Introduction For over a half-century, network marketing has evolved progressively through many phases. In the course of this evolution, like all previous marketing innovations, it has activated much public fear and has been subject to much ignorance, misunderstanding, and organized resistance. This continues today in spite of the fact that it has long since become mainstream.

There are now literally thousands of network marketing companies doing business in most of the major countries of the world. They include a growing number of well-known traditional companies, such as Colgate-Palmolive, Gillette, and Rexall that have chosen to use network marketing as a preferred means for distributing their products.

Many factors have contributed to its successful evolution. Many companies, for example, are choosing it simply because it’s a much more efficient way to distribute products and it saves greatly in marketing expenses, such as advertising. In getting a product to consumers, these expenses can account for up to 80% of its overall cost. In the network marketing model, these costs are rechanneled into sales commissions paid to independent representatives AFTER the product is sold.

These commissions can be very substantial and they offer a very attractive means for ordinary people to generate extraordinary levels of income. So this is a second major factor that has fueled the extremely rapid growth of this relatively new industry.

An important defining characteristic of network marketing is that it utilizes personal relationships and word-of-mouth advertising as a main basis for marketing products. For this reason, success in this industry has depended largely on one’s relationship skills and willingness to engage actively in personal promotion, recruiting, and selling. Generally speaking, those with the most talent, skill, and motivation in these areas have enjoyed the highest degree of success.

Unfortunately, a large majority of people who have entered this industry historically have failed, mainly because they are lacking in these necessary talents and skills and also because they have a strong distaste for personal selling.

A New Online Network Marketing Hybrid Through the advent of internet technology, however, network marketing is rapidly evolving into a new form where the traditional activities of personal promotion, recruiting, and selling are no longer absolute prerequisites for success; accordingly, the network marketing playing field is rapidly being leveled, and a brand new pathway for high level success has been opened up to many people who are intrinsically unsuited to the traditional model.

Nearly all network marketing companies are now employing internet technology to streamline their operation. Product orders, enrollment of new distributors, payment of commissions, and many other business activities are now carried out largely or entirely online.

Many companies have also implemented online audio/video presentations that all distributors can utilize and which help to standardize how the products and the business are presented to the public. This greatly reduces the pressure on individual distributors to do personal presentations and also tends to increase duplicatability, which is crucially important in all network marketing.

Beyond this, however, a number of online marketing systems, introduced over the past few years, have been designed to automate the network marketing process to a high degree. These are often described as “turn key” systems and, not infrequently, have been presented (or misrepresented) as requiring little or no personal involvement, time, or effort on the part of the person using them. Most of them have sounded too good to be true and, in fact, have turned out to be just that. As a group, they are mostly smoke and mirrors and tend to disappear quickly.

Since close relationships are the very essence and the unique strength of network marketing, any automated system that is designed to eliminate such relationships becomes effectively like the Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz. Such systems, then are almost certainly destined to fail. At the very least, they do not satisfy one of the most basic criteria of true network marketing–or “relationship marketing,” to use a common synonym.

Quite recently, however, a new “high tech/high touch” hybrid has emerged that effectively integrates the major advantages of online marketing with the essential relationship aspects that are so crucially important for success in traditional network marketing.

This particular model, which is essentially an online franchise, is very attractive because it completely eliminates all forms of personal promotion, recruitment, and selling, which are the bane of a majority of network marketers.

These functions are implemented entirely through the online system itself; that is, all prospects are generated through online advertising or other methods for driving online traffic to one’s website. A highly detailed marketing plan provides specific guidance in how to do this.

The network marketer utilizing this system works ONLY with prospects who have been enrolled through the system and who have already demonstrated that they are highly qualified and motivated. This saves an enormous amount of time and effort that is typically wasted with highly UNQUALIFIED prospects in traditional network marketing.

Just as in the traditional model, however, the person utilizing this system cultivates a very close personal relationship with each member of his/her distributional team and takes a strong leadership role in helping each of them learn how to utilize this system effectively in order to achieve their personal goals.

So it’s in this important sense that this system, while being very “high tech,” is also decidedly “high touch.” Also, as in all successful network marketing, helping others is emphasized as the single best way to achieve personal success.

Unlike with the supposed “turn key,” automatic systems mentioned above, this type of system–as is true universally with ALL legitimate forms of business–requires a high degree of motivation, persistent commitment, and hard work over a period of at least several months in order to achieve significant success.

A particularly successful version of this type of system is now being used to market the products of one of the oldest and most successful network marketing companies in the world.