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  Npros Interview with Mark Guest, CEO of The Benefits Network



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"If you plan to make $10,000 before the weekend, this isn't the deal for you. But if you're looking for a long-term residual income opportunity with a company that will go the distance, this is it."
-Mark Guest, CEO The Benefits Network

Npros: What are a few of your past experiences in the marketplace? (Great Successes and Failures that turned into great learning experiences?)

Mark Guest: Like so many in this industry, I was first exposed to the Network Marketing business environment by a friend. He invited me to a meeting being held in a local hotel here in Southern California. He mentioned that a group of successful, young and ambitious men and women, like ourselves, were getting together to review a new business model launching marketing efforts in the area. I went, liked the message and product and service being offered, and the rest is history. I've been active either full time or part time in the networking environment ever since.

That first exposure was an Irvine based firm, named FundAmerica, Inc. When I joined the organization in November of 1988, it was doing only $250,000 in sales revenue for the entire year. The next year, it was at approximately two-point-five million dollars, and then in 1990 the company was surging at a momentum pace and doing over two hundred million dollars for the year, and operating in a limited number of states by design.

My goal was to earn an extra five-hundred or thousand dollars a month. Being a recent college graduate, that seemed like an attainable goal. I actually ended up earning in excess of thirty-five thousand dollars per month as a lead Presidential Director and Field Trainer. My life was changed forever!

In June of 1990, FundAmerica experienced regulatory difficulty in Florida and other states. This was primarily due to the significant growth and misrepresentations made in the field, outside of the control of the company, of the income opportunity. With the "Black Eye" of being a labeled potential pyramid scheme, sales immediately declined and the attraction of the opportunity now had a blemish. Even though the firm was eventually vindicated, the damage was already done, and my income dropped from nearly a half-a-million annually to les then $40,000.00 in six months.

After leaving FAI due to lack of income and future opportunity. I then began consulting for small number of MLM start-up firms. As a consultant, I did not have the opportunity to gain real ownership. I then started a small networking travel firm with a good friend of mine from high school. Our idea was to create a referral travel agency, deriving its travel sales from outside independent travel agents.

TravelMax was created and the independent agent concept was Red Hot. The firm experienced significant growth, with gross sales of travel and travel related products and services nearing one-hundred million dollars in less then three years. Again, the company experienced growth challenges, this time from the inside out. The company infrastructure played a role in the firm not being able to go to the next level. TravelMax was soon after acquired and moved to Fort Lauderdale, Florida by a publicly traded firm. And still today many of the disciplines founded by the TravelMax initiative are regularly used by many travel related firms.

Now we have created a consumer friendly firm in The Benefits Network, Inc. I believe TBN is destined to become the premiere non-insurance Health Care Savings Program in America. By leading with product first, then the opportunity, we can more accurately address the firms challenges as it becomes a growing concern within the networking business space.

How do you see the current marketplace for direct marketing opportunities?

I'm not extremely impressed with most of the business models currently available in Network Marketing. Most are so flawed, that they don't have much of a chance once the Hype and Deceptiveness is gone. Which can take just a few weeks or even months in many cases. They tend to be driven only on the "opportunity", not a true value proposition for the end user.

How does TBN fit into your vision for that developing market?

TBN has been created with something else in mind. Not only member acquisition, but member retention. By outsourcing most of the "heavy lifting" that usually taxes a companies resources, our business model and firm can maintain a lateral ability to constantly address the changing market - be it adding additional benefits and value to our product line creating additional compensation advantages for our Affiliates. We are a firm taking advantage of online disciplines, like website replication and back-office technologies, but at the same time, use good old-fashioned off-line disciplines for those not looking to be heavily into the Internet.

What companies do you most respect in the market right now? What about their various business models have you incorporated into TBN to insure your success?

Well there are definitely a number of fine business's operating with Networking as their chosen distribution channel. But if I was to single one model out, I like the diligence and patience of Melaleuca. I remember when they launched so many said "not exciting, no real money can be made" etc... Yet here they are today, one of the most sought after opportunities in the world. Solid management, good consumable products, fair compensation plan. They also seem to manage as well as take care of their most valuable asset: their representatives.

So many business's within the networking environment today have from the beginning flaws in not only infrastructure, but in the business model. They may have short term success, but without a lot of LUCK, and enormous sales volume, they have no chance! It is those opportunities that give the MLM networking space such a bad reputation. People join these business's thinking that someone wouldn't start it if it didn't make sense, would they? But unfortunately many do.

Give us an overview of the short term and long term goals for TBN.

TBN is strictly a business opportunity, wrapped around a true customer acquisition and retention business model. Our short term goals are to establish a national network of Affiliates. We would prefer Affiliates that can make a spare-time or part-ime commitment. What I have found in dealing with this type of networker is manageable expectations surrounding the opportunity. They re not looking for $10,000-$25,000 by next week, or a month from joining the business. They are looking for a $10,000 to $25,0000 first year spare time or part time income to add to their current, often fixed incomes.

With this type of foundation, through the development of 10,000 to 20,000 Affiliates in the next few years, TBN's future is secured through the acquisiton of members. These members are enjoying significant savings in our benefits, and paying a monthly subscription affording TBN the ability to continually reward our Affiliates with true residual income. Re-occurring income from a onetime sale.

I foresee Affiliates deciding at a later date to go full time in TBN, simply because they can't afford to go to work, because their TBN income has become such a significant part of their lives. Imagine building a member organization of ten thousand or more member in time, and receiving a monthly residiual income on the benefits package for each member. Imagine the possibilities for our leading affiliates that join today and assist us in sharing the most powerful consumer service in the marketplace today, Health Care savings. I see some with member organizations in the tens of thousands, maybe more.

Can you describe the company products and benefits?

As a pioneer and innovator in the health care benefits industry, TBN is filling a necessary gap for millions of Americans. We do not attempt to serve as a replacement for insurance: rather, we have designed our benefits to offset the ever-increasing cost of health care here in the United States.

Here is just a sample of our benefits:

Pharmacy : up to 75% on specific name medications. Up to 50% on most short term medications
Physician Visit: Discounts on Doctors visits up to 30% at over 240,000 offices nationwide
Chiropractic Care: up to 50% on services
Vision Care:up tp 30% on eye exams and surgical procedures
Dental: up to 50% on most routine services

Thanks to Mark Guest, CEO of The Benefits Network for responding to our interview queries.
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Editors Note:

The Benefits Network folded. For more information on this and other closed companies, click here.