Why All Of The Multi Level Marketing (MLM) Hate?

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Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

People have scoffed at Multi Level Marketing (MLM) for years. They will tell you how it is all a pyramid scheme. They will also happily let you know that a product just like yours is available for a lot less at Walmart or Asda. Many of us roll our eyes at the never-ending cheerleading that goes on Instagram, Facebook, and other platforms about the latest, greatest business opportunity.

Ever notice how the owner of your local drycleaner isn’t going to pep talks or working their business into every conversation? They’re not begging friends and families to invest and bring their shirts. They’re providing a service that people want and, hopefully, doing it at a competitive rate with great quality.

Multi-level marketing is seen as the territory of bored housewives or stay at home moms. They are the #bossbabes who don’t realize the rest of the world is mocking the #bossbabe hashtag. They’re the #momtrenuers, huns, and #teammom types that are building businesses on their phones while standing in the play yard. They are mocked for saying they’re business owners and mocked even more for their never-ending Instagram quotes.

Insert short pet peeve rant here:

Hon is short for honey.

Hun is noun 1. a member of a warlike Asiatic nomadic people who invaded and ravaged Europe in the 4th–5th centuries.

A few reasons for the upswing in MLM hate:

The people who don’t actively love MLM and just see this as easy money will sell themselves short. They’re about the appearance. If you had more fun putting together your organizer than contacting some prospects, you’re in the wrong line of work. You will not profit. You will be yet another #bossbabe. You will blame the MLM and you’ll repeatedly waste money and time going from one #opportunity to another. You will also turn off every family member and friend on Facebook with your endless emojis and self-pleased talk about how you’re not letting strangers raise your kids. How YOU’RE not missing out on those special moments. Yet, if you added up the time invested by how much you’ve made so far, you’d likely discover you’d be better off delivering papers. Many more women will realize they’ve lost money. Your business should never be an expensive hobby.

It is sold as a social club and being part of a team, preying on lonely women.

Cruises, trips to Las Vegas, and weekly conference calls are common. You have a mentor, an upline, and you’re creating your team of others who want to be successful just like you. They say that they only succeed if you do — which is partially true. Yet, remember, YOU only succeed if you’re finding others who are willing to do the work to create THEIR team. There are many ways to get into a social club without spending hundreds on housewares, vitamins, or exercise schemes. Be sure what you want is the business and you’re not just seeking comradery.

Lots of vague posts with emojis.

I realize that this works. If it didn’t work, people wouldn’t do it. MLM marketing is arrogant and childish. It is full of emojis and hashtags and endless slogans about putting your kids first or investing in yourself. I used the same tactics when I was involved with a MLM almost two decades ago. It was easy to say, “Just find eight customers!” and have people easily imagine eight people who would happily buy from them. The reality is they needed eight people to sign up for a monthly delivery that’d likely be over $100. Could they find eight people like that? Unlikely. Unless those eight people also felt they could find eight people and here our pyramid, um, I mean levels, are built.

I believe the MLM hatred is stemming from the same place as the vaguebooking frustration. We all have the person that posts, “Life sucks..” and when asked about it either says, “PM ME HUN!” or “I don’t want to talk.” I can usually pick out which MLM business a person is promoting by the vague terms they love. Non-toxic products? Melaleuca. Get fruits and veggies in the easy way? Juice plus. Natural ways to promote wellness? Essential oils. Eat carbs and don’t absorb them! Well, I admit I don’t remember the name of this one because it recently switched names. Hint though, it doesn’t work but it IS a profitable business.

And that is another reason people dislike MLMs — too many make insane claims that don’t pass the sniff test. You must rely on the same folks who buy time shares and extended warranties on blenders to buy into your products.

So why this article? I am not a MLM member. I enjoyed being part of one previously, but haven’t found any business that meets my criteria for investing my time and energy. My motivation from this article is twofold.

First, I dislike that stay at home moms have turned into the butt of many jokes due to the MLM world. It seems like every mother is either a budding photographer or MLM distributor. Friends from years ago will contact me through Facebook to “catch up”, but it’s only leading to a sales pitch. Many will bounce from business to business getting high off that new relationship energy.

Second, I believe a lot of creative and motivated women are selling themselves short. If you want to chase an MLM — GO FOR IT. But if you want to own a business or chase remote work — GO FOR THAT. Your $50 investment into an MLM package isn’t the same as going down to the local city building and registering your business. I do feel like either one could be profitable or a bust — it’s just important to recognize that they’re not equal.

One more point, it’s also a valid option to not want to work at home or chase a business dream. The work of raising children is that — work. It’s often repetitive, invisible, isolating and dull. The rewards are not as easy to see as it might be in other professions. Yet, it’s also okay to be about the business of creating a home and raising kids. If you are lonely, you can find friends outside of MLM.

I enjoy working with women who are reinventing themselves and chasing their goals. However, there’s a lot to be said for knowing if it isn’t the right time to do it. Or maybe there will never be a right time and you’re happy with what you’re doing now. If you wouldn’t let your friends use peer pressure to get you to smoke, please don’t let them use it to push you into MLM. If you see in yourself someone who can be a go getter and make MLM work, don’t avoid it because of the stigma. People will always be judging you for something. Right?

Written by

Former Certified Professional Midwife (aka hippy homebirth midwife) turned freelance writer and bedroom programmer. NaNoWriMo winner. Houseplant enthusiast.

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