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January 2000

 

Feature

Why e-Commerce Needs Network Marketing: Now - Burke Hedges

It is not enough to wire the world if you short-circuit the soul. Technology without heart is not enough.
-- Tom Brokaw, NBC News Anchor

Burke Hedges     Let's listen in on an historical conversation between Network Marketing and the Internet -- a conversation that is destined to revolutionize the economy in the new millennium.

Network Marketing decided it was time to sit down with the young, ambitious Internet for a little heart-to-heart talk. Network Marketing liked this Kid called the Internet. The Kid kind of reminded Networking of himself when he was younger. Brash. Bold. Daring. Refusing to play by the rules -- in fact, making up the rules as he went along.

The Kid has a lot of raw talent, no doubt about that. But he's getting pretty arrogant and cocky. So it was time for a talk. Network Marketing didn't want to break the Kid's spirit -- just wanted to give him direction. With a little mentoring, this Kid could really be something.

"What was that you said earlier?" asked Network Marketing in mock seriousness. "Something about how I need you, but that you don't necessarily need me?" The old veteran Network Marketing was baiting the Internet. He knew the Kid was too full of himself to notice.

"I believe my precise words were, `Looks like I don't need you. You need me,'" replied the Internet. "I'm digitized, you know, so I have a photographic memory. Unlike you, I don't make mistakes. You, on the other hand, are nothing but a mass of people. Which means you're prone to human error. You're emotional. Individualistic. Hard to control. You dislike change, and you're a slow learner.

"Yeah, Mr. Networker, I'd say you need me, all right. I'm just not sure you're what I'm looking for. You and I both know I have the world at my terminal! In fact, I can't think of one good reason I should even consider partnering with you!"

Network Marketing listened patiently. The Kid was full of himself, no doubt about that. He was on the cutting edge of technology and he knew it! But over the years Network Marketing had learned to be wise.

He'd learned the importance of understanding the person you were talking with. He knew you could turn off prospects if you took the wrong approach. He'd learned from experience to read between the lines. The Networker read that the Kid was desperate for the right partner. This was the only opening the Networker needed.

"Who said anything about partnering?" Network Marketing asked nonchalantly.

"Did I use the word 'partnering'?" the Kid asked innocently.

"You're the one with the digitized memory," the Networker said casually. "Play it back. I believe your exact words were, `I can't think of one good reason I should even consider partnering with you!' But then, my memory isn't as good as yours, is it?"

The Internet realized immediately that he'd made a strategic blunder. Now the Network Marketer had the advantage. The Internet's server whirred and clicked, calculating in seconds the millions of options. He decided to remain silent and wait for the Networker to reply.

The Networker used the long, awkward silence to plan his approach. He knew the Kid was rational. Logical to a fault. Give him the facts. He needed to deliver his message without emotion. Data wins the day with the guy. Lay out the features and benefits in short, simple statements. This is it -- the moment of truth. No more beating around the bush. Get to a yes or no. Maybes will kill you.

"Okay, Kid," said the Network Marketer, squaring his shoulders. "No more games. From here forward we deal in data -- the cold, hard facts. You like what you hear, we shake hands and walk out of here as partners. You don't like the deal, we walk away from the table, no hard feelings. Like I always say, `I'm going to do this business with or without you.' I'd like to do it with you, and here are the reasons why.

 

  Let's face it -- your customers have no allegiance to you because they aren't emotionally involved with you, like a good friend would be.
"First of all, I want to tell you that I think you're the greatest technology to come along since the invention of the automobile. You've come a long way in a short time. You have great work habits, online 24 hours a day. You help the world send and receive information at the speed of light. You've put up some impressive numbers. But let's face it -- you're struggling. You're getting lots of visitors to your sites, but most of them are just hits, not buys. Right now your customers have no loyalty to you." 

The Networker paused to make sure his message entered the Internet's data banks. He didn't want his message to float around in cyberspace. He wanted this email delivered right now!

