Market-Network: A New Type of Business Model

Market-Network: A New Type of Business Model

Social network. Marketplace. SaaS. These buzzwords are no longer synonyms of massive business opportunities.

The gold rush has already happened.

But a new business model has emerged.

Market-networks are hybrid animals: part social network, part marketplace, part SaaS. [1]

It’s a social network. Professionals use profile pages to showcase their work and demonstrate their credibility. They also connect with each other and build relationships.

It’s a marketplace. Professionals come online together to find other parties with whom they can do business.

It’s a SaaS tool. Professionals use the tools on the top of the marketplace to negotiate, do the job, or manage the paperwork.

Social networks are designed to connect people. Marketplaces are built to sell simple products and services at scale. SaaS tools are here to make your job easier.

Market-networks focus on more complex services; the types of services that are not easily scalable and require more human collaboration. [1]

So get your pick-axe and prepare yourself for the next gold rush.

Think about the number of opportunities in M&A, scientific research, construction, management consulting, marketing, media production…

[1] Thanks to James Currier for sharing his thoughts on this emerging business model.

[2] Here are a couple of examples:

AngelList is a market-network.

It’s a social network for startups and investors. It’s a marketplace where business angels can find startups to invest in and startups can post job openings. It’s a SaaS tool that helps business angels create syndicates and startups get introduced to business angels.

Contently is a market-network.

It’s a social network for freelance writers. It’s a marketplace where companies can find writers to create content—articles, eBooks, and other kinds of marketing collateral. It’s a SaaS tool that helps content marketers organize their editorial calendar, manage the writers’ work, and track the performance with analytics.

Article originated here:
https://boostcompanies.com/market-network/

Meet Writer Guerric

Guerric de Ternay is an entrepreneur
and digital & marketing strategist. A large
chunk of his work focuses on behavioral
science, customer experience, and digital
strategy. His passion?
Helping people and businesses level up.

 

 

Thomas Prendergast

When Markethive discovered herself

From Social Networks to Market Networks

 

Markethive is a full suite “Inbound Marketing” platform integrated with a full scale “social network” targeting the 800 million “Entrepreneur” global populations. Like Facebook meets Pardot. This new revolution of the next wave of progressions is known as Market Networks, compared to the last wave of Social Networks. Even MarketHive’s name reflects this new revolution. Experts predict the “Market Network” will dwarf the “Social Network” market.

1. Founder (Thomas Prendergast): 40 years’ experience in Ad Agency and Marketing professional. Educated and developed technology awareness from 1982 – 1992 in the Silicon Valley. Visionary, skilled programmer, innovation 1sts, Stanford and UCSD Super Computer Center foundations and over 20 years building marketing innovation on the Internet.
 

2. Pardot, a full scale Inbound Marketing Platform (very similar to Markethive's platform) sold for $95 million to complete the ExactTarget platform in preparation to be sold to Sales Force for 2.5 billion Using these metrics it is easy to assign a value to Markethive of a minimum of $100 million. see story: www.bizjournals.com/atlanta/blog/atlantech/2013/06/atlantas-pardot-helped-drive.html
 

3. The experts (like Nir Eyal) and many bloggers (like Guerric de Ternay) are recognizing the new emerging systems called Market Networks.

  1. Market-networks are hybrid animals: part social network, part marketplace, part SaaS.
  2. It’s a social network. Professionals use profile pages to showcase their work and demonstrate their credibility. They also connect with each other and build relationships.
  3. It’s a marketplace. Professionals come online together to find other parties with whom they can do business.
  4. It’s a SaaS (Software as a System) tool. Professionals use the tools on the top of the marketplace to negotiate, do the job, or manage the paperwork.

4. Hooked: Systems that improve with age are the sought after prizes as they retain growth and are considered monopolies, not commodities. Markethive possesses this trait on 4 serious levels.

  1. Leads (called children) from the profile pages advance organically and improve with time
  2. Blog subscribe organically builds subscribers (automatically publishing) to top social networks
  3. Profile page improves with organic advancement in workshops, blogging and groups
  4. Increased reputation builds via blogs and profile page growth

5. Markethive is the indisputable full platform Market Network and has the distinct advantage of ready to launch and be "First to Market".

6. At least three patentable products; Blog Subscribe, Blog Swipe and 1Click Subscribe Widget

7. Projected funds of minimum $1 million with 20% to polish the system in preparation to officially launch and the remaining 80% to drive the marketing and crowd funding to record breaking status.

 

Summary:
see story: https://techcrunch.com/2015/06/27/from-social-to-market-networks/

Social Networks Were The Last 10 Years. Market Networks Will Be The Next 10.

First we had communication networks, like telephones and email. Then we had social networks, like Facebook and LinkedIn. Now we have market networks, like HoneyBook, AngelList, Houzz, DotLoop and Joist.

