Is multi-level marketing a legitimate business opportunity or is it all a scheme?
Are the products as good as they’re made out to be or is it all just hype in an attempt to get you buying and selling the products?
Chances are, at one point or another, we’ve all been approached by either family or friends regarding a multi-level marketing opportunity.
Multi-level marketing is also referred to as network marketing, pyramid selling, and referral marketing.
Over the years I’ve been approached with numerous products and “business opportunities” in the world of multi-level marketing – everything from weight loss supplements and skin care products, to magnetic therapy equipment.
I’m happy and proud (yes you read that correctly) to say I have tried my hand at multi-level marketing with several different products and companies over the years.
Welcome To The World Of MLM
I was first exposed to the world of multi-level marketing by none other than my mom believe it or not.
As I kid, I can still remember all of the catalogs, products, bags, and boxes around the house clearly marked, AVON.
At the time, I didn’t know what it was all about.
I just thought my mom really liked make-up.
My First Hurrah With Multi-Level Marketing
I was introduced to the world of multi-level marketing while working for a physical therapy company after finishing up graduate school.
Ron, another sports therapist I worked with, began talking to me about this company and great business opportunity he was a part of. The company was called Nikken.
Nikken’s products were (probably still are) based on the benefits of magnetic therapy.
Ron would later invite me to attend an “event” with him which I happily accepted.
Everyone there was super friendly and Ron even introduced me to one of the company’s head honchos who promised to help make me very successful and lots of money.
During the event, I heard from people using the Nikken products and the amazing health benefits they were experiencing.
I got to hear from the people selling the products too, about all the money and lifestyle they were able to live because of it.
I was also part of a live demonstration and had the products used on me. Whether it was real or just a placebo effect, the products worked.
I had lots more flexibility after 5 minutes of using the product than I did before using it.
I was hooked – I wanted in – and I got in.
I purchased my “starter-kit” for $50 which was nothing more than a planner, a calendar, and lots of info on the products.
Looking back now, I realize it wasn’t the products I was excited about, it was the success, the money, the business opportunity that intrigued me the most.
It was the picture, the lifestyle that was painted for me by all of the folks at the “event” that I attended that hooked me.
After just a few months of being a part of this new company Nikken, I began thinking to myself – “this sucks.”
Let me be fair and clarify that it wasn’t the products that I thought sucked, it was the business structure that I wasn’t a fan of.
So I gave it up.
I stewed about the $50 I spent and felt as though I had been had and manipulated into joining.
Round Two With Multi-Level Marketing
It was seven years before another multi-level marketing opportunity came along that peaked my interest to the point where I felt it deserved my attention and consideration.
This time is was a company by the name of Nutrametrix.
I was intrigued by the fact that these were products that were being pitched to medical doctors so that they would recommend (not prescribe) them to their patients.
In fact, many of the doctors became distributors themselves and had the products on display in their offices.
I though to myself, “OK – this has to be legit and a good product if doctors are willing to carry and recommend these products, AND get involved in the business side of things as well“.
A Nutrametrix distributor by the name of Garrett would soon take me under his wing.
He flew me out to Indianapolis for one of their “events” where I was once again greeted by very nice and energetic people.
Once there, I became a believer in the products, benefits, and business opportunity.
More than the products and benefits, it was the business opportunity that really caught my attention and sparked my interest this time around.
The picture that was painted for me was that I would be approaching and working with not just anyone, but with medical doctors.
I was told I would be a nutraceutical rep.
A what? I know – just go with it.
It was explained to me that it was similar to a pharmaceutical sales rep, but not.
The definition of “nutraceutical” by the way is a food containing health-giving additives and having medicinal benefit.
I loved the idea, loved the products, and loved all I was promised in terms of success, money, and lots of customers – and not just any customers either – professionally licensed doctors.
This time my invest to get started wasn’t just $50 – it was just over $1000.
4 months later – I called it quits… again.
It wasn’t that I didn’t like or believe in the products either. In fact, I really did like the products and used them regularly myself.
It was the business side of multi-level marketing that turned me off.
Too many processes, steps to follow, paperwork to submit, hoops to jump through, and more and more money to invest in monthly to “get to the next level” or “build my business“.
Thanks but no thank.
Round Three Of Multi-Level Marketing (Enter Chris Brogan)
Just a little over a year ago, I was approached with a multi-level marketing opportunity like no other.
I was living in Boston and decided to reach out to and connect with several people in the world of online business and marketing as I had just launched The Wellness Bucket.
One of these people that I had the pleasure of connecting with was none other than Chris Brogan.
Anyone who’s in the world of online business and marketing knows who Chris Brogan is and if you don’t, it’s possible you’ve been living under a rock.
Seriously though, if you do any kind of business online, get to know him – it’s not only his work that’s awesome, he’s a super cool, laid back, and down to earth guy.
Chris and I, along with his girlfriend Jacqueline, all met up for coffee.
It was then that I was presented with yet another multi-level marketing opportunity – except this time it wasn’t just by anyone – this time it was Chris Brogan asking me to be part of his team.
Chris and Jacqueline were part (and I believe still are) of a company called Visalus.
They knew about my background in health, sales, and that I had just launched The Wellness Bucket.
Because of this, they thought I would be the perfect fit for their fast growing Visalus team.
Aside from potentially getting the opportunity to work with Chris, Visalus also offered a unique angle when it came to their products.
They have what’s called a Challenge Group – which they describe as a fun and simple way for members of the Visalus (Vi) Community to connect and support each other toward reaching their Challenge goals.
