With an encore appearance on Donald Trump’s Celebrity Appearance set for late March, 2011, ACN is poised for yet another boost in sales and rep signups.
With a reach of over 8 million viewers per week, how is ACN’s appearance alongside the American billionaire going to affect product sales, representative enrollment, and the overall credibility of the business?
The ACN founders appeared on Celebrity Apprentice in 2009, on an infamous episode that included a meltdown by basketball bad boy Dennis Rodman. The most shocking result of the show, however, was the 49% increase in both new customers and representative recruitment for the company.
Here, we’re offering a complete ACN review:
The Early Days – The Story Behind ACN
In 1993, four businessmen launched ACN: Greg Provenzano, Robert Stevanovski, Mike Cupisz, and Tony Cupisz. Over 17 years later, the four are still actively involved in day-to-day activities.
They started with 20 representatives, and in the first year alone made about $2 million dollars. Five years later, it was listed on the Inc. 500’s list of fastest growing businesses (it ranked #22) and was generating $98 million dollars in profits.
Today, the company operates in over 20 countries, and offers products tailored to the specific countries they’re sold in. They operate out of a facility in Concord, North Carolina.
Product Offerings – What Exactly Does ACN Do?
ACN offers a wide variety of business services and solutions: phone services, home security, video phone services, wireless solutions, satellite TV, computer support, high speed internet, and even energy.
There are a few different ways ACN operates with this broad variety of offerings. They sell branded telephone services (like long distance) by purchasing from bulk providers like AT&T, and reselling the service in their own name. They also act as service providers for bigger telecommunications services, signing up new members to receive service under the original brand name (like AT&T or Verizon). Finally, ACN sells specifically ACN services, like VOIP and videophones.
ACN Review – Scam, or Good Investment?
There’s been a lot of criticism behind ACN, and for valid reasons. Although the company’s been around for awhile, there are many, many disgruntled former reps. Stories of reps leaving ACN penniless have been a huge factor in the criticism.
The first real “red flag” for many potential reps is the initial investment. At $499 for start-up costs (dubbed “the investment in the company”), ACN’s barrier to entry is higher than many other MLM’s. But with so many reps claiming that it’s an incredibly tough market, why the high initial fee?
That question goes unanswered. Although ACN board members and founders have publicly spoken about their company, they claim that no money is made from reps unless the reps acquire new customers. One of the company’s legal advisors, Bob Stephan, also admitted in an interview that in fact, most reps don’t make much money.
Adding to the “scam” criticisms are a slew of lawsuits and charges against the company, originating in Canada, Australia, France, and even Pennsylvania, concerning pyramid scheme laws. In most cases, charges were dropped or settled, or ACN was forced to pay a small fee.
With this information, it seems like ACN has a questionable reputation. But looking at the other side of the coin, it’s a completely different story.
Donald Trump so strongly believes in ACN as a business model that he’s endorsed his name to it, and included the founders in speaking and public events. Many reps, like Brett and Kim Morelock, have had huge success with the company in only a few years. ACN has operated successfully for 17 years.
The bottom is that, while there are a lot of unhappy reps who haven’t found success with ACN, it’s not a scam. Legally or ethically.
The real criticism doesn’t necessarily belong to the company, but to the network marketing industry as a whole. New reps, often with little business experience, believe that by aligning themselves with an MLM company, they can find huge profits with little work and little knowledge.
This just isn’t true. While you don’t need an MBA to be an expert network marketer, you do need to take the time to learn about the inner-workings of the business.
You need to be able to target specific groups of customers. Manage a credible web-front to reach millions of potential users. Understand the psychology of buying. Create great SEO for your personal branch. Have an in-depth understanding of business practices, managing money, and making good investments.
Many people have taken time to learn these principles and apply them. And many have succeeded in MLM’s like ACN. But the true determination of success is really up to the individual, to seek out learning opportunities to create a successful business.
An Analysis – What Will Increased Exposure do for ACN?
As ACN ramps up it’s PR and prepares for another Celebrity Apprentice, consider how this is going to affect you as a new representative. Product knowledge will be higher than ever before. But there also may be a slew of new reps in the market who are also just learning about the opportunity. If ACN is something you’re interested in pursuing, it may be in your best interest to get a jump ahead of the curve, and start learning how to succeed with the program before the market fills.Photo Credits: kirschanblyden, rainmanmarketing, cedrichouston, tomhauville