About This Blog

Hi. Welcome to my blog! I originally designed this blog to share my experiences in the world of network marketing. If you look back over the posts, you'll see it has evolved over time. I explain the evolution of my blog in the post on niche widening. I decided to leave the old posts so that readers could get a sense of what I was describing in that post. I hope you enjoy my entries. Comments are always welcome, as are e-mails to theameriskeptic@gmail.com.

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Dilemma of Niche Widening

I have a confession to make. When I started this blog, I didn't have a clear idea of where it was going or who my target audience was. I thought I did, but the more I wrote, the clearer it became that I was wrong. I found myself writing about my daily marketing activities, reviewing others' marketing advice, and writing about health and wellness topics. I was struggling with just what to do about this problem for several weeks when Kim Castleberry (@Ask_Kim) posted a link on twitter to a post on "niche widening." ("Beware the Slippery Slope of Niche Widening")  http://bit.ly/aiZKKZ

In it, Kim discusses the importance of having a focused niche to keep a blog alive. I exchanged a few comments with her, and she confirmed what I had already realized: 1) I was writing to two audiences (those interested in network marketing, and those interested in health/wellness/vitamins) 2) I needed to pick one to focus on, because 3) trying to develop 2 blogs at once, both from scratch, is not efficient.

Be Prepared for a Change

So, I made a decision to focus on health and wellness. My primary reasons for this decision were that I know more about health and wellness than network marketing at this point, which means I can provide more useful information to readers on that topic, and it's more interesting to me (and presumably to people who would buy my products). I'll still write about anything interesting I read or learn about network marketing on this blog, but it will not be my primary focus. If you're interested in health and wellness, check out my new blog at http://www.healthyinhouston.wordpress.com/

I've also decided to change the title and introductory paragraph of this blog (again) to more accurately reflect where I plan for it to go. It started as "The Truth Behind AmeriSciences," it is currently "A Skeptic's Adventures in Network Marketing with a Health and Wellness MLM" (way too long!), and by the time anyone reads this, it will have it's new title.

One to Watch!

In the meantime, I highly recommend checking out Kim's Tweets and her blog (follow the link above to the blog) if you're interested in blogging or using social networking sites. She has a style that is engaging and easy to read, her posts are clear and informative even for newbies, she provides reviews and directions for using helpful social networking tools, and is always very responsive to comments. Thanks, Kim!

Please share your experiences with niche widening or choosing your niche in the comments section.

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Dangers of Coke (and Diet Coke)

Have you ever wondered what happens in your body when you drink a Coke, or a Diet Coke? This is something that most people probably don't spend much time thinking about. But take a minute to think about it now. Do you love Coke? Do you drink it daily? Did you know that the word "Coke" is the second most recognized word in the WORLD, right behind "ok?" Coke is popular everywhere, but it is consumed most frequently by Americans. Read on to learn what happens in your body when you drink this popular beverage and it's skinnier counterpart, Diet Coke, and what you can do to help cut out the Coke.

Coke is loaded with sugar, caffiene, food coloring, and lots of chemicals. There's more sugar in coke than you can naturally disolve in water because of the way it is processed, and the chemical composition. Don't believe me? Try mixing 10 teaspoons of sugar into 8 ounces of water and see what happens. You'll have a pile of undisolved sugar sitting on the bottom of your glass.

The ingredients in Coke are combined in such a way that your body doesn't realize how much sugar it's drinking in the moment. Shortly after drinking your Coke, your blood sugar increases, which makes you feel high, and also releases insulin. This helps your body turn all of that extra sugar into fat. Meanwhile, the caffeine is hitting your system and adding to your high. Unfortunately, once the caffeine and sugar are gone, you crash--feeling worse than before you started. Coke also works to deprive your body of nutrients. To learn more about what happens in your body when you drink a Coke, click here.

Think Diet Coke is better? Think again...

Growing up, I never drank much soda. We didn't keep it in our house, my parents rarely drank it. Soda was a special treat for special occasions. I managed to keep my soda intake to a minumum until graduate school. Then everything changed. I shared an office with friends who were addicted to Diet Coke. We worked long hours. Diet soda was always in supply, and before long I always had a Diet something in my hand. It got to the point where the sound of a Coke opening made me feel relaxed and happy. I had myself convinced that drinking that much Diet Coke wasn't that unhealthy--after all, there's no calories--so it's kind of like drinking water, only it tastes better, right?


Unfortunately, the sugar content is only part of the reason Coke is unhealthy. The rest of the factors are the same for both Coke and Diet Coke. Plus, Diet Coke is made with artificial sweeteners (usually Aspartame, although there's a Splenda version available now too), which carry their own set of potential health problems. For more about the effect of Diet Coke on your body, click here.

So what can you do if you're addicted to Coke like I was? I tried several times to cut out the Diet Coke with varying success. Usually, I wound up feeling sluggish and having a headache. If you go cold-turkey on Coke and all caffeine-containing beverages, and you're used to drinking several a day, you are likely to have a similar result. I had cut back to one a day, but still felt sluggish. It wasn't until I started taking vitamins that I was able to break the habit. For me, it was the combination of AmeriSciences Sleep, Energy, and Head Start that did the trick. Not only did I not feel sluggish and headachy, I had more energy than I had had in a long time. Energy that lasted throughout the day, with no crash. And I woke up feeling more refreshed. One of the keys is a healthy dose of B Vitamins. To find out how you can get free samples of these products and 10% off your first order, e-mail me at theameriskeptic@gmail.com.

