MLM presents itself as a "business opportunity", with products ostensibly on sale to the general public. However, MLM doesn't resemble any other retail model at all, and what it does strongly resemble is a pyramid scheme - the underlying mathematics of the two are identical. Regulators have characterized MLM as a form of gambling or lottery. Some MLMs resemble cults. The MLM industry denies that MLMs are anything other than normal, legitimate businesses, and unlike pyramid schemes, MLMs operate openly and (just this side of) legally in most countries.
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Multi Level Marketing (MLM) is a business model or marketing strategy in which the distributors' income includes their own sales, and a percentage of the sales group they recruit, which is commonly known as their ‘downline’. Customers can also sign up as a distributor to sell the company’s product. Usually, the sign up fee will be the price paid to purchase the product.
The friend continues, “It gets better! If those 3 recruits each recruit 3 people themselves, you’ll earn 5% commission on the product they buy from the company as well. You’ll be a ‘Gold Star’ level distributor at this point and you’ll be able to buy product from the company at a 30% discount. To maintain this status, your group of 12 recruits beneath you need to collectively buy $1,200 worth of product each month from the company.”
Example: Let's say I sell $10,000 of widgets every month, and my profit margin, after accounting for all expenses, is 10% - $1,000 per month. Let's say I decide to start an MLM business and I recruit another distributor, who takes over all my leads. We'll make a REALLY generous assumption that my distributor's profit margin is 5% - many MLM products don't even scrape 1%.
Network marketing, also known as Multi-Level Marketing (MLM), is a business model where independent contractors buy into a company and earn a commission on the products they sell. The profession appeals to many people because they can be their own boss, set their own hours, and work towards their own success. It is a big commitment, but network marketing can be a very lucrative career.
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So-called "direct selling" and its bastard child, MLM, seem quaint and irrelevant - like print newspapers, typewriters or vinyl records. That's not to say there isn't a market for all these things; there is. But niche markets can never sustain the kind of infinite, boundless growth that's necessary for an MLM distributor to make the kind of money that's often advertised (unless they're at the top of the pyramid). Speaking of boundless growth, there's point #5...
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Hemp oil is a great source of high-quality nutrients and has a long history of use in Eastern culture as a multi-purpose natural remedy. Despite its widespread popularity, prejudice related to its association with Marijuana it has kept it from common use in the West. While the oil contains virtually no THC (the psychoactive element in cannabis) hemp oil is still concerning to some. Thankfully, education is prevailing and the market for hemp oil is growing in the United States, with an increasing number of people seeking it out for its reported health benefits.
Research has shown that our brains release more of the pleasure chemical dopamine when we unexpectedly get a reward at a random time. Gambling addicts will run up credit cards and bankrupt themselves chasing that high, continually putting coins into the slot even though it’s become clear that, overall, they are losing. Likewise, LuLaRoe customers will stay glued to Facebook groups and consultants will keep buying inventory they can’t afford in the hope they will stumble across the rarest, most elusive styles.
I have been taken to task for making this point too strongly--and do not wish to imply that all MLM leaders have criminal records--but it does pay to do some research here. Are the idols you are being asked to worship in MLM worthy of respect, or contempt? Have they been prosecuted or sued for exploiting people in the past? Have they done prison time?
Network Marketing distributes goods and services through distributors, which may include hundreds, thousands and even hundreds of thousands of distributions networks. Distributors may buy products from the company for pennies on the dollar, and then sell the products, or they may simply sell the goods and/or services for the company and receive a commission on the sales.
I've spoken with enough friends and other people who are into network marketing to know that the default response to this is "Oh, but this plan is different." Sure, every plan has different tweaks and details, but fundamentally they are all the same. The company is going to make tons of money selling an outrageously overpriced product every month to their captive audience buyers: You, and any friends you recruit. Not one of you has any realistic hope of coming out ahead. My advice to everyone involved in network marketing: Simply stop now. Stop convincing yourself that profits are just around the corner if you just buy a few more cases of expensive product. Just stop now, walk away, consider it a lesson well learned, and don't give them another dollar.
Seeing the disastrous end of market naiveté in Russia should help clarify the fundamental problem with the MLM approach. In the real world, the profit of a company is directly related to the skill and prescience of the "hand" on the "supply knob," so to speak. In the USSR, that "hand" could not react fast or accurately enough to market realities through the best efforts of the bureaucrats.
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Direct selling method in which independent-agents serve as distributors of goods and services, and are encouraged to build and manage their own sales force by recruiting and training other independent agents. In this method, commission is earned on the agent's own sales revenue, as well as on the sales revenue of the sales-force recruited by the agent and his or her recruits (called downline). Also called multilevel marketing (MLM), cellular marketing, or by other such names, it is a multi-billion dollar worldwide industry that distributes practically any portable item, although restricted or banned in several countries due to its history as a vehicle for consumer fraud.
Robert Fitzpatrick is the foremost expert in the analysis of MLM’s, both from an economic perspective and from a moral perspective and this slim work is a perfect distillation of his years of research in the industry. I spent a quarter of a century working at the corporate headquarters of a nearly 50 year old MLM and I can attest that Mr. Fitzpatrick’s take on the business model is spot on. MLM, direct sales, whatever you want to call it, it’s all a recruitment-based pyramid scheme where less than 1% even make a profit, let alone a living. And all the arguments that most people only sign up to do it part-time or to get discounts on products is in direct contradiction to how MLM’s market to prospective recruits. They promote a life-changing opportunity, a chance to win a car, buy a new dream house on an island somewhere, to build an organization of salespeople below you so that you can sit back and live off “passive income” while the people below you do all the work. I think that on some level, we all feel that there is something inherently wrong with MLM, this book puts words to those feelings. For anyone interested in being in a MLM, or who is already in one, ask them to send you an income disclosure showing what the typical salesperson earns in that business. If they stonewall your attempts to get the information, that is a dead giveaway and you need to get out. On the other hand, if they give you the info but ask you, “but you don’t want to just be average, do you? You want to do better than that, right?” be aware of this because you are dealing with someone who wants you to deny simple math. What they are asking you to do is to ignore the day-to-day reality that 99% of the industry fails and the only reason to ignore it is because they want to make sure that you give them your money in order to pad their commission check. Before you take part in any direct sales opportunity, look into Mr. Fitzpatrick work, this book and on his website. False Profits should be required reading for anyone interested in signing up in a MLM because it will arm you with the knowledge you need to be able to make an informed decision.
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But many people can’t recruit enough folks and they end up spending a lot of their own money. As Laryea points out, “Recruits are often expected to purchase ‘starter kits’ or inventory to start selling products, which also earn the recruiters (and the recruiters’ recruiter) commission. Thus, multilevel marketing as a business strategy incentivizes participants to grow a sales network underneath them, also called a downline.”
When pitching people face-to-face doesn’t work, you go online and start posting about the MLM all the time. You follow the formula recommended by the company: one post about the brand, then one about your family, then one about your lifestyle, then one about the brand again. But you notice that no one comments or likes your posts. Your follower count on Instagram has gone down. Finally, a friend DMs you and lets you know that a lot of people have blocked you on Facebook.