Tips From The Top

Ramblings & Musings about MLM/Direct Marketing. . . and some on Skin Issues (eczema and rosacea…don’t say I didn’t warn you).

SO. In my “main” MLM, there’s been a lot of “sturm and drang” about some folks who were at the “top level” of the MLM, and left for another one. It’s made me think a lot about the biz of being a network marketer.

I happen to be in a number of MLMs currently, and have been in others since my 20s. Perhaps you are, too. Generally, if you join as a “Distributor” (even if you don’t “work the business”), you can get the products/services produced by that company at a reduced price.

I think this is great, particularly if the distributorship is $40-50 or so. You wind up “earning that amount back” over a year of using the product.

I have built a few teams here and there, even without really trying. Why? Because I won’t be part of an MLM whose product I don’t believe in (is that sentence even English? Well, you know what I mean). So, currently, I’m in an essential oil company (have been for a long time), a greeting card/gifts company, a few nutrition-enhancement/health companies, etc.

I’ve left a few MLMs, too.

I was in one company where I did not build a team, but I made a ton selling product/giving “parties”/etc. If you’ve read my book Passive Income 101, this is part of the story line. The protagonist’s mother had done this.

Although this can lead to a healthy supplemental income (at one point, I was the highest $ earner in product sales on the West Coast for this company), it doesn’t really lead to residual income – the “income you get while you’re sleeping.”

I left that company, not only because (after understanding Kiyosaki’s Cashflow Quadrant) I didn’t build residuals, but also because a publisher had contacted me about publishing my first book, fEmpowerment: A Guide to Unleashing Your Inner Bond Girl. It was impossible to juggle my “corporate job,” plus work with the publisher, plus give parties. Also, in this MLM you had a “rolling 6 month” $ sales quota to keep your position, and that $ was far more than I would or could use of the MLM’s products personally.

This, of course, is the nasty situation where to keep your position, you wind up buying stuff, which then fills up your garage, and you become “That Guy”  . . . the person that everyone who turns you down has heard of, the uncle, cousin, daughter, or auntie who has products stacked up in a closet somewhere from their ill-fated attempt to enter the network marketing field.

The MLM company that I currently work – and have for the past 4 years or so – is great because I don’t have to worry about the whole “product in the garage” issue. I have a LOT of customers (well over 150 – I stopped counting at that number and there were a few pages more to go), plus 73 distributors (as I said, I just counted). The problem is, the company changed their compensation plan a while back. They got rid of what was basically a “license fee” for customers to use their system. The theory was that this would lead to a lot more people using the system, because they didn’t need to get over the ‘hurdle’ of the license fee. So instead of paying that fee – which, as the distributor signing them up, you got a part of – customers can now use the system “for free.” So again, the theory goes that though you wouldn’t get a percentage of that “license fee,” you’d have so many more people signing up for the system, that the money that you’d make from their product purchases monthly would more than make up for it.

My residual income went down to about $230/month. 

I believe that this is why so many leaders in the company have left. I certainly know that is the case with the folks I’ve talked to or heard about, who have been part of the current exodus from the company, and those that exited right after the compensation plan was changed a little over a year ago. They need to support their families. That’s also what caused me to write my “Insidious Enticement” blog post. 

I think it’s immensely important that everyone really “does the math” before they get into an MLM, if they plan it to be their way out of a 9-to-5 job. 

My husband would like to leave his 9-to-5 (or should I say 9-to-9!) job – it’s gotten super extra stressful recently. We went through the “new math” that it would take for me to work this MLM full time, to replace his income. It doesn’t pencil out.

I have my law firm, we have a number of rental properties, etc. – but in general, my #1 job is to be a wife and support him in making his life a little easier. Yeah, I know, tough life, huh? I’m lucky and I know it. It used to be that we could take some super nice trips on the income that I made from the MLM – fly first class, stay in top of the line hotels, etc. Now that’s just not so.

So I decided to check out other options. I explored the various MLMs that the folks who have left my current MLM have gone to. The main thing, for me, is that I have to be 100% behind the product/service. In fact, when I signed up to be a distributor in my current MLM, I did it because I used it as a tool for marketing in my coaching and legal business – I signed up for the distributorship “path” because I could use the system at the lowest possible cost by being a distributor, and I figured that businesses like mine could use it for marketing, too, if it worked as well as I thought it would (which it does). Second to 100% loving the product/service, I have to understand the compensation plan, if I want to make this a business. (I learned this the hard way! So now I’m a bit of a comp plan expert!)

