Tonight, I sought out to explore a system that offers what (on the surface) is a simple and rather easy-to-manage process for sending out thank you notes to clients. The idea seemed good to me; as I’m a strong advocate of thank you cards, and some degree of systematization and ease-of-use would enhance the process. Then I tried to sign up to purchase some of these cards, and discovered I needed someone to “refer” me — and then, digging deeper, I discovered I had walked into a network marketing scheme.
(I won’t name this organization here in line with my policy not to negatively identify individuals or organizations in this blog, and the cards sold by this service to retail clients may well be worth the money and represent good value for business consumers like me. My problem is the method of sales and the distributorship opportunities this operation is pushing.)
It didn’t take me long to find stories of former distributors outlining their anger at the cost, mislaid opportunities, and hard facts that only a few folks at the top of the pyramid actually make money from the program. Worse, while this business operates within the law, and makes all the required disclosures (and offers a free distributorship option), the effort is on to push people to pay for the right to distribute the product –and then to strongly encourage the distributors to use it — adding to bottom-line revenues of the upper echelons, while draining resources from individuals seeking a work-from-home income.
Too bad. An automated, simple system for sending out thank you cards and budgeting/charging them through my company’s administration/management system would provide us with a useful tool for measuring sales reps’ performance and results, and also to enhance our client-relations-management processes. Right now, I’m afraid we’ll stick to inviting our company’s sales reps to go to the local stationary store, purchase boxes of cards, and handwrite/send them out themselves.
If you know a good system for thank you card management that doesn’t have the undertone of network marketing beneath it, please let me know.
(Note on bias: Our business primarily earns its revenue from business-to-business advertising sales. Network marketing schemes, by their nature, are direct sales operations which do not budget/allow for conventional media/advertising purchases. So we obviously have a structural bias against these operations, even when they are both legitimate and honorable.)