Essentially, this is their “event“. Different wording, same idea.
Get people there, show them the products, expose them to the business opportunity, and sign them up.
The part that was different from anything I had heard before was their Project 10 Kids initiative. It worked like this… for every 10 lbs you lose or someone you brought on lost, ViSalus would donate 90 days of nutritious meals, drinks or snacks on your behalf to one of their Project 10 Kids charity partners.
I was more than intrigued by the opportunity to not only work directly with Chris, but to also help make a difference in the lives of others, in this case kids, in the process.
I had just launched The Wellness Bucket a few months ago and it was my main focus.
I had no interest whatsoever in getting involved in any type of multi-level marketing opportunity but seriously, how could I not consider this opportunity – a chance to work, learn, and grow from someone whose work I admired and respected.
I mean come on – Chris Brogan’s the freakin man!
After much thought and serious consideration, I decided to not join Visalus, therefore forfeiting my opportunity to work directly with Chris.
I’ve revisited this decision many times over wondering if I made the right decision.
As much as I would have loved to work with Chris, to have learned and be mentored by him, I know I made the right decision – the decision that was best for me.
How do I know this you ask?
Because I’ve tried going the multi-level marketing route twice in the past and both times I decided it wasn’t for me.
In addition to that, I had just started The Wellness Bucket and that’s where all of my time, effort, and energy was going (still is).
More than anything, I just trusted my gut, my intuition, telling me is wasn’t the right opportunity for me.
I’m happy with the decision I made.
The Pros Of Multi-Level Marketing
Here’s what I consider the pros of multi-level marketing to be:
It’s an established business.
There’s lots of help and support available to you.
You’re working for yourself.
You can put in as much or as little time into it as you want.
You get access and discounts to some great products.
With the right mindset, effort, and support, it can be very lucrative.
What I Personally Don’t Like About Multi-Level Marketing
It’s reputation of being a “schemey” business model.
All the hype and exaggerated promises.
The upfront and monthly financial investment you’re required to make.
The overly complicated structure of building your team and getting paid.
The loss of trust from people and customers who no longer know if you’re recommending a product because you really do believe in it or are just looking to make a sale.
Opportunity Exists Where You Create It
I recently found out that Jim Rohn, who I am a huge fan of and consider a mentor, got his start in multi-level marketing with a company called AbundaVita back in 1955.
In 1957 he joined another multi-level marketing company called Nutri-Bio where he built one of the largest organizations in the company. In 1960 when Nutri-Bio expanded into Canada, he was selected to serve as a vice president for the organization. The rest is history.
He would go on to become an author, motivational speaker, and a pioneer in the personal development industry.
Multi-level marketing can and does work IF, and this is a big IF….. you believe in the products you are selling, have a genuine interest in helping others, and put in the necessary time and effort.
Nothing works unless you do – including multi-level marketing.
The idea that you can do it for just a few hours a week and create a success business, team, and the associated financial rewards is foolish.
Success, any success, regardless of the business or industry, requires hard work, time, commitment, effort, and perseverance.
Is Multi-Level Marketing For You?
Here’s three questions to asked yourself to help you determine whether or not multi-level marketing is for you:
1) Are you excited about and believe in the company and products you’re about to represent?
2) Are you committed to making a difference in the lives of others, and not just a dollar?
3) Are you willing to work your ass off? (I’m serious)
If you’ve answered yes to all three of these questions, go for it.
If you do decide to go for it, I suggest reading the following three books that will help you tremendously – not just in multi-level marketing either, but in life too:
Think & Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
How To Win Friends & Influence Others by Dale Carnegie
Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini
Why Not Make Money From Products I’m Going To Recommend Anyways?
I’m often asked if I recommend any products or services to my clients.
“Mike, if you’re going to recommend products anyways, why not make some money in the process?”
That’s a legitimate question and one I am happy to answer.
I often do recommend different products and services to the clients I work with although I don’t have an allegiance to any one company or product.
I recommend products that I use, believe in, or have done enough research on to feel enough to recommend.
The products are often from several different companies.
What I know (because they’ve told me) is that my clients feel comfortable with my recommendations because they trust that I have their best interests at heart.
I recommend what I believe to be the best option based on what each individual client needs, and not based on a company I’m associated with or their product line.
My Future In Multi-Level Marketing
Will I ever give multi-level marketing another try?
I know – never say never, although I’m pretty confidence saying I will not.
The products can be great.
The business opportunity is certainly there IF it’s approached with the right mindset.
It’s definitely an entrepreneurial endeavor which I love.
It just isn’t for me.
Do What Works For You
I have many friends and know of many people who are involved one way or another in the world of multi-level marketing.
I’ve been approached many many times over the years with different products and business opportunities that I was told I just had to hear about.
I know this is a trend that will continue and I’m perfectly fine with it too.
Because I respect these folks. They’re just doing what they’re suppose to be doing in the world of multi-level marketing, which is talking to as many people as they can about the products they sell and believe in along with the associated business opportunity.
I say, good for them!
Nothing works unless they do.
Success Leaves Crumbs
If you’re considering trying your hand at multi-level marketing, I’ll leave you with the following words of advise – compliments of Tony Robbins, another mentor of mine.
Advice that anyone in any industry that craves success can begin following immediately….
“If you want to be successful, find someone who has achieved the results you want and copy what they do and you’ll achieve the same results.”
Regardless of what you decide – I wish you the very best.