You can imagine a market network for every industry where professionals are not interchangeable: law, travel, real estate, media production, architecture, investment banking, personal finance, construction, management consulting and more. Each market network will have different attributes that make it work in each vertical, but the principles will remain the same.

Over time, nearly all independent professionals and their clients will conduct business through the market network of their industry. We’re just seeing the beginning of it now.

Market networks will have a massive positive impact on how millions of people work and live, and how hundreds of millions of people buy better services.

“Markethive has the ability to be an incubator (hive) to produce more strategic “Market Networks” as well”. 

 

Thomas Prendergast
Founder and CEO Markethive, Inc.

 

P.S.
The "Market Network" Illustrated
(Do you see Markethive?)

P.S.S.

Definition of Hive (Curious aint it?)

hive (hīv)

1. A place swarming with activity.

2. To work with many others in a close network.
3. a network showing signs of great industry
4. a teeming crowd; a network

Thomas Prendergast

From Social Networks To Market Networks

From Social Networks To Market Networks

Most people didn’t notice last month when a 35-person company in San Francisco called HoneyBook announced a $22 million Series B*.

What was unusual about the deal is that nearly all the best-known Silicon Valley VCs competed for it. That’s because HoneyBook is a prime example of an important new category of digital company that combines the best elements of networks like Facebook with marketplaces like Airbnb — what we call a market network.

Market networks will produce a new class of unicorn companies and impact how millions of service professionals will work and earn their living.

What Is A Market Network?

“Marketplaces” provide transactions among multiple buyers and multiple sellers — like eBay, Etsy, Uber and LendingClub.

“Networks” provide profiles that project a person’s identity, then lets them communicate in a 360-degree pattern with other people in the network. Think Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

What’s unique about market networks is that they:

  • Combine the main elements of both networks and marketplaces
  • Use SaaS workflow software to focus action around longer-term projects, not just a quick transaction
  • Promote the service provider as a differentiated individual, helping to build long-term relationships

An example will help: Let’s go back to HoneyBook, a market network for the events industry.

An event planner builds a profile on HoneyBook.com. That profile serves as her professional home on the web. She uses the HoneyBook SaaS workflow to send self-branded proposals to clients and sign contracts digitally.

She then connects to that project the other professionals she works with, like florists and photographers. They also get profiles on HoneyBook, and everyone can team up to service a client, send each other proposals, sign contracts and get paid by everyone else.

This many-to-many transaction pattern is key. HoneyBook is an N-sided marketplace — transactions happen in a 360-degree pattern like a network. That makes HoneyBook both a marketplace and network.

A market network often starts by enhancing a network of professionals that exists offline. Many of them have been transacting with each other for years using fax, checks, overnight packages and phone calls.

By moving these connections and transactions into software, a market network makes it significantly easier for professionals to operate their businesses and clients to get better service.

We’ve Seen This Before

AngelList is also a market network*. I don’t know if it was the first, but Naval Ravikant and Babak Nivi deserve a lot of credit for pioneering the model in 2010.

On AngelList, the pattern is similar. The startup CEO can complete her fundraising paperwork through the AngelList SaaS workflow, and everyone in the network can share deals, hire employees and find customers in a 360-degree pattern.

Joist is another good example. Based in Toronto, it provides a market network for the home remodel and construction industry. Houzz is also in that space, with broader reach and a different approach*. DotLoop in Cincinnati shows the same pattern for the residential real estate brokerage industry.

 

Looking at AngelList, Joist, Houzz, DotLoop and HoneyBook, the market network pattern is visible.

Six Attributes Of A Successful Market Network

Market networks target more complex services. In the last six years, the tech industry has obsessed over on-demand labor marketplaces for quick transactions of simple services. Companies like Uber, Mechanical Turk, Thumbtack, Luxe and many others make it efficient to buy simple services whose quality is judged objectively. Their success is based on commodifying the people on both sides of the marketplace.

However, the highest value services — like event planning and home remodeling — are neither simple nor objectively judged. They are more involved and longer term. Market networks are designed for these types of services.

People matter. With complex services, each client is unique, and the professional they get matters. Would you hand over your wedding to just anyone? Or your home remodel? The people on both sides of those equations are not interchangeable like they are with Lyft or Uber. Each person brings unique opinions, expertise and relationships to the transaction. A market network is designed to acknowledge that as a core tenet — and provide a solution.

Collaboration happens around a project. For most complex services, multiple professionals collaborate among themselves — and with a client — over a period of time. The SaaS at the center of market networks focuses the action on a project that can take days or years to complete.

Market networks help build long-term relationships. Market networks bring a career’s worth of professional connections online and make them more useful. For years, social networks like LinkedIn and Facebook have helped build long-term relationships. However, until market networks, they hadn’t been used for commerce and transactions.

Referrals flow freely. In these industries, referrals are gold, for both the client and the service professional. The market network software is designed to make referrals simple and more frequent.

