A program with no or a low-quality product, or with a focus on getting paid per recruit, could be an illegal pyramid scheme. However, don't let the term pyramid throw you off. It's not the shape of the organization that makes it illegal. In fact, most companies have a pyramid structure with a CEO at the top, VPs next, mid-level managers etc. What makes an illegal pyramid scheme is the lack of a quality product, or that income is earned on recruiting, not commissions from sales. 
The term “MLM company” isn’t exactly accurate because the company is not necessarily defined by the fact that it uses a multi-level marketing structure. Instead, a good MLM will be a product-centric company, meaning that it will be, for example, a cosmetics company that uses an MLM structure. Test the product of the company you are interested in; the product must be something that you would willingly advertise even if you weren't working for the company.
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Just because you paid for the lead, it doesn’t mean that you should get emotionally attached to each one. Buying leads is, and always will be, a sorting process to find your next business partners. If you are terrible at the phone, either, buy MLM leads or get a job at a telemarketing company. Gaining experience on the phone is worth its weight in gold. Every big recruiter or enroller is good on the phone. Most of them used to be terrible but experience made them better. 

First of all, Avon “has” been. Second, Avon really needs to work on their appeal to a younger generation. Third, Avon makes it difficult for representatives to make any money unless you are purchasing a ton of catalogs and knocking on doors. The company really needs to allow representatives to advertise online, and I don’t mean spamming friends on a Facebook or Twitter feed.
I just started selling for one of the top 15 and I went in knowing that this was just supplemental cash and nothing that would support my family. I spend 15 minutes (mostly from my phone) a day on my business and am happy with what I’ve done thus far. If it covers groceries and some extras like clothes or shoes, I’m good. If I start to become even more successful, great. It’s my competitive nature to want to out rank others, so I find it to be more of a personal challenge than thinking I’m going to get rich and stay rich. I appreciate the article and the no BS attitude. 

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!
First of all, Avon “has” been. Second, Avon really needs to work on their appeal to a younger generation. Third, Avon makes it difficult for representatives to make any money unless you are purchasing a ton of catalogs and knocking on doors. The company really needs to allow representatives to advertise online, and I don’t mean spamming friends on a Facebook or Twitter feed.

The best thing that I can tell you from years of experience trying various companies is that there is no short cut. There are many MLM lead companies out there and several that purport to 'break the compensation structure' of MLM companies. But stop and ask yourself that if they were making so much money with this 'system' in a network marketing company... so much so that they broke the compensation structure... why are they spending so much time creating and marketing this system?
* Why 10 years? Because that amount of time really seems to matter. For example, according to research, since 1956 thousands of different MLM, Multi Level, or Network Marketing companies have opened their doors; and to date only +/- 50 MLM companies have found a way to celebrate their 10th anniversary and still remain in business today. Now, to be completely fair, we should also point out that each and every company on our list was at one time a start-up company too.
The Filipino community, much like many immigrant communities, is ripe for the recruitment of participants in MLMs. Filipino immigrants can be particularly easy targets to exploit, as this Filipino-American writer can attest. They are easygoing and friendly. The ones with a college education understand and speak English very well. The community is crawling with network marketers hawking everything from cosmetics to travel packages to insurance products, courtesy of companies that promise the dream of passive income as well as incentives such as car bonuses and vacations.
Many times the MLM business will require their distributors to purchase a certain amount of product themselves.  It can be used as designed or used as freebies to give away to potential recruits — but you’re still spending your hard earned money in order to promote the business.  (And in the meantime, not generating any profit from the business while you “ramp up”.)
MaryAnne, I would recommend finding a product that you LOVE, a product that you feel can benefit the people around you and who you feel integrity with. You want to find their products useful so that you will feel good about buying them every month and want to share them with other. It is a business, but you also want to be able to have fun with it too
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Another nutritional MLM selling another magical superfruit with a marked up price tag. So what? Their story might not be interesting, but their bottom line is: they’ve expanded to 44 countries and counting after just over a decade in operation. On top of that, they provide extensive sales training and good commission rates to their reps, which is pretty rare nowadays.

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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Unlike other distribution methods MLM/NM companies don't advertise their products on TV or other mass media but rather depend on their customers to share the experience and recommend the products to their friends and relatives through word of mouth. They in return get 10-12 % profit of the sale value. Word of mouth/ recommending someone is a very powerful marketing tool which is cheaper and could reach more people because the selling of product is based on trust. Would you not buy a product your close friend uses and finds beneficial and asks you to try ?
FLP may not be the wealthiest MLM on this list, but they deserve a spot because of their long-term dedication to the aloe vera plant and products made from it. Few MLMs display such product dedication and integrity as FLP. And few MLM’s have such a concentrated niche. That screams longevity over the other hundreds of other “full service wellness” companies.

