What 5 Marketers Think of Multi-Level Marketing


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Written by: Rochelle Burnside | Best Company Editorial Team

Last Updated: February 24th, 2020

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Multi-level marketing has marketing in the name, but are its marketing strategies really effective? Also called network marketing or attraction marketing, multi-level marketing relies on word-of-mouth referral to a company’s products and services.

This method of marketing is, in some ways, its own benefit and drawback. It’s nice for MLM companies to have partnered marketers with skin in the game. This ensures that they will do everything in their power to promote the business.

But then the drawback is that this one-note promotion can come off as pushy and pestersome, desperate and insincere.

Another possible deficit is lack of professional training. While some MLM companies provide resources on digital marketing and promotion, they don’t always give their representatives the right tools to track their campaign.

A corporate marketer makes data-driven decisions and, if they’re unsure of their marketing campaign’s efficacy, they find a tool or test to measure their success.

Here’s what some corporate marketers think of multi-level marketers. Viewpoints vary, but not everything they had to say was bad.

Marketer's opinions

Amy Finlay, Co-Founder of Edinburgh IFA

Are there any marketing tactics representatives use that concern you?
Yes, definitely. The marketing side of these business types are moving more and more into the social media influencer sphere. Completely misleading and unrepresentative photos are being used to lure people into ‘DM them for more details,’ implying that they too can achieve the same results that they have achieved.

Countless MLM firms have admitted themselves that only a tiny percentage of people actually make these vast fortunes, yet it always seems to be these stories that are so often peddled to lure more naive people into the machine.

Finlay Pull Quote

Bob Minhas, Founder of Entrepreneur House

Are there any marketing tactics representatives use that concern you?
Tactics used are outdated, using the push methodologies similar to those ads in the 80s. However, from a numbers perspective, they have a healthy conversion in smaller suburban and rural communities with consumers who are less progressive in their buying habits. Of course, this is what leads to the backlash of Network Marketing companies being compared to an MLM or a scam.

Have you seen any impressive marketing strategies from MLM reps?
The greatest techniques I see from Network Marketing leaders are those who do not put their Network Marketing company in front of their brand. Rather, they develop their own brand and community and work to build trust and authority. The services from the Network Marketing company are simply a solution to the problem these consumers have.

Minhas Pull Quote

What could the representatives do to improve their marketing abilities?

  • Stop making the Network Marketing company your front end brand.
  • Start listening to people and what their concerns and needs are.
  • Find communities of Network Marketers outside your upline and downline so you can share best practices and support each other.
  • Never solely rely on the training provided by your Network Marketing company.
  • Treat your Network Marketing company like any business.
  • Create goals, objectives, and actions.

Jessi Beyer, Speaker and Personal Development Coach for Jessi Beyer International, LLC

Are there any marketing tactics that representatives use that concern you?
Honestly, and I don't mean to be insulting by saying this, but most of their tactics concern me. Most think that MLM businesses are some unique species of business and don't consider things like ideal audience demographics or professional tactics. The concept of reaching out to anyone and everyone you know is spammy and uncomfortable for both parties, and the lack of appreciation for traditional marketing practices worries me.

Have you seen any impressive marketing tactics from MLM reps?
I feel like MLM reps are really good at finding a lot of positives and "wins" for their recruits in the opportunity. Not only do they market the financial opportunity, but the opportunity of travel, community, impact, and more.

What could the representatives do to improve their marketing abilities?
I would suggest that reps treat their business like a business. Use social media, have a website, build an email list, look at publicity, gain credibility. I would also say that they need to stop sending so many copy-and-paste direct messages to people who aren't their ideal audience.

Beyer Pull Quote

Matt Benevento, Senior SEO Strategist at Geek Powered Studios

What could the representatives do to improve their marketing abilities?
Establishing and maintaining trust is essential for marketers who want to build a lasting identity and client relationships. Many MLM reps and businesses fail because their strategies revolve around short-term success and quick sales. This “churn and burn” tactic isn't sustainable and will eventually corrupt the brand to prospective customers and can even hurt the efforts of the marketing community as a whole, as consumers become more desensitized to all, including legitimate, marketing and advertising.
Benevento Pull Quote

Joshua Hastings, Founder of Money Life Wax

Are there any marketing tactics that representatives use that concern you?
MLM companies need to make sure their representatives are not saturating their social media feeds with products. Developing genuine relationships in any business endeavor is key to success and sometimes the “get rich quick” agenda MLMs push can make reps use interesting and spammy marketing techniques on social media.

Have you seen any impressive marketing tactics from MLM reps?
I see multi-level marketing as a viable option for those who

  • are passionate about their business.
  • have charismatic personalities, or want to develop a charismatic personality. 
  • want to own, but don't know where or how to start.

When you come across high achievers in MLM groups, they typically have a contagiously energetic personality. Energy is a great tactic in any marketing realm, regardless of what kind of marketing. Being honest and energetic is great for all parties involved!

What could the representatives do to improve their marketing abilities?
However, in my experience, the thing most MLM participants miss on is relationships. Just being normal and going about business with integrity is a skill all business owners need, regardless of what kind of business it is. Also, recognizing when someone is interested and when someone isn't and moving on is an area multi-level marketers can improve in. There is no point in trying to “convince” someone they need to work with your company.

Hastings Pull Quote

What we learned

There were some valuable takeaways from this brutal honesty. 

First, too many MLM reps are making matters worse. The FTC has given this warning a million times: do not create false product and earnings claims. MLM companies include the footnote that millionaire earnings are not representative of a majority of distributor earnings to comply with the FTC's guidelines. However, MLM reps often ignore the legal implications of their misleading or false statements, poisoning the well.

Second, the consensus seems to be that marketers want to see MLMs trying out more of their own marketing strategies with transparency. This means getting more training in growth marketing tactics and digital branding. Canned messages and untargeted outreach have been long dead in the digital marketing world, so distributors should keep up with current trends.

Next, not everything MLM reps do is bad. Enthusiasm can be a force for growth, and multi-level marketers who emphasize networking and branding have something useful to offer a downline that wouldn't get their services from any other distributor within that company. 

Finally, for the reasons above, multi-level marketing is not being taken seriously as a branch of marketing. Marketing isn't something that can be done with little to no training or research, and other marketers are worried about multi-level marketing's negative effects.

Reps have a lot they can learn to build their skills and broaden their opportunities, so trying more data-driven and transparent marketing tactics is a worthy goal in the future of many distributors.

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