Marketing is often said to be a dark art, where often the answer of whether it works or not is not known until after the campaign. There are those who make it their living to design campaigns and predict their response. For those that are not aware marketing is so much more than advertising, but we'll cover that in a different article.
Even those who are professionals in this industry make spectacular mistakes, do you remember when Coca-Cola changed recipes in order to compete with Pepsi, and re-branded it as "New Coke", it bombed despite all the market research and self patting on the back. If all these professionals that earn mega bucks frequently get it wrong, what hope do you have?
Well marketing in an MLM is different to that of marketing for a traditional business, this article explores the mediums for generating leads through various media that are available to you and how applicable they are.
Flyers & Brochures
Your MLM should provide you with the option of purchasing low cost marketing materials, much time and money has been spent in developing these and you should purchase them and make use of them. Your business needs to be treated as a business, and you need to invest to make it happen.
However where many people go wrong is how they use them, especially when they are full of enthusiasm at their start in an MLM. Note, your sponsor should provide training as to how best to use these marketing materials and what has worked for them.
All flyers and brochures should have a distributor label on it with your details on it, indeed stick it on everything as you never know where such materials may end up. You should not look to put them through every door in your neighbourhood, the response rate will in general be poor. You should not look to hand them out to everyone in the street, it is likely to lead to rejection, and lots of marketing materials littering the streets.
The way to hand out such materials is to selectively speak to people, make them feel special, and ideally it is someone you already know and there is mutual trust already in place. Only after making conversation for a short while to re-establish rapport should you hand out any such materials - and ideally with a business card too. Members of the Star Builder team should check out the article on the 7 step guide to working with flyers.
A mail shot is where you send out a piece of unsolicited mail to someone in order to secure their interest. Please note though that response rates to unsolicited mail to someone you do not know who may or may not be interested in your offering is less than 0.1%, yes you read correctly! You would have to send out a 1,000 letters with marketing material to get just 1 response. If you are spending £3 on each letter (postage, letter and marketing materials) then you have just spend £3,000 to get one lead - does not take a genius to see that this is not the way to go.
You can increase this by sending it through to people you know, if you do this along with a personal note you are likely to get closer to a 10% response rate. That is to say you will be paying £30 per lead. Following up by phone call here is essential, and also asking if they would know someone who is interested is important. Members of the Star Builder team should look at the example letter templates on our site for ideas on wording.
You can further increase response rates by picking up the phone prior to sending it, letting them know it is especially for them and is going to be arriving on their doormat soon. Always remember to follow it up after with a phone call as above. Assuming you got a response rate of 50% to this, you would get a cost per lead of just £6. What a difference correct execution makes, and some people wonder why they achieve little success in an MLM.
First things first, unsolicited email is SPAM, you must not do that. It will get you a bad reputation, you'll lose all credibility and you may be prosecuted. Especially as rules about B2C (Business-to-Consumer) emails are far tighter than (Business-to-Business).
So we established that you should only sent to people know, or people you are acquainted with. Yes it is a low cost medium and that is great, but each email should be personalised (even if based on a template) to the person it is sent. Remember you need to treat people like an individual rather a number - that in itself yields dividends. Do however note that not all people want to get involved in the opportunity as yet, and you should work with those who are excited rather than those who are trying to tell you it is a scam or you'll never make any money out of it. Tom Hopkins says, as you climb the ladder of success, people will not try an climb up the ladder but pull you off it back to their own level.
Your MLM will likely stop you producing your own website or selling the products through channels such as Ebay and Amazon. If it doesn't they have not protected your business model, they have diluted the brand, and you should seriously consider if this is the right MLM for you. The MLM that Star Builder are part of does not allow you to set up your own website, and we think that is a good thing, there are so many awful websites out there that people have knocked up with out an understanding of design or purpose - and for this reason we cannot make mention our MLM by name or talk about the products publicly.
Some people use the likes of Gumtree to generate leads, and this may work. It's free, but realise it may generate 100 leads but 99 to a 100 of these are looking for jobs not an opportunity. So you "saved" yourself money but wasted a lot of time so you really cost yourself money - remember your time is really money.
Therefore, this is not a viable route to market.
There are many social websites out there right now including the likes of Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace. Your MLM will likely have compliance as to how you make posts on such websites. Never make claims about the product or MLM you are in that are unfounded - this is a sure fire way of getting yourself and your MLM in trouble.
Social websites can be a great way of letting people know what you are up to, but be careful not to give away too much information. People will in general try deciding whether this is for them there and then - rather than evaluating it over a period of time. It is more a drip feed of information at the appropriate time rather than opening the flood gates.
Make it there for a purpose, such as inviting people around for a seminar or product trial in your own home. Remember social networking sites should be about letting friends know what you are up to, and by it's very nature these represent your warm market. Note that for you Star Builders out there, we have written a guide to making the most of Facebook.
