No, I don’t want your products. Yes, I still want to be friends.

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To be fair, I’m a blogger. I get it. Marketing is an essential piece to any business or brand.

And every so often, I get that same awkward eye contact that you do by a friend. They worry that somehow they’ve disappointed you by not supporting your efforts, your passion.

But, for myself, I have nothing tangible to offer – only words of encouragement voiced from the trenches of early parenthood.

So I know it’s different. But I want to share a secret that I’ve learned to overcome the psychological distress of rejection.

People who love you don’t always say “yes”.

And, I’ll be honest, I am someone who frequently says “no” to dear friends who happen to be multi-level marketers (MLMers). Here’s why:

  1. I am tired. Financial decisions involve energy, and by the end of the day when the Facebook advertising blitz commences, I am done saying “yes”. And the last thing I want to do is attempt to locate my wallet.
  2. I spend my money on my children. Sure, I make an occasional splurge purchase on myself, but, in this season, my children’s immediate needs take priority. If my kids’ lives don’t demand it, my purse will remain closed.
  3. I am a picky shopper. In fact, the only items I actually like to spend money on are books and running shoes. No online party, community, or marketing scheme will make the experience more desirable for someone who doesn’t really enjoy shopping. Adults are a most stubborn species.

So, you see, my failure to “buy in”, “sign up”, and buy has nothing to do with our friendship. My life is driven by little people who keep the days full and the mental space in short supply.

But I want you to know that, even when my dollars don’t follow every stirring of my heart, I’m still cheering for you.

*For more adventures, follow Lauren on Facebook and Twitter.

**For more perspectives on multi-level marketing (MLM), I highly recommend NPR’s recent feature.

::today’s daily inspiration::

One Year Ago: Give Me Your Tired

Two Years Ago: Untold Stories

11 thoughts on “No, I don’t want your products. Yes, I still want to be friends.

  1. Yes, quite right. I feel that often it is money that is the only thing that is valued but sometimes other things can be committed to a cause, like moral support and promoting our friends online, even if we cannot find the finance to support in that way. It’s the same with volunteering, I volunteer locally but sometimes feel my time committed to it is not valued as they are always asking for donations..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for sharing. Unfortunately, it feels like friendships are the great losers in this whole system. Because, let’s be honest, even if you are a big fan of the products, mass consumption isn’t sustainable on any level. And it’s dangerous to view friendship in supply and demand terms. But I think we can keep cheering and supporting in ways that make sense to us – after all, that’s what love and value require.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think it sets us up for false expectations. Our psychology believes anything we market or sell under our name should receive as many “likes”, “shares”, etc. as our personal social media profiles do. Our brain can’t separate the two. And, you know, we are seeing the decline of self-esteem and self-worth in our greater society due to technology’s influence. It’s a recipe for heartache. It’s very difficult to tell ourselves, but the key is to trust that people still love you regardless of what actions they may or may not take online. And the MLM system is flawed if they convince you otherwise.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I am glad to know it’s not just me. When I login to Facebook at night, I scroll through everyone’s Avocare, Arbonne, Thrive, Tupperware, 31, etc. “parties” and posts. While I’m sure these are all lovely products that have helped my friends attain their fitness/fashion/financial goals, I am a single mom working at a Catholic institution. Discretionary funds are non-existent. Thank you for posting.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are definitely not alone. I think the executives in the MLM business know exactly what they’re doing and how fragile this makes friendships when dollars become the bottom line. BUT I believe in the power of love, and I do think, if we stay in the game of marketing long enough, we can forgive those who fall short of our expectations. Isn’t that what it means to evolve in our humanity? Thanks for sharing.

      Like

  3. This needed to be written.

    I looked at an MLM company when it come up for sale so I have seen the financials. I looked at the list of top sellers. I know how much everyone makes.

    Many companies operate like a pyramid, where the profit flows up to the very few at the top. Many companies look longingly at the MLM structure — they are quite profitable because you have a motivated sales force that is purely commissions based, so you pay them no salary, and they have no healthcare obligations. And there is a strong relationship between a salesperson’s amount of hustle and his/her income.

    Here’s where it gets complicated. In normal company sales transaction, a buyer identifies a need and you lead by the product or service first. Then you build a relationship so that buyers deal with you and not someone else for the product or service they need. So their needs are met and they get good service from you. Win win.

    In a typical MLM transaction, you lead with the friendship first. Then that leads to your friend buying products they don’t need. So they spent money on something they didn’t need, and then keep feeling pressure to buy from you, straining your friendship. Lose lose.

    The two transactions seem similar but they are oh so different. Thank you for giving voice to those who feel like it’s a no win situation.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the kind words. You offer fantastic insights from a different angle.

      I like your use of the word “hustle” here because, it seems, these businesses are all about encouraging sellers (mostly female and middle-aged) to step up their game and “mom boss” their way to success. It’s an irresistible message, especially when you consider what top incentives/bonuses look like! But, as you suggest here, it’s that relationship that holds the potential for the greatest undoing. It’s hard not to take rejection personally when we market a product we believe in – a painful lesson I’ve learned through my own blogging. But that’s the beauty of friendship and human connection: other people get to choose to love and support us. We just have to be okay with how different that might look from relationship to relationship.

      Thank you for sharing!

      Like

  4. Uf, YES! I have so many friends who sell things, and it sometimes seems like the only social gatherings we manage are ‘buying parties’. NONE of my friends who sell are pushy, and I’ve never felt that we were ‘less’ friends because I don’t buy their makeup/leggings/candles/handbags/loose-leaf tea/ books(ok, my Usborne girl does get me to buy sometimes lol- they have AMAZING kids sticker books and they’re pretty cheap:) ) but I do feel guilty going to the parties since I know I won’t buy, and guilty NOT going because I feel anti-social…sigh.
    Thanks, as always, for a dose of practical reality 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your main point here is one that is so important: that feeling of guilt never leaves us (and, frankly, it only compounds with every new friend that becomes an MLM seller). A part of me hopes that we are at the peak – that at some point this friendship meddling will result in loss, not gain. So, you know, we can return to encouraging with love (not products, rewards, or profit) 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The tricky thing is that many of my friends who sell are military wives, and they do it because it’s a way they can make some income even with moving every couple of years- but again, none of them have been PUSHY about it, which helps. Yeah, it would be nice to be social without spending…

        Liked by 1 person

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