The Past, Present & Future of Network Marketing (Part II) – with Kayla Ybanez

August 7, 2023

The Evolution of Network Marketing: Staying Relevant in a Changing Online Business Landscape

Maren:

Welcome back to another exciting episode of the Maren Crowley podcast! In this episode, titled “If You Know You Know – The Past, Present & Future of Network Marketing (Part II),” we dive deeper into the world of network marketing with our special guest, Kayla Ybanez, a customized business strategist.

Together, we explore the frustrations experienced by those in network marketing when others question their desire to pursue other ventures. We uncover the truth behind the expansion of successful network marketers into various industries, such as coaching, brick and mortar businesses, gyms, and even franchises.

Join us as we dissect the reasons behind these expansions, including financial gain, brand development, creative outlets, and enhanced visibility.

We also discuss how network marketing can serve as a stepping stone for many individuals and the challenges it poses for veterans who have been solely focused on it for over a decade. Furthermore, we delve into the importance of personality, goals, and lifestyle when considering network marketing as a viable option.

We emphasize that while network marketing can be a fantastic fit for some, it is not the only avenue for success. We explore the lessons it offers, the opportunities it opens up, and the trust and community it builds. But it doesn’t stop there!

We shift gears to discuss the thriving health and fitness industry, it’s longevity, and its appeal to new, younger generations. We disclose the significance of adapting and evolving within this industry to stay relevant and meet the ever-changing demands of consumers. And of course, authenticity and trust cannot be overlooked.

We explore the power of these qualities when selling products online and provide an opportunity for our listeners to work with us in crafting an online business that fosters genuine connections with customers while garnering respect. On a more serious note, we address the cult mentality often associated with the network marketing industry. We shed light on the challenges individuals face when they choose to leave a company and the conditional nature of relationships within the industry.

Throughout this episode, we challenge the perpetuation of misunderstandings and false expectations within network marketing and encourage our listeners to seek truth, make informed choices, and consider alternative methods of earning income in the online world.

Network marketing has changed; not everyone succeeds.

Kayla:

There’s a lot more choice now in terms of ways to earn money online. You could do anything. And I think that people are well aware of this. And I think that network marketing right now is positioning itself as not one of the more appealing opportunities, because even though it’s like it only costs x amount to join, and I believe that it’s very incorrect to make it sound like you don’t need to invest in network marketing like you do in other things.

I mean, again, as someone that has shown this time and time again, whether you are doing continuing education, just purchasing products, you have to invest to learn new skills and be supported. When you’re in something where you are basically even in some areas, if you’re not like you’re calling the shots, you’re a decision maker. 

When you’re in a job, your boss tells you what to do, you go and do it. You’re a worker bee, which is I don’t know if that’s condescending to say. That’s what I say to myself. But in business, you can’t operate like a worker bee. If you operate like a worker bee, you’re never going to move. 

You’re just going to be spinning your wheels because you’re the one giving direction to yourself. And if you don’t know how to do that, if you don’t know how to support yourself and coach yourself, an average person doesn’t, you need support, you need mentorship, you need continuing education. 

You need these things no matter what. And so people used to be like, well, with network marketing, in other business, you have to pay a franchise fee and this and that, and it’s like, well, yeah, in franchise you have that, but you also have expenses in any type of online business too.

So I don’t think that’s a differentiating selling point of network marketing. We can’t use that anymore. The power pockets of time. 

No, there’s a lot more work required. That is a lie. I hate when people still feed that. It really is. I believe that network marketing and online business, whether it’s creating your own course, if it’s affiliate marketing and all that, the amount of time it takes is going to be dependent on what you want to get from it. 

And I’d say it’s kind of a wash. It’s similar all across the board. And so with network marketing, though, whereas other industries don’t really have it the same, you do have sometimes that cult mentality, the mean girl stuff, the controlling and trying to turn it into a corporate environment, whether intentionally or not. 

Yeah. So I think if network marketing doesn’t change and evolve and grow, it’s going to be one of the least appealing options on the block for people to choose from.

