Marketing is a discipline found in nearly every large organization. It goes by different names – marketing management, product management or brand management. Regardless of title, Marketing’s role is essential to the company because it is the organizational function most responsible for building the company’s brand, acquiring and maintaining the customer base.

Network Marketers perform a similar function for their network marketing parent company as the Corporate Marketer does for their organization. While a new distributor is not expected to be a professional marketer or have the resources of a large company, a basic understanding of the marketing profession would be helpful to their business success.

What do Corporate Marketers know that a professional Network Marketer should know? They know that Marketing is about customers – finding them, satisfying them and keeping them. Until you have a sufficient size customer base, you haven’t done an adequate marketing job. Consider the following concepts if you want to bring more customers into your business. I’ll briefly mention some of the concepts. Each is explored in more depth in my book Prospect Smarter, Not Harder.

Your product is not your business….
Your product is not your business! Black & Decker doesn’t sell drills, they sell 2″ holes, Winnebago doesn’t sell RV’s, they sell an alternative lifestyle or to paraphrase Charles Revson’s famous quote “in the factory we manufacture cosmetics, but in the market we sell hope”. Every Network Marketer should get comfortable with that perspective. What’s the implication for your marketing strategy? You are better off painting a vivid future picture of the outcome of using your product than talking about the product itself. A successful product is just a solution to a problem.

The customer value equation…
A buyer chooses between different products on the basis of which they think will offer the better value. Your network marketing product will both offer the customer benefits (functional and emotional) and cost the customer money. The relationship between these two factors is called value. Corporate Marketers often work with the “value equation”.

Value = Functional + emotional benefits / Monetary + time + psychic costs

As you can see if the benefits outweigh the costs, value is positive, but if the costs are greater than the benefits, the value equation is negative. How is this useful to the Network Marketer? It shows that there are several ways to increase the value of a product: increase the benefits while holding the cost; decrease the cost by holding the benefits, etc.

Target Marketing or “Fish where the Fish are”…
If you have been in network marketing for any length of time you have run across the “three-foot rule”. This rule says that you should share your product or opportunity with anyone who comes within three feet of you. Granted, many successful marketers have grown their business this way, but most of us find this practice awkward and uncomfortable. Why? Because chances are good that you are talking about organic cat food to a non-cat owner.

The three-foot rule is the antithesis of target marketing. Target marketing is identifying and concentrating on the customer most likely to have a need for your product and then fulfilling that need with the product. There are many techniques for identifying your best target.

Different Product – Different Purchasing Process
The first thing to know about consumer decision-making is that it varies with the type of buying decision. The decision to buy toothpaste, a tennis racket, carpet, a personal computer and a new car are all different. There are four types of consumer buyer behavior based on the degree of buyer involvement and the degree of perceived differences between available brands. They are Habitual buying behavior, Complex buying behavior, Variety-Seeking buyer behavior and Dissonance- Reducing buying behavior. Every Network Marketer should know which of these best aligns to their product. Additionally, “purchasing” is just one stage of a five stage decision-making process. Marketing’s role differs depending on the where the prospect is in the process.

Competitive Positioning

Knowing your competition is the first step to differentiating your products in the customer’s mind. Unfortunately many network marketing companies promote themselves as if there were no competitive products. You often hear phrases like “our product is the first to ______”, “the only product to offer ______” or even worst, no mention of competition. Typically their claims of uniqueness are based on features that a customer might see as meaningless. Every networking marketing product has a set of competitors – products considered similar enough to be substituted for its product. Every Network Marketer should be intimately familiar with the competitive offerings to ensure that they have a higher value equation.