Are MLMs The Dick Pics of Online Marketing?

You've probably heard it said that MLM messages are the dick pics — er, "Dichard" pics — of online marketing.

But you're not a network marketer, so you don't have to worry, right? Not so fast.

MLMs, network marketing, pyramid schemes if you're feeling sassy...whatever you call them...they're held up as the standard of "what not to do" in business. But the truth is, network marketing mistakes are prevalent across every industry, no matter the shape of the business model (or the buttery soft leggings).

In this episode of Awkward Marketing, I'm breaking down the top three MLM marketing mistakes...that any marketer can make.

Think you're better than network marketers? LuLaNo.

Read the Transcript:

The other day I read a tweet that said “MLM recruitment messages are the dichard pics of the Mom world.”

I mean, if you haven’t had that girl who used to sit behind you in math class DM you to “catch up” and then immediately sell you dog lash thickening mascara, have you even lived?

Networking marketing has a bad rap – and this is why.

No one is safe anymore – your neighbor, your sister’s wacky friend Jill, that woman behind you in the checkout line who still has the Kate Gosselin haircut from 2007 – they all have face masks and buttery leggings to sell you and they WON’T TAKE NO FOR AN ANSWER.

It’s not just tupperware anymore, people.

It didn’t used to be like this.

Back in the day, there was a higher barrier to entry to become a network marketer.

You had to be willing to hit those mean streets with a 50 pound box of Avon on your back. You had to WANT it.

But in the age of the Internet, anyone with a smart phone can become an “entrepreneur.”

Kim from accounting has a side hustle now – she just sent you a Facebook invite for a Days of the Week underwear party!

And, in many ways, the fact that the digital economy makes this possible is a good thing.

The Internet has given people all over the world the tools to choose their own adventure, set their own work hours, and give the man the middle finger.

Network marketing is so popular and attractive because you can, theoretically, do that without building a company from scratch.

So with that in mind, I truly can’t fault someone who wants to break into the self-employment game this way. “Being your own boss” is the new American dream.

But when randos start invading your DMs without so much as a “Hey girl!” to offer you an “amazing opportunity” is when this turns into a nightmare.

If you’re watching this and nodding along thinking, “Yeah! MLMs are hot BS! I started my own business!” or “I have a REAL job. I’m above this.”

Nope, quit your gloatin’ because the reality is, while networking marketers are held up as the example of what NOT to do, marketers across every industry are committing the VERY same mistakes.

You think you’re sneaky, sliding under the radar there – but we ALL have to face the music that multilevel marketing mistakes aren’t exclusive to multilevel marketing.

And it’s time we stopped bashing them and look in the mirror.

I’ve got 3 “MLM” mistakes that ANYONE can make – and how we ALL can do better:

1. Mistake #1 - Cold pitching without warming up your audience first

This is the hallmark of bad network marketing but I see it every damn day from authors, agencies, restaurants, dry cleaners, dog groomers, coaches – the list goes on! (I mean have you ever BEEN on LinkedIn?)

On one hand, we’re annoyed when our inbox is invaded by offers out of nowhere for oils and other various and sundry whatchamacallits – but then we go and treat Facebook like a sandwich board. We’re sending out unsolicited Dichard pics for our products and services, feeling disappointed when they don’t translate into sales.

Your audience needs some foreplay, people. Warm up the oven!

The mistake here is twofold – most of us know that cold pitching rarely works, but the problem is also leaning too hard on the sale without providing any value first.“

All marketers, not just network marketers, need to embrace the power of inbound marketing, drawing customers to you with epic content, which is the best foreplay there is.

This is the stuff epic content is made of – the stuff that warms up your audience and attracts them to you, no pushy pitch needed.

2. Mistake #2 – Copy paste marketing vs. personalized marketing

One of my biz besties is a weight loss coach and just last week she got a DM from someone that said, “Hey girl! It’s time to get aligned with your weight loss goals.” SMDH.

Someone in this person’s upline gave her a script and told her to blast everyone in a “three foot” radius and boyyyyy, did they steer her wrong.

But how is this different from using someone else’s copy templates, funnel formulas, or launch blueprints?

It’s ALL copy paste marketing – some of us are selling weight loss shakes and some of us are selling coaching programs.

Lemme tell ya, I’ve worked with sooooo many people who have all come out of the same coaching certification programs that send them into the world with the same pre-created lead magnets, courses, and blog posts they can use out of the box. Epic fail.

We see an offer to “swipe” someone else’s road map to how they built their business and we think we can SKIP over the part of getting to know our ideal client and personalizing our messaging to them. But copy paste doesn’t work – in network marketing, or otherwise.

There is no shortcut to understanding your audience. Go personal or go home.

3. Mistake #3 – Treating a sale as the end of a relationship

So, ya got me, Debbie. I caved and bought your Beachbody shakes and now I still got a muffin top and I never heard from you again.

But shakes or online courses? Is there a difference? Because, who here hasn’t bought an online course that promised results and then never had any follow-up from the course creator to ensure our success?

I love how Bob Heilig, the "king" of network marketing puts it:

“A sale is NOT complete until the customer gets the transformation they are looking for.”

This is where repeat customers come from: the lifeblood of any healthy business.

After all, it’s much easier to sell a happy customer something new than to start from scratch at the top of your funnel with a cold audience.

Every marketer and salesperson could stand to benefit from not thinking of the sale as “closed” until your customer gets the results they were promised. Or we won’t have many customers.

If you’re a network marketer, watching this video – damn you have thick skin. Kudos to you for staying to the end.

I haven’t been easy on ya. And I want you to know I’m rooting for you, I really am. As a fellow marketer, I know how tough it is out there. Maybe this video can help you give MLMs a better name.

And if you’re not a network marketer, wipe that smug grin off your face. These mistakes are up for grabs for ALL of us to make – sleaze is sleaze, ick is ick, marketing is marketing – let’s all do better.

Rachael Kay Albers

Rachael Kay Albers is a creative director, business comedian, and brand strategist gone wild. She writes and performs about branding, pop culture, tech, and identity. When she’s not muckraking about marketing, Rachael runs RKA ink, a reinvention studio and branding agency for businesses that burn the rulebook. She's also on Instagram a lot.

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