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.
I love love love this article! I’m a business growth coach who works with small business owners and often leaders from other MLM’s. From time to time I’ll get someone who has been struggling significantly even getting started and I find that it’s sheer absence of knowledge of the numbers. They are still under the impression that if I get three, and they get three then we’re all going to be millionaires. It’s very sad but the truth is not being told. Being in an MLM is hard. But it is very doable. I have had significant success in the past, while I am not in an MLM now. Nor do I want to be, you must be all In to make it work. Thank you for sharing this. I would love to interview you on one of my webinars
If you insist on trying one of these MLM offers, the least you can do is look for proper business registration with BBB, toll free number, and proper address (no Post Office box). Also, you will need lots of family and friends to make it work. As a final step, check the MLM materials for one or more of these "red flags" that are associated with the worst of the offerings:
Thanks for this post. Very helpful. I do like direct sales; one reason for this is that it helps keep alive that age-old tradition of people interacting face-to-face (rather than mainly through texting and social media). For that reason, I think MLMs should target the lonely Millennials. Anyway, I was a member/distributor of Advocare for over 10 years and still miss the products and the activities in the company, now that I am temporarily out. I still plan to sign up again when I can afford it (long story–I’ll spare you). I am now involved in Melaleuca, and I must say in their defense that Melaleuca’s products are actually not overpriced. Because Preferred Customers are not only not expected, but also NOT ALLOWED to turn around and sell the products at the retail price, everyone pays the same low prices. (Granted, one can indeed go to the website and buy directly from the company if they do not want to become a Preferred Customer. Why would someone do that when the annual membership is only $19? Only if they do not want to commit to the minimum monthly requirement for Preferred Customers.) Public, keep this in mind! Don’t be fooled by the rebels who are selling old Melaleuca products on Amazon for way above the retail price!! You’re much better off buying fresh products directly from the factory, even if you pay retail price. Just sayin. My big question: What about Tupperware? I have been a Tupperware consultant for about 6 months, and I have found it to be extremely difficult to keep business going. The directors training me have said that Tupperware is the second most widely recognized brand name in the world, second only to Coca-Cola. If that is the case, why is it so hard to find people willing to host Tupperware parties? Why does it seem so hard to sell? Also, is it just me…Or, does Tupperware’s compensation plan stink?

“We decided to take a cash-out refi to pay off unsecured debt,” wrote Kimberly Rotter from San Diego, a personal finance writer and frequent commenter. “The debt was incurred for emergency maintenance on our property, including several months of lost income for my husband while he did the work. Our home was 100 percent paid off so this was a very hard decision for us. However, our alternative was to do the zero percent shuffle on multiple credit cards to handle $85,000 in debt, which I know from past experience is difficult (although possible) at that level. We got a loan against the house for 5 percent and have a very strong and committed 36-month payoff plan. The pain of this choice will hopefully keep us on track. I am optimistic that we will meet our payoff goal.”
She reiterated a common theme I heard throughout the interviews.  “If you treat it like a hobby it won’t pay you like a business.”  She also acknowledged that, in spite of her success, she doesn’t sit around eating bonbons every day waiting for residual checks to hit the mailbox.  “That’s a common misconception,” she said.  “I work hard at my business every day, although it doesn't always feel like work.  Similar to other entrepreneurs who profit from their passion, she says “It’s rewarding because I found a product that has made in difference in how I look and feel… and I love selling it and helping other people start a business.”
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http://www.idahofallsmagazine.com/2014/12/demystifying-Melaleuca does NOT fit any of the descriptions about multi-level marketing. Best double check. 😀 We had to. We thought it was until we looked closer. Opening Online Shopping Accounts! Not a “home parties” company, no inventory, and no delivering of products. Just a website! Best HOME BASED Business we have ever found. And we have been LOOKING! Thanks.

First of all, Avon “has” been. Second, Avon really needs to work on their appeal to a younger generation. Third, Avon makes it difficult for representatives to make any money unless you are purchasing a ton of catalogs and knocking on doors. The company really needs to allow representatives to advertise online, and I don’t mean spamming friends on a Facebook or Twitter feed.
Having studied the psychology and behavior of boomers, this example represents a major shift in my thinking about the industry.  I no longer perceive these types of opportunities as money-making pyramid schemes.  Instead, I now see it as a way to enhance many of the personal aspects of retirement that are rarely discussed let alone planned for, with the added benefit of supplementing other popular retirement income sources such as pension and social security.