Market networks increase transaction velocity and satisfaction. By putting the network of professionals and clients into software, the market network increases transaction velocity for everyone. It increases the close rate on proposals and expedites payment. The software also increases customer satisfaction scores, reduces miscommunication and makes the work pleasing and beautiful. Never underestimate pleasing and beautiful.

Social Networks Were The Last 10 Years. Market Networks Will Be The Next 10.

First we had communication networks, like telephones and email. Then we had social networks, like Facebook and LinkedIn. Now we have market networks, like HoneyBook, AngelList, Houzz, DotLoop and Joist.

You can imagine a market network for every industry where professionals are not interchangeable: law, travel, real estate, media production, architecture, investment banking, personal finance, construction, management consulting and more. Each market network will have different attributes that make it work in each vertical, but the principles will remain the same.

Over time, nearly all independent professionals and their clients will conduct business through the market network of their industry. We’re just seeing the beginning of it now.

Market networks will have a massive positive impact on how millions of people work and live, and how hundreds of millions of people buy better services.

I hope more entrepreneurs will set their sights on building these businesses. It’s time. They are hard products to get right, but the payoff is potentially massive.

by (@JamesCurrier)

Is Markethive one of the new pioneers called a Market Network?
Please comment below what do you think?

Thomas Prendergast

Hooked: How To Make Habit-Forming Products, And When To Stop Flapping

Hooked: How To Make Habit-Forming Products, And When To Stop Flapping

We now know that Vietnamese developer Dong Nguyen decided to take down his hugely popular—and habit-forming—game, Flappy Bird because he had a moral pang about the game’s addictive potential. There was speculation about legal problems, or coping with the stress of overnight success, but it seems that he has done what many large tech companies have avoided—taken responsibility for the misuse of his product.

Tweeting as @dongatory a a couple of weeks ago, Dong replied to an obsessed fan, “People are overusing my app 🙁 .”  The following day, in a series of four surprising tweets, he announced, “I will take ‘Flappy Bird’ down. I cannot take this anymore.” (Emphasis mine.)

All of this is familiar territory to behavior design consultant and author Nir Eyal (who also contributes in these pages.) His new book, Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products, is a step-by-step guide to do intentionally what Dong seems to have done intuitively. In its simplest terms, Hooked describes how to convert the “external triggers” that make a person engage with a product into “internal triggers” that bring that person back to it again and again.

nir-eyal-the-hook-method

 

Games, like Flappy Bird are perfect examples of this mechanism, but an easy way for non-gamers to grasp this phenomena is to consider the catchiness of pop songs. When your first hear a song on the radio, you are responding to the “external trigger” of its transmission over the airwaves (or internet as the case may now be.) But when you find yourself involuntarily singing that song in the shower, it has become its own “internal trigger” in your brain. It’s like a client side app where all of the data required to recreate the experience is preloaded into your browser (i.e., your brain!)

Making products habit-forming, and the behavior design that makes it possible, has gone from being a nice-to-have to a need-to-have in the ultra-competitive world of apps and digital services. There are so many things screaming for users’ attention that only the things that they whisper to themselves about have a chance of sticking around for a while.

A research report back in 2011 by Localytics showed that 26% of typical users download an app and open it just once. The important corollary to this disheartening pattern is that another 26% will download an app and use it 10 or more times—often enough for it to become part of their routine. The difference between these two kinds of users—and how to convert the first kind into the second kind—is the focus of Eyal’s “Hook” method.

The Hook consists of four parts that must be combined in sequence to convert an externally motivated engagement with a product into one that is internally motivated and habitual. “Through consecutive hook cycles,” Eyal writes, “successful products reach their ultimate goal of unprompted user engagement, bringing users back repeatedly without costly advertising or aggressive messaging.”

Eyal stands on the shoulders of giants in putting together what is essentially an open source framework for user psychology. This framework draws upon the work of contemporaries like BJ Fogg, Dan Ariely, Charles Duhigg and Daniel Kahneman but also the inventor of behaviorism in psychology, B.F. Skinner. Eyal got an MBA at Stanford and now teaches there, and his debt to Stanford behavior design researcher and educator BJ Fogg in particular is evident.

But there are important differences in their approach. The Fogg behavior model applies equally well to one-time and repeat actions and for actions you want to motivate as well as actions you want to avoid motivating. Eyal focuses on just one of these quadrants—those actions that you want to turn into habits. But as we shall see, Eyal uses Skinner and others to expand upon what helps us to internalize actions and repeat them.

The essence of Fogg’s approach is to consider a person’s amount of motivation to do something compared with how easy it is to do. You don’t have to be tremendously motivated to do some thing easy, like click “like” on Facebook, but if a product requires an investment of time and/or money, like having your DNA tested by 23andMe, you need a compelling reason. The easier 23andMe can make that process, by requiring less information or lowering the price, the less pressing my reasons have to be to want to follow through. Importantly, no matter how easy an action is, or how motivated a person is, no action will happen without the presence of trigger adjacent in space and time to the means of completing the action.

