Monday, August 22, 2005

Welcome to my MLM Experiment. This should be interesting as I am not one for doing sales....I couldn't sell water to a dying man in the desert. I always see these so called "rich" people (we all know this is blown WAY out of proportion anyway) that make a living at Network Marketing/MLM. I am going to attempt to give my totally UNBIASED review of what I think of MLM.

You must realize up front that MLM is NOT for everyone, nor is it something that just anyone can do (I'm probably in the 1% of people who will fail category). If you put any posts on this blog about how wonderful your company is, IT WILL BE DELETED. This is not a promotional site, this is a HARD CORE STATS on MLM site. I want people to realize how much time and effort a MLM/Network marketing company REALLY requires.

I personally don't have any hobbies, so I thought I would create one. I have to admit, it was pretty much inspired by Martin Spurlock (You know, the "Supersize Me" guy). He has this new show on FX (I think?) called 30 days. He and others do things for 30 days, just to see what it's like and to see if their original opinion about it is biased, etc. So I thought, hey this could be fun, how about I pick something I totally detest, and try it for 30-60 days, just to make sure I hate it for the right reasons lol.

I'm a software architect, so I figured this was at the complete other end of the spectrum for me. My profile is: A married white female, 34, business owner, with three girls (Girl #4 on the way), as well as a part-time college student (Attempting to get a PHD in Psychology - by the time I'm 60). Needless to say I probably don't have enough free time to put into this.

I'm lucky though, unlike most people that get themselves into these companies, I'm not really doing it for the money, it's just a hobby. I'm hoping it will help develop my social skills that I have managed to loose over the last 10 years of working out of my home with the only interaction being with a computer....

So how did I end up with this? Well I was on my pregnancy message boards and somewhere someone mentioned that they worked for this "totally great company" called, Arbonne International. I had never heard of them before so of course, the geek in me just had to google it. The products looked someone reasonable, and I though, hey - why don' t I try this for fun?

I'm a pretty motivated person, so getting myself motivated to do it isn't too hard. The thing that I find most interesting is that it's a numbers game, so of course the geek in me lights up like a christmas tree. The sad part is - now that I've put some effort into it, the numbers just don't seem to add up yet.

So I sign up on their website for 29.00, which is their fee for their "Basic" starter kit that contains very limited marketing materials (basically just enough for you to read it and be totally clueless), so during the sign-up process I decided what the heck, I'll go all the way and spend 95.00 more on their "Open Now for Business" pack which contains a lot more marketing materials. SO, before I even get started, I've already spent 149.80 (With shipping and Tax).
I figured that it was pretty reasonable for starting up a business. I think just to get started with Mary Kay it takes around 300?

11 days after my credit card was charged for the 149.80 - My package of marketing materials arrives. I know it's really no big deal, but merchants are NOT suppose to charge cards until the product actually ships - which tracking records indicated that it didn't ship for 5 days after I placed the order.

I take a week going through the stuff, searching google about the company etc. before I actually put any effort into it. I find that if I want to sell their products and receive leads on the internet, I HAVE to use their third party company to create my website (Which blows out the ass if you ask me since I'm a programmer myself). The cost? Oh gee, only another 120.00 annually. Cha Ching - cost now up to: 269.80. Still not too bad I guess.....

Now here is where it gets tricky. They claim that there is no inventory required, nor do they support their consultants maintaining or keeping an inventory. BUT when you go to their website after signing in as a consultant - bada boom bada bing...For ONLY 350.00 you can get 700.00 worth of products - it's their "Right Start Value Pack". I had a bunch of spending money I had saved up and though, well, at worst I just wasted all my spending money - I can recoup some of it on eBay if I don't sell the stuff (NOTE: Yes I checked on eBay FIRST, before I purchased anything to see if it would sell). I figured that I needed a "Right Start", so I purchased the starter pack. With my purchase, I got 1 free product of my choice, so I did like everyone else and selected the most expensive (a 72.00 jar of nighttime face cream).

