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3 March 2011

What’s in a name

Editor’s Note: This blog post originally appeared on the Amway Answers blog.

I think it’s cool that my first name, Cynthia, means “Goddess of the Moon.” I’m neither a goddess nor an astronaut, yet it just seems to fit. I don’t think Heidi or Molly or Jenna would work.

The name that fits our business? The Amway business opportunity.

We’ve heard our business called by many other names. And frankly, they just do not fit.

Examples that we’ve heard – and that we consider deceptive – include the following: private franchise, wholesale buying club, virtual mall and tax shelter (one we particularly hate).

We’ve also heard Amway business opportunity meetings called things we don’t like or endorse, including “a financial seminar,” “ground floor investment opportunity” and even job interview.

Don’t get us wrong. We know that the name “Amway” triggers different reactions based on people’s history with, or perception of, our company. In inviting prospective distributors to talk further about their interest in becoming an entrepreneur, we don’t have the expectation that “Amway” will be thrown out in the first sentence.

But once it gets down to business, we do expect that. Once a person has said they want to earn a supplemental income, or help others become more financially stable, the transparent – and simply the right – thing to do is tell people that the opportunity they are considering is one powered by Amway.

So, if you hear us being called Heidi or Molly or Jenna instead, kindly let us know. We know this practice is diminishing, but we’d like to see it demolished.

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0 thoughts on “What’s in a name

  1. Nice post Cindy. Well said.

    My question is this- Is this a new policy that will need to be taught to all ibos and enforced by the Rules of Conduct?

    Or is this simply the opinion of a few of you at the home office?

    Thank you,

  2. “private franchise” is used a lot, there’s even CDs called Private Franchising (granted the specific one I have in mind is from about 4-5 years ago).

    Another fantastic post, and if this blog is indicative or where Amway is going (rather than personal opinion as Michman says) I’m very very happy with where the future for us IBOs is headed :)

    Cynthia another question–A lot of information that I see here I would NEVER know about if I didn’t read this blog. Yet there is some very basic, but important stuff on here. Is there a reason that such basic information on here is not communicated to active IBOs? If *everything* has to filter from the Crowns, to the EDCs, to the Diamonds…that’s just not very efficient, and it’s unnecessary with the communication technology available now. Now, with trade secret, legal, or confidential issues I can absolutely understand.

  3. I know the business overview we have with WWDB says “Network Marketing Business Model” and I assume as with the previous blog entry on A+ and approved BSM’s this was approved by Amway.

    I have no problem mentioning this is Amway to prospective people we take though an information process. This isn’t the 70′s where people hide what they were doing. If people still are then shame on them.

    I do agree with the previous comment from IBO in MD that communication to IBO’s about stuff that’s untrue (like the Debt Free Claim) should be done through the message dashboard within the Amway site to IBO’s. If Amway wants to help change its image and stop the spread of misinformation it needs to communicate that to IBOs. Until that is done the spreading of misinformation will continue.

    Same with the Amway Global name, I keep hearing that from time to time, it’s Amway now as of September 1st last year correct?

  4. Accurately representing the Amway business is a requirement of A+ Accreditation.

    Those LOAs seeking such accreditation (which is mandatory since only “accedited providers” of BSMs can offer their products and services) are contractually obligated *not* to use certain terms.

    ****

    Regarding past widely used and acceptable (at that time) terms, it will be interesting, given the eternal life of the Internet, how older information, which lives on in cyberspace, will be viewed by those “researching” the Amway Business, since such information is no longer applicable.

    *****

    Regarding communication with IBOs, I do feel that the info posted in the Message Center on the Amway.com website for IBOs, as well as emails that go out to “rank-and-file” IBOs is SO much better than just a couple of years ago.

    HOWEVER, :) I’d like to make one request: It would be nice if, posted somewhere, IBOs could look at the requirements for the A+ Accreditation. While I appreciate your commentary Cindy, can all IBOs look at the actual documentation? Wouldn’t that help in the accountability process, and in letting the Corp know of possible “inconsistencies?”

  5. Great questions and comments!

    Michman,

    Rules 8.1 – 8.19 address how the business opportunity can be presented, and we do follow up when we hear about misrepresentations. We don’t always hear about them, but social media channels like Twitter are changing that!

    IBO in MD,

    Your question reminded me of an article I just read on this very issue: http://bit.ly/fYQnVQ. Although it’s about employee communications, I believe the same applies and that modernization is a must, not an option. I can’t say too much about specific initiatives on our end, but will when I can!

    Shaun,

    September 1 is correct, although we realize a full-blown switch takes time. When we moved from Quixtar, there were hundreds of thousands of references to it because of the time, expense and mind shift involved in a name change. So, we remain patient.