One of the MLMs that I decided to explore was the company that the high level folks that I mentioned in the first paragraph went to. I knew they’d left the company, but finding out where they went was like pulling teeth! 🙂 They were very much committed to leaving the MLM and not “taking people with them” and all that craziness that happens when folks leave (“defect”) to another company. MLMs are just ridiculous in the way that people get “excommunicated” because they leave for another opportunity. I’ve never seen another business that’s like it!

Anyway – through a little sleuthing, I found out where they went, and signed up to be a distributor (since it was cheap) and for the usual “distributor pack” of products (because those are ALWAYS cheap). Usually, the “distributor pack” is the best way to get a smattering of everything you can buy in an MLM for a super reduced price point. In fact. my Mary Kay rep recently did a Lash Bash – what a blast! – and at that event, she reminded the attendees that if they signed up to be a MK rep they got such an immense product value from the distributor kit, that it was almost silly NOT to do it. She had, in fact, started out that way herself – to get the initial distributor set of products.

Actually, speaking of Mary Kay, the company that the folks that I”m talking about went to is a skin care company. And like I said, I decided to check out their products. Why not? I have used a LOT of skin care products – from MLM-sold (Mary Kay, Nerium, Orenda, Avon, etc.) to retail-sold (La Prairie, Origins, Pomega-5, etc.) to dermatologist or aesthetician-sold (SkinCeuticals, etc.). Why have I used so many products? Because I have two skin issues. I have rosacea, and I have eczema. Yeah, now you know too much about me! These are just a huge pain in the neck – um, face and neck. The rosacea I have tried to “cure” with everything I could find. I’m kinda an expert on it now. I’ve used skin care systems, ingested systems, different foods for months and months, you name it.

As an aside, if you happen to HAVE rosacea, I can tell you that the best cover-up makeup is Benefit’s Some Kind-A Gorgeous – it works like NOTHING else to cover the red/pink and it doesn’t clog your pores, etc. But I wanted to stop HAVING to do this!

As for the eczema, the only thing that worked was actually a cortizone-based lotion, prescribed by my dermatologist. Again . . .  not so excited to keep putting drugs on my skin (the largest organ of your body). But I could not STAND the itching, etc., so that was my only solution. (If you have eczema/psoriasis, you know what I”m talking about).

SO ANYWAY, back to the skin care company. About 30 days ago, I started using their system. Here’s the regime:

1.  First, I used their “Facial Cleansing Milk.” I did a little test. I used my “usual” cleansing product, and then I used their Cleansing Milk afterwards. You put it on a cotton ball and wipe it on your face. When I would do that, I would look at the cotton ball and – !!! – it would be “tan” because it was getting off makeup and grime that “my” cleanser missed! (You don’t even want to know how much that cleanser cost.) That alone was not only a big shock, but also a “conversion” moment. This Cleansing Milk costs a lot less than what I was using, and it takes off stuff that the other was leaving! Yikes!

2.  I followed this up with their Toner. I had read a book via Kindle – Love Your Skin – that talked a lot about using a Toner. I wasn’t a real toner user. What this book stated was that you have to think of your skin care like you think of getting dressed. The Cleanser (duh) cleans – it’s like taking a shower. Then the Toner is like putting on your bra and panties. You don’t HAVE to do this – but it makes everything else usually go smoother! 🙂 Since I wasn’t using a Toner before, I did use the one with the new system – because it came with the system – but I didn’t have anything to compare it to. The one thing I can say is that it feels very fresh, and not drying.

3.  Next, of course, Serum – again, per that book, you want to use a Serum under your Moisturizer, because that helps the Moisturizer do its business. So this would be like the slip under the dress – or the Spanx 🙂 – it helps everything work better. Again, with this new system, the one thing I really liked about the Serum is that it goes on without feeling “gooey” (I have had that with serums – seri? – before), and it sucks right into your skin. Moreover, only one other time have I had a product where using it makes me “feel good” (that product is called Pomega-5, but it’s a lot more $$ than this one). I don’t know what it is, but my skin “likes” this product, just like it has “liked” Pomega-5. Without going all New Age about it, it feels “alive” versus other products I have used, which feel like “products.”

4.  Next, Moisturizer. The book I mentioned in #2 makes a point of the fact that you want to have a different “regime” for Night and for Day – that one is like putting on your PJs, and one is like putting on your clothes. This is also why you want to cleanse your face in the morning too, not just at night. Frankly, that’s one thing I had never done – I’d just put on my day products after brushing my teeth in the morning, figuring that I had “only been sleeping” in the night products – and they’re all just moisturizers, right? But the key, apparently, is to cleanse down to a new palette and then put on the Day stuff. It does make sense when you think about it. Now, in the morning – because it’s an extra step I have to get used to – I tell myself “um, you gotta take your PJs off before you put your clothes on.” (Well, it amuses me, at least . . . ) Interestingly, this system I was trying out doesn’t differentiate between Day and Night Serum/Moisturizer – so I use their “usual” serum/moisturizer combo during the day, and their “rejuvenating” serum/moisturizer combo for night.

