Multi-level marketing (MLM), like Alpha Females, is often the subject of much ridicule, with pet names like pyramid scheme, scam, get-rich-quick scheme, and so on.
I couldn’t help but crack a smile when my sister-by-choice Anja suggested I write about MLM corporations. Anja’s just moved into a gorgeous new home, and on one of her first nights we spent what felt like hours unpacking box after box of, well… stuff. Tupperware. Steeped tea. Epicure. Norwex. You name it, she’s bought it. A true MLM poster child.
So I find myself wondering: what’s the deal with MLM, anyway?
Before we begin, I think it’s important to be clear about one thing: pyramid schemes are illegal. As you might imagine, that’s a pretty big no-no in the business world. I am in no way suggesting that the businesses discussed in this blog post are illegal operations, so you don’t need to worry about reporting me to The MLM Police.
Despite research to suggest that men are the bigger impulse spenders, many of the products and services that rely on MLM to stay in business have predominantly female target markets. As it stands, my only submission to temptation was an Arbonne purchase years ago, one that spawned a flurry of spammy Inbox messages and left me awash with regret (although the bronzer was pretty nice).
For the past couple of years, I’ve been a fly on the wall as the girlfriend of a high school chum (to be fair, she has since become a friend of mine, too) has put Facebook and Instagram to work for her while building her online BeachBody business. Team Full Heart, as she calls it, is made up of sweaty selfies, mouth-watering meals, and a community of women devoted to breaking a sweat in the name of healthy living.
…but then there’s some shake you’re supposed to drink. And DVDs you’re supposed to watch. And stuff you’re supposed to buy.
Kyrstin’s motto is “Sharing, Not Selling,” so I was interested to try and reconcile these competing ideas. She agreed to indulge a few of my questions because, like me, she understands that an informed judgment is seldom (read: never) the product of ignorance.
Here’s a snippet of what she had to say:
Another misconception is that I have to go door to door begging for people to buy product, or convince friends and family to host me in their home for an evening to push my products on the guests! Social media has absolutely CHANGED the multi-level marketing world, we focus more on ATTRACTION marketing – where interested consumers seek us out, or come across our eye-catching Instagram, Facebook, blog, etc. wanting more!
I share with people the real and raw version of what I do, how I got here, why I started, and why I plan on forging ahead! This seems to put people at ease and helps them realize I am a real person, offering real solutions, that not only have worked for my clients – but for my family, my friends, and myself! People buy into me and my story, before they ever buy into my programs or products!
Although I agree with this article that the word “Coach” (as in “I’m a BeachBody Coach!”) can be misleading and that “Distributor” might be a better – albeit less flattering – fit, Kyrstin raises a valid point:
If what you’re doing gets people off the couch and empowered to make changes in their lives, then who gives a what?!
As for me? I’m perfectly content shelling out my hard-earned cash for savasana in a hot yoga studio and I’ll gladly drink supermarket brand tea. But honestly: I kinda get it. Sure, marketing is about the hustle, but good marketing – that is, when executed properly – is storytelling, too. People buy you before they buy whatever it is you’re selling.
I want to know: what’s your take on multi-level marketing?
PS – Thanks for being a good sport and sharing your story with me, Kyrstin, you gorgeous unicorn, you!