Now here's what's even more interesting.. As you place your order, at the bottom of the screen, they show you what "wonderful" discounts that you are eligible for as you add things to your shopping cart, so just for fun I kept adding and deleting stuff just to see lol. Eventually I settled on a 700+ kit of their anti-aging products, which then made me eligible for all kinds of bonus stuff plus my SECOND RSVP pack at 350.00. Needless to say, by the time I was done, I had purchased over 3300.00 worth of products for 1600, plus some sales aids and samples that were not included in my "Business starter pack", Total cost to start business is now up to....drum roll please.......$2372.00. It took me a total of three hours to place the order, as I kept trying to optimize my discount. By the time I was done, I ended up with a 49% discount on everything (Yes I actually put everything in a spreadsheet and CALCULATED my costs). Now I think it's starting to get a little bit expensive.

Due to contractual obligations with clients for programming, I decided to put aside Friday for my efforts with my Arbonne business. I started my marketing efforts on a Friday morning, I was totally gung hoe about it.

My efforts included, submitting my Arbonne Site to about 200 search engines (Free), Creating Google Ad Words (Total cost for click thrus to date: 25.00), Yahoo Ads (In which I was suppose to get 100.00 credit from yahoo, but a week later, still have not seen, so My cost is 30.00 right now), Ads on Kanoodle ($50.00). Listed some of the products I would be getting at a discount on iOffer for just a little over my cost (Free until sold). Created a flyer to send to leads with my "Discounted Inventory" products. I also had to purchase some mailing lables (38.00) and presentation paper to print some of the product flyers on (21.00). Found a couple of WAHM (Work at home Mom) sites that I could post my "Job" listings on for free)

I surprisingly managed to actually get a few lead that day in my inbox from my site, I hated the fact that I really had no Idea what the person was interested in so I created my own custom survey page and put that on my server to capture that information (Time spent, about 3 billable hours @ 52.00 hr - 156.00) and added that to my crappy canned website I paid 120.00 for.

So now my cost is up to: 2697.00 (remember tax too) - Not including my actual time spent doing all this work, which I would normally bill out at around 52.00 an hour, so add about 520.00.

Now, saturday was quite interesting. That morning, I started off with about 11 leads from Friday which is actually pretty good considering I had just started my efforts, so that helped my motivation. I tried to ignore the amount of money I had put into it at this point. Out of those 11 people, 8 wanted catalogs, and of those 8, 5 wanted information on how to start their own Arbonne business. So now I had 8 direct mail pieces to send out which ranged in mailing cost from 1.82-2.12 (Average per mailer 1.97 x 8 = 15.76). While doing this, I received several more leads that ALSO wanted catalogs/more info so I packaged up 3 more...5.91). I made sure to include my "discounted Inventory" lists to these people as well.

Now my costs was up to: 3238.67 - Ouch, this is starting to really hurt

Now the programmer in me decided, that there had to be a better, more cost efficient way to do this so I came up with an automated response system. (Honestly, I did not have time to stuff envelopes every 5 minutes!) When a customer filled out the survey and selected what they were interested in, I fired off an e-mail that contained attachments of the products they were interested in with my sales flyer, contact info, etc. (Time spent, about 4 billable hours @ 52.00 hr - 208.00)

Cost Now: 3446.67

I ended up with a total of 4 people signed up as clients and 20 leads by the end of saturday - ok so maybe it will payoff eventually?

So Now we are at sunday, I spent the day submitting my work at home opportunity to some classified sites, and again realized I was NOT going to do all it manually. Most of the software was more than I was willing to spend, and programming would take too long so I decided on a service that was 29,.00 a month that was suppose to include opt-in email marketing as well as classified site submission, search engine submission, etc. Well after paying their 29.00 the only thing that I see I am able to do is submit classified ads so today(Monday), I need to get a hold of someone and find out what's up with that or get my damn money back. I'm not spending another dime on this project until I start to see some return! By the end of sunday, I had gotten 3 more clients, 6 more leads, and one order of 30.00 - of which I will get 1.20 - whoopie!

Cost Now: 3445.47

Ok, so now I'm done spending on this project. At this point, the only thing I will be putting money into is the Google Ad words, and Yahoo (IF they give me the 100.00 Credit I'm suppose to get!!). I want to start seeing some returns!


Blogger Rachel said...

Wow! I have had my Arbonne Website for 10 months and I have never received that many leads...What am I doing wrong?

Any help would be appreciated.


8:27 PM  

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