Maren:

I agree. And I’m in network marketing and I love my team and I love that I made this decision nine years ago. But I also think it’s very different and I think that given the environment now, I’ve changed my perspective. 

So when I came into network marketing, I did it because I just wanted less expensive products, like full transparency. I was like, oh, I got a 25% discount. And I’ve always been on social media. And I think that’s another thing you mentioned. Like, anybody can do it. 

Okay. I do believe that any race, any religion, any socioeconomic background can do network marketing, but I also believe that they’re always in anything in life, I don’t care what it is, there’s always going to be a 1%. 

And so trying to tell people or using verbiage like that, like anyone can do it, is misleading because it makes it seem as though if you don’t have certain skills and talents, that you’re not at an advantage. And the fact of the matter is, you are. Like, I have a business background. I believe that that puts me at an advantage. 

Now, do I think I’ve learned more in network marketing than I did when I got my MBA and all that. Yes, I do believe that because I was my own business owner, I was making my own decisions. I had to force myself to have content creation. I had to force myself to have conversations. 

I was a self starter, and I did the things. I’ve gone to the John Maxwell conferences. I’ve read the personal development books. But that’s me as a person, and we can’t pretend everyone’s like that.

I believe that my skills and my traits are what put me in the 1% of the company, truth be told. But I’m also not the person who’s gone viral. Like, those people have that skill that got them to the 1% of the company. So we all have our different traits, but it’s very misleading to make everyone believe that they are going to be in the 1%, because they’re not.

There’s a reason why there’s 1%. 

I believe that network marketing has shifted in that in so many ways. And you know this because we work together on my messaging. I believe that network marketing is a perfect place to start to have that accountability, of having mentorship, learning about personal development.

Obviously, I’m in the health and wellness space, so I believe that making your health a priority is huge.

Stepping into the network marketing space gives you a great foundation. But I don’t know if all of those success stories that we once heard exist anymore solely in network marketing. I think you can be in network marketing and use it to have other streams, build other streams of income and have that solid foundation within network marketing. But like you said, all eggs in one basket.

I don’t know if that’s the case anymore. I think there’s too much competition out there, right?

Kayla:

Most of the people that get so upset when people want to do other things. Why is it that they’re people that do other things? That’s what always got me, you’ve said it to me before, where it’s like, oh, it doesn’t apply to you, it applies to me, or It applies to me, not you. 

And I’m like, that’s what kills me. Because most of the people that have been at the top of network marketing in recent years have expanded. Whether it’s they’re starting brick and mortar, they’re offering coaching, they are opening gyms, like they’re even doing franchises, like they’re doing cool stuff. 

And some of it sure is for financial reasons. Some of it is just expanding on a brand and just doing more and wanting more visibility. Some it’s for more creative outlets. All of those reasons are valid. But I’m definitely someone who believes not just through my own experience, but through clients that I’ve mentored throughout their entire evolution that network marketing, I believe, for most people, truly is a stepping stone for a good chunk of people.

And I think that that is a hard pill to swallow for the veterans that have been doing this for over ten years at least, right?

Maren:

Because they’re so engrossed in this mindset that if you talk about anything else, why weren’t you talking about our product? Why aren’t you talking about our company? And what I have personally found, and I’m sure you can attest to this because you see all my analytics, is that when you stop talking only about one thing, your engagement actually goes up. 

Kayla:

Let’s just postpartum weight loss. That was exactly our go to example, right? Like, everything that you say should be tied to postpartum weight loss is what some people say. And I can see the short term benefits. 

I can also see the long term detriment is because if you’re only known for one thing and one thing only god forbid if something happens to your life that needs to change or you just decide to have to make such a radical change. Pivot is hard and can be detrimental to income and business. And you’re really crossing your fingers and praying that that pivot will work. 

And of course, I do believe that ultimately things can work out, but that is a challenge that doesn’t have to be necessary. But also, what if something that’s that hot new thing all of a sudden isn’t so? What if it’s something outside of your control and that needs to happen? 

