27 replies
Okay, I don't normally take clients who are in MLM because it feels icky to me, but one of the people in my close circles is a distributor for an MLM business, and he's professional and I trust him that he'll foot the up front costs to really follow through and implement the stuff I write. Plus he's paying me a LOT, with a good percentage of his profits for the next year.

So I can go about this in two ways.

1. Lead with the opportunity to earn extra income and become a distributor as a way to be financially set for retirement (his target market is people looking for additional income in retirement)

2. Lead with the product and get them to become a customer first (give them a free product as a lead magnet), then in a follow-up email sequence present the opportunity to make extra income with it.

The second option is the one I'm leaning toward. But I think more people will respond initially to the promise of "Grow your income in retirement" rather than "Send a free greeting card to your niece" (It's a greeting card MLM company, Send Out Cards). There's just more pain with the first one.

I want to hear your opinions. Should I start out by marketing the opportunity, then explain the product, or should I lead with the product, then offer the opportunity to become a distributor after they've become customers?

Thanks!
Drew
#hate #mlm
  • Profile picture of the author angiecolee
    Careful with this one - a lot of MLM type companies require approval from corporate/compliance before you can create your own marketing materials. I've had people approach me about this in the past.

    Are you talking about print collateral? Emails only?

    I'd find out if you need to run it up the chain before you get too in-depth with planning.
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  • Profile picture of the author Alex Cohen
    Originally Posted by drewcer View Post

    Okay, I don't normally take clients who are in MLM because it feels icky to me, but one of the people in my close circles is a distributor for an MLM business, and he's professional and I trust him that he'll foot the up front costs to really follow through and implement the stuff I write. Plus he's paying me a LOT, with a good percentage of his profits for the next year.
    If MLM is truly "icky" to you, good luck trying to sleep at night. It won't matter if he's paying you a lot or a little.

    It doesn't matter how professional your client is... MLM at its core is a con where a few people at the top victimize the many at the bottom.

    Alex
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    • Profile picture of the author Enfusia
      Originally Posted by Alex Cohen View Post

      If MLM is truly "icky" to you, good luck trying to sleep at night. It won't matter if he's paying you a lot or a little.

      It doesn't matter how professional your client is... MLM at its core is a con where a few people at the top victimize the many at the bottom.

      Alex
      Hi, as the former owner of an international network marketing company (mlm) I would like to seriously challenge your statement.

      Like in any business there are shysters. There are shyster copywriters, politicians, musicians, businessmen and more.

      However, to broadly label an industry with one stroke is unbecoming of a wordsmith.

      Let me give you one example. I had a guy that was introduced to my company through a distributor. He was new to America. He knew no one. He had a poor paying job and wanted more.

      He enrolled with my company and used the "unlimited lifetime leads" eBook I had written to get his start. Within 3 months he had over 300 customers and over 100 distributors in his organization. Within one year he had purchased a home, paid cash for 2 cars and had a fiance.

      How did the little guy get hurt here. He didn't he prospered.

      Just something for you to think about.

      If you say this is but one story, no, there are many more.

      Patrick
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      • Profile picture of the author Alex Cohen
        Patrick,

        As I stated in my post, a few do succeed.

        But most don't... for a variety of reasons. And as they're failing, the few at the top are right there... with their hands outstretched... taking advantage of the effort and finances of those who don't succeed.

        Alex
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        • Profile picture of the author Lance K
          Originally Posted by Alex Cohen View Post

          Patrick,

          As I stated in my post, a few do succeed.

          But most don't... for a variety of reasons. And as they're failing, the few at the top are right there... with their hands outstretched... taking advantage of the effort and finances of those who don't succeed.

          Alex
          How is that any different than most businesses, MMO opportunities, athletic aspirations, etc.? Lack of results doesn't automatically make someone a victim at the hands of another.
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          • Profile picture of the author Alex Cohen
            Originally Posted by Lance K View Post

            How is that any different than most businesses, MMO opportunities, athletic aspirations, etc.? Lack of results doesn't automatically make someone a victim at the hands of another.
            Tactics.