The first step in Eyal’s hook model is this trigger. He sees the hook as an iterative process which begins with external triggers that after a series of cycles convert into internal triggers. How this conversion occurs is at the heart of what makes this method supremely useful to growth hackers and others involved in engineering the viral aspects of products. Getting back to the example of Flappy Bird above, Eyal points out that “Negative emotions frequently serve as internal triggers.” So the repeated epic failures that a new player experiences with that game make them angry at themselves. This anger is indeed the energy that propels the player to play again.

The second part of the hook is the action itself. The easier it is do something, the more users will do it. Eyal charts the growth of user-generated content from services like Blogger, which require you to actually create original content, to Pinterest, which reduces the participatory action down to the selection of what on the web to “pin.” Guess which one grew faster? There are many dimensions to ease, well-documented by Fogg in his six “elements of simplicity,” than range from amounts of time, money and effort required to levels of mental complexity, social acceptability and habitual familiarity. This is important because increasing your user’s ability to do something is far more within your control than boosting their internal motivation. Human psychology is not a uniform surface that can be wholly controlled by turning a couple of knobs, of course. Eyal emphasizes observed patterns of behavior that can be used as heuristics to increase the likelihood of a given action. We sometimes infer value from scarcity or assume form the presence of a sale tag that something is a bargain.

The third part of Eyal’s method takes advantage of these inconsistencies in how humans evaluate situations to excite our motivational instincts. It is important that product reward the actions that it triggers, but critically, if these rewards are variable we are far more likely to get sucked in. Decades of brain research has concluded that we are more motivated by the anticipation of reward than by the reward itself. In Flappy Bird, most of the time you fail, but the possibility that you could get a high score (or any score at all!) deepens the hook. The trigger is our self-inflicted anger, but playing holds out the reward of self-mastery. Eyal cites Pinterest as an example of the variable rewards of the “hunt.” Finally, when a friend “likes” your high score update on Facebook or follows your board on Pinterest you experience social satisfaction, rewards of the “tribe.” In Eyal’s model, the hook is a series of cycles and just as the triggers go from external to internal, so too can the rewards range from self to hunt or tribe. As described above, both Flappy Bird and Pinterest successfully utilize multiple types of rewards—but always with some degree of variability.

Finally, for the habit to really take hold, the user has to invest into it. The pictures you take with Instagram constitute your investment in the platform. Not only does the threat of losing this body of work keep you from switching to other photo apps, but your social engagement with others on the platform reinforce this continuity as well. By getting us to put ourselves into a product its designers are using our own narcissism to increase our perceived value of their product. Dan Ariely of Duke University, and author of Predictably Irrational and other books, calls this the “Ikea Effect,”  where our time spent with the ubiquitous Allen wrench makes our hearts fonder of the (possibly flawed!) end result. The other aspect of this is that since we are all creatures of habit, our investment in a habit becomes a form of inertia that makes it increasingly unlikely that we will engage in the cognitive dissonance of a new solution to our need.

Hooked is a very useful book for anyone involved in designing, managing and marketing products. It does suffer a bit from a duality of purpose that sometimes stretches the tone of the writing between earnest explication of the fascinations of human behavior to an practical boosterism for how to use of the techniques behind these phenomena. Behavior design is clearly a rising discipline with great effectiveness to help engineer beneficial habits, but it also can—and is—being abused for manipulative purposes.

In the sixth chapter of the book, Eyal discusses these manipulations, but I think he skirts around the morality issues as well as the economics that make companies overlook them. The Candy Crush Saga game is a good example of how his formulation fails to capture all the moral nuance of the problem. According to his Manipulation Matrix, King, the maker of Candy Crush Saga, is an Entertainer because although their product does not (materially) improve the user’s life, the makers of the game would happily use it themselves. So, really, how bad can it be?

Consider this: Candy Crush is a very habit-forming time-waster for the majority of its users, but a soul-destroying addiction for a distinct minority (perhaps larger, however, than the 1% Eyal refers to as a rule of thumb for user addiction.) The makers of the game may be immune to the game’s addictive potential, so their use of it doesn’t necessarily constitute a guarantee of innocuousness. But here’s the economic aspect: because consumers are unwilling to pay for casual games, the makers of these games must construct manipulative habits that make players seek rewards that are most easily attained through in-app purchases. For “normal” players, these payments may just be the way that they pay to play the game instead of a flat rate up-front or a subscription, and there is nothing morally wrong with getting paid for your product (obviously!) But for “addicted” players these payments may be completely out of scale with any estimate of the value of a casual game experience. King reportedly makes almost $1 million A DAY from Candy Crush, all from in app purchases. My guess is that there is a long tail going on with a relative few players being responsible for a disproportionate share of that revenue.

