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The Direct Selling Association (DSA), a lobbying group for the MLM industry, reported that in 1990 only 25% of DSA members used the MLM business model. By 1999, this had grown to 77.3%.[26] By 2009, 94.2% of DSA members were using MLM, accounting for 99.6% of sellers, and 97.1% of sales.[27] Companies such as Avon, Electrolux, Tupperware,[28] and Kirby were all originally single-level marketing companies, using that traditional and uncontroversial direct selling business model (distinct from MLM) to sell their goods. However, they later introduced multi-level compensation plans, becoming MLMs.[23] The DSA has approximately 200 members[29] while it is estimated there are over 1,000 firms using multi-level marketing in the United States alone.[30]

Well MLM companies have been a frequent subject of criticism as well as the target of lawsuits. Criticism has focused on their similarity to illegal pyramid schemes (hence the “scheme” reference), price-fixing of products, high initial start-up costs, emphasis on recruitment of lower-tiered salespeople over actual sales, encouraging if not requiring salespeople to purchase and use the company's products, potential exploitation of personal relationships which are used as new sales and recruiting targets, complex and sometimes exaggerated compensation schemes, and cult-like techniques which some groups use to enhance their members' enthusiasm and devotion. Eesh!
The Federal Trade Commission warns "Not all multilevel marketing plans are legitimate. Some are pyramid schemes. It's best not to get involved in plans where the money you make is based primarily on the number of distributors you recruit and your sales to them, rather than on your sales to people outside the plan who intend to use the products."[21]
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MLM salespeople are, therefore, expected to sell products directly to end-user retail consumers by means of relationship referrals and word of mouth marketing, but most importantly they are incentivized to recruit others to join the company's distribution chain as fellow salespeople so that these can become down line distributors.[3][6][7] According to a report that studied the business models of 350 MLMs, published on the Federal Trade Commission's website, at least 99% of people who join MLM companies lose money.[8][9] Nonetheless, MLMs function because downline participants are encouraged to hold onto the belief that they can achieve large returns, while the statistical improbability of this is de-emphasised. MLMs have been made illegal or otherwise strictly regulated in some jurisdictions as a mere variation of the traditional pyramid scheme, including in mainland China.[10][11]
The kinds of leads that you are likely to get for free are ones that have been gathered in a scatterspray way – they could be poorly targeted, or in some cases even people who have not opted in at all. If you contact leads like this, then you will be putting your brand at risk, because you could end up in trouble with your web hosting provider, or the law, for unsolicited marketing. Alternatively, you could end up contacting  people who might otherwise have converted, but who come to view your brand as a spammer because of the way the initial contact was made.
Melinda F. Emerson, known to many as SmallBizLady is one of America's leading small business experts. As a seasoned entrepreneur, professional speaker, and small business coach, she develops audio, video and written content to fulfill her mission to end small business failure. As CEO of Quintessence Multimedia, Melinda educates entrepreneurs and Fortune 500 companies on subjects including small business start-up, business development and social media marketing. Forbes Magazine named her #1 woman for entrepreneurs to follow on Twitter. She hosts #SmallBizChat Wednesdays on Twitter 8-9pm ET for emerging entrepreneurs. She also publishes a resource blog http://www.succeedasyourownboss.com Melinda is also bestseller author of Become Your Own Boss in 12 months; A Month-by-Month Guide to a Business That Works. Her latest ebook, How To Become a Social Media Ninja; 101 Ways to Dominate Your Competition Online was released in 2012.

Kay, you don’t need a lot of money to buy essential oils, NOT AT ALL! Specifically now that distillers will sell directly to small businesses with very minimum amount, your $100 will buy you a lot actually. Averagely, your cost with MLM in a single bottle will be around 25x-30x more. So it is not the cost; but the business set-up (packaging, presentation, etc.).
Network marketing companies, MLMs, and referral marketing companies that have been around longer are more trustworthy. Why is that? Government regulations on MLMS have increased in severity and frequency over the years. Companies that have survived such regulations will also have to have survived the threat of lawsuits, bad publicity, and negative feedback from unsatisfied distributors — not many companies would be able to survive this. A bad MLM company that is still around and has been sued, reviewed, and regulated will have extremely negative reviews and publicity surrounding it.
Let's face it, everyone in a home business wants high quality mlm leads. What they don't want is the high price normally associated with them. Merit MLM Leads has developed methods to get you the QUALITY business opportunity leads you need at the price you want. By utilizing cutting edge mlm lead generation technology, Merit MLM Leads gathers top quality more efficiently home based business opportunity leads and then passes the savings on to you.
The Leadpower Promise: Here at LeadPower we talk through experience, we have been generating leads since 1998 and have helped over 167,779 network marketers. The founder of our company founder has been a network marketer himself for over 20 years. He has built some very large groups consisting of well over hundreds of thousands of distributors. He understands how network marketing works and understands sauce how lead generation works as well.
Agree with most of your comments. Born and raised in the corporate community, we never even considered a MLM until came across one after retirement. Looking back we would have looked seriously at the industry much earlier. In any event, we had one good run until management made a few very bad decisions…killing 40 % of our business. But now we’ve found a new home with WGN. Among the many differences is they’re a technolgy company operating as a MLM…go figure.
Hi Jeremy great article. Here’s my take for what it is worth,after working 50 years for the bank making not so much money,having to accommodate there time schedule ,negotiated vacations and seeing very few people advance to 6 figure incomes,I’m somewhat intrigued by the idea of using my retirement years looking at mlm as a part time endeavour . Obviously I put a lot of blood sweat and tears into my previous job,so I’m not expecting to make my millions in a couple years in mlm, but I like the (do it in your own time) idea. If I find a product I like and would use anyway why not? I also like the idea that the potential is there biased on your own efforts. Am I wrong What do you think?
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