            Alex
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        • Profile picture of the author Enfusia
          Originally Posted by Alex Cohen View Post

          Patrick,

          As I stated in my post, a few do succeed.

          But most don't... for a variety of reasons. And as they're failing, the few at the top are right there... with their hands outstretched... taking advantage of the effort and finances of those who don't succeed.

          Alex
          This could be said of our political process (including your answer of "tactics").
          We have a few, getting rich from the labors of others.

          All corporations work in the same manner.

          To say that governments and corporations use any better tactics would be in most cases laughable.

          I owned a network marketing company where we spent a goodly portion of revenues helping people climb up and change their lives.

          I don't know you and cannot speak to your true position and or why you are blanketing an industry. But since it's "tactics" are the base of capitalism I would ask if it with this stone you grind your axe?

          Patrick
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          • Profile picture of the author Alex Cohen
            Originally Posted by Enfusia View Post

            This could be said of our political process (including your answer of "tactics").
            We have a few, getting rich from the labors of others.

            All corporations work in the same manner.

            To say that governments and corporations use any better tactics would be in most cases laughable.

            I owned a network marketing company where we spent a goodly portion of revenues helping people climb up and change their lives.

            I don't know you and cannot speak to your true position and or why you are blanketing an industry. But since it's "tactics" are the base of capitalism I would ask if it with this stone you grind your axe?

            Patrick
            Oh man, this is getting ridiculous. Of course I'm in favor of capitalism. Private value exchange... it's a good system

            The topic is MLM and the predatory nature of its business model.

            Politicians use deceptive tactics, so it's okay for MLMs to do the same - is that really your argument?

            MLM owners and their lawyers insure that their programs are in compliance with the law. Unfortunately, many distributors don't get the memo and use all sorts of deceptive and manipulative tactics to sell the dream.

            Some marketing organizations in MLM even advise their distributors not to use the name of the company in the initial prospecting contact.

            Countless family relationships have been destroyed.

            Countless distributors have thousands of dollars worth of product rotting away in their basements.

            .Over and out...

            Alex
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            • Profile picture of the author Enfusia
              Originally Posted by Alex Cohen View Post


              Politicians use deceptive tactics, so it's okay for MLMs to do the same - is that really your argument?

              Alex
              No sir, that would never be my argument.

              Just as a final statement. My company didn't use your espoused tactics. I was very thorough in policing that.

              Toploading; or the act of selling someone a garage full of stuff to sell has been illegal since the late 90's.
              In fact. On our order forms and website you had to affirm that you had used, sold or consumed at least 70% of your previous order(s) before you were allowed to make another purchase.

              The vast majority of marital challenges likely existed prior to them engaging in a company. But, I would venture to guess that spouses have the same general reaction to IM when you tell them you're going to make money online.

              Thank you, Patrick
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    • Profile picture of the author Rustyknuckles
      Originally Posted by Alex Cohen View Post

      If MLM is truly "icky" to you, good luck trying to sleep at night. It won't matter if he's paying you a lot or a little.

      It doesn't matter how professional your client is... MLM at its core is a con where a few people at the top victimize the many at the bottom.

      Alex
      I would have to disagree with the broad stroke statement that MLM is a con. MLM is a vehicle for the average guy to have a home based business. If he chooses to be ethical great, if he choose to be a con than it is not the MLM but the man that is the con.
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  • Profile picture of the author Raydal
    I've written for many MLM companies and the best option is #1--lead
    with the opportunity. Of course depending on your approach you'll
    have to choose your target market carefully. The same people who
    want the product (consumer) are not usually the same who want the
    business.

    But if you don;t believe in the business model then it would be hard
    to write convincingly about something you don't believe in (at least
    for me.)

