What's next for network marketing? The future of network marketing is in the past.

Not long ago I was talking with a friend about where the industry is today, and we both had the same thought: Hey, it's 1973! The future of network marketing is the past!

The only companies that will survive over the next 20 years will focus on two things:

1. Retailing their product to the end consumer;

2. Building great relationships with their distributors.

This industry was founded on sound principles of personal development and moving a product to the end consumer. Remember the dizzy days of "hitters" getting a great deal (read: hefty check just for signing on--like a name athlete endorsing a new cola!) and moving their group over to a new company? The days of heavy-hitters doing that and having any long term stability are over.

The future of network marketing is the past.

Retailing is back in style. Drawing circles on a napkin at the Waffle House at 2 a.m. is cool again. It's what works in today's marketplace, and will be one of the only things that works in the future.

The true heroes of network marketing will go back to the basics to build for the future.

Companies and distributors need to look upside-down when building their organizations. All rhetoric to the contrary, the truth is that many companies and leaders build their organizations guided by the concept of a pyramid. It starts at the top with a handful of heavy hitters who recruit, recruit, recruit; then a few years go by, the lower portion of the pyramid starts to fill out, and eventually you have a select group of people, at or near the top, who are making money with this company--until after a few more years, it starts to crumble and the folks at the top start sniffing around for the next deal.

The companies to watch are those who build with the diametrically opposite philosophy. They start by preaching the concept, "Build people and people will build the business." The "system" they use is a retail system: when a new rep gets started he is taught, "Retail the product, follow up professionally and back your customer into the business." This is an upside-down pyramid philosophy: the fat part is filled with tens of thousands of satisfied customers ordering product every month: they are the driving force of the business. The people at the skinny part are paid as a result for their valiant retailing efforts, and because their income is from thousands of retail customers, their checks aren't affected when a "hitter" jumps ship.

These are the companies of the future.


MIKE POTILLO is a 26-year-old co-owner of a new network marketing company.