Wonderful reminder from Walter Lippmann.
That said, here’s my question:
Why don’t we promote cross-company customers?
That is, why couldn’t a rep from say, PrePaid Legal, and one from Shaklee, Isagenix or LifeWave, be each other’s customers, without the paranoia of someone stealing them? I mean be customers of more than one company’s products, like we are in the real world?
Some years ago, Paul Zane Pilzner asked me why it was that people recommended representing only one network marketing company, when say, pharmaceutical reps represented more than one.
I told him then (and still believe it today) that this would be like trying to recruit for more than one religion. If someone gets into a business and promotes it as a real income opportunity to someone else, because THEY love it, see its potential and want to find others to join them, then, it’s kind of like religion, isn’t it? How many can one person be passionate about and promote? Oh – you don’t like Christianity? No problem, here – let me show you Judaism.
I refer to people who do the networking business because they love the business model and have found a company/product they use themselves and want to evangelize. Not the junkies who jump from deal to deal looking for the quick score.
Now the products – that’s a different story. What if NM companies let customers be customers? That is, they distinguish between reps and customers, and do NOT require that a regular, autoship ‘just customer’ part with their social security number, or make the rep push them to sign the distributor (sales rep) agreement.
Reps have told me countles times how often they’ve lost the customer sale when they have to get that SS# and/or try to sign them up in the business, like their company or upline push them to do.
Did you know that in most NM companies, you can’t just be a regular customer?! Here these companies say they have products to help the world, only no one can use them unless they sign up as a distributor. Fewer than 3 percent of those who sign on to sell do so regularly anyway, so most are just customers by default.
Where else but with a NM company do you have to give your SS before you’re allowed to buy products? (They could be creative and figure out other ways to track customers, couldn’t they?)
So here’s my idea:
Since most people in the business end up as just customers anyway, why don’t we encourage each other to buy each others’ products as just customers?
I mean instead of buying them at the GNC or health food store, we buy them from each other. Many companies have good products, and many are different and work for different people in different ways. Why not keep it in the family and collaborate instead of compete – for just customers I mean?
Yes, a company might lose a rep or two who moves to another company. But I think that the additional customer business from the 13 million already involved in the NM business (per the DSA) would be far greater than a few reps moving from one company to another.
We’d need two rules, at least:
1. All agree to honor the business choices of others. NO STEALING or attempted stealing of reps. It’s about the CUSTOMERS, REPEAT CUSTOMERS, only.
2. Companies who want to play in this much more friendly market (members of the profession) must set up customer programs where customers do NOT have to be distributors also. JUST CUSTOMERS. Something which, in my opinion, is long overdue and will do much to lift the stigma associated with our products – people tell me they won’t buy from NM reps because they don’t want to be nagged and badgered to sell the products, too. We could finally let go of that loser baggage.
I know of just a handful of companies that treat their customers as customers, and actively encourage their reps to seek out customers who are NOT also Reps for the company.
If your company is one of those, let me know and we’ll start a list.
And I’ll post it, assuming your facts are correct.
I’ve promoted cross company customer gathering for years, and do it in all my classes where we have different companies represented. FUN. And why not? NO company has products that are best for everyone, so why not share the customers? Amongst ourselves?
NuSkin, in all divisions, encourages the development of a customer as well as distributor base.
I couldn’t agree more about cross-marketing of products among distributors from different NM companies; I purchase cleaning products from a neighbour who’s with Melaleuca.
You state “Here these companies say they have products to help the world, only no one can use them unless they sign up as a distributor.”
The majority of companies I have seen allow you to purchase the products without membership, however they cost more if you are not a member/distributor as they should.
You state, “Fewer than 3 percent of those who sign on to sell do so regularly anyway, so most are just customers by default.”
Does this make the system wrong?
Would it be wiser for the company to just allow anyone to order direct from the company at the same price as those who work the networking format?
Your statement “Where else but with a NM company do you have to give your SS before you’re allowed to buy products? (They could be creative and figure out other ways to track customers, couldn’t they?)”
I thought that was the reps responsibility and what we get paid for?
This is not an LL Bean or Internet order format, but rather moving products through people and rewarding them for doing so.
Kim, you have a lot of wisdom and great ideas, but your message here appears to take the networking out of a networking format.
A company either chooses to use the powerful format or they don’t. There is no in between.