    -Ray Edwards
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    • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
      Originally Posted by Raydal View Post

      I've written for many MLM companies and the best option is #1--lead
      with the opportunity.
      I agree. It's far easier to get a business person to get excited about your product...and build a business.....then to get a consumer to like your product, and then try to turn them into a business person. The serious money is in leading with the opportunity.

      Want a limited stagnant group of customers, that never sell or recruit? Start with the product. They will buy the product, but they will never do anything else....You want salespeople and business owners, who aren't afraid to promote.

      I was in MLM for a short time, (maybe 5 years) but had a direct sales company for 35 years. Lead with the opportunity.
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      • Profile picture of the author Cam Connor
        Originally Posted by Claude Whitacre View Post

        I agree. It's far easier to get a business person to get excited about your product...and build a business.....then to get a consumer to like your product, and then try to turn them into a business person. The serious money is in leading with the opportunity.

        Want a limited stagnant group of customers, that never sell or recruit? Start with the product. They will buy the product, but they will never do anything else....You want salespeople and business owners, who aren't afraid to promote.

        I was in MLM for a short time, (maybe 5 years) but had a direct sales company for 35 years. Lead with the opportunity.
        Yea, I've written for MLM too, and despite my clients insisting that they should lead with the product, I advised leading with the biz.

        Claude, you're a sales guy... have you studied any Dani Johnson? She's really the bomb. She teaches MLM sales, but literally ANY sales person should listen to her stuff (when she's not droning on about her miserable childhood that is).

        Back when I was in sales, listening to her stuff was how I really "got it". Sales is super easy once you get it. Though Copywriting is better for introverts (such as I am).
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        • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
          Originally Posted by Cam Connor View Post

          Yea, I've written for MLM too, and despite my clients insisting that they should lead with the product, I advised leading with the biz.

          Claude, you're a sales guy... have you studied any Dani Johnson? She's really the bomb. She teaches MLM sales, but literally ANY sales person should listen to her stuff (when she's not droning on about her miserable childhood that is).

          Back when I was in sales, listening to her stuff was how I really "got it". Sales is super easy once you get it. Though Copywriting is better for introverts (such as I am).
          I've read every MLM book published in the 1980s-90s. Not because I was in MLM, but because I knew some were written by real players in the game, and I thought I could use the principles of their ideas in other businesses. Dani Johnson sounds familiar, but not someone I've really studied. Most MLM speakers and trainers are appealing to non business/sales people. Which wasn't me.

          I was with Alpine Air purifiers for several years. I made some serious money with it too. The guy that recruited me, sold the product himself, as well as recruited. But all the real money was in the constant stream of recruits. And we recruited real business people, not consumers.
          Consumers kept expecting miracles, but had no idea how to build a business.
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          • Profile picture of the author savidge4
            This whole discussion hinges on the pay off in the back end. In all of the MLM I have been personally involved with the "Opportunity" is NEVER where the money is. But then again I am selective in the ones I participate in. So to understand which of the 2 options to focus on, is dependent on knowing where the long term profit is.

            There are many factors in this choice as well. the back end structure has a lot to do with how you work the front end of an offer. is it Binary, Unilevel, Stairstep, or Matrix? ( Im particularly keen on the Binary set-up ) How much time is needed to develop good quality structure? What happens with broken links? is there room for weak legs? Are there sales minimums? are they obtainable? Is there high inbound turnover? I could ask questions all day long.. but these are questions that need to be answered.

            Your "Client" needs to know the answers to all of this.. again to make an informed choice as to the direction.. if he is asking YOU to make the choice? I might walk away unless YOU know the answers.

            I personally look for the "Opportunities" that have strong product back ends. I always start with retailing the product first. Once that aspect of the business is developed, it is very easy to show the Opportunity as just that.. as in, here is the amount of product I have sold and here is the average monthly income this "Opportunity" is bringing in a month.

            This method changes the dynamic of the "Opportunity". Instead of selling.. hey call your aunts and uncles and rope in the neighbor, this has got legs... you are honestly presenting a business model, and not a pyramid scheme.

