Start-Up Puts Money Where (Word of) Mouth Is

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Peter Perri, president of Web start-up Net.Marketing, doesn't mind the terms viral marketing or network marketing to describe the software his company will begin selling to e-commerce sites in early November. Just don't compare it to Amway.

E-businesses that purchase the software will be able to set up "refer a friend" programs that reward consumers with online currency for referrals to friends that end up in purchases.

Net.Marketing, Jupiter, FL, takes the viral aspect into Amway territory by allowing companies to reward participants for six levels of referrals. If a participant recommends a friend and that friend recommends a friend, the participant is rewarded on down the line until the sixth referral.

"Network marketing is a superior way to sell product," Perri said. "The difference between Net.Marketing and Amway is we pay you to get started. It's silly to charge someone to register with the program. And, there are no meetings and no calls to your friends. It's all done through e-mail."

The currency, called Clix, can be redeemed with a ClixCard. Each member receives a personal identification number that can be used at Mac and Plus automatic teller machines. Members can withdraw the cash equivalent of Clix points they've earned on a monthly basis.

"It's more cost-effective to mail out the cards once than cutting a check every month," Perri said.

Net.Marketing will launch by month's end, a business-to-consumer site that will promote all companies using its software.

"It's a value-add for people who are using it," Perri said. "We're spending our own marketing dollars to get people to the site. The free listing should give them an initial push of traffic."

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