I totally agree, Mary. You can lose soooo much more just by opening up a small storefront business. I was in the Spa Industry and then the economy tanked in late 2008. I did not renew my lease in 2009. Lost my several hundred thousand dollar build-out. Lost so much more than taking an MLM business seriously. Even if I would have front loaded on a ton of product, I still would have been better off. People spend $750 and get some business cards then do nothing and blame MLM.

The legal distinction between MLMs and traditional pyramid schemes has been characterized by many authorities as a legal fiction. Jurisdictions that retain a legal distinction between MLM pyramid businesses versus illegal pyramid schemes retain said distinction on two key distinguishing features: 1) that MLMs always encompass the sale of actual products/services, while traditional illegal pyramid schemes ordinarily do not (though sometimes they do), and 2) that climbing an MLM pyramid is overwhelmingly statistically improbable (especially to its highest participant levels) but not theoretically impossible, whereas climbing a traditional illegal pyramid scheme is both statistically and theoretically impossible.[citation needed]


The support factor was key. Once the MLM leads were purchased, was there somehow support in case of need? The support should be somehow resolving issues that arise, including bad mlm leads, wrong numbers or emails, and general problems. The MLM Leads companies we found that were the best, had a support system. And some type of guarantee also should be part of the network marketing lead program. 

I appreciate this comment. I’m a doTERRA gal. When I signed up I said I’d never sell. I just wanted to buy and use the oils. Then because of my love for them, people started coming to me for education and asking where they could get oils. So now I sell them. I’m not a sales person. I can’t bug my friends about stuff. But I’m growing this business because I truly believe in the products and use them every single day. I may not ever become rich from this and that’s OK with me. I won’t consider it a failure. Every person I help is a success in my book!

This article was really informative and honest! I’m not presently involved in an MLM and I don’t ever plan to be especially after reading this article and the comments below. Why? Well because of EXACTLY the kind of “networking” and “recruiting” that these companies and many of the people commenting on here are advocating. I have been bombarded on my facebook, and other social media from people I haven’t spoken to or seen in years. Its becoming constant, and I am not on social media to make money. Roden and Fields, shakeology, some girl I went to high school with is now trying to get me to buy leggins from her. I have a cousin that I actively avoid now because he is constantly steering every single conversation to Herbellife and why I NEED it to be healthy. Jesus. Its just enough already. I’m all for empowering people, and I love the idea of earning an additional income to take care of your family or yourself. But I could not imagine alienating or even just annoying friends and family in order to make an extra dollar. What I dislike most is that many of those that are recruiting make it seem as if they recruiting you simply because they want to “help” you or provide you with an opportunity. They make it seem as if they are doing this out of the goodness of their hearts, when really the actual motivation is line their own pockets with more money, because the more people you recruit for your team, the more money you make. That feels dishonest and slimy to me. Unless I’m asking for “help” or an “opportunity” I wish people would assume that I don’t need and am not interested in one!
An MLM’s compliance program should ensure that the MLM accurately represents the business opportunity it offers, both through its own marketing materials and messaging and through the representations its participants make to current or prospective participants. In addition, an MLM’s compliance program should ensure that compensation paid by the MLM is based on actual sales to real customers, rather than based on wholesale purchases or other payments by its participants.
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Because of the nature of recruitment and the dream of living the life of riches, it is no stretch to the imagination that sometimes, the real picture gets blurred between the lines. Also, MLM is notoriously known for getting you on the bad books of friends and family. This is of course a general stereotype against the industry and not a concrete consequence.
Leverage by definition refers to the opportunity to manipulate eny external effort or resources for your own gain. For example, if you loaned a certain amount from the bank and invest it into a certain profitable business, you can apply the principle of leverage by using your profit to pay your debt while gaining more. Certainly, any form of profit being generated comes directly or indirectly from the opportunty to leverage into something else outside from you.
The FTC’s case against BurnLounge provides an example. BurnLounge argued that its participants bought product packages consisting of sales websites and music-related merchandise because they wanted to use the merchandise. When BurnLounge’s product packages were untied from the business opportunity, however, monthly sales of these packages plummeted by almost 98 percent. At most, actual demand was responsible for only a small minority of package sales, and BurnLounge was found to have an unfair or deceptive compensation structure. 
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When purchasing leads, you need to know what type of information the person was looking at and where they came from. Nowadays most business opportunity leads are generated online. The leads have done various business opportunity searches on a search engine, such as “make extra money from home”, “start a home business”, etc. and have come to a landing page. They have requested information and are waiting to receive it. Sometimes these leads have visited multiple places to get more information. The quicker you get the leads after they optin the better they are, however, the more you will pay.
Growing a MLM, is recruiting others who you hope to help find success growing their own business within your organization. However, the reason many do not grow their organization is because they are not comfortable following suit of their up-line. I would never ever pay for mlm leads for a few reasons. One, I am not comfortable cold calling, selling, pitching, begging, prospecting, therefore, I would be insane to think those in my downline would be. I would never do what I would not think that my downline could do, and asking them to put themselves into so much fear and discomfort, would make me untrustworthy. I totally agree with Sukhi’s post, MLM’s are based on trust. If you want to talk to people, talk to them, build a relationship, network with others.

