My personal view of MLMs (Multi Level Marketing Companies)
Anyone who has basically ever talked to me knows the chance of getting me to sign up for an MLM is without a doubt zero. I have no sales skills. I have no marketing skills. I can LOVE a product, but if you don’t need it, you don’t need it! And I can LOVE you, and not really love the product I’m supposed to sell. Which leaves me queasy. Now, I’m not saying all MLMs are bad. Or that all are the true pyramid “scheme” (sign up with us today and we’ll help you make $5,000 in 30 days!). In fact, I know quite a few people who love being a part of a company that rewards hard work! I decided to make a list of my own assumptions (right or wrong) about MLMs and some things I think need to be addressed.
- MLMs often require a monthly minimum and insist on shipping to you monthly. I don’t like this. The only thing I can think of that I absolutely know I will use next month is water. So. No. Please don’t make me sign up for something monthly and then force me to spend 5 hours on hold with customer service to cancel, only to be charged another three months for a subscription service that I already canceled. No thank you.
- MLMs often require a membership. “Come shop with us! You know, after you pay a huge fee up front to gain access to our exclusive products”. While it’s fun to be on “the inside”, don’t make me pay for it. I’m all for annual dues for something amazing (proud Thrive Market member), but I get to see each and every product they have available before I even sign up, and my first 30 days are free. Go Thrive!
- If you don’t meet your quota, your mentor/boss/whoever is above you starts to lose interest in helping you. The whole point of multi level marketing is for the person above you to make commissions off of you for the sole fact that they “recruited” you. Let’s talk about recruitment for a second.
- Remember how up above I said I have no sales skills? No marketing? Well those “skills” normally don’t work on me. But even so, I feel horrible that I’m saying no to a really well thought out sales pitch. Thank you, I’m glad you love it, I know you are anxious to “climb the ladder”, but no.
- In my personal experience, most people that sign up for MLMs end up blasting social media. It’s not just those Jamberry nails that are on your newsfeed every day. It’s that I miss those pictures of your kids and your dog. Where is you? Weren’t we friends before you became a Jamberry consultant?
- People become consumed by trying to meet and exceed their quotas. “Hey Anne, how about lunch on Saturday?” “Oh, sorry – I’m hosting another Pampered Chef social! It’s for my cousin’s mother-in-law’s neighbor”.
- Your friends become customers. Always. And if you don’t have a ton of experience in customer service (think about the BEST experience you had at a restaurant — and now think of the worst). If all you do is talk to me about your business and new products and new deals, it’s sort of the same as blasting it on social media. Just don’t. Ask me about my day. Tell me about your upcoming vacation plans (please leave out the fact that you ‘won’ your vacation – that’s awesome and I’m glad you’re doing well, but tell me about the actual vacation – like what fruity drink you’ll be having. and take pictures of the food. lots and lots of food pictures, please).
- The markup. Let’s talk general sales a minute. When you go to Target and grab your Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser your dermatologist recommended (more on this later – if you are using Cetaphil please contact me ASAP), and you pay $11.59, it’s marked up. That’s how products sell to MAKE money. Everything is marked up. Your bag of Cheetos is also marked up. But MLMs REALLY mark their stuff up. Again, this is my perspective and generalizations. But think about it. Most MLMs are going to offer a discount to their “employees”. Consultants, Independent Distributors. Whatever. It just makes sense. Fidelity Investments can’t offer their 55,000 employees a 30% discount on the price of the stock they want to invest in — 1) pretty sure that’s illegal, and 2) they would lose way too much money.
So yes, I know some of you relate and others disagree, but let’s move on to some straight facts.