The “Distributor Pack” also came with some scrubs, masks, and a body butter-type product, plus a “mineral soap” product. I’ve used the scrubs/masks and seen some great effect on wrinkles and lines. Their peeling gel is the bomb – although it’s pretty disgusting how it “latches onto” dead skin and then rolls it into little pills – !!!!!!! And the masks give me that same “feeling” I mentioned above – using them makes me feel like I’m using something “living,” not just a “product” as it were.

My eczema/psoriasis is on my neck/scalp/torso area. I’ve had it since I was a little kid. So I decided that I’d use the “mineral soap” product on that, plus the body butter product afterwards on the non-scalp areas. (Butter, hair – um, no thanks.)

So.

A couple days ago, I drove out to a friend’s to drop something off. In complete contravention of everything I have ever said in my Fempowerment books, I just put my hair up and drove out, no makeup, etc. She took a good look at my face, and said, “Are you wearing makeup?” I said No (a little chagrined). In fact, I hadn’t even looked in the mirror before heading out. She said, “That’s amazing. You just look a little flushed, as if you’ve been running around, like, no rosacea.”

This hit me like a bomb. I looked into the rear view mirror – and really saw my “whole face.” Tell you the truth, I’ve been concentrating on whether this new product line has affected eye bags, wrinkles, lines, etc. – I hadn’t paid any particular attention to the rosacea. I”m always running so fast in the morning, that I have my whole “cover up/makeup regime” down to about 2 minutes (yes, including 3 shades of eyeshadow and mascara – pretty talented, eh?)

I’d have to say that it’s about 85% better than it’s ever been. That’s unbelievable.

And – 0n the areas where I have used the mineral soap plus the body butter – no more eczema/psoriasis. Gone. I’m using the mineral soap in my scalp, but I think it’s gotta be the body butter that’s making the difference, because I still am having some issues there. But who knows? Maybe my scalp will clear up too, just using the soap. But the non-scalp areas? Gone. No itches. No flakes. Gone.

I’m pretty sure I don’t want to go back to doing product parties. It takes a lot of time, and it’s not really my style. But I have also studied the compensation plan for this company – and if I had half the customers (not even any distributors!) that I do in my current company, I’d be making “a check with a comma in it” every month, as the saying goes.Interestingly, this company also has a process whereby you can sign up to get the product at the “distributor price,” and if you (as a customer) get 4 other people to think about it and they become customers, you get your monthly product for free. That’s pretty darned cool.

Someone said to me a year or so ago that the best sort of MLMs are the ones that have to do with either health, or skin. Why? Because everyone looks in the mirror every single day, and a vast majority of them say to their reflection, “I have to do something about [this condition]” The “condition” is usually skin related (wrinkles, rosacea, dry skin, oily skin, eye bags), or health related (pooch belly, saggy arms, low energy, sallow skin, etc.)

Other MLMs (like my current company) don’t really have that going for them – you don’t look at yourself in the mirror every morning and agonize over the issue that these companies can solve. As such, these companies’ products and services, while AWESOME, are not really something that you will find that folks (if they love it) will “have a need for” every month – which is your residual income stream. Of course, that’s a generalization, but it’s an interesting opinion.

From where I’m standing, this MLM not only has a great compensation plan, but the products seem to be great, too.  When I use them, they feel “alive” on my skin, and the price point isn’t ridiculously expensive. Will I do “skin care parties”? I don’t think so. Will I introduce folks to the products? Probably – especially if, like my friend mentioned above, they ask what has made such a marked difference in my own skin. Also, if I am discussing MLMs with people who really want to get out of the Rat Race, now I”m not sure that I can recommend my current MLM rather than something like this one – because I just don’t see anyone being able to get enough traction in it without a lot of effort. I look at my own numbers, and it’s very frustrating. So perhaps I’ll talk to others about this company if they’re looking for a Plan B. Because I do agree with Kiyosaki – network marketing is one of the best methods for “regular folks” to have a true Business.

However, when it comes to MLMs, caveat emptor – you must not only fully believe in the product/service, but you also must understand the compensation plan, and do the math on what it would take to get you to the monthly dollar amount you desire.

Why this blog post? I’ve had all this rattling around in my brain for a while. And that’s the beauty of a blog – it allows you to write things down to sort through them – whether or not anyone reads it.

So thanks for letting me “muse on ya”! You’re so brave, to have made it all the way through the tangled strands of my ramblings! Bravo! Have a great one, I appreciate you!