Walter J. Carl stated in a 2004 Western Journal of Communication article that "MLM organizations have been described by some as cults (Butterfield, 1985),[51] pyramid schemes (Fitzpatrick & Reynolds, 1997),[52] or organizations rife with misleading, deceptive, and unethical behavior (Carter, 1999),[53] such as the questionable use of evangelical discourse to promote the business (Höpfl & Maddrell, 1996),[54] and the exploitation of personal relationships for financial gain (Fitzpatrick & Reynolds, 1997)".[52][55] In China, volunteers working to rescue people from the schemes have been physically attacked.[56]
As in any business opportunity, it can be a beneficial practice if an MLM allows participants to return unsold product to the MLM because the ability to return product can decrease the risk of losing money for participants who take advantage of that policy. Allowing participants to return product, however, does not in and of itself shield an unfair or deceptive compensation structure from law enforcement. As a general matter, money-back guarantees and refunds are not defenses for violations of the FTC Act. Even where such policies are offered, dissatisfied participants may not seek a refund for a number of reasons, including because they are unaware of their right to a refund, the refund process is too complicated or obscure, or they blame themselves for not being able to sell the product.
The 2004 letter should not be misconstrued as suggesting that an MLM can lawfully pay compensation on wholesale purchases that are not based on actual consumer demand by characterizing such purchases as “internal consumption.” The 2004 letter itself does not support such a construction, nor do subsequent judicial decisions. For example, the court in BurnLounge held that, notwithstanding the defendants’ characterization that participants bought packages for “internal consumption,” the compensation paid on such purchases was not tied to consumer demand for the merchandise in the packages; instead, the opportunity to advance in the marketing program was the major driver of package purchases. Similarly, in granting a preliminary injunction against Vemma Nutrition Company, the court rejected the argument that individuals who had joined as business opportunity “Affiliates” only wished to purchase product for their own consumption, finding that this claim was “not based in fact.”
Although emphasis is always made on the potential of success and the positive life change that "might" or "could" (not "will" or "can") result, it is only in otherwise difficult to find disclosure statements (or at the very least, difficult to read and interpret disclosure statements), that MLM participants are given fine print disclaimers that they as participants should not rely on the earning results of other participants in the highest levels of the MLM participant pyramid as an indication of what they should expect to earn. MLMs very rarely emphasize the extreme likelihood of failure, or the extreme likelihood of financial loss, from participation in MLM. MLMs are also seldom forthcoming about the fact that any significant success of the few individuals at the top of the MLM participant pyramid is in fact dependant on the continued financial loss and failure of all other participants below them in the MLM pyramid.
And these sales aren’t just to customers. You see, in order to join an MLM you usually need to buy products to sell (often referred to as a starter kit, or similar). And then in order to remain a seller, stylist, supervisor, or whatever term the company uses, you often need to make a minimum number of sales in a given time period (though not always).
Now that companies can easily sell directly to their customers online, people look to social media to get their recommendations for products, and the popularity of subscription beauty boxes, not to mention the fact that there are so many retail stores even in the most far out suburbs, I don’t see how the network marketing model is necessary anymore. The only people who defend them are the people who were trained to. This is because MLMs love to brainwash you into defending them against naysayers and demand you go on the offensive to anyone who might disagree. They may still have wide-eyed hope. It’s sad and terrible. The sooner these pyramid schemes are declared illegal and go out of the business, the better off the world will be.

Many self-proclaimed entrepreneurs send me invitations and accolades to join their favorite Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) or Network Marketing company, but these all sound like "get rich quick" schemes to me. For me, the essence of an entrepreneur is creating something new and innovative, whereas an MLM is a traditional formula on an existing product with a high premium on pyramiding.