Understanding these potentially conflicting motivations is important for product designers of all kinds, and I believe it is a subject of intense interest to Eyal. Habit-formation is no longer a nice-to-have but a need-to-have aspect of making a successful product. This makes the temptations of manipulation all the more dangerous. We all now need to abide by the superhero credo, that with great power comes great responsibility. Habit-hacking is indeed a superpower, time to put on the capes!

Thomas Prendergast

I’ll say it: the days of outbound marketing are over.

I’ll say it: the days of outbound marketing are over.

entrepreneur

The "Wolf of Wall Street" mentality of harassing customers over the phone, sending spamy emails, and going door-to-door to close deals has become much less effective in recent years. Customers have access to so much information every day, they’ve become increasingly resentful of marketing intrusions. The rise of blocking tools such as caller id, spam folders and ad blockers is not coincidence.

Inbound marketing is the new normal. That’s the idea that if you provide value to customers first, they will respond by returning that value back and doing business with you.

To get a peak under the hood inbound marketing, and get tips on how others can use it, I had a chance to chat with A.J. Agrawal – an entrepreneur who built his business, Alumnify, around it. A.J. is a fellow contributor at Entrepreneur as well as at Forbes, Huffington Post, and others.

Here’s an edited version of our e-mail interview:

Why begin with universities?

We started there because we saw a strong decrease year after year in alumni engagement. Right now, alumni engagement is at an all time low – under 10 percent. It was obvious that institutions were struggling to adjust to the new ways their alumni were communicating and engaging. So we saw the opportunity.

For about 85 years, alumni engagement was pretty steady. Then all of a sudden, in the 90’s it began to fall drastically. In panic mode, many schools chose to double down on the outbound marketing tactics that worked in the past: cold calls, snail mail, and increased email addresses. They also deployed better data tacking and software to help optimize open email rates as well as make the giving process easier for graduates.

But these strategies had no effect (or even a negative effect on engagement) because they were built on an overall strategy that was broken. So we decided we would build inbound marketing solutions to provide value to alumni first. 

How do you begin inbound practices?

First, make sure you know what inbound marketing is. At its core, inbound is anything that provides a tremendous amount of value to your target customer without asking anything from them in return. There are tons of ways to do this and the best part is that most of the major strategies can be done for minimal cost.

One thing we recommend to companies we work with us is to start by getting a blog set up and to have someone be responsible for publishing regular content. One of the nice things about inbound marketing is that it requires companies to build major assets for their business. Your content library is a huge asset and will eventually help your SEO, and pull in more customers to your website.

Other popular inbound strategies include webinars, eBooks, infographics, mobile apps built to help your customers, and optimizing your social media.

Each business is different, so the strategy depends on factors including audience, industry, and expertise. Like most things, the hardest part is just getting started. Once you find an inbound strategy that starts to work, it becomes much easier to fine tune and expand on your traction.

Do you avoid outbound strategies?

Not at all. While inbound is definitely the future, some customers still respond well to outbound strategies. Even as an inbound company, we still cold call customers and send promotional emails once in a while — but as part of a complete plan.

When thinking about the brand I want for Alumnify, I don’t want prospects and customers avoiding our phone calls. The image of a customer seeing an Alumnify Team Member calling them and saying “Not these people again” is my worst nightmare. And it should be any entrepreneur’s nightmare too.

Instead, I believe that the key to getting customers to love us is to provide value without asking for anything in return. For example, we have a free inbound marketing email list we just launched yesterday with weekly tips and webinars. And I’m always happy to help any fellow entrepreneur hammer out an inbound strategy. That type of approach may take more work in the short run, but it’ll also help build a much better brand to our customers in the long run.

Article writen by:

Contributor

 

Thomas Prendergast

Pardot a shadow of Markethive report

Arriving at the Pardot Acquisition Price

pardot

This is an article about a similar Inbound Marketing company like Markethive. Unlike Markethive, Pardot is not a social network, but is only an Inbound Marketing platform. In that aspect, they are a shadow of what Markethive does.

Thomas Prendergast
CEO
Markethive CEO

The article:

One of the more popular questions I get from entrepreneurs that are curious about selling a company is how we arrived at the Pardot acquisition price. My normal response is that we had $10 million in trailing twelve months (TTM) revenue at time of sale and we got 9.5x TTM. Well, since we’re more than three years out from the deal (see 3 Year Anniversary of the Pardot Exit), there’s actually much more to how we arrived at the acquisition price.

And, as you might expect, arriving at the price of a fast-growing SaaS startup isn’t as logical as you might think.

The original offer came in at $60 million. Looking at our growth rate (100%/year) and our run-rate ($13M ARR), we said we could wait 12 months, get to $20 million TTM, and then sell for 5-7x. We countered asking for $140 million.

