I don’t get worked up about very many things. Call it my stoic Swedish side, the one I passed on to my twin daughters who poker face their way through all shopping trips.
However, I’ve read quite a few articles and posts about network marketing lately, and as an average age-bracket, targeted consumer, I feel prompted to speak up.
Maybe it’s because I’ve been approached numerous times. Maybe it’s because my Jamberries ripped, my Doterra spilled in the car, and my hamburger didn’t fit in my Shakeology food portion jailers. Or maybe, it’s because I see a few problems with the how network marketing views me as a potential customer.
- Network marketing breeds negative comparison
I can’t scroll through my Facebook or Instagram feeds without seeing someone’s tan and muscled abdomen, someone’s stylized protein shake, someone’s sparkling sink or someone else’s glowing skin.
We live in an age where advertising is almost impossible to escape. But now that it has infiltrated social media through network marketing, we are forced not just to compare ourselves to the nameless face on the billboard, but to Sally, the girl we know and went to college with.
Combine that with the fact that the average adult spends 4.7 hours a day looking at social media on their phone, and suddenly, the time we potentially spend battling comparison skyrockets into almost a third of our day.
Even though comparison is the basis for selling most things, network marketing, with its targeted audience of friends, co-workers, family members, and acquaintances, creates a major source of unnecessary, unhealthy comparison in our lives.
I don’t particularly want to be targeted that way. Do you?
2. Network marketing doesn’t want your one-time sale. They want a line item in your budget.
This is not a new tactic for anyone in sales. Every business wants to bring customers back for more of what they’re selling. The difference with network marketing products is that they’re often priced in such a way that the average consumer can’t, or isn’t comfortable, making room for them in their budget.
I hear this over and over again: “I tried this product and I loved it! Then I realized I got a discount on the product if I sold it, so now you should buy it too!
Subtext 1: “I tried a great product. I don’t want to stop using it. But I can’t afford it unless I get a discount.”
Subtext 2: “I tried a great product. I don’t want to stop using it. But if I sell it to other people, they can pay my way.
Unfortunately, in a majority of instances, this doesn’t work either. In a study published by the FTC, a staggering 99% of those involved in multi-level or network marketing lost money instead of making it.
Every product aims to build repeat customers. That’s the foundation of good business. But when the product is priced in such a way that the consumer can’t afford it without selling, distributing, or working for the business that makes it, the model is flawed.
3. Network marketing inflates discontent
In the final season of Parenthood, Adam and Crosby counsel their niece Amber about finances and job choices. Adam reminds her, “Amber, remember. Money can’t buy happiness.” Crosby replies, “Don’t believe him. Money can buy peace of mind, which is basically the same thing.”
When we see network marketing professionals posting about their news cars, their vacation plans, and the things they can do because of their disposable income, we naturally question our own choices, and allow discontent to shade how we see our lives.
Maybe we do need more money. I haven’t been on an airplane in ages. I always wanted to take my kids to Mexico. And I’ve been wearing the same coat for at least three years. And the car needs new tires. I wouldn’t worry about that if I had extra money.
But when a multi-level marketing scheme promises financial freedom, and waves around flyers for trips to Cabo and keys to a new Mercedes, beware. What they’re really doing is asking you to feel discontent enough with your own life that you’ll buy into their version.
In my personal experience with times of financial want and plenty, when I wanted more money, what I really wanted were more things and experiences and esteem, none of which had the lasting ability to give me happiness.
They did the opposite, in fact. Once I took a big trip, I just wanted to travel more. When I bought an expensive dress, I felt like I needed three others like it. Having extra money simply created a vacuum of false need, which inflated my sense of discontent.
If you are a network marketing professional, please understand one thing. I’m not attacking you or your choices. If you’ve been able to meet financial goals, stay home with your kids, quit your day job, or travel the globe because of your network marketing job, I offer you my sincere congratulations.
What I wish is that the industry as a whole would look for a more positive model for selling their products. A model that didn’t thrive on making me, as a potential consumer, feel compelled to purchase something out of guilt, shame, or discontent.
I don’t need to be sold on the fact that my life isn’t perfect. What I believe is that perfection (or network marketing’s perception of it) isn’t necessary for me to have a life worth living.
Someone bottle that truth up and market it. I dare you.
6 thoughts on “Three reasons I respectfully decline your network marketing invitations”
Thanks for you opinions on this matter. I completely understand and can identify with everything that you said. However since I have been involved in network marketing for more than 8 years. I bring a different opinion. In the beginning of my career I did get caught up in all the comparison, and discontent, but over time and since I have and continue to seek GOD in all things I do. He has taught me that true happiness lies in HIM! I now approach my business with a more humble and appropriate view point. It is my goal to remain in HIM and allow my happiness and joy to come from him. I may not be top in sales, recruiting, ect. BUT I choose to lead my team in TRUTH and understanding.