Ty Tribble's Free Advice

As I mentioned in my post on Ann Sieg, Ty Tribble is another successful network marketer who offers valuable free advice. Like Ann, he has developed a system that you can purchase. His system, which was just released, is called Blogging for Prospects. Ann sent me a link to three free videos from Ty, which I found very useful. Keep reading to find out what Ty had to say, and how you can access these free videos.

Ty is an interesting and engaging speaker, and I enjoyed watching all three of his videos. If you're short on time, the video I found most helpful was his whiteboard session.

The whiteboard session video starts by following Ty's nine year-old son to get a haircut before his network marketing debut. The young Mr. Tribble then gets up to the whiteboard and briefly outlines Frank Kern's Triangle of Trust Technique. The young Mr. Tribble's presentation is followed by his father's whiteboard session.

Ty Tribble describes a technique for developing and promoting a successful blog. He shares that using this technique helped him get as much traffic to his (very successful) blog in 30 days as it had initially taken him a year of daily blogging to obtain. His advice is simple, and particularly useful for people who have difficulty figuring out what to write on their blog. Here's the basic formula, which I will describe in more detail below: post your own content and other people's content to your blog, have an opt-in form on your blog for visitors to sign up (kind of like a landing page), and post links to your blog in your twitter posts.

Your Content: Demonstrate your expertise by providing useful information to your readers for free.

Other People's Content: Post links to useful and relevant content you find online. Always link to the original poster so they get credit. Write two brief sentences describing what you liked about the piece, and what you liked about the writer. Two great sources for finding content are Alltop.com and Popurls.com. These sites list the most popular content for any given day. The fact that it's popular makes it "socially proven;" in other words, it has already proven to be popular, so people are more likely to click on links to it. Using this method to obtain information can also help you think of original content to write about.

Twitter: If you don't already have a twitter account, set one up. I set one up after watching these inspirational videos. Post links to your blog posts on your tweets to drive traffic to your blog. Remember, people are more likely to click on links to socially proven content, so make the most of that tool. Also remember that your posts should not be sales pitches, or people won't follow you or click on your links. It's important to provide useful information for free. This goes back to the Triangle of Trust.

Use Search.twitter.com to find people to follow. Search for others with similar interests and follow them. You may also want to follow their followers. When you follow someone, it draws their attention to your twitter page, and if they see something they like, they'll follow you back. People who follow you are potential prospects.

Be consistent, and don't get discouraged too quickly. I highly recommend watching Ty Tribble's videos yourself. Click here to watch!

The Triangle of Trust

If you've read or listened to any of Ann Sieg's network marketing advice, you've probably heard her talk about the Triangle of Trust. Ty Tribble also has a brief introduction to the Triangle of Trust in his whiteboard session video. So what is this Triange of Trust, and why is it important to you in marketing?

When Ann Sieg refers to the Triangle of Trust, she suggests that people buy from, or want to work with, others who they know, like, and trust. If any one of these factors is missing, you will not make the sale, or your opportunity will be rejected. This makes sense. Looking back at our decision to get involved with network marketing, I can see that these factors definitely applied. If we hadn't known, liked, and trusted the person who introduced us to the products, we would have never even tried the products, let alone gone to a business presentation. Perhaps this is why the foundation of network marketing has traditionally been to market to friends and family--after all, who do you know, like, and trust more than your friends and family? However, if your product or opportunity does not offer a solution to your prospect's problem, it's useless. As Mike Dillard says, you can't sell steak to a vegetarian.

Another version of the triangle of trust is described by network marketer Frank Kern. This is the version that Ty Tribble's son attempts to describe in Ty's whiteboard video. For Frank Kern, the Triangle of Trust is a method that incorporates a video, a blog, and an offer. This version actually fits well with Ann Sieg's description of the triangle of trust. For example, when you create a video, people feel like they know you and (hopefully) like you. In your video, you should provide about 90% content. That is, give them free information. This will add to the liking part (if your video is just a pitch for your product, people are not likely to like you for it). It will also add to the trust part--you have set yourself up as an expert, not just someone trying to sell something. The other 10% goes to your offer, which of course offers to provide them with a solution to their problem, whatever it may be. To learn more about Frank Kern's Triangle of Trust Technique, and for a link to his free video, go here: http://bit.ly/9CmJqb

As you can see, the Triangle of Trust is an important key to effectively marketing any product or business. People want to be affiliated with others whom they know, like, and trust. When you are marketing online, one way of accomplishing this is by making informative videos that provide them with solutions to their problems for free, as well as providing them information about how your offer can help them further. Posting these videos to your blog can increase your traffic and keep people coming back for more.

