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Product VS Opportunity
(The age old debate. What is more critical?)

First... let me state... this is only my opinion based on years of successful experience, both in the field, in corporate MLM positions, and now as an MLM consultant. You could possibly call it an Expert Opinion, and some time experts disagree on the same factual observations... that's life. However, if you're not an expert, seek out a few on this topic before personally making up your mind on this topic. A successful upline in your business is typically NOT an expert.

Additionally, please be clear that as we talk, I'm not addressing the idea of Distributors purchasing product monthly (auto-ship or auto-bill).  The issue is "what to focus on" and "what is one more important"... also, this article will address if distributor product USE (not purchase) is critical (or not) for their success.

The questions that should always be asked when considering a business:

#1- Does the product have a market?
(IE. Is it a quality product, can I relate to it, is it easy to understand?)

#2- Is the compensation for the sale of product fair?
(IE. Is the compensation plan understandable, is it clear how I earn money, is the compensation for the effort expended reasonable, am I being paid on product sales or recruiting?)

#3- Is the Company Credible & Supportive?
(IE. Well funded, solid infrastructure, founders/owners/management, product delivery, commission delivery, websites, tools)

#4- Do I have good access to Systems/Support/Sponsor?
(IE. Simple Step-by-Step System for sharing info on the product(s) & business, Conference Calls, Upline availability, Sponsor Credibility, Meetings Available, Marketing Resources)

Notice that product is only 1 of a 4 legged stool. Remove any leg... and you will fall! 
(For more on this go to:  How to select the Right MLM business!)

90% of the people "IN MLM"
(meaning joined as a distributor)
are in it for the money!

Most join IF they can see the value of the product and can relate too it... NOT because they have actually USED it before hand. (Perhaps 10% of those "IN MLM" were first customers.)

90% were searching for an income opportunity of some kind... wanting an opportunity of some kind... and they could see the value of the product... they could relate to it... So, they joined. In 50% of the cases (perhaps even lower) they'll actually use the product on an ongoing regular basis.

It is critical to understand the synergy between all 4 legs... but to start you have to understand this:

There is No Opportunity without a solid Product and
A solid Product alone does not make an Opportunity!

Product IS NOT most important... It may be the first question to ask... that's only because if you can't get past that... no sense in looking at anything else. It is part of a complete overall synergy, without which there is NO REAL OPPORTUNITY.

The same can be said for any other of these 4 legs.

Companies that focus on product fail their members. Companies that focus on Comp Plan fail their members. Companies that focus on the Company fail their members. Companies that focus on Systems/Support/Sponsors fail their members.

My point is product is not the Most Important part of an overall successful BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY.

If you wanna be a customer that shares a product with other customers... that's just fine... but MLM is just a Hobby for you... NOT A BUSINESS.

Dispelling Myths: A Business is not made up of customers telling other customers. A Business is made up of Distributors sharing a product with customers and finding other Distributors.

Use the product.... IF YOU LIKE. But, It's NOT critical for success in your BUSINESS for you to do so. (It may be critical for your health or your wallet or your attitude, depending on the product; but not critical for your success.)

There are Many Cases out there to prove my point. All the propaganda your mentors fed you while you were growing up in your MLM career will not change these facts.

#1- Companies with POWERFUL products (even products that CURE CANCER, CHANGE THE WORLD) that do not have the other 3 legs in place will not offer their members a serious chance at long term success.

#2- Companies that focus on Customer gathering and product alone... will stall.

#3- Companies that focus on Distributor gathering and opportunity alone... will stall.

A miracle pill, fancy jungle juice, revolutionary VoIP, some techno Wizard driven Widdget... will only get you 25% of the way there. Don't get me wrong PRODUCT IS VERY CRITICAL!

NOT 50%, not 75%, not 100%.   Only 25%!

As an example... If you're in a Juice company... then be excited about your Juice product, and even use it if you love it. For you maybe it's Fruta Vida, Mona Vie (Monarch), Xango (Mangosteen), Eniva (Vibe), Agel (gel), Xooma (Powder), Morinda (Noni), Sea Silver, Affinity (Just-2), FreeLife (GoJi), URI (Powder).... many others.