One of the best skincare products in and outside of MLM, no doubt. They were founded by a couple dermatologists, and they used to be an upscale department store brand before entering the world of network marketing. Rodan and Fields created Proactiv, which ended up being one of the most famous skincare products of all time (and a hero-in-a-bottle for every middle schooler who’s ever been called pizza-face). Just this one product line is nearing $1 billion in annual sales.
Brendon Burchard is the world’s leading high performance coach, a three-time New York Times bestselling author, and is in the Top 100 Most Followed Public Figures on Facebook – with more than 10 million fans across his pages. His personal development videos have been viewed more than 100 million times and Success Magazine named him “one of the Top 25 Most Influential Leaders in Personal Growth and Achievement.”

First of all, Avon “has” been. Second, Avon really needs to work on their appeal to a younger generation. Third, Avon makes it difficult for representatives to make any money unless you are purchasing a ton of catalogs and knocking on doors. The company really needs to allow representatives to advertise online, and I don’t mean spamming friends on a Facebook or Twitter feed.


During the Obama administration, the Federal Trade Commission made its biggest-ever effort to curb this industry when last summer it slapped nutritional supplement–seller Herbalife with a $200 million fine and, as part of a settlement with Herbalife, demanded it restructure its business so that it would “start operating legitimately,” as FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez put it. The FTC alleged Herbalife had engaged in “unfair and deceptive practices,” and put it under a federal monitor for seven years, demanding onerous changes to its compensation plan and requiring extensive documentation of customer sales. Ramirez then set down an ambitious posture for the FTC: In the future, she said at an MLM industry conference in October, these companies should adopt the new Herbalife rules when structuring their businesses, as the FTC would be watching.

Within that, some companies thought that their products would be better off when people with own experience did the referral and possibly trough existing personal relationships by using their social network. That would be Network Marketing. Whether they sell and make money is irrelevant. You do network marketing when you talk about a good movie to friends, only you do not get rewarded, except the random girl who goes to watch the movie with you again based on your enthusiasm :D.


Agree with most of your comments. Born and raised in the corporate community, we never even considered a MLM until came across one after retirement. Looking back we would have looked seriously at the industry much earlier. In any event, we had one good run until management made a few very bad decisions…killing 40 % of our business. But now we’ve found a new home with WGN. Among the many differences is they’re a technolgy company operating as a MLM…go figure.
MLM has stretched its sticky fingers out into just about every product market out there, so it’s kinda hard to do something new nowadays. But Jamberry Nails did it. Their adhesive, custom nail designs BLEW UP when they hit the direct sales floor. They built up an army of over 100,000 consultants in the time it takes most people to get a mediocre pay raise at their 9-5.

MLM salespeople are not employees of the MLM company. Participants do not derive a salary/wage, nor do participants receive remuneration from the MLM company for their invested labor and expenses in their MLM "independent business". The income of participants, if any income is made at all, is derived only from commissions on their personal sales or their share of the commissions on the personal sales of their downlines (the MLM compensation structure).

If you want the efforts you put in today to pay off far into the future, choose a company that has proven it intends to be around for the long term. Approximately 90 percent of all network marketing companies fail within their first two years. You don't want to invest your precious time and resources—not to mention your future—in something that may not be in business next month.


