Get the company’s refund policy in writing. Make sure it includes information about returning any unused products, including restrictions and penalties. It may seem like you’re minimizing your risk if you can return products for a reimbursement, but policies vary on whether you’ll get a full refund — and how long it may take. Many plans require you to buy training or marketing materials, or pay for seminars if you want to get product discounts or create your own network of distributors. Find out how much time and money other distributors spent on training, marketing materials, and seminars when they joined the plan, and whether the plan requires you to participate in periodic training. What happens if you opt out of the training?
But the FTC’s newfound toughness may come to naught in the Trump era. There’s little hope, according to both critics and cheerleaders of the MLM industry, that the Trump administration will assume such a strict posture toward Herbalife’s peers. “The more likely scenario is that they just won’t bring a pyramid scheme case,” said Bonnie Patten, executive director of Truth in Advertising, a consumer advocacy group that helped the FTC in its prosecution of Vemma, a nutritional-product MLM that the FTC alleged was a pyramid scheme in August 2015. The case was settled in December on terms similar to the Herbalife one. (Neither Vemma nor Herbalife admitted guilt in their settlements.)
For full disclosure, I want to point out that I am not affiliated with any multi-level marketing or direct sales companies, and that I don’t receive any compensation from the industry for my opinion on it. I’m sharing this with you because after I wrote what is considered the most widely read, copied, and quoted MLM article in the history of the industry, I was accused of writing it to promote my own MLM business or the industry in general, which is not the case.
Multi-level marketing (MLM) is known by a variety of names: network marketing, referral marketing—and more pejoratively (and/or when done unethically), pyramid marketing. In this structure, marketing and sales reps not only receive compensation for their own sales, but also receive a percentage of the sales generated by other salespeople they recruit (commonly known as one’s “downline”). (See also Referral Marketing)
Long before becoming a billionaire, and even before starting Omnilife, Jorge Vergara sold tacos on the streets of Mexico. He then secretly brought in Herbalife supplements into the country. While there, he was able to get the Mexican government to change regulations put in place for their nutritional products division. Talk about a life filled with action…this guy could probably sell his life story and make millions more (he could probably win several awards, side note: he’s actually a film producer casually on the side).
You’ve probably encountered a situation like this. Or at least know someone who has. If you haven’t experienced this kind of in-person pitch, you’ve likely seen old high school friends or an aunt on Facebook or Instagram posting about an amazing business opportunity that involves selling eyelashes or health supplements or essential oils for something that can be described as a “multi-level marketing company.”
An issue in determining the legitimacy of a multi-level marketing company is whether it sells its products primarily to consumers or to its members who must recruit new members to buy their products. If it is the former, the company is a legitimate multi-level marketer. If it is the latter, it could be an illegal pyramid scheme. The Federal Trade Commission has been investigating multi-level marketing companies for several decades and has found many that blur the lines between the two. According to industry data, there are 90 million members worldwide, but relatively few earn meaningful income from their efforts. To some observers, that reflects the characteristics of a pyramid scheme.
Multi-level marketing (MLM), also called pyramid selling, network marketing, and referral marketing, is a marketing strategy for the sale of products or services where the revenue of the MLM company is derived from a non-salaried workforce selling the company's products/services, while the earnings of the participants are derived from a pyramid-shaped or binary compensation commission system.
The structure of MLMs is very similar to a pyramid scheme. This doesn’t mean that all MLMs are pyramid schemes, but some certainly are. Those interested in pursuing a career in multi-level marketing should do research before joining a particular MLM. Generally speaking, if the bulk of the money you stand to earn comes from recruitment rather than direct sales, it’s wise to be very cautious.
When you hit over a billy in annual sales, that’s reason enough to be on the shortlist. On top of that, they’ve been in the MLM game for over two decades, and they’re now the “largest online wellness shopping club” (basically just sounds like a fancy way of saying they sell a lot of miracle diet pills…for our rankings of the best women diet pills are here).
The great thing about Network Marketing is that it usually involves a small initial investment and can return high dividends on that investment. Usually, the original investment is only a few hundred dollars. This initial investment will allow you to purchase a product sample kit, and begin to sell the products to friends, family, and others. The Multi-Level component of Network Marketing comes into play, in that most Network Marketing opportunities also ask their representatives to recruit other sales representatives. The new recruits are considered the representative’s downline, and they will usually generate income directly from their sales as well as from those whom they have recruited.
This Podcast is brought to you by Go Pro Recruiting Mastery. The #1 generic training event for our profession in the world. Join us in Las Vegas, Nevada December 4th-6th at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. You will hear from superstar thought leaders Magic Johnson, John Maxwell, and dozens of Million-Dollar Earners. It's an extraordinary event. If you have never been, you owe it to yourself and your team to be there. If you would like to learn more about it go to networkmarketingpro.com/gprm