            I could care less about my down line development. I could care less about reaching this rank or that. ( this tends to drive your up line crazy ) Its about developing an actual working business model that you can share with those that are interested and being able to sleep at night.
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            • Profile picture of the author ewenmack
              Network marketing was how I got my start
              in direct response advertising and sales.

              It got me out of my job as a livestock manager.

              I would run ads in newspapers across about
              a quarter of the country.

              Here's how antiquated it was back in the late
              80's.

              On taking the phone call I would then get the caller
              to agree to buy, write down my bank account number,
              get her to drive to my bank and deposit the money
              then phone back to confirm she had done that.

              Try to get anybody to do that today!

              Never really was any good at recruiting others.
              Maybe I didn't want to show them how I made retail sales,
              therefore create competition for me.

              It just seemed weird leaving them to figure out
              how to retail the products for themselves so
              I didn't recruit, despite my sponsor's and their
              sponsor doing so.

              Makes me wonder where I'd be if it wasn't for
              getting into network marketing.

              Best,
              Doctor E. Vile
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  • Profile picture of the author drewcer
    Thanks Ray. Good to know you had success with leading with the opportunity.

    I believe that the MLM business model would WORK... just not for everybody that signs up. I do believe that I can grow my client's downlines a lot, and likely help a lot of people in the process. I think that for people who take it seriously, it's a great thing--it's just that not that many people take it seriously.

    I'm still torn though; I do think leading with the product would get less leads, but the leads it does generate would convert at a higher rate to becoming a distributor because they're already passionate about the product.

    Conversely leading with the opportunity is likely to get more leads, but leads that convert at a lower rate because they're not necessarily interested or passionate about the product.

    I'm getting really mixed advice from different marketers I ask. I'll probably just do both and compare the data.
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  • Profile picture of the author Raydal
    It's a common theme in more than one area of business that the few at
    the top make it big "at the expense" of the larger group at the bottom.

    Chief executives of companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index made an average $11.7 million last year. The average production and nonsupervisory worker: $35,239. That means CEOs are paid 331 times the average worker, according to a report released this week by the AFL-CIO, a federation of trade unions.
    Top CEOs Make 331 Times the Average Worker. Does Anyone Care? - Businessweek

    -Ray Edwards
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  • Profile picture of the author Mark Pescetti
    Having been involved with a few different MLM companies, there aren't all the same. And just like most things in commerce, it depends on the marketability (and value) of the product.

    The two products I did sell were things I actually used... and loved. Their comp plans worked for people... who, well... worked.

    MLM does have that "scammy" bit to it. But so do pharmaceutical companies. So do clothing companies. So do supplement companies. Any company or industry CAN be a bad apple. But lumping everything together is dangerous.

    The bottom line is...

    You won't have a basement full of unused product - if you use (and believe in) what you sell.

    As Angie said...

    You need to get approval before building out your own digital marketing stuff.

    And by the way...

    If I recall, I got the most traction leading with the product in the content landers/squeeze pages... and in the main presentation. Starting out with the biz opp rarely worked. But it's been a while since I looked at any of that copy.

    Of course, when you think about it...

    Leading with the product makes sense. You want to demonstrate selling the value - before the ability to potentially make money. (Just look at it - like it's affiliate marketing. They don't sell affiliate marketing. They sell the product.)

    Mark
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  • Profile picture of the author creztor
    What does your client prefer? They must have a preference as they know their market and what works. I bet they would prefer option 1. However, I agree about MLM and it stinks like shiess, which makes me believe 2 is much better and better for the long run.
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  • Profile picture of the author sethczerepak
    Originally Posted by drewcer View Post

    Okay, I don't normally take clients who are in MLM because it feels icky to me, but one of the people in my close circles is a distributor for an MLM business, and he's professional and I trust him that he'll foot the up front costs to really follow through and implement the stuff I write. Plus he's paying me a LOT, with a good percentage of his profits for the next year.

    So I can go about this in two ways.