"We both know lack of loyalty is taking its toll on you," Network Marketing continued. "You have to spend billions of dollars in advertising to lure customers to your websites, and you never know if they'll even buy anything, much less if they'll become regular customers. Let's face it -- your customers have no allegiance to you because they aren't emotionally involved with you, like a good friend would be. Your customers come and go like the wind, and you have to spend a big part of your profits attracting new people. What you need is repeat business. This is where I come in."

The Networker chose to open with his strongest arguments first. This was no time to tiptoe through the issues. Get right to the crux of the issue and then build momentum from there.

"Look, you and I both know that the one thing you need are people who buy your products and services month in and month out. You need clients who are loyal to your brands ... loyal to the company ... loyal to the relationship.

"What do you think would happen if you started treating your customers as clients and partners, like we do? You'd see your bottom line start to soar like the space shuttle heading into orbit, isn't that true?"

The Networker knew he'd hit the Kid right between the eyes. He knew he'd gotten the Internet's attention with the loyalty argument and by bringing up the Internet's Achilles' heel -- the fact that lots of e-commerce companies are making big revenues, but only a few are showing a profit. E-commerce needed a solution -- and fast! Network Marketing decided to launch right into the reason so many e-commerce sites were losing money despite posting huge gross revenues.

"You're spending a small fortune on advertising trying to attract new customers," the Networker continued. "And as soon as you get one, they run over to your competitor because he's offering it for a nickel less. We Network Marketers, on the other hand, use the most effective advertising know to humans -- relationship marketing. Person-to-person, word-of-mouth marketing. A thousand banner ads can't equal the value of one sincere person referring a product or service to a friend. You and I both know that.

"We appreciate and practice loyalty," said the Networker. "We build our businesses by building relationships first. We have automatic standing orders for our products. We offer one-of-a-kind, brand-name products that need to be replenished monthly. And we have brand loyalty, something you desperately need. We don't believe that throwing your money away on banner ads is an effective way to build a large, profitable business that will be around 20 years from now."

The Networker leaned on the word "profitable" because he knew it went straight to the heart of the matter. Despite the enormous potential of e-commerce, only a handful of the thousands of e-commerce sites were profitable. Their day of reckoning was close at hand, and they knew it.

"The people in our industry have a bond. They think and work like a community. They cheer for each other. The inspire each other. They form life-long relationships. They attend positive, uplifting meetings and events where they learn to sharpen their skills and improve their attitudes. Our people think and act as a team.

"But what about your people?" the Networker asked. "Do they share a common vision or goal? Do they have a sense of community or shared purpose? Do they strive to help each other in times of need? Or are your people splintered? Untrained? And unfocused? What do you think would happen in a time of crisis? Would they pull together as one -- or would they pull out and jump ship to the next deal?"

The Networker knew that the Internet was no dummy. The message was getting through, loud and clear.

"Here's the bottom line, Kid. You need what we have, and you know it. We can bring you the power of group purchasing, loyal customers, predictable monthly consumers, and lots of traffic without advertising. We have 50 years of experience to your five, and we're experts in manufacturing and distribution, something you're still trying to get the hang of. I can direct as many as a million eyeballs to one website in a matter days, and I'm not talking `hits' -- I'm talking loyal product users.

"Once my independent business owners start directing e-commerce traffic," Network Marketing continued, "there's no telling how much product you can move through one of your sites. You're so desperate for customers that you're trying to low-ball every product. First lesson in commerce, Kid. The lowest price isn't always the best value. First thing we'll do when we partner is teach you how to build value through trusting relationships. And that, Kid, is why you need me more than I need you."

The Networker locked eyes with the Internet and leaned forward in his chair. He decided to let the words sink in. He knew the Internet had processed the information. The Kid was fast. Real fast. But there was more at stake here than some simple calculations. What was at stake was the future of distribution. This was an historic moment. This was the moment of truth, and both of them know it.

The Networker studied the Kid. He had talent and brains, all right. But he lacked the human leadership it takes to make it big in the e-economy. The Networker knew he had to take the lead.

