The Evolution of Network Marketing

Today, I want to talk about the evolution of network marketing and how it has evolved since the 1950s.  If you’ve been involved with our great industry for any period of time, you’ve probably noticed some distinct changes. Here are a few ways the MLM Industry has evolved since the 1950s:

1) Door-to-Door: When our industry first started in the 1950s, it was mostly door-to-door sales. Early day Amway, Avon, Shaklee and Mary Kay reps frequently sold items door-to-door. This method was very popular and effective during the 1950s and 1960s. New distributors would canvas neighborhoods in their local community to find new customers and distributors.

This method is still used some today, but not as much.  In today’s world, there are lots of no soliciting rules in neighborhoods.  There are also a lot of crazy people out there, so most people are no longer receptive to this approach (although some people still do it with great success).

2) In-Home Parties: While still popular today, in-home parties were extremely popular in the 1970s.  A host would invite friends over and a distributor would come over and demo the products and generate sales. The distributor might even sponsor a few of the guests into their business. And normally they would give the host some free products or a cash bonus for hosting a party.  If you’ve ever been to a home party before you understand how fun and effective they are.

3) Catalogs: Catalogs gained popularity from the late 1970s and lasted through the early 1990s. Distributors handed product catalogs to friends, family, and co-workers.   These people would review the product catalog and place an order with the distributor, if they were interested. While most companies still offer catalogs for their distributors today, they aren’t anywhere near as popular today as they were during the 1970s through early 1990s. The internet has played a major role in this change.  Most people simply use an online catalog because it is free and easy to access.

4) Internet: Since the mid to late 1990s, the internet has grown in popularity. Now, just about everyone I know has internet access and an email account. Many distributors have taken their business online, in hopes to build a global business.  And while the internet has created a level playing field for distributors to build a global business, it’s overly saturated and competitive. Most people simply don’t realize that the internet is nothing more than a marketing medium: a place to advertise and build your presence.  It’s not the answer to all of your troubles.

The internet is here to stay, but distributors need to realize that this will always people a PEOPLE BUSINESS.  You can use high tech, but don’t forget to use high touch as well.  Once you meet people online, your goal is to talk to them on the phone or meet them in person and build a relationship with them.  Don’t get confused and think the internet is some secret solution to your troubles with talking to people.

5) Top Tier Company: Top Tier Companies gained popularity in the late 2000s, sometime around 2007 or so.  A Top Tier MLM Company is a Direct Sales Company that offers a huge upfront commission, typically somewhere in the range of $500 to $5,000 or more for signing up someone new. Rather than rely strictly on residual income, Top Tier MLM Companies offer a wonderful way to get paid today. This is a great alternative to traditional MLM because of the big commissions.  You can make $10k per month in a Top Tier Program much quicker and easier than you can with a traditional network marketing company.  In most of these companies, you only need to recruit a few people per month to earn a six figure income.

6) Get Paid Today: This is a new concept in network marketing that combines affiliate marketing with network marketing. It is the process of generating multiple streams of income in your business, and having a solid way to make money, even if people don’t join your business opportunity. It’s how I build my business and I think it makes great sense.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, our industry has really evolved during the past fifty to sixty years. I’m not sure how it will change in the future, but I do know one thing.  This will always people a people business.  Even if there are “different trends” and “ways to build a business” you still need to focus on building long-term friendships and relationships with people if you want a sustaining, long-term business.

What are your thoughts?  Where do you see the industry in the next five, ten or twenty years? Leave a comment and let us know.  I look forward to hearing from you.

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chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
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4 thoughts on “The Evolution of Network Marketing”

  1. This industry has really come a long way over the years! I expect that it will just continue to grow in the coming years as well. However, I think internet will continue to play a huge part in this business. And I also fully agree with your statement about this being a people business. Its so important to remember to keep those connections with people and not rely on internet communication alone.

  2. I’m always interested in the evolution of products, services, and businesses. As I’ve been reading through some of these posts, I’ve been impressed with the evolution of these small businesses – from door-to-door, to parties, to catalogs and through the internet, I’ve watched small businesses grow. What started as our grandmother’s extra income has become a way of life for many people. MLM offers the opportunity for lots of people to earn an extra income – something that can be very much appreciated in today’s economy. The internet alone has provided a huge forum for laypeople, like me, to learn about network marketing and the opportunities it presents.

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