    1. Lead with the opportunity to earn extra income and become a distributor as a way to be financially set for retirement (his target market is people looking for additional income in retirement)

    2. Lead with the product and get them to become a customer first (give them a free product as a lead magnet), then in a follow-up email sequence present the opportunity to make extra income with it.
    Neither.

    There's a third option that beats both.

    Sell the person making the offer.

    In the past 18 years, I've met a total of four people who were wildly successful at MLM. NONE of them led with the products OR the opportunity. They led with themselves as an expert trainer and a helpful business coach.

    No matter how well you sell the opportunity OR the product, there are hundreds, thousands even, of other people offering the same thing. All it takes is one Google search for the company or product name.

    Selling the leadership and the personality of the recruiter is your only hope at differentiation. That said, if you can't get behind the person with your copy, which is the case more than 99% of the time, don't waste your time.
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    • Profile picture of the author cosmolito
      If you want to build a REAL business, lead with the opty.

      If you sell just a product, you'll end up with another J.O.B.
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  • Profile picture of the author Ross Bowring
    MLM was my entry point into marketing, and the entry point for lots of other bright folk I know in marketing circles who have gone on to spread their wings into other niches.

    Every single industry, bar none, has a "dark side."

    As an introduction to business, prospecting and personal development I think it can be a great springboard for someone with initiative.

    --- Ross
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  • Profile picture of the author andyang
    You need to know the person you are speaking to.

    You lead with the opportunity for those who are looking for a career change/ extra income source. If they turn it down you can promote the product.

    If someone likes the product sell them the product. Many users will become distributors once they believe in products.

    MLM is an 'anytime' business if you really believe the products.

    Look for the right people. They need to sell themselves on the idea otherwise you will forever be cracking the whip and wasting your time. It's kinda like trying to polish a turd- it will never shine
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    • Profile picture of the author Cam Connor
      Beware the Necromancer...
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  • Profile picture of the author copyassassin
    Personally, I also think MLM's are scammy. At the very least it's a bad business model because you don't own the brand, customers, or any other related assets. You're really just a salesman. Not a business owner as they say.

    BUT, BUT, BUT...

    I got my start there.

    It opened my mind to an entire new world.

    I think MLM is the kindergarden of top level marketers.

    Almost everysingle top one I know of has at one point been involved in one (sometimes many more).

    There is so much to learn from the experience.

    The reality of it all, after reading your posts above, is that unless you are the product/service/licenase owner of something, you too are basically an outsourced salesman working on commission, owning nothing. You are basically a MLM yourself.

    Even affliate marketers are a form of MLM. And yes, affilaite marketers can make a crap ton of money. I do the taxes for several of them, and see there gross and net numbers. I see lots of profit.

    But, it's not a long term viable model. MLM is not a long term model to aspire to.

    BUT, it is a great beginning. I would even tell my kids to join one at some point.

    Adam
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  • Profile picture of the author jessegilbert
    MLMs I think are basically all scams...but a lot of the people that work in them are honest, hard working people who simply haven't found better opportunities. If you talk to MLM members personally a lot of them are simply normal, cool people you can relate to easily.

    And the model could have some potential benefits for the right kind of product...but I would never use the system with all the fancy matrixes etc...

    Then, there are a lot of them who are, to put it bluntly, just plain stupid and look to push one button and get money...Or pay a buy in fee and think they will automatically earn money.

    It's hard to say...I would deal with MLMs personally because they have reach...major numbers of people and potential for rapid distribution...But I would only deal with the top people...the 'pharoahs' of the pyramid schemes...

    My mindset is: I am beyond Pharaohs and pyramids...I am like Moses, I'm 'The Copy Prophet'...My destination is Mt Sinai and my customers and business partners are my tribe...

    And to get to the hordes of customers at the bottom of their pyramids and get their cash in my bank account, where it belongs, the quickest way is to deal with with the top people and their email lists ok enough of my 'arrogant' marketing humor...
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