Multi Level Marketing “MLM”

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Multi Level Marketing or “MLM” … everybody’s ticket out of drudgery

Or, “Why I Can’t Sell You MLM Crap”

What is MLM?

MLM or Multi Level Marketing, it’s the nicer term for a pyramid scheme.  It goes by many names like “referral marketing” and “network marketing.”  You hear the sellers referred to as “consultants” “distributors” and “promoters.”

There seems to be a multi level marketing scheme for just about everyone.  In my area, it’s all about LulaRoe and It Works.  I’ve never bought anything from any of these myself.

I’m totally no expert.  In most though, it seems the seller purchases the products and then independently promotes it trying to sell it.  There are also catalog based sales.  Think tupperware and pampered chef.

As is typical, some report great earnings.  Most, not so much for the amount of work they put in to it.

For me, as a pharmacist, if I really wanted to get out of my business, this seems like it would be my big ticket item.

Especially with a blog, I’m in a prime position to take off on the MLM rocket.

Boost MLM sales with your professional degree

There are so many supplement companies, “eco friendly” products, cosmetics/skin care, essential oils, etc.  And people trust you when you’ve got “Dr.” in your title.

I see lots of professionals trying to branch out and escape unhappy or stressful jobs by promoting these.  Some are just trying to boost their income.  Many seem to be fairly successful in it especially if they can keep on it (isn’t that the case with anything though?).

Backup…I’m not backing this approach!

Ok, first, let me clarify, I’m not completely saying I would never get involved with any of these.  If I found a product I could really stand behind I might just do it.

And I’m torn, because I want to be supportive of people finding ways to make money.

And, I’ll probably put off some people here by saying I don’t dig this approach.

  1. I don’t buy any of these products.
  2. I advocate for buying less stuff.
  3. Almost all of these things most people could totally live without.
  4. I find it a bit predatory using your degree to make consumer products like cosmetics and essential oils sound like good products to buy.

Why not?

It’s kind of like the problem I have with medical professionals backing homeopathic products.  THERE IS NOT VALID RESEARCH TO BACK IT UP.  I find medical professionals who do promote homeopathic products to be no better than the snake oil salesmen of old.

Granted, selling cosmetics and sponges from Norway isn’t the same thing.  Many people do buy these things anyway.  But should medical professionals really be using their degrees to boost sales of general consumer products?  I suppose if all you do is say why you like the product it’s fine.  Doctors and nurses buy cosmetics and sponges too.  I feel if you’re going to sell these products, go ahead, but, perhaps you should keep your background as a medical professional out of the sales pitch.

I don’t know.  I’m just really torn on the ethics of this.  What’s your take?

I know I won’t be doing it any time soon.

Plus, these sales require a lot more social interaction and effort than this introvert wants to be involved with.

Seriously, what’s your take?  Or maybe, help convince me this secondary income stream isn’t a moral/ethical conflict.  Sell me on why I should sell.




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Regina is That Frugal Pharmacist. She’s a PharmD, mother to a son with cancer, breadwinning wife, personal finance enthusiast, artist, writer, and entrepreneur. Regina’s single-income household has been debt-free, including her home, since she was 28 years old.
Her money approach is “holistic financial health.” She encourages mindful spending, awareness of the non-monetary costs of choices, and aligning personal values with money habits. Regina sees a frugal lifestyle and mindset as an important part of environmental stewardship. As such she’s interested in ongoing efforts towards self-sufficiency and sustainability.

4 thoughts on “Multi Level Marketing “MLM””

  1. Hi FP,
    You sound curious about MLM despite your misgivings. It’s always good to examine ethical considerations. However, I wanted to point out that MLM and network marketing (also called direct selling) are not the same thing as a pyramid scheme. Very different, in fact! I wrote a post about this myself that highlights the differences and talks about what to watch out for, as well as an overview of the pros and cons.

    MLM, network marketing, and direct selling involves marketing or selling actual products or services. Pyramid schemes do not. In fact, pyramid schemes are illegal.

    Network marketers, multi-level marketers, and direct sellers have a professional association, the Direct Selling Association, which outlines strict ethical guidelines for members.

    There are plenty of MLM companies with products that are not for me, but there are also companies with products I like and am willing to pay for, especially if it supports another person who is trying to get ahead.

    I’ve had some experience selling, too, and found that there are other rewards besides the money. For example, I’m an introvert, like you, and it really helped me to step outside my comfort zone, and improved my public speaking skills.

    But I will say it is not easy. Like anything else, it takes a LOT of work to be successful.

    1. I am curious, but not for me being interested in being a seller. I want to be sold on why not to think badly of these sales tactics.

      I’m not against someone buying MLM products if they really like them (or selling them for that matter). For ME, I really just don’t buy much of anything, let alone the types of things that tend to be sold. I’m sure you can find an MLM product in just about every category field if you wanted to though. I can see how it would force someone to “put themselves out there” and improve themselves in some ways, and kudos to that part of it. It could be the first step in launching someone to actually start their own business and that could be good.

      I think some of my biggest issues are how it creeps into personal life: being offered products or things on facebook or go to my “party.” It really cheapens relationships to me. And of course, the reservations I still have with the ethics of medical professionals backing products if it is JUST to make money.

      Thanks for the perspective!

  2. Hello fellow frugal Pharmacist!

    Nice blog you’ve got going here. I’ve considered writing on this very topic since I have strong feelings about it, but I’ve never gotten around to it just yet. I’ll offer my two cents in your comments section though: don’t do it!! My wife got suckered in to one of these MLM strategies (I won’t say which one but I’ll give you a hint: it sounds like leech-lotty). She’s an MD, so she similarly thought that by touting something she believed in as a doctor she’d be able to benefit from “passive income.” She came back home from one of her motivational events saying “YEEEEAH!!! I’m gonna make this work!!” I was extremely skeptical since it required us to buy the product too just to be part of it and it was hella expensive, but she was convinced and I couldn’t back her down.

    Fast forward a year later and she was (thankfully!) ready to quit. The truth is for most people MLM is a huge money suck that preys on people who think they’ll be able to acquire money quickly and easily with little work involved. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise: MLM IS A PYRAMID SCHEME and it should be made illegal in this country.

  3. I included MLM on my side hustle list for pharmacists. I had prior experience (2nd hand) with one MLM company. I attended a open house party with a physician in attendance. Aside from the ethics question. I believe the result from MLM is how much time and effort you put into it. And of course of you’re an early bird it should help. In my opinion, people nowadays are experiencing MLM fatigue and it’s a really hard sell. I’m going to stay away from MLM for now.

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