The future of network marketing

You have been invited to come the Harvard Business School to give a presentation. The topic is:

What is the future of network marketing?

They ask you to discuss the biggest problem you see, possible solutions, and to conclude with some words on the future for the industry. They ask you to do this from your point of view as a Rep in the business, successful or not.

What would you tell them? In your own words? 150 words or less?

About the author

Kim Klaver


  • This is going to be fun and I can’t wait to hear everyone’s comments. Here’s what first comes to mind:

    I see two problems in the NM industry. First, we lure the wrong prospects into the business with promises of ‘getting rich quick.’ Second, we misuse the word ‘duplication.’

    First, we should start looking for the right people and telling the ‘truth that is often hidden within the lie’. The foundation of NM companies is based on the honest movement of products. NM companies market their products through ordinary people who promote the products by word-of-mouth advertising. We are paid commissions which result in residual earnings. It is hard work.

    Second, the system works on duplication; meaning, use the products, find others who want to use the products, and then train those who are interested in becoming team builders to train their groups of people to do the same thing. How this is done should be with one’s own personal creativity, not by becoming a clone of your sponsor.

    NM is the future. People are becoming educated to the earning potential and are searching for the tools to learn how to successfully build their respective businesses.

    Hope that was 150 or under words.


  • How about the East Carolina University School of Business? (Go Pirates! Beat West Virginia!)

    The biggest problem I see is with the image of the industry. There are true scams out there, like Pyramid, Ponzi and Investment schemes. Network Marketing is often lumped with these scams.

    Why? One reason is people at the top of the heap teach that it is a waste of time to go after customers. That the money is in recruiting business builders. After significant money is invested in the big starter packages, the recruiter moves on to the next person, looking to score another large payday, selling the Dream. And the newbie is left holding the big bag of products, wondering what happened. The few people who get builders in their organizations are then showcased in front of the room or on stage.

    Network Marketing is a legitimate business model. One solution is for people in the industry to stop believing customers are at the low end of the totem pole, that it is a waste of time to go after customers. The income from customers adds up after awhile, and is no small potatoes.

    The future of Network Marketing is bright. Surveys show that two-thirds of the people want some sort of business of their own. And people are finding out that job security is an illusion. Network Marketing offers a low barrier to entry. The new school methods of building the business allows those who want to work hard and smart to have a chance to make it in business for themselves.

  • Am I allowed just to say “ditto”? Venetta couldn’t have said ity better!


  • Everywhere I turn nowadays, I see everyone running around with a box.

    3 X 5 X 10

    Now most won’t allow you to see what is inside and spring it on you when you are least ready, maybe during dinner with your spouse, or a ball game with your children.

    They all assume that you need what is in their box. They say that you can’t live with out it, nobody can. As a matter of fact, the one that he has in his hands now is already sold. It sells itself. It is a MUST have.

    It is, the greatest in the world.

    You can’t stand it. You buy into what he is telling you. You take it home with much anticipation to your spouse.

    You open it together…it is a size 8 shoe. You wear a size 10, she wears a size 5.

    It is a sad day.

    Matthew Adams

    Max International

  • The biggest problems I see are that network marketers are led to believe that they are not in sales and advertising. And that they can start an income-producing business for $25.

    Some possible solutions would be to stop saying anyone can do this, and let people know that until someone is interested and something is sold, nothing happens.

    Then teach them that sales & marketing are not dirty words, and are only difficult things to do well if you are only in it for the money.


    About Me
    My organic foods website
    MLM Work At Home Blog

  • I forgot to comment on the future of the industry, lol!

    If things stay the same, lies, misinformation, hype, I think the results people are getting will also stay the same.

    As more people with the courage to be real, tell the truth, and leave out the hype get involved in MLM, things can change. I guess as I think about this more, the change would have to begin at the corporate level for real differences to come about.

    Network marketing companies might consider hiring women to take charge of their training and recruiting since 82% or so of new distributors are women.

    Oh, and 86 the word PHENOMENAL! 😉


  • The future for Network Marketing will reflect survival of the fittest. Those who operate, as Kim says, with trust, authenticity, and a good story will thrive, while those whose model is hype, misleading, and borderline or outright deceit will die out.

    This business model makes so much common sense that it can only grow. But the growth will be in the former group, not the latter.

