Can you believe the changes in communication technology we have witnessed over the past 10 years? Remember the days of black and white TV and the telephone ‘party line’? Today, we live in a world of websites, e-mail, pop-ups (not a breakfast bar), spam (no longer in a can), CDs and cell phones. As you work your AIM business, do you ever feel that you are drowning in a world of techno-expectations when all you want to do is sit at your kitchen table with your index cards and telephone? Do you feel yourself being inexorably propelled toward actually turning on that computer in the corner? Perhaps your head aches at the thought of trying to thread your way through the maze of techno-options, cyber-vocabulary, cables and calling plans.
Join the club; you are not alone. New technology can be a source of ulcers for those of us who feel more creative with a pencil than a keyboard and find ourselves much more resistant to dialing our modem than our telephone. Let’s take a moment to breathe (breathe in, breathe out). Good. Now, repeat after me, “Technology is my friend. Technology is my friend.” The first step in sorting out the cyber maze is remembering that technology is a tool for us to use, not a tyrant bent on conquering us. Let’s think about how technology may serve us.
What would you like to see working more efficiently in your AIM business? Perhaps your list looks like this:
- Find new customers.
- Follow through more regularly with current customers.
- Keep up with downline promotions, qualifying orders, etc.
- Have more time to do things other than my business.
Technology can help. The foremost benefit technology should provide for you (after the initial learning phase) is to free up your time, allowing you to focus your personal time and attention on what you do best, and have time left over for what you enjoy. How can technology help you?
Follow-through: the e-mail advantage
How much does it cost you in time and expense to send out a newsletter or make a long distance call confirming an order? If you send most of your newsletters by e-mail, use automated e-mails for standard responses like order confirmations, end-of-the-month reminders and inquiry responses, you have more time, energy, and money left to focus on those areas that need your personal touch. This approach has been called ‘high-tech/high-touch.’ Use high-tech for those areas that don’t require personal attention and high-touch for those areas where only voice-to-voice or person-to-person contact will do.
Possible high-tech activities:
> Order confirmations
> Order reminders
> Promotion reminders
> Qualifying order reminders
> Quarterly newsletters (maximum—two to three e-pages)
> Weekly Tips (maximum—half an e-page)
> Inquiry e-packets (key information for first contacts)
Using technology to perform recurring tasks saves you dozens of hours—hours you can redirect toward coaching and mentoring people, working through customers’ health problems, creating new ideas for advertising or taking in a concert now and then.
Once you become comfortable with e-mail, you can carry on vibrant long-distance relationships with downline and customers via e-mail, saving telephone conversations for the times when a personal touch is important. Many people prefer e-mail contact because it is less intrusive, gives the receiver the option of when to respond, and eliminates the need for envelope, stamp, address, and paper!
Getting the word out: website wisdom
Is a website the answer for your AIM business? Perhaps…however, in the world of websites, it is not a case of ‘build it and they will come.’ We often think of a website as our storefront on the Internet. Actually, websites are more meeting places than storefronts. In an actual mall, with shops and eateries, location is everything. If your store is in a good location, people see it and drop in. On the Internet, no one is walking by your store accidentally. Having a great website is not enough.
You must find ways to get the word out and bring people to your website. This might be done through using key words called ‘metatags’ that help your site show up early in online searches. You may also pay for early placement in search engines. You might bring people into your business via banner ads on high traffic websites like Amazon.com or health-oriented sites.
Your website can serve as your storefront to the world; provided you bring the world to your door. As a storefront, you can provide information on AIM products, offer nutritional coaching, give business opportunity information and accept orders for product.
A few handy websites:
> www.mlmwoman.com provides many articles and ideas regarding working your business ethically online.
> www.nmsnow.com provides helpful tutorials regarding auto-responders, pay per click sites, etc.
> www.ahbbo.com focuses on how to successfully operate a home-based business, including a Network marketing business, online.
> www.home-based-business-opportunities.com also provides tips on working from home via the Internet.
Websites can serve several functions. Your website may also serve your current downline and customers by providing around-the-clock access to information and ordering. You can create a forum or bulletin board where your downline can share testimonies and questions; a virtual online community. Consider how you would like to use your website before going to the time and expense of designing your site. Just like a home, it is important to determine function before design.
Websites are not the only high-tech way to get the word out. You can place banner ads that connect people with your
e-mail. A well-crafted automatic reply to banner ad responses can be very effective, even if you do not have a website. If you send out a weekly nutritional e-mail tip to customers, encourage them to offer the tips to friends. As those friends sign up for your weekly tips, you may introduce them to AIM products and develop new customers.
Have you heard of CD business cards? You can place a great deal of compelling, visual information on a CD the size and shape of a business card. Your contact information is imprinted on the surface of the CD; however, when a potential customer puts the CD card into his or her computer, they experience short, dynamic video clips and can explore more information than you could give them in a dozen data sheets.
Remember, technology is your tool for freeing up time to do what you enjoy most. Use the time you save to focus on what you really love to do. Now, repeat, “Technology is my friend.”
Getting started on the Net
To begin working on the Internet you will need the following:
- A computer: Look for a purchase plan that includes technical support and warranty.
- A connection: A modem allows you to dial up to the Internet through your phone line. DSL (digital subscriber line) or connecting through a cable TV company is a faster option if available in your area. New wireless connections are also becoming common. Shop for a wireless service that provides a fast connection speed and security for your connection.
- An Internet Service Provider (ISP): Your Internet service provider is your link to the Internet. Usually, your ISP will provide your e-mail service.
- Internet software: Most new computers come with Internet software installed. Your ISP can provide you with software if you are using an older computer.
- A guidebook: It is well worth the cost to choose a basic guide to Internet use. Make sure the guide is copyrighted 2003 or later.