Local newspaper advertising can work well for generating leads, and can be relatively cheap to do for the size of audience you can reach. The general tips are:
- Comply with your MLM guidelines, what you can and what you can't say
- Keep it simple and go for low cost in the classifieds - black text on a yellow background works just fine
- Your advert (a.k.a the copy) needs to have a message or hook and a call to action (what you want people to do)
- The more adverts you run with them from a single booking (the number of insertions) the cheaper the price
- Expect to pay extra for a colour background and even more for a multi-colour advert
- Vary the days, such as a Monday or Wednesday - some will work better than others for your area and your copy
- Note that papers that only ever get delivered on a Friday or a weekend are not good for generating leads (by the time they react on Monday the forgot - it is frequently an impulse reaction)
- Always, always, always measure the response rate. That way you can find out what works in terms of days of week, number of insertions, and your copy
- Note that it typically takes someone 23 times of seeing an advert before they respond, so a one off advert is not worth the money
- DO NOT get suckered into the upsell of a website link - for them it is a free way of making additional money that yields you nothing
What you have to understand is cost per lead, if you spend say £70 per advert, and you get 2 responses this cost you £35 per lead. If you're going to do this contrast your success with other mechanisms. Remember also that you can not feasibly sponsor too many people at any one time because you cannot effectively train them to duplicate - see the article on duplication.
Local magazines are much like newspapers, but be careful about readership (unlike newspapers they rarely verify readership). The cost of advertising in such are generally cheaper for classified adverts, but because of the glossy nature it will be more expensive. In general you can leverage them to design you a glossy colour advert included in the price, if you go down this route bear in mind the following considerations:
- Is it ROP (i.e. does it face you on the right as you turn the page)
- Where in the magazine is it - depending on the publication it can make a massive difference
- As with newspaper 1 insertion is not enough - the first time someone sees it draw their interest - typically it is the 6th or 7th time before you'll get any serious responses
- What other things are going to be located near by - are they competing with you - or they inappropriate (i.e. chat lines next to your child day care advert don't work)
Ask to see samples of previous work, and other things. Should this not be forthcoming be wary, and remember the price they first offer you will come down after negotiation from the list price.
Radio / TV
In short NO - these are not suitable for MLMs! To organise a proper campaign on the radio it will cost you £200 or so for the production (and you really must know what you want from a script), you will then need to consider the timing and number or airings of your advert (for which they will convert to OTH - Opportunities to Hear). More segments at peak juicy periods will inflate the cost. A campaign of less than 2 weeks and 9 OTH is simply no worth paying money for, and one of the Star Builders recently got a quote for another business for 3 weeks at 11 OTH and this was for over £7,000.
At £7,000 for 3 weeks, how many leads would you need to generate, and remember you cannot work with more than about 5 sponsored people training them at any one time? Enough said.
Trade Shows and Exhibitions
With trade shows and exhibitions - the first question you should ask yourself is am I looking for retail sales or to sponsor distributors, and is this the appropriate place to do so. Your MLM will have rules about what is appropriate and what isn't, they don't want you retailing their products at a car boot sale as it does not send out the right message, additionally they do not want someone with a stand 20 metres from someone else.
So you have chosen a trade show or an exhibition, realise that they typically charge £700+ for a small stand per day. Some venues are even more pricey, take a stand at the NEC for the National Franchise Exhibition - for a good position the two days will cost you at least £10k, and it will cost you more if you want extras such as power or to be able to have a TV, or a table. Yes those extras creep up, be clear about the price all in before you commit, and get a commitment from then about footfall for where your stand is.
You will need to have enough of your product, and have got appropriate literature and banner displays. Appreciate that a pop up display could set you back as much as £4000 alone! Not to mention the products and giveaways you will have on your stand.
So yes these can work for you, but save it until you have achieved some levels of success, and do it together with other members of your team to share in the risk and the rewards.
You can't really buy PR, it just happens as you go about running your business. The power of a PR article is that it is written by someone else and as a third person adds credibility and legitamacy. We know of some people who tired to woe their local business editors, and go no where, the key here is that they need to maintain their independence and credibility too.
You can however send in success stories with photographs of those you have sponsored who have made it, they like those sorts of things as it is upbeat and shows a local person doing well. It is also useful to work with your local chamber of commerce and make friends with the person that runs it - they generally have a good working relationship that you can leverage.
You can generate leads in networking meetings, just be aware that the annual fee for such a thing is about £500 and you will be expected to pay for your breakfast or lunch on top of that. You will also be expected to provide leads to the other members, and not all networking groups are as full on - so pick one that suits you. Note they will generally invite you to attend two or three before you have to commit, but when you have been for those two or three - you will come under intense pressure to sign up.
The leads generated in such meetings tend to work better for trades such as printers or electricians - less so the MLM distributor - so by all means give it a go, but you'll have to ask yourself is this going to work for me, and can I commit to meeting up once per week (the ones that are once a month you can forget as it is about relationships).