Network Marketing – “Branding Yourself” Is a Mistake

Network marketing is a duplication business. How well people do has a close correlation with how well they can apply, teach and duplicate a simple, proven, business-building method. To appeal to as high a proportion of people as possible, and even more importantly to be duplicable by as high a proportion of people as possible, your system should, in general, be designed to make people think “I can do that”. More specifically, it should avoid people thinking “I can see that this person’s an expert, and even if I could learn to do some of what she does, I’d never be able to teach others how to do it, let alone how to teach it to their groups.”

This is the point, sadly for so many people in our industry, over which a wheel comes off, because they make the mistake of trying to “brand themselves”, to look like a leader, an expert, a coach, a guru, or whatever else you want to call it.

Branding yourself – a fairly recent corruption of network marketing, often inappropriately derived from the precepts of internet marketing – is really a huge red herring, and not a very palatable one. This isn’t what most people want to do, and if they try to duplicate it, they can very easily lose more than they gain, overall, sometimes even without quite realising it.

This is all simple, logical, self-evident stuff, really, if you think about it: branding is a way of distinguishing something, attempting to portray it as being different from (impliedly, in this context, “superior to”) anything/anyone else. If everyone branded themselves, they wouldn’t really be different at all, would they? Our business model in network marketing is about duplicability, isn’t it? People want to follow leadership, to some extent, but there’s still a very obvious conflict between branding and duplication. As someone very successful in my downline put it recently: I think my difficulty with this relates mostly to the apparent conflict between saying, by inference, “I’m the expert; I’m the leader; I’m different from (better than?) everyone else” and saying, in effect, “This is a simple, duplicable business in which all you have to do is the same as what I do: be the same as me and you can succeed”.

There’s very clearly a way in which the more you brand yourself, the more remote, unattainable and off-putting you make what you’re doing appear to people who want to copy you.

In this regard, as in so many others – some very apparent and others exactly the opposite – the paths to success of internet marketing and network marketing could hardly be more diametrically opposed. This is one of the factors that makes so readily understandable the enormously high drop-out rate of people trying to build their network marketing business primarily online.

In network marketing, the people who are most successful are typically the ones who achieve the most duplication. Not necessarily duplication of themselves, of course, but of their proven system. People aren’t exactly duplicable but simple, proven systems can be, and the more simple they are and the less individuation they involve, the more successfully they tend to work.

Duplication, in this context, doesn’t mean becoming someone else, having a personality change, or anything so dramatic. It means learning to copy a simple system (and not one that requires advanced technological skills) that has worked successfully for others who were willing to use it, and teaching that same system to others. There’s nothing particularly clever or difficult about it, and that’s how ordinary people who are not trying to brand themselves can become so very highly successful in our industry (usually without needing to have their egos massaged by being seen as experts!).

For most kinds of internet marketing, doing all of this is very useful – maybe even essential. But to become hugely successful in network marketing, not only is it unnecessary, but it’s typically even counterproductive: anything and everything you do to present yourself as an expert, to brand yourself, to make yourself stand out, to look like a leader, can serve to increase the proportion of prospective business associates who will think “I could never do that”, and look elsewhere. And “internet leads” look elsewhere very quickly indeed: they’ve usually seen it all before, and 100 things like it. It’s really very difficult for many people to envisage themselves as “branded experts” and it’s certainly not something to which they have any aspirations. And in any case, who wants to limit their business to internet users?