I’ve been wanting to write this post for months. And just when I would decide to do it, I get an update from one of my friends who has added me to a group or invited me to a party and hold off.
To summarize, multilevel marketing (MLM) is where people sign up to sell products direct to the consumer with commission. So for example, if I liked Cutco knives, I could sign up to become a sales person for them. Every time I sold knives, I would get some portion of the sale. The real power with MLM companies, however, comes from recruiting others for your ‘team’ … then not only are you getting a portion of your sales but also your team’s sales.
So you can see where something like this would be attractive: you have products, a business model, sales support, and more. If you believe in what you are selling (and actually like selling), you could conceivably do well. More often than not, however, only a small percentage of people do well enough to create a full time income for themselves.
As more people are selling Shakeology, Lifevantage, Lularoe, Athena Home Novelties, Pampered Chef, Plexus, etc., now more than ever, this post is needed and maybe even appreciated by MLM people trying to do a good job. I have friends running MLM businesses that aren’t spamming everyone. If you’re considering this income option, you can be ethical, non-annoying, and profitable about it too.
Give Me Six Months
Here’s the thing. There is a certain percentage of people in my life (and probably yours) that seem to always be onto the next thing. You know, you get another notification to like their new Facebook business page and think ‘Don’t they already have like four businesses?’
Typically, these are people who move from one MLM to the next. One month they’re selling t-shirts and next month, candles.
I get invited to like pages, go to events, etc. all the time but typically, before doing anything, I’m going to lurk for six months. If you’re really serious, you’ll still be there.
Demonstrate longevity and you’ll stand out from other people in our newsfeed trying to sell us the same things.
Social Media Isn’t An Excuse To Be Lazy
You can’t just slap an update on Facebook, connect with everyone you have ever talked to, and call yourself a marketer.
Trust me, if that’s all it took, I’d have a lot more competition.
Social media is a tool in your toolbox, not a way you run your entire business. This is why the most successful MLM people have websites, email newsletters, blogs, multiple different social media accounts, and real life events. They are in their communities, donating to worthy causes. They are actually using what they are selling and letting people ask them about it.
Diversify how you talk to people and build the relationship over time. Social media is as much pull as push so encourage interactions, questions, discussion (even if you don’t agree), and overall participation.
Do A Team Leader Gut Check
I went on a walk with one of my MLM friends. She was telling me what the ‘social media expert’ on her group call told her to do and I was shocked. The tactics were very aggressive and not at all like her.
Here are things you may be asked to do by a team leader, marketing expert, or other person in your MLM group:
- Ask all your Facebook friends to have parties for you.
- Add people to online groups without asking them.
- Tag individuals in posts about your products.
- Invite people to every ‘event’ you throw, regardless of their ability to attend or interest in attending.
- Add people to your email list without asking.
- Try new social platforms you don’t entirely understand. (I Periscoped via my private account there to show my sister how mean anonymous users can be. Maybe I’ll write about that sometime!)
- Talk people into how they can ‘afford’ a product.
- Posting 10-20 times a day on Facebook and other platforms.
- Posting pictures of your children/family. (Everyone has different rules for this, just know how the people you involve feel about it.)
- Using hashtags you don’t understand (trust us, hashtags can associate you with things you #sodontwant).
I personally think this whole list is gross… but you may have certain things you are and aren’t comfortable doing.
If your gut tells you something isn’t good, don’t do it, no matter what the ‘expert’ says. And if you are being pressured to sell in ways you aren’t comfortable with, ask if you really want to be part of a company like that.
Be Mindful Of Notifications
If you are using a social media platform, consider making a fake user (or enlisting a few trusted friends) to understand how your customers are seeing things. Example, how does a public post versus a private message work? Is the link in the photo caption clickable (and is it obnoxious)?
For example, if you post to your Facebook group six times in one day and I am in the group, I’m getting six notifications. Now to you, it’s easier to do it all at once but for me (your potential customer), I’m silently wishing you’d shut up and considering opting out of the group. Staggering your posts over three days, while less convenient for you, may be far less annoying to your customers.
If you don’t get how something works, do your research and test it with a small group of people (or on your fake user account). All social media sites work a little differently and understanding those differences will not only make you more successful but not alienate your base. Trust the feedback you are getting from customers. You are ‘in it’ but they aren’t… and ultimately, they need to like you and trust you before they’ll think about buying from you.
Nurture Relationships, Not Leads
If you see little dollar signs above everyone you meet, people are going to feel that in your interactions.
I know from my business experience it can take years for someone to become a customer. If you show up to one two-hour networking event and expect to leave with ten customers, you are going to be sorely disappointed.
Let people like you. Post about your life, ask people about their lives.
At social events, my goal is to put off telling someone what I do for work as long as possible. I ask them where they are from, who we know in common, where they live, what they are doing during the upcoming weekend… anything but work. Trust me, nothing makes your business more compelling to another person than seeming completely uninterested in discussing business. It’s like you don’t need the money, and isn’t that the most relaxing kind of person to do business with? You seem content and confident, rather than another person trying to close a sale.
Desperation and sales never mix, especially in the MLM world where someone else selling the same thing you are is a literal click away.
So am I saying MLMs are evil? No.
Am I saying you should think about what you are and aren’t doing very intentionally related to marketing and running your MLM business? Yes.