Monday, June 21, 2010

7 Biggest Obstacles That Hold You Back From Being Successful

AmeriSciences training focuses on the importance of personal development in becoming a leader and attaining success. Personal development is important not only for being a successful network marketer, but for improving your overall wellbeing in life in general. I just came across this great overview of the factors that hold people back in life. The title of the article is "7 Biggest Obstacles That Hold You Back From Being Resourceful," but I think they are just as applicable to being successful. The author uses meaningful examples to demonstrate her points. This author writes enjoyable articles with helpful information for personal development.


Friday, June 18, 2010

Can Natural Dietary Supplements Really Impact Prostate Cancer?

Choosing the right path when it comes to cancer can be a particularly difficult decision. The word "cancer" instantly inspires fear in any patient. Prostate cancer has recently been addressed more widely in the media than in the past. Many people are unaware that prostate cancer is as common as breast cancer, and may take just as many lives. Unlike breast cancer, however, many prostate cancers are slow-growing, and the approach of "watchful waiting" has begun to gain acceptance in the medical community. The above article discusses research relating to this controversial new approach to treating prostate cancer.

Prostate health is an important issue for men to be aware of and take power of. It is important for men over 40 to get regular prostate cancer screening, which usually involves a rectal exam and PSA test. Men with a family history of prostate cancer should discuss this with their doctors, and may need to begin screening at an earlier age. There is also evidence to suggest that natural supplements can have a significant impact on prostate health, even for those who already have prostate cancer.  http://www.prostate-cancer.org/education/nutrition/Pinski_DietarySupplements.html

AmeriSciences offers pharmaceutical grade supplements for many health concerns, including Prostate Plus to promote prostate health. Get the facts to decide if Prostate Plus is right for you. Prostate Plus facts:

-The AmeriSkeptic

Take Your Power Back | Live Well 360

Take Your Power Back | Live Well 360

Have you ever been confused by all of the conflicting information or "advice" you encounter daily? In today's society we are both blessed and cursed with a sometimes overwhelming bounty of choices, and often conflicting information about which choice is best. The author of this article focuses on this topic, with a focus on advice relating to health and fitness. She writes in an easy to read style that evokes emotion and offers gentle advice, making it enjoyable to read. I think most people can relate to her message.

I found this article particularly relevant this afternoon, as I spent the day sorting through some of the free information on network marketing (specifically online network marketing) that I've collected, and I was feeling a bit frustrated by the conflicting advice I encountered...use PPC, DON'T use PPC, invite followers of people who are interested in your subject on twitter, don't invite any "random strangers" on twitter or you'll look desperate, etc...just when I read something that makes sense and I think I can do, I read something else that contradicts it. And of course all of this advice comes from people who are supposedly very successful. I'm sure there are many ways to be successful in network marketing, and one size doesn't fit all. The same holds true for health and wellness, which is the take-home message of this article. We all have to find our own path.

What strategies have worked best for you in your network marketing experience?


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Overwhelming Benefits of B Vitamins

Last night before bed, Kirk and I were looking at our vitamins and wondering why they were so high in the B complex of vitamins. I had heard that B-12 was good for improving energy levels, but the other benefits of the B's were a mystery to me. These three articles cover many of the benefits of the B's. 

B Vitamins and lung cancer risk:
Could diet reduce lung cancer risk? Ask B-6 and amino acids.

B Vitamins and heart health:

AmeriSciences products are an excellent way to get your daily dose of B vitamins.

My experience with Ann Sieg, Renegade Network Marketer

Ann Sieg is a network marketing guru and author of several publications, including "The Attraction Marketer's Manifesto," "The 7 Great Lies of Network Marketing" and "The Renegade Network Marketer." My first exposure to Ann's work was through a free e-book I received when I signed up for Ian Shilton's e-mail list. He sent me a copy of "The Attraction Marketer's Manifesto." This was the first real information I felt like I had been able to find about the process of network marketing. It was like a breath of fresh air. Unfortunately, the remainder of Ian's e-mails have been plugs for me to sign up for his company, Carbon Copy Pro, and have provided little if any content of real value to me. Still, getting Ann's e-book was worth it.

At some point in my searches for information, I somehow wound up signing up for Ann's mailing list. I don't think I even realized I was doing it at the time, but I'm glad I did. Not only did she send a copy of "The 7 Great Lies of Network Marketing," but she also continues to send e-mails with real content. I have yet to read "The Renegade Network Marketer," since I'm trying to make the most use of any free information I can get before I invest in a system, but I'd be interested to hear from anyone who has (theameriskeptic@gmail.com).

In addition to providing content of her own, Ann has sent e-mails with video content from other leaders in network marketing, such as Ty Tribble and Mike Klingler with useful information about strategies for online network marketing. I'll write about these videos in other posts.