If a person wants to be paid handsomely for ONLY retailing the product, then a networking company is probably not the arena they should be in.
Paying a small membership/distributor fee and expect to do so in that format, would be equilavent to someone with a “Sams Club” or “Costco” type membership, purchasing their products and trying to mark them up considerably and retail them.
I have found the real long term potential is teaching the 97% how to become effective in a simple, low key, positive results producing avenue.
Yes, I know NuSkin encourages customers, but how easy is it to do that? Do they teach how to get repeat customers? Does it require the customer’s SS#? What’s the percent of pay for repeat customers?
I wrote: “Fewer than 3 percent of those who sign on to sell do so regularly anyway, so most are just customers by default.” And you asked:
“Does this make the system wrong? Would it be wiser for the company to just allow anyone to order direct from the company at the same price as those who work the networking format?”
I don’t suggest anyone order direct from the company, but through the reps, and the company ships the product. Like a regular auto-ship program but the reps brought in the customers (just customers, not a rep), and get paid for it. Each month for repeat customers.
In most companies, they usually get more for one-time retail sales, and less if people become “members” or go on auto-ship, like a preferred customer. The rep should still earn 10-30%+ on what the auto-ship just-customer pays the company for their product. Otherwise it’s not worth the work it takes to get a repeat customer. I believe Shaklee, TriVita and Life Wave are some of the few companies that do so.
Next, I wrote, “Where else but with a NM company do you have to give your SS before you’re allowed to buy products? (They could be creative and figure out other ways to track customers, couldn’t they?)”
And you asked: “I thought that was the reps responsibility and what we get paid for? This is not an LL Bean or Internet order format, but rather moving products through people and rewarding them for doing so”.
The job of the rep in finding repeat customers in my example, is to find customers (of course, those who like it, can also recruit). Finding and keeping customers is what they are paid the overrides for, as far as I know. Not for wangling an SS# from someone or push them to sign up to sell, when the experience of thousands of people has shown them that doing that is the very thing drives many would-be customers away from us.
Why not add amassing ‘just customers’ as another money-making option for reps who love amassing customers like AOL did (nearly 30 million after 10 years)? And promote it, train for it, have one-time signing bonuses for it, and for say the 12 month anniversaries of a repeat customer, another special bonus for the rep.
And stage time, training and financial incentives for those who want to do that today.
Since 85% of everyone is part time, and 80% of the business is women, a whole lot of people would feel a lot more special than they do right now.
And I agree that a low key, non screaming hype approach is best for long term results, for either amassing customers, or recruits.
From your responses, I realize I was misinterpreting what you were saying in the first letter.
Also I am with a company that gives choices about SS# and who’s compensation plan does not create some of the problems you have brought up.
Hello again. I just read on your blog, “I know of just a handful of companies that treat their customers as customers, and actively encourage their reps to seek out customers who are NOT also Reps for the company. If your company is one of those, let me know and we’ll start a list. And I’ll post it, assuming your facts are correct.”
As soon as I read your book, “If My Product’s So Great, How Come I Can’t Sell It?”, I knew it was exactly what I was looking for. Why? Because The AIM Companies puts its focus on health and encourages customer acquisition. So your teaching and thinking falls right in line with the focus at AIM.
I was simply a customer for seven years before I decided to market their products. I saw many people turn their health around, and I knew what BarleyLife did for me and my wife. In fact, she used to wear glasses and once she started juicing carrots and using AIM products, she no longer needs to wear her glasses! So that was one reason why we were such good customers for seven years. We got results with their products, and were never, not once, pressured to sell them.
The downside of The AIM Companies, if you want to call it that, is they only have nutritional whole-food products. So if we want health products like soap, toothpaste, or deodorant, we have to go to the health food store to get it. There is one network marketing company out there whose cleaning and home care products we really like, but they are too expensive and they require you to make purchases every month! If you don’t order, they create an order for you and ship it to your house. Not good. So they lost a good customer. And of course, they put an emphasis on building a business.
Hope this helps. Thanks for all that you do and have a good day!