    Bridgett,

    I will ask if this is in the works and if not, will recommend it.

  6. As recently as this week an IBO stated the following online:

    “We are not in Amway. We use them as a distributor for our company.”

    Is that an acceptable statement? I believe that could be considered inaccurate and perhaps dishonest.

  7. Hi Cindy, nice post!

    However, I am afraid your main message might have been contradicted by itself. See, basically, you would like IBOs to say, “It is the Amway business opportunity.”

    Yet, at the end, you said, “… the transparent – and simply the right – thing to do is tell people that the opportunity they are considering is ONE POWERED BY Amway.” (emphasis mine)

    Now, to say that “the opportunity is Amway” is conceptually NOT the same as saying “the opportunity is one powered by Amway”.

    Indeed, may I ask, is the Amway business opportunity POWERED BY Network21?

    Why not?

    What’s in a name? Everything, is it not?

    A good name is to be desired above all things, and it is like apples of gold in settings of silver.

    So, how can IBOs say, “We are Amway” when “We are NOT Amway”? You are Cindy, you are NOT Amway. Yes, you are WORKING FOR Amway, that is accurate.

    Just my 2 cents. :)

  8. Cindy,

    I’ve read this post a few times over the last week, and I’m trying to understand the timeline from meeting a potential prospect, to showing them the business opportunity, and what IBOs are to say.

    Are you saying that at the “invite” stage (which could happen at a first encounter or tenth encounter), when I potential IBO says that yes they want more info regarding an income-generating opportunity, and the IBO then invites that person to either sit down one-on-one (in person or virtually) or is invited to a “board plan” (in person or virtually) that at that point, the IBO is to tell them that this income-producing opportunity is the Amway business?

    I know I’m being technical, I’m trying to understand. And I want to know if this is what Amway prefers, or if an IBO would be considered breaking the Rules of Conduct if they do not say, at the “invite” stage, BEFORE the meeting in which they see the details of the Amway business, that they are in fact going to see the Amway business.

    1. Apologies for the delay. This is an inaccurate statement that we would not support. We expect distributors to tell prospects that the business opportunity they are considering is, in fact, the Amway business opportunity. It’s acceptable to say, “I am presenting you the (Approved Provider or Group Name) approach to the Amway compensation plan,” or even, “this business is powered by Amway and supported by (Approved Provider or Group Name). But it is not acceptable to describe the business opportunity in the way you described, and if you hear it again, please send us details in writing at bcr@amway.com.

  9. Rykel,

    If you are going to say that your business is “powered by Amway” then you’d use the phrasing, “supported by name-of-LOA.”

    Or that you are an IBO “powered by Amway and affiliated with name-of-LOA.”

    The point being that Amway is the business which is supported by an LOA, not the other way around.

    Amway is not a “supply partner” or a “contracting company” or an of the other misleading terms used to misrepresent the Amway business opportunity.

    What an LOA provides is a *strategy* of how to build an Amway business, an approach. But the LOA is not the Amway business.

  10. Bridgett, there are some links to the right on this Amway Answers page that link to various business organizations to which Amway belongs and supports. Here are some quotes from their Codes of Ethics that deal with the use of the so-called “curiosity approach.”

    They don’t answer your question specifically. But they all prohibit “misleading” the prospect. And require that distributors identify the company in an open, honest and meaningful way.

    And they certainly frown on the longstanding practice of hiding the Amway name until the end of the presentation (which I know you do not advocate).

    **********************************

    Direct Selling Association:

    “Member companies and their independent salespeople shall not present any selling opportunity to any prospective independent salesperson in a false, deceptive or misleading manner.”

    **********************************

    Word of Mouth Marketing Association:

    “Standard 1 – Disclosure of identity: A WOMMA member shall require their representatives1 to make meaningful disclosures of their relationships or identities with consumers in relation to the marketing initiatives that could influence a consumer’s purchasing decisions.

    “Standard 3 – Disclosure of relationship: A WOMMA member shall require their representatives involved in a word of mouth initiative to disclose the material aspects of their commercial relationship with a marketer.”

    **********************************

    World Federation of Direct Selling Associations:

    2.1 Prohibited Practices

    Direct Sellers shall not use misleading, deceptive or unfair sales practices.

    2.2 Identification

    At the initiation of a sales presentation, Direct Sellers shall, without request, truthfully and clearly identify themselves; the identity of their Company; the nature of their Products; and the purpose of their solicitation to the prospective Consumer.

  11. Cindy, I think the question Bridgett is asking is this- AT WHAT TIME are ibos required to tell people that this is the Amway opportunity?

    1- At the time the prospect is invited to see the business?

    2- At the beginning of the business opportunity presentation?