Dispelling Myths:  Without fair compensation, a solid company, and great support... there just isn't an opportunity in any of these companies.  So, go the next step and evaluate every aspect of a company... not just how great their product is.

There are a TON of very valuable products. For some... the science is better than others. Others have very credible Doctors and Research by 3rd party firms... others just have individual ingredient studies. All of them claim to be the best... when in reality... they all have something to share.

They all talk about Proanthocyanidins, Anti-Oxidants, ORAC, Charged Ionic Fluids, Bio-Available... on and on and on...

For technology companies the buzz might be VoIP or WiFi, for investment companies a new exciting strategy of investment, for information companies perhaps a new way to think about the world and organize ones life!

You might have the question: "If the product is
so valuable, why shouldn't everyone be using it?"

While it is a good question... it is on it's face irrelevant to Distributors. If we're talking about nutritional products, perhaps I have diabetes and there's too much sugar in it... perhaps I just can't stand the taste... perhaps it does funny things to me.  But, I can still recognize it's value to others.

How does use of a product equate to selling the product?

I'm sure you've heard the phrase "Could sell snowballs to Eskimos". One does not need to be "A Product of the Product" to be effective at sharing product... use of the product is entirely optional for success. While many want you to have a personal experience with the product so you can share that with those you talk to... (and this is a nice bonus) It's not critical. Why?

Distributor use of product is irrelevant to long term success of an MLM. What is critical is the use of product by the end consumer/customer. Most MLM's blur the lines... make distributors customers and customers distributors. 90% of the MLM's that are attacked by the AG's or FTC is due to the lack of a real product being sold to a real customer. Often used in reference is the case against Amway itself... or the 70% rule.

Customers and end users where the main focus here. Basically the court wanted to spot "Garaging" from happened, and wanted to see more product reaching end users.

Most MLM's from that point started implementing policy that would slow "Garaging". They put in smaller monthly quota's, put in their policies that 70% needed to be resold, and encouraged the development of customers. In practical application the participants of MLM and even the MLM owners themselves view distributors as end consumers... and this is dangerous on 2 fronts.

#1- When most people enroll to "Make Money" and don't, they usually quit buying the product. Unless a leader keeps working a downline will unravel from the bottom up.  Many have seen this when they slow down or retire... because their efforts to fill the holes, made by those leaving, isn't happening any longer.

#2 - Constant recruiting becomes an issue when there are no REAL retail end customers. Like a revolving door... people in people out... if you quit putting people in... the check goes down.

Customers, not interested in the business, are the key to stability.

The courts, FTC, & AG's agree.

But, growth happens NOT from customers...
but from distributors... so, you NEED both.

I don't entirely agree with the below courts position... and it is just 1 case. However, this is something many people need to consider. In 1996 a court ruled that commissions COULD ONLY be paid on product sales to non-distributors.


There are a lot of takes on this... but #1 should be the that CUSTOMERS using product is more critical than distributors using product. No matter ones perspective on this issue there is an underlying misunderstanding in the MLM world about the idea of commerce. Basically, move products to end users who will use the product because they love the product.

(For more on this go to:  (Netrepreneur 101) Find that Something!)

If you go to the next step and indicate that distributors are customers and thus a prerequisite for doing a business is the love of a product regardless of the opportunity... I think you cross the line.

If someone loves the product they are selling... MORE POWER TO THEM. However, that saying comes to mind... "Could sell snowballs to Eskimos". Even if I don't like snow personally, and I was good at sharing things with others... I could sell snow.

Most people however, are not sales people... they are regular joes... so, while I don't personally care if you use it, I think a better way to put it is: Is it a product I can see the value of and can relate too?

Some people would never use Vitamins, minerals, and jungle berry juices... BUT, if they can see the value and can relate to it... they can do just FINE sharing it with others.