What if no one gives a crap about postpartum weight loss anymore? What if we all wake up and we’re like, after you give birth, like literally, just who gives no one cares anymore. We are going to give birth and your body is just what it is. Have a nice life. What if that happens? What if no one cares? And it’s like, oh, no, now what?

But also, aside from the business decision, because that’s more like business reasoning and logic, I think you’re going to get bored of being known as the postpartum weight loss lady.

You’re going to get so sick of it because you’re a complex human. But I think the answer to that is having, like, an umbrella and having the things that you do that all relate to, which is easy to do. 

We could find correlations easily. Like, we’re humans, our brains are wired to build connections, make it related to that thing, because everyone sees the connections. They see where it makes sense.

Maren:

Oh, I agree wholeheartedly. And when you think about being known for one thing, that would never be real life, like if you went out to dinner. I’ve heard this analogy before where let’s just stay on postpartum weight loss, right? Let’s think about babies, right? 

So imagine you get invited to a baby shower and your thing is postpartum weight loss. And you went to that baby shower and that’s all you talked about. You couldn’t talk about anything else. You couldn’t talk about the new Netflix show that you liked. You couldn’t talk about these new jeans that you loved or this vacation that you were planning. 

You couldn’t talk about anything about postpartum weight loss. Can you imagine? You wouldn’t be invited anywhere.

And then I think if you do have any kind of new opportunity presented to you, how do you talk about it? How do you capitalize off of it? Because like you said, well, that doesn’t fit in my postpartum weight loss mold.

I can’t promote XYZ. And I think where people try to kind of circumvent that is, they’re like, well, check out my stories for the real me. Like, if you go to my page, it’s just and my reels, it’s all one content. But I’m the real me and my stories, what is that? I don’t understand that mentality. Because you see that in people’s profiles.

Kayla:

I can see where people are doing it. I can see their reasoning. But honestly, I feel like their reasoning also supports why they still don’t want to put all their eggs in one basket. Because what if all of a sudden that network marketing company doesn’t align? Looking at examples about how a lot of health and fitness network marketing companies are switching their messaging. 

Well, if your SEO optimized brand only aligns with the previous messaging and this is the only thing, you got crap, then what? And it all just ties back. And this is kind of like a big question that I have, Maren, in your like it’s kind of going back to where people are just, again, the all eggs in one basket. 

They really think that when they get to this point and they’re like rocking solid whatever, do they really think that that money is just always going to be there at that level?

Maren:

The company that I particularly partnered with, I always feel like health and fitness is going to be important to people because it just is. It has been. So health and fitness and having this for better or worse, right, mentality of a certain physique and this and that has always been around. But I also believe that as people, we need to take care of our bodies.

So I think mine has more longevity than the hot new makeup or the hot new shampoo. I think there’s always going to be something else. 

Like to your point, what you were saying before about affiliate marketing is that strike while the iron taught because there’s always something coming up next. And that’s why I’ve personally love partnering with my network marketing company because I believe that there’s always someone that needs help and support in this area.

Another piece that I don’t think you take into consideration is that you constantly have to have new eyes, new people in the arena, so to speak. 

You have to keep it new and keep it exciting and you can’t rest on your laurels. We can’t keep redoing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. 

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Recognition in monogamous relationships, network marketing. Costs and benefits.

Kayla:

Oh yeah. And I think the saddest part is I believe that’s why most people stay. Again, my analogy of the monogamous relationship is because of that even at the expense of financial stability and flexibility, even at the expense of one’s own dreams and creative ventures. 

And that’s where I’m like this is where it gets really bad. And of course it makes sense why network marketing is so big on recognition because, yeah, they might spend some money on prizes and stuff like that, but that is so much cheaper for them than paying out other things. 

Like it’s the perfect set up for them because it gives the dopamine hit that arguably should come from that direct deposit. It’s like, yeah, you’re getting that same level of excitement and we don’t have to spend a dime. So you’re never going to hear me completely knock on an industry because I don’t believe that’s smart and I don’t like it as a marketing thing, even for the work that I do. But I do think it’s important to create awareness around getting you caught up in recognition. What is that truly costing you and what is recognition truly giving you and is it giving you what you want?

