If you’ve been looking for ways to build an income online, chances are the term “top tier” came up somewhere along the lines.
It sounds cool, but what the heck does it actually mean?
I intend to answer that very question in this article. I’ll also give you some scope into how this business model works so you can decide for yourself how worthwhile it is.
Sound good? Ok. Let’s dive in…
What Is a Top Tier Business?
According to oxforddictionaries.com, top-tier means “of the highest level or quality”. So a top-tier business can include any business offering high priced and/ or quality products.
For the purpose of this article however, a top tier business is a home based business opportunity with higher than average startup costs.
In other words, a ‘bizop’ with a high buy-in price.
A few popular examples of top tier businesses are Digital Altitude, MOBE and AWOL Academy. But there are many others in operation, these are just some of the more popular sites that operate within the ‘make money’ niche.
The reason top tier bizops exist, is to systemise the selling of high ticket products.
It’s no secret that selling higher priced products on the internet can be very lucrative. But it’s no easy task. Getting someone to part with 50 bucks is one thing, but asking them to fork out $10-$20k is quite another.
So these business opportunities aim to make selling high priced products easier. Which in turn can make you larger commissions as one of their affiliates.
How Do Top Tier Businesses Work?
Top tier businesses have systems in place to make getting higher ticket sales easier for you than if you attempted to go it alone from scratch.
The way it works is relatively simple…
The company prices their products low to begin with, but they also have ‘tiers’ of higher priced products available. In this way, a customer may start out buying a low priced product to begin with. But, over time, they are ‘eased’ into spending much larger amounts of money. Which in turn makes you, the affiliate, larger commissions from the same customer.
These lower priced products are often referred to as ‘front end offers’ and cost typically under a hundred dollars. The higher priced products are known as ‘backend offers’ which can run up into the $10,000’s.
I’ve seen some companies with a front end offer for $49, offer backend products for as much as $100k.
In the world of marketing, this is referred to as the foot in the door technique. Whereby you get people ‘in the door’ at a low price point, with the underlying goal of upselling them into much higher ticket products.
This model does work and it’s how many bizops in the ‘top tier’ space operate.
But it’s also highly controversial. And it’s important to understand that, just as you are encouraging people to buy higher priced products, the same is being done to you.
Most top tier companies are ‘pay to play’ too. Which means, in order to earn the higher level commissions, you need to buy the higher level products yourself.
And it’s more than just an ‘optional upgrade’ too.
If you do not upgrade, you are leaving money on the table. In many cases, your business will simply not be profitable unless you are qualified at the higher levels.
Why? Because the cost of acquiring a customer is often higher than the commission you receive for selling any of the front end offers.
At least, if you intend on using paid traffic to promote the system, which many affiliates do. So the real money is not made until the customer you’ve referred progresses through to the higher levels themselves. And if you’re not qualified if/ when they do buy, you miss out on the sals. The same sales that make your business profitable.
Top Tier Business Opportunities and MLM
Most top tier companies have a multilevel marketing component. As in, they payout commissions on more than one ‘level’.
Here’s the difference between this and a standard affiliate program…
A traditional affiliate program pays as an affiliate for sales they generate directly. Amazon is a good example of this. If you promote Amazon products on your website, you’ll earn a commission whenever someone buys through your affiliate link. There are many affiliate programs like this though, some more profitable than others.
A top tier business (at least the one’s I’ve seen) pay affiliates on TWO levels. So you earn commissions whenever you refer a buyer directly. But you also earn commissions whenever your referrals recruit someone into the business. Some mistakenly say that operating on two levels means it’s not MLM. Wrong. There may only be two levels, which is less than most MLM’s, but you are still earning income on ‘multiple levels’.
Multilevel marketing isn’t a scam in and of itself. But it is important to understand that these companies are a lot more about recruiting than just selling products.
So what tends to happen with these top tier opportunities is, the whole thing becomes a ‘system’ where you join and get others to join, and so on.
Why People LOVE The Top Tier Model
Now that I’ve explained what a top tier business is and how it works, I’m now going to highlight the main reasons people like and dislike them. Starting with why people love them…
The Lure of Big Money
Who doesn’t want to earn large commissions, right? Yep.
People that join systems are ultimately looking for the larger commissions from each customer. Only a small amount will convert, but bigger commissions are possible within these systems.
This is without a doubt one of the main reasons people go for systems like this.