Your insightful suggestion that we all do business with each other will surely strike terror in the hearts of those NM companies that preach recruiting like Elmer Gantry preached fire and brimstone. We’ll all be going to Hell if your idea comes to fruition, I can hear them howling. What will actually happen is an industry-wide revolution that will shake out all the nefarious companies that only want the money and could care less if you build a business selling to customers rather than recruiting. The “Wave” books that have been a guide to so many in this industry will look like ripples in a small pond when the “WAVE” that is going to wash over American business like the tsunami Seth Godin predicts is coming finally hits. That “WAVE” is the overwhelming rejection of traditional marketing by a populace smothered in direct mail, email, screaming TV and Radio ads and mountains of print ads. We are inundated by information that we can’t possibly pay attention to. An idea like yours makes so much more sense. Why not establish a clearing house for this? Set up a website where we can go to review what each other offers. If you want to be listed you pay a small fee. I’d pay $20 a month for that. Then, if someone sees my listing and wants my product, they can contact me, and vice versa. You could even make it available to, gasp, potential customers. It would be like a “mercado” where everybody buys and sells and everybody wins. Oh, never mind. I hear the recruiting evangelists beginning to howl. Seriously, what’s to keep this from happening?
You ask, “Seriously, what’s to keep this from happening?” A little work and support from the likes of you.
I will look into it. Have been thinking about it for several years, and have thousands of reps who might be ready for such a thing.
Let’s do it! Use each other’s products, something I know you (Kim) talked about with the Alternative Network Marketing sites some years ago and promote endlessly. Count me in – no company names, no hype allowed – just “product for people who” listings.
You had some Nu Skin specific questions – As a Nu Skin veteran, first let me say that a customer does NOT have to give their SS# in order to get wholesale pricing on a monthly or bi-monthly program. If a rep asked you for that, then they signed you as a distributor for obvious reasons – have known that to happen and find it disgusting. If it happened to me, I’d file a complaint. If it happened to you, I’ll help you file it.
I’d say that NSE does excel in many areas concerning customers – customer servie, retention strategies to assist the distributor and in offerings and rewards to the consumer. And the company does not sell – any non-assigned orders are given to those qualified for leads. This isn’t a PR piece for NuSkin so I’ll hold the specifics.
Nu Skin shows retail prices online, and has a retail auto-ship program, yet most current monthly or bi-monthly shipments are at wholesale. We are told there are more shipments to customers than distributors, which is a big deal in our industry – so someone is getting customers – ditto with Photomax at about 10 to 1.
As to actively encouraging reps to get customers, I’d say in some ways NSE does – yet we could do more for the new or part time distributor (the 80%), someone who’s not a doctor or gym or spa owner, someone new who does not invest in a $1000 product package or more to begin their business and is not in a qualification process – someone who is really limited on time but willing to build a customer base.
While it’s up to the rep whether they charge retail or wholesale, most only charge retail for a one-time purchase. Most of us do not inventory, so those orders are done online or via phone to the company. The monthly customer (or bi-monthly customer) is usually put on a wholesale program. The new rep (again, not spending $1000) earns less than 10% on the wholesale amount a customer spends, until they reach executive classification, then 15-21%, plus with other bonus (potentially) based on sponsoring. So, initially, a PT newbie kinda needs the retail profit so they have some income while building their customer volume high enough to become an executive.
The big question for any company is what’s going to reduce attrition if you don’t pay the part time, enthisuastic new person (the 80%) to go build that customer base so they can get to a level where they might qualify for some bonuses, you know, so they’ll stay? And train them to do that? And in the process, like you say, some customers might love the product madly and want to do the same thing.
A few solutions (that should bring in more money than they would cost any company): a bonus for keeping a customer on a monthly shipment for 2-3 months, better still, a continuing bonus, not just one time. Keeping a customer takes work, too.
Second, making years of consistent volume and/or recurring customer count be the basis for qualifying for bonuses or special promotions – or leads. Keep the current stuff that’s based on sponsoring for the big recruiters, but make some allowance for the other important people, too. I’ll take a bunch of fun loving people making $300 a month anyday, and bet they might just decide they want more.
Third, teach, or hire someone to do it, basic communication skills and how to attract customers rather than leave everything to do with marketing in the hands of “leaders”. There are great ones, in a lot of companies, yet how many seem to care to or know how to support or coach those who are more comfortable attracting customers? Then there’s servicing skills and tools, proper ways to introduce new stuff, etc, like anyone who markets needs to know and do.
We cannot dictate someone’s passion, only help them find it and do all we can to help them nurture it into the business they want, not what we want.