I am in a place of leadership that goes beyond what I can GET from my team, to what can I GIVE to my team! I can pray for them, I can be a kind and compassionate leader, I can guide them and give them sound advice, I can teach them and show them by my actions that true JOY comes from GOD! I can praise them and encourage them, I can lead bible studies with them ect. With time in the industry comes wisdom and my goal is to impart my wisdom and lead with respect, truth, and dignity. I think that if anyone is wanting to join a networking company that they need to take a close look at the company and the mission, along with the leader’s team that they would be joining so that they know the leader has their best interest towards that new team member.
In regards to having a different model to obtain business, I WISH there was an easier way too. The truth about direct sales is that if you have to keep bugging your family and friends to buy from you, you DON’T have a business! The goal is to have your family and friends initially support you and then from there you will be able to meet new people that you don’t know to branch out and continue to grow and meet new people. Some of those new customers may purchase again from you and some may not. It’s all about the relationship between the customer and the direct seller.
Honestly I feel that many of my family and friends DO NOT support me in my business because they are afraid of exactly what you touched on. Having to feel guilted into making a purchase. The best thing that you can do for someone you know in network marketing is to help them expand their business. You may purchase a new top at target wear it out and get many compliments on it and volunteer that you purchased it at Target and they will in turn go and buy the same top. Well, why is it so hard for someone to purchase a product from their friend and then once someone compliments them on the product to say thanks, I purchased it from my friend and then hand them your friends business card? Why wouldn’t you want to help spread the word that way? You may know that your friend is a stay at home mom and needs to make additional income, why wouldn’t you want to help your friend out? How come you care more about corporate target than caring about your friend?
Personally I would love to never ever have to ask my family and friends to purchase from me again because I have been able to meet tons of new people who love my product and WANT to come back, not feel obligated to come back and purchase. No one wants to run a business where they have to beg people to purchase their product!
In regards to the person who joins the business just to get the kit at an awesome deal and then use the product for themselves at a discount, if that is the case then why are they asking family and friends to buy from them. Use it for your personal discount and call it a day. Allow those that want to work the business work the business. Those people that sign up and then don’t do anything with the business are not helping those that are working the business at all. If someone joins and tries to work the business then decides it’s not for them that’s one thing. At lease they tried something new and got out of their comfort zones!
Also there are different types of network marketing businesses. Those that make you money by getting a lot of people to join your team and purchase for themselves like a buying club. Others like the one I am involved in make their money by actively selling. When my team members make a purchase with their discount, I make NOTHING on that purchase! I only make money on my team when they are selling at retail and when I meet my monthly sales goals!!! It forces you to really WORK the business and not use it as a buying club!
I hope that my response has not offended you, but maybe helped you understand what it really is all about. Direct sales is hard, and takes a lot of hard work, dedication, and guts to put yourself out there. I get rejected every day, and I have learned to not take it personally! I have a wonderful product and I believe I am a great leader who is REAL and lead by TRUTH! If someone doesn’t see the value of my product or company that is OK everyone is entitled to decide what is valuable to them and their personal values. My goal is to work with and sell to those that WANT my product, not those that don’t WANT my product.
p.s. I bet that if you were to take all the products that are being sold through direct sales and put them on the Target shelf they would sell and many people would be sharing how awesome these products are! And no one would feel guilty about it at all!
Dear friend, thank you for feeling free to share your thoughts. As I mentioned, I don’t want anyone to feel attacked – I’m simply musing to see if there’s a better way for network marketing to do business.
I’m glad that you’re able to use your business to lead, guide, and share your beliefs with the women you’re working with. I can understand how camaraderie is one of the main reasons people enjoy network marketing and direct sales. However, faith-based outreach is not the motivation for a majority of network marketers. If it were, perhaps we’d see more of an industry change!
Generally, I’m happy to share good people providing good services and products. Unfortunately, I just don’t see that many ethically necessary, fairly priced products promoted through network marketing, which leads me to steer clear.
The difficulty I’m having now is that it’s harder and harder to use social media and yet maintain my distance from those trying to sell me things. The personal messages, group additions, and constant posts about product and result are wearing on a person.
The only easy solution is to cut out social media, which may not be a bad idea on a number of levels….
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I liked and appreciated your thoughts Rach. Well said!
Hello mmate great blog post