So he slowly extended his hand across the table.

"Together we can make history, Kid. Let's partner up and make the world a better place to live and work. Millions of people with unfulfilled dreams need us working together as a team."

The Networker's arm hung in the air, his hand strong and steady. The Kid remained expressionless. The Networker's gaze remained fixed, unblinking, on the Internet's face. The Kid met his gaze straight on.

"What do you say -- are we partners?" the Networker asked sincerely.

The Networker felt a firm hand meet his. The movement was fast ... the speed of light. The Networker looked down at the firm handshake, and then back to the Internet's face, which revealed bright eyes and a wide smile.

"Hello, partner," said the Internet.

"Hello, partner," replied the Network Marketer.

The More High Tech We Have, The More High Touch We Need

"The more technology we introduce into society, the more people will want to aggregate, will want to be with other people," wrote John Naisbitt in his book Megatrends. It's hard to believe that his modern classic is now almost 20 years old, and I'm delighted to report that the book has passed the test of time with flying colors!

First published in 1982, Megatrends discusses the ten key trends that will transform our lives well into the 21st century. Amazingly, all of his forecasts were right on the money -- especially his observation that the more the world becomes high tech, the more we need high touch.

"Whenever new technology is introduced into society, there must be a counterbalancing human response -- that is, high touch ..." says Naisbitt. Examples of this phenomenon are all around us. Can you guess what customers at e-commerce sites request most often? If you guessed cheaper products or faster delivery, you'd be wrong. According to a random survey of e-commerce shoppers, what online shoppers most requested was a live person to talk to! High tech/high touch.

 

  Network Marketing is the high touch counterbalance that e-commerce needs to offset its high tech edge.
Enter Network Marketing. 

Network Marketing is the high touch counterbalance that e-commerce needs to offset its high tech edge. You see, successful Networkers understand that they're in the people business -- first, last, and foremost. Products don't order products -- people order products! Products can't direct traffic to a website -- people direct traffic! Cell phones, fax machines, and e-commerce don't grow a Networker's business -- people grow their business! Networking has always been a high touch people business, and more than anything else, e-commerce needs high touch people.

That's why "e-Networking," if you will, is such a natural, It combines the greatest high tech tool ever invented -- the Internet -- with the greatest high touch business ever invented -- Network Marketing!

I get the feeling some veteran Networkers are fearful that e-commerce will take over their business and push them to the side. That will never happen. E-commerce needs the high touch component that Networking offers.

There's no substitute for a warm heart -- none! Everyone needs to be around people who care. We need recognition from others for a job well done. We need a soft shoulder to cry on when we're hurting. We need a spirited, joyful person to celebrate with when we reach our goals.

Only people can give people the "tions" that we all need. "What are the `tions'?" you ask. The "tions" are all the things we crave and need the most in this world.

Atten-tion.

Inspira-tion.

Motiva-tion.

Celebra-tion.

Recogni-tion.

Valida-tion.

Dedica-tion.

Those are just a few. They'll never invent a "tion" machine. All a high tech machine can do is help facilitate the high touch connection between people. A phone call from the right person at the right time, for example, has helped mend many a broken heart. What people are really after isn't the phone call -- it's the voice of a human on the other end cheering them on:

"You can do it!"

"Don't quit!"

"I know how you feel, I felt the same way!"

"You've got to be strong!"

"Keep your eyes on the prize!"

"I'm so proud of you!"

"You're the best!"

"I love you!"

High touch is the human touch, and there's nothing else quite like it!

BURKE HEDGES has championed the crusade for personal and financial independence for almost a decade. He is the author of six books on personal growth and free enterprise, including the classic Who Stole the American Dream? and You Can't Steal Second With Your Foot on First, You, Inc., Copycat Marketing 101, Read and Grow Rich and his latest, Dream-Biz.com, available through Upline, from which this article has been adapted. Burke lives with his family in Clearwater, FL.

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Reprinted with permission from Upline, Spaulding Feature - January 2000, 888-UPLINE-1, http://www.upline.com

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