The notification pops up.
A new DM on Instagram? Weird, I rarely get those anymo—
It’s a stranger.
And she’s trying to sell me a products.
Hey girly girl! I love your feed. Hey, have you ever heard of my products? I think you would love them! Hit me up if you want some information. I have *one spot* left on my team and you would be such a perfect fit ! * ! *. My number is in my profile, text me girl! 🙂 🙂
I am not here to judge or condemn or embarrass anyone. I am one of you. I can make money if people buy programs or products from me, or sign up to coach with me. And it’s really wonderful. So, I promise you, I get it. I understand why you do what you do.
I’ve learned a lot about the right way and the wrong way to run your business – from friends, and from perfect strangers that show up in my inbox talking to me like we’re best buds. I would be the perfect fit for their team, but they literally don’t know me at all…? Yeah. Sign me up.
I want to put it out there right now, so that we can all make adjustments to our approaches. All of us. The madness needs to stop.
Here are just some of the reasons that we just don’t want to – and never will – buy your stuff.
- I haven’t really talked to you since high school prom. Or, ever. I get it, we were cool. If we passed each other in the hallway, we said hello. We might have even side-hugged at a Friday night football game. But it’s been 12 years. A lot has changed. Can you not friend request me, and then send me a totally impersonal message about my “sweet family AND HEY, CHECK THIS OUT” in the opening sentence? I’m still trying to find your maiden name on your profile, and now I have to decline your sketchy group invite. This is just awkward.
- That many emojis makes my brain hurt. When every word is preceded and proceeded by a sparkling heart, or when you use the exclamation point emoji in place of the tired ol’ punctuation mark, it’s a problem. A clock… now is that a clock, or a watch, or…? Ohhhhh, you mean to imply the word “time”, I get it. Please just say TIME. I like words. I am in the Starbucks drive-through with two screaming children in my backseat and I almost hit the car in front of me because I was busy translating your caption before it was my turn to pull up for my latte. I don’t have time for this.
- My kids get in trouble for telling a lie, and you should, too. You don’t really have *omg, only one spot left* in your test group, sister. I know that trick and so does everyone else – in fact, I’ve used it. It’s to create urgency, to play on everyone’s inherent FOMO. Here’s the test: if you have one spot left and TWO people reach out – are you only going to take the first one? If not, then you’re being dishonest and that’s annoying. Also, if these products are so life-changing, why don’t you post before/afters of your own results? Why are these same grainy collages circulating the internet to boast about the “insane results” of your product? I would be much more interested if you showed me YOUR before and after.
- Instagram sneak attacks. If I like a photo that is hashtagged, and you send me a DM minutes later, that’s kinda my fault… wait, no it’s not. I SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO LIKE MY FRIEND’S PHOTOS WITHOUT YOU HELICOPTERING OVER MY ACTIVITY. Liking a photo that is hashtagged with #momlife doesn’t mean that I must want to get rid of my fine lines and wrinkles. That’s just rude.
- Your personal account is not personal anymore. I’m just gonna say it, I miss your kids. I miss your food photos that weren’t laced with ulterior motives. Can you just post a picture of a piece of cake, or your stupidly spotless kitchen? I promise not to complain ever again.
- WHY IS YOUR PHONE NUMBER PUBLISHED IN YOUR PROFILE. Girl, no. Just no. I don’t even have the right frame of mind to explain why this doesn’t seem like a good idea. Just don’t do it, ok? Delete your phone number right now and thank me later. It just feels desperate. Delete it.
Now that we’ve covered those, I want to give you something positive to chew on: WAYS TO FIX THESE MLM MISTAKES. Here are some practical ways you can improve your marketing and not send people running for the hills:
- Inspire, not persuade. When I signed up to be a coach, it was because I saw a before/after from a girl I knew – and if she could do it, I could do it, right? I was inspired by her transformation. And I signed up under a girl that had never messaged me about it, although we were close enough that she could have. But when I realized I wanted to be a coach, she was the ONLY person I thought of, because she talked the talk and walked the walk. She didn’t have to shove her products down my throat, because she was busy doing. And being. From a sales perspective, it’s much easier to close a sale when someone comes to you, right? It just makes sense. Focus on yourself, focus on your transformation, focus on your passion – like we learned in Field of Dreams: “build it, and they will come”.
- Have a separate business account. Create an Instagram for your business. Create a FB page or group. Use those actively – and of course, cross promote every now and then! I don’t mind a mention of your Facebook group on your personal account. I can promise you, I am much more likely to press LIKE on your business page than I am to respond to an impersonal group message that I received from you and your sister – with literally the same words. Verbatim.
- Be real. We all have a network. We have friends, family, acquaintances, coworkers – and these days, your network is literally in the palm of your iPhone-wielding hand. So, you absolutely should be reaching out to your network and letting them know what you do, and why you do it – that’s just good common sense. But please, please, please spare them the canned email. Just ask them to coffee and tell them you want to chat about your job.
I had a friend of mine, who knows I am a Beachbody coach (and also knows how much I hate impersonal MLM messages), send me a Facebook message to say: “Look. I know you hate these kinds of messages, so I’m just going to say it up front: I really want to chat with you about my products. I think you could really benefit from it, and I’m not just saying that. BUT, regardless: I miss you and would love to catch up! Let me know if you’d be open to trying a sample and let’s get dinner next week?”
I LOVED THAT. I don’t want to try her product right now, but I respected her approach… and if there comes a time when I’m in the market for what she’s selling, she’s gonna be the one I reach out to.
- Be honest. You have to realize that there are going to some people that are just off limits. This is a true story: a friend’s husband’s ex wife contacted her on Facebook to say: “Hey. I know we don’t speak, but we should really get past our differences. By the way, you really need to try this product I am selling, it’s changed my life!”
I wish I was joking, but this really happened. There has to be some level of social/relationship awareness, you guys. Let me help: get out a piece of paper, and start writing a list of names.
– people you see at church/daycare drop off/your son’s basketball practice/your favorite coffee shop (I’m not limiting you here – virtually anyone you see on a somewhat regular basis)
– people in your life you would pick up the phone and call to say hello
– people you would invite to a big summer bbq
Start with those people. Please don’t reach out to your ex-husband’s new wife, ok? Promise?
- Be nice. One of my pet peeves is when I read people post about their before, and it makes me feel bad or embarrassed for my current circumstance – a current circumstance I am happy with. Now, that’s probably not the intention, but that is how it comes off sometimes.
“Before this product, I was a stay at home mom. All I did was take care of my kids. My life was void of meaning! But now! Now! I have freeeeeeeeeedom! I have purpose!”
Uh, that’s great. I’m glad for you. But I’m happy being a stay at home mom. I have meaning. I have purpose. I’m not saying you shouldn’t celebrate your journey (you should!) but just be aware that there might be people that are perfectly happy with what you started out with. Connect with people when you tell your story. If you were down to your last penny and you made the decision to join this company, and you saved yourself… I want to know that. Be honest, be kind, be real.
I know many, many people that are very successful in their own businesses, with different and very unique companies. I love companies that empower people, especially women – to create the life they want. They can be their own boss. They can stay home with their kids. They can have a dream board and accomplish the things they never thought possible. They can be comfortable – and even proud – in their own skin. They can create a new purpose in their life. I love that. I don’t want to come off as a hater here, I just want to help people to realize that there’s a better way.