We have grown significantly in number during this short pre launch period. But, we still have a ways to go. We are in need of and are seeking more Ambassadors to join us. We do not have Ambassadors in every state nor do we have enough Ambassadors in each state to handle the overwhelming flood of customers and new Ambassadors that will be seeking products or will want to be apart of this new Health and Detox revolution company when it officially launches and goes public.
An analysis of 32 income disclosure statements from direct selling companies by TruthInAdvertising.org found that 80 percent of distributors, or people selling their products, grossed less than $1,200 per year before expenses. At about half of those companies, the majority of distributors made no money at all. "Given that context, any income claim that expressly states or implies that this is a way for someone to gain financial freedom, to become wealthy, travel the world, become a stay-at-home parent is just false and deceptive," says Bonnie Patten, executive director for TruthInAdvertising.org.
Carl Rehnborg is credited as having started the multi-level marketing industry back in the 1930s. After learning about the benefits of dietary supplements in China, Rehnborg came back to the United States and started a company called The California Vitamin Company, which was later rebranded to Nutrilite. Six years after that rebranding, Rehnborg reorganized the company’s structure and the way it sold products into what we know as MLM today.
Have a question about your finances? Michelle Singletary has a weekly live chat every Thursday at noon where she discusses financial dilemmas with readers. You can also write to Michelle directly by sending an email to michelle.singletary@washpost.com. Personal responses may not be possible, and comments or questions may be used in a future column, with the writer’s name, unless otherwise requested.
Although there are no specific educational requirements for direct sellers, individuals interested in network marketing may find it beneficial to take advantage of one of the selling and sales management degree programs available in the United States. Some general course topics include professional selling, marketing, prospecting, sales motivation, consumer behavior, customer relations, and sales management.
Draw up a business plan. When you have a few potential companies in mind, write out your plan for building and expanding your business. Even before you've officially aligned with a company, it helps to have this plan figured out early. Thant way you can hit the ground running when you do eventually start at a company. Keep these things in mind when designing a business plan:
Much has been made of the personal, or internal, consumption issue in recent years. In fact, the amount of internal consumption in any multi-level compensation business does not determine whether or not the FTC will consider the plan a pyramid scheme. The critical question for the FTC is whether the revenues that primarily support the commissions paid to all participants are generated from purchases of goods and services that are not simply incidental to the purchase of the right to participate in a money-making venture.[46]
Do you know why there is such a big drop off rate in Network Marketing? It is because they were told that the profession was a piece of cake. They were told that they would hardly have to work, don’t have to sell anything, or the product sells itself. Then when they get started, they realize that there is a lot of work that goes into building a ...…

Hi JP, Your assessment of Melaleuca stating… “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).” is VERY misleading and inaccurate. They offer “far more” products and services than weight control supplements. I have been a “customer” only of Melaleuca for over 20 years and can attest to the superb quality of their products. Please get your facts correct before posting inaccurate information. 🙂
Le-Vel THRIVE is #1 in Health and Wellness with innovative products that work. Le-Vel is a completely Cloud Based, work from anywhere company. Besides the Core 3-Steps of THRIVE (which help with energy, sleep, digestion, joint support, aches and pains, weight management), Le-Vel has a plus-line product called MOVE that is wonderful for joints. Thrive is not a weight loss system, but a lifestyle change of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, amino acids, enzymes, probiotics and is designed to fill nutritional gaps, making you feel amazing. Thrive is easy to promote by just sharing your experience and it’s completely Free to join as a promoter, no startup costs, no monthly fees, absolutely no strings attached! I’ve been a Promoter for over 2 years now and Le-Vel and Thrive has completely changed my family’s life!
I’m from the uk. I am a Matron in a GP practice and have been approached by Arbonne. Ur video confirms most of my thoughts although doing aesthetics as a side line I though I might be able to run along side that and so not have to approach family n friends as that is horrendous!!! – i am really interested in ur local league marketing though – how would I find out more about this
Brendon Burchard is the world’s leading high performance coach, a three-time New York Times bestselling author, and is in the Top 100 Most Followed Public Figures on Facebook – with more than 10 million fans across his pages. His personal development videos have been viewed more than 100 million times and Success Magazine named him “one of the Top 25 Most Influential Leaders in Personal Growth and Achievement.”

