Multi-Level Marketing has evolved into what we see now as modern MLM done online. Instead of seeing distributors get busy hosting home meetings, we now see people posting on Facebook about their businesses.
Just recently, I have announced in this blog that I’m going to help again network marketers in marketing their businesses online. But I failed to clarify that it doesn’t mean I am joining companies again as a marketer.
What I mean with “helping them again” is, as an online marketer using blogging and search engine optimization, I’d like to help them learn what I do. That is if they want to use the tools and strategies I use.
Unfortunately, a lot of friends have got the wrong impression that I am now open to be recruited. So, my Email and Messenger inboxes got flooded again with solicitation messages asking me if I can join their teams.
In this blog post, I am going to clarify that message and at the same time, share my opinion, or my wish.
What is MLM or Multi-Level Marketing?
For the sake of beginners, if this is your first time to hear the word MLM, it is a kind of business wherein companies pay people for referrals. Unlike ordinary referral marketing, companies pay you for the referrals of your referrals.
Oftentimes, multi-level marketing is confused with network marketing which I will clarify here in this blog post. MLM refers to how the companies are paying their marketers while network marketing refers to how the marketers are marketing to their networks.
Usually, in ordinary referral marketing, you’re paid a commission if your referring of someone to a company resulted in a sale. If that customer decides to become a marketer and refers someone, he’s the only to be paid with a commission. But in multi-level marketing, you also get paid.
You can get paid not only from your first level of referrals but also on the second, third, fourth and so on. Hence, called multi-level marketing. What a lucrative way to earn money, right?
Instead of spending money on traditional advertising, companies pay people to tell other people about products or services. You can get paid recommending products to your network—your friends and family members.
Marketing to your network is called “network marketing”.
So, you now see the difference between those two sets of words?
My Experience With MLM and Network Marketing
I’ve spent more than a decade working in this industry, which earned me good as well as bad experiences.
In my first year of doing MLM business, I struggled because I was still building my network of friends—both inside and outside the industry.
Why did I mention the words “inside and outside”?
Later in my years of doing network marketing, I realized that it is important to become friendly and build your network if you want to succeed in the business. Inside, because those people you work with can lead you to better opportunities later. Outside, because you have to invite people to join you inside the business.
The reason I struggled in my first years was that my network for the business was small. But after several years, it has grown to the point that it became so easy for me to find new business opportunities.
If I have struggled during my first years, my latter years in the industry were productive. There were times when I earned a thousand dollars per week in commissions.
It also helped me develop a winning attitude, one of the most important skills one has to learn in order to succeed in life.
What Made Me Leave MLM Business?
My discovery of affiliate marketing has contributed to my leaving MLM business.
Affiliate marketing is also a referral kind of marketing where you can get paid promoting on the web other people’s products or companies’ products. It has similarities with MLM business except that it does not require participants entry fees and ongoing monthly maintenance.
In an MLM business, for you to become authorized to sell the company’s products, you have to avail of their product packages first. Then, when you have assembled a team of other marketers, you are required to sell a certain volume of products to earn commissions from the sales done by team members under you.
If you are a full-time marketer and really good at selling, those required volumes are easy to achieve. But most of the time, I see people fail in that requirement, so they are forced to spend their own money buying excess products they don’t need.
The principle of “fear of loss” is at work, uplines fearing they’d forfeit team commissions due to them are usually spending money more than what they’re earning.
Upon discovery of affiliate marketing where anyone can join free and there’s no monthly selling/spending requirement, I found a good alternative.
What I Wish To See in Modern MLM Business
Although I am no longer participating in MLM or network marketing, I still have a heart for the industry that first taught me entrepreneurship. Yes, because of the training in MLM I went through, a passion for entrepreneurship was developed in me.
It is for this reason that I want to help the people inside the industry especially those struggling to build their own businesses.
In my early days in MLM business, I fell in love with the idea of free enterprise. It was in Amway that I saw a company strove to instill in people a passion for entrepreneurship. They were teaching people how to register a new distributorship business with government agencies, and how to merchandise products to customers. They also hosted seminars aimed at teaching people how to build a successful home-based business.
It saddened me to see that today’s MLM businesses no longer perform those things.
Today, when you join a company as a new member, you will be greeted by an online dashboard like this:
This is a typical dashboard of a modern MLM business. It’s a little bit blurred but you will notice the links on the left side, they just provide a referral link for you to make quick money but there’s no emphasis on training and developing an entrepreneurial spirit.
It’s good to see that from the crude tools network marketers used like brochures and catalogs, people are now provided with online marketing tools. This makes marketing easier than compared before where the only way to get new customers or distributors is by meeting them face-to-face.
But there’s one thing that I noticed is missing:
The focus on teaching people entrepreneurship.
It seems companies and uplines are in a hurry to make money. And they’re teaching their newly-recruited distributors the same culture of aiming for “quick money”. Although that’s also good, I noticed people aren’t being trained on entrepreneurship.
When I was just starting in MLM business, I happened to read a book written by Robert Kiyosaki. In his book, he recommends MLM or network marketing for the reason that it is one of the best alternative ways to learn business and entrepreneurship.
But it seems it’s no longer happening in modern MLM. Companies and upline leaders are just for quick money, and only a few are interested in developing core values of an entrepreneur.
What I wish to see in modern MLM is to again have a focus on developing people to become entrepreneurs. And in today’s setting, online entrepreneurs, like the way the affiliate marketing community I have joined is currently doing.