For your FREE COPY of either "The Attraction Marketer's Manifesto" or "The Seven Great Lies of Network Marketing," e-mail me at theameriskeptic@gmail.com. Be sure to let me know which which e-book you would prefer. If you know you'd like one of these, but aren't sure which one, I'd be happy to help you make your decision if you e-mail me your questions at theameriskeptic@gmail.com. I look forward to hearing from you!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Saturday Prospecting

We're still anxiously awaiting our door hangers. In the meantime, we're trying to spend at least some time each week "prospecting" to area businesses. This week we went to a local health food store, a small gym, a spa, and a massage place. I'd heard about the food store on the radio, and had visited one of their locations in the past. In addition to prepared foods, they offer a lot of supplements, and they have several locations. We were able to easily obtain the business card of the man in charge of purchasing, and Kirk sent him a quick e-mail asking to get together to discuss our products. We received a prompt response requesting that we follow up next week when he is back in town.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Gaining Exposure

Last night we were vendors at the Grand Opening to the new organic bar Sugar Cane. A couple of weeks ago, Lexie was on her way to meet Kirk at a trendy local bar to show them AS10, and she stopped into Sugar Cane thinking it was a health food store. Long story short, they were interested in our product, and made arrangements with Lexie and Jerry to be vendors at the grand opening. Of course, Lexie and Jerry invited us to join them at the AS10 table.

There were hundreds of people at Sugar Cane, and most of them loved AS10; they loved the way it tastes (kind of like a tootsie-roll pop), that it's an easy way to get your daily fruits and vegetables, and of course that it's all natural. We were next to an organic tequila vendor, so we had the opportunity to show people how well AS10 mixes with alcohol and share our hangover-free experience (even people who love organic seem to love their alcohol!). Turns out the organic tequila vendor also has connections with a major local restaurant chain, so Kirk was able to make a connection there. We handed out tons of business cards and Newsletters, and several people provided their contact information to get more info. on the products.

The organic wine vendor, two vendors down,  was giving Kirk a hard time about our company being an MLM. She was insistent that MLM = pyramid scheme (= bad), and even the fact that about 80% of our products are sold to non-distributors would not convince her otherwise. The MLM stigma is unfortunately strong for some. Despite this, she took our card because she liked the product. She also took a card and newsletter for a friend of hers who sells health products. So maybe the MLM stigma isn't that strong after all!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

After the Training: Marketing

That covers most of the interesting points from that particular training. As I mentioned, I found it motivating. So Kirk and I left the training and went straight to work. Kirk had the idea to make door hangers for our apartment complex and the neighboring complexes to get our message to more people. We went to the local Kinko's, where we were informed that they do not do door hangers. They suggested a place across the street, which we searched for to find it had moved (and is not open on Saturdays). As it turns out, none of the local sign printing shops are open on Saturdays.

While we were driving around, we found several physicians' offices. Which, of course, are also not open on Saturdays. So we went home. 

When we got to our complex, we asked if it would be okay to put up door hangers. While we were there, we also checked in with a staff member who had tried our products. She said she loved them and asked about how to buy, so we directed her to our website. 

Back in our apartment, we found a store online that does cheap door hangers, and designed our hanger. We used marketing materials that are available to us through our website to create the door hanger, making sure to stay as true to their original language as possible, since I know it is legally sound. (I've been consistently impressed by the marketing materials available to us through AmeriSciences.) Then we submitted our design and requested a proof.

The Power of Consistency

"Greatness is doing the simple things consistently every day. Inconsistency is the killer of success." -AmeriSciences leadership.

In the race between the tortoise and the hare, I've always been the hare. I need to work on being the tortoise; or at least a more consistent hare. I guess I'm a product of my environment. Or maybe it's my personality. I've been a very successful hare, mind you, but I believe in the power of consistency. Back to Trump's quote from a past post, people only want what they can see, and they want to spend money on things they can see. I spent money on AmeriSciences because I could see and feel that the products improved my life, and I saw that others had been very successful building wealth in the company. But like many people, I became easily frustrated with the process. I wanted the magic fix--for my life to be transformed overnight. Who doesn't, right? But I know that's not real life, and I bet you do too. The following story illustrates the power of consistency, patience, and small changes in the area of building wealth.

Let's say you were offered 2 options: 3 million dollars, or a magic penny that doubled in value every day for 31 days. Which would you choose? Most people would probably pick the 3 million dollars, because they can see the value in it. But let's take a closer look:

Day             penny option            3 million option
1                  1c                           3 million dollars
5                  16c                         3 million dollars
10                 $5.12                     3 million dollars
If you picked the penny, are you regretting your decision yet? Do you want to throw in the penny?
20                 $5,243                    2.2 million dollars
Probably feeling a little better, but still a long way to go, and only 11 days left!
29                 2.7 million                1.8 million
30                 5.3 million                1.8 million
31                 10,737 million          1.8 million

These numbers are real--feel free to check them out yourself. Even if the 3 million option did not go down (no spending), which choice was better? Would you have ever believed it on day 1? 5? or even 20? The same principal applies to building your business. Once it starts to grow, you build momentum. That's why they say it's harder to go from sponsoring 0 to 10 people than 100 to 1000.      

It's the small steps in life that matter...you just have to take the first step, and the next, and the next. Keep going until you see progress toward whatever your goal is, whether it's in the area of health, wealth, or something else. What steps have you taken toward your goals today?

Whatever is easy to do is easy not to do

Sometimes the distance between where you are and where you want to be is so far it doesn't seem worth doing. Especially in today's instant gratification society. That's why so many "New Year's Resolutions" and diet and exercise plans fail. People see where they want to be, they see people who are already there, and they think it happened overnight. I'm sure this is also why many people fail at network marketing (see my earlier post). But it's the small decisions you make today that have a huge impact on the future--both for your health, and your wealth. AmeriSciences aims to help people attain their goals in both of these areas. They say that the key ingredients to success are desire, will, and teachability. I have all three. Do you?