Not knowing what would happen, but confident we were in a great place in a great market, we felt good about our counter.

48 hours later they came back and offered us $70 million. Time to play ball. We countered at $120 million.

48 hours later they came back and offered us $80 million. We countered at $110 million.

48 hours later they came back and offered us $90 million. We countered at $100 million.

48 hours later they came back and offered us $95 million. We said no. $100 million is our final offer.

Then, the final wrinkle emerged: they couldn’t pay $100 million. Even with $210 million in cash on the balance sheet at the time, they had already filed paperwork with the SEC to do a secondary offering, and based on rules as a public company, they’d have to withdraw the offering if they acquired a company for more than a certain percentage of assets. Well, $95 million was the max they could do if we wanted to do a deal now.

$95 million — take it or leave it.

We said yes. The deal closed 42 days later.

Not all acquisition prices are logical. Our deal was driven partly by our revenue, market multiples, market opportunity, and SEC rules. Go figure.

Reprinted from:

DavidCummings.Org

Thomas Prendergast

The MLM Company of The Future Must Successfully Retail

The MLM Company of The Future Must Successfully Retail

markethive

Thomas Prendergast (CEO Markethive Inc.): "The MLM industry needs to change. The general public is increasingly reluctant to buy overpriced products and distributors need opportunities with products that will actually sell in the marketplace."

There’s really nothing wrong with change. Change is a burden to some but an opportunity to others and there’s a lot of change going on in the MLM industry now. One of the biggest changes revolves around the issue of whether or not companies can come up with products that satisfy government requirements for retail volume. And whether they can get their distributors to actually retail more product.

Up to now the DSA, working in conjunction with MLM companies, and their armies of distributors, have been reasonably effective in staving off regulatory scrutiny and/or disciplinary action revolving around claims that MLM distributors focus more on recruiting than retailing.

The companies can claim all they want that their distributors really do retail but we all know that there’s very little retailing going on in the vast majority of companies. It’s one thing for a company to parrot what their official guidelines say about retailing requirements but the reality is that the overwhelming majority of MLM retail very little if at all. And they also have neither the skill nor the desire to be true salespeople.

 

But nothing happens… companies don’t survive… unless something is ‘sold’. So what have companies done to ‘move product’?

To the objective eye, simple observation shows that most companies spend more time selling ‘the dream’ than they do their products. Why is that?

 

It’s because if you want ‘the Dream’, you have to sign up for autoship.

The Dream is easier to sell than products… at least from the company point of view. In fact it’s clear that companies make a conscious decision to train their distributors to ‘sell the dream’ rather than products. Just look at the relative allocation of time spent at most MLM company’s meetings. It’s obvious where their focus is.

 

But can the industry survive in this mode?

Maybe not.

 

The MLM company recruit today (at least in the US and most developed countries) is a lot smarter than back in the early days. The internet has made it extremely easy for them to not only shop ‘product quality’ but also to research MLM company reputations.

They don’t want overpriced products which they can only purchase along with a ‘dream’ that they may or may not want at that particular time. Nor are they attracted to companies which a simple Wikipedia search shows has a history of lawsuits.

One could make a reasonable case that this is one of the reasons that most MLM companies have resorted to going to foreign markets (i.e. outside the US) for most of their growth. It’s easier to sell The Dream there.

Those foreign consumers and potential distributors aren’t yet as sophisticated in evaluating MLM products and opportunities as most western consumers are. Often times (e.g. in China) they’ll buy anything that they perceive as ‘western’.

Consumers are very wary of ‘dream hype’ today. Instead, they want quality products they can afford and for their ‘opportunity’, they want companies with retailable products that consumers will reorder and upon which they (i.e. the distributor) can build a recurring revenue stream.

While a few companies have quality, affordable products, almost none have really enabled their distributors to last long enough in their business model to build ‘a business’.

Unfortunately the industry as it stands right now is geared toward success through recruiting and not retail sales. And isn’t it strange that among the new breed of true direct sales companies (e.g. especially those in the fashion and accessory niche like Rodan & Fields, Origami Owl, and others) none of them have had any problems with regulators.

Virtually all the investigations of claims of front-loading and illegal commissions based on recruiting have been against companies that use an MLM recruiting model. Isn’t that interesting?

Some companies have been a success with helping distributors build retail sales volume. One such company was TriVita, the Arizona based company in the nutritional supplement niche.

 

For many years TriVita did late-night television advertising, generated leads, and sold product direct from the company while simultaneously allowing distributors to purchase those leads, continue to service the customers, and pocket the profit.

The company also allowed recruiting too but if a distributor preferred to ‘buy their volume’ by purchasing customers who were already buying on a regular basis) that was OK.

Many distributors built very large, recurring revenue businesses based primarily on TriVita’s ‘customer purchase’ program.

