ask if they would like samples. Along with the samples make sure to get them a product brochure or catalog. Note that your family will give you free publicity to their friends, who you also can give samples to, but sell at full cost or at a minor discount.

4. Begin networking your business. Ask people you know for referrals of others who would like the products or might be interested in a business opportunity.

5. Get a web presence and a twitter account. Facebook, twitter, and other social networking sites are nice places to promote your business. You may or may not get orders but you can give it a try. You may also be able to use an affiliate web site set up by your MLM company or an upline distributor to promote your MLM business.

6. Set up a web site, if you can afford it. Having a web site name will improve the image of your business, especially a .com site. Having a web site name can cost you as little as $10 a year, you can either forward it to an affiliate web site for about $10 additional per year, or you can buy web space for about $120 or so per year.

7. Learn by reading books. Marketing, Sales, and Business Management are areas you want to concentrate in. You may also want to read MLM or Network Marketing specific books. Use the library because most books you can buy will also be found there.

8. Remember that you want to market and sell, but don’t forget about the management of your business. You will need to be able to fulfill orders, take telephone calls, and various other support functions for your business. Your business policies will assist in the success or failure of your business.

Make sure to have fun with your business and avoid spending money when you don’t absolutely need to. Good luck to you!

Multi-Level Marketing Shortcuts

Multi-level marketing companies usually provide training and materials needed for the new distributor to begin making sales. Often the material is not well tested but it is usually professionally created so that it does help to create a professional image for the distributor. Materials provided can be used to sell the product and or recruit new distributors, and is compliant with company policies. It would cost quite a bit to produce your own materials and you would still have to make sure the company would approve of them, so using the company’s printed material is preferable.

When you make the move to the internet, you won’t have an option to take web pages directly from the company so you will be designing your own. The nice thing is that you can use the copy from the company’s printed material, you just have to include the trademark and copyright symbols. You probably also have to identify yourself as an independent business person. You can check with the company or your upline for requirements of doing business on the internet. But using the copy, or the words, makes it a little simpler than trying to write your website from scratch.

It is possible that the company has a distributor marketing plan already created that can be put to use in your business. Be careful taking a pre-packaged marketing plan though, because if everyone is doing the same thing it may not be a good way to go. It is always best to market in a way nobody else is doing to get the best response.

This brings up a good point about selling a multi-level marketing product: When you are the only one selling an item there is no worry about competition, but selling amongst a group of other distributors might make it difficult to market the product. Always remember to sell yourself and find benefits of doing business with you. Avoid competing head-to-head with other distributors when possible.

Google Is My Friend

Rather than telling you specifically where to go or what specifically to do, I usually say to use Google to find things or look up information. I do this because that is what I do. Whenever I have a question of any kind that some person may know, I do a search. You can use Google, Ask, Bing, Yahoo, or any number of other search engines, type in your question, and up comes a list of possible answers. Some will be better than others but you look through them and hopefully get the answer you need. Learning to search and research to find the answers you need will be important as you grow and build your business.

Need a tax question answered? Search the question. Need to incorporate? Find somebody who will help you. Want to understand business concepts? Search the concept. Search is not perfect but it can be a great start.

You do need to understand that some information is better than others. Sometimes turning to a professional for help will be in order. But a search may give you basic information to know whether you need more help or not.

When you are building and promoting a web site, search can help you determine what is possible and how you can accomplish it. Do you want a feed on your blog site? There is a way to do it and information abounds for how to. Make sure to look at multiple sources though because some people will want to charge you for what you can get for free elsewhere.

I could do all the research for you and list specifically where to go and what to do, but most of that information does exist on the internet and there will be questions I don’t answer for you. So do what I do and Google it.

Linking To Your New Website

Your website is your sales presentation and much more, but you must advertise to get visitors, warm leads, and or prospects to your website (i.e sales presentation). The way you do this for a website is to have advertisements that link into your website. Advertisements can be long winded or a little blurb that quickly describes what your website is. Sometimes your advertisement is actually built from your website. This is the case when a search engine indexes your web pages.

Nobody will know about your website until you start getting links to your website from other sites. Typically the way this is done is by telling the other website about your site, or submitting your site. You can submit your site to directories and search engines. And there are a ton of them! I would start with Google and Bing, then do a search for search engines and directories from Google for more places to submit your site for free.

