I was somehow tricked into attending a multi-level marketing introduction session. I was told it was going to be a focus group discussion for a project created by the Ministry of Trade, based on small scale businesses. I was told there was a project being made by the Ministry of Trade where outlets are created to house goods made by small home industries, in order to assist these small businesses with sales, promotion, and distribution. Thirty seconds into the presentation, I figured out that I’d been duped. It was a multi-level marketing promotion session.
Rule number one of trying to attract someone into doing something you ask them to: don’t lie to them. Lying to someone is like defecting in a continuous game called “trust”. Once your “opponent” defects, you’d have no more reason to continue
cooperation with them, and you’d always be predisposed to suspect them in the future.
The presentation went on and on about the potential of participating in this system. If you got to the level of “business scale 2”, you’d stand to make IDR 100 million per year. If you got to “business scale 4”, you’d get IDR 41.7 million per month! Fortunately for Eisha and myself (I forgot to mention that I had accidently dragged Eisha along to that meeting with me, sorry for that), we’re economist. We know that with those numbers, also come odds. Those odds were made more obvious when the presentation continued with testimonials of success stories by the boatload, along with a whole leaflet filled with pictures of couples who had made it to the highest business scale. While the presenters obviously believed that showing these success stories made the dream seem more accessible, Eisha and I are a lot smarter than that. The sheer number of success stories means that each of these hundreds of people have recruited hundreds more under them. Furthermore, all of those hundreds recruited by the top-level members are (pardon the language) busting their asses, trying to catch up. What does all of this mean? First, the number of people still available to be recruited has greatly diminished. Second, the number of your competitors in recruiting is constantly growing, or even multiplying. Third, the odds of finding dead ends (people who just aren’t interested, people who’ve tried MLMs and met with failure) also continue to increase. So, while the large number of success stories make it seem like the odds are good, it actually means that the odds are significantly lower than they were at the beginning.
Finally, the main hook: a seminar, held in a few weeks’ time, and they wanted all of us to attend. Their reason: “if you don’t buy the ticket now, we’ll nag you until you do”. Great marketing plan, but it unfortunately just screams out “restraining order”.
For those of you who are actually into MLMs, that’s fine. But for those who are still questioning whether or not to join, please heed my words carefully: don’t be fooled by the presentation. See the logic and underlying rationale beneath it all, and then decide.