Maren:

Well, and I speak from personal experience where I think it’s because I had recognition in so many other areas of my life that being a professional athlete and I played college sports and I was a head coach of a collegiate team, I can’t really explain it. 

For me it was like, hey, how am I going to help people feel better about themselves the way that I’ve learned to feel better about myself from these products? But also, how am I going to pay my bills? And recognition, to me, does not pay your bills. 

And in the whole grand scheme of things, this is what I’ve always thought was bizarre. And maybe this is because, like, you, you’ve been around celebrities. To this day, you’re still around celebrities. So I can’t comprehend how people within network marketing are viewed as celebrities. That’s mind blowing to me.

Network Marketing as a Stepping Stone:
While network marketing can be a fantastic opportunity, it’s important to remember that it’s often a stepping stone for most people. Many successful network marketers have expanded into other ventures such as brick and mortar businesses, coaching, and even franchises. It provides lessons, opens up new opportunities, and builds trust and community

Maren:

Some people get naturally more excited around celebrities than others. I mean, I’ve worked on TV shows. I now do work with conventions. I feel like my natural reaction is like, oh, I’ll think it’s cool. My excitement is like, I’ll smile. 

Like, I’m excited to shake your hand, but I’ve never cried or anything. But I can understand people that do. And maybe that is just how we’re made. Maybe there is a correlation between the people that I like to call fangirl, which I don’t mean in a condescending way. I have friends that do it.

We all have things that we get excited over that other people don’t. I feel like there might be a correlation between the people that fangirl and the people that the currency that they believe that they should be seeking is recognition. Do you see?

Kayla:

What’s so interesting is I know people that… that’s cool. And so it is a very interesting thing that’s been created by putting people on these pedestals. I mean, honestly, even in the work that I do now for conventions, I have people that are messaging me saying, when I see you at X event, can we get a picture? 

And of course, I don’t see it as anything like I’m like, yes, can we? I think it’s cool. But for people to even look at me that way is like I’m small peanuts. It’s so interesting for people to see that and do that. And I’m not going to lie though, I am a words of affirmation. But here’s the thing that’s tricky to me. I’m a words of affirmation, but recognition from most people doesn’t appeal to me.

There’s a few people in my life that I do seek this approval from, and I should probably unpack that in therapy. But it’s like, three people. Everyone else, I really don’t care. So I’m like, why is that? It’s so interesting to me.

Maren:

Yeah. And I just think that they use that to their advantage, these certain companies. Why do they choose certain people to speak even though they haven’t hit whatever XYZ benchmark in a while. It’s because they’ve granted, they have multiple times, but it’s like, well, they’re the face of XYZ Company. 

When you associate a company with that partner, it’s just like this direct association and then going circling back to the people that leave. It’s mind blowing to me that reddit threads are created over these people.

Don’t you have other things to do besides hate on people that A, you may have never even met or just on social media? Why are we making people more than they are? Do you know what I’m saying?

Kayla:

Honestly. I feel like a lot of this stuff that we just don’t get is perpetrated by this industry, by the network marketing industry. And again, it’s like, I love it, but I’ll talk about the things that drive me nuts. 

And that’s another one where it’s like we’ve literally created this culture where it’s like, once you’re in, you can’t leave even. But it’s like, unspoken. It’s hush hush, but everyone knows if you’ve been in it long enough, you know that relationships can be very conditional for poor intentions. And I also think it can happen accidentally. I don’t always believe people set out to do it. 

And the whole thing of getting people to thrive off recognition not why they’re actually in business. Which, again, I’m all about removing shame about earning money. There should be no shame. This isn’t like a charity. This isn’t a hobby. 

You’re giving this much time, you deserve to be compensated. It’s not icky, it’s not weird. Can we please remove that? But it’s like they almost want to make people believe and feed into that. They’re doing this out of the kindness of their heart so that they don’t seek more. And I’m like, can we not in this economy, we can’t do that anymore?