Here at OBTAINER we have an acquaintance who was in TriVita but left the company when he could no longer ‘buy’ customers. That was several years ago yet to this day he still receives substantial income from his TriVita ‘customers’.

The point is that the industry has a well-deserved image of being a ‘churn and burn’ operation for selling dreams that very few actually achieve.

It’s nice that it takes less money to get into an MLM business but…so what? Failure isn’t fun for anybody… regardless of how expensive or cheap the lesson was. And some would argue that the low expense of getting into most MLM businesses is one of its biggest problems….people don’t treat it seriously.

But there’s another reason why MLM companies need to clean up their image of being concerned only with recruiting: if enough consumers (i.e. voters) start to complain to their elected representatives about the way we run our companies and businesses, regulators will have no choice but to step in and start mandating changes.

At some point, no amount of lobbying by the DSA or letter-writing campaigns by distributors will protect MLM companies from politicians who are getting bombarded by angry consumers and X-distributors who say they were lied to.

 

The logical question would be… is it possible to put non-sales oriented new distributors in a position where they can own a business that makes real retail sales?

Yes it is. TriVita did it once. They had the skill and the willingness to spend the money to generate customers on their own. But for some reason they were ‘turned by the dark side’ and gave up their successful advertising programs and their customer-purchase programs in return for what most MLM companies apparently think is easier money.

There’s another company on the horizon now too which appears to have a product that people will purchase at retail and a method of assisting new distributors to acquire new customers.

That company is Valentus.com. The reports that we hear are that their product is very good and that sales are good and growing rapidly. According to one Valentus distributor we know (the guy who used to be with TriVita), part of the reason that Valentus distributors’ downlines grow is the ‘power-line’ concept they use on their website(s). This particular distributor is supposedly in the process of presenting some other ideas on lead-generation to Valentus.

 

For now, Valentus has had good success using an automatic Powerline concept with people who inquire about their product or opportunity on their website..

Powerlines aren’t new. They just work a lot better when the company makes a good product. In the case of Valentus, anybody who requests information about the company is automatically put into a constantly growing powerline where they can visibly see their downline growing.

That new prospect is constantly reminded how their potential downline is growing. If the prospect wants to take advantage of those potential sign-ups, they can sign up first. If they don’t mind being passed up, they don’t have to sign up but they can still buy product.

 

Valentus doesn’t have a complex product line. They’re in the coffee niche and reports are that their product is not only cost-competitive but it also tastes good.

The coffee niche of MLM is definitely not saturated. Coffee is still a huge business… and it’s a simple product with broad appeal that everybody understands (the Steinkeller Brothers, formerly of Organo Gold proved that). 

The point of this article is that MLM companies would be well-advised to start paying more attention to successful retailing. If they don’t, and the consumer gets angry enough, regulators will step in… and it won’t be pretty.

 

Thanks to Art Williams for most of this article.

Thomas Prendergast
CEO
Markethive Inc.

 

Appendix:

Terms mentioned in the title image

Functional Silos (Typical issue within MLMs): An individual business function that tends to act as a stand-alone function, often formulating its own strategies and work plans in parallel with other business functions. This expression is used when describing an organization whose functions tend to be less communicative and collaborative. Companies with functional silos may have greater difficulty in creating strong, competitive products because they may fail to recognize the benefit of cross-functional teaming

Cultural / Customer Alienation: To simplify a complex equation, most MLM company cultures refuses to build an array of Social Media profiles (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, Youtube, Skype, Email, Texting, Whatsapp, phone, , chat windows, etc. (The full array);  So as to go to their “customer” instead of making the customer come to them. We all know the frustration of having to seek access to the company and being told to only use their back office chat between certain hours. I say, Be Like Amazon! The customer must be in the companies DNA!

The Data Management platform (DMP dashboards): Put simply for another complex concept, it takes complex data, tracking data, Google trends, Alexa rankings, purchasing data, profiles, logins, sales, returns and delivers it in understandable charts and graphs so the data manager, marketer, owner, staff, etc. can quickly ascertain what actions are working and which ones are not, so as to be able to take the right actions in a timely affair.  Sort a like what the Markethive dashboards do.

Customer Centricity Definition disconnect: Personally, when I have asked many a Network Marketing enterprises owners and principles what is “customer centricity” none of them have a clue. In sharp contrast Jeff Bezoz not only knows what it is, it is in his DNA “Put simply, “creating and delivering a positive consumer experience, prior to the sale, the point of sale, the process of the sale, the delivery of the purchase, after the sale and into the future”. Basically, the company must operate a totally symbiotic fusion within the system and seek out and handle their potential, current and former customers with an empathetic culture, thereby turning their customers into raving fanatics for the company. Kapish?

