In a post June 8, I wrote:
As a fan of P&G and someone who’s been educating the Network Marketing industry for 17 years, my heart sank when I read about P&G’s latest marketing tactic – bribing women to use their friendships to sell soap. The lack of transparency is the same problem that NM has. Why?
Because NO NM company I know of teaches people to tell up front that they’re selling the product they’re talking up. (Because that would contradict the recruiting mantra that they’re getting paid to just do what they always do.) So when the other gal gets enthusiastic and wants to get the product too, the truth comes out: “Uh, I sell it.”
And right then the trust is broken.
“Ahh. So that’s why we had this chat and you said all those nice things about it…”
The next time, the friend doesn’t return the call. I wouldn’t, either.
P&G’s new tactic of bribing women to talk up products to their friends without telling could lead to the same erosion of trust among friends.
I’m not the only one who feels strongly about this use of friendships among women by corporate America.
Dan Gillmor, author of We the Media wrote (also on June 8):
“I have news for the buzz moms and those who choose to be the corporate or political foot soldiers: If you are being compensated for this activity, tell me. A supposed friend who tries to sell me without such disclosure won’t remain a friend if I discover the deception.”
Dan’s exceptional post here. He adds:
“Reading this story made me less likely to buy P&G’s products, hard as they are to avoid. I don’t trust companies that try to fool people.
Buzz is great. Genuine buzz comes from those who truly care about something, not from corner offices…
Transparency is vital, not optional, in this new marketing relationship – and this is not simply about what’s ethical. Transparency is also smarter. You may never get caught pulling a fast one, but if you do, you will be punished.”
Is it worth losing the trust of your friends over a case of soap?
P&G: Teach the women in these programs how to tell up front that they’re getting something from you to do this extra talking up of your products – they obviously weren’t doing it before (judging by the increase in sales.) You can accomplish much the same thing if you offer the language skill set to enable them to do that with their friends.
If you don’t, you risk getting the same image much of network marketing is stuck with right now:
“P&G: the people who encourage their customers to use and abuse their friends for uh, well, in your case, a case of soap.”