Know Your Ratio: the network marketing numbers game

What percentage of people that you talk to about your opportunity will be interested? This is an important number to know. Maybe only 1 in 10 people you talk to will be interested...so how many do you need to talk to to get 10 people interested? Someone in your upline, who has more experience, may find 9 out of 10 people who are interested. So he or she might have to put in less work, but you could still wind up with a higher number. It's much like a batting average. Most people know, for example, know that Babe Ruth was the home run king. What most people do not know, is that he also struck out A LOT. He hit more home runs, because he was more willing to get out there and swing! The more you swing, the more you can improve your form, and in turn your average or ratio, and the less work you'll eventually have to do down the road. You can learn from the failures and successes of others on your team (or online), but you can't learn to play well by just watching the game from the sidelines.

The financial state of Americans: "People who are wealthy use money to build wealth, people who are not wealthy use money to buy things." -Donald Trump

Apparently 56% of people in the United States make $26,000 a year or less, and the average person over the age of 65 has less than $10,000 in the bank. Scary! Do you know most people will spend money--even money they don't really have (i.e., credit) to buy fancy cars, televisions, gaming systems, etc., but these same people will not spend or borrow the same amount of money to invest in a business? Yet a lot of people say they want to go into business for themselves--to gain financial independence, to release themselves from the daily grind. Most people don't know where to start, and are reluctant to make an investment under those circumstances. Network marketing is a way to help more people obtain this goal, with limited financial investment. (At least in AmeriSciences, the investment is much less than a typical business.)

In the training, they talked about the book "Rich Dad, Poor Dad" and the four quadrants of wealth/work that people fall into. Most people are employees. Many of these people would like not to be employees. Several break free to move into the next quadrant, self-employed, only to find that their business runs them, instead of the other way around. I started AmeriSciences somewhere between the first two quadrants (part employee, part self-employed). Financial independence comes in the next two quadrants--business builder and investor. The idea behind network marketing is to help people move from the quadrant they are in to the quadrant the want to be in.

Ask most people the following three questions (from AmeriSciences leaders), and what answer do you think you'll get?

1-How much money have you saved and invested for the last five years?
2-How many books have you read over the last 90 days that will help you advance?
3-How many classes have you taken?

My bet is you'll average 0 (or close to it). We live in a hear-and-now society that gives little thought to the future. Most people want to build their future, but don't know how.

As a solution to #2, they recommended the following books, which I need to check out:
"Think and Grow Rich" by Napoleon Hill
"The Richest Man in Babylon"

AmeriSciences training

I can't say that I feel like I learned much about marketing during today's training, but I did find it motivating, and Kirk had an idea for marketing that we took steps to start implementing after the meeting. I'll share some of the more interesting points in future posts. As I suspected, they said that most people over complicate the process and spend most of their time and money in less important areas. They said you don't have to be a product expert--if you talk too much about the product, it sounds pitchy--the most effective thing to do is share your experience. Not that you shouldn't know about the product, just that you should lead with your experience, and answer questions about the product if they come. And there is so much information to know about the products, that if you try to become an expert before talking to anyone, it will be a long time before you talk to anyone!

Friday, June 4, 2010

MLM failure rate: network marketing takes work

I can see why they say about 95% of people who try network marketing or join an MLM will fail. I have no idea whether this number is accurate, but many people seem to be under the impression that they will get instant BIG results for little to no effort. I get the impression that many companies lead people to believe this. We were told from Day 1 with AmeriSciences that it would take work; that it was a legitimate business opportunity, not a "get rich quick" scheme. I guess that makes us lucky.

It's not that I think we've failed. In fact, Jerry and Lexie seem to be doing very well. They're doing what they need to be doing, and are getting out what they put in. So are Kirk and I. Team Kirk and Skeptic need to do more working (i.e., actually talking to people about the products, sharing samples, passing out marketing materials, etc.) and less talking about working. I have all kinds of ideas for marketing that don't involve just talking to people about the products and/or opportunity (my comfort zone; e.g., flyers--which I've made up but not distributed, promotional offers--free sample with purchase, discount on your first purchase, wellness talks in our complex), I just have difficulty figuring out the logistics for implementing my great ideas.  I also want to make sure that my "great" ideas don't violate the terms of our contract before I implement them. Kirk and I have a training tomorrow--the first major training session we've been able to make it to since joining--hopefully I'll get some answers then.

AmeriSciences: a product driven company

I recently came across a review of the AmeriSciences opportunity that listed as a fault that the AmeriSciences website focuses on the product and does not have enough specific information about the opportunity. After all, they reasoned, isn't the point of network marketing to recruit other distributors? Isn't that how you make the real money? This is, of course, the reputation of network marketing and MLM companies. And for many companies it may hold true. I have no personal experience with this, but Jerry shared with us last night that he does. He has participated in an MLM before where the push was to recruit distributors rather than promote a product, and swore he would never join a company like that again. That is one of the things he likes about AmeriSciences.

