November 01, 2011
Changing Lives in 45 Minutes
by Barbara Seale
Instant gratification. We all want it, but in some cases it’s really hard to find. If 45 minutes is instant enough, you’ll get it at It Works! Global.
That’s the philosophy of this direct seller. The company’s distributors introduce prospects to its flagship product, the Ultimate Body Applicator, by actually applying it for 45 minutes to the body part the prospect would like to tighten, tone and firm—tummy, neck, arms, legs, even face. They’re all fair game. Imagine a room full of people, each with a wrap that has been infused with a botanically based formula on some body part while a person at the front of the room enthusiastically makes a presentation. That’s the It Works! experience. While the applicator does its work detoxifying the skin and reducing inches, the distributor explains the products and business opportunity.
At the end of 45 minutes, the company’s choice of name becomes obvious. Co-Founder and CEO Mark Pentecost says that over and over people exclaim, “It works!”
“You can almost count on it,” Pentecost reports. “In the company’s first weeks, we were on the road to another name, but it kept happening. People would put on the product, and 45 minutes later they would say, ‘It works!’ So finally we said we ought to name the company It Works! because that’s what we kept hearing.”
Pentecost asserts that in under an hour, people can begin to change their lives—their appearance, their health and their finances. And thousands are doing it. It Works! Global has had 436 percent growth over the last three years, and this year it has broken its own monthly records over and over again. In July the company shipped its millionth order, and in August It Works! Global paid commissions to almost 10,000 distributors.
Today’s skyrocketing growth is the result of a lot of hard work and a restrained approach to business building that started 10 years ago. It all began when Pam Sowder, one of the company’s founders and now the company’s Director of Marketing, learned about the Ultimate Body Applicator. She called her friend Mark Pentecost to tell him about it.
But Pentecost wasn’t interested. He recalls, “I didn’t think it was something I needed at the time, but then my wife Cindy said, ‘Mark, if that works… . ’ Now, Cindy is more quiet and reserved than I am, but she called her best friend and told her what she had heard and that she planned to go to a demonstration. Her friend said, ‘You’d better not come back without one for me.’ Then the friend called back, saying her daughter wanted one for her chin. At that point, I thought, if these laid-back ladies are getting excited about this product, this thing could move the masses.”
With his background in both coaching and network marketing, Pentecost knew how to put together a team. He says he has read every get-ahead book ever written. He had been a highly successful distributor for a major direct selling company, so when he stopped thinking of the Ultimate Body Applicator as a product and began viewing it as a business opportunity, he naturally thought of direct selling.
“Network marketing had such an impact on my life,” he recalls. “I knew that when I started my company, I wanted it to be in this industry. I don’t know any other industry like it. It’s been life-changing for me, and I want to pass that on.”
With Sowder as his founding partner, Pentecost started slowly, investing his own money in the business, building a strong team and laying a solid, debt-free foundation. A decade later that same team is still in place.
“We’re like the Frank Sinatra of this industry,” he jokes. “We do things our way. We put roots down so that if people choose to build with us, they can know we’ll be here tomorrow.”
(left to right) The It Works! Global staff: Erin VanderVeen, Krista Rapa, Colin Ellsworth, Doug Nooney, Jenn Ellsworth, Wally Neeson, Kristina DeBruler, Cindy Pentecost, Mark Pentecost, Kindsey Neeson, Steve Radius, Chris Burns.
The Magic of Momentum
Pentecost and his team began building their business in smaller markets instead of in big cities. They advised new distributors to look within their own contacts for customers and prospective distributors, while the corporate managers gradually built everything from staff to inventory to IT systems. They kept their marketing message simple: “Give us 45 minutes and you’ll see results.” Sticking to the basics laid the foundation that would keep the company humming when exponential growth kicked in.
“My principles as a coach were to always be in the game to win. So we just kept working,” he says. “The first few years we were growing, but not fast. But we kept on growing and paying our bills. We simplified our product from two steps to one, and kept working with the same leadership and the same corporate team. After a few years, we had a great unit. When the economy took a dive, we had no economic pressures, because in 2007 we took the company debt-free. That allowed us to become aggressive. Economy aside, when people have something that works and that they can believe in, it changes their lives.”
These days the basics include a series of meetings around the country where Pentecost and his executive team tell packed houses of distributors and prospects how It Works! can change their lives. When new distributors sign on—typically because they’ve seen success with the products—It Works! is ready to support them.
It Works! provides distributors with a roadmap it calls Steps to Success. The four-step system includes purchasing the It Works! Business Builder System, getting on auto-ship to qualify for monthly commissions, having a launch event to gather four “Loyal Customers” and two new distributors in the first 30 days, and building to the executive rank. Leaders like to say that It Works! isn’t a party-plan company, but its distributors love to party.
It Works! Director of Distributor Relations Wally Neeson says that the company works hard to keep things simple, even providing an online, interactive 14-day calendar that spells out exactly what to do during each day of the first two weeks of business. The rookie’s sponsor reinforces and assists as long as necessary, and conference calls underscore each step of the success plan.
“People need something simple,” Neeson says. “There’s too much chaos in everyone’s lives right now. So we set up simple systems that are appealing to people whether they work at their It Works! business full time or a couple of hours a week.”
Firm Customer Base
Neeson notes that the term “Loyal Customer” has a specific meaning at It Works! They are the customers who commit to purchase products for at least three consecutive months. Their commitment gives them reduced product pricing, and their purchases generate three months of residual income for their distributor and also help to trigger several different bonuses. Loyal Customers are the foundation for the It Works! compensation plan.
