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.