Let’s Talk Sh*t About MLMs

Alright, I don’t know about any of you, but I was raised to hate MLM (Multi Level Marketing) companies (aka: pyramid schemes [I know current MLM’s do not fit the definition of pyramid schemes, but they re still referred to as such])- you know, the ones (that stereotypically) stay at home moms hustle to their friends? When I was growing up they were Pampered Chef, Amway, Mary Kay… and they always got BIG eye rolls in my house. My parents talked about them like they were the plague.

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Today, they seem to have had a revival. The people in my social circles are most popularly repping itWorks!, DoTERRA, Arbonne, BeachBody, JuicePLUS, Jamberry, Rodan + Fields, and YoungLiving. And now I can’t go on any social media outlet without seeing at least 10 different posts from different friends repping different companies at any given point during the day. My knee jerk reaction every time is, “ugh, no!” and to assume it’s total garbage. Real talk- some of these people are actually really annoying. Like, enough already, that’s clearly a filter!

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BUT……. I am admitting publicly, I’ve been weak, and I have given in to a few. The power of Pinterest, before & after posts, success stories, and general cuteness of product; these are clearly working. side note:At some point I’d like to try all of them- like, say yes every time someone sells me so I can write an honest review from the perspective of someone not selling the product, not paid by the company that makes it… pure, unadulterated honesty. But some of these are $$$ and I can’t afford to say “yes” every time- Who can?? I digress.

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Let’s take a step back and figure out why the way a company is marketed has such a profound impact on people. I know that there are those out there who aren’t phased by MLM tactics, but personally, they phase me big time. Obviously. But why? Why does a product on a shelf feel more appealing, more legitimate, more likely to do what the container says it does than something your neighbor tells you about personally, and has her own stories about how it’s worked for her, or how she loves it? You wouldn’t doubt anything else she’s told you about, but once you know she’s selling it: RED FLAG! Alternatively, you ask your friends for recommendations on skin care products, hair products, birth control even- and take their word for it when they like something. But still- that stigma of the MLM persists.

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I am not a psychologist. I have no idea why we have this reaction- why I have this reaction! And yet, even when I’ve liked all the products I’ve tried from a small sampling of these companies, I still distrust any MLM. I even hesitate to share the things I have liked with friends. And when I do share that I’ve enjoyed a product, I always, always start or end with “I do not sell this!”

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Maybe because of those few that are over-marketing their brand? The ones that make you want to leave the internet forever… posting all hours of the day and night, and even on holidays! These are the reps (once friends) that I end up unfollowing. Personal Opinion Time: If you’re gonna post that much, make a separate account. I want to see what’s going on in your life, with your family and friends, what fun thing you’re up to…. I didn’t follow you to get a perpetual sales pitch. So be a friend or be a rep or be a happy medium if you must! This is probably a big part of why I shutter at MLMs. Because you thought you were friends with someone online or following their Instagram to get a look into their life, stay connected, whatever… and then you end up being sold to all the time.

However we feel about them, though, we wouldn’t keep seeing more and more popping up on our feeds, and hearing about our friends making beaucoup bucks after successfully launching a rep business if it wasn’t working! These companies get to spend next to nothing on marketing, have an unending sales team, with a tiny percentage of it’s employees on salary, and still be wildly successful… it makes sense why companies would choose this route. It also makes sense why so many people are joining up to become reps… work from home, flexible hours, make money in your sleep, unlimited earning potential, support from fellow team members… what’s not to like? For me, personally: sales. I hate it. I never was one for sales; I don’t like getting pressured even on the sales floor at Nordstrom… where I go to shop. Also, I don’t want to be that “friend” clogging up feeds, perpetually using friendships (or loose acquaintances) for monetary gain, or outlandishly obnoxious photo collages. (I know, that’s up to the individual and you can shape your business any way you like.) But a lot of the time, the ones who are making the bucks are the ones who aren’t afraid to get unfollowed, be bold (sometimes pushy, overselling, what have you), or post like there’s no tomorrow, because in the end: it just works. They get the sales, they get the eyes on their posts & products, and they get. that. customer.

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This business model is clearly a prime option for people who want to work from home, or make extra money on the side without taking on a new job. It’s completely flexible- on your own terms… really, it’s everyone’s dream situation. I love that it’s enabling parents to stay home with their kids, allowing families to keep up on their bills, help that underpaid assistant get a new car, students pay their college tuition… whatever it is. People need income, and if this is how they want to obtain it, then get that werk on! and honestly, if I had to work a full time job while my kids are as young as they are, I’d be heartbroken to leave them. So I get (at the very least, a few of the many reasons) why people jump on board amidst the bad rap on MLMs. Especially when it’s a product they truly love- and I know some people that don’t “need” the money, but are simply passionate about the product. I gotta respect that.

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I mean, we can unfollow them- but who has the last laugh?

In all honesty, I have some close friends and family that have joined the ranks of these companies, and for the most part, they’re either doing very well, or at least making up what they spend & utilizing their rep discount. I also have been happy with the purchases I’ve made from each of them. Are they all (MLM companies) winners? No. Do I want to join them? The answer is still no. Am I still annoyed by some of their posts sometimes, yeah. But I’m also so happy for them to have found something they’re enjoying and earning an income doing.

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So, you decide. Should we completely disregard a company or a product based solely on how it is marketed and sold?

MLMs:

Friend- the type you just need to go to coffee with to get to know and love?
OR Foe- obnoxious kid knocking on your window, making faces on the glass all day?

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