MLM has traditionally been referred to as “word of mouth marketing” or “conversational marketing,” meaning you talk to people you know, friends and family, to market your MLM product or business. These people are your warm market.

These days, though, a lot of people are looking to the internet as a new channel for marketing MLM. With the power of social media sites like Twitter, Digg, and Facebook, people are feeling the power of reaching out and touching people way outside their own circle of friends.

But as “social” as social media may appear, it’s still a “cold market,” and many online MLM newbies are finding the online marketing road rocky and the going a bit steep. The success rate seems low.

Why Don’t My Online MLM Efforts Pay Off?
I get multiple emails a week from people who ask me why their online MLM efforts don’t seem to be producing any results. These people are out there promoting their MLM business online with article marketing, ezine advertising, pay-per-click, and any number of other methods. So why doesn’t it seem to be working?

The truth of the matter is that online MLM does work. It just takes time. Like any cold marketing approach, online marketing has a longer life cycle than marketing to your warm market. You also face a higher rejection rate when you market to people who don’t know you, as opposed to people who do.

Online MLM Marketing Pros and Cons
Should you pursue online MLM marketing as promotion channel? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of online marketing.

Online Marketing Pros

– if you make an idiot of yourself your friends won’t find out right away, if ever
– you can market online 24/7, not just when people are awake
– even an introverted hermit could use this method
– you mostly don’t face rejection in person, you have lack of online traffic
– no need to dress “nice” for presentations
– it is low cost, since online marketing can be done with mostly elbow grease
– you can reach many more people than one-on-one marketing with a warm market
– online marketing can protect your privacy if you still work a day job and don’t want people to know you are doing MLM

Online Marketing Cons

– the initial lack of traffic to your site or blog can be highly discouraging
– you often don’t know what you’re doing wrong because no one tells you (you built it, they just didn’t come)
– it may take quite a long time to establish an online presence, an even longer to develop a trusted online presence
– it can much longer to get your initial signups
– you will probably have to do some pioneering marketing on your own since most MLM companies are not up to speed with effective online marketing

Online MLM: Sleep, Creep, and Leap
So have I scared you off yet? I hope not. Online MLM marketing is the wave of the future for MLM marketing. The MLM industry, as yet, just hasn’t caught up with the realities of how to market online. As I have often said, people who want to do online MLM need to learn from the best online marketers outside the MLM industry. Those people know how to market anything online, MLM or not.

To me, the online MLM life cycle is a lot like the life cycle of your typical bamboo plant, which is sleep, creep, and leap. The first year you plant bamboo, it just sits there and does nothing. It’s sleeping. The horticulturists include a little note with the bamboo telling you that this is normal and not to panic. The same goes for online MLM. For the first 50 blog posts you write, your blog just sleeps. It sits there. Nothing happens. Sigh.

The second year in a bamboo plant’s life, it creeps. You’ll see a few little shoots appear inches away from the parent plant. The shoots are tiny, but at least there is some visible action! Plus, you know your bamboo plant didn’t die. With an MLM blog, you’ll see some creep happening, usually after your first 50 posts. People will start to drop by and comment on your posts. Traffic to your blog and website pick up. People begin requesting information and interacting with you. Yeah! You’re online efforts are not dead in the water.

Finally, the third year of a bamboo plant’s life is one of frenzied action: leap! Shoots start showing up everywhere (even where you don’t want them), and you start thinking about damage control so that you don’t end up with bamboo in the middle of your yard. After about 100 blog posts, you’ve developed an online voice and your own unique style. You get signups for both the product and the business. You have developed a method and process that works for you. Your business grows in leaps! You now spend more time teaching others your technique than marketing directly. Now the leverage of an MLM business really starts to show up in your commission check.

Bamboo and online MLM are similar in their sleep, creep, and leap cycles, but it doesn’t often take 3 years to achieve leap in MLM. Depending on how much time you can devote to marketing your MLM business online, hitting 100 blog posts may take way less than 3 years.