It is true that systems like this make it easier to earn high ticket commissions as an affiliate. But there are equally high profits to be made promoting lower ticket products too. It ultimately comes down to mastering whatever business model you’re working with.
Some people make a fortune with Google Adsense, which pays pennies per click. I’m not saying that’s a better option, I prefer affiliate marketing, but it shows you what is possible from the other side of the spectrum.
Some Aspects Are ‘Done For You’
Many of these business opportunities are more like a ‘system’ whereby you buy in and convince others to do the same. As such, many of the sales funnels leading into them are already made. So affiliates can essentially ‘just add traffic’.
This certainly sounds good. But that’s not quite how it works.
The biggest reason being, popular sales funnels have a shelf life. They may convert well for a time, but when hordes of other affiliates are out there promoting the same thing, the message becomes far less effective.
Which is why many turn to ‘re-branding’ the product, as if it’s another product entirely. When in reality, they are promoting the same old system. This is what the most successful affiliates in these businesses do. Unfortunately, it costs a lot of money to develop these custom funnels (beyond your initial buy in price).
Earning Money On Multiple Levels
Earning money from your referral’s referrals’ is essentially leveraging other people’s efforts to make you money. This is the big selling point of most MLM companies.
While this can be lucrative, it’s also where this business model gets a bit shady in my opinion.
Why? Because the overwhelming majority of people who join these systems do not succeed. This is a well documented fact.
So what happens is, those making the ‘big money’ are often doing so at the expense of the people who ‘didn’t make it’. So it becomes this big recruiting game where you sell people the dream and make the majority of your income doing so. Despite the fact that most people don’t even realise that dream.
Now to be fair, you could argue that most people don’t succeed at online business period. Which is true. Success does come down to how much effort you put in. Regardless of the business model you are working with.
But this is still something to consider. I guess how much weight you place on this comes down to you personally. I also think it comes down to how valuable the products are to do more than just promote the same system.
Why People HATE The Top Tier Model
The top tier business model is not a scam, but it is highly controversial. Here’s some of the main reasons people don’t like top tier businesses to show you what I mean…
The Price Tag Is Very High
This is the thing that turns many people off and it’s also why many consider it a scam.
To me, a high price doesn’t make something a scam. It comes down to what you are getting for your money. Price is only an issue in the absence of value.
Meaning, if the value you receive is on par with the price, there’s no issue. Good and well. Some of these companies do overcharge people though. Without a doubt.
Massive Upselling Built Into The System
At one time I was dead against upselling. This is mostly because I’ve lost a lot of money to fake internet gurus who sell you something, then immediately ask for more money afterwards. Then deliver a BS product. It’s very common.
However, being objective, upselling itself is not a scam. I think it comes down to how the upsells are marketed and how vital they are for you to purchase.
As in, are the upsells promoted in a misleading way and do you really need to buy the upsell in order to achieve what the first product said it would do for you?
This is when things get unethical in my opinion.
Promoting The Same System You Just Joined
The whole point of these businesses is to promote the same system you just joined.
Most regular affiliate programs allow you to be a customer and promote the offer too. Absolutely. But these systems are geared to teach you how to promote the same thing, more so than it being optional.
So you’ve essentially join a ‘business opportunity’ that is all about teaching you how to promote the same business opportunity to others. Round and round it goes.
Promoting the same program you use is not a problem in and of itself. But when a company is heavily focussed on recruiting versus selling products to genuine (non-affiliate) customers, across multiple levels, it gets sketchy. This is why some label these business opportunities as pyramid schemes in disguise.
Conclusion – Is Top Tier Worth It For You?
Top Tier Business opportunities have their good points. The main one being, you can make significant profits from fewer sales. So if you have the money to pour into it, and you believe in the company, it may be worth it for you.
In any case, top tier is not the only way to create a substantial income online. You don’t need to spend $10,000’s to be successful. There are many products you can promote within free affiliate programs, to suit any audience and price point. In a way that makes you just as much, if not more, money.
Regardless of what company you join, the most important thing to do is educate yourself and build YOUR business. Any one company can potentially go bust at any time, so you really want to build your business for longterm profitability. Which means educating yourself to be a skilled internet marketer.
This way, it doesn’t matter what happens to any one company. You will always be in a position to profit from the massive opportunities that exist within the online space.
Hope you enjoyed the article! My name is Tim and I’m the creator of Affiliate UNguru. I started this site out of a passion to help others avoid scams and to share how I’ve been able to create a successful business online. You can see how I did it in this free training.