Because that little ego boost man that lasts all of 30 seconds, and then the lights are going to get shut off if I don’t do something.

Maren:

It’s the truth. And I know one of my biggest gripes is that I have hit in my opinion, it’s the most important recognition within my company. I have hit it, but it doesn’t get any clout because it’s tied to a monetary thing. 

They’ll give the crown, the Tiffany box to this top person, or like these awards, yada, yada, yada. But it’s like, those things don’t pay your bills. And just because you’ve hit certain recognition benchmarks doesn’t mean that you’ve made the monetary piece either. And we don’t celebrate the monetary piece, right? It’s like an afterthought on Saturday morning.

And then you can’t bring people in. Because unfortunately, I think a lot of people don’t want to work hard. They want it just handed to them. And I think part of that is society. And then I think that’s part of the industry where, for so long, going back to what you said, we made people think that this isn’t work. Oh, just share. Just share.

Encourage others despite industry changes and competition.

Maren:

So I think we can both agree that the industry has changed. There are lots of other opportunities. But how would you encourage someone because like you said, like me, you do not believe that the industry is like this curse. 

You believe that there are assets. How would you encourage someone to get started? Because I think a lot of people would think after maybe even hearing this, like, oh my gosh, I must stay away from network marketing.

But please understand, and Kayla will break this down for you that affiliate marketing, in my opinion, is a lot harder to break into than network marketing because it’s much more competitive. 

There’s no team aspect. It’s every man for themselves. And you don’t have the longevity of a company that’s maybe been around for 10, 15, 20 years. It could be just this new hot product that could be gone tomorrow. So how would you encourage people to break into this fear? Maybe they don’t put all their eggs in one basket, but it is a good launching pad, right?

Kayla:

I believe that ultimately, that there is an avenue of business that is the perfect fit for your personality, your goals, and your lifestyle like the person that you are. And I believe, as you said, that network marketing can be a great launch pad for most people. 

However, I don’t believe it is the be all, end all. For most people. I believe it’s a very small percentage that can and do and will thrive exclusively that way. For everyone else, I believe that it teaches you many lessons pretty quickly, gets your foot in the door, and opens up your eyes to other avenues that are out there. 

And so I believe that through getting into network marketing, you can learn a lot about yourself, a lot about business, a lot about the industry, while you’re simultaneously building a community, building an audience, building trust that can make starting additional ventures actually profitable for you. 

And you’re not starting from square one every single time. You have a competitive edge. And so no matter what you see yourself doing five years from now, I strongly believe that network marketing can be that piece that answers a lot of your questions. And so I do recommend looking into network marketing, direct selling, social selling, as that foot in the door.

I am an ideas person. I’m a strategic consultant. I’m an ideas person. I love pulling out the goodness from within someone that they have buried within themselves. People come to me and they’re like, I’m not smart. I don’t know how to do this.

Literally, within 30 minutes, we can pull out your next million dollar idea, but where to ultimately find me to see more of what’s involved and all that good stuff is. 

My podcast, the Stop the Hey Girl podcast, is currently on hiatus. We are re emerging with a new mission once I get through my hectic summer and get my bearings as I’m unapologetically stepping into actively as we speak, what I’m for in business right now. 

Because, again, we talked about network marketing and the goods and the things that we want to change. And I’ve been afraid to speak out about it before, but we’re talking more about it now because it’s important because I believe that people that want to be in business for themselves absolutely can with the right tools and the right support.

Maren:

And I can 100% vouch for you and all the hard work you do and how grateful I am for you. And I appreciate you coming on here and chatting, as always, and make sure you guys go check her out on Instagram. She’ll make you laugh, she’ll inspire you, and she will make you think like you’ll read her posts and you’ll say, Are you in my head? That’s the goal.

All right, my friend. Thank you.

If you wanna get more of this type of content, make sure you follow me on Instagram at @macrowley. And if you love this episode, let me know by tagging me on IG or even leaving a podcast review. See you next week.

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