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I agree with you that much of the industry is flawed, but what about an MLM that has a service rather than a product such as electricity. It’s not like that could go out of style or that once you buy it you don’t need it again or that your monthly supply is too much and you’re going to stop the monthly subscriptions. I can honestly say that I cannot stand most MLM companies because regardless what you believe or how much you like the product, if you have to try to convince someone else to use it then inevitably the system is flawed and eventually your residuals will dry up. Electricity though, that’s different in my opinion, no one has to convince me to use it, it just comes by default. Find me an MLM that is not selling so much as showing someone an alternative to what they already have to pay and I’d be interested.
With the advent of internet marketing has come a whole new science of selling online making the acquisition of those elusive network marketing leads just a little bit easier. Easy access to the internet for both the marketer and, much more importantly, their potential customers, has forced a whole new set of ideas to the forefront. Here are just a few of the options that are now available.
You are right in that most MLM have monthly dues and have high entry fees to be distributors or consultants. You are also right in that most MLM companies focus on recruitment and not product sales. I’ve been working with Arbonne now for quite a while and none of those comments apply to this company, which is why I believe they have survived and are only growing at this point, despite some people’s opinion that they will soon be relics like Mary Kay. To become a consultant is a mere $75 dollars, the kit is involved with all free samples and material. Product loading is prohibited. Each event we host regularly ends with most if not all attendees becoming a preferred client for $20 joining fee for the first year and a $15 renewal every year with no monthly expectation and a guaranteed minimum of 20% off of all stock at all times and 40% off of all packages at all times. Not only that consultants can will their business down 6 generations, and the Mercedes incentive is for a purchase, not a lease. We do look to grow our network, but we emphasize this takes hard work and is not a get rich quick scheme. While you hit the nail on the head with most MLM businesses, there are MLM businesses like Arbonne who are a cut above the rest and who are in the habit of not putting pressure on anyone attending to either purchase or join as a consultant. We only want the best in our network and we have thousands of examples of very successful men and woman to show for it. Great article!!!
I’ve heard all the arguments. “How can it be a pyramid scheme if it’s legal?” Through some crafty loopholes. The fact that there is an actual product to sell allows them to operate and give the appearance of legitimacy. “You just haven’t found a good MLM yet.” Wrong. A good MLM is an oxymoron. “But how is this any different from any other major corporation where the CEO makes the most money?” Because the people below the CEO at legit companies get paid salaries and have actual benefits. They don’t depend on endless chains of recruiting new members.
Appreciate the hard work studying this… Im apart of the #1 company on there Advocare… have been for 7 years and one of the higher paid single guys in the nation… I just have to disagree with “over priced Products” comment. There is a mark up on every product in the world… Our products actually work which is why those endorsers you mentioned turn down high level incomes with other companies to endorse us for a stipend of products per month. Advocare has numerous people making a great profit and even more just enjoying a product they would pay double what they do for to feel the way they do. Success rate isnt low my friend… Its just the quit rate is through the roof. Highly recommend everyone seeing this and you sir to watch “Rise of the Entrepreneur” by Eric Worre on Itunes to get some serious facts about the MLM industry. Thanks for all the research and blessings!
Great article and you nailed it regarding purchasing leads. I tried a few times talking with various people over the phone but none committed. I often wonder how the greats like Dexter Yager and Bill Britt (both amway reps) built their businesses to such a large magnitude without the use of social media. I certainly believe social media has made building network marketing businesses much easier than back in the day.
Below is a screen shot of a program called Zennoa which l reviewed and was in the pre-launch stage. Google did not even know that program exists and ANY website could have ranked for that search term. There is really no point in wasting valuable time flogging dead horses. There is no need for another review of Empower Network, Vemma or those MLM ancestors … LOL.
Once you’ve built a small team through these methods, you will have increased your income enough to be able to reinvest in buying leads and you will also have built up confidence in speaking to people, meaning that your bought leads are more likely to sign up. You can tell these leads about how you’ve got a nice little team earning you a nice income. Hence, these bought leads are now better value.
The structure of MLMs is very similar to a pyramid scheme. This doesn’t mean that all MLMs are pyramid schemes, but some certainly are. Those interested in pursuing a career in multi-level marketing should do research before joining a particular MLM. Generally speaking, if the bulk of the money you stand to earn comes from recruitment rather than direct sales, it’s wise to be very cautious.
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