Paul Zane Pilzer describes us as educators, but I don’t think he means for us to continue to try to educate everyone and anyone on why they need our product or how great it is – or how anyone can take advantage of our opportunity. Nothing is for everyone.
The fact is, I still believe you indeed can say the wrong thing to the right person – and some of us have a lot to “unlearn”. I’m optimistic, though – that efforts like yours will make a difference – in my life time.
There is a group of 37 of us who are already doing this! 37 businesswomen (and our number keeps growing) who have banded together and become each other’s best customers! If we need toys, we shop from the Discovery Toys rep. If we need coffee, we shop from the several reps that sell coffee….if you truly believe in the concept of NM, then it only makes sense to shop from other NM’s instead of ABC-Mart or some other retail store. Our group site is http://networkmarket.meetup.com/200
Enjoy reading the comments about promoting cross-company customers.
“Paul Zane Pilzner asked me why it was that people recommended representing only one network marketing company, when say, pharmaceutical reps represented more than one”
There is a tremendous difference.
Pharmacutical reps primary focus is on selling products which benefits them only in that format.
Networkers benefit by selling product but move more product selling the business format to those that are interested.
I asssume Paul spends more effort selling his books to the masses rather than selling his books to other economist who write books.
You are correct in your response concerning this matter.
(I have networking friends in other companies that we purchase products from each other, but that will be no focus of us.)
Focus of selling the MLM format will create more product movement, which rewards the MLMer than primary focus of selling the product alone.
You state, “So here’s my idea:
“Since most people in the business end up as just customers anyway, why don’t we encourage each other to buy each others’ products as just customers?”
In my opinion, this is the greatest question, “Why do most people end up as just customers”?
Answer: Because they are never really taught a simple, duplicable method of marketing that has a high probability of a positive outcome verse the risk of time, effort and cost.
The so called networking gurus teachings are about fancy scripts, how to handle objections, phone skills for calling, calling, calling cold leads etc. This is crazy, not duplicable by the average person and unwise.
Look at what they teach and you will observe that it is about turning around someone who is not interested. That is crazy!
(That is why they are selling there method and not benefiting from networking itself.) Only someone with great persuasive skills to get lots of people to do this will benefit.
As a traditional business person that has been involved in networking, I realized the real challenge was to develope a system that’s primary focus was #1, based on a defensive cornerstone of not wasting money or time for the rep. #2 Only performing task that have a high probability of positive outcome for the average person verse the cost. #3 If you have great products, Teaching that duplication of EFFICIENT & EFFECTIVE marketing is the goal.
When this system is in place, the requirement for this is teaching that “TIME” is the key. Low expense (financial risk), low selling skill, low time requirement are all factors that have to be in place to get the duplication of the average.
Your teachings are 100% correct in that the key is finding only those that have interest and it is the right thing for them to be doing.
The flaw is in that most systems are not teaching a method that has a high probablity of postivie outcome verse effort and cost.
It is happening now by some and over time, positive results is being duplicated.
The idea of spending engergy on cross-company customers will have some positive benefit to some, but I question as to whether the results for the effort is something that is worth spending energy on?
Thought and debate is a great thing. It makes us think. Especially makes us think “NOT” alike!
Thanks for what you are doing.
What a breath of fresh air. I have been fighting numerous NM companies on this very point relating to customers, and they seem to say that is not important for building a business. I have come across a company called Freelife International that I have been promoting for the past 18 months. As a pharmacist, I took the time to investigate their flagship product, Himalayan Goji Juice, and found enough information to encourage me to take the product. I was able to buy the product as a member, for the same price as a Marketing Executive. No SSN numbers required, no packs, no pressure. When I realised that many of my friends would like the health benefits of this product, I was able to upgrade for US$35, provide my TFN number (SSN equivalent in Australia) and receive a US$20 rebate for every case I sell to a customer. I am now building a customer base and slowly but surely these are switching on and upgrading to become ME’s as well, and the system grows. No pressure, no start up front loaded packs, just a great product that help people and rewards are available if you want to pay US$35 ONCE ONLY.
I am involved with other NM companies as well but the choice is up to me which one I want to build. If the product is good I will continue to take it. If the business is good, I will coninue to promote it. If the companies are truly providing the best products and/or the best oportunities then they should not fear people leaving for something else.