Another possibility is to exchange links with other similar websites. You would typically contact the other site by email and ask if they would like to exchange links with you. Then you put a link to them on your site and they put a link to you on theirs. Many web owners will gladly exchange links but others may not reply, but keep trying.

If you have a blog, there are a ton of RSS search engines and other ways to promote your blog. Do a search for “How do I promote my blog” for more ideas. Many websites provide this kind of information to you. Additionally, you may want to post thoughtful comments on other blogs in response to their articles. Most comment forms include your name and website name so people can see what your site looks like. You might also try this with non-blog websites, I’m sure you would get a few visitors.

There are places on the internet where you can submit classified advertisements that include a link to your website. Many are free. I am not sure how effective advertising this way is, but you might get a visitor or two. One last way to advertise your website for free is social networking sites. I have talked about these before but they do often allow you to link directly to your site. Up and coming social networking sites such as twitter.com are often very effective.

There are tons of other ways to advertise links to your site, just do a search for “How do I promote my website”. Many will submit your site for cost, but you really want to try to promote your website for free. Stick to free. I say this because some of the best ways to advertise your website on the internet are free. If you can, I would measure the most effective ways to advertise for free, which website statistics often provide.

Ultimately we are more concerned with sales than visitors, so the more targeted your visitors are the better. In other words, when your advertisement is presented to your demographic and they visit, they are most likely to buy.

The way that I promote my website is to spend a little time each day on promotion activities. Set aside an hour or two, research, and post requests for links. It is not hard work and it will produce results in the long run. I often switch from method to method, for instance today I will post responses to blogs and tomorrow I will submit my site to directories.

For those of us doing multi-level marketing, you can assume that the same concepts are generally true of recruiting.

Free Ways To Have A Web Presence

There are many ways to have a “web site” on the internet. Tons of companies do have web sites with their own name and it does create a positive image for a company to have their own web site name. But if you are starting with no money and want a web presence, you do have options. My current favorite is blogger.com which allows you to write and post blog entries. It also allows you to set up your blog any way you want to, so effectively it is a web site. It is free to start a blog and they give you a name like bigfishmlm.blogger.com.

You can also use the social networking sites such as MySpace.com, Facebook.com, and Twitter.com. All three are free to join and allow you to post a ton about yourself and your business, then connect up with your customers. You can promote your social site if you like although I don’t think you get a very nice web name. There may be options available to have a better web name so make sure you look through all of the options.

You can look through a google search for free web space and probably find many more options.

As I had said before, one of the functions of a web site or web presence is to give your sales presentation. Getting visitors, leads, or prospects to look at your sales presentation requires you to promote or advertise your web presence. In my next posting, I will talk about some of the ways to get links to your web presence for free.

How To Write A Website That Sells

So you want to write your own website? I would suggest a good web page designer and a lot of practice before moving on to a hosted web site with your own URL. What is a URL? It is a website name like SplashPlan.net. But I digress. The technical aspects of your web site are important, but there are many sources for this information. What I want to talk about is the general design of a web site to sell a product, an opportunity, and to support your customers and your distributors’ needs on your website.

The basic design of your website should have a menu of links near the upper-left-hand corner of the page, either along the left side or along the top. The menu will be jumps to various places on your website, major categories. Your home page should begin selling the product, opportunity, or both. The presentations on the website should be kept at a high level with links to more detail should the visitor want to see it. Under the individual page’s presentation should be three links, with the most logical next step first, one where the user will request more information by mail, and one where they can place an order.

Graphics should be kept to a minimum to speed up each page load. Links can be text rather than graphic links. Pictures should be relevant and not frivolous. For instance, a product picture is a good idea but pictures just to support the idea being discussed are not really needed. People use the internet for the information and not the pictures. The text, though, should be well presented and readable. At the bottom of each page I usually include a copyright notice and webmaster email address.

Contact information, frequently asked questions (FAQ), and other information can be presented in major categories. Information to include should be anything that supports the business and its functions, such as providing information that somebody might call to ask. Information about the company’s founders or history should only be included if relevant to supporting the business’s functions.

Having said all of this, most of this represents my own personal preferences. Today most people have high speed internet; however, there are some people that still have dial up, as incredible as this sounds. Including graphics, videos, or other media that takes a while to download may or may not be an issue for your customers. It is important to know who your customers are to make this determination. For instance, we learned that many people shopped our web site over lunch at work, that they typically paid well, and that they were suspicious of paying with their credit card on the web site (in a lot of cases). We gathered a lot of information about our customers and made our overall marketing plan support our customers’ needs.

