As always, I’m sharing my own opinions and perspective. I am not attempting to represent every MLM in the world, nor am I suggesting that every MLM has an amazing product line or a fair compensation plan for distributors. I welcome dissenting opinions, as long as they are constructive, and not destructive in spirit!
I joined a multi-level marketing company (Young Living Essential Oils) at the beginning of February. It was probably the eighth MLM company I’d been asked to consider joining (haven’t we all been asked to join at least one???) and it was the first one I said yes to. I don’t know what the future holds, but I highly suspect it will be the only one I join, not because I think these aren’t viable business opportunities, but because just like everyone else out there, my time is limited, so I have to make careful choices about how I’m spending it.
I have had some really good conversations with several different friends of mine about the fact that I joined an MLM and their impressions of MLM companies. And I can tell you now, the only people who seemed genuinely pro-MLM were people who were already involved in one, either as business people, or as regular customers. Every other person I have talked with about the business model maintains some degree of negative sentiments, ranging from slight suspicion all the way to extreme loathing.
After having these conversations, I took a step back and thought back to my own thoughts about MLM companies. And you know what? I also didn’t have positive feelings about them! I felt absolutely GREAT about my choice to work with Young Living, but I felt as though I needed to somewhat apologize to my customers that in order to obtain these incredible products, you had to go through a distributor and do the whole “MLM thing.”
So I thought we should just unpack some of the reasons why MLMs give us the creeps together, and then talk about some reasons why you might not want to be so scared of them, after all.
Why We Hate Multi-Level Marketing Companies
1. It is “difficult” to purchase a product. It is rare to be able to go to an MLM company website and just place items in your cart for purchase. Even if you do that, you will often be assigned to a sponsor and receive follow-up communication with them. Otherwise, you’ve got to connect with a distributor to get the information you need on how to get signed up. This is very frustrating for people who just want to get the stuff they want to try and move on without any hassle. We are an Amazon Prime loving world, so having to go through someone to get access to a product seems really outdated.
2. You feel pressure to buy. Perhaps you are being introduced to a distributor by way of a party. I have only been to 1 MLM party in my entire life where I genuinely didn’t feel pressure to make a purchase on the spot. Most of the parties I have attended end by having each guest meet one on one with the distributor to place an order. It is REALLY an awkward meeting when you don’t want to order anything. I have ordered products out of sheer guilt in this exact situation more than once.
3. You feel pressure to sell. This is one of the most unnerving points about MLM companies. All you want is to try that cookware/face wash/nail wrap that your friends have recommended to you, and somehow your request to order has been turned into an attempt by the distributor to give you a new career. What the what?!?!?!
4. The products seem more expensive than is reasonable. And once you start hearing about the fabulous “business” opportunity, you start to put two and two together. It feels like you are paying one heck of a premium so that an upline can passively rake in the dough.
These are all legitimate concerns, and ones that I until very recently shared, myself. So what caused me to feel differently? Let’s unpack what happened to cause my fears to subside.
Why You Should Reconsider
1. I fell in love with a superior product. My opinions first shifted when I started using a product line that was SO extremely impressive. Young Living oils have made a very significant difference in the overall health and wellness of my own family, and that made me not only willing, but also really excited, to share my experience with others. And seeing and hearing stories from my friends about all the ways YL oils are helping them, in addition to the amazing seed to seal guarantee that Young Living has, have made me feel more than certain that YL oils are worth far more than their cost. I cannot speak for any MLM company beside my own, but I know there are many instances where distributors can tell you from their own experience that the products they have to offer are unmatched.
2. I realized that I was paying for much more than just a product, in a good way. Young Living has made the decision not to be available at mass market retailers, but instead, through a network of distributors. They could be pouring millions upon millions of dollars into a humongous corporate structure the same way, for example, Revlon does. And they do pour millions upon millions into a structure; it just looks different. It is, instead, a network of women and men all over the world who are passionate advocates and loyal users of the products, who are available to be resources to customers and help them with their questions and concerns, every step of the way in their oil journey. They are creating meaningful work for so many people. The Revlons of the world do that, too, it just looks different. I can assure you that any time you purchase a Revlon product, you are paying for WAY more than just the product. You are paying for the thousands of employees that company has, as well as for the employees at the store where the product is being sold. By supporting an MLM, you are supporting someone you personally know (or have gotten to know), and I think that’s just incredible.
Furthermore, you should be getting MUCH more than a product when you make an MLM purchase. If you aren’t, your distributor isn’t doing his or her job, plain and simple. Your distributor is there for you as a resource, which is more than can be said for the resources you have at your disposal after buying a product through more traditional means (have you ever tried to call Amazon? OMG, it is a gray hair-inducing experience). Young Living, for example, knows that its customers are going to have questions and seek advice, and they want distributors in place to help in any way possible so that the customer doesn’t feel lost. The relationship is NOT over after the purchase has been made!
3. My team focuses on helping people, not on recruiting business people. In my MLM company, 92% of customers are not actively selling, and that’s totally fine. Furthermore, a large chunk of those who are selling are doing so very casually, which is also fine! MLM companies can be really great business opportunities for the right people. But they aren’t for everyone, nor do they need to be! They also don’t need to be the MAIN source of income for everyone who decides to go for it. That’s really up to the individual, entirely. I personally have an upline that supports, encourages, and educates. I do NOT have an upline that pushes, gives quotas, asks you to do parties, or any of that nonsense. The amount of time and effort that I choose to put into my business will be directly reflected in how I grow. And that’s up to me. I have amazing resources at my disposal, but not a soul breathing down my neck. The focus is solely on sharing our own personal experiences. And that is something I can feel really proud of; I’m never going to beg anybody to join my team. That’s just not gonna happen, and I think that more laid-back approach is becoming more commonplace, though of course, I’m sure we all have examples to the contrary!
I’d love to hear some of your thoughts about MLMs and why you might be nervous about them, or perhaps even why you have come to appreciate them and their place in the market! And if you have any questions about my own experience (again, I can only speak from the perspective of someone involved with Young Living), feel free to ask! I know many of my readers are interested in ways to earn an income from home, but there are so many scams out there that it can be really scary to know which direction to take or where to begin! You will NOT be asked to join my team by asking a question, PROMISE! 🙂