I must open up this post with an apology. This is a topic that tends to hit a nerve in me so I may get slightly carried away at some points. But here goes!
MLM – Multi Level Marketing – is a structure where you join someones team – they are now your up-level – and sell products for a company. These are these businesses you see all of Facebook (mainly). You know the ones that your friends join and then they start posting crazy stories about how they know someone who knows someone who halved their weight in 2 weeks by drinking tea? Or the ones who are commenting on each of your selfies that yes you look great, but you would look even better if you used their lash extending mascara. I'm getting carried away already.
How does it really work?
When you join someones team you will sell the products underneath them. So for example, you sell a mascara for £20, you might get £4 from that sale, your up-level gets £2, and whoever is her up-level will get £1… and so on. This is Multi Level Marketing. Where is get's fun is when you start to look into team structures and do some math – YES, math can be fun! So if the people above you are making a percentage of your sales, what this means is if you build your own team, you will get a percentage of their sales, and this is how we can take an MLM business and turn it into a passive income source. It takes a lot of work, and I'm going to be honest with you, doing some research into this topic, 99%* of people lose money when they join an MLM.
*This is the most common statistic on Google.
You're doing it wrong!
I don't fully disagree with people joining MLM businesses, however, what I do disagree with is how the majority of people market them. By all means if you find a product you LOVE , share it with the world, but don't harass members of the public because they have a different opinion. I want to start this list with my biggest pet peeve:
Now what i mean by “Cold Calling” is really cold DMing, but cold calling sounds better. I have a reasonable Instagram following, so I tend to be a prime target for this – about 3 a day actually… Have you ever just been minding your own business on Instagram, and then suddenly *ping*, new message request? It's this lovely girl called Anna. Now you don't know Anna, you've never seen or heard of her before in your life, but she has some lovely things to say to you:
“Hey Girl, I love your feed! You have such a great presence. Have you ever thought about monetising it?”
What a sweet message right? She's obviously been following you for quite a while and has a few thoughts about how to expand your business and make a few extra bucks. WRONG! Anna has no idea who you are. You go to her profile and she's not even following you, so how can she know anything about your social media presence? Chances are she found one of your latest posts through a hashtag and copy/pasted you that message. I bet right now you are thinking “Oh Gillian, stop being such a drama queen…”, but seriously, look through all the messages you get like this, they are word for word identical! Not even that, she hasn't even introduced herself. I don't know her! Why would I “start a business” on the internet with someone I know nothing about?
If you interact with it then within 2 messages Anna will be telling you how many thousands of £££ she makes each week from selling lipsticks on Instagram. We all know if you are making that much then you don't need to slide into people's DM's. If you are going to cold call people on Instagram, at least put some personality into it please!
Monetising Life Events
We all have that friend who is determined to make their MLM business work, right? Around 6 months ago I got engaged to my lovely partner Nick, and this is when everyone came out of the woodwork. Not only did some of my “friends” insult me, but they made my engagement feel a little bit tacky. The second it was posted on Facebook I was swarmed with messages from close family and friends congratulating us, but I was also swarmed with strange suggestions.
“Hey! Congratulations on your engagement! Exciting!! Would you like to celebrate by hosting a makeup party?” – My sisters, friends, second cousin.
Like, WHAT!? I've just got engaged, we have a lot of visiting to do, a lot of planning to do, why would I want to sell makeup at this time in my life. And especially with someone who yes I am Facebook friends with, but honestly not real life friends. Your friends life events are not a time to profit. That's just rude!
Selling Products You've Never Used
Please, PLEASE, if you are going to sell a product, sell your favourite product in the world! So many times I see friends pushing products they clearly don't use, and it all seems so false.
The 18 year old pushing anti-wrinkle cream. That friend that's always been super skinny pushing slimming wraps. That childminder who has zero time for self-care pushing nail stickers. Find a product you love, and a product you use, and by all means sell away. But please don't put all your time and effort into promoting something that doesn't fit your daily lifestyle.
Sell something you agree with. Something that fits into your life so well that you don't even need to promote it. Something your friend will just see you using and then want to use too.
Don't Shove it Down Peoples Throats
Don't harass your friends and family, they can only but so many products out of support. Please don't take it personally if your bestie doesn't want to throw a makeup party for you. Find your own people.
On a More Positive Note
There are some things in the MLM world that i have seen done perfectly. A few people out there who really understand what they are doing, and are just getting it right! Here are a few small notes to keep in mind if you are planning on growing your MLM business.
The slower you start, the more organic it feels. If you sign-up and start using a product, don't start screaming about it within the first 5 minutes. Slowly introduce it to your friends and followers. Say you are working with protein shakes. Maybe start wit ha selfie of you holding the shake – in the corner, not as the main focal point, then – a few posts later – something about how great you feel when you have your shakes – don't start dropping brand names, make people curious. Acting this way you are drawing attention to the shakes and making people look at them, but not throwing them in someones face. This way a few weeks / months later, you will have people actually reaching out to you to ask what they are and wanting to learn more. Or when you do start mentioning the brand, they are familiar with it as they have been seeing it on your Instagram for the past few months.
I am much more likely to buy into something this way – and have done before – rather than just throwing promotions at people.
Make it personal
I once met a girl who was an absolute delight. She was part of an MLM and she actually got me to join her team! How did she do this? Through making it one of the most personal experiences I've ever came across. To start with she was promoting through the method above, posting, but not mentioning brand names. I was curious so I reached out to her and asked what she did.
The response I got was a voice message asking me if I wanted to meet her for coffee later that week. Not a copy/paste response asking to join her team. An invitation so we could meet in person, have a chat, go through everything in detail, and ask as many questions as I wanted to. I know it sounds stupid, but it made me feel so special haha. We met for coffee, had a chat, and as I was walking back to my car I got another voice message from her telling me how lovely it was to meet me and if I have any more questions let her know. This girl is WINNING!! She is the only person I've came across with this method and it's so far the only one that has worked on me.
I think I was part of the MLM for about 3 weeks before I realised I don't actually like the products…
Overall, the more personality you put into something the better it will be received. While the statistics may be against you, there is nothing stopping you reaching that 1% but yourself! But please, don't invest more money than you can afford into this. That is a topic for another day.
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Gillian Sarah is a Branding & Showit Website Designer specialising bloggers and influencers