Your MLM sucks.
And it’s not just me that thinks it. We ALL abhor your MLM. NOBODY likes it. Unless you work for an MLM. And even then you hate ALL OTHER MLMs except your own. Even YOU find other MLMs obnoxiously annoying on social media. We know you do.
Let me preface my rant by saying:
I know people who sell products in the MLM model and they are wonderful people. Many of them (probably all) are mothers who want to do something to bring in AND spend time at home with their kids. THIS IS WONDERFUL and noble and I’m in full support. They LIKE what they do and the extra income they can provide for their families. I know women who are the top of some well known MLM companies and they are some of the “very few” who have made it in a big way. And they’ve worked hard and I am not saying they haven’t.
But that doesn’t change the reality that: Everyone hates your MLM.
A few definitions as we get started:
Multi-level marketing is a strategy that some direct sales companies use to encourage their existing distributors to recruit new distributors by paying the existing distributors a percentage of their recruits’ sales; the recruits are known as a distributor’s “down-line.”
A form of investment (illegal in the US and elsewhere) in which each paying participant recruits two further participants, with returns being given to early participants using money contributed by later ones.
What is the difference between an MLM and a Pyramid Scheme?
MLMs, in theory, sell “products” and pyramid schemes MOSTLY just sell the business idea. The product is secondary or an afterthought to building the “team.” But the focus with both IS on the “down-line” and the percentage of sales that you can get as you build it up. So there is not MUCH of a difference. Which is a big problem explained marvelously well in this John Oliver segment:
But what John Oliver does NOT get into enough for my liking is how everyone who knows anyone in an MLM (so everyone) is annoyed by anyone in an MLM. Here’s why:
Problem #1: Social media overload
In recent years, MLM management, much like your grandmother, has discovered Facebook and that the key to success is encouraging their sales people, excuse me, their “Small business owners,” to use social media to sell their products and grow their teams.
And post the hell out of some inspirational memes. Raise your hand if you’ve seen this one lately:
There were days (before I discovered the “Hide this person on Facebook” feature) when I felt that all I would see online were pictures of acquaintances selling skin care and cleaning products and clothing that makes you look like a closet threw up on you touting their progress towards their “free” dream car or their “free” vacation or their “free” Brighton bracelet from their team leader. And the memes- OHHHHH the inspirational memes. We get it. You really, really, really want people to believe you’re extra successful at your MLM so they sign up under you so you can actually be successful. But the reality is, less than 1% of MLM participants will be successful. In a long-term study of 1000 people involved in MLMs, 997 of them lost money. So if I have 50 friends on Facebook involved with MLMs (and I do*), the chances that any of them will succeed are slim to none.
*Well, they WERE friends with me, before I wrote this post.
Problem #2: The Sell
I don’t know about you, but hearing from that one girl I knew from 9th grade gym and saw once across the aisle at the grocery store when I was home from college in ’02, asking if I am interested in forking over $149 to get the “good deal” on her “start-up package” is not my idea of a fun Facebook friendship. Please get back to sharing racist pro-Trump memes, Sharon.
The Facebook message “sell” is out of control with these MLMs. And most of the time, they aren’t telling you about the PRODUCTS. They’re selling you about their TEAM and financial FREEDOM and working for THEMSELVES.
I asked a few from the TN team their thoughts on their “friends” pimping MLMs (JK: we bitch about this on the reg. I had these gems saved!)
Stop pursuing me to join when I’ve never tried the product. That’s not a reason to get 25% off –Julie
I’m now suspicious of all messages from people who message. Even innocuous ones. I got a “merry Christmas” from someone who rarely talks to me. 5 days later she just had to tell me about her “doorbuster” for the low price of $112 – Beth
And guys- what is IN these magic products? I am not the only person asking this question (I’m looking at you, Rodan and Fields) and why can’t you find ANYONE asking about it on the internet? What powers do they have to get that question SHUT DOWN online?