I am a technology professional by trade, but when it comes to creating a web site, I am an artist first, a salesman second, and a techie third. I pour over my website making little changes here and there on a daily basis. I test all the links over and over again. I create test orders to make sure everything is working. I read and reread my web pages over and over again to make sure there are no spelling errors and that I am getting across the meaning I intend. I get feedback directly from customers by telephone about their experiences. I test with several different browsers to make sure the web site looks and acts right with each one.

After our e-commerce site was in its final condition, I rewrote the pages in perl (a computer language) so I could do various things that maybe someday we’ll talk about.

I don’t think I would ever expect a business person to do the kinds of things I did. Still, writing a web site is easy; making it effective as a sales and business support tool is the hard part.

Elements of a Good Sales Presentation

We give a sales presentation to our warm prospects who respond to our mini-marketing message. Our mini marketing message was given during our networking calls or through our advertising. These mini marketing messages are meant to get our prospect asking for more and our sales presentation is the more that they will get. Sales presentations are typically used to get the prospect to the point of buying the product or service, though they may still have questions or objections after the sales presentation. A good salesperson will be able to handle any questions or objections the prospect may have, as unusual as they may be.

There are many ways to present a product sales presentation. You can give a stand up speech with slide show, you can give the prospect a video or brochure, or you can have a web site that gives your product demonstration. The easier on the prospect is usually the best, as their time is valuable to them. In my opinion, a web site is usually the easiest on a prospect.

A good sales presentation will provide product features and benefits, reasons to buy over competitive products, common questions and answers, and reasons to buy from your company over others. You can tailor your presentation to the prospect, giving them a quicker presentation unless they ask for more detail. You can also build on your presentation by getting feedback from your prospects and using their suggestions to improve the presentation.

On a web site, keep the presentation concise but give the visitor the option of looking deeper into the details. The more details you can offer online, the more the prospect will feel comfortable buying the product. You can give technical details on how the product was invented, who the inventors were and their biographies, and details about the company that manufactures it. You can show the product label, the packaging, and the raw product. You can give testimonials and show people using the product. Feel free to use your imagination to provide your potential customer with anything you think may be relevant.

At the end of your sales presentation, you must give your customer a way to buy. The easier it is for them to buy the product the better. We used to take orders from our website, by 800 number, and by fax. We allowed the customer to pay with credit card or send in a check. Again, the easier you can make it the better. If you are doing a personal product demonstration, you can simply ask for an order.

Sometimes your customer will continue to have doubts about purchasing your product. If this is the case, you can give your prospect samples or offer a trial discount on the product, if the product is consumable. You could also offer a guarantee or free trial on the product, which could work even if the product is not consumable.

Our goal for the sales presentation is to provide enough information to the potential customer so that they can make a buying decision. The better we can make our presentation fit this goal, the easier it will be to make the sale.

How To Get Free Effective Advertising

Having warm prospects is the gasoline for your business engine. Too little gas and the engine stalls, too much and you can have a fire or explosion. However, too much is usually better than too little. So how do we go about getting warm prospects without spending money?

Networking can be done step by step using the telephone. First you write down everyone you know and their telephone number. Then you call each person and ask them if they know anybody that fits into your demographic profile (don’t literally say this, say “Do you know anybody who cooks?” etc.). Then you get the name(s) and phone number(s) and add them to your list. Then you repeat. If you are unclear what I mean by demographic profile then go back and read my previous blog posts on demographics.

Networking can also be done by meeting new people at the bar, gas station, golf course, grocery store, etc. and exchanging contact information with them. You want their contact information and you want to give them yours. Then you socialize with them. You can add them to your contact list at any time and do what we talked about above, but just like your normal family and friends, you want to continue being close to them and socialize with them. For most people, this kind of networking comes naturally but for introverts like me, this can be difficult.

Other than networking, our option for finding warm prospects is to advertise. You can advertise for cost in many different ways. In addition, you can advertise for free in many different ways, some more effective than others. The most effective advertising you can get is when lots of people in your demographic profile see your ad. However, if you are advertising for free, lots of eyeballs seeing your ad can be a good thing, even if they are not part of your profile. They can filter themselves, you just want to get noticed. The best way to get noticed is to be featured in an article. An article that mentions what you sell and how to contact you is the best. Often companies write their own articles and submit them to newspapers or news outlets, and try to get published. It really is possible to get published and this is one thing you may want to consider attempting.

