Imagine I bought a program from Awesome Puppies, Inc. about how to feed puppies...
The guide recommends I use their brand of puppy food, so I do. It’s pretty pricey stuff, but it’s the best quality puppy food on the market. After all, my friend recommended it to me, so I know I can trust it. This company is really here to help!
Every day, I dutifully lay out the puppy food as per their instructions, and guess what? It works! Within just a few days, my puppy is still alive and I am a true believer.
If we’re being honest, though, the food is getting a liiiittle too costly for me. But that’s not really much of a concern. Want to know why?
Because they give a discount on the product to their coaches! Boy, they really do care.
It’s almost too good to be true. By calling myself a Puppy Coach (I did, after all, read the guide), I get a discount on this miracle puppy food, AND I have the opportunity to make money by helping other people keep their puppies alive.
Happy wallet, happy friends, and alive puppies. Huzzah!
And there’s no need to worry about how to convince other people that they should buy into the program: I have a built-in customer list! By leveraging the power of social media, I can easily let all my friends know just how great the program and puppy food are.
Plus, the marketing department of a multi-million-dollar corporation has my back. And the kicker is YOU KNOW ME! I’m not some random salesperson - I’m your friend, and I’m telling you that my puppy is alive and well because of this program and food. And if I can do it, so can you!
Before you know it, I have 10 friends saving puppies. And each of them has 10 friends saving puppies. And on it goes. And it’s amazing! Soon enough, there are thousands of us saving puppies THANKS TO ME!
Over time, though, the puppy grows up. As it gets bigger, I’m not sure how to feed it anymore. Does it still need to eat twice a day? Should I increase that or decrease it? What about the amount of food? The timing? The type?
Not only this, but it turns out puppies and dogs need more than just food. They need to get exercise and be loved. They need attention. They need to be taken outside to go to the bathroom. They need shots. Checkups with a veterinarian. They need discipline. They need a never-ending, ever-changing, whole bunch of different things in order to remain happy and healthy.
Who knew there was more to it than what I was promised?
Things begin to crumble. Where did I go wrong? I followed the program, saw some results, and convinced others to buy into the program, but it’s no longer working.
And now the torch has been passed dozens, if not hundreds, of times down the line. The commission I was receiving has all but dried up because I can no longer find anyone to join my group, and I guess I’m not really much of an expert seeing as I didn’t learn anything about long-term dog care.
Oh, well. Amazing Puppies, Inc. got their money from me, from a bunch of my friends, and a whole crapload of their friends. All of whom are really no better off in the long run than before we started the program.
It’s difficult for me to articulate just how disgusting I find this type of business model.
On a disturbingly regular basis, I see another person that I know has added the word “coach” (or some other such completely misapplied term) to their work info and is now in the business of selling some BS product to their friends.
They join the program (or sometimes become coaches BEFORE joining in - don’t even ask me how the hell that works…), get some results, are super happy about it, and then plaster themselves all over social media, proclaiming “Look what’s possible! Let me guide you!”
Don’t get me wrong, I do not believe that these people are being malevolent. I have nothing but respect for their intentions, but that does not mean that I support what they are doing. They are not coaches, they are salespeople. Call it what you want ("Network Marketing" seems to be the most recent popular term), it's just Multi-Level Marketing.
Corporations like this aim to make money. If they did so by convincing people to eat better and exercise, they would eventually go broke. So how do they make money?
By convincing people to buy their consumable products (and, then, convincing people to convince people, who convince other people, who...you get the point). “Eating better and exercising are great and all, but you need our exorbitantly-priced product delivered to your door on a regular basis to get real results.”
In the words of Vinnie Tortorich, "Your good intentions have been stolen..."
I need to stop. This topic really gets my blood pressure up, and I’d rather have a good day today.