Kathleen, you are right about the “direct sales” thing. They use it because MLM has the well-deserved bad connotation with pyramid schemes. I try to explain to people that true direct selling would be something like Ebay… there’s no inherent multi-level commissions implied by the term “direct sales.” It almost reminds of calling an illegal dog fight a “recreational gaming event.” It may be true, but is far from an accurate description.
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]
As with all MLMs, the real money to be made isn’t in selling their products but in recruiting more people to join your team (basically, doing the work for you). So the real winners are the person who started the business and the very first people she recruited. This top of the pyramid is also where all of the success stories tend to come from. Among the most vulnerable to these pyramid schemes are people in smaller towns and rural areas. Market saturation prevents growth in a small town, because once everyone you know starts selling it, no one can make any money and you’ve essentially created your own competition.
I just started selling for one of the top 15 and I went in knowing that this was just supplemental cash and nothing that would support my family. I spend 15 minutes (mostly from my phone) a day on my business and am happy with what I’ve done thus far. If it covers groceries and some extras like clothes or shoes, I’m good. If I start to become even more successful, great. It’s my competitive nature to want to out rank others, so I find it to be more of a personal challenge than thinking I’m going to get rich and stay rich. I appreciate the article and the no BS attitude.

Hi JP. Good stuff all the way around, my man. Hey, I’ve been approached by Ariix, & didn’t know if have heard of them, and if so, a simple 👍 or 👎 will suffice, unless you’d like to elaborate, of course. One obvious concern I have is that (& can disclose this, since it’s of public record/knowledge per the list above), the current leadership in place at Ariix all came from USANA, and given the FBI/SEC became involved with USANA in ‘07, & Ariix opened in ‘11, well….I think you know from where I’m coming as it relates to anything you may be able to convey. Thx again, JP, for all of your efforts, & if you’d feel more comfortable in emailing me, obviously that would be perfectly fine! And apologies on this extremely verbose message!😳
Wild claims is seen most in health and wellness companies in which reps boast that their products cure ailments or work miracles. Outlandish hype is a red flag in any industry, including direct sales. A successful business is founded on quality products. If the company you're considering joining has bizarre products or products that seem too good to be true, use caution. The last thing you want your name tied to is a faulty product or a product which is the focus of litigation.

comes down to leadership and the individual. I even changed teams to find the right mentor and coaching when I knew I was struggling. I found a team that trains people to be some network marketing professionals, and really the math is simple and anyone can make residual income if they do it correctly. The problem is people sign everyone up they can and then most drop out. You only want to work with those that are committed to do the work and be able to work closely with them until they are a developed leader. In all actuality ssigning everyone up as an associate is against the rules and a big no no. Having customers benefits everyone and in most business models like the one I’m with I make more commission off customers than associates that aren’t working.
Pyramid schemes are not a simply exchange of money… MLMs with products can be illegal pyramid schemes. One example of an MLM – pyramid scheme with products that got shut down by FTC is JewelWay: http://www.ftc.gov/opa/1997/11/jewel-2.shtm. The FTC says nothing about product being reasonably priced. That’s a slippery slope when people will pay thousands for a fashionable handbag.
Then figure out where your target customers can be found—both physically and virtually. College students who need more income can be found on campus or on online forums or websites about learning to manage your money. Athletes and people who lead healthy lifestyles can be found at gyms and online groups or websites about running, yoga, healthy eating, and more.
If you want to go the technological route, it’s not a bad idea to check out what is out there in lead generation software. You will be able to more effectively send e-newsletters, organize your contacts in a database, and exploit a variety of features which will help you to generate more network marketing sales leads. Implement these step by step, and before you know it you will have a well-developed marketing strategy that helps you to reach out to prospects in a more personalized way.
Amway stresses that the main difference between a legitimate MLM business model and a pyramid scheme is that a legitimate MLM is focused on selling products, not recruiting more salespeople. In a legitimate MLM, it should be possible to make money by simply selling products directly to customers. With that main criterion in mind, here are some other ways to identify product-based pyramid schemes:
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.
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.

Unlike other distribution methods MLM/NM companies don't advertise their products on TV or other mass media but rather depend on their customers to share the experience and recommend the products to their friends and relatives through word of mouth. They in return get 10-12 % profit of the sale value. Word of mouth/ recommending someone is a very powerful marketing tool which is cheaper and could reach more people because the selling of product is based on trust. Would you not buy a product your close friend uses and finds beneficial and asks you to try ?
Running a MLM business is more than just being able to get the right company in place. It is about being able to maximize all of the of them that are coming through the door. It is about being able to find those leads and making sure they are not gone until you have their money in hand and they are happy with the product. These tips should assist in putting forth a great actionable plan that is going to results in wonderful leads both now and in the future with equal effect.

Great job on the top 25 MLMs. Really like what you’re doing for the industry as a whole. Your analysis is spot on. However, a closer look at retention rates for each company might give you another perspective on the value proposition of any given company. As a Doterra Wellness Advocate we are told by our corporate execs that we have a 65% retention rate with customers repurchasing the product within 3 months. And that if we based it on the industry standard of 12 months our retention would go up to 85%. I’m told that this is unprecedented in network marketing. So I’m believing that Doterra is succeeding because its selling a product that works and that users and word-of-mouth drive the business in the long run.
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