Belief in the product doesn't require personal use. To sell/share a powerful and valuable product does not require personal use.  One can truly believe in the benefit of a product for others without experiencing or having the benefit themselves. Most people will NEVER see a result with MOST products... but, they can believe in the science... they can believe in what they've been told... EVEN IF they don't see a result themselves.

The point here is... you have your choice of HUNDREDS of companies that have BEAUTIFUL products. Again, some perhaps better than others... But, they ALL have 1 thing in common...

Inevitably opportunity rests not JUST with the product... but, with Compensation, Company/Support, & System/Support/Sponsor as well... all wrapped up in a synergetic ball! You need ALL 4 legs.

This applies to service companies, information companies, technology companies, etc.

Don't get lost in the product... unless you JUST want to be a customer...

If you want to build a business... if you want to make a career in MLM... if you want to generate success and teach success... You'll empower your "team" with greater insight into the BIGGER picture.

The point?

CUSTOMERS are Critical... But a Distributor and a Customer are 2 different things. A customer uses the product only for the product. They want a good price and they want to see the product/service work.

DISTRIBUTORS are Critical... But a Customer and a Distributor are 2 different things. A distributor can use the product if they should like... but, personal use (while perhaps nice) is by no means essential. The purpose of a Distributor/Representative is to "spread the message".

While the business model of MLM has been "be a customer and share the product with other customers and get them to do the same" ... there are flaws with that mentality when pairing it with the idea of Building a Business. On its face customer referrals is Brilliant! And it WORKS for the company as a means to move their product. The company wants you to associate yourself as a customer for many reasons.

I can think of 20+ companies this second (there are hundreds... perhaps thousands that do this)... companies like Dish Network, BMG, Columbia House, Ronco, the Cable Company... and on and on... where they encourage you with incentives... mostly NOT financial (perhaps rebates or discounts or free stuff)... but incentives none the less.

In the world of "Referral Marketing" the idea of making an income... let alone a nice living... is really none existent. A customer referring other customers is a GREAT distribution method... but not so great... in fact, HORRIBLE when it comes to the idea of that customer trying to generating a living/income.

The top earners of the MLM world... already know this. Some teach it... others don't. For MOST of the top 10,000-30,000 distributors across the industry... those who earn the most and create a solid/long term career... have done so based on a different concept... NOT Referral Marketing "Customers sharing with Customers". But, based on a concept of Leverage.

Customers do not create leverage. They create residual income (in consumable product companies) and volume.

The majority of MLM Pro's don't see themselves as customers. They see themselves as business people who are moving a product to market... who in many cases might use the product (maybe 50%... maybe a bit more). Mostly however, product use by leaders is "FOR EXAMPLE ONLY". "Speed of the leader is the speed of the pack." They want their downline using product.

Their mentality isn't I'm a customer and I'm going to share this product with others so they can be a customer too. Their mentality is... how many people can I find... who can get a few customers and many other people to be business builders? How can I hit the #'s.

When you're talking to the long term wealthy of the MLM world... you're going to find they spend a lot of time talking about #'s and figures.

Their chosen method to reach those numbers is to talk about the product and show that they use the product. In many cases... perhaps even MOST cases they use the product for show... If for some reason, that business fails... they'll be on to the next business using the next product.

Don't confuse loving the product - using the product, with Building a Business. Because, if you do you'll lock yourself into a box.

If you want to build a business... #'s are important, personal product use is not (nice, not critical).
If you want to be a customer... #'s aren't important, personal product use is.

Can you do both? YOU BET! But don't confuse the 2

Because I think it's so important I'm going to state it again... it is critical to understand the synergy between all 4 legs... but to start you have to understand this:

There is No Opportunity without a solid Product and
A solid Product alone does not make an Opportunity!

Get out of the box and throw the box away.

As I've said many times before... "Don't think outside the box. The fact that you admit there is even a box limits your thinking. There is no box!" (For more on this go to:  Discard Your Box!)

Good Luck on your Journey,
Mel Atwood

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