Please feel free to add me to your list for cross company products as it all makes perfect sense.
Brilliant………funny, a PPL person and I talked not too long ago, and reached the same conclusion for ourselves.
I agree, Kim, for a whiloe I was reading books by authors like Thomas Stanley about effectively networking, and I couldn’t put my finger on how to intertwine old-style networking ideas with network marketing. I think you’re on to something.
Great to hear your “100 cutomers” program and agree with the general sentiment of your blog.
Customers keep your income afloat and business partners are simply motivated customers who think more people should hear about your product or service, usually because they had a great personal result.
I am a professional networker. I personally represent 6 companies who market thier products using an MLM commission system (www.fitworx.net) I do this because I like their products and I wish my friends, family and associates to know about ANY good products that I have researched. Occasionally some of them buy them too. Even fewer promote them. And they only do it if THEY decide to, as I am only the messenger.
I also prefer to purchase any product or service at the best possible price, especially if I can offset the cost of any starter pack. That’s why I have joined a number of companies. I aggressively promote them only when I am truly passionate about the products.
I recommend products to ALL my fellow MLM associates (personally registered) and friends but disagree with the draconian rules set down by most MLM companies that “Thou shalt not speak crossline about any other (MLM) products” (no matter how good they might be)
Don’t we teach “Multiple Streams of Income” at our business opportunity meetings? Then why do we about face and tell everyone to promote only ONE MLM company?
I met most of my current friends through MLM events and programs. The reason I associate with them is because they share my views about generating income, creating a lifestyle and building vibrant health. If this is the case then why should some MLM company tell me I cannot talk to them about other products and programs? Isn’t that what networking is all about?
The (hypothetical) question I now ask is… “What if you heard of a miraculous cure for cancer (produced by a crossline MLM company) and were not allowed to talk to someone you met in your current MLM program who was suffering from cancer?”
Morally, what should you do? Keep quiet and watch your friend suffer? Or tell them about it (and possibly save your friend’s life) but be terminated by your current MLM?
I am in the final process of launching my own VoIP company which, I believe, overcomes many of the bad vibes associated with MLM companies.
It’s called MeetWorx (www.meetworx.net) We market a unique, global Voice over Internet (VoIP) communications platform with full web integration. The best of Skype, Vonage and Web Collaboration technology with a free Affiliate & Member Program (up to 10 level matrix)
Our commission program offers rewards to EVERY Member, Affiliate and Business promoter and we charge NO up front or ongoing fees. We simply sell the product and THANK our customers for telling their friends. And we give them all the tools to do that. Business people emerge by telling more friends and helping them do the same. If you don’t promote then you earn nothing.
Network-phobic companies, associations and charities who wish to earn from the promtion of a great service to their Members can join us as Partners. Members never see any more than a “Refer-a-Friend” program (one level). Member commissions are passed back into their VoIP account up to the value of their bill and no more. Members never see the full Affiliate Program and they can only refer other Members.
Affiliates, on the other hand, can earn from up to 10 levels of networked subscribers (initially 3 levels). If the subscriber chooses a larger service bundle then they can earn from more levels. If they are good at selling, promoting or team building they can earn additional bonuses in each category. Simple.
I agree completely with the idea of buying products from other NM companies; why not support the business model we love in all its forms? NM companies in general have some of the best products the marketplace has seen.
The company I represent, Legacy for Life, actively encourages customers (especially repeat customers). We have a customer autoship program that provides the customer a discount (less than the distributor discount, but it’s still a value), and they can even get free shipping with it. The distributor actually gets an increased commission calculated on the retail value for customer autoship orders. So it’s a win for everybody, and almost all of my customers are on autoship as a result.
Given all that, I have had several customers become distributors because they either wanted to represent products they love, or because they wanted the distributor price for their own purchases. But it’s their choice, not mine.
Thanks, Kim, for putting this on the table.
The number of members in our “Direct Sellers’ Support group” has grown to 43 members! (We have gotten several members from seeing the post on this blog, BTW!) It is awesome to have a group of women that truly believe in the power of NM and also are selfless enough to believe in our group’s philosophy – it’s not about selling your “stuff” – it’s about helping others grow their businesses!
Mannatech came up with what they call the member program a few years ago. this program allows people to purchase at a 10% discount off of retail and set up an auto order if they want with out a SS number. Great program you get the discount with out the SS.