The Isreali immigrant brothers turned entrepreneurs behind Seacret Direct managed to take a cliche mall kiosk (you know, the ones that bother the crap out of you while you’re trying to shop) and turn it into a multi-million dollar global direct selling ccompany. Skincare products are pretty yawn-worthy nowadays, but Seacret’s dead sea products come with a 5,000 year history and a lot of fanfare.


The main website a lot of people use when they are online is social media. These websites are where you can sit there and talk to anyone around the world that you know, and chances are that most people you know have an account on these kinds of things. You’ll want to make sure you do some looking into making a business account, because marketing through your personal profile may not do so well for you. Social media sites are free to use, but they also have ways you can pay for ads that go out to people.
8. Direct-mail lists and fax and e-mail broadcast lists. There are many mailing list companies with databases that target specific interests. Creating a good letter offering a free tape or product sample can generate leads. Always drive them to your Web site. Get to your prospects even faster by broadcast faxing or e-mail blasting. There are professional companies that can help you with this.
They have the stay-at-home-mother meets women entrepreneur mixture working for them. What does that even mean? Means they have the practicality side of the company that is off the product and they have the sales, entrepreneur people them promoting it, too. Anyone who follows MLM knows its usually too “product practical” (see: Tupperware, Cutco) or too “opportunity-centric” (see: Herbalife).
Melaleuca, Inc. is listed as a Direct Marketing Company. The company contracts with independent marketing executives who refer customers to Melaleuca that purchase its various lines of nutritional, pharmaceutical, personal care, household cleaning, and pet care products. They also offer travel, phone and credit card services. Customers receive discounts if they order a minimum monthly product supply, but are not required to maintain an inventory of products. The company states that it offers a “Satisfaction or Money Back Guarantee”.

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Facebook used to be an easy source to tap into, but since they have formed a public company with shareholders who need to be kept happy, Facebook have changed their Terms of Service several times recently and have clamped down on a number of things that used to make lead generation relatively easy. They have discouraged siphoning off clients to external web sites and CPA offers, and have raised the cost of advertisements that do this. It remains a viable lead source however.

Unlike other distribution methods MLM/NM companies don't advertise their products on TV or other mass media but rather depend on their customers to share the experience and recommend the products to their friends and relatives through word of mouth. They in return get 10-12 % profit of the sale value. Word of mouth/ recommending someone is a very powerful marketing tool which is cheaper and could reach more people because the selling of product is based on trust. Would you not buy a product your close friend uses and finds beneficial and asks you to try ?

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Perfect reply That’s exactly what gives network marketing a bad name. Sheesh. If you find something you’re passionate about then go for it. But first ask, how many people can you personally find who have replaced their income at such n such a company? I’m grateful to say I have hundreds of dōTERRA advocates who have, and who go about it with integrity. Thanks for all the research, it was fun to read. I’d recommend looking at retention as well sometime.
Jason – I think you have to be more than careful in evaluating an MLM. I’ve researched around 50 and 60 and each and every one of them have turned out to be bad. Maybe one like Pampered Chef might be good, but I haven’t looked into enough. A more accurate statement would be that MLMs are like prisoners, there are some guilty people and some innocent ones. Also, there are some winning lottery tickets and some losing ones. I think you get the point.
Not only are “home businesses” or “MLM’s” very interesting, they are successful. Many of the longest standing organizations in this country have this business model. MLM is a marketing strategy in which the sales force is compensated not only for sales they personally generate, but also for the sales of others they recruit, creating a downline of distributors and a hierarchy of multiple levels of compensation. Most commonly, the salespeople are expected to sell products directly to consumers by means of relationship referrals and word of mouth marketing. Sounds legit right – so why the bad press?
Hi JP. Good stuff all the way around, my man. Hey, I’ve been approached by Ariix, & didn’t know if have heard of them, and if so, a simple 👍 or 👎 will suffice, unless you’d like to elaborate, of course. One obvious concern I have is that (& can disclose this, since it’s of public record/knowledge per the list above), the current leadership in place at Ariix all came from USANA, and given the FBI/SEC became involved with USANA in ‘07, & Ariix opened in ‘11, well….I think you know from where I’m coming as it relates to anything you may be able to convey. Thx again, JP, for all of your efforts, & if you’d feel more comfortable in emailing me, obviously that would be perfectly fine! And apologies on this extremely verbose message!😳

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