It Works! has found that when Loyal Customers use a product such as the Ultimate Body Applicator for three months, they then tend to buy other products, plus they continue to use the applicator. One It Works! product, Defining Gel, is specifically formulated to be used as part of the Ultimate Body Applicator regimen. But the applicator makes It Works! unique and is the door-opening product. Once customers start seeing results, they often modify their lifestyles. They get inspired to eat better and exercise, for example. And when they do, It Works! is poised to help them as they start to take better care of themselves. In addition to the body-shaping Ultimate Body Applicator, It Works! dietary supplements operate with the body to provide nutrition and support for varying needs, including detoxification, alkalizing, and even stress management. In addition, it offers a line of skincare products and a structured weight-loss program called FITworks.
Distributors learn about those products with the help of product coaches—subject matter experts such as Don Verhulst, M.D., the company’s Chief Science Officer. Known to distributors as Dr. Don, Verhulst has an extensive background in researching the effects of nutrition and natural remedies on common health issues. The company’s products are based on natural, botanical substances, and Dr. Don has the skinny on all of them. His partner in product prowess is the company’s Product Development Specialist Luis Mijares, who orchestrates the creation of one-of-a-kind products that are safe, effective and grounded in natural, botanical principles. Mijares’ early passion for research and development in the skincare, nutritional, pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries eventually led to his development of phytoceuticals—cosmetic products that prevalently use raw, natural ingredients from plants to produce real, therapeutic benefits. The third leg of the product-coaching triumvirate is Carla Burns, a registered nurse and certified personal trainer. Burns has studied natural remedies and holistic medicine for more than 15 years. She is the creator of both the company’s online interactive weight-loss community FITworks and the exclusive It Works! It’s Essential meal-replacement bar.
All three individuals provide personal and online coaching to distributors, answering questions and educating them on the benefits and the science behind It Works! products. Pentecost notes that every product is based in solid science—including the Ultimate Body Applicator, which is infused with a botanically based formula to detoxify the skin, thus delivering maximum tightening, toning and firming results when applied. But remember the desire for immediate gratification? Pentecost says people are typically most excited by the results they see in just 45 minutes.
Distributors also get the benefit of the company’s extensive marketing program. It reaches far beyond brochures and product videos, placing products in the spotlight at high-visibility venues such as the Oscars and the Emmy Awards. At the Emmys, celebrities such as Paula Abdul, Leeza Gibbons, Seth Green and many others took applicators home with them. On Oscar night one of the company’s top distributors had the star-studded experience of distributing applicators to many of Hollywood’s elite. The result: high-profile buzz.
Buzz, of course, is what network marketing is all about. Neeson says that’s why It Works! founders chose this industry to market its enduring flagship product.
“The Ultimate Body Applicator is so unique and so exclusive, there’s no product out there better for a word-of-mouth approach,” he says. “Experiencing this product and getting results so quickly make it unique. With network marketing, you have time to talk with people and hear what their goals are. In that same 45-minute timeframe, they get an opportunity to see their own results. And with direct selling, so many thousands of lives can be changed for the better.”
Neeson and Pentecost are enjoying the momentum that the leaders and the field have created through their hard work. The company’s success let it move its headquarters from Grand Rapids, Mich., to Bradenton, Fla., in February. Pentecost is proud that the entire It Works! Grand Rapids management team made the move south, bolstering the sluggish local real estate market. In addition, the company has already provided 44 new jobs this year. Concurrent with the move, Pentecost checked off one item from his bucket list: He bought a golf course. Stoneybrook Golf Club provides a recognition venue that few other companies can match, and this year they started recognizing top producers monthly at what it calls “Green Carpet Days,” a name that’s a nod to the company’s green and black colors. There’s recognition, information, training, testimonials and social hours—all fuel to stoke distributor enthusiasm. And of course, there’s the golf course. The events have become standing-room only.
“We want to be different, to be innovators. And we want to be located in a destination area,” Pentecost explains. “When people come to the corporate headquarters, we want to teach them to dream again. Whatever has happened in the past, they can take a deep breath, and see what It Works! can pour into their lives. It’s not just about the golf. But it’s a great location. To kick off our first major event in Florida, we hosted a party the It Works! way. At the first hole, we had a masseuse. At the second, we served the best appetizers from local restaurants. At the end of the day, we took the group of people to some of the most famous beaches to watch the sunset. Then we drew a line in the sand and people realized that they are in control of their lives and what we could build together with this company. We’ve watched people realize that they can dream again.”
As that momentum builds, It Works! will continue to manage the growth, both through international growth—the company already has customers in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, the European Union and Australia—and additional products. Pentecost says the company will take a measured approach to both.
“One of the things the board has talked about is that there’s no universal language, but there’s a universal need for our products,” he says. “We’ll continue to expand, but we’ll continue the model we have. We’re having phenomenal growth in all of our countries, but we’ll take expansion one step at a time just as we’ve done since the beginning.”
When the company considers new products, each must be complementary to the Ultimate Body Applicator, just as existing products are. The whole company is focused on the door-opening Ultimate Body Applicator as its core product, with everything else revolving around it. After all, Pentecost says, the applicator changes lives.
Pentecost knows that this success would not be possible without the company’s leaders and customers. He notes that Loyal Customers are the foundation for the It Works! compensation plan and leaders from around the world are creating life-changing incomes through their hard work.
“People are looking for something to believe in,” he summarizes. “The last 10 years were about bringing us to this point. Now it’s about the next 10. It’s about the people and how we can change lives. We challenge our people right now to make over their lives. We want to impact lives and see results.” Then he adds, “I love being a hope broker.”