Advocare has the best science, the best products and amazing credibility with top athletes in the world of sports. In addition to generous discounts on products and potential to make an unlimited stream of residual income. If you genuinely want to help people this is the best company to be a part of! Id love to talk to you more about the endless benefits Advocare offers!
She soon found that there were major downsides. The company billed itself as something that could be done on a part-time schedule with very little money down, but Cramer was working around-the-clock and racking up costs, including fees to travel to company meetings and buy new inventory. Earning money required bringing on new recruits, and Cramer felt guilty when an unemployed woman fighting bankruptcy was willing to invest her meager savings in getting started, even though Cramer knew the woman didn't have the skills or temperament to succeed. Cramer eventually soured on the experience and quit. "It cost me about $10,000 by the time I got out of it," she says.
As for Trump, his pleas to “trust me” and “believe me” have continued to pay dividends, only now he’s saying, “I alone can fix” whatever stands in the way of American greatness. But even as Trump pursues his biggest scheme yet, one of his old ones will continue to thrive in 2017: The Trump era could ignite a golden age for politically connected multilevel marketing companies—or what critics (and John Oliver) say are often merely disguised pyramid schemes, illegal enterprises in which people primarily earn money by recruiting others instead of by selling products to the public.
Walter J. Carl stated in a 2004 Western Journal of Communication article that "MLM organizations have been described by some as cults (Butterfield, 1985),[51] pyramid schemes (Fitzpatrick & Reynolds, 1997),[52] or organizations rife with misleading, deceptive, and unethical behavior (Carter, 1999),[53] such as the questionable use of evangelical discourse to promote the business (Höpfl & Maddrell, 1996),[54] and the exploitation of personal relationships for financial gain (Fitzpatrick & Reynolds, 1997)".[52][55] In China, volunteers working to rescue people from the schemes have been physically attacked.[56]
Network marketers may also find a degree in marketing or business administration very useful. A degree program in marketing helps students understand the consumer market and the factors that influence consumer-purchasing decisions. A degree in business administration prepares students to plan and direct the everyday operations of small businesses and large corporations.

Good companies find ways to intelligently leverage technology. Thanks to Amazon and Wal-Mart, we’re all spoiled. We want what we want, we want it NOW and we want it delivered for free. Smart network marketing companies are eliminating as many barriers as possible to make it easier for consumers to place and receive orders. They’re finding ways to make it easier for consumers to connect via mobile apps, tell stories via social media tools, provide best-in-class web experiences and leverage as much data as possible to stay ahead of consumer demand. The corporate team also needs to leverage technology to enhance workflows.
In just 30 years, Melaleuca has grown from a little startup in rural Idaho to a billion-dollar enterprise doing business in 19 countries around the globe. It has become one of the largest catalog and online wellness retailers in North America. And it is the largest manufacturer of consumer packaged goods in the Northwest. Today, more than a million customers shop with Melaleuca every month.
The cons of mlm are that most people getting into mlm don’t understand mlm. They apply the incorrect philosophy and it becomes a recipe for disaster. I see dozens of people monthly that join a mlm, don’t work and don’t yield any results and as a result, leave with a bad taste. But with correct leadership that problem could be averted. That is precisely why I love my company. It has the best leadership (in my opinion) and they properly train their agents.
A newer aspect of network marketing is using online affiliate marketing programs. Website owners and bloggers integrate links to specific products on their platforms. When people click on those links and purchase products, the website owner is rewarded a referral fee. This provides customers with access to a trusted site where they can immediately purchase the products being advertised.

Who wants to get fit, look younger, and lose weight? Jeunesse, meet your global target market: everyone. With their crazy sales numbers, I wouldn’t be surprised if they are selling to just about everyone in the world. Jeunesse routinely make the list for the top 20 MLMs in the world, and they’re doing about $1.4 billion in annual revenue. Not only are you selling a very well-trusted product, but the sign up cost is also one of the lowest out there ($30).


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)


Another nutritional MLM selling another magical superfruit with a marked up price tag. So what? Their story might not be interesting, but their bottom line is: they’ve expanded to 44 countries and counting after just over a decade in operation. On top of that, they provide extensive sales training and good commission rates to their reps, which is pretty rare nowadays.
A degree in business administration with a concentration in marketing may also prove helpful. Students learn the fundamental principles of marketing and selling, as well as how to run a business. Some general course topics include advertising, sales, e-commerce, marketing management, marketing research, finance, accounting, human resource management, and business ethics.
At the corporate level, MLM professionals develop an easily communicated mission and image, and create resources that facilitate that communication. The key to knowing how to communicate this message to customers is knowing and understanding them. Therefore, effective MLM begins with data, and builds upon that data throughout a campaign. With the sales and customer information generated at each presentation, companies can better discern what products to acquire and/or develop, how to best portray them to their audience, and how to tailor their message to different market segments.
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