But I, being poor, have only my dreams… I have spread my dreams under your feet. Tread softly, because you tread on my dreams.
– William Butler Yeats
I closed my eyes momentarily when I read the words that MLM (Multi-Level Marketing) is like the old, drunk uncle at family reunions nobody wants to talk to! But only for a moment, because my reasons for joining a matrix to make residual income with other believers was more based on philosophical content than a practical commodity. In hindsight, this strange personal conundrum can be explained by the right conditions versus the wrong directions with a big question left unanswered, some good news, welcoming a new hero, and precautionary warnings to watch for and run away from if you are thinking about an MLM home business opportunity. After all, experience teaches us not to repeat failures; and, at the same time, not to miss the Big Picture and adapt to new concepts and new resources.
The Right Conditions
When I joined my first MLM company, following my retirement, the internet was an email or two delivered by a butler on a serving platter with a whistle; now many emails are phishing scams. Sales presentations and word-of-mouth recommendations resided in homes with definitive party plans. Soon enough, business websites, personal blogs, and self- branding quickly evolved. Traditional bureaucracies began to give way to consumers like you and me with our likes and influences about advertising, buying patterns and more. In fact, with a few keywords and clicks, in a very short time, the largest transfer of wealth was moving from offline to online. A new Digital Age gave birth to a new Digital Economy where a new Personal Economy was possible. E-commerce and M-commerce only accelerated with continuous disruptions. The challenge became how to displace huge income disparity with income mobility.
The truth became self-evident much later: that MLM was never about self-empowerment or mass exposure.
The Wrong Directions
First, the mechanics of MLM work as any sales business based on creating customers to create customers. It’s not about wrongfully trying to educate a prospect…a lifelong commitment. The process starts by selling a product and then recruiting a new salesperson to make residual income via direct and indirect referrals in a matrix. Therefore, the nature of selling is to start a conversation, and by follow-up to earn trust and value of a customer as a partnership. Even the best salespeople require a few visits to establish integrity and psychological safety. Herein lies the problem root of MLM recruiting. It requires an entire sales team to participate with the same MINDSET, same vision, and dialogue to persuade others to change their mindset. How difficult is this for anyone to be on the same wavelength?
However, the biggest blunder in the MLM home business industry, in my opinion, is to bait prospects by chasing their dreams. The common hook is WHY? Why do you want to make money? Why are your dreams so important? Why can’t you be the best person you can be? Why don’t you want to be part of the fastest growing, richest opportunity? Who would say NO to these kinds of questions? The door is open for the next pitch and sometimes a home run with a new sign-up.
The dual engine of MLM or network marketing is to recruit but also to duplicate the process, inning after inning, game after game. But, in every next inning, who will be the best pitcher or the weakest player; and, therein lies another problem…at least traditionally. However, along came the Internet and Internet Marketing. Our team was over the moon, our backyard was the whole world, we were on a Conveyor Belt to Galactic Success! It seemed like overnight virtual space was filled with exposures of digital fireworks, subject lines, banner ads, floating buttons, space ads, and sales funnels of unlimited variations.
We invested endless time and money into these programs to become our own self-brands, competing with lucrative marketing superstars and huge ad agencies to stand out in the crowd.
Pioneer marketers became the movers and shakers with early technical expertise for mass exposure, to build followers and lists. But they were promoting what they did best … aid-packages to learn guru marketing like themselves, not building a home business based on relationships. And guess what, their mantra was loud, clear and everywhere that you do not need to talk to anyone, just program yourself to be a leader everyone wants to follow. Imagine that in a selling profession where everyone touts leadership skills? But MLM or network marketers took the bait, hook, line, and sinker. We invested endless time and money into these programs to become our own self-brands, competing with lucrative marketing superstars and huge ad agencies to stand out in the crowd. Imagine a little old lady in the valley trying to make a virtual footprint?
In hindsight, of course, it was exploitation of the dream for any individual to succeed, other than the power brokers; but, it was also the death knell for MLM online marketing. There was a brief period when the MLM jungle thrived online when mercenary, ego-driven entrepreneurs took advantage of proper networking principles with promises of dollar bills falling from the sky, exotic cars and holidays, and 200% commissions; just a brief flash into oblivion filled with vulnerable bodies. Soon eBay and Amazon readily displaced products with 70% markups to pay distributors’ commissions.