Q: I'm looking at several network marketing businesses and can't decide which one is best for me. How important is the product in my decision?

A: The most successful independent distributors have developed the skill of choosing the right company with the right product at the right time. You know the saying "timing is everything"? It's especially true in the business world. Your ability to identify new products or trends can accelerate your potential financial success. This is especially important if you want to place yourself at the beginning of the lifecycle of exciting, new, easy-to-sell products.

Of course, every company will tout its products as the latest and greatest. But we all know how critical timing can be in terms of achieving your "short cut" to financial independence. Last year's hot item may be this year's "me too" product in the highly competitive world of copycat marketers. Before investing your time and money into a new company just because of a new product, make sure the product is truly unique. Finding out too late that you have numerous competitors can make the difference between a fun-filled experience and plain old hard work.

New product ideas and concepts must be based on an accurate assessment of consumer needs, wants and expectations. A company generating new product concepts and marketing systems has to properly position the product to create enthusiasm among its distributors. Finding exciting new products should be a high priority for every serious distributor looking to "catch the wave" of a new product trend.

Here are nine key questions to ask when evaluating each product:

  • Does the concept, which differentiates this product, fill a need or satisfy a want of the customer?
  • Will the customer perceive a legitimate value in his or her purchase?
  • Will the customer recognize quality in the same way he or she does with national brand names?
  • Does the product offer the customer superior performance compared to similar products already available?
  • Does the new product solve a problem for the customer that is not addressed by similar products?
  • Is there a convenience factor that places the new product ahead of all similar products?
  • Is the product consumable or does it offer some type of residual income stream?
  • Are profit margins sufficient to sustain your efforts?
  • Does the company provide you with satisfactory support materials and sales aids to make your job easier?

If you're fortunate enough to find a company with a new product that inspires you to answer the above questions with a resounding "yes," the next step is to look at the company's business model and support systems (see my previous columns). Knowing how to ask the right questions is the most important step in finding the answers that will help you make educated business decisions.

Michael L. Sheffield is the CEO of Sheffield Resource Network, a full-service direct sales and network marketing consulting firm. He is also the co-founder and chairman of the Multi Level Marketing International Association (MLMIA). He can be contacted through http://www.sheffieldnet.com.


The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author, not of Entrepreneur.com. All answers are intended to be general in nature, without regard to specific geographical areas or circumstances, and should only be relied upon after consulting an appropriate expert, such as an attorney or accountant.