There are many outlets on the internet to advertise for free and there are websites devoted to telling you where to advertise for free. Just do a google search. Personally, I like the social networking sites but I have also found that responding to blog posts is a good way to publicize your company.

Off line, you can put a big sign in your front yard or a magnetic sign on your car as a couple of ideas. But if you really think about it, there are tons of ways to advertise your business. I often put business cards on bulletin boards at grocery stores for instance.

Use your imagination to see if you can come up with more free ways to advertise. Did you read about the 911 call about the balloon carrying the little boy? DON’T DO THAT. There are limits to what you should do to drum up publicity.

Be ready for when people start to contact you. How are you going to do your sales presentation?

Tales From The Dark Side

I don’t want to write a really long blog entry, but I wanted to talk about what happens when things go right. I mean they go really right. When your hopes and dreams about a successful business come true in a week, or a month, rather than the one to two years or more that businesses usually take to start up. When you are starting with no money and you get publicity you weren’t expecting, or perhaps your purchased or free advertising works better than you expected it to, and you get flooded with orders or requests for information, and you just don’t have the money or ability to keep up with this much business. I mean, you do have to buy product first in order to deliver it to your customer, in order to collect from your customer. That’s called accounts receivable. In some cases you have to deliver free information to a potential customer before it is converted into an order. This can add up to a lot of money fronted.

We lived this dream turned nightmare, as we went from getting one customer order our first week to being drowned in orders. It was two of us, one working a full-time job and the other a full-time stay-at-home mom. We built our website and got it listed several places. We got the granddaddy of them all at the time, a top spot on Yahoo for the product name. We did not have the capability of taking credit cards, so we shipped the product to the customer with an invoice and they sent back a check. This worked for us for a while but soon it was too much to manage. I charged $30,000 a month on my American Express fearful for the day I could not pay it on time.

We switched to taking credit cards and took a haircut with the fees, but we got our money in two days. We went beyond cases of 12 bottles to ordering master cases of 144, to ordering 12 master cases at a time. Each of the cases was about $350 or so, so we’re talking about $30,000+ worth of product delivered at a time to a three bedroom townhouse. Our business quickly took over our garage and our whole house. We were constantly working until midnight trying to keep up.

At one time, the MLM company completely stocked out of product and we could not get it. We set up an autoresponder email that said that we were out of product and were waiting, but we would ship as soon as it was available. Nobody cancelled. We shipped when it came in and everyone paid without a fuss.

We got email after email from potential customers and distributors for free information. I created a program that converted our emails into mailing labels because we couldn’t rekey the information. At one time I also converted product orders into mailing labels and credit card information that we could run right into the credit card program. Later we switched to using a secure server for orders where we would print the order information from the screen; so at that point we had to rekey order information.

We had to subscribe to a telephone system to prevent calls from coming in during the nighttime, although our fax machine would be cranking out the paper all night long. The telephone system took some pressure off of us by distributing phone calls to some of our distributors. Once we bought our current house, we got a four line telephone server and set it up for our own purposes.

Many of the ways we did business kept customers that we attained from our free advertising, but the original inflow was crazy. Please take our experience to heart and be prepared for the unexpected.

A Salesperson Is A Problem Solver

Whether you act like a salesman or a recruiter, you are a problem solver. Objections to your product or opportunity are problems in the mind of the prospect and you are there to find some sort of agreement that can be made. For instance, if your prospect says that your product is too expensive you might be able to offer them a discount.

Typically, though, a deal should be a synergy. A synergy is something that works out better for both you and the customer than you originally imagined. This may not be possible in all cases but it is the goal.

I almost gave up once with a prospect who kept saying they had no money. This was a distributor prospect who needed something to make money but had no money to start with. I finally offered to allow them to show the catalog, call the company using my distributor number, and order for the customer with their credit card. Then he would send me the customer’s information, I would match it up with the order, then I would send him the commission. This was agreeable to him and ended up being a great way for him to find the money to sign up.

For product sales, the objection is sometimes cost or the risk that the product won’t work. It is easy enough to give an introductory discount or a guarantee to the customer to overcome their objection.

Getting a prospect’s objection is a good thing because it means that they are communicating with you. When they shut down and stop talking, the negotiation is over. Don’t give up when the prospect objects, it’s just the beginning.

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