As always a pleasure,
USANA encourages and recommends acquisition of at least 5 customers per month. While there is financial reward for customers there is little teachng on how to get repeat customers. I will take them up on that. In relation to the process: there is no charge and nothing to sign to become a customer. If the customer decides to distribute the product the fee is $29. A distributor can either retail the product at 35% or wholsale the product at 10%. If the customer prefers auto-ship he/she pays the same price as a distributor. What is the incentive to keep customrs you ask? Well, in addition USANA pays the distributor 10-20% each week on total of all sales volume points on product that is shipped out under that distributor’s ID number.
I joined Sunrider because of the products. I found that I loved them madly. People where asking me about them because they could see the difference in me. So I looked into the business. Coming from a traditional business background I found the “old school” Network Marketing thinking a little backwards and counter productive. No matter what I heard I kept thinking, “But if it was not for the product there would be no business.”
When I heard about Kim’s product book I bought it and read it in almost one sitting. I am so thankful I learned about Kim. I believe that customers are the foundation a Network Marketing business the same as they are for a traditional business.
Sunrider recognizes that not everyone wants a distributor account. The 3 product purchase options are…
Free to the customer with a $50US order placed on the web. Or order directly from a Distributor. (No SS required) Pay retail price.
Costco Type Account: (Preferred Customer)
$30US one-time fee with $10US annual renewal. (No SS required) Begin shopping at 20% off of Retail price. When the Customer has accumulated $1000 in purchases they can purchase at the distributor price (wholesale).
Own Your Own Store: (Distributor Account)
No sign up fee. Purchase $140 Starter Pack (includes $100 worth of products). Begin shopping at 20% off of Retail. When the distributor/customer has accumulated $500 in purchases they can purchase at the distributor price (wholesale). No annual fee, just purchase 50 sales volume yearly. (SS number is required for this account option.)
Sunrider does not have an auto-ship program. Maybe having over 400 products offered plays into this decision.
The qualified sponsoring distributor receives 20-40%+ of the customer purchased sales volume. Other bonuses may also apply. Sunrider pays 58.5% of the sales volume back to the distributors. Sunrider does encourage building a business, but it also pays well for the customers.
Thanks Kim for going against the Network Marketing flow and saying what needs to be said. I believe that Network Marketing can be done in such a way that we quit shooting ourselves in the foot…so to speak. 🙂
All I have to say is that we are independent business people and can run our business the way we feel is best.
Personally,I like to give my repeat “customers” special deals and discounts. Sometimes including an extra product with their order no charge. These are my retail customers.
I offer other network marketers the wholesale price on products that they wish to buy. They get that price without signing up, no questions asked. This is done as a professional courtesy.
At vendor shows, I introduce myself to the participating vendors, give them an envelope with a special deal/discount with no expiration.
This is my way of eliminating that air of competition and promoting the idea of buying from each other.
I’m an Arbonne rep and love having retail customers! They are my priority.
Melaleuca has a program where you can be a preferred customer and get the discount for an annual fee, you do have to agree to purchase a minimum amount each month. I’ve never found it a burden to order each month, as I really do use the stuff and so it runs out. Not as easy as going to the market to get what you need: you have to plan ahead but, to me, the products are worth it. However, at the time I tried the business, I apparently didn’t know anyone who was into quality ;>)Even though I do not actively market the products or the business, I still use all of the products they have that do not overlap with my current business, Arbonne. What can I say, Arbonne’s skin care works for me like nothing else ever has and I like the ROMs but they don’t have laundry detergent or toothpaste.
However, Arbonne, or at least my upline, seems to promote building a network of “wholesale customers” but the company doesn’t really have a designation for that: you are either a consultant (and part with your ssn) or you purchase through a consultant. You also don’t make very much as a beginner on the purchases by “wholesale customers”. Since the top selling line lasts for several months it’s often more productive to retail and take a larger commission.
I like Debra Freeland’s idea of offering a professional courtesy to other networkers: I buy from a Tastefully Simple rep down the block and a Pampered Chef rep nearby and have never been offered a discount, even though I have offered the discount to them. I will have to try to find a way to word this better to achieve a mutual benefit!
I love the idea of a mercado but I will close here as I am rambling.
PS the mercado thing reminds me of Michael Clouse’s “Future Choice”.