    I am convinced this will mean larger focus and compensation for customer sales. Recruiting will still be important, but the primary focus of new recruits will be customer sales. The residual income from customer sales will make them stick and they will have a compelling story to tell to others who want something of their own to generate a few hundred dollars a month to lift their standard of living and provide that plan B.

    Edie Elting

  • Ditto to the other comments.

    Here’s mine. Mostly on the same path as the others with a twist.

    Network Marketing has become “trick marketing.” Many people are taking advantage of so many people saying no to the business and product by selling training materials about how to change that no into a yes. It’s just like a rape victim, if they say no they mean no. It’s not open for discussion.

    I don’t mix finding customers with business builders. It just doesn’t work to find a customer looking for my product and start pushing the business on them. It’s so much easier to let customers buy and I get paid.

    Network Marketing’s future looks bleak but it can be turned around if reps are willing to put honesty and integrity in the place of hype and promises. Treat your business like any other business. Be crystal clear about who you are looking for, what the requirements are, and don’t just settle for anyone. Choose the most qualified for your business partner.

    Squidoo Pet Page

  • The future of Network Marketing will be a radical move away from the traditional methods where Recruiters make claims about big easy money, which has resulted in a 95% dropout rate. Savvy Networkers understand what is required to be successful in Network Marketing. Success depends on building a solid long-term customer base, which takes time and effort. The Networker will need to learn different methods of marketing his product. He’ll need to learn to be aware of other’s needs and whether or not he can actually meet those needs. He won’t be able to sustain his business on big income claims and false product promises. He will learn to build relationships with people. Some people will only want the products he has to offer. Others will want to try the business. Only through building relationships will he know who is a customer and who is a potential business partner.

  • Others here have very well articulated the hyperbole, conscious misinformation, and assumption problems that have plagued network marketing for years. (thank you, all)

    I also think network marketing has played upon the social needs of others, often in an unhealthy way. All of us need at least some connections with others in order to feel whole. We want to fit in, and in varying degrees try to do this — even when systems around us are crazy. The ‘no friends left’ phenomenon described in other postings often strengthens people’s need to be like the others in the group — so that extreme pressure to conform can be felt.

    Many network marketing groups, supposedly in service of simplifying the process for everyone, encourage duplicatability” of systems and activities. Unfortunately, this frustrates would-be entrepreneurs who want to exercise their creativity, and facilitates the corporate clone-roles people often seek to escape by entering network marketing in the first place.

    In short, we tell people to ‘dream big dreams’, but shut them down when they really start to do that — especially if it is different from the “do exactly what I do” mantra set out by the company and upline.

    People often try to comply, and are miserable, defensive, quit coming to ‘meetings’, or do nothing at all. Sponsors wonder, “they signed up for the business — why won’t they DO anything?”

    I am not advocating complete anarchy in a company, but would hope there is room for people to connect with others in ways compatible with their authentic natures — and still be assisted in their efforts by upline and peers.

    Also, I do not know if this has been done already — but drafting a code of ethics for network marketers might be a starting point for people in companies all over. There are mission statements on many company web sites, but I am talking about the way ALL of us conduct ourselves, regardless of affiliation. Such a thing could leave room for different “how’s” of embodying this basic code, while we still adhere to its mandates. It could go far beyond the Better Business Bureau, for sure. 🙂

    I think if we all consider deeply — and implement — the principles Kim has been sharing with us, the future of network marketing can be very bright.

    Be well, all,

  • Developing a code of ethics would be very powerful.

    But we must remember…not all people, companies, or products are alike.

    Right there is the rub.

    How to make it fair…but even.

    Matthew Adams

    Max International

  • I agree with what everyone is saying.
    I think this industry could go either way with the new generations coming up. Alot more kids today are growing up to follow thier dreams and goals and then
    I also see all around us the upcoming generations that don’t want to work very hard to get to financial freedom and don’t know what dreams are. I would say lazy is the word. I do see more and more people who are open but I just think that people are not willing to delay gradification long enough to get to their goals. I just hit my dance studio goal and it took me 14yrs to get to a place where I feel like I can sit back and smile. But I would never take back the road that got me there today. With people like Kim who are bringing us together so we can do things with no hassle and no pressures in this Industry everyone has a chance to get there!

    Thanks for listening!!!

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