- Corporations have hierarchy. If you work for Google, or Facebook, or PepsiCo, you are part of a hierarchy. You may be eligible for an annual bonus – let’s say you make $35,000 a year and if the company (and yourself) perform well, you get an annual 12% bonus. That’s AWESOME. But guess what? Your manager that makes $50,000 has a 15% bonus. If you do the math, simply because both their base salary is higher and their target bonus percentage is higher, they will naturally have a higher bonus than you (unless they suck and their boss knows they suck). It keeps on going up. A senior manager makes $70,000 with a 20% bonus, etc. Now think about performance goals. If the manager has a team of 5, and one of them doesn’t perform as well, that can and should reflect (to some extent) on the manager. Impacting their allotted bonus percentage (there’s a bunch of formulas to come of up how much of your 15% or whatever you’re actually eligible for – 95% of 15%, for example). So basically what I’m getting at is that yes, there’s a hierarchy, and yes, the higher up you go, the more invested you are in people below you performing well. Doesn’t that sound a bit like an MLM…..?
- The products may actually be GOOD. I’ve seen some products that I actually really like, but I don’t buy them because – well – MLM. I don’t want to buy lavender and eucalyptus and lemon in your fancy starter kit. I just want rosemary. But buying my $12 bottle of rosemary that’s marked up to $15 with a shipping fee of $5.95 just isn’t really worth all the trouble.
- Some companies and products simply do WELL by word of mouth. I heard about Poshmark (again, not an MLM – but go with me here) during a leadership conference for investment strategy. Now, it didn’t have much to do with the intent of conference, but it was a fun side story about one of the leader’s daughters who was “making money”. By selling her clothes. That her parents bought her the previous Christmas. Gotta love teenagers. BUT – he talked about it. It made me curious. And I looked it up. And I love it! Word of mouth, especially from a trusted friend, really can make all the difference. (But if you’re a friend and you sell remember not to be pushy).
So with all of that said, I’ll give you a little more insight on what I’m doing with safer skincare and safer beauty. Yes, I joined Beautycounter. (Wait a second – she doesn’t like MLMs though?) Ok, ok. Here’s the thing. Beautycounter is not an MLM. Yes, they do have similarities, and YES, some of the consultants ACT like MLM consultants. I think alot of that has to do with what they know – they’ve sold Young Living or Rodan & Fields or whoever – they’ve done the MLM thing before (and maybe still do!). So they learn about Beautycounter. And they learn everything I’m learning. Like how they believe in a stronger ban on ingredients used in our newborn’s diaper rash cream. They don’t want added coloring, or harmful or toxic chemicals. They do their best to research each and every ingredient before considering adding it into something you’ll be putting on your face or body (or your child’s face or body). Yes, Beautycounter sells products. Yes I sell Beautycounter products. But their number one mission is to EDUCATE.
They didn’t tell me to buy a big starter kit. They didn’t ask me to stop wearing my Josie Maran Vibrancy foundation or to make sure I don’t show any other brands in social media. They just want me to talk about safer skincare options. Safer cosmetics. One of my favorite serums prior to joining Beautycounter has one small ingredient near the end of the list that…well. Basically it’s a fancy wording for formaldehyde. If you look it up on EWG (or just click here), you can see even more than what’s pictured below.
Carcinogens — those cause cancer. YEP. Among other issues. Yes, it’s in all kinds of products. Skincare, nail polish, food. Yes. So I’ve stopped using that serum, needless to say. For what I’ve been through and seen personally, no, I am not perfect and I don’t rule out every single possible potential toxin and live in isolation up in the mountains (although I probably wouldn’t hate that, to be honest). But if I research something and KNOW it’s bad for me, I’m going to try and remove it (trust me – Dr. Pepper was my very first removal, and damn that was hard).
So for anyone who’s thinking “ahh, she caved. She’s selling!” I am selling an alternative to those that are interested. Yes. But I want to educate you. If you want to know “hey, I use this blah blah I got from Whole Foods — do you think it’s a safe product?” I will HAPPILY look at it with you. And if you and I can’t find any compelling reason you should stop using it, DON’T! Again, the mission is to EDUCATE. Not to convince people they need a whole new skincare line. But am I happy with Beautycounter? YES. I enjoy the products. And I joined the team not to sell to you – but to learn more about the company. About what they do and what these women (and maybe men?) are passionate about. Because at the end of the day, we all want to feel better about what we’re putting on our bodies. So if you have questions, please use the contact form below! If you’d like to browse Beautycounter products, click on the picture below of some of my favorite products.
Thanks, and Stay Shiny!