It has ruined personal messages. I used to like opening them and hearing from friends. Now I just assume they’re trying to get to me fund their mortgage. – Heidi
Stop asking me to be a part of your team. You’re my friend, not my boss/pimp. – Julie
I wonder if MLM “business owners” HAVE to bother their sphere of influence. Like every Monday morning, they’re sent a list of MUST DO THIS and “Annoy 10 friends daily this week with the latest pitch, even if you suspect they’ve blocked you” is the #1 goal. And if you don’t do it, they threaten to tell everyone on Instagram you only qualified for $100 a month towards a last year’s model Kia.
My fave is when the only time someone contacts you in a year is when they are hosting their “team” pitch – Beth
And it’s not just online. Julie has been accosted about “products” and “teams” at a kid’s birthday party!
Can’t a girl just enjoy a princess cupcake without being asked about wanting younger skin – Julie
Problem #3 The BLESSINGS
Maybe you’ve seen this inspirational meme popping up in your feed:
I don’t if it is because I know a lot of Christians involved in MLMs, but #BLESSED is a big theme. A quick definition for you:
A lot of people, including some people without brand new Mercedes and “Alex and Ani” jewelry and monthly Starbucks $10 gift cards from their “team leader” who only sent you that gift card because she feels so bad she had you sign up to be on her team and so far you’re $600 in the hole (and if you DO succeed, so does she. So that $10 is an investment, not a blessing).
Don’t get me wrong, I think God IS good. But He’s not good because you got shit for “free.” Or because you sold a lot of product last month. And if you think a free trip to Hawaii is a blessing, you should talk to someone who will never see Hawaii but has found true joy and meaning and contentment with how their life looks anyway.
Stop praising Jesus and Rodan+Fields when you get a new Lexus SUV. He’s got other things on his plate. –Julie
Problem #4: The overshare
omg shut up…
You know who works hard and hustles every damn day? WE ALL DO. No matter whether you own your own business (guilty) or work for the man (been there), we’re all just working to live our lives. And some of us actually like the work we do, and we don’t have to tell everyone on social media about every successful moment we have.
Imagine for a second if I threw my agency’s accomplishments in your face EVERY DAY. Nikki and I do some cool things. We got a new client 2 weeks ago. We have a new pitch going out next week. And we work on cool projects ALL the time. But we rarely talk about it. And just last week, I got myself a shiny new white SUV…
But I’m not posting an Instagram photo that says:
Yeah, no F*CK it bought me a car. It’s my JOB. I get PAID. I bought a CAR.
If you got a car from your MLM, you did NOT get a Free car. You PAID for that car. They don’t pay you, but they DO mark up the costs, including your potential for a future car in the products you sell or the sign-up fees collected for the right to sell the products. You paid for the car. Congrats! You’re just like us!
Here are some of my favorite hashtags from a recent overshare post from a MLM “friend” I’ve hidden:
#lovemyjob – you’re not the only one
#bestjobever – Eh, I hear saving lives is pretty cool
#whynotyou – because I like having friends who aren’t selling my MLM products as well
#youcandoittoo – you mean <1% of you can
One last definition before I leave you:
Not me. So just in case trolls come here calling me one, that’s fine. I can take it. I am, however, an entrepreneur and small business owner and have the hours of call records with the state of California franchise tax board and the bill from her accountant to prove it. (Confession: my business partner has the call record. #WorkWithYourBFF guys! She’ll make the calls for you!)
Would I like a free car as #workperks? Yes. But an MLM will never get me there, and if I DO get to be the < 1%, I “paid” for it. Would I like to #workfromhome? I already do. Would I like to annoy the shit out of every acquaintance I have on social media? Hell to the No. As our dear from Beth once said about MLMs:
“All you need is an Instagram account and a willingness to alienate everyone who isn’t monetarily tied to your success.”
We look forward to exploring the annoying, obnoxious, friendship-ripping-apart world of Multi-Level-Marketing in the weeks to come.