Support issue: Support as illustrated above, should operate with empathy, 24 hours a day from multiple communication ports with authority to solve and delight the customer with a what ever it takes to please said customer before the interaction is concluded. In todays networks, Internet and advanced communications, a happy customer will tell maybe a few hundred, whereby, a pissed of customer will file rip off reports, scam complaints and tell millions.

Failing to grasp or understand data analytics: When you look at the forest what do you see? Without the assistance of a dynamic interface delivering live data results across all aspects of the business, marketing and sales efforts, analysis is far short of being timely. Yet in the MLM industry, most companies only look at current sales volume and new distributor registrations. Failing to ascertain true trends and addressing dynamic actions to the immediate changes. Doing so, builds a nimble and dynamic experience for customer, prospect and employee.

Sales before the customer: MLM distributors are guilty of this and the mother company does nothing to address it. Focusing on the sales, not the customer, is a gross mistake and will always result in fatigue and worse failure. This is an issue the company should invest heavily into, thereby turning up the level of sales exponentially. In the words of Dale Carnegie, a pioneer in the self-improvement movement, "The only way to influence the other fellow is to talk about what he wants and show him how to get it."  Customer-Focused Selling is a selling technique that emphasizes a genuine dialogue between the salesperson and the customer.  Before talking product and/or service, a customer-focused salesperson strives to uncover a customer's underlying personal and/or professional needs and may even help the customer identify and phrase these needs. Then, instead of delivering a standard sales pitch about a product or service, the salesperson presents a tailored solution that meets the customer's needs, using the customer's language.

Thomas Prendergast

The power of the network. The Power of Markethive!

Social media reach: why more is more

markethive

As inbound marketers, we recommend focusing on building deeper engagement with just your target customers rather than advertising to everyone. We spend our time creating content to get found by the most relevant prospects. However, when it comes to social media it makes sense to work to build reach beyond just the most targeted prospects. This is why we are building and inventing the Markethive Reach Platform(s)

The power of the network. The Power of Markethive!

Social media embodies the power of the network (The Hive). The more people you are connected to, the more potential you have to reach relevant prospects who are open to your proposition.

In social media reach is crucial as it directly impacts how much your content and messages get shared. The more connected you are – with followers in Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, LinkedIn etc – the greater your ability to get found and generate leads.

Here are three key reasons that inbound marketers should consistently spend time increasing their followings in social media.

Reaching followers' followers and influencers

Having more followers means you get access to more of your followers' followers. The value of this comes from retweeting, commenting or mentioning you. For example, if one of your Twitter followers interacts with one of your tweets, that content is potentially getting exposed to everyone who follows them.

You're then reaching people who weren't following you and probably didn't know about you. Even if that original follower never becomes a customer, they've still exposed you to people who might.

Social media shares impact your SEO

Social media's impact on SEO is increasing with search engines taking social cues like shares into account when returning search results. Again, the more people that share/recommend your content, the better.

Serendipity and unexpected personas

Of course, you've developed personas as part of your inbound marketing and are working hard to create content that engages and nurtures them into becoming customers. Personas are essential and help us focus but social media creates opportunities to connect with people we weren't expecting to become customers.

Building up your following in social media gives the potential for exposure of your brand and products to people you might never have thought would be interested in what you sell and leads them back to your content.

Little and often – the secret to social media reach

If building reach isn't something you're already doing, start following new people who follow your current followers. Find influencers in your network and connect with them. Retweet and comment on their tweets and you will start to build your social media reach. Do it consistently and in a few weeks you'll have increased your reach significantly and your potential reach even more.

Markethive combines your social network associates with your message brand and exponentially explodes your reach

Find out more at the Markethive Workshops regarding the Reach

Thomas Prendergast
CEO
Markethive, Inc.

Thomas Prendergast

Markethive Mission Statement Alternatives

Markethive Mission Statement Poll

Markethive

#1 Markethive Mission Statement Summary:

To be one of the Internet’s leading producers and providers of Marketing Automation and Entrepreneurial support through a vertical social network.

Using our portfolio of technology and mentoring to assist our memberships to differentiate themselves a level above the rest we seek to create the most creative, innovative, powerful  and profitable entrepreneurs in the world.

By doing so we expect to make Markethive the most powerful Social Network in the world.

 

#2 Markethive Mission Statement Summary:

We help you simplify your Internet Marketing environment so that you can free up money, time and creativity to invest in your success.

We do this by providing a comprehensive and fully integrated portfolio of applications, platform systems, proprietary engineering (all known as Inbound Marketing), mentoring fused into the Social Network of Markethive.

 

 #3 Markethive Mission Statement Summary:

To bring inspiration and innovation to every entrepreneur* in the world.

*”If you have a dream, a vision and a goal, you are an entrepreneur”.

 

#4 Markethive Mission Statement Summary:

Give every entrepreneur the power to build a business and make the world a better place with more individual autonomy and liberty for all.

Thomas Prendergast

The Artist that came out of the Winter