Watching the network marketing industry over the past couple of years has been like watching the annual migration of Swifts in my home town, Portland. They cower in a dark chimney, while certain predators hang out, enjoying a nice meal every evening.

Allow me to explain.

Each fall, a tiny bird called the Swift begins to gather just before dusk. At first you see a few in the late afternoon sky. Slowly, they arrive from God knows where, until there are thousands swarming above.

Within minutes of the sun setting below the west hills, the Swifts begin to form a massive funnel, swooping in great masses into a 100+ year old chimney. They continue swarming, swooping, and diving until the last Swift is safely inside the chimney for the evening.

Meanwhile, one or two steady-eyed predators sit at the lip of the chimney, plucking a nice fat meal from the swarming masses every few minutes.

To my outsider’s eye, many of the network marketers I have known are like those Swifts. Most probably don’t know why they swarm or sleep in a dank chimney, but they feel the comfort of the masses.

Over the past two years I have worked with network marketers on marketing their businesses. I have created a duplicatable (replicating) web site designed to help them recruit new distributors into their downline.

I’ve worked with the network marketing heavy hitter, who asks good qualifying questions, has spent years in MLM (Multilevel marketing), and has been a mentor to many. These are the people who have built vast networks with many levels, and have worked with every possible form of compensation plan — Binary, Matrix, Unilevel… you name it, they’ve done it.

I’ve also spoken with the network marketing newbie. This is the person who hates going into a cold market, despises prospecting, and spends more than they make in commissions every month on their auto ship program.

While all these network marketers might differ in their approach to business, everyone agrees on one thing: network marketing has fallen into a dismal slump.

Network marketing is presented as the fulfillment of a dream. It’s your way out of the rat race… a path to financial freedom.

The problem is that fewer than 5% of the people who go into network marketing ever make a decent living at the business. And more recently, the whole industry has acted like a bunch of chickens with their heads lopped off.

We’re in a recession, dummy…

Under normal circumstances, network marketing companies can survive quite well. Whether it’s selling hyped-up tropical fruit juices, green lipped mussel extract, or skin cleanser that will make you look 20 years younger, each company gathers its teeming masses of “Swifts” and streams down their respective chimneys together, safe in the belief that “our products save lives” and that “we’ll all get rich.”

But something terrible happens during a recession. People stop buying “dreams.”

They go back to basics, buying what they need, saving for the future, and putting their dreams off until things improve.

That’s why my network marketing friends have sputtered and floundered of late. They can’t seem to talk anyone into buying or selling the mostly over-priced supplements or beauty aids for the simple reason that nobody really needs these things.

They’re luxuries, and people stop spending their hard-earned money on luxuries during a recession. And this brings me back to “going green.”

Green Cleaning Products: The savior of network marketing?

Whether you firmly believe that network marketing is a scam, or you are a network marketing zealot who sees it as the best thing since sliced bread, there’s one thing I bet I can get you to agree to: “Green” is good.

We’re at the frontline of a revitalized green movement. The government has finally admitted that maybe global warming is bad and saving the environment is good. Closer to home, more parents are coming to the conclusion that spreading toxic chemicals around their homes can’t be good for their kids.

So when one of my clients wanted me to help with his marketing of a new company that sells green cleaning products, my ears perked up. I thought, “My goodness. A network marketing company that sells a real, live useful product.”

What intrigues me most about this business is that they’re attempting something no other network marketing company (to my knowledge) has done before: it’s as much about the vision of ridding the planet of toxic chemicals as it is about financial freedom.