There's a reason why the AmeriSciences website focuses on the products and the science behind the products: the goal is to market the product. The creators of AmeriSciences saw that the vitamin and wellness industry was growing quickly. Demand was high, and quality was lacking. So they decided to address that gap by creating high quality products, products that people could trust to contain what they claim to, and to use a multi-level network marketing approach to get their product noticed (see my previous post about the public's perception of alternative marketing techniques). Of course the opportunity to be a distributor as well as a consumer can be a big draw for some people, and it is by no means overlooked in AmeriSciences. But distributors are encouraged to sell at least half of their poducts to non-distributors (i.e., people who only consume the product). The following link (which can, incidentally, be found on AmeriSciences website), discusses this point:

A Product-Driven Company, by Lou Gallardo, Chairman: http://www.amerisciences.com/media/library/v108_3.pdf

If a company's sole purpose is to recruit more people into the company, it is a pyramid or Ponzi scheme. A legitimate multilevel network marketing opportunity, such as AmeriSciences, does focus on the product.

As with the review mentioned above, most reviews that I've found have been written by people who have no experience with the company, have gathered minimal information from a cursory review of the website, and are intended to sell you something. They are a form of advertisement targeted at people looking into MLM or network marketing opportunities, and are designed to make you believe that either a) you need their product to succeed in your chosen company, or b) you should join their company, which is superior to whichever other one you are looking into. 

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Insights about MLM and Network Marketing

Network marketing, and particularly MLM have a bad reputation. I came across a question online about whether people had had any luck in AmeriSciences, and the only response was that it was listed on scam.com. I searched scam.com, and was not able to find anything suggesting that AmeriSciences was a scam. It was only mentioned on a list of companies represented by a particular law firm. I tried to post this as a response, but my response was never accepted. Anyway, I digress...

The point is, that people have a negative preconception about MLM and network marketing. And I'm not really an exception to this. Which is why I was surprised to find out that Avon, Mary Kay, and Tupperware are all considered network marketing or MLM companies. Yet they all have decent reputations. Some relatively new companies without the MLM stigma have also joined the list, such as The Pampered Chef and Stampin' Up. Even Donald Trump is getting in on the MLM action.

It seems to me that any company or product that chooses to use an alternative method of sales and advertising is looked at with some skepticism. Take, for example, infomercials on late night t.v. I seem to remember a time when the products that were sold in this manner were considered a joke. After all, if these products were so great, why didn't they sell them in stores? Why did they use cheesy videos on late night television? Weren't they just trying to take advantage of the poor vulnerable people who were still up watching television at that time, with no other options? Yet several of these products are also now household names, and can even be found on store shelves  (e.g., Oxy Clean, Sham Wow, and Slap Chop).

The evidence seems to suggest that alternative marketing techniques, even MLM and network marketing, are viable options for quality products--although they may face more public skepticism--and can even work to turn products into household names (one of the goals of AmeriSciences).

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Marketing steps

I know MLM is a term that refers to the multiple levels within the company (downlines, uplines, etc), but I've recently started to believe it could also apply to the multiple levels at which a network marketer has to operate. You have to be able to promote both the products and the business opporutnity, and you have to be able to do both in many different venues. One of the really nice things in our experience so far with AmeriSciences has been the support we have received from out team. Customer service has also been very responsive. Some of the marketing strategies we've tried so far have included:
-talking to our friends about the benefits we've had from the products and what the business opportunity involves.
-Collecting resumes and connecting these people with Paul to learn more about the company.
-Conspicuously using the products in front of people while out
-Reading the newsletter in front of people
-Providing samples to friends and others who seem interested, like the man at the post office
-Meeting with people from bars about using AS10
-Providing information to our eye doctor about Tozal
-Leaving relevant comments on other people's blogs

Some people are definitely more interested than others. Part of this whole process involves sorting the people who are interested from those who are not, and focusing effort on those who are more interested. As with any product or business opportunity, there will always be some people who are not interested. Overall, though, I've been impressed that people have been as interested as they have.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Benefits of AmeriSciences AS10

By all rights, we should all be hungover today. Lexie, Jerry, Kirk, and I had made plans to get lunch and look at houses today (we're all in the market for new homes), and I had some errands to run before that, but when they left last night (or should I say early this morning?), I had my doubts. I'm not a drinker, and all of that sampling ("market research") last night hit me hard. We had been told that you wouldn't get a hangover from drinking when you used AS10 as your mixer, but none of us believed it. Yet all of us are fully functional today, and spent the whole afternoon looking at houses. I even ran my errands this morning. We mentioned this to one of our realtors this afternoon, and he seemed interested in finding out more about the product. So not only is AS10 good for you (it's loaded with antioxidants), it tastes great, mixes well with most types of alcohol (including red wine), and seems to reduce the likelihood of a hangover. Drinking it also benefits the environment (they plant a tree in the Amazon for every case sold). I think we have our benefits list for marketing.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Team Meeting: Developing Marketing Strategies

I love our team! Kirk, Jerry, Lexie, and I decide to have a team meeting to discuss marketing ideas and develop a game plan. We meet over dinner at our place. Lucky for me, and anyone else who joins our team, Lexie, Jerry, and Kirk all have experience in sales, and have been very successful in their sales positions. They know how to approach people about products, and feel much more comfortable doing so than I do. I mention what I've discovered about developing an internet presence, and they say they're willing to participate in any videos, etc. that we do. They suggest that they consider the internet research and marketing portion of our business to be my area to develop. They want to focus on their strength, which is direct business-to-business sales. So we're hitting this from as many angles as possible. We all agree that we should have these meetings regularly, and bring in anyone else who joins our team.