    3- At the end of the business opportunity? (I think you have answered this one already)

  12. ***Looks around****

    Was that directed at me Cindy?

    OK, then let’s take it one step further. If an IBO starts talking up someone about the business, and the potential says, “What is it?”

    Should the truth be told right then & there?

    What I’ve described above is how many, many people are first exposed to the perceived deception when people are prospecting for Amway.

    What’s Amway’s stance on this?

  13. OK, Cindy, you lost me. “It is not acceptable to describe the business opportunity in the way you described…” In what way and who described it?

    Apologies for the confusion. The “string” of comments, including my responses, isn’t in order. I was responding to Rocket, who asked if saying, “We are not in Amway. We use them as a distributor for our company,” was acceptable. It is not.

  14. Hi Bridgett, which of the following is THE correct response then?

    Prospect: “What is it?”

    IBO: “It is an Independent Business powered by Amway and supported by Network21″; or

    “It is an Amway Business powered by Amway and supported by Network21″; or

    “It is the Amway business”; or

    “It is the Amway business powered/supported by Network21″; or

    “It is the Network21 business powered/supported by Amway”?

    Is there a difference between “powered by Network21″ and “supported by Network21″?

    Also, is there a difference between Independent Business Owner (IBO) and Amway Business Owner (ABO)?

    Why can I not simply answer, “Have you heard of Network21?” (or TEAM/WWDB/INTERNET Services etc., for that matter)

    Or even, “Have you heard of Robert Kiyosaki’s Cashflow Quadrant?”

  15. Hi Rykel,

    IBO (Independent Business Owner) and ABO (Amway Business Owner) is not jargon. These are company-designated terms used in different Amway markets. As examples, in the U.S., we are called IBOs. In the UK they are called ABOs.

    Now on a broader picture regarding your other comments: You are in Singapore. I am in the U.S.

    In North America, an LOA (line of affiliation) must be an “Approved Provider” if they are going to provide Business Support Materials—such as CDs, books, events. In order to be an Approved Provider, an LOA must adhere to the guidelines outlined in the “Accreditation Plus” program.

    So while you are having an esoteric conversation, I am having a concrete one. Certain terminology are simply not acceptable *if* a North American Amway Independent Business Owner wishes to follow the guidelines.

    The way you are currently “prospecting” is what has been done for 25+ years here in North America and why these guidelines have been put in to place. Such tactics have hurt the Amway business, not helped it.

  16. Rykel, the answer is very simple. You are signing up for the Amway opportunity. People do not sign up for Network 21 unless they are involved in the Amway opportunity. Also, do you actually sell Network 21 products? I don’t think you do. In any case, it is deceptive to conceal the name of the company you are prospecting them to. It’s that simple.

  17. I don’t think Bridgett’s question regarding the timing of disclosure of the Amway name has been answered. The only thing related to this question that I could find in the rules of conduct is in the section on showing the IBO Plan: “8.3.3. [The registering IBO] Must verbally state the following at the beginning of the presentation: ‘The examples I will use are simply to show you how the Amway Independent Business Owner Compensation Plan works. They are not intended to project or promise any actual earnings. I’m giving you a brochure that fully describes the Amway Independent Business Owner Compensation Plan and contains average profits, earnings, and sales figures and percentages. …’”

    Cindy writes in the article above, “In inviting prospective distributors to talk further about their interest in becoming an entrepreneur, we don’t have the expectation that “Amway” will be thrown out in the first sentence.” Therefore, I’m concluding that the latest time when “Amway” *must* be stated is at the beginning of the IBO Plan presentation.

    Most of us probably agree that if a prospect asks “What is it?” or “Is it Amway” at any time during the path from first contact to the IBO Plan, we must answer, “Amway” and “Yes”.

  18. rykel said: Why can I not simply answer, “Have you heard of Network21?” (or TEAM/WWDB/INTERNET Services etc., for that matter)

    Here is how Amway’s Rules of Conduct (North America) addresses your repy:

    8.1. Must Not Give False Impression: When inviting a prospect to hear a presentation of the IBO Plan, an IBO shall neither directly nor indirectly through another IBO:

    8.1.6. directly or indirectly indicate that such products are merely one line of products distributed through or as a part of a brokerage operated by a person, company, or organization other than the Corporation,

    8.1.7. directly or indirectly indicate that the Corporation’s business, IBOs, or products and services merchandised through the Corporation are part of any business other than the Corporation.

    If North American IBOs are making direct or indirect claims like the ones you posted, it would seem they are prohibited by Amway’s rules.

  19. Hi Derek, this will have to be handled with customer service in your local market. What country do you live in?

    1. OK, the best place for you to get the information you need is by calling customer service at 1-800-253-6500. They should be able to help you or at least get you to the right place. Good luck!

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