One of the businesses we want to target is bars. There is already one bar in town that has decided to use AS10, so we can use them as a reference. We decide it would be best if we could present them with potential drink recipes as well as information about the benefits of using AS10 as a mixer (information they can use to promote the drinks themselves). We create several drink recipes that we decide taste good enough to present to bars. AS10 is a surprisingly versatile mixer...it seems to mix well with everything we try!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

AmeriSciences marketing ideas

As I was leaving the house this morning, there was a flyer from our community with information about healthy living. Although there were no advertisements in the flyer, it inspired me to think of new ideas for marketing our AmeriSciences business. When I got to work, I e-mailed Kirk my ideas. One of them involved holding "Health Awareness" seminars in our clubhouse, where we would introduce people to our products. Even as I was writing it, I was thinking, "I'm proposing we do something that I hate having done to me." That is, offer them information, then give them a pitch. But I wasn't sure how else to do it.

I had some time between patients, and did an internet search for network marketing ideas. Most of the sites that come up have the same basic format...they tell you that your MLM company is lying to you and doesn't want you to succeed, and that the methods that they will teach you are the TRUE keys to success. Then they either promise you free information if you provide them with contact information (I've learned this is called a landing page), or they try to get you to buy their product. If you get to a landing page and provide your information, you will get a lot of follow up e-mails, some of which may include useful information, and many of which will continue to try to convince you to join their company or buy their product. Although I avoid giving any information to most of these sites, I found one that provided enough content to make me interested in finding out what else they would send.

As promised, I received a free e-book about network marketing (along with many more e-mails trying to get more information from me, get me to invest in their product, etc.). This document talks about the effectiveness of doing seminars for people about health issues. Great! I'm on track. The author warns, however, not to make your presentation a pitch for your product. The basic point is this: Give people content. Provide them with information they will find useful, and mention how your product would fit into the bigger picture (e.g., talk about other ways of living healthy that don't involve selling them anything, as well as mentioning your product). The author also discusses the importance of having a strong internet presence, to market your product effectively and with less work in the long run.

Take home points:
1. Provide people with content they find useful
2. Develop a strong internet presence to bring customers and people interested in joining your network to you.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Private meeting: joining AmeriSciences

Kirk and I meet Paul at his residence Monday night after work. Paul is one of the founding members, and has been very successful with AmeriSciences, so he will be a good team leader for us. Anyone who joins under us will also be in Paul's group.  Jerry, who is planning to run a subgroup in another area, is also at this meeting so that Paul can teach him how to run the meetings in the future. We all get our Head Start and start talking business.

Paul reviews the compensation plan with us again so that we have the opportunity to ask questions. We realize during this meeting that joining at the lowest level wouldn't allow us to have others join our team. So, although we had agreed before the meeting that we should go in at the lowest level possible, we decide during this meeting that going one level higher is the better choice for us. Another great benefit of this decision is that it will allow us to have more samples to pass out to our friends. Even though we can afford this level, I'm more than a little nervous about spending the money.

Paul doesn't pressure us to spend any more than we feel comfortable with, and he doesn't rush us through the process once he finds out that we are going in at a relatively low level. He goes over a three month business plan with us, part of which involves asking us what our goal is for the next three months. We say we would like to make $5000 extra a month. He suggests that we are aiming very low, but humors us and uses that number for our plan.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Making a decision

After the meeting we discuss what we want to do. I really like the products, but I'm still skeptical about the earning potential from this venture. I want to continue using the products, but I don't know how much I'm willing to commit to marketing and selling them. The benefit from signing on to sell them, aside from the possibility of making money, is that you get a discount on buying the products. Over time, this discount could be substantial. I'm also confused about some of the logistics. For one, I'm not clear how to get from the sampling step to the selling or recruiting step. I'm also not sure how to approach people who I don't know about the product, and I don't meet that many new people on a day to day basis. I'm willing to mention it to my friends, but I don't want to push it. I have a feeling most of my friends are not going to bite. Kirk is really interested in trying to sell the product, and he seems to have more confidence that he knows people who will be interested in signing on as well. We decide to buy in at the lowest level, which we can can easily afford. I figure, worst case scenario we'll use the products ourselves.

Saturday meeting: AmeriSciences compensation plan

Since we both like the product, and wouldn't mind making some extra money, we decide to go the the Saturday morning meeting, where they will discuss the business and compensation plan in more detail (as opposed to the Thursday meeting, where the greater emphasis was on the products).

The meeting is in the same room as the last. Some of the people are the same as Thursday, others are new faces (to us, anyway). Paul and Barry are the primary presenters. We are again given cups of Head Start to drink during the meeting. They talk about uplines, downlines, and the different levels within the company. At the highest level, you benefit from six generations down your downline. You can choose to enter at whatever level you want, which we are told is different from other multilevel marketing companies. You are also not required to sell a certain amount to maintain your level. In other words, once you reach a certain level, you cannot be bumped back down to a lower level due to reduced productivity. One of the men there, the first one who presented on Thursday, even took two years off for personal reasons, and was able to continue collecting money from his downline's sales, and also to return at the same level at which he left. We are told that this is also unusual for an MLM company. Your personal discount on products depends on what level you are. Income is generated through both the difference between your discount and the price you sell the product at (retail) and a percentage of the sales of your downline. The higher your level, the more generations of your downline you benefit from (up to six).

Kirk and I are sufficiently interested from what we've heard in the past two meetings to set up a private meeting with Paul for Monday after work. Before we leave, Jerry gives each of us a sample of AS10 Fusion to try.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Step one: using the product: AmeriSciences Sleep, Energy, Head Start, and Slim

Our sample pack has four products in it: AmeriSciences Sleep, Energy, Head Start, and Slim. We are supposed to take a packet of Sleep before bed, one Energy with a Head Start in the morning, the other Energy after lunch, and a Slim half an hour before each meal. I'm still trying to do the no coffee thing so that I know how well the products are working. I'm also avoiding Diet Coke. I would have expected it to be much more difficult than it has been. In the past my attempts to give up coffee and Diet Coke have ranged from getting severe headaches to having my boss kindly suggest that I start drinking them again because I was so zoned-out. So the fact that I've been able to cut back without getting a headache or feeling like a zombie is impressive. My goal is to go the whole week without coffee or Diet Coke.

Unlike the other products, I don't see any immediate effect from the Slim. I'm told it takes about a week to notice benefits from the Slim, and they no longer include it in the sample packs for that reason. I look it up and see a testimonial from a girl saying that she was able to lose weight using free samples of Slim her doctor gave her, so maybe it does take time. The nice thing is that I don't feel jittery from taking these products, unlike many other energy and weight loss supplements.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Our first AmeriSciences meeting

Part of the deal of considering this business opportunity was to go to a meeting. These meetings are held weekly, at least here in Houston. Jerry and his fiance, Lexie, join us. When we enter the building we are greeted by a friendly, attractive woman. We are offered a drink, which is a sample of Head Start. We are seated around a table in a conference room. I notice that many of the people in the room look professional and like they probably have money. Most of them have also been to these meetings before, including Jerry and Lexie.

We hear from three speakers. The first speaker tells us about how he used to work too many hours and it was interfering with his quality of life and relationship with his family. He talks about how he relied on caffiene to keep going (this sounds familiar), and has more energy since he started using the AmeriSciences products. He notes that he was hesitant to get involved with network marketing, since he didn't want to be that annoying guy who was constantly trying to get his friends and family to buy things from him. He tells us that he has been able to be successful without becoming "that guy." The second speaker is a former estate planner, Paul, who realized through his prior work that most people did not save enough or think about residual income until it was too late. The third speaker is the president and CEO, Barry Cosheu. He tells us about how he was a personal trainer to the stars for 10 years, but was still struggling to keep up with his expenses, and how developing this company has changed all of that.

At the meeting, they talk about many of the health problems facing Americans in today's society, and how they have developed their products to help combat some of those specific problems. They note that their emphasis is on providing high quality products, so they hold themselves to pharmaceutical-grade standards and have their products independently tested for quality. They show videos about the products and the company, some of which are available to view on their website (http://www.amerisciences.com/28180). They also mention their business model and compensation plan. The plan sounds simple enough: use the products, share your experience with using the products, provide people with samples so that they can see for themselves, sell them the product, and share with them the opportunity to earn by becoming involved with sales themselves. They emphasize that you should not focus your efforts on trying to force people to be interested in the product if they are clearly not interested.

Before we go, we get a sample of their superfruit juice AS10, and are given a week's supply of samples to try ourselves.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Not a morning person: AmeriSciences Sleep, Energy, and Head Start. Day 1.

Tuesday morning-

I can't say that I slept better or more soundly last night. Strangely, I do feel sort of well-rested. I can't remember the last time I felt well rested in the morning. Especially lately. It's gotten to the point where my morning coffee doesn't do anything for me anymore, and my consumption of other caffienated beverages has been on the rise. I like to keep my Diet Coke intake to one a day, and that's been creeping up. So this is a nice change. I still want my coffee, but Kirk asks me to try the AmeriSciences Energy and Head Start instead. In order to see if it really works, he kindly requests that I forego my coffee. Ugh. He only has one of each, so we split an Energy packet (one pill each) and a Head Start.

Head Start is a powdered drink packet you add to your water, kind of like Crystal Lite single serve packets. It tastes kind of like lemon-lime Gatorade. I hate Gatorade. You cannot get me to drink gatorade. The mere thought of it makes me cringe! And I particularly hate the lemon-lime flavor. But I promised to give this a *real* try, so I choke down my half. Between the Sleep, Energy, and Head Start, I'm not fighting the urge to fall asleep on my way to work. I don't feel the need for coffee, but I do stop at Starbucks for a green tea latte. I feel more alert throughout the day, but I still feel like I'm dragging a bit.

I take the other Sleep packet before bed.